View Full Version : To Rebuild or not.

JN in CA
11-11-07, 04:08 PM
It finally happenned. My head gaskets went. It was kind of funny (ironic, not ha ha). I was actually leaving the dealership (I'd gone in to grab a new pack of sealent tabs) when I blew the head gaskets failed enough to overpressurize the system. The "engine hot" message came on about a block away. So I pulled over to the curb, turned it off, and had it towed to the dealership.

Here is the expensive part I want to ask about. The dealership called and said the mechanic used the stethoscope thingy on the engine and heard noise and is uncomfortable with replacing the head gaskets without rebuilding the engine. "Noisy" is not specific enough, imho.

The service manager told me not to do it; junk the car instead, because it has 97k miles.

The thing is that when BBob was still around here, he used to say that the lower end on a N* is good for 300,000 miles, don't touch it.

So, I'm wondering, is the stealership trying to fleece me, or do I really need a rebuild? When you hear noise, does that mean the N* is going to freeze up next month, or in another 30,000 miles?

Because I know from experience dealerships are always looking to fix anything that isn't absolutely perfect, even if it still works fine.

Thanks in advance


11-11-07, 07:48 PM
I think the dealer is on a fishing expedition. Don't let them touch the lower end. Do the head gaskets and be sure it is Timeserted. Perhaps find another dealer.

JN in CA
11-12-07, 06:04 AM
Thanks for the quick reply.

It just didn't sound right to me when a mechanic put a car on a lift, then came back and said he's "not comfortable" (unless he can rebuild it) working on the engine because he says it is "very noisy" with a stethoscope. But I'm not a mechanic. I was just making sure that no technicians here were going to tell me that with a mechanic's stethoscope a mechanic can "hear" corroded internals, or a spun bearing before it spins out.

In fact, I searched the archives to find N* engines that failed for the types of things (stuck rings, spun bearings) that this rebuild would cover, and the only 3 I found were either of dubious original ownership, or over 250,000 miles.

I'm at 97,000 miles, so rebuilding seems dubious.

Some math that may explain this to other people who read this.

I once owned a Lincoln with a bluebook of $2000. I asked my insurance agent how much to add comprehensive to my auto insurance. He said $200. $200 for the possible payout of $2000, if I wrecked the car. Didn't seem like very good odds.

It's the same thing here. The difference between what the dealership wants to change both HGs, vs. a complete rebuild, is an additional $3800. If I don't get it done, and actually ruin my engine, the cost of installing a rebuilt is about $6000. (Quote from a different dealership.) Spending $3800 to prevent the chance of spending $6000 doesn't sound like a good bet to me, unless guys here are pretty darn sure my engine's gonna take a dive.


11-12-07, 11:38 AM
Good luck with your repair

11-12-07, 04:34 PM
You can hear a LOT with a stethoscope. Especially a trained ear. That said, the lower ends are pretty reliable. I'd press for a better explanation. Even then, I think I'd pass and/or get a second opinion.

JN in CA
11-12-07, 08:40 PM
Well, I pressed for a better explanation. Today I called the dealership. They don't have me talking to the nice young write up guy anymore. Now I have to talk to the Service Manager, who is not to my liking.

I gave the dealership the BBob recomendation for when the mechanic says he hears a noise with the stethescope: drain the oil and look for metal debris.

The response was: we never implied anything wrong with the lower end. The Service Manager told me that he is very confident (from talking to his tech) that I need a rebuild because the noise means I warped the heads or the skirt. Now, not being a mechanic, I thought he meant the rings, but when I asked for clarification, he said the piston skirts.

I warped the pistons, in about 60 seconds, on an engine with camel mode? His response was that, yes it can happen that fast.

The thing is that the dealership kind of "has me." The heads are tested off-site, but there is no way to test if any cylinders are going to be "low compression" without actually doing the head gaskets. Then, if the problem is there, he can charge me again. So he has a fairly big stick to get me to let the local shop rebuild my engine.

Let me ask: If I go over and look and there is warpage, will it be visable to a non mechanic like me? Can I tell scuffing from normal wear? After all, at 97,000 miles, it won't look like new.

