: does a Northstar have lifters-how to replace



JOHNNY Z
04-12-04, 05:14 PM
My caddy service guy says I have a collapsed lifter in my STS. He wants about 1000 or better to replace it,front bank lifter too,much easier access than a rear one. I am thinking of pulling off the front valve cover myself so I can see exaclty whats going on. Even if I have to loosen the bolts that hold the overhead cam in and just tip the cam up slightly without disengaging the timing chain this should be an easy fix. if I disengage the timing cahin then the cars scrap I guess. But I don't know till I look. Has anyone ventured here yet??????

dloch
04-12-04, 05:21 PM
My caddy service guy says I have a collapsed lifter in my STS. He wants about 1000 or better to replace it,front bank lifter too,much easier access than a rear one. I am thinking of pulling off the front valve cover myself so I can see exaclty whats going on. Even if I have to loosen the bolts that hold the overhead cam in and just tip the cam up slightly without disengaging the timing chain this should be an easy fix. if I disengage the timing cahin then the cars scrap I guess. But I don't know till I look. Has anyone ventured here yet??????
You can do it but you need the tool that holds the tensioner back while you do it, or if it gets loose you will need to reset the valve timing. There may be someone else who has done it and should be able to point you in the right direction to get the tool.

Do you have a service manual that will tell you how to reset the valve timing if you have too? It's more of a PITA than anything else, certainly somthing that can be accomplished in the car if your're up to the task.

JOHNNY Z
04-12-04, 05:41 PM
I don't have the service manual and I am starting to hate this freakin car. Is the valve cover as easy as it looks to take off???

BeelzeBob
04-12-04, 09:34 PM
I don't have the service manual and I am starting to hate this freakin car. Is the valve cover as easy as it looks to take off???

Why exactly are you starting to hate it....???

You can easily replace a lifter but you do have to remove the cam shaft to access the lifters. To remove the cam the cam drive sprocket has to be removed and you do NOT want to let the timing chain loosen when the sprocket is off or the front cover of the engine will then have to come off to reset the chain tensioner as it will rachet out and lock if even the least little bit of slack is allowed in the timing chain.

There are special tools on the market to hold the timing chain. One looks like a pair of vise grips that holds the chain itself and the other is a small steel block that bolts to the front of the head on the cam cover surface that allows the sprocket to be loosened and slide off onto the detail temporarily bolted to the head to hold it in place while the cam is removed.

If you are sure that this is the problem I would check with a dealer or shop that understands and knows how to work on Northstar engines as $1K sounds like a lot for a job like that. I suspect your mechanic thinks he has to tear the front of the engine down to do the lifter replacement....he doesn't...or he hopes you don't know that. It is about a 3 hour job for a competent mechanic with the correct GM tools. Go to a Cadillac dealer and check it out.

Getting a service manual for your car/engine is one of the cheapest insurance policies you can buy. That way you know exactly how to do a job like this and can be knowlegeable going in....that way you don't get mad at the car because you don't understand what has to be done.

JOHNNY Z
04-13-04, 07:16 AM
Thanks for the info. This is what my local caddy dealer is telling me. 8 hours labor for a lifter R and R plus any misc gaskets-valve cover is the only one for this repair isn't it?? I hate to tow it again 60 miles away to Allentown is the next closest caddy dealer. I think I hate my local service dept not my car. labor rate for Caddillac is 80 per hr. all other gm cars are 52-56 per hr.

