Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know - Page 33
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View Poll Results: Select one if you have had a problem with the headgasket the Northstar V8:

Voters
761. You may not vote on this poll
  • 1993

    18 2.37%
  • 1994

    38 4.99%
  • 1995

    13 1.71%
  • 1996

    40 5.26%
  • 1997

    152 19.97%
  • 1998

    168 22.08%
  • 1999

    171 22.47%
  • 2000

    81 10.64%
  • 2001

    57 7.49%
  • 2002

    41 5.39%
  • 2003

    14 1.84%
  • 2004

    1 0.13%
  • 2005

    4 0.53%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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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; I have a beautifully kept classy red 1997 Cadillac Eldorado ETC with just 73,000+ miles on it now sitting in ...
  1. #481
    Red Cadillac is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Northstar head gasket failures

    I have a beautifully kept classy red 1997 Cadillac Eldorado ETC with just 73,000+ miles on it now sitting in a bay at a local dealership with a blown headgasket. I'm sick. Thousands of dollars of new parts on this car just in the last year. It's been my pride and joy since 1998, but sadly I think it's time to let 'er go.

  2. #482
    n3870v is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    Hi all:

    This continuing thread looks like a good place to post my head gasket problem and repair, which has been recently completed. I have a 99 Deville that has been in the
    family since new. At 165,000 the aft head started leaking. We decided to have it fixed. The problem was where and whom. Forget the dealer, I wanted someone with
    specific knowledge, experience, and affordable price. After much searching I decided on a place in Youngstown, Ohio, by the name of Davis auto repair, AKA The Cadillac Doctor. The main reason was that I was driving from St. Louis to Cleveland for Christmas, and his place is close to where my family lives.

    I contacted him in November and he said he could take care of it. We drove up there, stopping every now and then to add coolant. Thank goodness for the cold temps
    on the drive up there. Dale Davis is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He is also very trusting. He had me drop off the car at his house on a Sunday, so they could start on it early on Monday. I decided to get a rebuilt engine at the last minute. Dale didn't have any rebuilts available, so he rebuilt mine. Dale and his guys worked overtime the week of Christmas to rebuild my engine and have me and my family on our way the next weekend.

    For anyone considering the headgasket repair or a rebuilt, I highly recommend Dale, It will be worth your drive!

    We look forward to many more miles in the Caddy.

    N3870V
    CadillacLuke24 likes this.

  3. #483
    markmnj's Avatar
    markmnj is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    I'll add mine here and fill out the poll too. I have a pristine 2002 DHS purchased used. Caddy entered the early stages of HG failure January 2014 at 88K. Car is fixed and back home as of a week ago running like new. Motor was removed, re gasketed top to bottom, new timing set, rebuilt the heads and all 20 bolt holes were repaired using NS300L's. An engine machine shop specializing in Northstars did mine. No more nuisance oil leaks/smells either. Love my Caddy!
    gino9 likes this.

  4. #484
    starbond's Avatar
    starbond is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    I already answered the poll for my 1998 Deville (which blew HGs around 94k miles), but I'd like to add that my dad's 2004 deville also blew head gaskets! This is very rare and it shocked both me and him, and as the poll shows 0 people have had a 2004 HG issues. Granted his car is around 188k but still. Very surpring for a N* made during that time.

  5. #485
    knotgoalie's Avatar
    knotgoalie is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    Quote Originally Posted by starbond View Post
    I already answered the poll for my 1998 Deville (which blew HGs around 94k miles), but I'd like to add that my dad's 2004 deville also blew head gaskets! This is very rare and it shocked both me and him, and as the poll shows 0 people have had a 2004 HG issues. Granted his car is around 188k but still. Very surpring for a N* made during that time.
    Owww, the final category has fallen


    J.R.

  6. #486
    kiwwa is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): Seville - SLS - 1998
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    Well....another sls with HG...1998 at 157k miles. Will be fixed soon. Greetings from Estonia

  7. #487
    dantemoravil is online now Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2001 Deville base, 1991 deville (son), 1992 Deville (parent)
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    Another one bites the dust.

    2001 deville base model silver with black top
    143000 ish mileage.
    Head gasket/overheating

  8. #488
    Northstar125 is online now Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    2004 Bonnie GXP, blown headgasket 125k
    2005 Bonnie GXP, blown headgasket 126k
    2005 Deville, blown headgasket 100k

  9. #489
    mtflight's Avatar
    mtflight is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    Wow @ Bonnie GXP. When I saw this poll I switched to conventional (silicated) green coolant. I'm at 112k with a 1999. Silicates coat the felt graphite gasket whereas dexcool doesn't. Not sure if it is relevant or not but seeing the escalation of cases was 1997 I had nothing to lose
    So far so good. (Knock on wood)

  10. #490
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
    MoistCabbage is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    DEX was introduced in '96, not '97. There is absolutely NO relationship between DEX-COOL and HG issues. If DEX was a factor, every GM vehicle produced from 1996 forward would have HG issues, and GM probably wouldn't still be using it...

  11. #491
    mtflight's Avatar
    mtflight is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoistCabbage
    DEX was introduced in '96, not '97. There is absolutely NO relationship between DEX-COOL and HG issues. If DEX was a factor, every GM vehicle produced from 1996 forward would have HG issues, and GM probably wouldn't still be using it...
    I believe DEX-Cool was introduced in mid 1996 catching the tail end of 1996 production and mostly early 1997s.

