: NorthStar Reputation..



agood1
03-02-05, 05:15 PM
I am looking at buying a mid 90 Seville STS...but I keep hearing horror stories about the Northstar engine.....Oil Leaks, Head problems, hard to work on....and so on...
Is this true...I can only afford a Seville with 100k+ miles on it...so should I shy away?

Thanks

eldorado1
03-02-05, 05:28 PM
If it wasn't maintained, probably.

agood1
03-02-05, 05:33 PM
How can I tell if it was maintained properly?

eldorado1
03-02-05, 07:13 PM
Ask for the service records..... Specifically the coolant change that should've occurred every 2 years. (5 years if 96+ with dexcool). The good record keepers (or dealer serviced cars) will have this..... Oil leaks are minor problems, nothing to sweat over... but it wouldn't hurt to check the bottom of the oil pan with a mirror to see if it's "wet".

blb
03-02-05, 08:10 PM
Some dealers will fake the service records, so beware. Besides the major problems you mentioned, other issues quite common at 100,000 + miles (and sometimes much earlier) are faulty struts - front and/or rear, faulty power window motors, A/C compressor hub bearing failure, alternator failure, RSS module failure, idler pulley failure, tensioner pulley failure, water pump leaks, water pump belt tensioner failure, Bose CD inop., transmission A and/or B soleniod failure, front wheel bearing failure, suspension end link failure, premature metal brake line failure and other minor issues. While most of the above issues can be addressed by the average shade tree mechanic, and some can be addressed by repairing, rather than replacing the faulty component, be prepared to either spend substantial dollars or substantial time addressing problems as they crop up. If you plan on taking a trip, pack tools along with the rest of your luggage. If you go for it, good luck. You'll love the car, but dread the repairs.

Ralph
03-02-05, 08:17 PM
Some dealers will fake the service records, so beware. Besides the major problems you mentioned, other issues quite common at 100,000 + miles (and sometimes much earlier) are faulty struts - front and/or rear, faulty power window motors, A/C compressor hub bearing failure, alternator failure, RSS module failure, idler pulley failure, tensioner pulley failure, water pump leaks, water pump belt tensioner failure, Bose CD inop., transmission A and/or B soleniod failure, front wheel bearing failure, suspension end link failure, premature metal brake line failure and other minor issues. While most of the above issues can be addressed by the average shade tree mechanic, and some can be addressed by repairing, rather than replacing the faulty component, be prepared to either spend substantial dollars or substantial time addressing problems as they crop up. If you plan on taking a trip, pack tools along with the rest of your luggage. If you go for it, good luck. You'll love the car, but dread the repairs.

Oh great! Lets scare away ALL future potential Northstar customers! ;) Other people drive them without incident to 150,000 miles and no problems.

Regarding maintenance and important on coolant is to use the supplemental pellets because of the aluminium parts on the engine, it ensures you don't get leakage from the coolant into the oil.

1996deVille
03-02-05, 09:04 PM
I bought my '96 deVille in Sept. of 2001. The repairs/replacements are as follows:

1.) A/C comp. done by Cad. about $1400 parts and labor... I don't like foolin' around with the high pressure side of A/C and you'll need the tools to pull down and reinstall refrig. This was done at around 90K (7 yr old at the time).

2.) Battery at 6th year - not bad for the stock battery - get a direct replacement b/c it has to fit exactly into the space provided. $115.

3.) Rear brakes at 100K - you'll need the tool to do this ($6.00 rental) pads are cheap... $30 or so...

4.) Replace water pump, belts and hoses (113K). Again, not bad for orig. parts... did this myself for around $200. Cad. wanted $1400 to do this...

5.) Plugs and wires at 113K after recall of fuel rail. Cost about $130, add $40 for Delco OEM parts.

6.) The struts and air shocks go out early - these have been shot since I got the car (68K). I'll replace with a passive system... maybe!

7.) I'm sure my next repair will be a starter - unless that was replaced before I bought the car and an alternator (again this may have been done).

8.) Key bob went out - Cad. fixed (nice folks), would have been $160.

9.) The heated seat went out at about 85K. Cost to fix w/new seats $2400. Cost to fix by buying new elements and going to a shop to recover the seats around $600.

Add in cost of typical maint. 8 qts. of oil and K&N filter about $25. New tires around $100 each...

NOW...

My 1992 S-10 over the same years - new tires $200. Full tune up $120. Typical maint. oil and filter $16. That's it!!!

As you can see there was quite a difference between the two - AND if you can't do the work yourself on the Cad. you're in for some BIG dollars!!!

The S-10 doesn't get as good of mileage, not quite as fast (4.3 V6) but close, and no where near as comfortable to drive any distance!!!

