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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Important to PUSH the Northstar once a week? in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; The saying "they don't make them like they used to" is so true. Decades ago, the manufacturing process was so ...
  1. #31
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    The saying "they don't make them like they used to" is so true. Decades ago, the manufacturing process was so loose, they'd have three different piston sizes for one engine, A B and C. After the block was bored, they'd measure the bores and assign a size to it, either A B or C. Then they'd match the piston to that bore to ensure a proper fit. That's making three different parts to fit one hole, simply because the boring process wasn't accurate enough. Wow! Today, they can put that investment into superior metallurgy, better production processes, and more sophisticated designs.

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    So what do you think the verdict is: Important to push the northstar or any engine, or are the risks of messing something up outweigh the benefits?

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    I look at it this way. It's certainly not going to hurt the engine by pushing it hard every now and then. I'd agree much quicker to a statement like "it's good to wind the car out to keep the engine clean" than to a statement like "it's good to always idle the car around and be as easy on it as you can".

    There's certainly a middleground there that will be different for everyone. On gmforums.com, IceHeart400 has a nitrous kit on his Northstar-powered Eldorado and races it often. He'd agree in a heartbeat that revving it to the moon is good for it. There are some other folks who would rather drive it slowly to moderately and call that good, perhaps nervous to push it to its limit. I'm used to engines with redlines of 4500 or 5000. The Northstar made me nervous at first to push it all the way to 6000, but after conversing with this powertrain engineer at GM, I'm convinced of the capability and durability of this engine. It's been bulletproof so far for me.

    I guess that's all I can say. After my own experiences and discussions, I know the engine was designed for that and it can handle that. I think the worst thing you can do for any given engine is never drive it hard. Running at redline all day is not necessarily good for any given engine either. Moderation is key, just like with everything in life.

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    Cbody is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Well said Jason, I would agree with that.
    Jay

  5. #35
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    I can agree to a certain extent. I dont think that it is good for the engine, but on the other side it doesnt really hurt it.

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    mike97sls is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    I will shed my experiences on this topic. The Audi 5000 and Acura that I had before were always driven as hard as they would possible go. The Audi was my first car and it had gone through two transmission rebuilds. When I first got my license I drove it as fast as it would go everywhere I went. I thought I was invincible. It was a great car it would top out in third gear (3 speed auto) at a little over 120 on the 120mph speedo and that was about 400 rpm into the red on the tach (approx. 6000). That 5 cylinder 20 valve engine was fun and I never had any problems with that car burning any oil. The 1990 Acura Legend coupe I had was another story. My uncle got it in as a trade and I ended up with it. It was faster but the handling was definitely not GERMAN and it smoked a little when it sat idling. I sold it to a friend after I bottomed it out over a stupid man hole cover and cracked the tranny casing after having the transmission rebuilt. I put every piece of aftermarket performance equipment I could buy on that car. That car lead to me losing my license for doubling the speed limit because some cop decided to "play games" with me when I had the flu. I now have a 97 sls and that is due to the fact that my uncle is a Cadillac Sales Manager. He knows how I beat on four wheelers, my father's big block boat (MerCruiser 454 loves redline 4400-4600rpm), and all the Automobiles I drive. Which car does he think will hold up to my abuse? A Northstar which was defnitely not my first choice. BTW, he has also told me to make sure that I "clean it out" every once in a while. I assured him that this would not be a problem and he laughed.

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    Welcome aboard, Mike! Thanks for signing up.. Well, I bet your Father knows what he's talking about being a Cadillac Sales Manager.. I'm sure he hears a lot of stuff around the showroom and repair bay.. And if he tells his Son to "clean it out" every once in a while, he can't mean any harm.. I still have to wonder - just a little - if the service people are actually made to think this and believe it.. But, I have a feeling it's the right thing to do. It just makes too much sense to me..

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    I agree. The thing that concerns me is not the engine, but the tranny. If you do it constantly then it could really mess it up, or definitely shorten its life span.

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    Some more input:

    Drive it, keep the carbon cleaned out with frequent applications of throttle as you describe. Heavy throttle and higher PRM all tend to keep the ring grooves cleaned out of carbon as the higher RPM operation tends to cause the rings to move and rotate in the grooves which keeps them mobile and free. Babying it too much will allow the rings to stay stationary and eventually stick from the carbon buildup.

    That is from my GM engineer friend, this time, posted at the message board at caddyinfo.com. Thought this was interesting, given our recent discussion.

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    Well, cant go wrong with that. Next time I get to my fleetwood, and there isnt a fricken foot of snow on the road, ill open her up!

    Either that or donuts......

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    Unhappy Re: Important to PUSH the Northstar once a week?

    See here is what I don't get. Everyone opens them up on the road right? What about opening it up sitting in the parking lot in park. That can't be bad on the transmission and other then putting a load on it is equivilent to running it on the road. Correct me if I'm wrong but won't a few redline throttle pumps in the parkinglot do the same?