One tiny saving grace occured once the conversation was not going well (in spite of my repeated: "I'm not accusing you. I chose you because I know you have a good reputation."). When he said to me rebuilding offers the advantage of a "great" 12 month warranty, I mentioned that several aftermarket companies offer remanufactured N*s with 36 month warranties. Confronted, he said if I presented him with an aftermarket engine, he would be happy to install it, at $96 hour labor.

11-12-07, 09:05 PM
Warped the skirts? First time I have heard that. Warped the heads? You turned it off as soon as you got the warning. Hard to say he is BS'ing from here, but BS meter is starting to twitch. I'd go somewhere else.

11-12-07, 10:23 PM
:cool: When and if you have to tear into the block/lower end of the engine, make sure the old parts are saved for you. All of them. A "warped" piston skirt or scuffed skirt will be very obviously scraped/polished, roughly, in vertical lines and grooves. Normal wear will assume a semi-polished, almost matte, finish with a few vertical lines. Don't forget that a piston rocks back and forth at 90 degrees to the wrist pin, so that's why you usually see a cutaway extended skirt on that wear axis. Also, if you have piston scuffing, some of the aluminum may well be bonded to the cylinder wall.

If all this happened at low speed and with quick shutdown, I smell a rat in the diagnosis.

JN in CA
11-12-07, 10:39 PM
Well, he claims there is no BS, no "maybe," involved. He says when they pull the heads, the scuffing will be apparent to a visual inspection. Well, I'm no mechanic. Can I tell a messed up cylinder/piston?

All I can say is that I started it up and backed it out of the driveway for the tow truck driver last week, and I didn't hear anything.

As for the warped heads, the nice young write up guy called me and told me the mechanic said I was right: it is VERY unlikely the heads were warped. Apparently, the mechanic told them they must be warped because there was confusion upon seeing my Eldorado and thinking I had a VIN B, not a VIN 9 engine. So, one guy there is really nice. :)

11-12-07, 10:45 PM
Well, he claims there is no BS, no "maybe," involved. He says when they pull the heads, the scuffing will be apparent to a visual inspection.
Withhold authorization to do the lower end till you see it with your own eyes.

11-12-07, 11:03 PM
You can't accurately tell a scuffed piston without complete disassembly, but there are indicators:
Cylinder-wise, try this: For reference, take a roll of TP and shine a flashlight up through the cardboard center. Discounting the spiral wrap, a good cylinder should have about the same look and shiny/matte texture without obvious vertical gouges, grooves, or aluminum bonded to the sides. In the N* you should be able to see some of the original crisscross honing pattern in the wall. All this with the piston at BDC. The piston tops should be fairly clean, with perhaps a coating of brownish primer-looking material. No obvious pits, burns, or dents, save the valve fly-cut reliefs.

JN in CA
11-14-07, 12:49 AM
Thanks to this forum, I'm finally getting somewhere. the Service Manager is really taking the time to try and work with me.

There is a big GM agency in town that is trying to be Mr. Goodwrench and service all GM brands, so they hired away the foreman from Cadillac. He listened to my engine with the mechanic's stethoscope. First they said I'd warped the heads. I said not on a N*. They called back and said he agreed with me. Then they said I'd scuffed the piston skirts. I said not on a N*. They called back and said he agreed with me.

Here's what the foreman actually says: I have two very loud lifters. He also said there is bearing noise from the lower end. Not like I've spun a bearing, but enough noise that things are getting loose, and as long as we're pulling the engine anyway...

I know some of you are reading this and thinking it's another dealer passing off carbon rap as lifter noise. However, this thing was leaking coolant into 6 of 8 cylinders. I expect the inside to be clean as a whistle, no carbon to rap.

He admitted if I am going to sell the car shortly, rolling the dice and only doing the top end may be worth the gamble, somewhere else, but he will NOT do the heads and gaskets w/o a rebuild. Once the tech recommends something, I have to do it or take the car back. He said I'm free to take the car back, no charge for the diagnosis. (Gee, thanks.)

