: Blown head gaskets but no pulled/stripped bolts?



Netjive8
03-27-10, 02:02 AM
After acquiring a low mileage 98 deville with the head gasket problem, I worked out a deal with my mechanic to repair it with me supplying the parts. At this point the engine is out of the car and my mechanic says he needs me to buy the replacement head bolts. I had planned on purchasing Jake's stud kit, but my mechanic thinks that it's worth trying to replace the gaskets and the head bolts by themselves. From my reading on this forum I was under the impression that almost, if not every, HG repair required drilling out the holes and inserting or studding the holes. Is it possible that the holes are fine and it's just the gasket that is the problem? If he is somehow able to properly torque the head bolts, will it be a reliable solution? I'm trying not to spend too much on the repair, but I want to make sure that the repair will last. If replacing the head bolts makes no sense, what would be the best way to explain this to my mechanic?

Krashed989
03-27-10, 03:46 AM
If it even survives the torquing of the head bolts, I wouldn't give it till its first oil change before the threads let go. You're putting your wallet in the hands of lady luck if you don't drill, tap and insert or stud the block. I wouldn't take a chance like that. Once the head bolts have been removed, the aluminum in the block has already been compromised.

stoveguyy
03-27-10, 11:55 AM
how clean were the threads on the bolts when they came out? were all of them spotless or have some clinging aluminum in the thread grooves? all my bolts were nice and tight when i took them out. my gaskets had failed between several cylinders.

Ranger
03-27-10, 12:12 PM
Krashed is right. The threads may pull on initial torque down or may go 10,000 mile later. Given the amount of work and cost, it just good insurance to insert or stud it now.

Netjive8
03-27-10, 12:31 PM
Thanks for the replies, I was pretty sure that it would require inserting or studding, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something. Thanks for the confirmation.

MiL32T0N3 iNDU2TRi32
03-27-10, 04:00 PM
As everybody else has said, make sure you get that block studded!! Anytime I hear of anybody taking a NorthStar out of the car I suggest that they have the block studded even when the motor is being pulled for a different repair, its the only way to ensure the repair is sound.

Thawcko
03-27-10, 05:37 PM
They may not be damaged right now, but all our Northstars had good head-bolts and threads in the block at one time, and then they all went, it is just a matter of time.... Do it once do it right... After seeing how bad these heads go , If someone gave me a Northstar with out any problems I would still pull the motor and re-stud.... Do not let it go back without a proper repair or you will be soon pulling the motor, and The other damage that can be done with coolant getting in the motor, not worth it... I am myself pulling apart a motor that started with heads, now it looks like bearings from the coolant mixing with the oil... Don't Risk it, it will get ya,....

cl1986
03-27-10, 07:17 PM
i pulled mine, did the half case seal, and did NOT do head studs or even touch the heads at all or pull the valve covers.

No worries what so ever. I will never regret not doing it. These engines come out way to easy to go through all that stud work for nothing.

114k miles now on my 94 eldo, half case at 113k

I would NEVER pull a good motor without head issues to stud it, NEVER!!

MiL32T0N3 iNDU2TRi32
03-28-10, 01:39 PM
:canttalk: I dont think I have EVER heard someone say pulling a northstar is "way to easy", anyone that I have ever talked to has done alot of :banghead: when pulling this motor and would rather put their fingers into a blender then do one again. I know I would....

Thawcko
03-28-10, 08:54 PM
Also a big difference, the heads are pulled... I would never try to re torque the heads without Inserts or studs... Also if pulling the motor on a Northstar that is going back in is that easy, come on over.... Not the hardest motor to pull but not even close to the easiest.... I could not imagine not putting in the extra few hours to stud or insert the motor if I had the heads off and motor out... if this was a motor that had a slight rep of head failure hey you may want to chance it, but this is a Northstar..... Put one for sale and first question you get is have heads been done....

cl1986
03-28-10, 09:30 PM
my response was to thawcko when he said if someone gave him an engine in working condition that he would go through all the trouble of tearing it down.

My response was that if a car was given to me and the engine had no issues, i would NOT pull it to stud it just for the fun of it then go through all the stud work for no reason.

