: Need some advice for Northstar car purchase...



Eldorado guy
01-28-12, 12:06 AM
Hey everyone,

For quite a while now, Iíve been eyeballing 1990s and early 2000 Cadillacs, more specifically, Northstar powered Cadillacs. I think I've read all of the technical archives, but if I've missed something, feel free to point me in the correct direction. At the end of October, I was involved in a bad motorcycle crash, where a crew cab Dodge diesel broadsided me and threw me 15í into a ditch. I came very close to losing my leg, but long story short, after 10 surgeries and a 3 months stay in the hospital on bed rest, Iím home and mobile on crutches. Plus, I get to keep my leg! :)

Not that I could ride if I wanted to at this point (I donĎt), but the bike is totaled, so, Iím looking to invest in another newer, good running car. Iíve found that the only ďnewĒ cars Iím really interested in (new meaning cars built within the last 20 years) are the Northstar era Cadillacs. Iíve always been a Cadillac nut.

Currently, Iíve found a few in my price range : Two are 1997 SLSís with roughly 60K miles on them, a 1998 Eldorado with 64K miles (no carfax or auto check records :suspect:, but easy to get in and out of with a leg brace), a 2001 SLS with 112K miles, and a 2001 SLS with 123,000 miles (this one is local).

Iíve done lots of research, and so far Iíve found that the general consensus is that even though not all Northstar engines have head gasket failures, the 1997-1999s are the most likely candidates, while the 2000-2004 cars are better, and the 2005+ cars are no more susceptible than any other aluminum engine car on the road. Sound about correct? So, that being said, would you guys suggest one of the late 90ís cars with low miles, or a 2000+ with over 100K?

I would purchase the local one asap, apart from when I started it on the lot, it kind of knocked at first and ran very rough. The trouble codes gave me a P0300 multiple-cylinder missfire code, multiple abs codes, and it had a faulty fuel gage sending unit. They said they would fix all of this if I was interested.

Also, Iíve found that upon test drive/inspection of the car, I should read all if any codes, check for oil leaks, check the trunk for water leaks, and purchase or rent a block test kit and test for a bad head gasket. Does that about sum it up, or am I missing something? If the car is local, I wouldnít have any issues with a shop doing an inspection and a leak down test on each cylinder, but almost every car I find around here is two hours away, so that can be a little difficult to pull off. How accurate is the block test kit, assuming I give the car a nice hard run and test it while itís still nice and hot?

Itís a lot of questions, but Iíve never had a vehicle that didnít need a plethora of repairs right from the start, and Iíd like one this time around (at least until I can stand without crutches lol). I know that many Cadillacs need plenty of attention as the miles add up.

Thanks for all the help,
Dan

maeng9981
01-28-12, 03:11 AM
For quite a while now, I’ve been eyeballing 1990s and early 2000 Cadillacs, more specifically, Northstar powered Cadillacs. I think I've read all of the technical archives, but if I've missed something, feel free to point me in the correct direction. At the end of October, I was involved in a bad motorcycle crash, where a crew cab Dodge diesel broadsided me and threw me 15’ into a ditch. I came very close to losing my leg, but long story short, after 10 surgeries and a 3 months stay in the hospital on bed rest, I’m home and mobile on crutches. Plus, I get to keep my leg! :)

Sorry to hear that. At least you are okay now!


I’ve done lots of research, and so far I’ve found that the general consensus is that even though not all Northstar engines have head gasket failures, the 1997-1999s are the most likely candidates, while the 2000-2004 cars are better, and the 2005+ cars are no more susceptible than any other aluminum engine car on the road. Sound about correct? So, that being said, would you guys suggest one of the late 90’s cars with low miles, or a 2000+ with over 100K?

I'd suggest anything 00+, since there has been a change in head bolt length and a change to roller cam followers. The 00+ engines are less susceptible for cam lobe / lifter wear. If you can, try to find one of those 2002.5+ STS with F55 MagneRide. That will give you less headache of having bad CVRSS shocks/struts.

I wouldn't suggest cars with CVRSS since the replacement cost is very expensive and since these cars have around 10 years of age they tend to go bad. You could choose a Y car to avoid CVRSS, but sometimes even the Y cars were optioned with F45 CVRSS. Watch out for that, checking for that is easy, just see if any of your shocks have electrical connectors and wires coming out of them. Or you could check the SPID and see if F45 is there.


I would purchase the local one asap, apart from when I started it on the lot, it kind of knocked at first and ran very rough. The trouble codes gave me a P0300 multiple-cylinder missfire code, multiple abs codes, and it had a faulty fuel gage sending unit. They said they would fix all of this if I was interested.