There is a place here the dealers have used for several previous Northstar rebuilds, and have been really happy with the results. (A real rebuild. Timeserts, rehone the cylinders, all new parts. Not the reused parts rebuilds offered on the internet.) He flat out said he'd match their rebuilds up against a new block from GM.

I'm no mechanic, but I still don't get it. Can't the Northstar's lifters (cams, whatever it needs) be replaced at the same time as the head gaskets without touching the lower end (saving me a lot of $$$)? Or is that like what Submariner said (above): you can't be sure unless you pull out the pistons.

So, I guess I am still not sure if the dealer is screwing me or not. I'm forced into the same conundrum that brings a lot of guys to this board: some say why pull the engine and not rebuild/reseal while you are there? Others say why spend $6000 rebuilding "just because you're pulling the engine?"

11-14-07, 04:15 PM
Let's look at your numbers from page one. You said $2700 for HG and timeserts, or $6400 for an engine, installed.

Now you said the lifters were really loud. Are you thinking of not replacing the lifters? If you are now going to add replacing all the lifters, even the good ones, and replacing at least one camshaft, do you realize how much that adds? I don't work at a dealership, but it's WAY north of $1000.

Plus, any engine with 100,000 miles has seepage at the main seal, are you going to fix that?

So, you are not facing $2700 vs. $6400. You are now facing dumping over $4000 into an engine that will still have almost 100,000 miles, or $6400 for a whole new engine. (excepting the block)

Unless you think the tech is lying about the lifters, I would lean against $4000 in repairs on an old engine, even a Northstar, but like I said, I don't work at a dealership.

11-14-07, 05:00 PM
All valve gear in a N* - heads, cams, followers, lash adjusters, chains, slippers, tensioners, springs, valves, seals, etc. can be removed from the engine without disturbing the crank, rods, or pistons or any bearings associated with those parts.

You're in the "damned if you do - damned if you don't" gray area.

At your point, if I liked the car enough to keep it (and if the cylinders are in fact getting a dose of coolant, the chance of some sort of contamination in the piston ring grooves is very real), so I'd pony up the $$$ and drop in one of AJ's long blocks. As BearFlag says, the lower end already has 100k on it after a top end overhaul.

JN in CA
11-15-07, 12:32 PM
O.k. guys. Those are some really good ideas.

You're in the "damned if you do - damned if you don't" gray area.

At your point, if I liked the car enough to keep it (and if the cylinders are in fact getting a dose of coolant, the chance of some sort of contamination in the piston ring grooves is very real), so I'd pony up the $$$ and drop in one of AJ's long blocks. As BearFlag says, the lower end already has 100k on it after a top end overhaul.

I didn't know that, but it's logical. If there was visible white residue on the spark plugs, then it's possible there is the same on the rings.

You remind me what the dealership said. When the dealer intially said to me "we don't want to do all this work and give you back an engine that may fail within 40,000 miles." I said "what makes you think I'm going to keep the car for another 40,000 miles?"

As this goes on, the idea of having new car performance, and a car I don't have to worry about selling soon, is growing on me.

It's almost comical: I have two guys at the agency, one who thinks I am a fool if I don't spend the money to rebuild the engine. The other thinks I am a fool to put this much into a car with 100k miles, and suggested I junk it. (Why junk it? If I bought another one with lower miles, I'd pay for a car, and just be facing the same issues soon.)

It's odd because I had it in a different dealership 5 years ago, and back then two guys had the same opinions. One guy told me to rebuild the engine as long as I had it out (for the half case leak). Another told me stop throwing money at the car and dump it.

11-16-07, 04:09 PM
If you are paying to have all your work done, then you should probably take the low risk-new engine option. Many of the people on this forum do their own work and the risk of doing something over is not such an expensive problem. I don't blame the dealer for wanting to go a low risk route. The time-sert process is pretty risky and I'm sure they would rather just bolt in a new engine that someone else is responsible for. They may be fibbing about noises in your engine, but I think there intentions are good.

JN in CA
11-20-07, 09:16 PM

Well, some of you have complained that people show up, ask questions, and then never tell you the outcome. So, I'll try to keep you updated.