JOHNNY Z
04-13-04, 09:18 AM
Hey Bbob, I called my service writer "friend ??" this morning and asked him specifically to break down this repair. First of all no one has even opened the motor up yet they are diagnosing by ear. I want him to open the motor up and see EXACTLY what it is then price it out, of course the opening of the motor gets rolled into the repair time. Heres what I am gettting: The caddy labor rate "varies from 75-80 dollars per hr" so even maxed at 80@ 8 Hours(he states this is what the r and r is for front bank lifter on a N Star with OR without the special tools--BIG LOAD OF BULLCRAP HERE) thats still 640 labor. Okay so for a lifter and a V/C gasket its 360 dollars or more??? " Well you know if we get in there and it needs more than one lifter or something else blah blah....." I understand that but why quote me 1000-1200 right out of the box. He just called back as I am posting this. "Yeah the tech says there is a tool hes gonna look upstairs and see if we have it and that would cut labor time for you but a lot of times the threads come out when you take the cam bolts out of the head and if we gotta helicoil em thats more labor too." Okay so he was going to do the job without the tool and take apart the front of the engine to access the tensioner before I called and told you about the tool???? When were you going to mention the helicoil issue??? I wish I had the time to do this repair myself.

BeelzeBob
04-13-04, 11:30 AM
What threads is he going to ruin...????.....


The only thing that has to come apart is the cam bearing cap bolts...and they are not highly stressed and I have never seen anyone strip one of those...unless they were taking them out with an impact wrench and had the wrench running the wrong way and tightened them instead of removing them.

It sounds like these guys are yanking your chain. There is very very little likely hood of stripping any threads of any sort removing a cam for a lifter replacement. Unless the mechanic is a complete clutz.

8 hours...!!! Must be handicapped. One armed mechanics that are blind do take longer I guess....LOL.

JOHNNY Z
04-13-04, 12:24 PM
Wow this gets better: "Okay we don't have the tool to remove the lifter. Me: What tool to remove the lifter,I don't think there is any such animal. Svc Wrtr: Yeah even if we take the cam out we have to retime it and that takes hours. Me: I am tellling you about a tool to hold the cam chain tensioner and gear in place so you can get the cam out(2.5 hrs by the way in the labor guide-but 7 hours in reality I'll give you that) and not disturb anything else. Muffled phone as he talks to "tech-yeah hes a tech". I tell him look take the V/C off and see whats underneath or I'll tow it to Allentown to another Caddy dealer. Oh Okay okay. I did call that dealer and their Svc Wrtr advised that it does take 7 hours and the front cover does have to come off so hes at 700-750 for the job with lifter V/C and front cover gaskets. Guess what my "stealer" here now says he will do the job for 750 max- What happened to 1000-1200???? Never again with a cadillac dealer in STROUDSBURG PA!!!!

BeelzeBob
04-13-04, 02:06 PM
Well, I can assure you that it is not only possible, but fairly straight forward and simple to remove the cam without taking the front cover off. If someone does drop the chain by accident the only recovery plan is to take the front cover off but that would be a real screwup..... There is no special tool to take a lifter out. Once the cam is removed the lifter comes out with your fingers in about 2 seconds. Have these guys ever worked on a Northstar engine before or are they just playing stupid....???? 5 minutes with the service manual would get them to understanding of what is required to do this job.

Aurora By Olds
04-13-04, 10:45 PM
Holding the cam gear in place while removing the cam is fairly easy with the right tools and knowhow. If it will be of any help, I have attached a pic of the set of details that I made (thanks for the tip bbob) from some scraps around the shop to change my intake cams. They werent much, but a little grinding and a few bolts saved a ton of work and money. Thought I'd paint em up for the picture too :)

growe3
04-14-04, 08:12 AM
Try adding a quart of Marvel Mystery Oil. Do not over fill just substitue for a regular quart of oil.

While I am not a big fan of additives this product has proven itself numerous times in various cars that I have owned. Primarily it can act as a penetrating oil and loosen stuck rings and sticky lifters.

It can't hurt and may save you some $$$$.

