: Is the Northstar junk?

05-26-04, 10:51 AM
this site makes me think the northstar engine is complete junk. what percent of these engines have the problems talked about on this forum? ie. new head gaskets, thread inserts, electrical problems etc.

05-26-04, 11:19 AM
this site makes me think the northstar engine is complete junk. what percent of these engines have the problems talked about on this forum? ie. new head gaskets, thread inserts, electrical problems etc.

Typical reaction to any internet forum that you might visit.

Everyone who has a problem looks up the appropriate internet site to vent and bitch and explain their problems. So, naturally, most of what you read is problems. Check any internet site and see. BMW 750's have a huge hate site. Toyota has a hate site for their "sludging" four cylinders. Check out some of the Mercedes sites on their latest cars with electronic problems. Even enthusiate sites like for the Ford Taurus V8 SHO has multiple posts about failed cams....

There are millions of Northstars on the road without a single problem. I recently discovered that a nearby neighbor has over 200K on here Northstar Deville with nothing but oil changes as an example. This site is NOT a scientific sample of the cars and engines out there. It does highlight problems that might show up....but certainly does not represent the likelyhood of the problem showing up.

Given enough miles problems will start to show up on any engine. Many of the vehicles on this forum have well over 100K on them when problems do show up. The Northstar is it's own worst enemy in this respect. It seems capable of generally giving excellent service with little or no intervention by the owner well past 100K. 20 or 30 years ago it was not that usual to get 100K on any car or engine without significant work and investment. The Northstars that do come apart for work look excellent inside with the orginal honeing pattern in the cylinder bores and absolutely no cylinder wear or ridge to deal with. The heads and valves and valve seats need no work at 100K-150K on engines that come apart and the timing drive lives forever. So things like the head gasket start to bubble up as the "weakest" link that needs service first.

Lexus engines from the same era as the early and mid 90's Northstars would have needed two or more timing belt replacements by now as normal maintenance. At $1200-$1500 per that would easily exceed the amount most people have to spend for a head gasket replacement IF it was needed and most don't. So, not a direct comparison but it does show that every engine requires some investment to get to the 100K+ range....

As mentioned before, the 93/94/95 Northstars also suffer from the lack of maintenance of the cooling system by owners early in their life. Head gaskets failing on those engines about now are often due to lack of cooland replacement and internal corrosion effects due to the corrosion inhibitors failing in the coolant from not being serviced. Not the engine's fault, really.

Is it junk..??? Not at all. Are there some characteristic problems that show up on some engines...???...yes. As there are on all engines.

05-26-04, 12:42 PM
good point about the use of these sites, that makes sense, i found this site trying to solve a problem with my car. now if i could just get the thing to run smoothe again.

05-26-04, 02:52 PM
I have owned two Northstars. The first was my 1994 Deville Concours. The engine was great except the case half started leaking oil at around 100k miles. I sold it with 125k, and it still ran great!

The second was in my 2000 STS. There were some casting defects in the year 2000 blocks that made them porous for coolant. My STS engine had coolant leaking under the intake manifold at around 44k miles. It was replaced under warranty with a 2002 Northstar.
Other than 2 MAP sensors and new crank sensors (another Y2K problem), the old engine ran great.

I've owned 9 different Cadillacs and the only one that I've had problems with was a 76' 500 that had an oiling problem and it fried the main bearing.

So I wouldn't call the Northstar junk, it's a very powerful little engine!

05-28-04, 11:52 AM
BMW 750's have a huge hate site.
:coolgleam My dad had a 740iL, he would agree with that. Traded it on a new DeVille 2 months ago. :cheers:

02-19-15, 01:56 PM
I have owned 3 cadi's all with the 4.9 and those engines have given me almost no issues whatsoever. My first deville was a 91 with 145k miles I drove it to about 180k and sold it for around the same amount purchased, no issues whatsoever.

My 2nd white cadi was a 92 Deville with around 180k miles. On this one a vacume controlled valve that bolted on to the transmission went bad, 7 dollar part. Drove it until I was rear-ended and was payed more than I put into it.

My 3rd Cadi was a red 95 Deville and this had some design flaws in the suspension. I had to change the power steering pump which was ridiculously easy to do. drove this car for 8 years from 49k miles up to 95k miles. The rear subframe rusted out and I had so many issues I couldn't swap it out myself so I junked it instead. The engines till ran like a swiss clock.

In fact all the 4.9's I've had ran like clockwork, the most reliable engine I've ever seen.

That said I have a friend who buys and sells vettes and cadi's all the time. he is a retired GM technician and tells me about the issues with the northstars in particular. They seem to have issues of leaking engine gaskets, that has been the most common issue I have heard. He also informed me that when he took apart one of the bigger northstars it had plastic timing chain guides, which seemed a bit questionable to me.