Yesterday, I went into the agency. (I don't trust approving things by phone.) Well, the guy at the agancy upped the price to $8000, based on the possibility that I cracked the block. Well, that pretty much p.o.'ed me. I don't like the dealership's attitude. I go in, about to drop $6400, and they treat me like a guy trying to get them to knock $5 off an oil change.

So I called "A & A." Anyone in Northern California knows it. They are a Cadillac only parts and service place, and as expensive as a dealership, with a great reputation.

I told him I had blown the head gaskets, and the dealer said I have very noisy lifters and need a rebuild. I got an interesting response: He asked how loud is the noise is, and I said I can't hear it, except in the first 30 seconds, and he said "like any car with 100,000 miles."

Then he said 1) he's never had bad lifters on a N* that young. They routinely go 150,000+. 2) Even then they don't "fail," they simply get so loud the owner pays to fix them. 3) Since it almost never freezes here, even if it was loud, he'd try adding straight 30 weight oil to quiet them before paying to replace them.

He also said he didn't think the tech. could hear the difference between bad lifters and a really bad HG with a stethoscope, before it's opened up. He said you (i.e.- the dealership) can find something wrong with a LOT of engines if you're determined to look hard enough. He ended by saying "we don't do things that you won't need done for another 40,000 miles."

Well, when I called the dealer back (according to them, 15 minutes after they'd had a big pow wow about my car) they said the $8000 was a mistake, they know my block and heads aren't cracked, $6400 will absolutely cover the total rebuild. They said remember, it's not just the lifter noise, it's bearing noise, we have to open up the lower end to check it out. Which I responded: checking it out costs just as much as rebuilding. Once you open up the lower end, you're committed, committed to doubling what it costs me.

The dealer agreed, but said this way I'd be good for another 100,000 miles. (Notice: a view on "what to fix" that is exactly opposite of the guy at A & A.)

I don't think the dealer is trying to burn me, they have a good reputation, but I do think the dealer wants to spend enough of my money to make the engine good for another 100,000 miles, like I'm going to own the car forever.

At this point, I am now seriously considering having it towed (I have AAA plus, so I get 4 100 mile tows) to A & A to let them listen. It is a PITA, a 40 minute drive each way, but if it saves me $3000+...

Anyone have any ideas how much damage a coolant leak can do to the lower end on a N*? It seems to me to be a lot of money to prevent a long shot, but I'm no mechanic. Towing it around it going to set back getting my car by that much longer. :(

11-20-07, 09:56 PM
Coolant and bearings do not play well together. That said, the Northstar rarely puts coolant in the oil when a head gasket lets go. Did it have any coolant in the oil?

You said, "I told him I had blown the head gaskets, and the dealer said I have very noisy lifters and need a rebuild. I got an interesting response: He asked how loud is the noise is, and I said I can't hear it, except in the first 30 seconds, and he said "like any car with 100,000 miles.". That is a classic cold carbon rap aka piston slap. A good dose of WOT will clear that up. Read the "Full Throttle" in the Technical Archives at the top left of this page.

JN in CA
11-21-07, 01:16 PM
Ranger, you're assuming they've actually looked at the oil. I doubt it. If they had milky oil, they would've told me that first thing, to convince me to do the rebuild.

Last week, I told them to drain the oil, and show me metal in the oil. They think that doesn't matter. If they hear a bearing noise, it needs a rebuild, irregardless of metal in the oil. So I assume I'll get the same response about milky oil. They'll tell me: milky or not, we hear bearing noise.

11-21-07, 01:26 PM
JN, If you go down a couple of threads to AJ's "head" post you'll see the result (even though the cylinder liner is cracked) of coolant in a cylinder. The corrosion and scuffing is evident.

JN in CA
11-21-07, 03:07 PM
Sub, I just looked as those pictures. I'm no mechanic, but Ouch! What an eye opener. Yup, pretty obvious scuffing. I take it that block is beyond repair. OTOH, AJ said he thought that was caused by debris, not by coolant. I haven't seen anyone on here say they scorched their N* cylinders from an HG leak.

