: My 2 day old SLS is giving me some strange problems



caddystick
10-31-08, 11:14 PM
I just purchased a 1999 seville SLS with 52,000 miles on the odo. What I thought was a great deal is starting to give me second thoughts. Today while I was driving home I noticed that the thermostat gauge hit the max and a little alarm started to go off and the information bar said something like "idle" I pulled off to the side of the road as fast as I could and something told me to look in the engine bay to see if anything was burning but there was no sign of my engine overheating or was there any smoke coming from under the hood. I sat in my car for about 15 minutes just confused and trying to figure out what I should do.. then I just decided to drive home which was only like 10 min away from where I was. Surprisingly.. on my way home the needle stayed at 75% then it would come back down to 50% as soon as I let off the gas then it would go back up to maybe about 80% and would go back down to 50% as I let off the gas.. I never seen anything like this before:confused::confused:Now everything is fine.. when I drove to work everything was back to normal.. My temp gauge stayed at 50% which is normal and stayed like that until I went back home. Can someone explain to me what might be wrong with my car?

Aron9000
10-31-08, 11:17 PM
Blown headgasket. Northstars are notorious for that. Great motor when they're running right, but a big old turd for reliability/longevity.

caddystick
10-31-08, 11:32 PM
blown head gasket!?!?:rant2: Are you serious? So you think this is something that can't be overlooked? but why is everything fine now. I don't get it.

creeker
10-31-08, 11:51 PM
blown head gasket!?!?:rant2: Are you serious? So you think this is something that can't be overlooked? but why is everything fine now. I don't get it.


Where did you buy the car?, was it private or a car dealer,do you have any recourse on the seller?.If it's head gaskets,the seller must have known about it.

hueterm
11-01-08, 12:06 AM
Paging DESTROYER!! Sorry, forum joke...

Unfortunately, it looks like you join this board too late and found out about N* engines' problems after buying one...

First thing you need to do is to get a coolant exhaust gas test to see if your coolant has traces of exhaust gases in it. If yes, then blown HGs... You should be able to buy at Autozone...

If blown HGs, then appx. $3500 to get fixed properly at a GM dealer...almost impossible to do yourself from what I've read...

caddystick
11-01-08, 12:29 AM
I got the car from a small used car dealer here where I live. How do I do the coolant exhaust gas test? I don't even know where to start. Could you please explain to me a little more as to what that is please. You guys don't think it might just be a small problem like just having to replace the sensor or the thermostat? If is a blown head gasket shouldn't the problem be very noticeable and maybe even not driveable? I don't understand why my car seem to not have a single problem anymore and it seem like the problem just dissapeared. Another problem that I noticed with my car is that sometimes I have to try to start my car like 3-4 times until it actually start. It seem to die as soon as the engine come on. At this point I wish I can just take the car back.:ill:

codewize
11-01-08, 12:44 AM
Well no one here wants to be the bearer of bad news but the N* is not an engine to own for the light hearted. Often great deals on N* powered cars are due to an existing HG problem, especially pre 2000.

When buying a N* it should be the very first thing you ask about and investigate. I would say that's almost definitely what you have.

If you have a lift, about 35 hours worth of time, expert mechanic skills and the patience of a saint, you can actually do the job yourself.

There's not really a way to tell for sure but from your description it certainly sounds like it. Take a sample of coolant to a shop that can test it and see what they say.

Do yourself a favor and do a search around here. You'll learn more than you'll ever want to know about the N*.

It's not a sensor and I doubt it's a thermostat. However it could be an extreme case of slipping water pump belt. At any rate I would take the car back. What state are you in? Here in NY we have the lemon law to protect against such things.

creeker
11-01-08, 12:46 AM
I got the car from a small used car dealer here where I live. How do I do the coolant exhaust gas test? I don't even know where to start. Could you please explain to me a little more as to what that is please. You guys don't think it might just be a small problem like just having to replace the sensor or the thermostat? If is a blown head gasket shouldn't the problem be very noticeable and maybe even not driveable? I don't understand why my car seem to not have a single problem anymore and it seem like the problem just dissapeared. Another problem that I noticed with my car is that sometimes I have to try to start my car like 3-4 times until it actually start. It seem to die as soon as the engine come on. At this point I wish I can just take the car back.:ill:

If it was me I would take it right back while the ink is still wet on the contract,there must be some sort of grace period (state wise) maybe not a lemon law but something on that line.Tell the dealer you are certain it has a gasket problem,maybe it would be worth the cost to have a legit.
mechanic do a written receipt for the test.

