: Dealer Says I Need A New Engine: PLEASE HELP

06-01-04, 01:55 PM
Blessed Day to All,

First off i have a 97 Eldorado ETC with 92,704 miles. It started overheating a few weeks ago. I found no leaks or milky oil, but there is some steam coming out the exhaust, when i start it up in the morning and rarely during the day and night. Im assuming there's a leak in the head gaskets, but the cadillac dealership supposely fixed this two years ago when the car had 76,388 miles on it. Well i took it in today for a diagnostics of the problem and they tell me its an internal head gasket leak and that it can only be replaced once, which they already did 2 years ago, and the only option i have is to put in another engine. The service adivisor told me that if anyone says that they can fix my car, they are lying and that i would only be wasted my money. I am in dire need of a second opinion and any help would be greatly appreciated

Thanks Sam,

06-01-04, 02:28 PM
I'm gonna say BS on that one... My guess is they didn't timesert the block the first time around, and now it caught up to them (you). First thing's first... Ask them if they even know what a timesert is. :want:

06-01-04, 02:37 PM
The service adivisor told me that if anyone says that they can fix my car, they are lying and that i would only be wasted my money.
That right there means you need to find another mechanic. And fast! :annoyed:

06-01-04, 02:38 PM
Thanks eldorado1, i looked at the invoice from when they fixed it and i see timeserts listed in there along wit alot of other mumbo jumbo. They are trying to charge me $8000 for a new engine installed. An independent is charging 4700 for a rebuilt engine installed. I just graduated from college and cant even find a decent job. :banghead:

06-01-04, 03:43 PM
Well, if you just plain can't afford it, there's a guy named Richard Potter who's probably still looking to buy one with a bad engine.

06-01-04, 04:11 PM
Thanks eldorado1, i looked at the invoice from when they fixed it and i see timeserts listed in there along wit alot of other mumbo jumbo. They are trying to charge me $8000 for a new engine installed. An independent is charging 4700 for a rebuilt engine installed. I just graduated from college and cant even find a decent job. :banghead:
If they truely did do the timeserts, there would be no problem. You can replace the head gasket(s) as many times as you want with no reprocussions. $8000 installed seems very steep. I *think* brand new, northstar longblocks are $4000, which equates to like 100 hours of labor on top of that. I'm no expert, but even I could have it done in a couple days. Keep in mind that there are also a lot of decent used engines out there... I just picked up a 95 with 67k miles for $1100 delivered. Where you located? I might be able to help you out....

06-01-04, 04:19 PM
Im in Atlanta, GA. I dont have much knowledge of fixing the car, but i have an uncle thats a mechanic, but he neva worked on a northstar b4. Other than that, it seems like everyone else is tryin to scew me. Thanks in advance eldoraldo1.

06-01-04, 04:31 PM
Hmm... well, you're a bit too far south of me... Unless you want to trailer your car some 1500 miles north :D I personally think it would be in your best interest to fix the engine that's in it now (perhaps try taking it to another caddy dealer in a different town?) Otherwise, like I said before, you can get a decent low-mile used engine (maybe $1000 for a longblock locally), have it swapped in (maybe 20 hours of labor, $1500), and sell your old engine (-$500) For a total of $2000... But then you take the risk that IT might have a headgasket problem... Up to you,

06-01-04, 08:52 PM
I would stick with the devil you know--it's definitely cheaper! I would throw coolant and Barsleaks at it until you get a job. I hope Bbob will weigh in on this one cuz I'm puzzled as to why the gaskets would fail at 76k and AGAIN at 96k??
I'm having mine done by a large independent garage that I found through the following manner: I called around to see who had done extensive engine work on N* and mostly no one had. But I finally got a friendly garage owner who suggested I call the local machine shop that grinds all the heads for most of the shops in town, and voila--the shop that sends him N* heads. The service mangler there said they'd done 2 or 3 and even knew what timeserts were..Pr advisers on this board, I will offer them the use of my Helms manuals and an extensive printout of the archives from this site and if they don't laugh in my face I will continue my quest to preserve this elegant piece of automotive history while supporting the local economy (sorry Detroiters)...but now I'm nervous...why would those gaskets fail twice in 20k miles??

