: Northstar engine head gaskets



lgniswonger@columbus
10-09-07, 04:45 PM
I am the original owner of a '98 Deville with only 58,918 miles on it until we experienced a major engine failure while on vacation in the Smokey Mountains. To make a long story short, we had to drive from Gatlinburg to a Cadillac dealership Knoxville to have it repaired. Ironically and fortunately, the engine ran fine and didn't overheat. We learned at the dealership that the head gaskets had blown. We paid the bill, $5,024.66 which also included a new alternator and a fuel level sensor recommended by the service rep. We were totally disgusted! I wrote a letter to the Cadillac Customer Assistance Center explaining what had happened and wanted compensation for the head gasket repair plus renting a car. I was told that there was nothing they could do due to the age of the car. My comment to the customer rep was, "I find it unbelievable that a cadillac with only 58,918 miles on it would have "any" engine problems, especially Northstar engine!" I had the car serviced every 3000 miles and not once was I told that the Northstar engine had head gasket problems or that it burned oil. I learned this from viewing various web sites.

Basically, she offered a $1000 voucher towards a new cadillac. I asked her if the head gasket problem has been resolved on the '08s and she couldn't answer me, so I refused to accept the voucher. I've learned my lesson well and will avoid buying any cadillacs from this day on.

Has anyone else experienced this problem? If so, why hasn't there been any legal action taken?

Eldo1953
10-09-07, 08:40 PM
Unfortunate problem with the Northstar. How many times was the engine coolant changed in the last 10 years? I believe the gaskets have finally been fixed in 2005 when GM switched to a different gasket material in all engines.

dkozloski
10-10-07, 01:03 AM
There have been several changes made in this area over the years. The root cause of most of the failures is inadequate maintenance of the cooling system which includes flushing and refilling with fresh coolant.

jasper60103
10-11-07, 12:15 PM
Sorry to hear about your misfortion. Legal action was attempted, but not successful to my knowledge. You can google search the web for "Dexcool" and get info on it.

Anyway, I hope it didn't completely ruin your vacation. I took my family on vacation in the Smokey Mountains this past June. What a great place! I think its highly underated as a family vacation spot. I miss the mountain streams and scenary already.

lgniswonger@columbus
10-11-07, 04:01 PM
I honestly don't recall if the coolant was ever changed. Would this be something that the dealership would recommend? If so, how often should it be done? They never mentioned it to me and I just assumed that they would know if it was needed or not. Thanks for your reply and support!

lgniswonger@columbus
10-11-07, 04:08 PM
Thanks for your reply. I will check Dexcool for more information. We rented a cabin on the Little Pigeon Forge River in Pittman Center. Really nice cabin and so peaceful just listening to the river.

jasper60103
10-11-07, 04:42 PM
We rented a cabin on the Little Pigeon Forge River in Pittman Center. Really nice cabin and so peaceful just listening to the river.

Ahhhh, that sounds great. We stayed in Gatlinburg. I can't recall name of the resort. Hiked several of the (moderate to easy) trails in the mountains. Seen a few black bears too.

Eldo1953
10-11-07, 06:13 PM
The coolant should be changed every 5 years or 100,000 miles which ever comes first. You should have had your second change done already, but instead it sounds like you just had the first one done along with an engine rebuild!

Jesda
10-27-07, 08:47 AM
A failure at this age and mileage is simply because of a design flaw. Northstar was updated in 2000 and again in 2004 for RWD use. So far, the RWD 2004 Northstar appears to be free of the problems that plagued previous versions.

StuJac
10-27-07, 09:27 AM
I had heard that the hg problem was solved as of the 03 model. I will choose to believe that and nothing but that until I experience otherwise.

CadillacSTS42005
10-27-07, 05:12 PM
in 03 the thread pitch was also changed solving the problem greatly
another reason why i wanted an 03, that and magride...

I~LUV~Caddys8792
10-27-07, 08:10 PM
Shit, if I had a Northstar, it would be getting bi yearly coolant flushes. No two ways about it.

Jesda
10-30-07, 12:39 PM
2000 is the year for the thread pitch change. It didn't solve the problem.