    -Roswell-

  12. #42
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    Re: Important to PUSH the Northstar once a week?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roswell256
    See here is what I don't get. Everyone opens them up on the road right? What about opening it up sitting in the parking lot in park. That can't be bad on the transmission and other then putting a load on it is equivilent to running it on the road. Correct me if I'm wrong but won't a few redline throttle pumps in the parkinglot do the same?

    -Roswell-
    Revving the engine up in neutral does little or nothing helpful. The time at WOT is so brief that there is little or no chance to build any cylinder pressure and heat before the engine is bouncing off the rev limiter. Revving it at part throttle puts little or no gas pressure load on the engine and pistons - it puts a lot of inertial loads into the crank, bearings, rods, etcetera - but nothing that does any good to the engine. Forget it. Put the car in gear and go drive it.

    There are many advantages to occasional full throttle accelerations with a Northstar and any engine. It keeps the carbon cleaned out of the combustion chamber. This is maybe a little more important with the Northstar than some other engines due to the tight squish volumes between the piston and the cylinder head. This is designed this way to promote good incylinder mixture motion (good combustion) but it has the down side of providing a ready place for carbon build up to touch the piston causing noise. Ever heard of the Northstar "cold carbon rap" problem? Simply put you'll hear a rythmic, piston slap like noise when the engine is cold. Very prominent and very annoying. Cause: excessive carbon build up causing the the piston to contact the carbon on the head causing it to rock in the bore and "slap" - much more evident when the engine is cold and the pistons haven't expanded to full diameter yet. Simplest and easiest "fix" for this: A few good WOT accelerations to clear the carbon out. That is all it takes to eliminate the problem and prevent it from re-occurring.

    Occasional WOT accelerations also help seat the rings to the ring lands and exercise the rings and keep them mobile and from becoming stuck in carbon in the ring lands. At high RPM and WOT the rings move around on the piston. They actually rotate on the piston and will polish away any carbon and seat themselves to the sides of the ring grooves. This is especially important on the 2000 and later Northstars which had hard anodized top ring lands on the pistons. Very hard and wear resistant. Also harder to breakin and seat the rings to the sides of the ring lands to promote the best possible seal. Many oil consumption complaints on the 2000 and later engines are related to some extent with the rings never seating to the sides of the ring grooves due to lack of load as the engine was babied around forever. Even engines with rings stuck in the ring grooves due to carbon build up can eventually be freed up with enough high RPM operation.

    WOTs warm up the engine thoroughly and clean out the exhaust due to temperature in the exhaust and high flow rates blasting particulates, rust and such out of the system.

    Frequent WOT operation will not hurt the engine or the transmission. It's designed for that. The healthiest engines that I have seen at high miles are always the ones that are run the hardest. Rings are free on the pistons and sealing. No carbon buildup.

    The exercise that I think works best for many things is to select manual 2nd gear on an isolated stretch of expressway. This takes the trans shifting out of the question if you are worried about hurting the transmission, also. Start at 55 MPH or so and go to WOT in 2nd gear and hold it until the RPM reaches near the normal shift point ie 6500rpm for an L37 and 6000rpm for an LD8. Hold the throttle wide open until the engine reaches, say, 6200rpm for your STS and then just let completely off the throttle. Leave the transmission in 2nd so that the engine brakes the car and creates some pretty heavy overrun conditions at high vacuum levels. Let it slow until it is about 55 or so and then go to WOT again and repeat. This exercise really loads the rings, allows variable RPM operation at WOT for several seconds continuously, creates heavy overrun which tends to unload the rings and make them move and thus exercise them in the ring grooves and it will blow out carbon and the exhaust - all without creating a spectical of yourself and attracting the attention of the cops. You can do it on most any freeway and stay within the 70-75 MPH range allowable. Once a week like this will keep the engine cleaned out and healthy and is DEFINITELY recommended for the Northstar in particular.

    The Northstar engine was designed, developed and validated to be run hard. It was expected that people would use the performance of the engine, though few seem to do so. The biggest single problem that many issues stem from is lack of use at full throttle by the owners. It just doesn't like to be babied around. The rings are low tension by design for good high RPM operating characteristics and low friction/good power. They work best if "used" and kept free.

    In every conversation with owners I've had, once the owner started doing the WOTs and using the power and the engine they report no more carbon rap, better oil economy, no "smoke" when they do light it up (keep the exhaust cleaned out. If you notice a "cloud" when you do a wot you are not doing enough WOTs) etcetera. A bit of judicious use of the other end of the throttle travel is a good thing.

  13. #43
    Anthony Cipriano is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Important to PUSH the Northstar once a week?

    Quote Originally Posted by Katshot
    There's an actual competition among factory (and non-factory) cars that just runs the cars flat-out on a banked track until they blow. I remember reading about it a couple years ago in a magazine. As I recall though, there weren't any Northstars there.
    .

    Katshot. Where and when does this happen. I want to go. This is a figment of your imagination. Ridiculous. Who would fund such an endeavor, what would it prove and why would anyone do it? Nothing like this happens but if it did a Northstar would do very good at it.