06-01-04, 09:30 PM
If the block was timeserted a few things might have happened. The head bolts might have been torqued improperly, a timesert may not have been installed properly or there may have been some head warpage.
If your uncle is a decent mechanic he should be able to do the job. Heck, I did it! :bonkers:
You HAVE to get the factory manual. Other than that there aren't too many special tools and you can probably get them from Checker or Autozone.
Look at this and show it to your uncle... see what he says.


06-02-04, 10:06 AM
Thanks for all the help guys.
zonie77, that post is priceless, thanks alot.
But now im leaning towards trying to find a used engine because i dont want this problem to come up again since it already came up twice. The dealer was telling me about how the heads are pushing upward and the bolts are anchored and if pulled out wit damage the block. Im not a mechanic so i was in space while he was talking.
Could you tell me what are the pros and cons and also costs of

1) redoing the heads or headgaskets again
2) rebuilding the engine
3) putting in another engine

I spoke with a mechanic that said, anyone can put an engine in but if they dont have the cadillac specification sheet , everything would be shot to hell. My uncle is scared to work on it because he says everything computerized and he doesnt have the computer tools to reset the codes when everything is put in place.

Thanks in advance to zonie77 and everyone else
Oh yea, let me know if anyone has a deal on engines, im in Atlanta, GA

samedy_h@yahoo.com :drinker

06-02-04, 10:56 AM
Changing the engine doesn't involve much computer knowledge. You have to be careful not to damage any wiring and make sure everything gets hooked up properly. The sensors use different connectors so it is hard to mix them up.
If you change engines make sure the "new" one is in the right year range to interchange.

All you have to do is disconnect the battery to clear the codes.

The mechanics you are talking to are blowing a lot of smoke. To replace the engine doesn't require any Caddy specs. Replacing the head gaskets requires you to retime the cams but it was easier to do than to explain it! You definitely need the factory manual because it walks you through step by step. If you aren't experienced that is priceless.

I was concerned about the same things you are but with the manual it wasn't that difficult...it is a long job but nothing about it was impossible.

06-02-04, 11:06 AM
zonie77 im gonna look into the manuals. What year range will do for my car? Its a 97 etc. Do you think im better off looking for a used engine or rebuilding the engine or trying to do the head gaskets again? A friend of mine was telling me about a used northstar for 850, but he didnt say what year.


06-02-04, 01:22 PM
BBobynski posted the years that interchanged. Do an advanced search for that post. If the engine seemed to be in good condition I would replace the head gaskets. The Caddy engine is really well designed and at 100k+ miles barely shows wear. I would redo yours. If you pull it apart and see something bad you can get the used engine then.

A used engine is a "pig in a poke" You don't know what you are getting until you install it!

If you redo your heads you should be under the $850 price. If you have to buy and engine hoist and some tools you won't be much over that amount.

06-03-04, 04:01 PM
He's in GA, he could prolly find a big tree and hang his motor from it. ;) If you run into problems man, I have a guy here in FL who can redo it. Prolly 3500 or so though. Sorry.

06-04-04, 12:09 PM
Too bad I wasn't at school (GTECH) this summer, working in CT, else I'd be able to help you out, I have the manuals and a 98 ETC myself.


06-04-04, 03:19 PM
Wassup Raze, I graduated from Tech Fall 03 and cant even find a decent job to pay for the repairs to my car. Was your car red with the sunroof? It wasnt to many ETC's on campus. Yeah ive been looking for those manuals also. Thanks for the help though.

Thanks for the info Shadow and zonie once again.

Im thinking about letting a well known mechanic do the heads and head gaskets for $1000 total. What should i be aware of and should ask him about to make sure he does it right (ex. timecerts ?). Thanks in advance, yall have a blessed day


06-04-04, 07:04 PM
I didn't answer one of your questiosn right.You asked what year manuals would be OK on your car and I was thinking what engines interchanged.
94 to at least 98 will work and I think it could be even newer.Details on the car changed but the important things stayed the same. Try to get as close to your year as possible.

