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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!! in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; So let me ask you...BBF didn't like my premature question. Any idea if I can make the head bolt thread ...
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    So let me ask you...BBF didn't like my premature question.

    Any idea if I can make the head bolt thread repairs with engine in car? I simply don't have facilities to pull or drop the engine is why I ask. Do you know how to tilt the engine forward? Norm said that's what I'd have to do for rear bank access, along with a 1/2" right angle drill, which I have.
    Inserts, not studs CAN and have be done in the car. A few have done it, but general consensus seems to be it is MUCH harder. You WILL need a right angle drill. I think you'd tilt the engine by supporting the front of the cradle with a floor jack (after it's on jack stands), then pull the front cradle bolts and slowly lower the front of the cradle. That will tilt the front of the engine forward and give you some space at the firewall. Now I've never done this so I don't know how much you can lower it and what if anything has to be disconnected before you do it, like brake lines, A/C lines etc.

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Thank you gentlemen...HMS

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    With the extra info on the block rebuild it's surprising you would have HG problems but it could possibly be a problem from the rebuild. Possibly poor cleaning or a nick on the head surface ( Jake had a nick on a head that caused a problem.). We've heard of the original threads failing on reassembly so possibly a thread failure.

    I would just do a simple flush on the radiator to see if stop leak or something was clogging it (you should see the crud coming out) but at the age of the car, and the lower costs of aftermarket radiators, a new one is not a bad idea.

    The first bad HG (my brothers car) drove us crazy. He drove it with varying symptoms for about 6 months before we did the HG's. We did all the external fixes before a block test was positive (luckily the first, he had it done at a radiator shop).

    I drop the cradle but people have done it in the car. It takes more perseverance and is harder but doable. You can make or buy a tilter (here's one http://www.etoolcart.com/engine-tilter-thx419x.aspx ). Tilting the cradle helps.

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    WOW...thx Zonie...I never knew there was such a tool for tilting the engine. So there is only one used rather than a set? I don't need to secure both sides? I'm safe to tilt the engine then without disconnecting this or that first once the stablizers are removed and the tilter installed in its place to pull engine forward from the top, right?

    Well, for peace of mind (maybe wasted bucks, but hey) I last night purchased everything to prove beyond any doubt (hopefully?) to me once and for all that issue is in fact the HG's. I got cap, stat AND new radiator. I'll test everything part by part...cap-->stat-->rad. If it's by chance cap or stat then I may return the radiator...not sure yet. In any case I'm pretty darn sure at this point it'll prove out to be the heads, but as I've said before, I simply can't make myself tear it down without having first exhausted all other more simple possible causes since I can't get definitive proof otherwise. This isn't my first rodeo...I know vehicle mechanics pretty well (very far from helpless), but this ghost has really stumped me. Never before have I struggled so hard to validate yes/no on HG's. I'm NOT a parts changer by nature as a means to troubleshoot. I'm old school...need to determine root cause first via tests/data, but this bugger hasn't cooperated with that strategy thus far...so now I guess I'll do as far too many shops (the smart guys...LOL) actually do...start swapping parts until I find the cause...grrrrr. Cooling system isn't rocket science, nor should diagnosing blown HG's be...but this one so far is breaking that mold. Sounds like I'm not the first one as well to face this ghost from all I've read on web.

    I've tried to give Mr Goodwrench benefit of the doubt on his rebuild by trying so hard to prove it's NOT the HG's. Because if he had done his job correctly and professionally then it should be VERY doubtful that there should be a head bolt failure after only 15K miles. GM published an extremely detailed service document for all their dealer shops on what's required when heads are removed for ANY reason. Only thing I could be understanding on for the dealership is if I find that Timeserts were properly installed but then have failed. At least then I would know he followed GM's directive, though flawed as it is with their poor solution of choice (Timeserts). If it does prove to be the heads then I strongly suspect the dude just slapped them back on and cranked um down. Why? Based on the shoddy reassembly I've detected so far with the engine...missing and loose nuts, bolts, clamps, etc. I found electrical tape holding together a split rubber L connector on crankcase vent tube going from front valve cover to throttle body for crying out loud. Huh? It took me an entire 5 minutes to replace with a proper new heat resistant rubber elbow...duh. Electrical tape?? Give me a break...simply no excuse for such lame lack of attention and professionalism on the part of a Caddy service department pro. The vehicle was serviced exclusive by that specific dealership all its life...so the finger prints I find belong to that establishment. So...one can only wonder what else...can have little/no faith that the dude followed proper procedure...but, maybe I'm wrong...we'll see.