-George

JOHNNY Z
04-14-04, 09:48 AM
Well first of all a "Sincere Thank You "to all you guys for your extremely valuable input.This forum and its members are more united than some Police associations that I've dealt with. Thats an unfortunate true statement as a result of frivoulous law suits and too many ass kissers getting rank instead of real hard working,knowledgeable "road dog" cops who deserve it. Whole different discussion I know. Now for the car. Its about 9:40 am here in PA and I did peek in the garage last night while on patrol and saw my car with the hood up and its ass towards me so I don't know if anything has been evaluated yet. I was thinking what if its not a collapsed lifter and maybe a broken valve spring or possibly something else. But after looking at pics of the N star with valve covers off I really can't see anything else that would cause that type of noise while letting the car still run basically the same. My first panic thought Sunday was to change the oil Monday morning and throw in a quart or more of marvel mystery oil but the noise was just too mechanical and loud to make me go that route. Now I actually hope is just a lifter so at least i can settle in and prepare for a 750 +/- repair and resume my ownership enjoyment of this car. Now my thinking is what if its something worse that a head has to come off. That would pretty much end my relationship with the car and it would be sold to any bidder in the vicinity of the dealership. I have to wait and see now and will post results for future reference of forum members to benefit from my experience. Thanks again, John

JOHNNY Z
04-14-04, 12:27 PM
Service writer calls and says "Everythings fine on top of the motor." Just great. So its either carbon build up or you've got a problem with a rod,piston or main bearing. Okay talk about extremes here. 200-300 bucks tops or total loss of the car if it needs a motor thats for sure. I hate to pessimistic but I never heard any pre detenation spark knock ever on this car. I usually run 89 and then 93 every other tank full. I did put 7.00 of 87 in by mistake at a Hess station unfamiliar to me but then shortly after topped that up with 10.00 of either 89 or 93. The knock started lightly then within less than a day after nailing it once it got louder. Sounds like the makings of a rod/bearing knock to me. Its loud on start up and I only ran it once warm so far and it sounded the same. But not really low enough in the motor to be a rod so maybe it is in the top of the combustion chamber due to carbon???Man ,I've got a headache over this. I did post pics of this car but since its gotten better. Its a nice medium blue not often seen color. I had all the dings taken out by the best in the business and the car is pin straight,you could read a magazine in the paint. the 3rd brake light was rebuilt by Logan Diagnostics for no charge(Great Knowleable person) The 2003 Deville wheels are perfect and make the car look newer than it is- no wheel weights on front and no vibration at all. I had a nice light tint put on the windows and put a very thin single black pinstripe down the side-just subtle on the medium blue paint. I just bought the final touch-a brushed aluminum Cadillac lisc plate frame for the rear. New radiator and fuel lines and a fresh oil/coolant change. Do you think I have a right to be bummed out???

BeelzeBob
04-14-04, 01:57 PM
Uh...back to the beginnning...did anyone drain the oil and cut the filter open to look for debris...???...if something is coming apart in the lower end then there will be debris. Have them drain the oil into a clean pan so it will not disappear down the waste oil drain at the shop so that you can poke thru it for any evidence.

JOHNNY Z
04-14-04, 02:22 PM
No Bob they didn't drain anything. The car is in a bay with no lift right now and the top of the front bank opened up, the plugs are out too. I just left there 2 minutes ago. After seeing it today I am psychologically writing it off as dead. If they call me later or tomorrow and tell me the top end cleaner worked and its fixed I'll be surprised and elated. I really have no confidence in this crew and think that this is it for this car. I know lower problems are so rare on these motors but man if you only heard it you'd say its likely doomed. I wish the "tech" would have at least stayed on it and put it back together after seeing that all is 10-4 up top. I don't see the need the leave it open anymore just waiting for the cleaner to do its chemical job on the carbon. I know you can test run it like that so I guess what the hell.

