Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I bought a 95 SLS last month with a Northstar engine. The car had 102K when I bought it and ...
  1. #1
    qecummings is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 1995 Cadillac Concours
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    Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    I bought a 95 SLS last month with a Northstar engine. The car had 102K when I bought it and it now has 104K.
    It runs great, but I am unsure as to what maintenance has been done. That said, I want to start with tuning the engine up, but I don't know what a tune up on a Northstar consists of and whether or not I need to take the car to the dealer to have it done.
    Another question is that I know it takes quite a bit of money to run a Northstar Cadillac, but I wanted to get an idea of where that money is likely to go besides on premium petrol.

    I don't know if it is just me but my car rides a little hard for a Cadillac, is that common in 92-97 Sevilles? It rides good though and it does not shake at speed or bottom out over bumps, but it rides a little harder than I expected a large Cadillac to ride.

    My car has a new exhaust system, but the exhaust note is quite gruff than I expect in a Cadillac, sometimes I don't know if I am driving a Seville or a Camaro. It does sound good, and I guess it is a good trade-of for the performance I get.

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  3. #2
    JSMeloche is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    Here is one of my previous post on tune up

    Good morning
    This is a post to reassure all of you who are afraid to do a tune up on the North* engine. It is very easy! i did mine this weekend in 2 hours (95 STS 85k). I changed the plug, plug wire, fuel filter and air filter.

    Just go slowly.
    These are the step i followed to change the plugs and wire.
    #1 remove the engine cover (open the hood first lol)
    #2 remove the strut brace. This is easy and gives you a lot of place to work
    #3 remove the coil pack. 2 bolts on the back and 2 bolts on the side (10mm). This will give you easy access to all four rear spark plugs
    #4 remove plug wire and change the plug. Do the plug one at a time. You should not have any problem removing the plug in the back. Use a spark plug socket, the one with the rubber to hold the plug in place and a extension.
    #5 change the wire one at a time making sure you put it back on the correct terminal. This is pretty foolproof. The number of the cylinder is labeled on the block and the terminal is labeled on the coilpack AND in some case it is labeled on the wire as well.
    #6 Put everyting back in place

    For the fuel filter is is on the driver side of the car underneath the rear door.
    #1 Remove the fuel pump fuse and run the car until it stalls. This will remove most of the pressure from the fuel line.
    #2 Jack the car.
    #3 Locate the fuel filter and remove it. I used a screwdriver to break the plastic thingy that hold it there but im pretty sure there is a better way to do it.
    #4 Put the new filter in place using the new plastic retainer
    #5 Dont forget to put the fuel pump fuse back!

    145$ CAN for the wires
    105$ CAN for the spark plugs
    12$ CAN for a fuel filter
    100$ CAN K&N 33-2086 this is a direct fit for the STS even tough it is not listed on K&N site.

    The dealer wanted over 800$ to do all this!!! can you beleive it! I did all this in about 2 hours. Now the STS is even smoother at idle and scream at WOT.




    As for the ruff ride consider that the STS is kind of a "hot rod" Cadillac. Mine rides a little ruff too but an STS needs to handle dude You dont want to take a turn @ 120mph+ with the "boat" kind of suspension. you want someting that is responsive!

  4. #3
    Ranger's Avatar
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    I would say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The dual platinum tipped plugs will last damn near forever as well as the wires. If it isn't missing, don't mess with it. If you do, use OEM parts. I have heard of many people having problems after a tune up with aftermarket plugs or wires.
    The cooling system is more important. It should have green coolant and needs to be changed every 2 years. Don't forget to add the GM sealant tabs or 2 tubes of "Bars Leak Gold" (same thing).
    Unless you are going to race it, save your money and run 87 octane. The Northstar has a knock sensor that will retard the spark as neccassary if it detects spark knock. You probably won't even notice the difference in performance. I don't.
    Oh yeah, don't forget to give it some tender loving WOT once a week. Just plant your right foot firmly on the floor and hold it there til it shifts. Yup, red line it. That will clean out the cumbustion chambers. The Northstar has a tendency to carbon up if babied. If it gets carboned up you will hear "cold carbon rap" when you start it. Sounds a lot like a collapsed lifter. That is the piston contacting the carbon in the cylinder head causing piston slap. No need to worry. Just take her out and whoop her. She'll be fine and love you for it.
    Other than that, just change oil per the OLI (oil life indicator) and enjoy it.
    I have not found the Nortstar any more expensive than any other engine to run. Now a head gasket problem is another story so keep up with the coolant changes.

  5. #4
    knifeparty420's Avatar
    knifeparty420 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    wow that cold carbon rap thing is crazy. now that I think about I kinda do baby my Caddy. I thought that knocking noise when started was something to do with the pulleys the belt goes on knocking. thanks and I can't wait for WOT.

