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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I've repaired nearly 30 N*'s and most of them are plain and simple head gasket failures. When I repair I ...
  1. #16
    mikelawson is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    I've repaired nearly 30 N*'s and most of them are plain and simple head gasket failures. When I repair I use Prestone's all makes all models. Why not use it? I have seen Dex turn to mud many times, so it's safer to avoid it.

  2. #17
    ewill3rd is offline Cadillac Technician
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    The biggest problem with Dex-cool is all the whiners looking for an excuse to hate it.

    The issues I have seen on failures with vehicles using Dex-Cool are specific carline related or maintenance related.
    GM never should have started using it because the main reason they did was that customers were crying about having to have their cooling systems serviced.
    Now they come out with this new 150,000 mile coolant so people don't give a rats butt about maintenance so they don't do any.
    Just like oil, you have to keep it full... stuff breaks, fluids leak. If someone doesn't check the coolant and you have a leak something will break and everyone just loves to blame the coolant.
    Regardless of what the maintenance interval is there are things that can affect the systems longevity.

    Dex-Cool in any car is exposed to the atmosphere every second of every day. The reservoir has a pressure cap on it, but that allows air in when the system cools down to equalize the pressure. Older cooling systems have an ambient pressure overflow that is living in our atmosphere... der. Lots of stuff becomes acidic in a car. It's a car... you are exploding gasoline in a metal box thousands of times per minute. Exposure to hydrocarbons, thermal cycling, sealants, gasket materials and interaction between metal parts... any one function of an engine would probably kill a human being in even limited exposure... just think about it. And we become shocked and amazed because coolant wears out in less than 10 years? Really?

    The head gaskets fail on N* because of a mechanical design issue, not some magical evil fluid.
    S10 pickups were bad in the late 90's but I believe that was an engine manufacturing issue, not some horrible reaction to Dex-cool.
    C/K trucks were bad about leaking intakes... but that was a gasket design issue, it had nothing to do with the coolant, and the heater pipe fitting would corrode due to electrolysis, not Dex-cool. The list goes on.

    Searching for "facts" on the internet and believing everything you read is not "proof".
    As stated, if you hate Dex so much, flush it out and use whatever you want. There is nothing wrong with using conventional Green anti-freeze, you just need to change it more often. I have seen green coolant systems eat every vane off of a water pump or tear a hole through a metal housing, it wasn't the coolants fault it was the owner of the vehicle's fault.

    Besides I am more worried about the aliens that have been living among us for decades, I read that on the internet too.

    Dead horses indeed.....

  3. #18
    MrEldo97 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    I agree re the Dex. I remember when I timeserted my N* and got the new factory head gaskets; my reaction was "That's a cheap looking gasket..." I maintain my car by the book and it pulled head bolts at 91,459 miles, clearly little if anything to do with Dex Cool.

  4. #19
    ewill3rd is offline Cadillac Technician
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    And just for the record, I used to blame Dex Cool for all my headaches too.
    I have been working for GM since before they started using Dex, and I can tell you based on my experience it has little to do with the coolant and more to do with what it is in and how it is taken care of.

  5. #20
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    Just for the record, I am not a person who believes everything he reads however I tend to be critical and incredulous of most things I'm told, particularly without proof. Having said that, I think it's fair to say that there is a whole lot of proof that GM has had issues with some of their engines running DexCool. It is not "proven" what caused the root problems in these engines but GM did pay out quite a bit of money resulting from the class action law suits. If they weren't culpable in some way, I doubt they would have agreed to pay a penny. Ultimately maintenance is very important for all vehicle fluids and unlike most, I actually change mine.

    I've converted one of my Northstars to G05 and I will convert the other one to Peak Global or G05 as well . . . These coolants both seem to have a better reputation and a proven track record without any of the uniquely reported issues associated with Dex-Cool.

    Andrew

  6. #21
    ewill3rd is offline Cadillac Technician
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    I think that GMs pay out was more related to an inability to prove no fault rather than an admission of guilt.
    It is hard to prove that it wasn't a factor at all.
    I wouldn't make excuses of course, I am sure the people that made the decision seemed to think it was a good idea for whatever reason.

    I didn't mean to sound preachy or anything. Sorry if I came on too strong.
    I certainly respect your decision not to use it.
    I hear of a lot of people that changed but don't often hear back as to how the cars are doing.
    Be sure to check in once in a while with the results of your choices. I'd be curious to know.

  7. #22
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    Hi Ewill3rd -

    I truly appreciate everyone's comments, yours included, I am new to Cadillac's and the Northstars yet trying to maintain two Northstars in a way that will give me years of reliable use. I also realize that many people on this forum know more about these engines than I do, hence the purpose of my starting this post. I had searched the archive and hadn't read much about people switching away from DEXCOOL and if so to which alternative coolants. I did find many posts recommending to just change the fluid relatively often. At the same time, some folks were reporting higher than expected rusting of the head gaskets on engines run on DEXCOOL as compared to other coolants. It is very difficult to know if this anecdotal information means anything since it is not possible to know how these engines were maintained.