Earls
11-06-07, 02:58 AM
I am the original owner of a '98 Deville with only 58,918 miles on it until we experienced a major engine failure while on vacation in the Smokey Mountains. To make a long story short, we had to drive from Gatlinburg to a Cadillac dealership Knoxville to have it repaired. Ironically and fortunately, the engine ran fine and didn't overheat. We learned at the dealership that the head gaskets had blown. We paid the bill, $5,024.66 which also included a new alternator and a fuel level sensor recommended by the service rep. We were totally disgusted! I wrote a letter to the Cadillac Customer Assistance Center explaining what had happened and wanted compensation for the head gasket repair plus renting a car. I was told that there was nothing they could do due to the age of the car. My comment to the customer rep was, "I find it unbelievable that a cadillac with only 58,918 miles on it would have "any" engine problems, especially Northstar engine!" I had the car serviced every 3000 miles and not once was I told that the Northstar engine had head gasket problems or that it burned oil. I learned this from viewing various web sites.

Basically, she offered a $1000 voucher towards a new cadillac. I asked her if the head gasket problem has been resolved on the '08s and she couldn't answer me, so I refused to accept the voucher. I've learned my lesson well and will avoid buying any cadillacs from this day on.

Has anyone else experienced this problem? If so, why hasn't there been any legal action taken?

Hi:

I too am the original owner of a 2003 Sedan Deville with a recent Northstar engine failure. I will know in a day or two if the head gaskets was the problem (and unfortunately, the cost of THIS repair). My car had just over 100K on it as I drive 22,000 miles/year all highway, to and from work. Recently it began to say on the dash display to "check oil" and I would have to add a bottle between tHe 3K dealer oil changes. I mentioned this to the dealer and he said that all Northstars burn oil and that this was normal. In retrospect, guess I should have taken it somewhere else. Could this been indicative of the head gaskets going bad?

Last year, I also had a transmission failure at 75k and had the cam sensors replaced. The cam sensors caused the car to completely shut down on the highway at 70 mph when it felt like it even though it would start right back up (after you limped it off the highway onto a shoulder). I would call On-Star and they would just say nothing was wrong but to take it to the dealer when I could. The engine codes showed the cam sensor and transmisison problems. As a petite woman this did not give me sense of security or feeling of safety driving alone on the highway at night. I just thank god I did not get hit on the road when it decided to stop.

I have religiously kept the 3K oil changes and regular recommended service from the dealer since I purchased the car new. When the transmission failed, I had just had the dealer recommended "Service and Flush" for $99 at the recommended mileage. A day or two later, the car shifted stragely so I had my husband check it. He said that the transmission showed it was low on fluid. I lost confidence in the dealer's service dept after that, needless to say. I said something to the dealer at my next oil change and of coure it was my word againt theirs. I feel really stupid now that I kept getting the oil changd there after all this.

I need a safe dependable car and after this last major failure, I called the dealer to see if there were recalls or anything on this problem and he said no. He offered me $2,500 for a trade in on an 08 which I find painfully insulting and very expensive. I feel the same way you do on the purchase of a car that I quite a bit for. Apparently at this point, I have no recourse but to fix the car and try to sell it. I am just as disapointed as you are on your 98 model. I plan to contact Cadillac and mail them a file of the service I have done on this car and the bills that I have paid for the cam senesor, the transmission and now the engine, (not to mention the fan they had to retrofit in the dash somewhere because there was a condensation problem that made the vents smell like there was a wedge of cheese in the dash every time I turned the a/c on! - never owned ANY car to stink like this and I bought this one new). I suppose I will get the same response as you did - with a voucher on an 08 (only mine will probably be for the $2500 the dealer offered me on my 2003, as is) and sadly, like you, I will most likely be looking at a different brand. When I find out exactly why my 2003 failed, if it is the head gasket, I will respond back. I am so VERY dispointed. I have had to get a rental and just the inconvenience is VERY disapointing. OBTW my husband & I are about to get a divorce over this ....Good luck to us all.