06-09-04, 11:34 PM
I am on my way home from Connecticut and I just did a head job on my Caddy in coffee Springs, Alabama and I have all the required tools with me. IF you gave me a place to stay or put up my tent and bought the parts I would do anything and everything needed under the hood and make it look like new for $1000. As for experience I have been a fully certified NAISE Master Mechanic back in the 1980's and even worked for the Caddy Dealer in Vancover WA as a line mechanic way back in the pre Northstar days. As for knowledge ... I have spent the last month reading all these posts and that surely supplemented what I already knew.

Why would I do this? I could use the money and it gives me a chance to visit the rest of my family living in the south and then it is the long drive back home to Sun City, Calif. Any excess miney is going into my fund to buy a side post lift. Back home I run a mobile I come to you automatic transmission service. I pull the tranny take it home and bring it back ... why? becasue I am not yet ready for the overhead of a shop and I don't have a side post lift ... yet.

As for quality ... I am a stickler for detail ... a perfectionist. I almost never have a comeback on my automatic trannys. Part of this trip was to pick up and see in use a bunch of computer test equipment for cars which I now have in my possesion. I had to get it to work on the newest trannys.

PS I love adventure and travel and I am now 5300 miles into my planned 9000 mile trip. I had originally planned to take the northern route to the West Coast but I am very flexible.

If this post is out of line my apologies. It just occurred to me that it might be.

06-10-04, 06:11 AM
How you doing 92-deville, i appreciate the kind gesture, but im out the country at the moment and wont be back for at least a month. And no, i dont think you were out of line. Everyone around here is chargin at least 1500 for labor. But maybe we can work something out when i get back. Let me get your email addy and i'll write you if needed. Have a blessed day yall


06-10-04, 08:10 AM
92-deville--wanna circle back Boston way? I've got a carport you could work in...sounds like your on an adventure like in the old days!

07-17-04, 04:20 PM
Wassup guys, how are yall doing? Well im down to the wire and need some last minute advice. I have talked came across two mechanics

1) Says that he can redo the heads + labor for $1000. But now he says that since this will be the second time doing the heads he suggests putting another engine in. My engine has almost 93,000 miles on it. Im thinkin shouldnt he look at the engine first to see if its still good b4 he wants to put another engine in? If he puts another engine in, i thinks its gone be around 2000 or more, he hasnt given me a price yet, but he was charging $600 for rebuilt heads and $400 for labor.

2) This guys says he will put another engine in (60,000 miles) + labor for $2000. Have a 3 month warranty on the engine and a 6 month warranty on his work. Does this sound like a deal? The engine is 1500 and his labor is 500.

Now for all the cadillac experts that have helped me before, how much should a good used engine go for? And where is a good place to look for one, im in atlanta, ga.
Should i try to get the heads redone or rebuilt or just go for another engine.
While engine is out, what else should i have the mechanic look at and work on so the car wont overheat again, and what prices should each task be around so he wont screw me over. One guy says he will flush the radiator out for $100. And how do i really know these guys know what they are doing??? These are references from good friends. Please let me know what to look out for and your opinions on which option i should pick. Once again, thanks a million, and if anyone ever comes down to atlanta, drinks on me. :drinker


07-17-04, 05:33 PM
I would pull the heads on the engine that you have, AFTER a pressure test has verified the head gaskests are really the problem.

As for getting another engine, make sure it will interchange with your car. There are many changes to the Northstar through the years. I think there are four generations. On the exterior they look very similar and can probably bolt up, that would be the easy part.

There were numerous changes to the various sensors and how the PCM will interpert them. Ignition sensors changed locations and signal strengths, the intake charge is monitered by different methods, etc.

As I noted, I would stick with the engine you have now and repair it.
If it was Timeserted the heads can be removed and the gaskets simply replaced.

If a Timesert has failed, it can be redone with the larger Timesert made for this exact repair.

If the Timeserts wern't done (or only a few) and your receipts state that they were replaced....they should cover the entire cost of repairs.


07-17-04, 07:24 PM
I am far from any kinda expert so I am not offering any advice. You asked how much you can look to pay for a replacement engine. SInce I just had the engine in my 97 Deville replaced I can offer my experience here. I found used engines here in Houston ranging from $1000 to the mid/high 2 thousands. I wound up buying an engine from a 98 Deville for 1700 with 48K on it. It runs great and I am extremly happy it with it.

