Thanks to this forum I've discovered that my new-to-me 98 Deville has a bad head gasket. That does explain why I got a good deal on it, good enough that I think I'd rather repair it than buy something else. Can anyone recommend a good mechanic in the Philly area? I can get a little more than 30 miles before it overheats, so that is roughly my search radius. I'd rather go to an independent mechanic if possible, as I'm on a budget.
Thanks for any help!
After making a number of unsuccessful calls I found two options way out in the burbs. One is a guy posting on craigslist, says he's been a certified GM master mechanic (or something like that) with a dealership 20+ years and does jobs out of his house. Also works for/with a towing company. He sounded pretty knowledgeable, price was unbeatable, and had he been a little closer I probably would have just gone to him. He can be found in the auto services section, just search "northstar" and he should come up. This is not an endorsement as I haven't met or had work done by him, simply sharing my experience to maybe help others.
The other was a shop run by a friend of a friend of a family member. I admit to being biased against them purely because they charge 50-75% more, though that is tempered slightly by the 12mo/12k warranty. They said they specialize in Cadillacs, and one of them was the same certified whatever the craigslist guy is before opening the shop with his brother. They were friendly, knowledgeable, and didn't appear terribly busy. Not suspiciously slow, they don't seem to be hurting for work, more like they appear unrushed so would take care to get the job done right the first time. Hopefully. Every other shop I called played the "that's a big job, we're too busy" card and told me to just replace the engine. It's at the shop now, was looked over today and my diagnosis was confirmed, as well as an unknown oil leak. The shop is Petro Bros Auto, if you google it they have a website. Not an endorsement so I won't post the link directly.
General consensus seems to be pay more to get the job done at the shop, so that is the most likely course. It's already there, gets a warranty, and there is some level of comfort taking it to a shop over some guy from the free internet classifieds, even if the price is better and that is where I found the car originally. I'll post the results as I get them.
Picked my car up the other day and haven't had any issues. I do notice it getting hot in stop and go conditions. It peaked at 226* while driving thru the city, and stayed between 200-226* the whole time. Once I got on the highway it went right down to 190s and didn't hit 200 til I got off the exit. At what temp should I start being concerned? It was after riding 2 hours with the ac off, mostly on the highway, at night with an ambient temp in the low 70s, and it didn't stay at 226* for long, which I take to mean my fans work properly. But it did get there quick. All in all it's been a little more than 200 miles since the repair and all seems good for now, assuming the temp spike is normal. I have a 1200 mile round trip scheduled in August that I'd really like to use my car for, so any info, tips or advice would be appreciated!