JOHNNY Z
04-14-04, 06:22 PM
Well as I suspected the top end cleaner did nothing to help. The Tech was actually very knowledgable and started the car without the valve cover on and let me hear with a stethoscope exactly where the noise is coming from. Its between the 2 front center cylinders and is a pretty prononuced knock. Almost as though the piston is touching the top of the cylinder head-could it even if piston was notched for the valves?? I doubt it. I guess the wrist pin or the rod bearing is shot. I did mention about draining the oil and cutting the filter and the thech says since you didn't run it this way for long you proably wouldn't find anything in there,though its possible, Dropping the pan would be preferable. Can you fix a boogered rod on these engines??? I don't think anyone makes an oversize bearing to service it. A mechanic there is making me an offer on the car tomorrow. I don't think I've felt this bad in a long time. Plus I proably have a 200-300 bill to boot. JUST GREAT

BeelzeBob
04-14-04, 08:21 PM
Well as I suspected the top end cleaner did nothing to help. The Tech was actually very knowledgable and started the car without the valve cover on and let me hear with a stethoscope exactly where the noise is coming from. Its between the 2 front center cylinders and is a pretty prononuced knock. Almost as though the piston is touching the top of the cylinder head-could it even if piston was notched for the valves?? I doubt it. I guess the wrist pin or the rod bearing is shot. I did mention about draining the oil and cutting the filter and the thech says since you didn't run it this way for long you proably wouldn't find anything in there,though its possible, Dropping the pan would be preferable. Can you fix a boogered rod on these engines??? I don't think anyone makes an oversize bearing to service it. A mechanic there is making me an offer on the car tomorrow. I don't think I've felt this bad in a long time. Plus I proably have a 200-300 bill to boot. JUST GREAT

You can fix anything on the engine. It is very serviceable. You have to decide how much to spend on it...but...if the car is as nice as you say then it might be worth pulling the engine out and looking at the bottom end. If you are going to write it off then at least have them put it back together and take it out and drive the snot out of it to see if it is carbon...

Unless you haven't read the many previous posts on carbon rap .... that is what it is...the piston hitting the carbon build up on the head. Those engines don't just loose rods or bearings or wrist pins. Especially if that have lived that long already. The mechanic is willing to buy it becuase he knows that all he will probably have to do is to take it out and flog it to get rid of the carbon and he has a new car. Do that yourself. If it blows, then you were going to write it off anyway...., right.?? Don't let them steal the car from you and leave you pissed. My firm guess is that it is carbon and a chunk came loose and was trapped between the piston crown and the cylinder head in the squish area....it taps the piston at TDC, the piston rocks and makes all the noise. Harmless and the carbon just needs to be blown out with a few good WOT accels. There is a reason that the tech doesn't want to drain the oil and filter and show you....it will be clean and have no debris in it....then you won't sell it to him for cheap. Check the oil and filter and if it is full of debris then sell it....but my money is on the oil being clean and the engine is fine. BTW....wait there and watch them drain the oil and cut the filter ...or it will be full of debris no doubt to convince you to sell it...maybe it is already...no LOL. Also, just doing the carbon cleaning without driving the car means nothing. An itegral part of the carbon cleaning and/or the "deep carbon cleaning" is to drive the car hard afterward....says so right in the service bulletin. If they just ran the solvent in there and said that it is not carbon then they are hosing you. They realize you are ready to walk and are just trying to make you feel good about it. If you sell it that tech's old lady will be driving your Cadillac in a few days....or he will sell it and make a few bucks quickly. If you do sell, ask to see the tore up lower end parts after he "fixes" it. Get them to reassemble it and take it for a ride. It is BS that there would be no debris in the filter if a bearing is going or some other damage. The engine circulates 12 gallons of oil per minute when it is at higher RPM...so....any debris would be in the filter about 10 seconds after something happened. They are hosing you. Get the message. An it looks SO BAD all disassembled and everything....you don't want that car anymore mister....this makes me ill.

JOHNNY Z
04-14-04, 10:58 PM
Bob you got me thinking straight again. I will calling at 8:00 tomorrow and telling him to put it back together and let me know the total bill and I'll be in at noon to pick it up. Instead of making a left to go home I'll be making a right and getting on the Interstate instead. If it blows up my buddy in town will just tow it to my house and THEN I'll reapproach the mechanic who wanted to buy it. If the knock is gone, so am I from that place ever again. You know I'll post back shortly after noon tomorrow. Big Thanks.