Last night on the phone, the service manager turned back to bearing noise. Background: When I got the "engine hot" message and shut it down, I saw steam under the hood on the passenger side. When it cooled down I looked with a flashlight and never could find anything. The overflow cap is still intact, but the "check coolant message" was coming on when I had it towed. (I don't know how low it has to be to get that message.)

So, did the dealership fix that leak, and then run it up to operating temperature? Did they pressure test my radiator? They didn't tell me that. I think it is more likely they started it up, and listened quickly, while my engine was still cold, then shut it down before it warmed up. After all, they'd be liable if they scorched an engine by warming it up after it started reading "check coolant."

Again, I'm no mechanic, but I suspect most engines with 100k on them have some bearing noise when they are cold. So what. Does that imply that they are all 10k miles from failing?

The dealer is not saying "IF we can show you scuffing, we'll rebuild." "IF we can show you metal in the oil, we'll rebuild." They are saying "it's noisy. Based just on the noise, it must be rebuilt, or take it somewhere else."

11-21-07, 05:05 PM
I have NEVER heard anyone on this board EVER complain about bearing noise on any Northstar, including 2 & 300K engines, with and without head gasket problems. I'd go somewhere else. I don't like the sound of this, nor the diagnosis method.

11-21-07, 05:44 PM
Sell it ASAP. Ask yourself, do you want to have to be a northstar mechanic to own this car? And do you want your legs under the dash or sticking out from under the car? way too many miles on your car IMO, next the struts and they are very expensive. How much is your car worth now and how much to fix it? Can you sell it for that total and get all of your money back? Sell it and get a car you don't have to worry about and buy a car that mechanics don't shy away from. If northstars engines were so good why did they not use them in the SUVs? The big question is, is this what you want in a luxury car, checking oil daily and having the HG s on your mind? I like my Deville but I would not trust it to go to California in. just my advice TexasCadillac

11-21-07, 07:12 PM
Texas, That's one man's opinion. Given the total forums membership there are 1000 times that number of various Cadillacs, or any other make, that go about their daily tasks with not a whimper, no maintenance, routine maintenance, or a bit of home tinkering.

I have done some pretty looney stuff with my STS and it's still in 1 piece, runs like a striped ape, uses not a drop of oil, and gives me no cause for worry. Yes, the CKP's have been replaced, I cleaned the wheels and hubs to stop the "wiggle", and went through Iametarq's procedure for the cabin temp sensor fan. Spent a fortune in www.autogeek.net (http://www.autogeek.net). Also on the CORSA. Whooppeeee!!

No more or less than anything I've owned, domestic or foreign, since 1955. (My STS is less expensive to maintain, in 2007 dollars, than 2 Jaguars in my past ((not Fords, Jaguars)).).....even IF the head gaskets go....

11-25-07, 03:31 AM
You're going to hear this once from me and 1000 times from other people:

Do it once. Do it right.

11-25-07, 12:20 PM
;)..............or, Do it right and only do it once.

JN in CA
11-26-07, 11:01 PM
Well, here I go with another update. I hope future Cadillac Northstar owners can learn

because of what I've gone through.

When we last left the saga, I was waiting for a call from the stealership:

When I called Tuesday night, they hadn't begun work on my car, but still insisted I had to have a rebuild. I said that's it, I want to get a second opinion. The guy said he would call their machine shop in the morning (to see if they could open up the lower end w/o it costing me anything), then call me back.

Wednesday I never got a call. Thursday was Thanksgiving, so Friday morning I called. You can guess my fear: they had gone ahead and started working on it, in spite of my phone call, because I had previously approved it. Yup, he had not called me back, and instead dropped the carriage and pulled off the heads.

Before calling, I had decided that if they had gone ahead anyway, I was going to tell him I was going to BAR. (The California Bureau of Automotive Repair, BAR, runs a very aggressive mediation program. Most mechanics probably think it's too aggressive.)

When I confronted him with "I told you I wanted a second opinion" he had the gall to say that he thought I meant I wanted to come look myself, not take it to a second mechanic. I am not a mechanic, so why would I want to do that?

Before I could get a word out, this guy (who I'm going to call Snake) immediately added that the heads are already off, the cylinder walls look fine, the oil pan is off and the lower end looks fine. IOW, when he realized I was going to take back the car, he started the work, and backed down on the rebuild.