JimD
11-01-08, 12:46 AM
....Now everything is fine.. when I drove to work everything was back to normal.. My temp gauge stayed at 50% which is normal and stayed like that until I went back home. Can someone explain to me what might be wrong with my car?

One possibility is the air purge plumbing [from the water pump to the coolant reservoir (via the throttle body)] is or was plugged up somehow/somewhere. Remove the rubber hose from the fitting at the top of the coolant reservoir and check for coolant flow at cold engine idle. That purge plumbing must flow coolant!

If you do not observe a coolant flow, the most common cause is an obstruction in the "hollow bolt" that is threaded into the coolant crossover above the water pump cover.

Investigate that and report your findings before you sign the loan application for head gasket repairs.

hueterm
11-01-08, 12:52 AM
Does your state have a buyer's remorse law? If so, I'd take the car back tomorrow...

Anything is possible, but N* should run almost straight up and down 12:00.

Just go to Autozone or wherever and buy an exhaust gas kit. Read the instructions, and if it looks like you can do it, then do so. If not, then take it to a shadetree mechanic, and they can do it.

Um...how much did you pay for the car, and what's your budget for repairs? For a N* Caddy, it will need to be significant. I've put about $2-3K into my Concours and about $6K into my ETC.....definitely the not-so-fun part of owning them... And I haven't had N* or suspension problems...that's all "other" stuff....

caddystick
11-01-08, 12:59 AM
I also forgot to mention that this started to happen after I installed a K&N air filter, but I seriously doubt if that would be the reason..
Do you guys think that I can take this car back? It's only been exactly 2 days since I purchased the car. I am about to look over the contract and see if there's anything about taking this car back but I seriously doubt it. I can feel already that this is about to turn into a nightmare:ill:

zonie77
11-01-08, 01:29 AM
If you have any right to return it it will be 3 days max, so return it NOW!

Head gasket problems on a Northstar are different. They start very small, progress to exactly as you describe, go to undriveable from there.

It is possible to do them yourself. Many of us on the board have, but it's a longer process than on most cars. Not more technically difficult, just a lot longer and very tedious. You need an engine hoist, not a lift. Unless you are a somewhat skilled DIY'er with perseverance I wouldn't recommend doing it.

ryannel2003
11-01-08, 06:15 AM
Immediately return that car, or you'll be living with nothing but trouble. If you want to stick with the Seville bodystyle, check out the 2000+ with the revised Northstar. The HG issue is lessened, but there is still a possibility of it happening. They went on my 2000 STS at 54k miles, but that was with the original owner.

If you want a car that is trouble free and don't have to ever worry about having small issues, don't buy a Seville.

chubbyranger
11-01-08, 08:23 AM
I think its a federal law that warranty information must be posted on the car window when you buy it - the ubiquitous white sheet with the two big boxes where "Warranty" or "No Waarranty" is checked. There may also be buyer protection laws in the realm of "merchantability and fitness" that precludes sellers from passing off unuseable merchandise. But before you go down that path the following should take no more than an hour and that's if you have to go to the auto parts store:

If you cannot find the test strips there is another quasi-test you can perform to check for headgasket problems. Check the level of the coolant surge tank under the hood on the driver's side fender well. Make sure it is up to the little bar that goes across the bottom of the filler neck when the car is cold. Use only Dexcool coolant - no green or "mixes with anything" crap if you need to add some. Start the car and let it warm up; while it is warming look for bubbles in the coolant in the surge tank, you may want to use a flashlight. If there are bubbles there are two most likely possibilities; your headgaskets are toast OR somebody has messed with the cooling system recently and it is not fully purged. If somebody did a half assed job replacing the water pump, a radiator hose, etc. and didn't purge the system properly the symptoms you describe are one possibility.

Submariner409
11-01-08, 10:25 AM
Same as generally everyone else: The symptoms point directly at head gaskets. Some Northstars have problems with the head bolt threads in the block corroding, allowing the bolt(s) to lose clamping force, which allows various amounts of exhaust gas to blow into the cooling system. First stage, then comes overheating under loads, then exhaust steam, then constant overheating and total coolant loss.

The temp gauge should stay at 12:00 under all but the worst summer day conditions.

My advice? Take the car back and either get a witnessed written guarantee that the engine will be properly repaired by an approved facility (no, sealer in a bottle WILL NOT work), or get your $$$ back.

