First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS
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Cadillac Seville / Cadillac Eldorado Forum Discussion, First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; Hello all, I was wondering if someone could help me out, I recently bought a '97 cadillac sts as my ...
  1. #1
    asmithd09 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Exclamation First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Hello all,

    I was wondering if someone could help me out, I recently bought a '97 cadillac sts as my first care and it didn't last very long. long story short I ran into the head gasket problem you all are aware of. I read in earlier posts that it is against the rules to
    re-post about past issues but I can not find any threads about engine swaps.

    I was wondering If someone could tell me how I learn about engine swaps, I need to know what kind of engine I can use as a replacement for this terrible northstar. I was hoping to use a buick 3800 v6 supercharged, but I am not sure if it is compatible with the drivetrain in my car as it is normally a v8.

    I Have no idea other than an engine what I would need for an engine swap. If someone could help me out or point me in the direction of this information it would be much appreciated.

    Thank you,

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  3. #2
    EChas3's Avatar
    EChas3 is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Sorry to hear of your trouble. You've found the 2005 & up STS forum and will probably get better information in the Seville forum... It's for you FWD folks.

    From my reading, if your car is worth an engine replacement, another Northstar is your best bet. Check the Northstar technical area, too. We had a '98 STS and they can be really nice cars.

  4. #3
    N*Caddy's Avatar
    N*Caddy is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    What makes you believe you have the HG issue, have you eliminated all the others?
    NO way with the V6, forget about it.

  5. #4
    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Trying to swap in a different engine will be a nightmare (if even possible). Repair the HG (the proper way) and it will outlast the rest of the car.

  6. #5
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
    MoistCabbage is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Yup, you're stuck with a Northstar. Swapping in a different engine would require a REDICULOUS amount of modification. As N*caddy said, are you positive you have an HG issue? Have you done a block test to confirm?

  7. #6
    asmithd09 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Hey,

    First off, thanks for the responses despite me clearly posting in the wrong section. It seems unanimous that an engine swap is the wrong way to go. Here is what I am basing my conclusion on (that it is HG):

    1)My car constantly wants to accelerate, even when when I am applying the breaks. It feels as if my engine is 'pulling' my car. When I find a safe place to pull over, and throw it into neutral, the rpm jumps to 4-5000 from 1600 and revs very high. I do not put it into park because of the force that the RPM makes my car lurch and buck.

    2) A local mechanic told me that this is due to carbon build up in my throttle body manifold, being lodged in the throttle control valve causing it to be unable to close, and continuous acceleration. I have cleaned it out with the AC Delco air manifold aerosol cleaner a few time but the problem keeps recurring. It also comes up on the dash (check engine light) and diagnostic equipment cites the mass airflow sensor as the problem. (replaced 3 times)

    3) coolant - My coolant levels decrease at an alarming rate and I have to top it up WEEKLY. Also there is a constant smell of burnt brakes or burnt rubber that, from what I have read, comes from coolant leaking into my oil (which is also consumed at a much more rapid rate than what I have understood to be the norm based on reading comments here and elsewhere.)


    So, with HG repairs ranging from 4-5000 dollars, I just assumed that an engine swap would be more economical. people do it in their 'project cars' all the time. while I do not want this to be a project car, I simply want longevity from it. I will post this in the appropriate location as well. Thanks for all insight, seeing as I lack it in respect to Cadillacs, it is much appreciated.

    ----------

    Im not sure what a block test is... can that be done at most auto mechanics?

  8. #7
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
    MoistCabbage is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    1. That could be caused by a number of things. Sticking throttle body or linkage would be my first guess with it revving THAT high in neutral.

    2. A dirty TB usually causes stalling and rough idling, not rpm increase. I dont think a sticking/faulty IAC valve could get unending as high ad you describe. Go to the top of the Seville/Eldorado page, and read the "sticky" on how to pull codes. List any codes you find, AND THEIR DEFINITIONS, here. (there is a link within the sticky with definitions).

    3. Losing coolant could certainty be due to head gaskets, but it could also be from an EXTERNAL leak. The best way to find a leak that isn't obvious, is to use a cooling system pressure test kit. You can get one through the loan a tool program at most parts stores. The burning smell is probably oil dripping onto got engine compartment or exhaust parts. Oil leaks are not "normal" but can be common in Northstars. How expensive the leak is to repair depends on what is leaking. You'll have to do some searching under the car.

    You don't mention weather or not your car overhears, or if it is just losing coolant. Does the temperature gauge ever go past the 12 o clock position? (other than when youre low on coolant)

    A block test is a chemical test that determines if there are traces of combustion gasses in the cooling system (a sign of HG failure). The kit is also available through loan a tool programs (you pay for the kit, use it, and get your money back when you return it). A you have to actually purchase is the test fluid, ~$10, and enough to perform several tests.