"Snake" tried to convince me that he never intended to rebuild my engine. That was just something I had to agree to "just in case." (Bull.) Since he was now working hard to assure me I would not need the rebuild, I kept silent about reporting it to BAR.

Instead, I observed that their "very noisy" diagnosis must've been made while the engine was cold. At this point, he admitted that they had started up the engine for just a minute, after it had sat all night in the November cold, to listen. Gee, and it was noisy. What a shock.

Next call:

So you think I am out of the woods? They are going to do the HG and give me back my car. No, it a stealership. He called back a few hours later, and said the mechanic wanted to replace the bearings, that would be $898 ($590 parts + 3 hours labor). The bearing's chrome is scuffed, but not through to the copper. I asked him if there was any danger of failure, he admitted there was not, and I said don't do it.

Then he went into the littany of things that did need to be fixed. I'm leaking out my water pump. I'm leaking out my radiator. I have a leak in the hose to the overflow tank. If all that stuff blew, those overflow caps must be junk. BTW, that hose to the overflow tank is a notorious first failure point if you blow exhaust into the coolant.

All my hoses are original, and he said it's necessary to replace all my heater hoses and radiator hoses as well as the radiator and water pump. (Yeah, maybe he's including the green silicone "lifetime" hoses.) I know some of you are going to read that and say "see, there goes the stealership making up work."

Well, it is an engine with 97k miles. The stuff may last another decade, but after all these years, it may fail on the next 100F day. Over seventy percent of vehicle breakdowns are due to belts/hoses/tires.

On a N*, the blown head gasket blows exhaust gas into the coolant, not coolant into the oil, so the cooling system is what may be damaged, not the lower end. My money is better spent on replacing hoses and belts that really may be at the end after 97k miles, than on bearings and rings that probably have another 100k miles of service.

Then he gave me the song and dance: how the radiator is a $500 part, but he will sell it to me for the fleet price of only $300. Well, the MSRP on gmpartsdirect is $347, their price is $217. So he's a liar.

The big one is that he told me the additional parts alone were going to be $2000. (That is not a typo.) Subtract the $600 for the bearings I'm not going to replace, and that still leaves $1400. I've added up the MSRP on all the parts he listed, plus the little stuff I can think of, and I can't get anywhere close to that number.

I reminded him he is going to have to list every part, but still, he has to be replacing some parts he did not get my authorization for.

Here's the list of additional parts he's replacing and their MSRP:

strut mount $76
rear main seal 36
pan gasket 18
serpentine belt 46

water pump 124
pump belt 15
radiator 300
lower hose 47
upper hose 47

To get close to $1400, I've made a list of stuff I suspect he also changing, but didn't list:

oil cooler $150
upper oil hose 40
lower oil hose 40
thermostat 35
blower motor cover 125
(2) O2 sensors 87

He also told me I have to have my heads sent to the machine shop. I'd assume if that is necessary, it's included in the head gasket estimate. He said it is not, but it is needed. Then added that he is going to ask the machine shop what they would charge to lightly "freshen up" the valves. On a N*. Yes, this is the service manager at the agency, acting like he is working on a '69 GMC small block. He said he would call me back on that, after he had gotten a price. He will probably just go ahead and do it, and then I'll have to fight with him.

This is another point for future readers: does the estimate include machining the heads?

One thing I've learned: folks, when you find out you have a leak in the HGs, don't keep driving until they fail. Get it fixed, or the exhaust gas pressure may mess up other stuff.

11-26-07, 11:29 PM
So you think I am out of the woods? They are going to do the HG and give me back my car. No, it a stealership. He called back a few hours later, and said the mechanic wanted to replace the bearings, that would be $898 ($590 parts + 3 hours labor). The bearing's chrome is scuffed, but not through to the copper. I asked him if there was any danger of failure, he admitted there was not, and I said don't do it.
How does he know that the bearing is scuffed unless he pulled one. The bearings are not reusable. Once they are pulled, they must be replaced. If it was a main bearing (as opposed to a rod bearing) then he had to pull the lower crankcase half (which is basically a one piece bearing cap). That means all the mains have to be replaced.