JOHNNY Z
04-15-04, 12:43 AM
Bob,just thinking would it be a good idea for me to get a bottle/can of top end cleaner and take out the four front plugs and pour some in those cylinders and let it set for a few hours then reinstall the plugs and (hopefully)get it started then go out and WOT it a few times myself??

BeelzeBob
04-15-04, 01:01 PM
Bob,just thinking would it be a good idea for me to get a bottle/can of top end cleaner and take out the four front plugs and pour some in those cylinders and let it set for a few hours then reinstall the plugs and (hopefully)get it started then go out and WOT it a few times myself??

I wouldn't bother. No real need. I have never seen an engine with any sort of carbon problem that wouldn't just clean up after doing some WOT's.

That was part of the problem years ago identifying the cold carbon rap and carbon rap in general. We could never reproduce it in a test engine in our fleet and every customer engine that we "bought back" from the field with the supposed problem was "cured" by the time we got ahold of it....someone along the way would WOT it and solve the problem. See....none of us ever have a problem with holding the gas pedal firmly to the floor as often as possible...LOL.

Hope this works out for you. With the very very low incidence of any lower end problems with that engine it is highly unlikely that your problem is something else....but....there is always that first time....no LOL.....

Lawrence
04-15-04, 01:20 PM
Mercury Marine makes a product called "Power Tune", $6.95 can. It is used specificaly for this purpose, to remove combustion chamber deposits from both 2 and 4 cycle engines. I have never tried it in my cars, but it works excellent in the boat. It really does clean up the combustion chambers. Marine engines, like the Nothstar, have some problems with carbon build up. In the case of the marine engine, it is caused mostly from the cooler operating temps. From what I have seen of my Northstar combustion chambers, the carbon is rather soft and "should" be removed easily with "Power Tune". The carbon build up in the outboards tends to be much more stubborn, as it contains more oil deposits. WOT runs are not enough, in themselves, to remove this carbon.

You warm the engine, run at about 1800 RPM's while spraying a can through the TB (personally I use two cans, one in each hand at the same time) to finally stall the engine, let it soak a min of 15 min (the longer the better), start the engine and immediatly run it WOT (not to exceed 5000 RMP's) in gear for 5 mins.

I would expect that in a car (pistons being vertical and no ports) you would have as good or better results by spraying it directly onto the pistons. Enough to cover the whole crown. Just be sure to leave the spark plugs out, and after the soaking period crank the engine to blow out the excess oil (so it won't hydralic lock) before re-installing them.

EDIT: Then change the oil.

JOHNNY Z
04-15-04, 02:07 PM
Well I picked it up today and got right on the Interstate. Nailed it once lots of black sprewing out the back. Rapping like crazy. Nailed it again..... KAPOW!!! Oil and anti freeze everywhere. Coast to side of highway. Towed home. New lawn ornament unless this tech buys it. 6/10 mile from dealer.

BeelzeBob
04-15-04, 02:15 PM
Well I picked it up today and got right on the Interstate. Nailed it once lots of black sprewing out the back. Rapping like crazy. Nailed it again..... KAPOW!!! Oil and anti freeze everywhere. Coast to side of highway. Towed home. New lawn ornament unless this tech buys it. 6/10 mile from dealer.


OUCH....so much for my credibility.....

Roswell256
04-15-04, 02:33 PM
LOL... that sucks...let us know what it was that blew up. I'm curious to know what it was..

BeelzeBob
04-15-04, 03:03 PM
Well I picked it up today and got right on the Interstate. Nailed it once lots of black sprewing out the back. Rapping like crazy. Nailed it again..... KAPOW!!! Oil and anti freeze everywhere. Coast to side of highway. Towed home. New lawn ornament unless this tech buys it. 6/10 mile from dealer.

This type of failure is SO unusual especially for that engine that it is still hard to understand what could have happened. If the opportunity presents itself to see parts from the engine or pictures inside it would be very interesting.