    Inorganic oxides like silicates in conventional green coolant work by forming a protective coat that actually coat the metals preventing corrosion. Because these inhibitor systems are depleted by forming a protective layer, conventional green coolants need to be changed every two years. (The color has nothing to do with it)

    Dexcool is different. It is an OAT coolant.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoistCabbage
    There is absolutely NO relationship between DEX-COOL and HG issues. If DEX was a factor, every GM vehicle produced from 1996 forward would have HG issues, and GM probably wouldn't still be using it...
    You cannot prove anything you said about dex being a factor either way. Not in a scientific way, certainly not prove "absolutely NO relationship." (Seat of the pants, however; you could argue your beliefs all day long if anyone wants to listen.)

    The open deck design of the Northstar with the water jacket creating a coolant island around the siamesed cylinders is unusual and probably the weakness. The head gasket remains soaked by coolant and the gasket integrity usually looks bad on failed HGs. There has been mention of bunching up of the gasket in some instances.

    The factors: old school felt graphite gaskets (vs chemically treated Multilayer Steel in similar modern designs), new organic coolant that doesn't coat the old material but instead reacts with metals when exposed to corrosion. No question that organic additive technology coolants are good--they're used extensively now.

    What is the harm in using conventional green? none. So no need to make a stink.

    If you refer to the poll numbers--how do you explain them? The engine had changes in 1996 but none major in 1997.

  12. #492
    Nick93SDV is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Northstar Headgasket/Cracked Block/Bolt Failure? Please let us know

    This is not a head gasket problem. It is a head bolt problem. The head pulls away from the block because the bolts pull out of the head due to a design flaw. The type of coolant you use, and maybe to some significant degree the type of driving you do, is going to have little impact on whether this problem arises for you. It's a product defect, not the sole consequence of bad maintenance or poor operation habits. If the person doing your head gasket job takes the time to research the problem and either redos the bolt sleeves as many people suggest or put in a different kind of stud as a couple companies are touting, then your HG issues will be over for quite some time. If your repair shop is simply pulling the heads and slapping on a new gasket, then there is a high percentage chance that you'll be back in the shop with the same problem.

    Nick in Palm Springs

  13. #493
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
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    There is no harm in using green coolant. But I ask again, why hasn't every GM vehicle had HG/cooling system issues since DEX was introduced? They ALL use DEX. ABS why doesn't every Northstar vehicle running DEX have HG issues? ----------
    Quote Originally Posted by mtflight
    you can't definitively prove it other than have a lot of strong feelings because you've heard this argument before and made up your mind already based on what you believe
    Which is exact why you switched to green.

    Can you find one instance, where any cooling system component irHGissue was traced to DEX being the cause?

  14. #494
    mtflight's Avatar
    mtflight is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoistCabbage
    There is no harm in using green coolant. But I ask again, why hasn't every GM vehicle had HG/cooling system issues since DEX was introduced? They ALL use DEX. ABS why doesn't every Northstar vehicle running DEX have HG issues? ---------- Which is exact why you switched to green. Can you find one instance, where any cooling system component irHGissue was traced to DEX being the cause?
    Hypothesis: The issue is a gasket breach somewhere around the open deck water jacket (usually a pin hole but some have noted the gasket looks bad in these open areas). clearly the gasket below isn't healthy. It has signs of corrosion (iron oxide) in the passages as well as bunching or cracking in the waterjacket area. Some claim this is not a problem because this is not where the headgasket failure occurs, but rather in the fire ring mate area... this is true but we can see here that the organic corrosion inhibitors didn't quite do their job and something has to structurally hold the fire rings in place. It looks like the siamesed cylinders in the center become an island and the integrity of the gasket itself is compromised in teh same area... moving around, bunching up. This is inherently an "open deck" feature. In order to keep combustion gasses from escaping the chamber and breaching into the water coolant area--the gasket must be strong and not weakened.



    Why aren't all engines affected? Other current engines of that time used don't have these open deck designs--they had steam holes or smaller contact areas. The ones with open deck designs now use chemically resistant multilayer steel gaskets that don't deteriorate the same way. So the problem largely doesn't exist anymore.

    This gasket deterioration occurred over time slowly enough to make it difficult to trace. I am hedging my hypothesis on the pre 1997 poll history with an innocent solution based on the chemical properties of silicated green coolant.

    I am not saying dexcool caused the HG failures as much as I'm saying that silicates, from a chemical standpoint, seem to protect the felt graphite gasket better. Other open deck designs like Subaru also see higher HG issues. It's not a northstar only issue--it is an open deck issue.

    Edit SUMMARY: dexcool doesn't eat or deteriorate gaskets (unless they have silicone rubber or Nylon 6,6 which was the topic of a class action lawsuit in the last decade). Dex-cool isn't at fault for ruining head gaskets. From the evidence however, it doesn't seem to protect the northstar hg from corrosion as well as silicates did back when they were standard . Changing the coolant every 2 years max was a necessity and an inconvenience.

    Silicates, by creating a physical coating on the gasket, may protect the gasket integrity better in a design that relies on this gasket heavily, it could be a factor (as well as the open deck design, and possibly casting porosities as well which are nil in this argument).

    If the gasket goes the coolant damages the bolt threads and it makes it tough to determine if the chicken or the egg came first.

    Dexcool has an excellent track record--works well in aluminum engines without coating them with silicates, has possibly been reformulated, and was discovered to erode nylon 6,6 a common material after the fact.

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