: New To Forum...Need Advise On N* Oil Leaks



rod3126
11-02-04, 12:06 PM
Hello,
I have owned a 1988 Eldo for the past 16 years (loved it) and the time has come to get a newer car. I have been looking for a newer Eldo for for over a month and finally found one that is in Mint condition (interior like new) and has only 56,000 miles for $6300.00. I fell in love with this Eldo only to now stumble upon this forum. I am now depressed after reading about the head gasket problems and oil pan leaks. Does anyone know if there is a way to find out if a N* has already been cured of this illness? I tried callind Cadillac Customer Satisfaction and was told they could not disclose that information. It seems these engines are quite expensive to work on! The person who currently owns the car agreed to put it on a lift to check for any oil leaks and although this car does not seem to have a head gaket problem there appeared to be a small leak from the oil pan area, all the way around! I had planned to get a 1 year auto warranty through Penn Warranty, but after reading your forum I am not so sure.........
Does anyone know if a blown head gasket would be covered under one of these warranties? Anyone out there have such a warranty? Should I just stay away from the N* engine?
Any Help....Please

BeelzeBob
11-02-04, 01:13 PM
I would not be too concerned about the head gasket or oil leaks. Some of them fail...you can read about them on the forum...but the other 99.999% of them are driving around fine. People do not look up the forum usually to brag about their car, they just find it when they have a problem and/or want to vent.

The oil leak at the crank case split line/oil pan is dramatically overblown. The "leak" most often described is simply some seepage at high miles at worst. It makes the engine dirty and oily looking from below but rarely drips on the ground. Most owners never know they have an "oil leak" until they put it on a hoist and see the grunge....then they suddenly get paranoid. The seepage is not something that turns catostropic. The oil leak is not going to turn into a gusher or anything....it is just casual oil splashing around inside the crank case that seeps out. The car you describe sounds just like this...no one knew of a "leak" until they looked under the car. Most any used car with miles/age is going to have some amount of oil leakage and grunge build up. That is why it is a "used car" and not a new one...and why it costs much less than a new one did.

Head gaskets and head bolts are another issue that gets a lot of airtime that only affects a small percentage of the engines. The 93/94/95 Northstars were factory filled with the conventional green silicated coolant which required frequent draining and replacement (every 2-3 years/24-32K miles) to keep the corrosion inhibitors from becoming depeted. Depleted corrosion inhibitors in the coolant allows internal corrosion and head gasket failure. If the car is low miles and/or the cooling sytem has been maintained then there is little risk. If not, then the head gaskets could become a problem down the road if the cooling system is not serviced and maintained. In any case, if something does happen with them, the repair is very straight forward contrary to popular opinion. If the car you are looking at is a 96 or later then it had the long life DexCool coolant which was basically lifetime and negates most any worry about the depletion of the corrosion inhibitors and gasket failure. That coolant still needs to be replaced every 5 years/100K but it will protect the engine from corrosion much longer than the previous green conventional coolant.

Lots in the archives under "coolant" "coolant supplement" "oil leaks" etc... search and read up.

Any used car can be a bit of a risk but those packages are as reliable as anything else out there I would say.

You should read the "fine print" on the extended service/warranty agreement and see exactly what is covered and what isn't. Hard to predict without seeing the policy.

blb
11-02-04, 04:31 PM
My '94 STS had the crank case split line / oil pan oil leak repaired under warranty at about 35,000 miles. The dealer used a sealer that looked like strawberry jelly (in consistency and color) per a TSB that was issued by GM. (Of course the dealers wouldn't admit such a TSB existed until I obtained a copy and showed it to them) If you look under the vehicle you are thinking of buying and can see the sealer as described above, it may have already been repaired. BTW, the entire engine, transmission and front suspension had to be dropped out from under the vehicle to do the repair. I would hate to have to pay for such a repair.

Other things to check out on a Northstar with that mileage (in addition to the infamous head gasket failures) would be to check for severly rusted metal brake lines, A/C compressor hub bearing failure, belt tensioner and/or idler pulley failure, alternator bearing failure, water pump belt tensioner failure, malfunctioning EGR valve and also check for all service codes, both present and history, using the appropriate climate control buttons.