11-27-07, 12:24 AM
Sounds like you should have sent your car to the independent.

I agree that 10 yr old hoses and gasket...even "lifetime" should be replaced. The old ones are stiff and don't seal/conform as well as new. I'm replacing them myself so it's a little different.

JN in CA
11-27-07, 12:25 AM
Ranger, what can I tell you? This is a mechanic that admitted to diagnosing an engine by putting a stethoscope on it 60 seconds after he turned it on. Does it surprise that their bearing scuff diagnosis was made by unscrewing the oil pan and turning on a flashlight?

Let's hope other Cadillac owners will read this and know what doubletalk to see through when they use a dealership.

11-27-07, 11:00 AM
You cannot see the bearing by dropping the oil pan. He would still have to remove the bearing cap, rendering that bearing useless.

11-27-07, 01:41 PM
I though you couldn't rebuild a Northstar block because of the cylinder liners or something to that extent? but I may be wrong.

11-27-07, 04:13 PM
Chicano, Even with awesome mileages, the N* cylinder liners (non-replaceable) rarely have any measurable taper or wear. It is common on 100,000 mile engines to see the original crosshatch pattern.......a dingleberry buff and new rings, good to go. The kicker is the condition of the head and main bearing bolt holes and threads. A lot of rebuilds need an extensive Timesert (NOT helicoil) job.

11-27-07, 05:02 PM
Thanks for clearing that up Submariner409 as I said I have no real knowledge of the Northstar engines and thats the main reason I'm asking question. >:)

11-27-07, 07:33 PM
Regarding the green silicone coolant/heater hoses, I have replaced them in the past with regular heater hose. Was that a no-no? That seemed to work OK...

I am in the midst of a HG project (HUGE PROJECT!!!) and plan to replace all hoses and the belt. I am going to start a new thread to offer some thoughts and ask some questions, but if I really should be using the silicone hoses, where would I purchase them - dealer?

Richard Moore
Fountain Hills, AZ

11-27-07, 07:42 PM
They used the green silicone hoses because they are more heat resistant and damn near impossible to get at. Don't want to have to replace those if you can avoid it.

11-28-07, 08:43 PM
I Know What You Mean....so Who Sells The Silicone Hoses - Anybody Know?

11-28-07, 09:23 PM
I am pretty sure you can get them from http://www.gmotors.com, but I would think some parts store or dealer should have 25-50 ft rolls of it that can be purchased by the ft or in.

11-29-07, 01:22 PM
Thanks Ranger

JN in CA
11-29-07, 04:31 PM
Hey Richard, last week another member put up a great photo essay of his N* HG job. If you're going to do one, it is definitely worth looking at. The thread is titled My Photo Essay N* Head Gasket Repair Job

Re: those silicone hoses. DO NOT replace with regular heater hose. After several really hot days, the regular heater hose may fail in that location (next to those heater pipes). And yup, AC Delco sells the green hoses only in a cut to length roll.

For the rest of you who have followed my stealership soap opera, no new news. The dealership is ready to go, but they are waiting on getting my heads back from the machine shop. (I know a lot of you think milling N* heads is a joke. I have no idea about that myself.)

One tiny bit of good news: in the meantime I found out that Citibank is offering a new mastercard that pays 5% cash back on ALL purchases in the first 3 months. So I applied online and got instant approval. I'll use it to pay the stealership and at least get a 5% rebate.


11-29-07, 05:50 PM
Believe it or not, I changed the silicone hoses to regular heater hose and those sucker lasted for several years. I will look for the silicone hose, but I will use the heater hoses in a pinch

11-29-07, 06:08 PM
tateos, have you checked on the web for the silicone hose? It might be worth buying a roll if it was cheap enough that way.

11-29-07, 07:01 PM
A roll? How much do I need - just around a foot, right?