My last cradle was out in 5 hours, if my HG blow, well i will have it out in less than that next time. Thats why im not worried.

Im pulling my jeep motor next, and that will probralby take 4 hours, most of the time is gettting ready, draining fluids and all that.

And dropping the cradle really is easy, its just alot of work, not hard work, but work. The only hard part for me was both cars fuel lines, really stubborn.

Thawcko
03-28-10, 09:37 PM
I agree with that if working don't touch it.... But seeing it is out and heads off.... and got it with head gasket problem at start... Then stud away...

cl1986
03-28-10, 09:41 PM
uhh...ya obviously....

if the heads are off.....you would be crazy putting just new head bolts in, that was already stated several posts up

Thawcko
03-28-10, 09:49 PM
Thats how he started this post, motor out heads off... was just going to buy new bolts...

cl1986
03-28-10, 10:01 PM
Thats how he started this post, motor out heads off... was just going to buy new bolts...

correct, as stated several posts ago

do you know whats going on yet?

zonie77
03-29-10, 01:09 PM
I think some HG's fail and the threads are still good. I still would tend to insert/stud the holes for peace of mind if I was doing my own.

Several years ago someone had the last bolt , last torque sequence, strip when reassembling their heads. He felt they looked fine when he inspected them.

Ask the mechanic what he will do if any of the bolt holes strip on assembly. If he is willing to take a chance and either not charge you for the couple of hours or only charge you half the time to assemble/disassemble then it might be worth taking a chance. The HGs and new bolts would still be reusable. How long is he guaranteeing the work? Is he going to redo the heads if a bolt fails? You are willing to pay for the studs/inserts now so he should do it. He probably thinks he's doing you a favor by trying to save you the money.


My feeling is the HG's fail first, then coolant (usually depleted of anti corrosion additives) speeds the corrosion of the threads. Because the N* doesn't give the old symptoms of leaking HG's people drive them a longer time before repair.

I've told the story of dong valve jobs on cars with dead cylinders and finding a HG blown between two cylinders, no coolant in the oil. We did a valve job anyway because the heads were off and if there was a valve problem I'd have to eat the re-repair.

Submariner409
03-29-10, 01:14 PM
If you remove one or both cylinder heads on a Northstar block, either insert the block or stud it. Period.

Thawcko
03-30-10, 04:50 PM
If you remove one or both cylinder heads on a Northstar block, either insert the block or stud it. Period.


I agree with you....Just read these forums and see the history of the Northstar, and that would tell you if you remove the heads, you should Stud or insert...

coaster
03-30-10, 06:20 PM
dont do it my mechanic tried that and the last two bolts would not tighten and he had to have a machine shop do the inserts because he didnt have the kit to do the job so he sent the motor out and i payed the machine shop and he put the motor back in the car so dont listen to your machanic at all.

Netjive8
03-31-10, 12:46 AM
Thanks for all the replies. Jake's stud kit arrived this morning, so my mechanic can now begin the repair. Hopefully it will be back on the road soon!

Thawcko
03-31-10, 11:31 PM
Nice... keep us informed...

ThumperPup
04-01-10, 10:37 AM
just out of curiousity all the posts i have been reading here are involved with removing the Engine dropping the cradle to do the heads
im just a little curious maybe i miss underssxtood what Jake said on the phone but he had told me that
he doesn't have to remove the engine from the car or maybe he said he doesnt ahve to drop the cradle to get the engine out of the car
he pulls it up threw the engine compartment
im not sure exactly but im preatty sure that is what he said he found away to do the Head's without having to drop the engine out of the car
he goes in from under the hood

Ranger
04-01-10, 01:34 PM
Jake pulls the engine from the top. General consensus is that it is easier to drop the cradle.

zonie77
04-01-10, 01:58 PM
Jake pulls the engine from the top. General consensus is that it is easier to drop the cradle.


You can pull it out the top but if you are only doing HG's it's definitely harder.

