: Should I fix or sell?

01-01-04, 11:12 PM
I am a newbie and see that there are many knowledgeable Northstar folks on this forum. I am looking for advice on whether to bite the bullet and sell mine for what I can get or stretch myself and try to fix mine. Here is my story.

I recently purchased a 1994 Seville STS at a police impound auction. I knew it was a gamble because no information is given about the vehicles. I thought initially I had hit the jackpot because I drove it off the lot for less than $1500. Aside from bouncy struts and minor cosmetic problems, it seemed OK.

A week or two later I ran into the previous owner. He recognized his car and proceeded to tell me how he had abused the poor car. He told how he had bottom the car out, damaged the frame, lost the oil and seized the engine. I asked him what he was doing to bottom it out so severely. He responded, ďRunning from the cops!Ē I did find minor damage on the engine carriage frame but did not believe the engine seized part because I was driving it and it ran great. However, now it seems his story was accurate. Two weeks later, it developed a nasty knock. In an effort to quite it, I purchase some expensive oil treatment. When I drained the old oil, my stomach turned as the oil looked like brown paint with copper metallic flake.

For the short time it was running OK, I loved the car, bouncy struts considered. However, putting my heart aside I felt I should try to sell the car. After a month of advertising with a picture ad in a statewide car trader at $2200, I have had one $1500 offer. While it seems that I would get my money back, it will cost around $300 to register it in order to sell it legally (Iím a cop and thatís important!).

I am toying with the idea of finding a wrecked 93 or 94 that would have an OK engine and struts then doing the work myself. I can get myself through quite a bit mechanically but am a novice. I have a friend that is a certified GM mechanic at an Olds dealership so has experience with the Olds Northstar. I have asked if he would be willing to bail me out if I encountered problems. Time is not a big problem, I am patient and donít need the car for transportation right now. Money is more of a consideration.

01-02-04, 12:16 AM
I sympathize with what a nice ride that is, esp. for 1500...a decent N* from that era will be tricky to locate...dumping it on some other poor soul is bad karma...if you can find an engine, go that way; if you've got a buyer, take the money and run!

01-02-04, 12:52 AM
I recently replaced head gaskets on my brothers SLS. I did a write up on removing the power train. Take a look and you'll have a good idea what's involved.

01-02-04, 09:45 AM
Your crankshaft bearings are probably shot.... The engine's life is coming to an end...

Personally I would find a complete engine from a wrecked car.... Get an engine for $3000, spend another 1000 on fixing the struts with passive struts and other items and for 5500 you will have a really stellar car......

Check junkyards and occasionally one will popup on ebay... I think the 94/95 engines are the same enough that you can interchange them.... Im not sure about the 93s....

IMO, selling it would be stupid.... At this point, you could always part it out and get MORE than your moneys worth, if the body is straight and the interior is good......

01-02-04, 04:27 PM
another thing to consider, if the engine is toast, the tranmssion probably isn't doing to good either, especially since he beat the thing

if the body/interior is in real nice shape, it may be worth keeping, but if not, the other guy knows if you only want 1500 that somthing's up, not really dumping it on him, he knows it needs work

01-02-04, 04:36 PM
Thanks for the feed back, this is all very helpful. The local used parts dealer says that the only compatible Northstar engine is the 93 and 94 4.6. I have seen several likely salvage vehicles with engines and would assume struts. Mine does not have the road sensing struts apparently never did, fuse block is blank. If I found a wreck with the road sensing struts will it be a problem to convert? Or am I wasting my time thinking used struts? I notice that the 93 and 94's seemed to have more problems than newer years. Any precautions to take because of that? If I do get a used engine what should I do to it before I install it? Seals, gaskets, water pump, oil pump are all items that come to mind that would be easier to replace or recondition while the engine is already out.

How much should I expect to pay for used manuals?

How much are the Time-sert kits?

I have found all of these items on e-bay but I'm not sure how much the go for and how often the show up. I'm asking myself why do I find these "exotic" problem cars? I've also had a fling with a couple Mazda RX7 rotaries. They both ended up in the junkyard.

01-02-04, 04:40 PM
I have not left it up to potential buyers suspecting somethings up from the price. I've told every prospective buyer what I know. I'm too public of a figure to try and pull something over on someone.

another thing to consider, if the engine is toast, the tranmssion probably isn't doing to good either, especially since he beat the thing

if the body/interior is in real nice shape, it may be worth keeping, but if not, the other guy knows if you only want 1500 that somthing's up, not really dumping it on him, he knows it needs work

01-02-04, 07:50 PM
If you can do a compression test I'd recommend that but it can be hard to do on a used engine. The N* has the starter under the intake so it may be easy to hook up a battery to crank it. The headgaskets can be a problem but I have no idea what the probability is. I know it seems to be higher than older design engines. There are threads with people bragging of 200,00+ miles without doing anything so I know the gaskets aren't a certaintity.

A timesert kit is $325. Figure another 4-500 for gaskets and misc.

You might get lucky and get the driveline complete, just swap the whole thing in.

01-02-04, 07:53 PM
I think the range of N* that you can use is much larger. 93-94 may swap directly in, other years may need manifolds or sensors swapped but the long block should interchange.

01-02-04, 08:24 PM
The manuals are about $90 plus shipping and worth 10x that.

01-02-04, 09:37 PM
While I have the engine out, I would go COMPLETELY crazy..... Do the headgaskets and timeserts even if it doesnt need it, replace sensors and ALL hoses, gaskets, reseal the valve covers (youll do this if you do the head gaskets) and really get it cleaned up.... You may be out quite abit of money, but you will thank yourself.... When the engine is out it can take 1/4 of the time to do certain jobs than it is when its in the car......

01-02-04, 09:48 PM
I'm sorry, but I would avoid an auction car like the plague! I hope the person you sell it to knows what they are getting into. Just my opinion that it will cost you more than it's worth.

01-03-04, 11:13 AM
There's a 94(?) Northstar on Ebay ending Sunday(1/4) evening with about 30k miles on it. Buy it price of $650. Go to Ebay, motors, parts, put northstar in the search and scroll down til you find it. If you're interested.

01-03-04, 11:49 AM
That would be a good deal.... Even if its just the short block that would still be good....

01-04-04, 12:27 PM
One last question, does anyone have any suggestions on where to get information on the parts compatiblity or modifications needed when swapping parts between different years?

Thanks everyone for your help. I have the good fortune to be able to wait and evaluate the situation. I have been watching the e-bay items mentioned, to the point of having several searches saved in My Favorites. I probably will not buy anything until the weather warms up and there is no snow. I have one major concideration in all of this, my wife. If I had listened to her, I wouldn't own this car. So, to be wise and insure the family peace, I need to insure she is in agreement with any decision.

01-04-04, 09:30 PM
If you keep watching you may get lucky and get an engine close to you. If you are real lucky you might get the whole cradle to swap.
I've gotten 2 auction cars and had pretty good luck. They were bargains considering the condition they were in. Most of the problems were minor.

If you get a deal on the engine you still may be ahead because you should be well under the value of the car.

To answer your question of compatability...I don't know if there's a good site to answer that. My understanding is the N* is like a smallblock Chevy. They interchange but what you have to change varies from year to year.

Just for grins here's a site: http://www.chrfab.com/