The K&N was a waste of money. Join the club and study extensively in here......whatever your question, it has all been covered and is discussed daily.

codewize
11-01-08, 10:49 AM
What are you going to do with an engine hoist? Am I missing something?


You need an engine hoist, not a lift. Unless you are a somewhat skilled DIY'er with perseverance I wouldn't recommend doing it.

Ranger
11-01-08, 10:51 AM
Paging DESTROYER!! Sorry, forum joke...

Unfortunately, it looks like you join this board too late and found out about N* engines' problems after buying one...

First thing you need to do is to get a coolant exhaust gas test to see if your coolant has traces of exhaust gases in it. If yes, then blown HGs... You should be able to buy at Autozone...

If blown HGs, then appx. $3500 to get fixed properly at a GM dealer...almost impossible to do yourself from what I've read...
Don't worry, he'll be here soon.

Submariner409
11-01-08, 11:05 AM
Code, The engine cherry picker is strapped to the radiator/front crossmember and the body is picked up off the drivetrain, which is then rolled out from under on a dolly. Remember the series of pictures a year and a half ago in which a 70 year old member (the name escapes me) did the job in his large garage? Same way.

hueterm
11-01-08, 11:07 AM
don't worry, he'll be here soon.


r o f l

codewize
11-01-08, 11:57 AM
Really, and all this time I thought the cradle was lowered from under the car while the car rested on a lift. I suppose either way would work.

Yes now that you mention it I do remember those pics.


Code, The engine cherry picker is strapped to the radiator/front crossmember and the body is picked up off the drivetrain, which is then rolled out from under on a dolly. Remember the series of pictures a year and a half ago in which a 70 year old member (the name escapes me) did the job in his large garage? Same way.

Lebowski
11-01-08, 12:49 PM
Check out my thread titled "It overheated again" for more info on this problem. I bought a '99 STS last year and it's been overheating lately and these guys think it's the head gasket. I now admit that buying a late model Cadillac was a HUGE MISTAKE!!! I paid $7500 for mine and have only put 2K miles on it and now I can't drive it without it overheating. Go back to the car lot and beg and plead with them to take the car back. Tell them your brother/sister/father/wife/best friend is a lawyer and that he specializes in filing lawsuits against car dealers. Maybe they'll at least let you exchange it for a dependable car like a Nissan, Honda or Toyota. Good luck....

chubbyranger
11-01-08, 01:25 PM
Really, and all this time I thought the cradle was lowered from under the car while the car rested on a lift. I suppose either way would work.

Yes now that you mention it I do remember those pics.

Tateos did a thread with pix on an Eldo - not sure if he's 70 but I remember the thread. I have it bookmarked on my other computer.

ted tcb
11-01-08, 01:32 PM
Here is what I would do.
Take the car to your local rad shop, and have them do a quick test on the coolant.
If exhaust gasses are present, you have proof of a head gasket issue. The test takes a few seconds.

Then, visit the selling dealer. Even "As Is" sales imply some responsibility on behalf of the seller.
The seller doesn't warrant the vehicle against future breakdowns, but he must disclose a known issue.
There is no way they did not know about the overheating issue.
Also, most dealer's belong to some type of dealer's association, one which will arbritrate in these situations.
The bottom line is you need proof ... run out to a rad shop and get it.

Good luck, and keep us posted.

iametarq
11-01-08, 02:35 PM
I would do exactly what TED TCB said to do. Don't freak out until you have proof.

Ranger
11-01-08, 04:25 PM
Really, and all this time I thought the cradle was lowered from under the car while the car rested on a lift. I suppose either way would work.

Yes now that you mention it I do remember those pics.
That's how it would be done in a well equipped shop. Raising the body off of the cradle is the home mechanics way around not having a lift and an engine jack.

zonie77
11-01-08, 06:51 PM
That's how it would be done in a well equipped shop. Raising the body off of the cradle is the home mechanics way around not having a lift and an engine jack.

That is exactly right. You improvise!

codewize
11-02-08, 12:23 AM
Ahh ok I guess I'm thinking big.

And please don't buy a foreign car. It's choices like that that put this country where it is today.

At this point with the big three struggling like they are I don't car what the cost is, I'm driving American cars and I'm buying fuel from stations who sell American gas, period.

Over the years to many damn people in this country gave up and started paying attention only to their own bottom line. If we keep up the way we're going we won't have to worry about it, we'll all be under the Japanese or Chinese rule.

So go ahead and be selfish, buy your Honda, Nissan or whatever but when you're unemployed in 2 years remember I said this. Sounds like the 70's doesn't it.