Good luck.

rod3126
11-02-04, 06:46 PM
Thank you for the response bobynski. Your reply gives me hope! As I mentioned in my post, the eldo I am looking to buy is a 95 Coupe. It has only 65,600 miles and looks as though it had been meticulously kept. The interior is like new! There are even no crease marks on any of the seats, no fading on any of the panels, etc. The engine compartment, although not detailed is extremely clean. A beautiful car all the way around. All original paper work is in the glove box, including price sticker ($43,000.00+ new). I would be willing to take a chance and buy it for the $6,300.00 if the oil pan leak and head gasket problem is as you say, occurs in only a small percentage of cars and there is not much chance of a well maintained car developing this problem. By the way, shouldn't the oil pan drain plug have some sort of plastic washer on it?This one des not seem to have a washer? As far as the green coolant goes, is it recommended to switch it the the better long lasting stuff or should the green stuff continue to be used? Are the coolant pellets required using either of the coolants? Anyone else have any input? It would really be appreciated............

eldorado1
11-02-04, 07:25 PM
Are the coolant pellets required using either of the coolants?

Yes. My engine has 67k on it, and it has an oil leak from who knows where... Honestly I think it's 3 locations, the front "cover", the oil manifold, and the half-case seals. The oil manifold seems to be the main contributor, the other two just get the outside "moist". Still though, it's a few drips a day. Bad for the environment, maybe... But it's nothing to worry about. I *personally* (i.e. have no proof that says otherwise) think the headgasket problem affects around 5% of the northstar population. I have 5 friends with N*'s, and one of them had a headgasket problem. Given a larger sample, I'd say 5% is about where it's at. 90% of those are more than likely due to poor maintenance. "Cooling system flush? Do I need it? So it'll be just fine if I skip it? Okay then, just do the oil change."

BeelzeBob
11-02-04, 11:32 PM
Thank you for the response bobynski. Your reply gives me hope! As I mentioned in my post, the eldo I am looking to buy is a 95 Coupe. It has only 65,600 miles and looks as though it had been meticulously kept. The interior is like new! There are even no crease marks on any of the seats, no fading on any of the panels, etc. The engine compartment, although not detailed is extremely clean. A beautiful car all the way around. All original paper work is in the glove box, including price sticker ($43,000.00+ new). I would be willing to take a chance and buy it for the $6,300.00 if the oil pan leak and head gasket problem is as you say, occurs in only a small percentage of cars and there is not much chance of a well maintained car developing this problem. By the way, shouldn't the oil pan drain plug have some sort of plastic washer on it?This one des not seem to have a washer? As far as the green coolant goes, is it recommended to switch it the the better long lasting stuff or should the green stuff continue to be used? Are the coolant pellets required using either of the coolants? Anyone else have any input? It would really be appreciated............


The oil drain plug has a o-ring style seal on it that fits around the perimeter of the washer head of the plug.

Continue to use the green, conventional coolant. Use the coolant supplement. Install it into the rad hose NOT the surge tank.

rod3126
11-03-04, 12:12 AM
My mistake................
The mileage on the car in question is 56,600 not 65,600 as I stated earlier. In your professional opinion, do you think this is a good buy? Would you know what a fair market value would be for a car like this? Do you think the $6,300.00 price is fair? The coolant supplement pellets.....into which rad hose?

chuckdobbins
11-03-04, 12:27 AM
not sure what the carrying value on the eldo is, but its got very low miles and you seem to be very impressed with the condition.

when making offers on buying a car ive been taught to go with the 20% rule. that is to say offer 20% less than the asking price. in your case its about 5,000. see what they say and go from there. the worst that could happen is they say no, you leave your number and then when theyre ready to sell for 5....you got yourself an eldo :D

of course for some reason it doesnt always work out that way lol.

and i think the supplement goes in the upper radiator hose.

Spyder
11-03-04, 02:56 AM
'Tis recommended to put it in the bottom hose, but the top will work just as well.

BeelzeBob
11-03-04, 12:23 PM
Sounds like a fair price for a car in that condition with those miles.....probably a little high for "book value" but cars in that condition with those few miles rarely go just by the book. Figure how long you would have to look and the likelyhood of finding something as nice for less....not likely.

Either radiator hose is fine. It absolutely does not matter as long as the supplement is not put into the surge tank. The stuff needs to be installed in the coolant flow path (like thru the radiator...) and the surge tank has little actual flow thru it.

LCLCLC
11-04-04, 12:48 AM
If you could get the car for $5,500 or $6,000, why not do it? And consider, at this price, for it to be a 'throw away' car?

This is assuming you have the money to do this. Now if you would have to take a many-year loan, or beg/steal $6,000, then maybe this is not the car for you. Especially if you will 'have' to stay in it for a long time, and a major repair early on would be a big problem for you.

If you can get 3 years out of it, that is $2,000 a year. What is that, $175 a month? How low of a car payment is that?

If the head gaskets go, sell for salvage or trade it, should be worth $1,000 or so....