: what to look for buying a used northstar powered car



HorribleHarry
03-06-09, 08:19 PM
Now that my family have our 88 Eldorado, I'm looking for a mid 90's ETC. Of course I've heard about the cooling issues, head bolts, etc. that can happen to these motors, so besides testing the vehicle long enough to see how hot it gets are there any other things to look for that will hint at trouble down the road? Are there any codes that raise a red flag ?
Thank you all very much. If there are earlier posts discussing this please let me know (I DID search, but my wording might have been off)

Harry

Submariner409
03-06-09, 09:34 PM
Look for a later ETC.....2000+.

The best advice you can get is to read the entire Cadillac Technical Archive at the top of the page, in the black bar, and to once again search the Seville/Eldorado and Northstar Performance threads as well as the Cadillac Technical Discussions down below.

To answer your question in this thread would require a post the size of a NYC telephone book. Don't get me wrong: I'm not being snotty....it's all in here. Just make a decent Scotch and water and read.

(Sometime soon our resident curmudgeon, Destroyer, will appear and damn you to the stars for even uttering the word "Northstar". Be prepared.)

Ranger
03-06-09, 10:11 PM
:histeric:

Sub is right. Look for a 2000+. Way too many codes to pick out ones that raise flags. Copy them down and look them up here for a '96+.
http://myweb.accessus.net/~090/dtcobd2.html

Destroyer
03-07-09, 12:21 AM
(Sometime soon our resident curmudgeon, Destroyer, will appear and damn you to the stars for even uttering the word "Northstar". Be prepared.)LOL! It's true though. You know of the head gasket issue and still want to look for one? Good luck on that one. There are better alternatives that are much cheaper and easier to work on. The N* cars are a perfect case in point (amongst a plethora of modern GM cars) as to why GM is tanking.

HorribleHarry
03-07-09, 01:21 AM
Ok you're all right... I'll stick to a 4.9 FWD Fleetwood or a 5.7 RWD Fleetwood.

...hmmm I did see a nice 91 Eldorado touring coupe a few miles away...:rolleyes:

Destroyer
03-07-09, 06:12 AM
Ok you're all right... I'll stick to a 4.9 FWD Fleetwood or a 5.7 RWD Fleetwood.

...hmmm I did see a nice 91 Eldorado touring coupe a few miles away...:rolleyes:Cant go wrong with a clean RWD Fleetwood. 4.9 powered cars seem to be a favorite amongst Caddy owners as well.

Caddyshack100
03-09-09, 12:04 AM
Great choice in Engines, the 4.9 is a great engine, on the FWD, the Achilles heel is the transmission, try and find one that has had its tranny rebuilt, the 4t60 or 4t60e is a smooth shifting tranny up until internal failure. Be wary when looking at cars with 130k to 160k on the clock, unless the tranny has been rebuilt, it could go on you soon after. I have rebuilt six, and all failed around this mileage, two before 120 and 3 at 144to 147k, one made it to 170k before blowing its reverse reaction drum. Good hunting

pimpdaddycaddy91
03-09-09, 12:10 AM
The only problem with buying a Northstar is that they will most likely have HG problems down the road sometime but people still want $$$ for good running ones in good shape. I bought mine with 80,000 miles on it and the HG went at 111,000 but Ive got it fixed now with Jakes studs and I am happy she is back because I love that car. If I had known about how prevalent the HG problem was I probably wouldnt have bought mine but I would have looked for one that had a bad HG then the prices are low. You just have to decide what your willing to deal with.

If you dont want to deal with that you cant go wrong with a RWD Fleetwood or even a 4.9 car. I had a '91 Fleetwood FWD 4.9 and also loved that car but the 4T60E trans seems to go out at around 150,000 miles give or take. I bought mine with 142,000 miles and the trans was already bad, I had a new trans put in at a shop and I drove til 190,000 the engine still ran like new, always amazed me how much power that car had, but the trans went out again! I don't know what happened I think the shop did a bad job rebuilding it but they wouldnt do anything for me. 4.9 engines have also had some HG problems but not like the northstars. Most of them go to 200,000+ with out any major problems except for trans like I said.

My brother has a '96 Caprice Station Wagon with the LT1 (same powertrain as RWD Fleetwood) and he has 200,000 miles and drives daily still runs strong.