The Cad. will be the most $$$ car to maintain unless you go BMW, Mercedes, or any English car. If you think the Cad. is bad just talk to the owner of one of the others I've listed!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, if the head gasket goes on the Cad. I'm selling it for parts!!! Lifting the body away from the engine seems like the design team never intended for this repair to take place.

If I had to do it all over again I'd spend $16K on a 60's Cad. or Buick, whatever, and drive the wheels off of it. In fact, when the '96 dies that's exactly what I'm going to do!

Much success in your hunt!

Ralph
03-02-05, 09:15 PM
I bought my '96 deVille in Sept. of 2001. The repairs/replacements are as follows:

1.) A/C comp. done by Cad. about $1400 parts and labor... I don't like foolin' around with the high pressure side of A/C and you'll need the tools to pull down and reinstall refrig. This was done at around 90K (7 yr old at the time).

2.) Battery at 6th year - not bad for the stock battery - get a direct replacement b/c it has to fit exactly into the space provided. $115.

3.) Rear brakes at 100K - you'll need the tool to do this ($6.00 rental) pads are cheap... $30 or so...

4.) Replace water pump, belts and hoses (113K). Again, not bad for orig. parts... did this myself for around $200. Cad. wanted $1400 to do this...

5.) Plugs and wires at 113K after recall of fuel rail. Cost about $130, add $40 for Delco OEM parts.

6.) The struts and air shocks go out early - these have been shot since I got the car (68K). I'll replace with a passive system... maybe!

7.) I'm sure my next repair will be a starter - unless that was replaced before I bought the car and an alternator (again this may have been done).

8.) Key bob went out - Cad. fixed (nice folks), would have been $160.

9.) The heated seat went out at about 85K. Cost to fix w/new seats $2400. Cost to fix by buying new elements and going to a shop to recover the seats around $600.

Add in cost of typical maint. 8 qts. of oil and K&N filter about $25. New tires around $100 each...

NOW...

My 1992 S-10 over the same years - new tires $200. Full tune up $120. Typical maint. oil and filter $16. That's it!!!

As you can see there was quite a difference between the two - AND if you can't do the work yourself on the Cad. you're in for some BIG dollars!!!

The S-10 doesn't get as good of mileage, not quite as fast (4.3 V6) but close, and no where near as comfortable to drive any distance!!!

The Cad. will be the most $$$ car to maintain unless you go BMW, Mercedes, or any English car. If you think the Cad. is bad just talk to the owner of one of the others I've listed!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, if the head gasket goes on the Cad. I'm selling it for parts!!! Lifting the body away from the engine seems like the design team never intended for this repair to take place.

If I had to do it all over again I'd spend $16K on a 60's Cad. or Buick, whatever, and drive the wheels off of it. In fact, when the '96 dies that's exactly what I'm going to do!

Much success in your hunt!

Things like the battery and brakes are just general maintenance items and should not be confused with the NORTHSTAR in this thread. 6 years for a battery is damn good, especially in my cold climate this time of year. Brakes, well what do you expect?? Usually the rule for brake wear is 2 sets of front pads per one rear because when you brake the weight of the car is transferred foreward and traditionally, the harder you brake, then the rears acrtivate with greater force. Belts and hoses are also general maintenance.

Do you think a German car would be any better??!!

http://www.mercedes-benz-usa.com/mlclass.php

http:www.bmwlemon.com/BMW740i.htm

Take a GOOD look at the serious problems with these and tell me YOUR problems are serious. Cadillacs and other luxury cars will always cost more to fix. Plus the fact that you bought a used Cadillac so you can expect the previous owner may not have properly maintained it to a prefect level. We ALL take a chance on a used car.

Ralph
03-02-05, 09:29 PM
My 1992 S-10

The S-10 doesn't get as good of mileage, not quite as fast (4.3 V6) but close, and no where near as comfortable to drive any distance!!!

The Cad. will be the most $$$ car to maintain unless you go BMW, Mercedes, or any English car. If you think the Cad. is bad just talk to the owner of one of the others I've listed!!!!!!!!!!!


There is NO comparing an S-10 to a Cadillac. A Cadillac has more on it to go wrong, including options and toys like key fobs you mentioned.

That is such a myth that Mercedes will be cheaper to fix!

Click the ML Class on my above link at see how many people couldn't even get MB to cover an issue under warrenty when they should have!

When has Cadillac ever charged $3,550 for 2 cat converters?! (ML link 5th down) That's just one example.

