Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I have just started the process of repairing a head gasket on the 2000 STS I just bought. After much ...
  1. #1
    eyewonder is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    I have just started the process of repairing a head gasket on the 2000 STS I just bought. After much reading on this forum, I went out with the intention of finding a good body/interior STS in need of a head gasket repair. I will be using Jake's studs (if I can actually get through to him). The thinking was that it could make a nice car for about the same money as one that is running - but this would have the head gasket problem eliminated.

    At the end of this missive, I will humiliate myself by giving the total cost involved.

    As I go through the process I will be asking advise on some issues from the experienced members here. This is not a 'gotta have it done by this weekend' project, so it will likely be somewhat slow.

    So far I have gotten to the point of having drained the coolant from the radiator. By the way, I did get, and will be following the FSM for this. During the coolant drain, the FSM said to remove the lower air deflector to get to the drain on the radiator - my car didn't have a deflector.

    Question 1) Is that air deflector important/essential for proper operation?

    While under the car, I see that there is oil pretty much everywhere on the underside of the engine/transaxle. The car has 171,000 miles. When the engine is out, I will be able to give it a more thorough look, but with the oil everywhere,

    Question 2) Is there any thing specific that I should be looking at to find the source(s) of all this oil?

    Cheers
    Steve

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    ternstes is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    Common oil leak points are the oil pan gasket and halfcase seals. Both of which have updated resealing procedures. Look in the Tech Tips forum for the exact procedure, but it involves using a special RTV sealant instead of a formed gasket.

    Rear main seal, timing cover, valve covers, oil filter adapter, and oil pressure sensor are other good leak candidates.

    The air deflector is a huge formed piece of plastic that shields the underside of the car from road debris, water, etc. from the front subframe crossmember to the bumper. It isn't absolutely necessary. You may be able to find one at a junkyard.

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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    I think that lower air deflector is more important than most people think. Air passing through the grill will hit the condenser. Some will go through, but the path of least resistance is down and out the bottom. The air deflector stops that and forces the air through the condenser and radiator. Exactly how crucial it is to engine cooling and running temperatures I cannot say, but it was put there for a reason and would have been cheaper to eliminate it. The fact that GM chose to install it leads me to believe that the cooling system engineers new something we don't, at least that's my theory.

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    eyewonder is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    OK, I'm at step 23, where I am supposed to separate the manual shift lever from the shift cable. I can see where the actuator rod slips down over a pin on the lever for the transaxle (item #1 in the drawing in the FSM, page 6-157), but I can not get the rod/cable released from the pin. And I don't want to use gorilla mechanics 101 on it.

    So there is most probably a specific way to get it released - right?

    Cheers,
    Steve

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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    Does this help any?


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    eyewonder is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    The picture in the FSM was different, but it showed mostly the same. Your picture shows #14 as the cable in question. The end in question is to the right of #6, the retaining clip. The end reminds me of a spherical rod end - able to have a hole in the middle, but able to swivel & not bind up.

    I can not see any retainer mechanism on the post (~1/8" dia) that it slides over. It has a little up/down motion, but is somehow retained on the pin. The question is, how to get that spherical rod end type connector, off.

    Cheers,
    Steve

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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    Maybe it comes of with the lever (#4) attached and you just remove the bolt (#5).

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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    Remove two 13mm nuts (1)(2) that are holding (3) and cooling pipes onto the transmission (3 and 14 are connected and it's not necessary to separate them).

    Use a large screwdriver to lift (14) off from the ball stud(4). Apply gentle pressure at the very end (ball stud) side only.

  10. #9
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    "At the end of this missive, I will humiliate myself by giving the total cost involved."

    Eyewonder,

    There is no reason to humiliate yourself by giving the total cost involved. You might find a way to repair the car cheaper than you thought or than some others that have done it before.

    The only way to humiliate yourself with a Northstar is to accept defeat and not finish the repair.

    It's like going into a boxing ring with a grizzly bear. If you can't beat it, why did you even go in?

    Good luck......

  11. #10
    eyewonder is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    98Eldo,

    The 'humiliate' statement was somewhat in just. Its just that back-in-the-day when I used to read Hot Rod Magazine, Popular Hot Rodding, etc, they would have great project articles, but would never give a breakdown on what the cost was. And that always frustrated me.

    I have tracked expenses on other projects I have done, so this won't come as a complete shock, the final tally. And mostly it will give some information to others who are thinking about doing the same.

    I'll tackle the gear shift cable issue tonight after work.

    Back to the question of oil leaks; the bottom & sides of the engine are pretty much completely covered in oil, making identification of the leak source very problematic. Remember, this car has 171,000 miles. Cleaning it up while out of the car to make it look pretty, and then reinstalling would be one way to see where the leak(s) were coming from.

    But then after finding the source of the leaks, it would be 'take it out again'.

    The other option would be to just shotgun everything: oil pan gasket, oil manifold/distribution plate, oil filter mount.

    What are you folks thoughts on the shotgun approach?

    Cheers,
    Steve

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    coaster is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    shotgun thought smart

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    Speedygman is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair


  14. #13
    ternstes is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    Fix every gasket, seal, and wear part that is not moderately easy to access with the engine out. You will hate having to pull the engine twice. On the bright side, it is easier the second time!

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    eyewonder is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    I got the shift lever disconnected, with a little more force than I anticipated. Wheels off, struts loose, brake lines, connectors off.

    Is it common to NOT have an oil cooler? No lines coming off the filter housing here.

    Next step should be to disconnect the AC compressor fittings, but I have not yet purged the system. Can you rent equipment to recover the R-134a? Or what has been your collective experiences with that?

    So at this point, I can see getting the engine cradle dropped out this weekend. The FSM was not very specific about how to lift the body off the engine cradle, once it is loose. I have a cherry picker engine lift to use. But where & how would you attach to the body to lift it up?

    So, asking for advise on AC purge, and body attachment techniques.

    Cheers,
    Steve

  16. #15
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    Re: Saga of a naive Head Gasket repair

    Not all have an oil cooler. That's pretty common.

    Not sure if you can rent refrigerant recovery equipment.

    I think you hook the cherry picker up to the radiator support beam.

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