Walk far away from the cars that are showing any drivability problems.


Also, I’ve found that upon test drive/inspection of the car, I should read all if any codes, check for oil leaks, check the trunk for water leaks, and purchase or rent a block test kit and test for a bad head gasket. Does that about sum it up, or am I missing something? If the car is local, I wouldn’t have any issues with a shop doing an inspection and a leak down test on each cylinder, but almost every car I find around here is two hours away, so that can be a little difficult to pull off. How accurate is the block test kit, assuming I give the car a nice hard run and test it while it’s still nice and hot?

Block test kit is pretty accurate given the fact that you are following the directions. If the fluid turns color to any kind, walk. After a hard test drive, just make sure that you give it a little bit of time to cool down so it won't boil over when you remove the cap.

I hope you can find a good car for your Cadillac needs. Every Cadillac enthusiasts deserve a good Cadillac.

Ranger
01-28-12, 11:43 AM
2000+

Submariner409
01-28-12, 03:06 PM
Do not discount the 2000 - 2004 Deville series - DHS/DTS. Very nice cars and most comfortable - and a LOT faster than meets the eye. From a prejudicial point of view, 2002.5 - 2003 STS.

00 Deville
01-28-12, 08:56 PM
It sounds like you've done your homework. 2000+ is the way to go.... sorry to hear about your accident. If the other driver was at fault make sure you consult with a good personal injury attorney.

Eldorado guy
01-29-12, 12:23 AM
Sorry to hear that. At least you are okay now!

After a hard test drive, just make sure that you give it a little bit of time to cool down so it won't boil over when you remove the cap.

I hope you can find a good car for your Cadillac needs. Every Cadillac enthusiasts deserve a good Cadillac.

Thank you for the good wishes and advice! The crash could have been much worse, as I get to live and keep all my limbs. At 20, I don't care to go 50-60 more years without a leg. If I can find an STS with Magnaride, I'd go for it. Even though it may not be the most "correct" thing to do, I would probably end up installing the aftermarket shocks with a resistor to trick the computer that I read about (not sure of the name). I'll probably own this car until it's failure, so I'm not too worried about resale, if that even really effects resale to the average consumer. How long should I let the car cool down before I run that block test after a test drive?



Do not discount the 2000 - 2004 Deville series - DHS/DTS. Very nice cars and most comfortable - and a LOT faster than meets the eye. From a prejudicial point of view, 2002.5 - 2003 STS.

Thank you, submariner. Even though I do prefer the STS, SLS, and Eldorado models over the Deville models, I don't have any problems with them. I just hadn't seen any for sale at the time of my first post. I'm actually quite fond of the DTS, but I'm a few thousand short of affording one of those. There's a gorgeous one for sale a couple hours away with only 69K miles for $8k. If I had the money, I'd be driving it home Monday......... or the Crimson Pearl 2001 Eldorado for sale locally with 82K :cool: .


It sounds like you've done your homework. 2000+ is the way to go.... sorry to hear about your accident. If the other driver was at fault make sure you consult with a good personal injury attorney.

Thank you. Yes, he was very much at fault. We have one, but I don't know how it will come out. There may not be much there to go for. He only carried the bare bones insurance policy, so I'm glad I have health insurance. However, no matter what policy he had, it may not of mattered for how much my leg is now worth. I could probably purchase a Cadillac dealership for the cost to save it.

Here are a few I found:

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/cto/2821619803.html

http://sacramento.craigslist.org/ctd/2811422323.html

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/cto/2822971793.html

No, I don't have a thing for the carriage roof lol, but they are within in my price range. What do you guys think?

Thank you so much everyone,
Dan

00 Deville
01-29-12, 08:57 AM
I ran the VIN for the 02 Seville that's advertised as having a "clean title" thru google and found this...

http://www.salvage-cars-for-sale.info/salvage/for-sale-cadillac-seville-2002-MjQ4OTkxMTA

It was listed as having a salvage title due to "dents and scratches" now it's listed as having a clean title... hmmm.

I'm not a big carriage roof fan either... I would go look at the 03 Deville. What kind of license tag is on that car?

97EldoCoupe
02-04-12, 04:35 PM
Northstars are good engines from 93 onward- don't worry about the cams and lifters that much. If they need replacement, get a set of regrinds and new lifters and be done with it. Use it as it was meant to; maintain it; and those cams should not wear down. Frequent WOT runs helps preserve the cams, believe it or not!

