Northstar Smoke On Startup
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Northstar Smoke On Startup in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I have a 2004 Pontiac Bonneville GXP with 140K that blows steam/smoke on startup and misfires for about 30-45 seconds. ...
  1. #1
    BONNEVILLEGXP's Avatar
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    I have a 2004 Pontiac Bonneville GXP with 140K that blows steam/smoke on startup and misfires for about 30-45 seconds. After that its fine though. I have been driving it for a few weeks like that (1,000 miles) and it has not lost any coolant. Today after a hard drive "Low Engine Coolant" came on the DIC. I know with a Northstar that's a bad sign, but I haven't been overheating nor has it been steaming except after startup. It's confusing me quite a bit and I hope to God it's not the Headgaskets. I can't afford a block test kit nor the fluid. Any way that could give me any indication of what could be causing me this problem? I love the car, but it's been nothing but a headache the whole time I've owned it!

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    Submariner409's Avatar
    Submariner409 is offline If it won't run, chrome it
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    Re: Northstar Smoke On Startup

    If you can't afford $8.95 to "rent" a block test kit from a parts store, you're driving the wrong car. Maybe a Ford Escort would be cheaper. Seriously - a Northstar engined/transmissioned car is NOT going to be cheap to own.

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    BONNEVILLEGXP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Submariner409
    If you can't afford $8.95 to "rent" a block test kit from a parts store, you're driving the wrong car. Maybe a Ford Escort would be cheaper. Seriously - a Northstar engined/transmissioned car is NOT going to be cheap to own.
    Well I can't afford anything this week as my whole paycheck has gone to bills. I think you could have been nicer and just helped me out.

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    Submariner409's Avatar
    Submariner409 is offline If it won't run, chrome it
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    Re: Northstar Smoke On Startup

    I am being "nice" - not lying and not blowing smoke up your butt is actually a favor. Accept the fact that the world is not always rosy.

    If you cannot afford the cylinder block exhaust gas test you have NO starting point for maintenance or repair.

  6. #5
    BONNEVILLEGXP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Submariner409
    I am being "nice" - not lying and not blowing smoke up your butt is actually a favor. Accept the fact that the world is not always rosy.

    If you cannot afford the cylinder block exhaust gas test you have NO starting point for maintenance or repair.
    I knew when I bought the car it would be a love/hate relationship and at the time I bought it I had a good income. I work on everything myself because every time I bring anything into a shop the problem never gets fixed. It's been cheap repairs so far (Plenum Duct), but the car is hardly worth more than the cost to fix the head gaskets. Right now I just simply want to know I'm not left alone in a Forrest without a flashlight. Having my baby possibly die is going to take toll on my mind before I find out for sure.

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    Re: Northstar Smoke On Startup

    Being an '04 - good. (HG failure is not common).
    Needing to add coolant - bad.
    No overheating - good.
    Steaming on start up - bad.
    Rough idle for 30-34 seconds after start up - bad.
    You could be in the early stages of HG failure. If you are not overheating a block test might still show negative.

    Is it smoke or steam you are seeing? You have said both and it makes a BIG difference.

  8. #7
    BONNEVILLEGXP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger
    Being an '04 - good. (HG failure is not common).
    Needing to add coolant - bad.
    No overheating - good.
    Steaming on start up - bad.
    Rough idle for 30-34 seconds after start up - bad.
    You could be in the early stages of HG failure. If you are not overheating a block test might still show negative.

    Is it smoke or steam you are seeing? You have said both and it makes a BIG difference.
    I can't tell. It is about in the middle. It dissipates faster than smoke does most if the time but lingers longer than steam would. I'm leaning more to a fuel there. It has a injector on the way out. Really the only problem I would say there is would be the coolant. I topped it off and the rad cap looked really nasty. I'm thinking maybe it's escaping from there. I would say this is something that will not be able to be diagnosed tell later. For now I shall keep my fingers crossed.

