What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s? in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I have been doing lots of reading through the archives on the headgasket issues. I was wondering if anyone could ...
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    Twilightcall's Avatar
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    What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    I have been doing lots of reading through the archives on the headgasket issues. I was wondering if anyone could clarify how they go so often? I know that if you overheat the car is can warp the head and cause a leak especially aluminum heads but I have read stories where they didn't overheat the car to cause the leak, headstuds or something along those lines. Now my ? is do they just fail out of no where or if you don't overheat your car you are safe???? I have a 94' Concours and it has 114K on it with the heads stock and I was just wondering if the headgasket can just go at anytime or does it have to be provoked by overheating or ?. Any info to help clarify would be appreciated. Thanks.

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    Frankly I don't know!

    I have 144k on my sls and I drive it hard . My wife drives it to work and back and we have had NO problems. My 95 has been exceptional and I would not cry if it blew up...tomorrow. I think that proper maintenance and checking under the hood now and then, works out .

    Never been a perfect automobile, but Caddy is my ride.

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    Thanks for the info. That is great to hear.

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    i think for the most part, a bad head gasket is the case of "the bad apple". point being, sometimes you do get a bad apple from the factory once in a while, as no car maker is going to make every car perfect off the assembly line. if your car has been well taken car of, then you should have no real concern there. in regards to replacing a head gasket on the northstar...YIKES i have done this before, and it is no picnic. but the alternative is MUCH more expensive. from my perspective however, the N* is a FINE motor, and 9.75 out of every 10 will be fine for many miles.

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    The biggest cause I believe is neglected cooling system maintainance. Change that coolant every 2 yrs on the green stuff and 5 yrs on the orange Dex-cool.

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    Thanks for the info. Everytime I change the coolant I should put in Bar's Gold leak sealer in the lower radiator hose????

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    you're supposed to put the coolant supplement in the N* too, right?

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    Just drive the car like ya stole it!!!! Work hard and buy better cars down the road.

    I am an old man who fought a war before ya'll were born. Don't let fear enter yer life. Kick ass and drive a Cadillac.

    Live , lil Bros!!......Live!!!

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    Geno Castellano is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    Yes, use the coolant supplement in the Northstar. Just remember to install it into the radiator hose not the surge tank. There are a number of past posts on this subject if you search using "head gasket" you can find them.

    The single biggest problem with head gaskets is lack of cooling system maintenance. If the cooling system is neglected then the coolant looses its corrosion inhibitors (they get used up) and the system will corrode internally. The depleted coolant will cause the internal core of the head gaskets to start to rot out from the coolant passage side and eventually the head gasket will fail.

    Often, repairs due to the above cause subsequent problems with reassembly when the wrong repair procedures are used. Head bolts can be easily stripped in the aluminum block if the bolts are not replaced, the bolt holes cleaned correctly, etcetera. Of course, then the "failure" is blamed on the fact that the engine must have "stripped the head bolts" BEFORE the failure occurred.

    You read a lot about head gaskets on here because of two reasons. One, everyone who has a problem finds the forum to get info and bitch. Rarely do people find the forum and post about their lack of problems. Just read the newbie posts - they are always with a problem. So, the forum is no scientific survey on head gaskets or other problems. Secondly, something has to fail eventually. With the thermalcycling of the engine warming up and cooling down each drive cycle the head gaskets in an all aluminum engine are put under a great deal of stress. Northstar engines are turning out to be their own worst enemy in a way. They are still running fine with well over 100K on them and many with 200K and 300K. When the head gasket fails due to miles/years/thermalcycling it seems catostrophic. In fact, it is easily repaired and the cost is offset by the fact that the engine needs little else. Forgotten is the total lack of wear on cylinder walls, no problems with the timing chains/cam drive, no need for "valve jobs" or head work, etcetera. About the only thing the engine ever needs is an occasional head gasket it seems so the overall repair costs on the engine in the field are pretty low.

    Many of the head gasket problems seem like nightmares because of poor service procedures and mechanics unwilling to read the service manual and follow the correct procedures. The engine is not very responsive to ham handed mechanics due to the high performance design and aluminum construction. If done correctly, the head bolt holes are easily repaired permanently and the head gasket is easy to replace. Reports of the engine being "unrepairable" are greatly exaggerating.

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    Same for me. '98 STS. 93K miles. I drive it hard and take it to the drag strip. ALso, did a trip from California to Florida. Not one over heating problem. When I first got it a hose busted because I let someone work on it and they didn't put stuff back on right. Drove around 2 days with duct tape patching the hose. Bought a hose, installed it, and had the Dex Cool flushed and refilled. Runs like a dream.

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    Anthony is right, I have a 98 Eldo, 136K miles. Had it for a few months. I drive it hard and fast, runs about 190 degrees on highway and about 200-220 idling, never much past middle of temp guage. I recommend all analog dash owners activate the digital readout for coolant temp through your DIC. (It is not shown by default on these models). The car runs smooth and cool, I am lucky with it insofaras the previous owner was a kid who wanted a fly ride and had alot of time to wash, wax, pamper it and maintain the engine properly. I've owned eldos since '81 (My first, a used 76 i got for $2000). I've got to admit the quality has constantly gotten better, no rust, pretty reliable now (on my '84, my old 4100 motor really sucked and died at 80,000 miles) These cars are awesome...

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?


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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    I'll add a point Anthony has made before--not much else breaks in these engines other than the HGs. Although we've logged a few at under (and WELL under) 100k, most of the reported head gasket probs are well ABOVE 100k. These cars don't rust (knock wood) and, although it's an expensive repair (that most are afraid to do) I don't think you can kick too much at a vehicle that's delivered over 100+k miles.

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    Quote Originally Posted by ljklaiber
    Just drive the car like ya stole it!!!! Work hard and buy better cars down the road.

    I am an old man who fought a war before ya'll were born. Don't let fear enter yer life. Kick ass and drive a Cadillac.

    Live , lil Bros!!......Live!!!
    I like this guy ^

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    Re: What makes the Headgaskets go so often on early N*s?

    I took my wifes 1999 sls into caddy dealer for cooling system service (five years old) mechanic was draining system and had no intentions of installing tablets in lower hose. he said was not necessary! Well I was prepared for this. Thus I bought along the service manual and showed him where it said that two pellets were to be installed in lower hose after being crushed. He was a good guy and said that was news to him! He complied with my request, thus he earned a good cash tip.
    Perhaps such mistakes may account for motor failure ?
    My two cents.
    Charlie

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