    HMS

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    the timesert parts aren't cheap so they should be listed in your parts that they charged, but it is likely that they didn't timesert the block since it wasn't in for a head gasket/bolt failure... it would have been prudent to timesert the block just in case though but maybe the customer declined it or something... hard to tell that kind of stuff now though
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Agree completely...still haven't found where I put that darn shop receipt though (still looking).

    The rebuild was performed under a service plan, so you may be right about bypassing...I too suspect that. But, if GM has issued dealership advisement (they have) to timesert the heads when removed for any reason, then I don't see how service plan could have gone against that. But you're right...one will never know that kind of stuff...and I'll not know what was and wasn't actually done until/unless I pull the heads. One can sit around and guess/speculate all day long until the cows come home.

    HMS

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Any chance you can stop in at the dealer on a slow afternoon (after the morning rush) and have them look up what they did (or didn't do)?

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    I suggest you be careful, especially if you install a new radiator, because the extra pressure in your cooling system caused by your blown HGs (yes, that IS your problem) could crack a side tank in your radiator - ask me how I know!

    Also, if you do decide to tackle the HG repair yourself, I strongly suggest you remove the engine from the car to do it, and I strongly suggest you drop the cradle to do it.

    I have never heard that GM said all head bolt holes must be timeserted when a head is removed...even though the consensus is that is the prudent thing to do. Actually, timeserts have a rep for a high percentage of failure - not sure if that is due to the product or the application; I used Norm's with good success - I think Jake's studs are a little better solution, so I would probably consider using Jake's if I had to do one in the future. Honestly, I don't see that in the cards - I don't expect to own another N* powered car; that's not a knock, but I've been driving Cadillacs with N*s since 1994, and when the '97 ETC and I part ways, I think it will be for some kind of hybrid/electric/super-duper gas saver vehicle - thinking about maybe a Volt, actually.

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!



    we always do all 20 timeserts... (big serts actually)
    there seems no point to get all that labor done just for a few headbolts leaving the chance of another failure and all that labor again to be done
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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Quote Originally Posted by hms200 View Post
    Thx Ranger...

    Any idea if I can make the head bolt thread repairs with engine in car? I simply don't have facilities to pull or drop the engine is why I ask. Do you know how to tilt the engine forward? Norm said that's what I'd have to do for rear bank access, along with a 1/2" right angle drill, which I have.

    Thx again...

    HMS
    See post #8
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...ml#post2464329

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Quote Originally Posted by hms200 View Post
    WOW...thx Zonie...I never knew there was such a tool for tilting the engine. So there is only one used rather than a set? I don't need to secure both sides? I'm safe to tilt the engine then without disconnecting this or that first once the stablizers are removed and the tilter installed in its place to pull engine forward from the top, right?
    One should do it but when you pull the heads you lose the place to bolt the tool. When you tilt it you have to be careful not to break things. Most engines can be moved quite a bit but you are the one responsible to stop in time.

    Well, for peace of mind (maybe wasted bucks, but hey) I last night purchased everything to prove beyond any doubt (hopefully?) to me once and for all that issue is in fact the HG's. I got cap, stat AND new radiator. I'll test everything part by part...cap-->stat-->rad. If it's by chance cap or stat then I may return the radiator...not sure yet. In any case I'm pretty darn sure at this point it'll prove out to be the heads, but as I've said before, I simply can't make myself tear it down without having first exhausted all other more simple possible causes since I can't get definitive proof otherwise. This isn't my first rodeo...I know vehicle mechanics pretty well (very far from helpless), but this ghost has really stumped me. Never before have I struggled so hard to validate yes/no on HG's. I'm NOT a parts changer by nature as a means to troubleshoot. I'm old school...need to determine root cause first via tests/data, but this bugger hasn't cooperated with that strategy thus far...so now I guess I'll do as far too many shops (the smart guys...LOL) actually do...start swapping parts until I find the cause...grrrrr. Cooling system isn't rocket science, nor should diagnosing blown HG's be...but this one so far is breaking that mold. Sounds like I'm not the first one as well to face this ghost from all I've read on web.
    You are not the first!

