2003 STS - Used car buy ???
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  • 1 Post By Caddydrummer67
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Cadillac Seville / Cadillac Eldorado Forum Discussion, 2003 STS - Used car buy ??? in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; I am looking at a 2003 cadillac seville and i just have a few questions. First off, i love caddys, ...
  1. #1
    Baumber is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    2003 STS - Used car buy ???

    I am looking at a 2003 cadillac seville and i just have a few questions.

    First off, i love caddys, my dad owns a 2006 cts-v and a 2011 cts-v, and we love them both, but they dont use the northstar v8, so my first question is, would the 2003 seville sts Be a good car for a 17 year old?

    Second, did they fix some of the problems that plagued the older northstars, like the head gaskets blowing, or the problems with the coolant?

    Finally, what can you tell me about the cars all around reliability and maintainance? Are they expensive to manintain?

    This is the car
    http://www.rundeautogroup.com/vehicl...le&st=3U170606

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  3. #2
    Submariner409's Avatar
    Submariner409 is offline If it won't run, chrome it
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    Re: 2003 sts

    It was a $55,000+ car, and that's the level that parts and maintenance will start at. FWIW the Magnetic Ride Control struts are ~$700 apiece, shocks are ~$560 apiece - You want a Cadillac performance sedan and you gotta pay to play. It does run on 87 octane and takes 7.5 quarts of oil with filter .............. should get ~13 mpg city, 17+ suburban, 24.8 long-term open Interstate. The speed limiter is set for 130 mph, redline is at 6,300 and there's an engine speed limiter of 4,000 rpm in N or P. There are NO "performance" upgrades - none. Accept that fact before you start.

    Study the sticky threads in Engines, Northstar Performance and study the entire Cadillac Technical Archive way up ^^^ in the top black bar. Learn how to get any diagnostic codes from the car's built-in code scanner/memory - the sticky just above this - "How to pull codes". Use the links to get to definitions of diagnostic codes.

    They're great cars and demand to be driven hard and fast - but they are NOT inexpensive to maintain. No way. If you don't have very deep pockets, a 2003 STS is not your car. Pictures ??? Look through my 2 albums - the Community tab, Albums, the red Seville; 2002.5 and 2003 are identical - identical.

  4. #3
    JimD is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: 2003 sts

    Quote Originally Posted by Baumber View Post
    ....would the 2003 seville sts Be a good car for a 17 year old?
    If my 17 year old grandson was considering a 10 or 11 year old Seville, I would advise him against it.

    ....did they fix some of the problems that plagued the older northstars, like the head gaskets blowing, or the problems with the coolant?
    Northstars and premature head gasket failures are blown out of proportion by Internet forums like this one.

    GM has been using Dexcool as the factory fill coolant from 1996 to current production models. There is no inherent "problem" with the coolant. Coolant problems arise when owners ignore the recommended maintenance schedule in the Owners Manual.

    And that is the gotcha. You have no way of knowing how and if the vehicle was maintained by previous owners.

    ....what can you tell me about the cars all around reliability....
    My 1998 Seville would still be my daily driver if some teeny-bopper with a cell phone had not rear-ended me two years ago.
    ....Are they expensive to manintain?
    Depends on how much labor you are wiling and qualified to do yourself. Probably about the same as a CTS-V.

  5. #4
    basscatt's Avatar
    basscatt is online now Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: 2003 STS - Used car buy ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Baumber View Post
    I am looking at a 2003 cadillac seville and i just have a few questions.

    First off, i love caddys, my dad owns a 2006 cts-v and a 2011 cts-v, and we love them both, but they dont use the northstar v8, so my first question is, would the 2003 seville sts Be a good car for a 17 year old?

    Second, did they fix some of the problems that plagued the older northstars, like the head gaskets blowing, or the problems with the coolant?

    Finally, what can you tell me about the cars all around reliability and maintainance? Are they expensive to manintain?

    This is the car
    http://www.rundeautogroup.com/vehicl...le&st=3U170606
    --------------------------
    would the 2003 seville sts Be a good car for a 17 year old?
    NO - absolutely NOT -

    not unless you have a VERY large bank account -
    AND a generous allowance - or a very high paying full-time job -

    these cars are expensive to own -
    and even MORE EXPENSIVE to drive -

    did they fix some of the problems that plagued the older northstars,
    like the head gaskets blowing

    the head gasket problem was PARTIALLY solved in 2000 -
    when they went with longer head bolts -
    but the real fix didn't come until mid year 2004 -
    with coarse threads on the longer bolts -

    you are approaching the mileage where LOTS of things will need to be replaced -
    and EVERYTHING on this car is EXPENSIVE -

  6. #5
    rodnok01's Avatar
    rodnok01 is online now Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Listen to the others... great cars but when they break better have deep pockets or know what you're doing.

  7. #6
    Caddydrummer67's Avatar
    Caddydrummer67 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: 2003 STS - Used car buy ???

