4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets. in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I've read the sticky on replacing the head gaskets and repairing the pulled threads on the N* engine blocks. I ...
  1. #1
    Rodney_98's Avatar
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    4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    I've read the sticky on replacing the head gaskets and repairing the pulled threads on the N* engine blocks. I found this very interesting and at the same time was thinking... what have I gotten myself into! I didn't realize the potential and serious failure to these engines and cost beyond what my investment would be worth.
    Unless I missed the information else where my questions are what is the best prevention a person can do to keep the head gaskets from failing.
    The obvious is to not let the engine get hot.
    What is too hot?
    My 1998 d'ville temp runs just below199* and will climb to 204* in slow driving with the air on. I turn the air off and the engine cools down to the 190's.
    The car runs strong with no leaking that I can detect. The radiator appears to have been replaced, I see two oil cooler ports on the passenger side on the tank that has nothing going to them so I would guess it was an after market part. The trans cooler lines are on the drivers side. I was concerned after seeing that no lines ran to the open ports but after looking at another 98 D'ville it had nothing running to the right tank either {no ports either}.
    I have no history of the car so I don't know if the engine has been apart in the past.{I would have really like to known this now}

    After talking with a mechanic who seems to be aware of the N* issues, he will be changing the coolant in my car this next week. He said all of the right things that gave me some confidence so I will have him do the job. I could do this but for 100$ he will drain and flush the system and install new Dex-cool to the system after he checks the hoses and as he said give it a good looking over. {sounds like a fair price to me}

    Is there anything else I should ask him to take a look at while the car is in the shop?

    With 127,000 miles on the car should I consider replacing the head gaskets now rather than later to prevent the potential issues.

    Can a person use one of those little cameras that Snap on sells to look in the cylinders to see of a potential problem? I would guess the view a guy would need was from the cooling jacket area which may not be accessible.

    Thanks for any input on my questions.

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    hendrob is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    Change the antifreeze every 2 years a least , best prevention you can do.

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    Rodney_98's Avatar
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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    Thanks
    I pulled a spark plug out this am to see if they may have been replaced, what's installed are autolite double platinum
    Is this an oem plug? I'd guess not, I discovered that no dielectric grease or never seize was used so I will be pulling the wires for now and grease the boot but so save ware on the threads I will not pull the other 7 plugs unless I need to. The gap on the plug I pulled was .045 which looked a little wide but I left it alone for now.

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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    pull those POS Ford plugs and put in some delco plats
    your car will run WORLDS better

    N* gap is .06 or .05 (ones the gap for my LS1 the other is for the N* i always mix them up), the proper gap is on the id tag in the bay

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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    Normal operating temperature is 205-215. The fans don't even come on until 224 (except when the A/C is on).

    Regular coolant changes is all you can do.

    Why spend the money changing head gaskets that are not causing a problem? Why spend the money fixing a problem that may never happen? Cross that bridge when and IF you come to it.

    Ditto on the Autolite plugs. Use A/C Delco 41-950's. (gap to .050)

    Bore scoping the cylinders won't tell you much.

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    Necrosan is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    And you aren't supposed to use anti-seize on the threads of the plugs in Northstar engines.
    Good way to send the plug back out the head.

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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    Sounds good to me I'll change the plugs for OEM and no anti seize tho I've used it for years on my Indy heads, Harley's ect.
    My machinist will be interested to know it's not recommended..

    I'll be interested to see how dirty the coolant is when it's changed.
    thanks.

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    osu411yamaha is offline Banned
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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    In my opinion its the acidity of the coolant that increases with time that is more detrimental to the coolant eating up the head gaskets than how dirty it is.

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    jcresciSTS is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    I just got my coolant flushed at the dealer at the beginning of August for $150 since I had no record of it being done. I also had an ATF Exchange done at the same time.

    How's your Tranny fluid looking?

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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    Coolant doesn't get dirty. It will "look" just like new (unless it has sealant tabs in it. Then it will look a little muddy).

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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    Oh yes so true I'm thinking of an iron block {been working on old mopars for 30 years}
    Owning an aluminum engine auto is new to this guy.
    I'd guess the coolant in my car has been mixed with the green stuff, it looks like rusty brown
    The trans fluid should be changed to since I don't know when it was last services.
    thanks again.

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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney_98 View Post
    With 127,000 miles on the car should I consider replacing the head gaskets now rather than later to prevent the potential issues.
    For all you know the head gasket issue may have already been fixed on your car.

  14. #13
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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    I'd guess the coolant in my car has been mixed with the green stuff, it looks like rusty brown
    That is most likely sealant tab residue causing that color. It's normal and nothing to be concerned over.

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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    That's good1 I'll still get the fluids changed and when its up on the lift see if I can take a look at the under side and see if I can find a rattle on the right front area, I also hear a click noise when turning at very slow speed from the same corner of the car.

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    blb
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    Re: 4.6 Prevention and maintenance for longer life IE head gaskets.

    Since the failure mode is the headbolts pulling out of the block, there is really nothing you can do. Normal maintenance like changing the coolant is always a good idea, but it won't prevent the bolts from pulling out of the block if that's what's eventually going to happen with that particular engine. Not all Northstars fail in this manner, but many do. Not worth losing sleep over. If you are that worried about it, but really like the GM V8 FWD platform, unload it now and buy an '06 to '09 Impala SS with the LS4. It's much quicker, much more reliable, and gets better fuel economy.

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