    I've tried to give Mr Goodwrench benefit of the doubt on his rebuild by trying so hard to prove it's NOT the HG's. Because if he had done his job correctly and professionally then it should be VERY doubtful that there should be a head bolt failure after only 15K miles. GM published an extremely detailed service document for all their dealer shops on what's required when heads are removed for ANY reason. Only thing I could be understanding on for the dealership is if I find that Timeserts were properly installed but then have failed. At least then I would know he followed GM's directive, though flawed as it is with their poor solution of choice (Timeserts). If it does prove to be the heads then I strongly suspect the dude just slapped them back on and cranked um down. Why? Based on the shoddy reassembly I've detected so far with the engine...missing and loose nuts, bolts, clamps, etc. I found electrical tape holding together a split rubber L connector on crankcase vent tube going from front valve cover to throttle body for crying out loud. Huh? It took me an entire 5 minutes to replace with a proper new heat resistant rubber elbow...duh. Electrical tape?? Give me a break...simply no excuse for such lame lack of attention and professionalism on the part of a Caddy service department pro. The vehicle was serviced exclusive by that specific dealership all its life...so the finger prints I find belong to that establishment. So...one can only wonder what else...can have little/no faith that the dude followed proper procedure...but, maybe I'm wrong...we'll see.

    HMS
    Timeserts were the original repair, the studs designed for the N* came later. If buying a new kit I sould go with the bigsert, but if you are only planning to do one engine the studs are about the same price.

    The poor workmanship might be an indication of HG failure from poor assembly. You'll have to take it apart to know for sure. Tightening head bolts by degree of rotation could let someone not paying attention under tighten a bolt. Lots of potential problems from someone not doing their job.

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Quote Originally Posted by tateos View Post
    I suggest you be careful, especially if you install a new radiator, because the extra pressure in your cooling system caused by your blown HGs (yes, that IS your problem) could crack a side tank in your radiator - ask me how I know!

    Also, if you do decide to tackle the HG repair yourself, I strongly suggest you remove the engine from the car to do it, and I strongly suggest you drop the cradle to do it.
    This is great advice. Most people who tried it in the car gave up. I'm not saying it cannot be done, just it is the hardest way to do it. Dropping the cradle is the easiest if you are only going to do one. They are made to be dropped and even though you can pull out the top it is harder until you learn the techniques.
    With the cradle out you can access everything on the engine easily.

    if you haven't seen this take a look:

    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...al-newbee.html

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    +1 on the above. For a one time install, the time it takes to drop the cradle (and later install) is more than made up by taking less time (and aggravation) to do the repair work with the engine out of the car. And I have done the cradle drop and stud install at home, in the garage, and did 95% of the work myself (only time I had help was when a friend came over to help me drill and tap the holes in the block).

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    I'm one of those people who, as zonie writes, started out by trying to pull the engine out of the top and gave up. Once I resigned myself to dropping the cradle, as previously recommended by zonie, things actually became easier...a LOT easier. Also, when it came time to reinstall, a lot of the assembly that has to be done in the car, with great difficulty and access problems, was readily done; the cradle was out of the car and everything was right there in front of my big schnozz, with no obstructions - it was a real eye opener for me!

    I too did 95% of the work myself, in my garage, with only a helper for the drilling/tapping, and also for the head bolt torquing.

    Look here for zonie's thread:

    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...et-repair.html

    Here is my thread, with a few pics and several of my mistakes noted, including my initial desire to pull the engine out the top:

    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...t-project.html

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    Re: 2001 Northstar - Head Gaskets blown or not?? I'm stumped!!

    Check out this website for some pretty good indicators:

    http://www.northstarperformance.com/main.php

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