M&N
03-02-05, 09:49 PM
Any used vehicle with 100k has the potential to be a problem with repairs not just a caddy and the N*. The buyer could get another 100k before any serious problem if then. I concur that brakes, plugs, wires, coolant is general maintenance for any used vehicle. Reliabilty = PM, PM = Reliabilty

Night Wolf
03-02-05, 10:01 PM
I agree.... you can't buy a used car with 100k and then when things go bad blame it on the car or something...

if you want a cheap, comfortable, safe, cool, fast, good on gas, easy to work on and cheap parts... buy any GM car with the 3800 V6.... s/c if you want to go even faster.... my fathers car has the s/c 3800... great engine.. and my Olds has the 3800... you can't beat them :)

cguthrie
03-02-05, 10:27 PM
Agood,

I bought my 99STS at 40K BECAUSE of the reputation of the Northstar. I believe itwas one of the first engines designed for 100K w/minor service only.

So far so good, 108K, basically oil and filter changes only, along with brakes and 1 tire change and soon will be replacing the original battery.

Still getting over 22MPG in a big, well handling, very fast car for all seasons.

Good luck!

CG
99STS 108K

Ranger
03-02-05, 10:32 PM
Bought my '97 in 2000 with about 20K on it. It now has 97K. The only non routine maintanence (failures) were the half case leak (under warranty) though I am still not sure it was the half case (I didn't know any better then), and a blower motor two months ago. Still has OEM exhaust, front brakes and wiper blades.

Ralph
03-02-05, 10:44 PM
wiper blades.

My wiper blades are 14 years old!! :yup:

Ranger
03-02-05, 11:23 PM
My wiper blades are 14 years old!! :yup:
And I thought I was doing good. Guess they still have a lot of life left in them eh. :)

1996deVille
03-03-05, 12:02 AM
My statement didn't come out quite right... the BMW and the like are WAY more expensive to maintain!!! I was trying to list all of the things I've done for someone looking into buying a used Cad.

Really, all of the things I've listed are pretty basic - I've replaced alternators, a battery, general maint. items on every car I've owned, and yes, the Cad will have more things go wrong simply b/c it has more items to fail...

I found the water pump very easy to change out - easier than the S-10. The alternator's a little tougher to get to. The starter's really tough compared to the S-10 - RWD's easier to fix in general.

I'm used to the older stuff, so I guess I'm a little biased - I probably should've gone after the RWD Fleetwood. The way I look at it, anything after 100K is a bonus, so we'll see how long the head gasket/s hold before I get rid of this car.

Much success in your hunt!

Ralph
03-03-05, 12:06 AM
so we'll see how long the head gasket/s hold before I get rid of this car.


Are you running the coolant pellets? It should be ok then. :)

1996deVille
03-03-05, 12:52 AM
Ralph,


Yeah, I don't want to, but yes... I hate the way that stuff collects in certain places.

Rolex
03-03-05, 06:36 PM
How can I tell if it was maintained properly?

If you have to ask you probably can't tell. Please, have a mechanic you trust give the car a once-over before you buy it. You can do a search here on the forums to look for info on what to look for when buying used. There are lots of old threads full of valuable info. Good luck.

danbuc
03-04-05, 06:46 AM
The Northstar engine in itself, is a marvel of modern mechanical engineering. As far as problems go, very few ever reported, are actually realatd to the engine itself. The majority of them, are do in part to a lack of maintenance to cooling system. I always found it funny when peopel argued that it has "so many issues" because of it's aluminum contruction. The ironic thing about this statement, is that I hear it alot from people driving cars with engines such as the LS1, or LS6 which they don't realize is also all aluminum. The northstar engine is very reliable, when properly cared for. By that I mean regularly changing the oil, and mantaing the cooling system. Other than that, it does not require much work at all. If you look at the post on this forum regarding problems peopel have had with there cars, they are almost all directly related to either the age, or condition of the car. A lot of them are small electrical issues, like a bad window switch, or a malfunction light, or seat. Sometime's you'll find something like a bad strut, which can be pricy, but seems to be a relatively rare problem in most cases. These issues are very minor, when compared with some other manufacturers. Just look at BMW for example. When they debuted their new M3, they had a "small" problem with connecting rods failing, and sending pistions through the block resulting in catastrophic failure. Becuase enough of them didn't destroy themselves, they did not recall them, but merely replaced the blown up engines under warranty as to be expected. I also hear that Mercedes is having a problem with catastrophic engine failure in their V12's. Overall, cadillac's tend to be more reliable then just about everything else on the market. The tainted image some people have, is from previous models (early to mid 80'sI believe) that did have quite a few problems. One of them was the 4-6-8 cylinder displacement. This was simply a case of an idea, that was too far ahead of it's time. I would have to say that the only real negative thing abotu the northstar, would be the oil consumption. Then again, it is a high performance, V8, making over 1hp per cubic inch (L37 -STS/ETC/DTS), which is quite an accomplishment, and this was in the mid 90's too.

If you do get a Caddy with the northstar, just remember to change the oil, and periodically give it WOT, just to keep it clean and running in tip top shape. Good Luck with your search, I hope you find one you like. :thumbsup: