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View Poll Results: Select one if you have had a problem with the headgasket the Northstar V8:

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  • 1993

    18 2.36%
  • 1994

    38 4.98%
  • 1995

    13 1.70%
  • 1996

    40 5.24%
  • 1997

    152 19.92%
  • 1998

    168 22.02%
  • 1999

    171 22.41%
  • 2000

    81 10.62%
  • 2001

    57 7.47%
  • 2002

    43 5.64%
  • 2003

    14 1.83%
  • 2004

    1 0.13%
  • 2005

    4 0.52%
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; how tight were the headbolts on the coarse thread '04 ??...
  1. #451
    RippyPartsDept's Avatar
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    how tight were the headbolts on the coarse thread '04 ??
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  2. #452
    JoeTahoe is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Hard to tell as I took them out with air, but they came out just like the 02. There was no movement by pressing on them with a prybar. I always do this so I can tell if any of them pulled

  3. #453
    JoeTahoe is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    This 04 has the worst air pockets in the casting I have seen yet. All on the right bank. The left bank looked perfect

  4. #454
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    So much for the "revised block casting process" for the 2000 and later model year engine runs.

  5. #455
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    the process may have changed but the materials used we not any better

    i seem to recall an issue with the quality of the aluminum that the blocks were cast with being the root cause of a lot of the 1999-2002 block porosity issues

    maybe a chinese issue? and nothstar blocks weren't the only aluminum product that got hit ...
    Chris Heath (RippyPartsDept) is an ASE Certified GM Parts Consultant at Rippy Automotive
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  6. #456
    JoeTahoe is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    I have a 99 Eldo apart right now all bolts pulled with no alum. but the head gasket failed on 1 and 2 Cyl. Car has only 82,000 miles on it

  7. #457
    Arrowhead is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Definitive Northstar Headgasket Thread

    My LD8 N* is not in a Cadillac, but in a 2005 Pontiac Bonneville GXP. I always seem to have Murphy's Law as a permanent part of my life where it comes to vehicles. Anyway, after a couple low coolant warnings and adding coolant to the right level, the warning returned. Couldn't see any obvious leaks under the hood so I brought it to a local Cadillac Dealer (Fitzgerald- Frederick,MD), they did some tests and said the head gaskets were bad. I thought that the HG problems had been ironed out by 2004 ? Not sure which way to go at this point, they (dealer) plan to do "time-sert" when I think I'd rather use "big-serts" or studs, don't seem to fail as much from what I've read. I am also wondering about a GM replacement engine or a reman. unit with better warranties than I'll get from the dealer insert/repair job. I never thought that this could happen to an engine with less than 32,000 miles on it ! Anyway, now there's an entry for 2005 in gasket failure poll, even though it's for a non- Cadillac car. I do think I see a low mileage used CTS in my future though !

  8. #458
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    Quote Originally Posted by Arrowhead View Post
    I thought that the HG problems had been ironed out by 2004 ?

    that is true, but that doesn't mean that you won't have a HG failure (just like any other car could have a HG failure)

    from what I understand
    most of the newer design (coarse-threaded head bolt design) HG jobs we have seen were due to loose HG bolts
    the rest were actually gasket failure first

    still pretty uncommon for the 2005-2011 N* but it will happen from time to time (just like any other motor)

    as for time-serts vs big-serts

    i would be really surprised if any dealer was actually still using the original time-serts
    (i don't think you can buy them anymore... and if you can i'm not sure why you would)
    it is probably just their way of saying big-serts and not really caring to be specific about it since most people won't really know the difference
    (often they themselves don't know the difference or that there was a change at all)
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  9. #459
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    Thanks Chris. Do you have any idea how many hours are listed for that job ? Is there a better/less expensive alternative to doing inserts ? I thought maybe a new old stock long/short block or a remanned crate motor might be a better solution but, I really know nothing about the N* .

  10. #460
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    less expensive, yes (used motor swap)
    better, no (you won't know if that used motor will fail on you in 6 weeks or 6 months)

    other options: stud it with one of the various studding options (usually costs about the same unless you have access to the tools needed to insert the block already)

    given that you have the coarse thread pitch already there is no need to insert the block (or even stud imho)

    all you need to do is replace the head gaskets and bolts (along with a few other gaskets and seals while you're in there)
    and make sure you get the torque specs correct and you should be all good (at least that's how this lowly parts guy understands it)
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  11. #461
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    "given that you have the coarse thread pitch already there is no need to insert the block (or even stud imho) "

    Wow, I had the impression that some sort of a thread "re-do" was always needed in the block for head bolts ! If it's not needed, I am left wondering why the Cadillac dealership doesn't seem to be aware of this fact and is telling me something different ? I'd think that not having to do the inserts should mean there'd be less hours and parts costs involved. Maybe a lot less than the $4200-$4400 estimate that I was given? I'm thinking that for an additional $1000-$1750 or so, that I'd be better off installing a reman. unit with lots of new parts used in it's build, and, a longer warranty than the dealer repair job would offer. I sure do wish this car had a 3800 V6 in it !

  12. #462
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    there's a little less parts cost (we charge $6 for each of the 20 inserts so that's $120 less in parts)
    and the labor should be a bit less since there's no drilling/tapping (i'm not really sure on the time savings there though)

    reman engines are sometimes a bit of a gamble ... you don't want to end up with the same problem down the road (of course)
    the reman engines also often cost upwards of $4000 usually too (but they also usually come with a good warranty)

    we usually charge less than $3000 for a HG job so it might be worth it to shop around the various cadillac dealers that are in your area and see who seems to be the most knowledgeable about the job and who's got the best price
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  13. #463
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    Thanks. I'm afraid I'm already on the hook at the dealer where the car is currently since they've already dropped the engine and may have already started the tear down. My biggest concern is whether my service agreement issuer is gonna' cover the repairs at the price that the dealer has quoted, or, at all for that matter. If it's got to be completely out of my pocket, I'm leaning towards getting a rollback to bring the car to an independent shop and having a studded, Carrol Cadillac reman. engine installed, or, one from Northstar Performance . Thanks for your help and advice, Chris ! Please wish me luck, I could really use some right about now!

  14. #464
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    most definitely wishing you all the luck you can get
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  15. #465
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    Wow 36,000 miles, LD8, Pontiac Bonnie, blown hg. that sucks. Was the coolant replaced as scheduled (5 years is it?). Personally, seeing the relative disparity in HG failures before 96 vs after, I switched to silicate based coolant (conventional green.) There's no proof other than epidemiology, which in it of itself isn't definitive. If it is feasible and it were to happen to me again (98 ETC, 116K miles), I would drive it or ship it to N*performance and use MLS gaskets instead of the metallic felt-graphite OE.

    At least one other forum member has had a HG failure where the fail point was a gash in the mating surfaces. So there's that possibility. The redesigns involving thread pitch and coarser bolts, make me wonder if GM thought the issue were the bolts going loose, losing clamping pressure. That appears to be the consensus based on the empirical evidence of many. But others have found the bolts are still tight and snap when loosened during the HG repair. Cooling system maintenance is a culprit in many of these, but when the failures happen within the prescribed cooling system intervals, it makes you wonder what's really going on. Design issues yes... casting issues, possibly. Did it overheat? Sometimes a coolant leak can result in low coolant and at high RPM it could overheat and fail the HG. Good luck. I test drove the GXP in 04 I believe or 05 when I had my 98 ETC. The SRS sound system really sounded different, I could not place the audio source... it felt like it was inside my head.

    ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by RippyPartsDept View Post
    given that you have the coarse thread pitch already there is no need to insert the block (or even stud imho)

    all you need to do is replace the head gaskets and bolts (along with a few other gaskets and seals while you're in there)
    and make sure you get the torque specs correct and you should be all good (at least that's how this lowly parts guy understands it)
    I thought the "Time-Sert" procedure was written before the engine went into production, due to the different metals involved. If coolant got in these bolt holes then there'd be some thread on the bolts, one would think, due to electrolysis chemical reaction?

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