Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures.
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Cadillac Seville / Cadillac Eldorado Forum Discussion, Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures. in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; A couple days ago a Buddy of mine told he just had too do a head gasket Job on His ...
  1. #1
    dcsj's Avatar
    dcsj is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures.

    A couple days ago a Buddy of mine told he just had too do a head gasket Job on His 1999 DeVille w/123K on it. The bill was $4K. He said, he was really at a crossroads as to whether or not he should do it or sell the car for Parts. The problem was he just put a new TC in it about 18 months ago. The car is otherwise in nice shape plus it just had new shocks installed a few months back. He loves the car so he decided to foot the bill and do the work. He said, he is now going to drive the car to it's death now that the these major items have been replaced.

    He said, in the process of him trying to find a shop that would do the work. (FYI he lives in Duluth MN). Plenty shops to do service work. Only ONE besides the Cadillac Dealer would do the job. The service manager at the shop said they had Done 16 Northstar headgasket jobs in the past year. He also said They fail all the time. Usually around 60-80 K. But once the new head gasket job is done w/ special steel thread inserts put in the block, they will generally not fail again.

    So what does this mean when you have 278K on the engine? As far as I know from previous owner records, no major head work was ever done.

    The guy at that shop made sound like It's so common an issue that they all will eventually FAIL due to a supposed GM design flaw.

    So does the northstar engine have a higher than average head gasket failure rate?

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  3. #2
    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures.

    No, not all will fail. You've proved that, though they do fail much more than they should. There is an unscientific pole in the Northstar form sticky's. '97-'99's seem to be the worst. Poor design is probably a big part and metallurgy may play a part (see the root cause sticky). GM lengthened the head bolts in 2000 and went to a coarser thread pitch in '04. The failure rate has greatly fallen off. Too bad your buddy wasn't closer. Could have gotten it done down here for half that price.

  4. #3
    ejguillot's Avatar
    ejguillot is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures.

    You're in for a LOT of reading. I suggest starting with the stickies in the Northstar forum, and the Seville/Eldorado forum.

    Model years 96-99 were the highest failure rate, 2000-03 not as bad. Failure is due to failed threads in the block, GM made 2 changes to try to fix this: longer head bolts in 2000, and coarser thread in 2004.

    Contact Jake at www.northstarperformance.com for the best fix available for the failed headgasket bolts (this is the fix I used for my 2000 STS, I installed the studs at 141K miles). If you can get your problem Northstar Cadillac to him, in my opinion he will do the best job of anybody on this continent, for a very reasonable price.

  5. #4
    dcsj's Avatar
    dcsj is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures.

    WOW, He could of had it done for 2K down by you? The Shop he went to quoted him $4K which also included a few while your in there replacement items. One being the Lower case gasket, his was leaking. otherwise just a couple other smaller parts that were simple to replace with the engine out. (Heater core coolant pipe across back of engine and the oil dipstick tube was nearly rusted through or broken as I recall)

    FYI the dealer quoted him $4-5K.

    Seems too good to be true to have this job done for $2K. But I'll keep that in mind if we the service.

  6. #5
    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures.

    I know two guys down here that will do it for about $2200.

  7. #6
    sandieseville is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures.

    I had the head gasket done on my 2000 SLS last year at 82,000 miles for 2489.00 out the door and I thought that was heavy. I have replaced alot of things on this car, but this is a $$$$$ one. You can buy a whole new car for that price.

  8. #7
    Submariner409's Avatar
    Submariner409 is offline If it won't run, stick on fender vents
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    Re: Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures.

    You can buy a "new" used ricer for that price, not a new $46,000 SLS.

  9. #8
    Jim 99 eldo's Avatar
    Jim 99 eldo is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Frequency of Northstar Head gasket failures.

    AMEN! Sub

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