  9. #8
    N*Caddy's Avatar
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    So you diagnose is VERY WRONG!
    None of the signs you mentioned have to do with the HG in any way. That's what you should have posted FIRST, what issues you have.
    The engine you have in your car is a HIGH quality product and will last for a long, long time providing the required maintenance, in these cars you don't replace the engine with some other used one that may be worst that the one you have. But in your case there is NO reason to replace the engine anyway.
    FIRST thing to do is PULL the codes. It is all explained here, no need of any extra readers or mechanics to do it for you, you can do it yourself in 1 minute.


    1. You have to clean your throttle body and possibly replace the MAF or IAC (or wiring), but that’s why you need to pull the codes first to find out what is wrong. Who ever did work on your vehicle doesn’t know much about it.
    2. Have you actually cleaned the throttle body or just sprayed “magic potion” on hoping will clean up for you? Look up in the technical archive, this process is described well in there.
    3. If the coolant will leak into the oil (something that is highly uncommon on these engines) you will know by now, the oil will be foamy looking like a milkshake and probably by now it will be toasted (as it sized, won’t turn over). Previously before locking you would have had all sort of funny knocking noises and lost of smoke (burnt oil). You are most likely looking at an external leak (hoses, rad, WP), and the burnt smell is because the engine is over revving and you need to drag your brakes to keep it under control.

    Please list your codes (and definitions) and specify if current or history.

    At least you cam to the right place...

    This rumor about HG spreads on the Internet like cancer and you are part of it, everybody who has a small issue with this car reads about HG (as is anywhere) and concludes “oh I must have that too”. This HG thing is really NOT THAT COMMON.

  10. #9
    maeng9981's Avatar
    maeng9981 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Really..... this is what happens when the internet spoils Cadillac owners with all the incorrect HG infos.

  11. #10
    KRSTS is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Sport, HG issues are very common with this engine. It is the rare one that doesn't have it by 140K miles. It is a design flaw.

  12. #11
    Submariner409's Avatar
    Submariner409 is offline If it won't run, stick on fender vents
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Quote Originally Posted by KRSTS View Post
    Sport, HG issues are very common with this engine. It is the rare one that doesn't have it by 140K miles. It is a design flaw.

    Wrong
    .........very wrong ^^^^

    Statistically the '97 - '99 Northstars are the most likely to have a head gasket problem, BUT the sheer number of engines in those years still running around with 100,000 and +++ miles far, far outweighs the numbers in the failure group.

    asmithd09, Wade through as much of this Forum as you can - then go down to Discussions, Item Specific: Cadillac Tech Tips and search through the pages of How-To's - many tips on cleaning throttlebodies, Throttle Position Sensors, Idle Speed Controls, others.

    Then go up to the black bar ^^^ and study - STUDY - the entire Cadillac Technical Archive. There is vital info in there.

    For a Holiday Present, give yourself a real GM/Helm Service Manual from ebay or www.helminc.com , or consider subscribing the car to www.alldatadiy.com.

    Talk to Chris in Parts at Rippy Cadillac, over there >>> and poke through the lists and pictures in the listings for your car in www.rockauto.com

    Last, but not least, ..........Welcome Aboard !!!!

  13. #12
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    HG issues are fairly common in Northstar equipped cars that are FOR SALE, not common in general. You cannot deduct that a problem is common based on what you see on a forum. A majority of members are here because their cars are broken, owners of cars WITHOUT problems don't usually take time out of their day just to let us know everything is going great.

  14. #13
    orconn's Avatar
    orconn is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Quote Originally Posted by KRSTS View Post
    Sport, HG issues are very common with this engine. It is the rare one that doesn't have it by 140K miles. It is a design flaw.
    Road apples!

  15. #14
    N*Caddy's Avatar
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    Re: First time car owner, '97 Cadillac STS

    Quote Originally Posted by KRSTS View Post
    Sport, HG issues are very common with this engine. It is the rare one that doesn't have it by 140K miles. It is a design flaw.
    No offence intended really but posts like this make somebody (especially a new car owner) to assume that a low tire pressure = HG.
    Again, IS NOT COMON, is rare and most of the people you see posting online are online BECAUSE they have an issue, then the rest are people reading what the few ones with issue just posted and amplifying this nonsense. I honestly don't know any car locally that had HG (except one that "had some engine work done years ago" and all cars I know are over 150K).
    If you bought somebody's problem at an incredible price and lots of people tend to go for these "deals" it doesn’t mean is common.

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