: Concerns with my 1997 Northstar Engine



techevar
07-09-12, 10:29 AM
I just picked up a beautiful 1997 Eldorado. It was owned by a 91 year old man who unfortunately can not drive any longer. The car is absolutely beautiful! It looks like it just came out of the show room. The car has 85K on it right now. My concern in reading this forum is; Do I get rid of it while I have the chance and while its in pristine condition. I am concerned from the forum that no matter what you do eventually the Head Gaskets will blow and if that's true. While hasn't Cadilliac standed by their products and have a recall?

dkozloski
07-09-12, 02:41 PM
Recalls are only for safety issues. Blown head gaskets are merely an annoyance.

JimmyH
07-09-12, 05:26 PM
moved from cust svc

vincentm
07-09-12, 05:43 PM
I just picked up a beautiful 1997 Eldorado. It was owned by a 91 year old man who unfortunately can not drive any longer. The car is absolutely beautiful! It looks like it just came out of the show room. The car has 85K on it right now. My concern in reading this forum is; Do I get rid of it while I have the chance and while its in pristine condition. I am concerned from the forum that no matter what you do eventually the Head Gaskets will blow and if that's true. While hasn't Cadilliac standed by their products and have a recall?

Change the oil, flush the coolant, change plugs and cables (ac delco 41-950 plugs ONLY) do a block test

Struts and shocks are roughly $800 a wheel for this car. Check for oil leaks at the case halves, if weeping let it do so, if its leaking pretty bad youre looking an extremely costly repair


Oh and welcome to the Eldo section :)

CadillacLuke24
07-09-12, 05:56 PM
Head Gaskets are "relatively" Minor. This means that for the production numbers the cars have experienced, the number of HG failures are somewhat insignificant.

Not all Northstar V8s will blow their head gaskets. You have to keep in mind that a vast majority of people come to the forums to complain or seek help for a problem. There are few that praise their cars. THer is, however, one dude over in the Northstar forum with 540,000 miles on his BONE STOCK Northstar.

It's up to you on whether to ditch the Eldo or not. Would you consider a $3,000 repair on a car worth roughly that much worthwhile?

How much do you like this car?

Has the car ever been overheated?

What are the service records?

It seems, to me, that repeated overheating of the Northstar is a BIG part of the failure. Head gaskets almost never fail on these cars, it seems that the headbolts lose their clamping force, and BOOM. HG "failure". It's a bit of the 'Chicken or the egg' with HG failure, though, as general consensus is.

If it's never been overheated, and serviced regularly, that VASTLY improves your chances. If you plan on keeping the car, change the coolant yesterday, read up on the technical archive, keep it from overheating, and ENJOY!

Oh, and if you decide to sell it, post a listing on the classifieds. I'm sure there are some members :D that would LOVE a crack at this car.

techevar
07-09-12, 09:19 PM
Thanks everyone for their Input. The replies have put my mind at ease. Since I absolutely love this car. I'm going to take a pro-active approach and put in a new water pump, Radiator and thermostat. This will absolutely ensure I never ( or lessen) my chances of overheating. Maybe I'll get to the 540,000 mile mark like the guy mentioned above.:)

vincentm
07-09-12, 09:25 PM
Thanks everyone for their Input. The replies have put my mind at ease. Since I absolutely love this car. I'm going to take a pro-active approach and put in a new water pump, Radiator and thermostat. This will absolutely ensure I never ( or lessen) my chances of overheating. Maybe I'll get to the 540,000 mile mark like the guy mentioned above.:)

If it aint broke dont fix it, just change the fluids and go from there

Submariner409
07-09-12, 09:48 PM
Yeah, that ^^^. Of ANYTHING you mentioned replacing, the only part would be the water pump drive belt tensioner pulley. Otherwise, leave well enough alone.

Ranger
07-09-12, 09:54 PM
I'm going to take a pro-active approach and put in a new water pump, Radiator and thermostat. This will absolutely ensure I never ( or lessen) my chances of overheating.
If that was tongue in cheek, forgive me, but if you are serious, let me correct you. There are no guarantees. I will simply add my concurrence to the two above posts. Save your money for repairs when and if you need them.

89falcon
07-09-12, 11:24 PM
If that was tongue in cheek, forgive me, but if you are serious, let me correct you. There are no guarantees. I will simply add my concurrence to the two above posts. Save your money for repairs when and if you need them.

Concur also....with one additional caveat. The Eldo has a VERY good cooling system....VERY GOOD. it won't just "overheat".....ie, overheats don't LEAD to problems....problems lead to overheating....

I drover my STS HARD...and my kids drove it HARDER...first sign of HG failure didn't start until approx 130-140K miles....then had a "slow" failure....started with periodic loss of coolant.....then started losing cooling system parts. Some folks will have block test failures BEFORE getting other noticeable symptoms.

