: New to the World of Cadillac

03-25-10, 08:11 AM
Hi all - I'm a lifelong Pontiac Firebird fan in Western Oregon and new to the forum. This is my intro post. I'm a self-employed video/film producer and a writer.

I've always liked sports cars and nice-looking rides, though I've never been able to spend a ton of money for the latest and greatest cars on the market. Three days ago I passed by a 1996 Cadillac Eldorado at a used car lot. After making about three passes I stopped in, test drove it, then purchased it later in the day. During the test drive it performed like a dream, despite its very high mileage. I decided to shell out the $2800 and took it home.

Later in the day I decided to drive the 15 minutes down the freeway to show my parents. I picked up my dad and took off. About three minutes into the trip, the temp gauge started to rise and eventually went into the red. We pulled over, noticing the steam coming out from under the engine. Opened the hood and appeared that hot coolant was spraying out from somewhere as it was splashed around on the engine.

After a call to the dealer he came with his own tow truck and picked up the car himself and said he'd repair it at no extra charge. The next day his mechanic repaired a faulty hose clamp leading to the coolant and put on a new cap. He delivered it in person to my door. After he left, I attempted to start the car and it wouldn't start. I called him up and he came back and towed it away again.

So far I've had bad luck with my first Cadillac. But hey, I had the money to blow and I know to expect problems with a car that has 166,000 miles on it already. Plus, I've had plenty of practice playing the TLC & Constant Repairs Game considering I own a 10-year old Pontiac F-body. lol

Cosmetically the car is in spectacular condition. It's an ETC edition in diamond white (I think that's what it's called?). The interior is in very good shape as well. I lucked out with this used car dealer - he's being a stand-up guy, promising to make everything right or he will refund the money. I've never dealt with a used car dealer that treated me with this level of service. I might have already walked away from it if he wasn't willing to help me get the darn thing going. (Especially since I had owned it for all of two hours before the first break-down.) lol

A few things that I noticed about the car ... it has really good acceleration. I was surprised to learn it's a front-wheel-drive auto. The two-door sportiness just screams out RWD to me. The ride was comfortable and I felt like I was in a Mercedes or BMW because the interior is so luxurious (compared to anything I've ever had - and for the record, I've never been in a Mercedes or BMW so perhaps the Cadillac is just as luxurious as those rides anyway!). I noticed a few parts similar to my Firebird off the GM shelf, such as the wheel tilt lever and the signal lever, with the same cruise control operation as my other car. The stereo was in tip top shape, which surprised me considering the age of the car.

Some things I noticed from my non-Cadillac trained eye:
-The vent panel on the dash has popped up due to mild warping (I think I read somewhere this is common on these)
-The fuel door does not work from the dash button (have to access it from the trunk til it's fixed)
-The A/C was blowing out cold air on the driver side, but hot air on the passenger side (dealer is putting in a new compressor)
-The hood shocks don't keep the hood up (needed to stick a broom handle in there while looking at the engine)
-No remote came with the keys, even though it's obviously a car made with keyless-entry technology (this security system may be what was causing the problem with it not starting?)
-Ashtray compartment lid won't click to a shut position
-Current fuel used is regular unleaded (though the dash says to use premium only - dealer said regular was fine, but I don't know enough about it yet to know what's right or wrong)

So, there you have it. I was basically looking for a cheap car that could get me through a couple years of driving as a work car. The Eldorado is certainly luxurious and the ride was very nice. I'm hoping everything will work out with it because after just one day of driving it I was hooked! I've never studied up much on the Cadillacs and had never considered buying one or even looking at them, but this coupe is extremely sleek and sporty! Whoever owned the car previously obviously drove it a lot, but seemed to take care of it as well. I can't find one scratch on the exterior anywhere!

Also, it looks mighty fine all shined up sitting next to my shiny black '99 Firebird in my driveway! :) Any thoughts or comments are appreciated. I'll keep this thread updated with my results.

03-25-10, 08:14 AM
Oh, considering this is the 'non-Cadillac' discussion area, I'll let the above discussion be my intro and I'll post further updates/issues about my Eldorado in the Eldorado area. Thanks!

03-25-10, 08:24 AM
Pics? Pics!

03-25-10, 09:19 AM
It's 14 years old ?

03-25-10, 11:55 AM

Premium fuel is recommended for all pre-2000 Northstar Cadillacs. The split AC could be due to the fact that the car has dual zone climate control, where the driver and passenger can set the temperature for each side of the car independently. Check to see if the passenger side controls are active and set to max heat. If yes, turn the passenger side controls off, and the system should function normally.

Sounds like you got a nice older car with a few issues, but nothing a little TLC can't fix. Enjoy!

03-25-10, 12:48 PM
Have them do a block test to check for exhaust gases in the coolant. If the head gasket is gone, it will cost more to fix than you paid for it.

03-25-10, 03:59 PM
Have them do a block test to check for exhaust gases in the coolant. If the head gasket is gone, it will cost more to fix than you paid for it.

Do what he says or just take the car back. This is very important, I can't stress this enough!

03-25-10, 06:49 PM
Thanks for the tips! I'll get that checked out ASAP.

03-25-10, 10:57 PM
Wonderful cars but they have an evil side. They like to blow head gaskets. Actually the head lifts off the block and fixing it is a rather expensive proposition. I just bought a '99 Eldorado that I intend to drive till the inevitable happens and then toss it. Good luck with yours! :thumbsup:

03-25-10, 11:07 PM
Later in the day I decided to drive the 15 minutes down the freeway to show my parents. I picked up my dad and took off. About three minutes into the trip, the temp gauge started to rise and eventually went into the red. We pulled over, noticing the steam coming out from under the engine. Opened the hood and appeared that hot coolant was spraying out from somewhere as it was splashed around on the engine.