Jake is set up in that he ( per an early thread with Jake) keeps the extension/universal/socket ready for the very hard to reach and he said he has made something to help lift it out properly. For one job dropping the cradle is easier. If you are going into business doing them it might be worth learning how to pull them out the top efficiently. He also does the pan gasket on every job so he has to lift the engine anyway.

Remember, it was designed to come out the bottom.Some of the bolts are very hard to reach in the car, very easy with the cradle out.

It is possible to do it in the car but only one person ever said it "wasn't that bad"...everyone else either gave up, ran out of curse words and then gave up, or said things like " I'd rather put my hands in a blender".

ThumperPup
04-01-10, 02:41 PM
i was just curiouse because i ones asked a Shop cant you take it out the top and they loughed at me and said nope gota pull the entire car apart
wich i knew there had to be a way to do it and then Jake was the first one who ever mentioned it to me
so i was really really suprised when i found that out

zonie77
04-01-10, 05:24 PM
Lotta people started taking it out the top and gave up. I think Tateos started taking it out the top, then dropped the cradle.

Even if I was also changing the pan gasket I think I'd drop the cradle, then try twisting the engine up enough to change the pan gasket without separating the engine/trans.

If anyone has done that post it. I don't know if that would work or not.

ThumperPup
04-01-10, 06:29 PM
Lotta people started taking it out the top and gave up. I think Tateos started taking it out the top, then dropped the cradle.

Even if I was also changing the pan gasket I think I'd drop the cradle, then try twisting the engine up enough to change the pan gasket without separating the engine/trans.

If anyone has done that post it. I don't know if that would work or not.

oh so when it comes out the top you can chang ethe oil pan is that what your tlaing about or is there another pan ?
im a bit confused
thanks

zonie77
04-01-10, 07:37 PM
oh so when it comes out the top you can chang ethe oil pan is that what your tlaing about or is there another pan ?
im a bit confused
thanks


Yes the oil pan. It's too close to the cradle otherwise.

Thawcko
04-01-10, 09:22 PM
Lotta people started taking it out the top and gave up. I think Tateos started taking it out the top, then dropped the cradle.

Even if I was also changing the pan gasket I think I'd drop the cradle, then try twisting the engine up enough to change the pan gasket without separating the engine/trans.

If anyone has done that post it. I don't know if that would work or not.

I could not get at one of the oil pan bolts without separating...

zonie77
04-02-10, 02:28 AM
I could not get at one of the oil pan bolts without separating...


too bad. I didn't do the pan gasket and now it's leaking pretty bad and the smell is annoying.

tateos
04-02-10, 04:50 PM
Lotta people started taking it out the top and gave up. I think Tateos started taking it out the top, then dropped the cradle.

Even if I was also changing the pan gasket I think I'd drop the cradle, then try twisting the engine up enough to change the pan gasket without separating the engine/trans.

If anyone has done that post it. I don't know if that would work or not.

Yes - I started by trying to pull it out the top - I came to the decision that it was impossible; Sure, I realize that it is possible - frankly, I just couldn't figure out how to do it; some of the bolts are just barely visible, but not accessible, as far as I could tell. The point is, it is so EASY to drop the cradle, no one should want to even try to pull it out the top...except for Jake. You do have to disconnect a few more things to drop the cradle, but once it's out, everything is right there in clear view to get at. I was amazed at how easy it was to re-install the entire package. Honestly, it makes sense - that's how the car was assembled at the factory.

tateos
04-02-10, 04:59 PM
My engine was leaking pretty badly before the HG job; I thought it was the rear main seal. My half case never leaked, so I left that alone. I changed the pan gasket with the FelPro part in the kit, and the rear main seal, but I still have an oil leak, especially when parked on an incline. The oil leak is from the rear portion of the engine, but I don't think it's the rear main seal - first of all, I did replace the original lip seal with the 2 piece improved design and used the special tool to install it; also, I removed the brace between the engine and trans and then the torque converter cover, and I don't see any evidence of oil coming down the torque converter - in fact, there are portions of the torque converter cover that have no paint on them and they not only don't have any traces of oil on them, they have a light film of rust on them. I really think the oil leak is coming from the oil pan area. I guess I should have skipped the FelPro gasket and used the GM RTV.