Major head gasket problem
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Major head gasket problem in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; So I took my '93 4.6L Eldorado in for service the other day. I needed an oil change desperately so ...
  1. #1
    Fantom Infinity's Avatar
    Fantom Infinity is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Major head gasket problem

    So I took my '93 4.6L Eldorado in for service the other day. I needed an oil change desperately so I assumed that's why the "Service Engine Soon" light kept coming on. Also it possibly needed new spark plugs and wires; the car was hesitating slightly at like 40-50 mph. So I tell them it needs a tune-up as well and to check the plugs and wires. I get a call back the same night and the guy told me that before they do a tune-up on older cars with lots of miles they do an engine diagnostic check. Apparantly there's engine gasses or something in it and it has a major head gasket problem that could cost upwards of $2,000 to fix. What should I do?! My car is perfect, no scratches, dings, new transmission, new tires. Part it out, sell it, fix it?

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    RLLOVETT is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Major head gasket problem

    Been there and done that to my 94 Eldo with 131k...got it back this Monday after 4 weeks and it's driving fine and I'm in love again but it cost about twice what I had planned. After finally finding a non-dealer shop that would even take it on and being quoted an estimate of 1400, we wound up with 1500 in parts alone plus the labor...Your car sounds very nice and I would prob fix it. Mine was throwing an occasional tranny code (which I know is the next biggie) but not since the first day back. Since yours has a new trans, fix it. Other than the HGs, these engines are pretty robust with many reports of around 200k miles and my mantra is: "it's cheaper than a new car."

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    Fantom Infinity's Avatar
    Fantom Infinity is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Major head gasket problem

    I don't get why it's such an expensive thing to fix. And plus, I didn't see any steam, no lack of performance...so I really don't know how "big" this problem is. I'm thinking of taking it to another dealership without saying anything about the head gasket.

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    mcowden is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Major head gasket problem

    The dealership should do a cylinder compression test, which involves removing one spark plug at a time (while the valves are closed in that particular cylinder) and screwing in a fitting that will hold pressure on the cylinder for 10-20 minutes. If it loses the pressure, it probably is a head gasket issue. If not, it's probably not the gasket. They need to do that test to confirm. The test for exhaust gases in the coolant isn't 100% accurate. The compression test is much better, more time consuming, and more expensive, but if it confirms the diagnosis or saves you a potential $2000-$4000 fix, it's worth the cost.

    They also need to check all the codes in the computer to determine why your SES light is coming on. You can do it yourself, and I would recommend you check them that way. Search the forums for "check codes" or something similar and you'll find plenty of posts that explain how to check them. The codes may tell you why it hesitates and what needs repair. I assure you that an oil change will not turn on the SES light.

    Good luck.

    Michael Cowden
    Mike

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    Re: Major head gasket problem

    Well, I'm thinking about changing the head gasket myself with a friend...except we don't have any experience with these engines. Any info or help would be appreciated.

    But anyway, here are my codes:
    T083 .................................................. ....... Brake Fluid Level Low
    A046 .................................................. ...... Low Refrigerant Charge
    A047 .................................................. ...... Low Refrigerant Charge
    T083 .................................................. ....... Brake Fluid Level Low
    S044 .................................................. ... Lift or Dive Signal Fault
    S055 .......................................... Resistor Module Short to Ground/Open
    S061 ............................................. Right Front Position Sensor Fault
    P017 (E017) .......................................... Left Oxygen Sensor not ready
    P022 (E022) ................................................. Open TPS Signal [VCC]
    P070 (E070) ............................................... Intermittent TPS Signal

  7. #6
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    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Major head gasket problem

    The Northstar is not your average engine. When the heads are pulled you should timesert all the bolt holes to prevent the threads from pulling later. In order to do this the engine (drivetrain) needs to be removed (from the bottom). Do not use helicoils. You must use "timeserts" specifically made for the Northstar. I have heard of it being done with the engine in the car but supposedly it is very difficult. Also there is a cam chain locking tool and proceedure to prevent the chains from ratcheting and requiring retiming. Don't attempt this job based on previous straight forward head gasket jobs and be sure to have a factory service manual.

  8. #7
    zonie77 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Major head gasket problem

    If you have decent mechanical skills you should be able to do headgaskets on an N*.

    Here's info from the first one we did. It isn't that hard but it is a long process.

    http://cadillacforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5052

    There is no electronic work involved except for disconnecting and reconnecting wiring connectors.

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    Fantom Infinity's Avatar
    Fantom Infinity is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Major head gasket problem

    Wow, that's GREAT, thank you!

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