How embarrassing! The dealer knows whats up. All dealers know about these cars and they HATE buying them for this reason. This is the chance they take when buying one of these cars. Hopefully it's not the dreaded H/G issue.

03-27-10, 10:03 AM
Thanks Destroyer, for the kind words. I kind of thought the same thing ... hope for a good year or two of driving then chuck it afterward if need-be. I've always liked the look/design of that era of Eldorado, so I'm hoping it will work out for the best and give me some time behind the wheel.

I'm in the process of getting it checked out by a mechanic and having issues mentioned here looked into, like Ranger's suggested block test to see about that H/G issue.

Jesda, I should have the car back on Monday. I will take photos and post them soon. After reading several threads on this forum I can tell this community is well-versed with these cars ... even looking at photos you guys are able to see a ton of things that the inexperienced eye cannot see! It's been fun reading about these cars here at the forum since I joined this past week.

03-27-10, 10:41 AM
:welcome5: and I look forward to your pics.

10-24-11, 01:03 AM
Wow, has it really been this long since I posted about buying this car? Thought I'd check in and report.

I've now owned the '96 Eldorado ETC for roughly a year and a half. Over the first 5-6 months I slowly made needed repairs concerning the problems mentioned in earlier posts here. The radiator was first up. It turns out, a previous owner must have been a hack mechanic as well. My issues with overheating stemmed from leaky seals in the radiator and a non-existent thermostat (the shop I had repair it told me it had been "cut out"). I had a tie rod replaced, the trunk motor replaced and the A/C fixed. Had both front and back brakes replaced and a new set of tires installed. In all I spent a couple thousand dollars or so over the course of about six months.

I bought the car with 163,000 miles and it just clicked over to 185,000 this week. The only problem I've had in the last year (since the initial repairs mentioned above) was a radiator hose needing replaced. The car is my "work car" and "daily driver" and I couldn't be happier with it. Cosmetically, it still looks sharp and gets a lot of compliments. Kudos to the Cadillac designers of the 1990s for this car. Since making the repairs, it's been reliable and a joy to drive and I hope I can get many more miles out of it. I'm extremely happy with this purchase.

I tried to upload some pics when I originally posted here last year but had trouble figuring out what I was doing. I will try again this week. I have a curiosity about the wheels on my Eldorado. Of all the other Eldos I've seen since I've owned mine, I haven't come across one with the same wheels. Maybe more seasoned Cadillac experts can tell me if they are the stock wheels or just one of many variations, etc.

Thanks again, and I'll have photos soon.

10-27-11, 02:20 AM
Ok, as promised,here are some photos. (hope I did it right)


10-27-11, 10:50 AM
those wheels are actually from a newer generation seville. i dont THINK they were ever offered for an eldorado but i could be wrong

nice car!

10-29-11, 03:22 AM
Thanks for the reply, OffThaHorse. Seville wheels eh? Now that is interesting. Would be fun to know if they were actually offered for Eldorado, like you mentioned.

11-01-11, 08:07 PM
They were not. Those wheels were introduced with the Seville SLS (the base model Seville) and were available in both a satin finished, and chrome variant.

Hopefully Austin jumps into this thread eventually (if he hasn't already in the Eldo section), he is like an Eldorado encyclopedia.

11-01-11, 09:09 PM
Longest wait on pics EVAR! :p

01-09-12, 11:06 AM
Well, it's a new year and my Eldorado is now 16 years old (and will be two years old to me in late February). Just ticked over 188,000 miles (bought it with 163,000). No problems/repairs to report since my last posting.

Two small items that I still haven't fixed yet (and may never get around to doing so) are the non-working hood legs (they don't hold the hood up and mechanics have to use a stick) and the windshield wipers' "intermittent" modes do not work (each turn of the dial results in one wipe, then nothing more ... I have to dial up to the slow & fast non-intermittent modes for a regular wipe during decent rainfall).

Oh, and my passenger side AC actuator blend door motor (or something to that effect) is still in need of replacement, though my regular mechanic never followed up with me at the end of the summer on finding a replacement part (said they don't manufacture them anymore, so it's just set to blow out warm air currently on that side).

Aside from those issues, I take it in for an oil check every thousand miles to get the level back up (as I've read here, this era of Northstar just likes to drink it up). I've found that it's usually about a quart low whenever I take it in for a check.

I've decided that this car is my favorite of all the cars I've owned so far. The reliability has been great for these two years of ownership and the features of such a "personal luxury" car are new-to-me and I can't imagine being without them now (my favorite being the heated seats!). Beginning with my teenage years, my cars have been: 1979 Chevy Malibu, 1977 Ford Grenada, 1992 Nissan pickup (can't remember model), 1993 Subaru Loyale and a 1999 Pontiac Firebird. The Malibu was awfully solid and I've always said that if I still had it it would probably still be running today. Now I feel the same way about the Eldorado.....a very solid automobile for me.

And I have to say again, especially for a car that is 16 years old, the style/profile still seems modern and fresh to me and gets a lot of compliments from all ages. I like two-door coupes and this car looks sharp and rides very smooth. My first Cadillac, though older and high-mileage, is definitely spoiling me!

My thanks to previous posters about the odd wheels on my car. Much appreciated info. Also, for an occasional check-in like this, should I continue posting in this thread, or should I post under a more suitable subject heading? (or maybe a different forum altogether?)

Thanks for all the hard work you put into this forum!

04-01-13, 11:05 AM
It's been a while since I last visited the forums. Up to 211,000 miles on the Eldorado now and still running strong & looking sharp. I may never get rid of it! :)

04-01-13, 06:15 PM
Awesome! Glad you like it. These ol' Northstar Cadillacs can be picky, but if you take care of 'em, they will most certainly return the favor :D