    Like any vehicle purchase, it's a crap shoot. That car may be good to go for another 75,000 miles, ot it may need $10,000 in parts and repairs. If you go into it with your eyes open, then there are no surprises when you have to spend $3,500 on a tranny or headgasket repair. That car looks pretty clean. Probably lived in a garage most of it's life. There are a lot of tests and checks you can do prior to the purchase that can give you some peace of mind. Block test for combustion gasses in the coolant surge tank. Have the underside of the car looked over. Check for any leaks coming from the engine, tranny, shocks, coolant crossover, lines and connections.
    Let it sit overnight and look for pools of fluid on the ground. Pull the DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes) and if there are any, research what they mean. Some are minor, some are major. Take it for a long drive at varying speeds and note any vibrations coming through the steering wheel. These things are very sensitive to worn suspension parts and out of balance tires. Make sure the A/C blows cold as it should and all modes of the HVAC system work. Inspect the service records of the vehicle if it comes with them. Look for regular oil and coolant changes. You can also have a GM dealer pull up the service history. If it was serviced at a GM dealer, it will show it. Listen to the car as you drive it. Do a couple of wide open throttle runs and note anything that doesn't feel or sound right.

    I wish I had done all of these things before I had bought mine. I have put a lot of money in it, but it's now nearly perfect and I love it.
    These are unique and special cars. Safe, powerful, comfortable, great in bad weather. There is nothing else like them on the road.
    But as the others have said, they are not cheap. However, even if you put another $10,000 into this one, you'd have $18,000 in it and you'd have far more car than $18,000 can buy new.

    I bought my '97 ETC in 2005 with 50,000 miles on it and I put 80,000 trouble free miles on it before the head gaskets went.
    These cars are as reliable as any other, but are expensive to fix when things do go wrong.
    It's not the car I'd recommend for a 17 year old, but if you can afford it, go for it.

    ----------

    Oh, I forgot, while your test-driving it, watch the temp gage closely, especially after a couple wide open throttle runs. Do it with the A/C cranked. The gage should never get higher than just barely past the 12:00 position.
    bwv565 likes this.

  8. #7
    bwv565 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 2003 STS - Used car buy ???

    Good advice from Caddydrummer.

    I have to say that I did a 400 km run recently between Toronto and London, ON. All highway, no traffic, straight through, doing about 100/110 km/hr. Somehow the steering wheel vibration that I posted about earlier is no longer present, the car drove like a bat out of hell, smooth as can be. Before I left I filled up the tank w/87 octane, reset the DIC for mpg, etc. When I returned, the tank was only 1/2 empty, and the DIC said I got 22 mpg. For a car like that, I think I can't ask for more, really.

    And I notice all the time that the temp gauge NEVER goes past the 12:00 position, not even a hair, and it was a hot day when I took this trip.

    Like everyone else has said, these cars can be either a true pleasure or an extreme nightmare, so the advice you were given is all good, make sure it's checked THOROUGHLY before buying unless you have lots of $$$ in the bank to pay for very costly repairs. Good luck.
    ted tcb likes this.

  9. #8
    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2003 STS - Used car buy ???

    Northstar
    + 17 yr old
    _________
    Trouble.


  10. #9
    ryannel2003's Avatar
    ryannel2003 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: 2003 STS - Used car buy ???

    From somebody who was already 18 years old and had a 2000 STS I wouldn't do it again. Don't get me wrong it's still my all time favorite car I've ever owned but it was expensive to maintain. If I stupidly hadn't totaled it I would still be driving it. Word of advice though: if you do decide you want one and you go and test drive one make ABSOLUTELY sure you get it on the highway and run it hard a few times. I checked out a beautiful '01 STS in Danville, VA that looked and drove great but instantly started overheating on the highway after a few short bursts of WOT. Blown HG. Dealer ended up sending it to auction. Be warned... gorgeous cars that drive amazing but will leave you with empty wallets and more heartache than you would imagine.
    bwv565 likes this.

  11. #10
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
    MoistCabbage is online now Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Seeing as your father has TWO Vs, maintenence and running costs may not be an issue. In either case, I would be MUCH more concerned with the fact that you're a new driver. These cars accelerate pretty quickly, and without keeping an eye on the speedometer, it's almost easy to get going faster than you should be.

  12. #11
    Baumber is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2003 STS - Used car buy ???

    Sorry i couldnt respond earlier, but trust me, i can handle that v8 since i drive a 2006 monte carlo ss right now, but i have to get rid of it because a drunk guy t-boned me when i was driving home and i decided to just total it out and get the insurance money for it since i never really liked the car.

    but I do have a friend who is a an expert mechanic and knows everything when it comes to cars, so i usually only pay for the parts and he doesnt charge for labor though i still give him a good tip. My parents are willing to pay half for my repairs on any car i get till im out of college, and im expecting to keep it atleast till then, and hopefully longer if i love it, but who knows i may hand it down to my great grandson when i get to that point in my life, but thanks a lot guys, u guys were a big help. im going up to test drive it on tuesday so ill let u guys know how it goes

  13. #12
    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 2003 STS - Used car buy ???

    Then go for it. Test drive it on the highway and give it some WOT. If it starts running hot, then you should run as well.

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