HorribleHarry
03-09-09, 01:28 PM
Thanks all!
My dilemma is I am torn between the Fleetwoods of which I'm in love with the 91-92 (or a 93 sixty special) FWD cars, and the late big body Fleetwoods with the LT1...
but I drool over the N* powered Eldorado ETC's. I know I could get a 4.9 ETC, but what's the point, since I want the Eldorado for the power as well as the looks. I have been looking at the local cars with bad HG's and I've been looking around town for someone that is experienced at the rebuild/repair process. I'm trying to keep my budget in the $3K range... of course I know I'm just looking for trouble that way!:D

I was very surprised to see these motors are of a open water jacket design & how no reenforcement was cast into the bolt thread area... I guess we learn by our mistakes.
I appreciate any more comments you might have, I'll keep checking codes, water temp & looking for coolant on my potential choice (until the right triple black Fleetwood (with an astroroof) comes along!);)

Harry

Necrosan
03-15-09, 12:38 AM
There's a 99 ETC with nothing wrong but headgaskets on the chicago craigslist for $1000.

hardley-etc
03-17-09, 04:47 PM
look for a car that has service records
specifically look for records of coolant changes
if maintained properly the northstar will run a long time

Cashmoola
07-21-09, 07:43 PM
Am I to understand that no matter how diligently I maintain the vehicle, the HG is going to go on me sometime?

JimHare
07-21-09, 11:01 PM
NO! It is by no means a 'truism' that all N* have or will get HG problems. You have to remember that in many cases, people WITH a problem will search out a forum to vent or ask questions on - this in no way represents the norm or the standard overall failure rates. It may well be that a higher than disproportionate number of posters on this forum may have HG problems, but that's like walking into a doctors office and thinking, 'my god, everyone in this town is ill..". I've had three N* Caddy's, a 99 Deville that went 100K before I traded it for my ETC that now has 106K, and a 02 Deville with 199,200 miles. They all have performed flawlessly considering their mileage. None of them had any engine problems whatsoever, except for the intake manifold plenum I just replaced on the Eldo. I'd say that $30 worth of engine repair in a total of 255,000 miles is not exactly something to sneeze at.

Do you run a risk? Sure, you run a risk in any car. It's just that the HG is probably the only possible weak link in a N*, and when they go, they are neither cheap or quick to fix.

Coolant changes, owner maintenance, and, truthfully, luck, will be the determining factors. Check the codes, run any prospective car until it's really warm, and have a qualified N* mechanic check it out.

Good luck.

Ranger
07-21-09, 11:19 PM
The only thing I could add to what Jim said is that there where improvements made in 2000 and the 2000+ failures are MUCH less prevalent.

Only Destroyer will tell you that it is inevitable, but he had one fail and is unable to get past it.

Destroyer
07-21-09, 11:33 PM
what to look for buying a used northstar powered car
HarryAnother car :histeric::bonkers:

STSS
07-22-09, 10:36 AM
Another car :histeric::bonkers:

Are you ever going to update your profile with the Suzuki?

Destroyer
07-23-09, 12:58 AM
Are you ever going to update your profile with the Suzuki?Ok fine, I will.:eek:

hueterm
07-23-09, 01:06 AM
Just ask yourself the question -- what will I do/can I afford it -- if the HGs fail and I have to come up w/$3500 to fix it. If you know the answer, and it is yes, then do your homework and buy the car.

If not, then you should probably look somewhere else.

And don't be surprised if the car bleeds you dry w/many other gremlins (first and foremost the CVRSS)...

drewsdeville
07-24-09, 12:10 AM
Great choice in Engines, the 4.9 is a great engine, on the FWD, the Achilles heel is the transmission, try and find one that has had its tranny rebuilt, the 4t60 or 4t60e is a smooth shifting tranny up until internal failure. Be wary when looking at cars with 130k to 160k on the clock, unless the tranny has been rebuilt, it could go on you soon after. I have rebuilt six, and all failed around this mileage, two before 120 and 3 at 144to 147k, one made it to 170k before blowing its reverse reaction drum. Good hunting

I wish I could understand where all of this talk comes from. I must have gotten lucky. 4 4.x powered cars, 1 190,000, 2 170,000, and one 130,000 miles, all on original trans. In my opinion, the entire drivetrain for the 4.X series is rock solid. their few real weak points (anything the serp belt touches) really aren't a major concern.

Ranger
07-24-09, 12:20 AM
I had an '81 (Diesel), '83 & '85 (4.1) Eldo. Never had a trans problem. Engines where another story.

R6DTS
07-24-09, 01:11 PM
Alright what does ETC mean?

Submariner409
07-24-09, 03:13 PM
Eldorado Touring Coupe, Eldorado Luxury Coupe, Eldorado.


Seville Touring Sedan, Seville Luxury Sedan.

Deville Touring Sedan, (Deville Concours,) Deville Highway(?) Sedan, Deville.

The later "STS" and "CTS" mean nothing. A play on these earlier acronyms.

kckranz
07-24-09, 03:40 PM
Deville DHS = DeVille High-Luxury Sedan

Ranger
07-24-09, 04:04 PM
CTS = Catera Touring Sedan

jcresciSTS
07-24-09, 10:15 PM
I just got my 99 STS back in May. I bought it with 124,xxx miles on it and now just put 127,xxx miles on it. I only got a few papers from the last owner. I didn't not see anything about a coolant flush/change. Should I have this done?

Ranger
07-25-09, 12:08 AM
If unsure when it was last done.............. do it now.

jcresciSTS
07-27-09, 01:16 AM
I'll be sure to have that done by my mechanic...