The "other" problem with the cars is the suspension. It's VERY expensive (as Vince points out) to replace the stock parts with stock....but if the constantly adjusting suspension isn't that important to you, you can buy cheaper after market parts that aren't adjustable.

top to bottom, my STS was/is one of the best cars I've owned or even driven. It's significantly better than a 2005 or 2006 CTS.....so you could spend a couple more grand on the car and still come out ahead.

techevar
07-10-12, 03:03 PM
I guess everyone's right. I'll change the oil (synthetic) Flush the cooling system and pray. :) Speaking of cooling system. I hear that you need to drop some special tablets into the radiator? is that true? Or can I just take to any mechanic shop to do a flush of the system?

CadillacLuke24
07-10-12, 03:56 PM
DO NOT use the sealant tablets. GM at first recommended them as a way to seal any small holes. The only thing they tend to seal is the heater core. GM no longer recommends them. They are a waste of your time, money, effort...

Not trying to be rude, just trying to be direct. :D Good luck! Sounds like you got an excellent automobile :thumbsup:

techevar
07-10-12, 05:09 PM
No worries and thank you. I'm glad I can bring it to any oil Place or Mechanic to flush the system.

bigtone
07-10-12, 08:13 PM
What I did to aid reliability on the 3 early 2000's Devilles that we owned was to change both belts, tensioners and idler pulley. Also I changed all the radiator and heater hoses. Years ago I used to be cheap but after I felt like an idiot once on the side of the road with a 15 year old car with a blown hose, I change all the above. Rubber does not last forever.

Ranger
07-10-12, 10:19 PM
DO NOT use the sealant tablets. GM at first recommended them as a way to seal any small holes. The only thing they tend to seal is the heater core. GM no longer recommends them. They are a waste of your time, money, effort...


:yeah:

techevar
07-11-12, 01:32 AM
Thanks Bigtone. I will certainly follow the advice. I rather spend a little money to give me some piece of mind. Any thing you do to the car will not hurt. It should improve the reliability of the car.

Cadman 32
07-11-12, 03:42 PM
Thank you for the answers to his questions. I am configuring a recently acquired '95 STS (67k miles)and also interested in freshening the cooling system. I intend to change all the hoses and belts along with a hard look at the idlers per the advice above.
Outside of steps previously mentioned, does anyone see the value in a re-torque of the heads? It is done with other aluminum head applications, so is that something commonly done to this engine?
Thanks :thumbsup:

After reading the thread about repairing head bolt threads, I'm thinking I don't want to ask much more from those block threads and I should be greatful that the gaskets are still holding.

Submariner409
07-11-12, 08:06 PM
There is no final torque spec on these head bolts, so don't even remotely consider thinking about or even performing a "re-torque".

These head bolts are torqued to 37 lb/ft and then further tightened a specific number of degrees in 3 successive steps.

89falcon
07-12-12, 01:56 AM
Thank you for the answers to his questions. I am configuring a recently acquired '95 STS (67k miles)and also interested in freshening the cooling system. I intend to change all the hoses and belts along with a hard look at the idlers per the advice above.
Outside of steps previously mentioned, does anyone see the value in a re-torque of the heads? It is done with other aluminum head applications, so is that something commonly done to this engine?
Thanks :thumbsup:

After reading the thread about repairing head bolt threads, I'm thinking I don't want to ask much more from those block threads and I should be greatful that the gaskets are still holding.

The factory bolts come with a coating on the threads that acts as a lubricant during torquing, then a thread locker afterwards.....DO NOT "RETORQUE"......not appropriate for the N*

Cadman 32
07-12-12, 12:26 PM
Thank you for your help!

manniefresh84
07-15-12, 12:40 AM
I myself recently bought a 97 eldo from an older lady i'm Phoenix. I absolutely love my car. Yet I do have some issues. Struts are.completely shot, passenger windows doesn't roll down and my instrument panel.lights keep going.off and on hen headlights are on.. Found a huge hole in the air.conditioner plastic piece that's bolted to the firewall. Any recommendations on what I should.do? I wanna keep it only has 121k miles on it.. And its the etc model..

ronluh
07-15-12, 02:21 AM
Keep it and drive it!!!! Eldo's are way too fun to drive, especially on the freeway at WOT!!!!!!! I will fix and keep mine, cheaper than $400 car note

Ranger
07-15-12, 12:28 PM
I myself recently bought a 97 eldo from an older lady i'm Phoenix. I absolutely love my car. Yet I do have some issues. Struts are.completely shot, passenger windows doesn't roll down and my instrument panel.lights keep going.off and on hen headlights are on.. Found a huge hole in the air.conditioner plastic piece that's bolted to the firewall. Any recommendations on what I should.do? I wanna keep it only has 121k miles on it.. And its the etc model..
Pretty common. The plastic gets brittle overtime. Replacement part is all but impossible to fine, not to mention that you have to drop the drivetrain to replace it. You may have to get innovative and patch it a gently and as best as you can. Emphasis on gently as it will crumble in your hand.