  14. #44
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    Re: Important to PUSH the Northstar once a week?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Cipriano
    Revving the engine up in neutral does little or nothing helpful. The time at WOT is so brief that there is little or no chance to build any cylinder pressure and heat before the engine is bouncing off the rev limiter. Revving it at part throttle puts little or no gas pressure load on the engine and pistons - it puts a lot of inertial loads into the crank, bearings, rods, etcetera - but nothing that does any good to the engine. Forget it. Put the car in gear and go drive it.

    There are many advantages to occasional full throttle accelerations with a Northstar and any engine. It keeps the carbon cleaned out of the combustion chamber. This is maybe a little more important with the Northstar than some other engines due to the tight squish volumes between the piston and the cylinder head. This is designed this way to promote good incylinder mixture motion (good combustion) but it has the down side of providing a ready place for carbon build up to touch the piston causing noise. Ever heard of the Northstar "cold carbon rap" problem? Simply put you'll hear a rythmic, piston slap like noise when the engine is cold. Very prominent and very annoying. Cause: excessive carbon build up causing the the piston to contact the carbon on the head causing it to rock in the bore and "slap" - much more evident when the engine is cold and the pistons haven't expanded to full diameter yet. Simplest and easiest "fix" for this: A few good WOT accelerations to clear the carbon out. That is all it takes to eliminate the problem and prevent it from re-occurring.

    Occasional WOT accelerations also help seat the rings to the ring lands and exercise the rings and keep them mobile and from becoming stuck in carbon in the ring lands. At high RPM and WOT the rings move around on the piston. They actually rotate on the piston and will polish away any carbon and seat themselves to the sides of the ring grooves. This is especially important on the 2000 and later Northstars which had hard anodized top ring lands on the pistons. Very hard and wear resistant. Also harder to breakin and seat the rings to the sides of the ring lands to promote the best possible seal. Many oil consumption complaints on the 2000 and later engines are related to some extent with the rings never seating to the sides of the ring grooves due to lack of load as the engine was babied around forever. Even engines with rings stuck in the ring grooves due to carbon build up can eventually be freed up with enough high RPM operation.

    WOTs warm up the engine thoroughly and clean out the exhaust due to temperature in the exhaust and high flow rates blasting particulates, rust and such out of the system.

    Frequent WOT operation will not hurt the engine or the transmission. It's designed for that. The healthiest engines that I have seen at high miles are always the ones that are run the hardest. Rings are free on the pistons and sealing. No carbon buildup.

    The exercise that I think works best for many things is to select manual 2nd gear on an isolated stretch of expressway. This takes the trans shifting out of the question if you are worried about hurting the transmission, also. Start at 55 MPH or so and go to WOT in 2nd gear and hold it until the RPM reaches near the normal shift point ie 6500rpm for an L37 and 6000rpm for an LD8. Hold the throttle wide open until the engine reaches, say, 6200rpm for your STS and then just let completely off the throttle. Leave the transmission in 2nd so that the engine brakes the car and creates some pretty heavy overrun conditions at high vacuum levels. Let it slow until it is about 55 or so and then go to WOT again and repeat. This exercise really loads the rings, allows variable RPM operation at WOT for several seconds continuously, creates heavy overrun which tends to unload the rings and make them move and thus exercise them in the ring grooves and it will blow out carbon and the exhaust - all without creating a spectical of yourself and attracting the attention of the cops. You can do it on most any freeway and stay within the 70-75 MPH range allowable. Once a week like this will keep the engine cleaned out and healthy and is DEFINITELY recommended for the Northstar in particular.

    The Northstar engine was designed, developed and validated to be run hard. It was expected that people would use the performance of the engine, though few seem to do so. The biggest single problem that many issues stem from is lack of use at full throttle by the owners. It just doesn't like to be babied around. The rings are low tension by design for good high RPM operating characteristics and low friction/good power. They work best if "used" and kept free.

    In every conversation with owners I've had, once the owner started doing the WOTs and using the power and the engine they report no more carbon rap, better oil economy, no "smoke" when they do light it up (keep the exhaust cleaned out. If you notice a "cloud" when you do a wot you are not doing enough WOTs) etcetera. A bit of judicious use of the other end of the throttle travel is a good thing.
    Anthony, my dad never drives his cars hard. How many miles would you guess before the carbon is built up to be a disadvantage to an engine like the N*? IE, every few thousand miles, etc.?

  15. #45
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    Re: Important to PUSH the Northstar once a week?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Cipriano
    Katshot. Where and when does this happen. I want to go. This is a figment of your imagination. Ridiculous. Who would fund such an endeavor, what would it prove and why would anyone do it? Nothing like this happens but if it did a Northstar would do very good at it.
    It would be interesting to see. Never heard of it from an auto manufacturer. But Mercury Marine does it, at least used to at their privately owned Lake X in FL. They ran outboards non stop, some models literally ran for years. There was one model, can't remember which one, they tied up to a dock and ran WOT for a reported 3 yrs, until it finally quit. They do it just to see what would break first. They would repair the failed part, start it back up and see what would break next. And on and on. And probably the reason they won so many Formula 1 Championships.

    Here is a link to a Media Player Video. Check Part 3.
    http://www.screamandfly.com/home/fea...eo_history.htm

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