I will however do my best to ensure that the who ever is selling you the engine is being honest because someone offered me an engine for 1500 with 68k. However when I checked the VIN on carfax I found that it actually had 123k on it!!

Good Luck!

07-18-04, 10:38 AM
Growe3's post...ditto

07-18-04, 12:55 PM
Hey RED, sorry for not posting, I've been busy with work. Actually, no I don't have the Red ETC but I know which one you're talking about. I've got a 98 black/black ETC. You are right though, they are a rareity in ATL (prolly cause they've got one of the highest stolen vehicle rates in the region!).

Back to your engine, As mentioned earlier have the pressure test done as it's really the only way to know for certain that it is the HGs without tearing into the block if you can spend the money. I find it odd you don't have 'bad' oil, what work have you had done

I'm not sure about remans on the N*s but www.jasperengines.com has THE BEST remans/new engines because they alter remans and new engines to fix known problems. For instance if you check out their catalog (u have to put in a zip/email address which doesn't have to be real to view it) you will see that new N*s for your model year go for under $5k (tho they do need your block as trade). The new engine comes timeserted to prevent HG failure and everything! Along with a 3 year/75,000 mile! warranty which is just about the best I've ever seen on ANY reman/new part. If you can't spend this kind of money you might contact them about any available remans which they don't usually list.

That doesn't include the labor tho, if you have the tools/manuals you could do it in a couple days no sweat. Might be something to look into. I recieved your IM the other night and since you have my AIM, feel free to say something when I'm on.

There's even a Jasper Engine's Shop in GA that will do the install/removal for you but you'd have to call to find out how much, might be worth looking into...

07-18-04, 09:17 PM
Thanks for the help guys, but these mechs that ive been dealing with are assuming that the engine i have is no good. I wanna follow growe3's advice since that could save time and money. But they are saying there may be a hairline crack in the block or something that may cause the same problem again. Then i was like, well we would never know unless we examine the engine, and he was like if we take the engine apart, they wont give u the full trade in price for a used engine.

Ballatician mentioned checking the vin on carfax, does anyone have an account with them just in case i come across an engine for a good price? If so thanks in advance

Raze, i checked out jaspers, its almost $5000 for new engine, its good if i got the money but i dont so its back to square one. Ive checked online to see if your there, you stay idled brother haha. You back in Atlanta? Let me know when a good time to catch up with ya

Once again, thanks for all the help guys


07-18-04, 10:22 PM
Elderado_RED, I think my carfax account is good thru the end of the month. I paid for a one month subscription
....sorry I checked, it expires on the 24th

07-18-04, 10:27 PM
Yeah sorry mate I stay idled most of the time (working on a computer all day the last thing I want to do is come home and sit in front of one during a summer Coop ;)) Unfortunatley I won't be back in ATL till middle of August which is still a ways off when you've got engine troubles. Keep your head up dude all is not lost w/your Caddy, just keep asking questions!

07-19-04, 10:12 AM
Hey guys, if I decide to redo the heads. What kinda head gaskets should I use and where do I get them from. I don’t know if im goin to have time to order them, does places like autozone carry them? Whats the difference between Kevlar and Graphite head gaskets. Also what brand and where can I get the timeserts.

Now if I decide to install a used engine, is there anyway I can tell if the heads on the used engine are still in good shape or about to go bad. Im really keeping my faith in this car, but if this happens again, I might have to crash it through the Cadillac dealership.

Oh yea, im going to get it pressured tested again, but does white smoke out the exhaust guarentee it’s the heads? Because I have yet to see milky oil, then again I haven’t drove the car in over a month.

Thanks in advance, have a blessed day to all


07-20-04, 09:39 AM
N* does not put coolant in the oil until the gaskets are totally gone. The design generally keeps the coolant from the oil.

timesert.com or try to find a used kit. You will still need new inserts so take it apart and see what you have before getting a kit. Your engine was supposed to be timeserted, take it apart and see what really is wrong.