  6. #5
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    When you whoop it, glance in the mirror. You'll probably see a lot of soot, rust & crap in the air. When you don't see that anymore, she's clean and the cold carbon rap will be gone.If it's really carboned up it may take more than one WOT application. Not a problem, they are fun

    Quote Originally Posted by knifeparty420
    wow that cold carbon rap thing is crazy. now that I think about I kinda do baby my Caddy. I thought that knocking noise when started was something to do with the pulleys the belt goes on knocking. thanks and I can't wait for WOT.

  7. #6
    caddywhizkid is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    Nothing to "tune up" really. If the engine is running fine leave it alone. If it develops a miss then possibly inspect/replace the spark plugs/wires.

    With those miles I would replace the main serpentine accessory belt and specifically the belt at the other end of the engine that drives the water pump. Neither owe you a dime after 100,000 miles. Make sure the water pump drive belt tensioner is operating correctly and not frozen due to corrosion. Exercise it when you replace the small belt at the water pump and lube the pivot point.

    Clean the throttle body bore to eliminate and sticky throttle feel and/or idle speed control issues. Just hold the throttle open and spray the bore with carb cleaner and scrub with an old toothbrush. Disconnect the battery negative cable for 30 seconds to reset the idle speed learn offsets for the clean throttle body.

    Service the coolant system. This is the single most important thing to insure long life of a Northstar engine. The green silicated coolant needs to be replaced every 2-3 years/24-32 K miles to maintain an adequate concentration of corrosion inhibitors in the coolant. Replace the coolant with fresh 50/50 coolant/distilled water and add the coolant supplement to the radiator hose as described.



    Quote Originally Posted by qecummings
    I bought a 95 SLS last month with a Northstar engine. The car had 102K when I bought it and it now has 104K.
    It runs great, but I am unsure as to what maintenance has been done. That said, I want to start with tuning the engine up, but I don't know what a tune up on a Northstar consists of and whether or not I need to take the car to the dealer to have it done.
    Another question is that I know it takes quite a bit of money to run a Northstar Cadillac, but I wanted to get an idea of where that money is likely to go besides on premium petrol.

    I don't know if it is just me but my car rides a little hard for a Cadillac, is that common in 92-97 Sevilles? It rides good though and it does not shake at speed or bottom out over bumps, but it rides a little harder than I expected a large Cadillac to ride.

    My car has a new exhaust system, but the exhaust note is quite gruff than I expect in a Cadillac, sometimes I don't know if I am driving a Seville or a Camaro. It does sound good, and I guess it is a good trade-of for the performance I get.
    Omerus and Omerus like this.

  8. #7
    gserep1 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    My sister has a 98 STS...isn't the coolant ORANGE? Does it use the DEX-COOL? Sounds like a coolant change is in the plans, plus some radiator supplement or bars' leak...(never had a car that needed this stuff).

    This is our first all aluminum engine..NOW I have a 99 Lexus GS400 with 4.0L V8 aluminum engine too. I use this as my personal daily driver, but have to take care of the STS now that Dad's gone.

    Thanks for all the info anyone can give me!
    GSEREP1

  9. #8
    Kerb is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    Yea, I just changed and flushed mine with the orange. Any problems using the orange?

  10. #9
    gserep1 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    Did you use the coolant supplements in the top radiator hose? Did you just do a quick drain, or did you do a complete flush by draining the block?

    I am doing the coolant on my 98 STS on Friday this week.

    Thanks so much!
    GSEREP1

  11. #10
    Ranger's Avatar
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    Orange (Dex-cool) was used starting in '96. If it's a '98 it is due. Be sure to put the tabs in the radiator hose, not the surge tank. There is really no need to flush. The theory is that flushing (probably with a garden hose) will just add contaminents (calcium, lime etc) from the water to the cooling system. Just drain and refill with 50/50 distilled water/Dex-cool.

  12. #11
    gserep1 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    OUTSTANDING! Thanks for the quick response. I will do just as you recommend. Is the GM stuff better than the Bars' leak you get at auto parts stores?

    On all my other cars I change colant each year, and so far, I have never had a clogged radiator, or needed to change a thermostat or water pump. I don't suppose I need to think about changing thermostats do I? What did you do?

    If you take care of the cooling systems, they will take care of you. NUFF SAID!

    Thanks again!
    GSEREP1

  13. #12
    eagleworks4u's Avatar
    eagleworks4u is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    Is dex cool recommended for 94 northstars or is reg 50/50 mix ok??

  14. #13
    chazglenn3's Avatar
    chazglenn3 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    The recommendation is to use the same as the factory original fill. In the case of the 94 Northstar it was the green coolant.

  15. #14
    thatwolfofmine is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    I need help. My '96 Caddy DeVille has a bad overheating problem. It supposedly does not have blown headgaskets. What else do I need to look for?

  16. #15
    Ranger's Avatar
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    re: Northstar Maintenance -Tune Up

    Use the search button at the top of the page and do a search for overheating. There are many things that could cause it and all have been discussed in detail before. You should find a lot to read.

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