: another newbie HG question

08-31-09, 10:11 PM
Sorry for repeating this--I have been reading over the many HG and bolt failure threads in this section, but wanted to ask some related questions...

I have the opportunity to buy a 2000 ESC with 55k miles. I would bet it is the original coolant. I read that 2000+ models were more reliable, but is the head gasket failure something that is almost certain to happen with this engine? Could I get 100k miles out of it without worry?

I like to take care of my cars, so I would have no problem changing the DexCool as much as necessary to prevent issues. Does more frequent flushing help prevent this failure?

I was actually about to buy this car, but by chance I heard about HG failure, and with the Al engine, I don't even want to get into that. I thought the NS were very reliable, I had no idea this issue was so (apparently) common.

Thanks for any advice,

08-31-09, 10:24 PM
I read that 2000+ models were more reliable, but is the head gasket failure something that is almost certain to happen with this engine?
No. The odds are probably in your favor on a 2000+.

Does more frequent flushing help prevent this failure?
The chicken or the egg theory has been discussed before, but no clear resolution has arrived at. More frequent changes can't hurt. I do mine about every 3 years.

09-01-09, 02:29 AM
If you buy the car change the coolant the same day. I would change it to green, but that is highly debatable in this forum. My argument is this... Its not for sure, but there is a slight possibility the dex-cool is the HG culprit or at least part of it. No one ever has blamed green. So if you're changing it anyway why not just put green in?

09-01-09, 08:17 AM
Okay, that's very helpful to know. I'm glad to hear the '00+ are not as notorious for failing.

I really had never heard about this HG failure on the NS before. Like I said, I was about to buy the car, but read this and did a 180. I'm coming from the world of cast iron Chevrolet engines, which don't die unless you empty the oil pan and try to go on a drive lol

Thanks again for the replies. I'm going to do more reading on here, and I'm sure I'll have more questions :-)

09-04-09, 11:52 PM
I hate to bring bad news to the table; however, I see no signs 2000+ are any better than 99- :tisk: Here's the last 5 cars I have repaired: 2001 Deville, 2000 Deville, 2000 Seville, 2001 Seville, 1997 Eldorado. If they were less prone to failure you wouldn't see this. I do agree, the blocks are in better shape and most of them DO NOT have any pulled threads, but I wouldn't trust re-assembly without inserting first. Many of these cars have ORDINARY HEAD GASKET FAILURES. On just about every car, the head gaskets are destroyed from lack of cooling system maintenance and the fact that the engine is an open deck design. This engine needed MLS gaskets from the factory. I would say this would be a non-issue if that would have been the gasket they used. No other bolt on the block has any tendencies to strip, so why would the head bolts be any different. If porosity was the real culprit, I would think those would be some other signs. To answer the chicken vs the egg, the gaskets fail, antifreeze gets into the bolt threads causing a galvanic reaction between the steel head bolt and the aluminum block. When the threads get weak, they pull with the bolt.


09-06-09, 02:07 PM
It's the 2000+ that have the ordinary head gasket failures- well, normal for something that has had dexcool in it. But when you remove the bolts even on a 2000+ the powdered aluminum is quite often still there on the threads.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the original head gasket design, MLS is not necessary and I would not recommend it on a Northstar.

That garbage dexcool coolant is rusting the head gaskets away and because of this the head gaskets become thin in places.

The open deck is not as much of a problem as you think. When you pull the head gaskets out, there's a thick (raised) area around the coolant passages right? That's because the rest of the gasket is compressed. Clamp down a new head gasket. Then remove it. You will see the same thing (without the rust).

09-08-09, 08:42 PM
Dammit! You guys are making me think about replacing Dex.

09-09-09, 04:30 AM
Do any other cars run on Dex? If so, do they have HG issues?

09-09-09, 09:19 AM
Yeah that's the point I have argued. I come from a GM family. A few 3.1, 3.4, 3.8, 4.6 N*, 5.7, 5.3 vehicles. All use Dex, 0% failure rate on gaskets. The only gasket problem I witnessed was on a 4.9 powered car I bought cheap years back with a leaking HG, but it had been using green coolant. I personally think the hype about Dex is false. It's clearly never been proven, as new cars still come with it. I switched my '90 and '95 over to Dex 4 and 8 years ago, respectively. No problems on either of them either. You would think for sure that if Dex was "corrosive" or damaging as I have heard many state, it would have finished off my 20 and 15 year old gaskets by now.

I do, however, when I bought/repaired that 4.9 basket case years ago, I came to believe (even in the 4.9) the problem lies in the aluminum threads.

In the end, we can all agree there's not much you can do about it, including worry. All you can do is enjoy the car for what it is and worry about problems as they present themselves.

09-10-09, 12:26 PM
First, it's interesting to hear two different viewpoints from Jake and Mike.

Also, it's possible that Dex could cause problems on one or more engines, and not on other engines. I have always used Dex, even on my Northstars, even after two HG failures on two different engines - some would say I'm a glutton for punishment. Jake might be correct, but I think if everything else is good, the Dex is not going to cause a problem. Oh, and I use the stuff they sell at Walmart - in a silver bottle - I think Prestone makes it.

09-10-09, 01:58 PM
There's always a third option: Prestone HD - a purple coolant which meets GM and Ford specs, among others, and is certified for heavy duty diesel service, but it's an ethylene glycol mix like the older green coolants.

09-10-09, 06:17 PM
What about that one from Prestone that says "All makes - all models - domestic - foreign" etc.? What do you think about that? I have a Lincoln LS I need to do a coolant change on - I was thinking of using that one for that, since they don't sell Motorcraft coolant except maybe at the dealer.

09-14-09, 08:25 AM
Well, I went ahead and decided to buy the ESC! Going to pick it up in early October, will be driving it back from NJ to NC. So, I'll see how it does, and I'm sure I'll be back with more questions once I run into problems LOL I will definitely be flushing the coolant as soon as I get it home.

09-14-09, 08:35 AM
Most service and owners manuals say something like "use a coolant which meets XXXX vehicle spec JXXXX" or some such. The coolant jugs have quite a list of what and whose specs it meets. Match up the two and you're good to go.

09-28-09, 10:00 PM
Just throwing this out there. Anything I've ever seen DEX in has had either haedgaskets or intake gasket failures. GM 3.1, 3.4, 3.8, 5.3, 5.7 etc..etc... I haven't seen or heard of any 6.0 problems yet, nor the newer engines having problems yet, but I'm not ruling it out. GM will argue all day with you that DEX isn't the cause, one of the reasons I'm no longer employed at a GM service dept. I read an article in Oil and Lube News a few years back that said after third party testing, they found that dex-cool was found to be the culprit of many problems. Universal they said, was fine. Just my $.02