    I will be sure to check back over time and if my head gaskets, water pump, radiator, thermostat or heater core should go, I'll report back on that too.

    Regards,

    Andrew

  8. #23
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    Quote Originally Posted by mikelawson View Post
    I've repaired nearly 30 N*'s and most of them are plain and simple head gasket failures. When I repair I use Prestone's all makes all models. Why not use it? I have seen Dex turn to mud many times, so it's safer to avoid it.
    Hi Mike - Thanks for the response. I've considered the Prestone All Makes All Models coolant. From my reading/research (which was internet based and I suppose questionable) it seemed like that Prestone coolant may not truly be compatible with all other coolants AND that it contains 2-EH which is one of the key ingredients that has raised the concerns with DEXCOOL and nylon gaskets . . . As an example, Honda expressly forbids using a coolant with 2-EH as do Ford, Chrysler and Mercedes . . .

    Some have asked if I am a chemist, and I'm not, however from the information I've been able to find, the Peak Global product appears to be a product that is truly compatible with all makes all models in that it does not contain silicates, borates, phosphates or 2-EH . . . Here's a quick link:

    http://www.peakantifreeze.com/peak_global_lifetime.html

    Andrew

  9. #24
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    PEAK Global™ LifeTime™ Antifreeze & Coolant - Antigel/Réfrigerant features a patented, advanced organic acid technology that provides guaranteed LifeTime protection - for as long as you own your vehicle!* Its patented inhibitors will provide maximum protection against damaging rust and corrosion in all automobiles and light trucks worldwide, regardless of make, model, year or original antifreeze color.

    Isn't that what Dex is?

  10. #25
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    Hi Ranger-

    From what I've been able to pick up as I researched these coolants, you are correct in making the statement that both DEXCOOL and Peak Gobal are OAT (organic acid technology) coolants. However, there is at least one, and possibly two, big differences. Peak Global does not use the 2-EH chemical (this is the one that is reported to "eat" nylon gaskets) and, quite possibly, the Organic Acid compounds used in Peak Global may be different/better/newer than those spec'd for DEXCOOL since this coolant can take advantage of advancements in Organic Acid technology from the last 15 years (whereas the DEXCOOL spec is probably about that old). At the end of the day, these are two coolants using similar organic acid technology but they are most definitely not the same.

    I hope this helps.

    Andrew

  11. #26
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    That may well be true. I know nothing about it nor do I claim to other than what I stated earlier, but I AM convinced that nothing is eating any gaskets. I'm with Ewill, this is NOT a coolant issue.

  12. #27
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    Okay. I haven't pulled a Northstar head to know if the gasket looks rusty and deteriorated or not.

    However, is it possible, or even probable, that once the gasket begins to leak a little, the coolant entering the bolt holes accelerates the oxidation of the aluminum threads?

    Andrew

  13. #28
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    Oh absolutely. Once the gasket fails, be it from the gasket or the bolt threads pulling, coolant gets into the bolt holes and then becomes an electrolyte for the galvanic action between the steel bolt and the aluminum block causing corrosion and further deteriorating the threads.

  14. #29
    osu411yamaha is offline Banned
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    Wouldnt it benefit GM for their engines to fail at exactly 100k miles seeing as they are giving a 100k warranty? At that point they either get you to buy a new GM or hopefully buy AC/Delco replacement parts. I hate to be the conspiracy theorist, but if I have learned anything up to this point in life its this....If there is room for foul play then THERE WILL BE FOUL PLAY. This doesnt mean everyone is out to get you, but there is always at least one out to get you......Average lifespan of northstar engine=length of GM warranty......Foul play or just coincidence?....Either way it works out for GM........

  15. #30
    JimD is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Thoughts on Dex-Cool and Head Gaskets

    Quote Originally Posted by abs View Post
    ....However, is it possible, or even probable, that once the gasket begins to leak a little, the coolant entering the bolt holes accelerates the oxidation of the aluminum threads?
    I hold the minority opinion that is precisely what happens.

    We know there will be oxidation when a ferrous bolt is used in non-ferrous material (aluminum). The battery action that causes the oxidation is predicted by the Table of the Elements. This oxidation is controlled by two measures; one is the protective coating on the threads of the OEM bolts, and; two is the design of the head gasket to keep the bolt hole dry.

    When the head gasket fails (for whatever reason) and allows coolant to contact the ferrous bolts and the aluminum threads, an (acidic) electrolyte is now added to the matrix.

    Accelerated corrosion - oxidation is inevitable.

    I will take this position to my grave unless I see a report from a metallurgical engineer that supports the idea that a porous aluminum block casting allowed the headbolts to "pull loose".

    With all due respect to the technicians that have inspected corroded bolt holes, the forensic evidence is not yet on the record.

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