Like I said, I am going to look for the silicone ones, but I'll use the regular heater hoses if I have to - they seemed to work fine (and I live in HOT AZ like you) They are not exposed to any greater heat than the heater hoses and the heater hoses are regular hose, so I'm not sure what the big deal is

BTW, I have been reading all of the HG posts, and I started this project intending to pull the engine out the top, but I have come to the realization that you were right all along - out the bottom has to be the the best way. When you did it, didn't the engine hoist legs intrude under the cradle and get in the way? It seems like the bumper underneath the bumper cover is plastic, so I suppose i can't lift the front end from there, but what do you think about lifting from where the bumper struts bolt into the front end - behind the headlights?

Also, I have some space constraints - what do you think about pulling the engine and trans out the bottom and then sliding it out the side instead of the front?

Also, I will be changing the steering rack due to "morning sickness", so I'm going to need a front end alignment anyway. What do you think about disconnecting the knuckles from the struts and leaving the struts in the car when I drop the engine/trans/cradle?

Last question - did you change the rear main seal? I need to do that, and I see the special tool for the new design seal sells for $352 - kind of a lot for a 1 time 2 minute use

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Richard Moore
Fountain Hills

11-30-07, 01:16 AM
I think you need more like 5 or 6 feet. I could be wrong as it's now been a couple of years. I was just throwing an idea out. It might be worth checking as there could be a big difference in cost. I think the only reason they went to the silicone is the difficulty changing them.

I lifted by putting a piece of 4x4 under the radiator support. At the time I had a bunch of 4x4's from a project.It kept the rad support from bending. I cut it to go all the way across the rad spt. Then I wrapped a tow strap around the wood and support and lifted with that. I supported the body by building stands to hold it high enough to roll the cradle out.

Depending on what you use to slide it you could pull it out the side. As long as you get the body high enough to clear. Harbor Freight has some moving dollies that are supposed to handle 1000 lbs.

Remember, you pull the calipers and hang them so you don't have to pull the brake lines.

I think pulling the struts with the cradle is easier than separating them under the car. You only have to separate the tie rod ends to change the rack...right?

I haven't changed the rear seal on any of the Caddy's I've done. I know there were some threads about changing the rear seal. I've changed one piece seals on other cars and did not use a special tool. I used a small slide hammer to remove and a wooden block to tap them in.

11-30-07, 03:32 PM
Thanks for the reply, Zonie. Yeah you are right about changing the rack - just the tie rod ends - I just thought that leaving the struts in might make cradle assembly a little easier to handle. I do plan to borrow those dollies from Harbor Freight - a friend has some.

This is some project - pretty involved for an amateur, I think. The project is on hold this weekend - resumes next weekend. I am going to start a new thread about this project, probably next weekend.

How about this rain we are getting here in PHX - something we haven't seen in a long time, huh?

Richard Moore

11-30-07, 11:38 PM
The rain stalled me this weekend.

How far along are you?

12-04-07, 07:18 PM
Well - I have the engine partly disassembled and close to be removed. I need to disconnect the rack from the steering column, the struts and calipers and some miscellaneous electrical connections. I have a '97 ETC - is there an electrical and vacuum line under the dash to disconnect - the manual says so, but where are they - do you know?

I actually had last weekend off from my project because we went to Las Vegas - had a heck of a drive up on Friday night - it doesn't rain here for months and it has to rain the night I am driving to LV! I was driving my '05 Lincoln LS with new Michelin Pilot Exalto tires - it handled the flooded roads pretty well, I must say. The tires are "summer " tires and have really wide channels for getting rid of water. These tires are "W" speed rated, so I'm not too sure how long these things will last in the Phoenix summer heat.

Richard Moore

12-04-07, 07:38 PM
Yes there are vacuum lines under the dash. Just disconnect the supply line at the firewall on the passengers side.

12-05-07, 01:05 PM
Thanks Ranger - does that apply to the electrical connections also? The Helm manual says disconnect the electrical at the PCM under the dash, but I think I read that was changed for '96 or '97.

12-05-07, 04:25 PM
I see no reason to disconnect anything under the dash. There should be a connection for anything that goes into the cabin at the firewall.

12-05-07, 05:05 PM
I see no reason to disconnect anything under the dash. There should be a connection for anything that goes into the cabin at the firewall.

Great - thanks - I am going to tackle some of these remaining details this weekend - probably drop it next weekend