Eldo1953
11-06-07, 05:57 PM
That sounds like one heck of a lemon and one heck of a bad dealer you have there Earls. Sorry about the problems. But it does not sound like you have a HG problem.

ted tcb
11-09-07, 10:59 AM
Earls, it been a few days since your last post.
How did you make out with car??

Rolex
11-10-07, 01:45 PM
I hate reading these stories over and over. I genuinely feel for the N* owners whose motor takes a dump leaving them with a non-functional vehicle that outwardly appears perfect. I can empathize with you and I'm sure the good people here understand your frustration. I feel even more sorry for the person who comes along and buys the same car after you trade it in.

Cadillac should be ashamed! Gm should be ashamed!:mad:






OBTW my husband & I are about to get a divorce over this ....Good luck to us all.

:rolleyes: Was there really any need for the histrionics? http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v305/rolex/9kasep.gif Straw that broke the camels back perhaps....but you don't really believe a blown engine resluted in a failed marriage. Do you?

I~LUV~Caddys8792
11-10-07, 03:21 PM
Why GM never issued a recall for these is beyond me. Sure, it's not a "life or death" issue like most recalls are, but ****, it's annoying!

Destro
02-17-08, 11:30 AM
Why GM never issued a recall for these is beyond me. Sure, it's not a "life or death" issue like most recalls are, but ****, it's annoying!

Why would they if they weren't forced to? It would cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix everyones head gaskets. Until recently they weren't in the business to lose money.

Benjamin Simon
02-19-08, 01:22 AM
This is just a shot in the dark, but maybe everyone should start maintaining their coolant systems.
Here we have someone with HG problems that does not even know what a F ing coolant flush is after having the car for almost 10 years!!! WTF is wrong with you people!!!!!!!!!! Take some responsibility for your lack of action!

Edahall
02-22-08, 02:56 PM
There have been several changes made in this area over the years. The root cause of most of the failures is inadequate maintenance of the cooling system which includes flushing and refilling with fresh coolant.

I believe that the root cause is due to poor design. There are many engines out there that don't have this problem Also, there have been several people on this board who have faithfully maintained their coolant system yet have had the head bolts pull loose. This is one of the reasons these car go for so cheap on the used market. Any Northstar engine which has not been Timeserted can blow it's headgaskets at any time. Maintaining your coolant might delay the process but it is just a matter of time before the head bolts pull from the block whether or not you maintain the coolant.

davischris
09-12-08, 07:00 PM
i KNOW what you mean Colombus.

These N * Seem to be hit or miss. A friend of mine has 160K on his 97 Deville.. My 97 Deville the head popped at 110 K.. ANd I am religious about maintenance ....

But I dunno, you can't keep getting burned with a manufacture before you buy elsewhere..

LIke Mercury marine, I bought an optimax in 1999, what Piece of junk motor, broke down all the time and was a brand new motor.. I will never buy another Mercury again after that.

My old 1991 Deville, was a disaster.. My Mom was original owner, bought from her in college, but after about 112K miles she just started falling apart.. Between the valve job.. The ECU replacement, the AC, then the Tranny, this that, other fuel pump.. But it was an oK car before 112 K miles..
I love these cars, WOW did I love those nice red leather seats, they were so comfortable in that Deville and fit me perfectly.. But after spending thousands on big ticket Items, I can't take it anymore and you get tired of it.

Now, my Wife's 1991 LS400 that car is off the charts reliable.. I've replaced tires, brakes, A drivers' side power window motor, and rebuilt the AC/Compressor/orings and dome light.. It has 172K on it and we've had it for 14 years and it still drives like NEW. ANd that car has never tripped a check engine light since we've had it, it's ridiculous....and literally the door hinges, handles, nothing shows looseness or wear and she is tuff on stuff...
I dont' really consider rebuilding an AC system a problem, compressor's kind of have a service life, but Tranny's, ECU's, head cylinders and such, that 's a different story..

But I do miss my old 91 Deville.. Maybe the new N* are better, but I'm not going to be another test dummy....
Belive me I always want to try to buy american, but I can only take soo much, plus I buy used cars, so I have to get something reliable, otherwise I just inherid others problems....

If the N* Heads pop, just junk it, it isn't worth fixing IMO.