Was the engine worked on in any fashion shortly before all this transpired...like....could something like a small screw or bolt or something fallen into the air intake and gotten sucked into the engine...??? Any work at all done on it prior to this???

With all the work on the car you've done and what it will cost for a decent replacement car it would probably be cheaper to look for a replacement engine for it and just have it swapped out..... Tell dloch to hurry with his engine change and buy his old engine.....

Lawrence
04-16-04, 11:37 AM
Sorry to hear that Johnny Z. As bbobynski suggested, you might find a replacement engine for it. Tear it down and do the head gaskets and seals. Then take it to the dealer and pay them to swap it in for you.

The northstar engine is pretty easy to work on, getting in out and in is the tough part if you don't have the right equipment.

dloch
04-19-04, 04:42 PM
With all the work on the car you've done and what it will cost for a decent replacement car it would probably be cheaper to look for a replacement engine for it and just have it swapped out..... Tell dloch to hurry with his engine change and buy his old engine.....
Between Lawrence and I we are getting to be quite the Northstar experts.... especially when mixing between the years, but not without you rhelp I might add. I would eventually figure out all the differences but it's a lot easier if you have someone with the experience that will help in learning that information.

BTW Johnny Z what is this offering you for the car versus finding a good replacment motor and fixing the car since you obviously like the car. In other words what's it worth to you to keep the car but running obviously?

I have had many cars where I had more into them than they were worth intially but over time it worked itself out. When I buy a used high mile car I generally trash everything on the suspension and install new so I have some idea where I stand with regards to when it will wear out. Now I'm not saying this is the most economical approach but but for me if I liked the car enough to buy it to begin I just take it in stride while most people who know me think I'm nuts......:bonkers: Generally one thing leads to another also... well if I have the motor out why don't I change the torque converter as well...... if I have to change the struts and shocks why don't I change the springs to lower it a little....

I've had very, very expensive motors fail on a dyno that hadn't run 30 minutes where the only thing salaveable was the carburetor, intake and a very few minor items.... so I feel your pain.

Most of us who post here are here because we like to help when we can...... keep the faith.

Robert Brandtjen
04-21-04, 11:49 AM
I'd pull that engine and find out what's inside their that caused it to blow up. I'll tell you why.

Years ago I owned a Porsche 944 Turbo. I had just had it in for a tune-up and the belt (controlled the cam) had been certified. I took it up to Northern Minnesota (Duluth) and got up one morning and went to start it up and the belt snapped. I heard no other sound then that and the lights went crazy on the dash- less then a full 2 seconds.

I called down to minneapolis and found out that although there was no longer a functioning Porsche dealer in Duluth there had been and the were now a VW dealer- they should be able to help me. I also called my personal mechanic and he said to give them a try since a round trip flat bed haul of the car was gonna be spendy. They took it in and put a new belt on it and then just fired it up!!!!!!!!! They did not check the timing before starting it up!!! They said to me "it will not run- it will need major work". I called my mechanic and had him talk to them. "Bob" was not a "certified" Porsche mechanic but he had spent 5 years as a Porsche 911 mechanic on the GT circuit for an owner out of Rochester Minnesota. Bob called me back and told me he had gotten ahold of his buddy who was going to pick it up and haul it home on a return trip from Duluth. I rented car and followed it home. To make a long story shorter- the idiots in Duluth had, with out question, torched part of my top end. They had quoted me some $3,000.00 dollars plus for fixing their own screw up.

Bob snet the head out to Kelly's, a machine shop in West St. Paul that specializes in racing heads, replaced the two bad sodium filled aluminum valve stems and replaced the two similar pistons that had been punctured. We also replaced the factory (for America) chip that caused it to redline and shut fuel off at 5500 RPMS so it would redline at 10,000- the way it was meant to be. My cost? 2500.00

I had an engine easily worth 5,000.00 more in the end and, in a court room, forced the dealer to pay for most of it.

Pullit yourself, or have someone do it whom you trust.