Best of luck with your purchase :)

corbit
02-05-12, 10:01 PM
I just purchased a 98 deville with 155,xxx on the car but the beauty is the northstar had already blown a gasket. Several local shops buy these, do the head work, seal the motor and waranty the whole deal. I love it and and get 24 mpg all day.

CadillacLuke24
02-15-12, 04:49 PM
Jake, just so you know, if I have any HG problems I'm coming YOUR way :D. Yep these guys hit the nail on the head. I personally would get anything with a Northstar cause I have a 96, but that's a personal preference.

Eldorado guy
03-06-12, 12:58 AM
Hey everyone,

I doubt I'll get any responses before I leave tomorrow around noon, but I figured that I'd tell you guys that tomorrow I'm going to go and look at a 2003 Seville STS with 85K on it. I guess this car has the F55 magneride option? I checked the car over Autocheck and it looks pretty good. I'm not a big fan of a 9 year old car having 4 owners, but it's never failed an emissions test (at least not one that's documented), which most of the cars I've looked at have. It has been documented as a fleet/lease vehicle, but then again, 90% of the other Cadillacs I've checked have been as well. The dealer says that everything works and that the car is in great shape. Non-smoker. I'll be bringing a block test and I'll also be beating the heck out of it on the freeway to see if I can make the temp guage move past the 1 'oclock position.

The idea of purchasing a $55,000 dollar car for under $7,000 is a little daunting, however the people who I know that have Northstar cars all love them and they haven't had any big real issues with them, besides for shocks on the 1999 Deville (yeah, I know what they cost). Any opinions are welcome, I'll be checking this post frequently lol!

Here is the car:
http://www.carsforsale.com/used_cars_for_sale/2003_Cadillac_Seville_147412413

maeng9981
03-06-12, 03:33 AM
Looks real nice. and Yes, '03 STS has F55. I hope it's a creampuff without any problems.

Submariner409
03-06-12, 10:22 AM
Looks good. Nobody has screwed with the original Bose stereo system or the engine/accessories. The A/C condenser (front of the radiator) is full of bugs. The proper plastic caps are on the tops of the strut rod nuts. Headlight assemblies could use a polish kit - but they're not yellow, so the car is a highway car ( moderate sand abrasion) and has been kept in a garage (no UV yellowing damage). There's a 50/50 chance the driver's seat heater doesn't work. Make sure the cup holder, which pops out the front of the console, will fold in and stay in. Turn the key on and make sure both front seats operate through all ranges of adjustment. The wheel nuts have flimsy phony caps - they come off to torque the lug nuts to 100 ft/lb in a star sequence. Carry 32 psi in the tires, checked and set cold ONLY.

Yes, the car has the Cadillac/Ferrari Magnetic Ride Control system by DELPHI/Lord. F55.

The OnStar has not been updated to the new digital model - the antenna is the old analog system, but the system can be upgraded for a few bucks plus the subscription and hands-free phone minutes package........ ~$250 a year.

You just may have found a good one. When you learn how to drive the thing you'll be amazed at the handling - and a word of caution: This STS WILL NOT have a squishy, floaty "Cadillac ride". This car will drive like it's bolted to the road. It demands good tires and it demands to be driven.

Eldorado guy
03-06-12, 11:59 PM
Well, I'm now the proud owner of a beautiful 2003 Seville STS! The car is really exceptional. It's almost perfect, just a couple small imperfections. Being I got the car for under $6,800, I think I did ok. I have a hard time believing it has 85K miles. Tomorrow, I'll try and post some pictures. It really looks better in person than in those pictures. I'll find the correct board on this site and post a link here, if that's ok.

I was a little nervous, watching the temp needle most of the way home lol, but no matter what, I couldn't get it to move past the center position. 70 mph, ac blowing, up a grade. Nothing. The blue fluid for the block tester never changed color and the on board diagnostics checked out.

Maeng9981 and submariner409, thank you for the quick responses. I really want to thank you, submariner, because even if you don't remember, you've given me great advice years ago on these cars. You are right, the car does handle really, really well. I took it on a couple curvy roads after I got home. Didn't really push it (new car to me), but it out handles my old Iroc-Z I use to have. It's amazing how fast a big car like this can get up to 80. I'll go into details tomorrow.

Thanks again,
Dan

ThumperPup
03-07-12, 10:25 AM
2000+ only time i would consider one older then 2000 is if it where a last Gen Eldorado convertible

Submariner409
03-07-12, 11:13 AM
..............day late and a dollar short.

ThumperPup
03-07-12, 11:20 AM
better late than never LOL