In any case these issues have kept me from buying a Cadi. I'm driving a pos Subaru right now and it's starting to die on me. Yet I cant find a 4.9 Cadi, so now I may have to bite the bullet and look for a northstar Cadi.

Just my 2 cents on the subject.

02-19-15, 02:11 PM
Not bad for resurrecting an 11 year old dead thread.

Welcome to the Funny Farm :welcome:

BTW - the 3 timing chain slippers and tensioner guides in the Northstar are nylon and last at least 100,000 miles. MANY engines use about the same OHC chain guide arrangement. (The timing gears in many 60s, 70s, 80s OHV engines were nylon .........)

I would strongly recommend that anyone who sees this thread please read Post #2. It is as true today as 11 years ago.

02-19-15, 02:32 PM
He also informed me that when he took apart one of the bigger northstars it had plastic timing chain guides, which seemed a bit questionable to me.
What would you use, steel? That would last about 20K. Many people hear have well over 200K and have never had to replace the chain guide. My daughters '04 SLS has 160K on it and we just drove it from Chicago to PDX. It still runs like new.

02-21-15, 11:20 PM
For anyone curious :sneaky:

My Dad had a 99 Concours. 62k to 91k miles. Problem? A/C conditioner gave up the ghost. No problems otherwise. Car ran great, didn't burn much oil as far as I can recall

I have a 96 DeVille. Got her with 38,947 on the clock, and she is up to 91,890 as of 2/20/15. The only vehicle issues I have had have been self-inflicted (power steering leak, alternator that probably was ok and I felt the need to replace it, etc.) with the exception of the coolant level sensor and the struts. Every other expense has been regular maintenance (headlights, oil changes, tires, etc.) She does not burn a drop of oil, there are no leaks, and she regularly gets factory or better mileage. :cloud9:

My brother has an 03 DeVille with 80k miles. It had the oil burning issue, but he has nearly resolved that with the WOT issue.

My Dad has an 06 and an 09 DTS. The 09 is almost in brand new shape (3700 miles), so that may not be a good frame of reference. The 06 has just over 65k miles, and the only issues so far are a possibly worn serpentine belt tensioner and a very slight bank 2 valve cover gasket leak (I would describe it as a slight seep).

Sure, they may not have too terrible many miles, but we have had excellent luck with our Cadillacs. I would recommend them to anyone who would follow recommended maintenance (change the oil according to the OLM, rotate the tires, change the coolant every 2 years, etc.)

02-23-15, 02:53 AM
Anybody with any sense will see the Northstar engine is a very well engineered masterpiece. There isn't one thing under the hood of a N* powered vehicle that is junk. Actually theres nothing that isn't bad ass IMO. For example the air intake assembly(2002 year) is bad-ass, intake manifold bad-ass, heads bad-ass, valve train bad-ass, fuel system bad-ass, ignition system bad-ass, ect ect. And a stout 4T80-E to back it all up.

They are sensitive because they run so WELL. If anything is just a hair off it will let you know. But believe me this motor is no slouch. And they get respectable fuel milage. And this engine has potential, if your smart enough to look/find it. But with a thread started like this I wouldn't expect much from you

02-23-15, 09:07 AM
The OP posted the first opinion 11 years ago. Then this old thread was dredged up by a new member who parroted the usual hearsay and rumor - the same stuff we see in every other automotive forum, spouted by people who have absolutely no idea of what they're talking about. Is the Northstar engine a piece of junk ??? Of course it is - because NO other engine made by ANY manufacturer on earth has ever had a problem.

Remember: This is a "How do I fix it ?" site, so we almost NEVER see the good side of the Northstar System. EVERY Northstar part and engine problem in these forums is such a tiny fraction of the total as to be almost inconsequential - No, not inconsequential to the poor guy whose engine blew or the one who got fished in at Korner Kar Korral - but in the order of things, the Northstar System is far better than it appears in these forums.

Engines; Northstar - stickys - Northstar production numbers. As of the end of ??? 2009 ??? there were about 2,000,000 Northstars in various guises and states of repair/destruction out there. Suppose CF has 2,500 Northstar owners with various problems, large and small. What percentage of the total is that ? How do you accurately factor in the rest of the world - those who know nothing about CF ??

As I posted in #7 - read Post #2, then read the entire Cadillac Technical Archive way up ^^^ in the top black bar. See any similarities in text and style ?

02-24-15, 01:12 PM
As many issues I hear with the northstar Ive had a bunch of n* powered caddy and I have to say besides the head gasket issues this is my favorite engine, cause when they work they work amazing! They are silky smooth and powerful. I'd buy another one but mine won't die! Its got 385,000 on it and still going original head gasket and engine. Transmission isn't so hot right now though but ill replace it !