  9. #8
    Manic Mechanic is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Northstar Smoke On Startup

    Quote Originally Posted by BONNEVILLEGXP View Post
    I can't tell. It is about in the middle. It dissipates faster than smoke does most if the time but lingers longer than steam would. I'm leaning more to a fuel there. It has a injector on the way out. Really the only problem I would say there is would be the coolant. I topped it off and the rad cap looked really nasty. I'm thinking maybe it's escaping from there. I would say this is something that will not be able to be diagnosed tell later. For now I shall keep my fingers crossed.
    Let me ask you guys something. Do you have humidity where you live? Everywhere I've ever lived if a warm car is parked overnight the exhaust system will pull in air as it cools because the air pressure inside the pipes drop with the temperature. Air around here has vaporized water in it. This vapor condenses into a liquid once the temperature of the pipes drops to the dew point. This water sits in the pipes causing rust until it evaporates or you start the engine in the morning and the hot exhaust gasses vaporize it again. The vapor now being very mobile is carried out of the exhaust pipe by the gas flow. Once it hits the cooler air outside of the pipes, which is still well below dew point, it instantly starts re-condensing in mid-air. This is called steam by those who recognize the difference between it and smoke as smoke will dissipate much, much, slower than steam and usually has a strong odor when hydrocarbons are burning slow enough to cause visible smoke. Without much wind smoke will float away slowly while steam will dissipate in free air within a few yards. This process happens almost everyday to every car operated this way in a humid environment. Nothing new here. Don't bother warning every driver you see blowing steam out of their tailpipes in the morning that they may be blowing head-gaskets, or that there's a smoldering fire in their engine, you'll just be spreading hysteria to the mass level. If you wait a few weeks and observe daily you'll conclude that this is a normal part of God's creations. It is taught thoroughly in grade school science.

    Also if you have a ten year old car with the original now ratty coolant cap on it and you're loosing coolant, what's the mystery? Fill it back up and put a new cap on before looking for help on un-explainable coolant loss on a good running car. Make sure you get an 18 lbs. rated cap . like the one that came on with it.

    Obviously I have really lost patience with this subject. Northstar owners are like Chicken Little. They are a very powerful and fragile engine coupled to weak and hard to service front wheel drive chassis. The cars they are used in have a myriad of complex electronics regulating everything and very inter-dependent on each other for proper operation. They will require constant maintenance and repair or they will malfunction quickly and expensively with constant use. This is no mystery either. The good news is all cars are becoming this way again. The days of ninety's era Honda's and Toyota's are long gone. Buy a plain engine truck while you still can.

    Vernon

  10. #9
    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: Northstar Smoke On Startup

    If you can't tell what it is, have your buddy start the car. Go back and take a good whiff of it. It could well be unburnt gas vapor. What it is makes all the difference in the world.

  11. #10
    BONNEVILLEGXP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger
    If you can't tell what it is, have your buddy start the car. Go back and take a good whiff of it. It could well be unburnt gas vapor. What it is makes all the difference in the world.
    I can easily tell the difference between smoke and steam. I think it's a mixture of the two. Some will stay suspended in the air but some will disappear rather quick. For now I'm just going to keep driving it tell it starts to overheat. Then I'll know there's a problem. It's not oil burning for sure.

    ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Manic Mechanic

    Let me ask you guys something. Do you have humidity where you live? Everywhere I've ever lived if a warm car is parked overnight the exhaust system will pull in air as it cools because the air pressure inside the pipes drop with the temperature. Air around here has vaporized water in it. This vapor condenses into a liquid once the temperature of the pipes drops to the dew point. This water sits in the pipes causing rust until it evaporates or you start the engine in the morning and the hot exhaust gasses vaporize it again. The vapor now being very mobile is carried out of the exhaust pipe by the gas flow. Once it hits the cooler air outside of the pipes, which is still well below dew point, it instantly starts re-condensing in mid-air. This is called steam by those who recognize the difference between it and smoke as smoke will dissipate much, much, slower than steam and usually has a strong odor when hydrocarbons are burning slow enough to cause visible smoke. Without much wind smoke will float away slowly while steam will dissipate in free air within a few yards. This process happens almost everyday to every car operated this way in a humid environment. Nothing new here. Don't bother warning every driver you see blowing steam out of their tailpipes in the morning that they may be blowing head-gaskets, or that there's a smoldering fire in their engine, you'll just be spreading hysteria to the mass level. If you wait a few weeks and observe daily you'll conclude that this is a normal part of God's creations. It is taught thoroughly in grade school science.

    Also if you have a ten year old car with the original now ratty coolant cap on it and you're loosing coolant, what's the mystery? Fill it back up and put a new cap on before looking for help on un-explainable coolant loss on a good running car. Make sure you get an 18 lbs. rated cap . like the one that came on with it.

    Obviously I have really lost patience with this subject. Northstar owners are like Chicken Little. They are a very powerful and fragile engine coupled to weak and hard to service front wheel drive chassis. The cars they are used in have a myriad of complex electronics regulating everything and very inter-dependent on each other for proper operation. They will require constant maintenance and repair or they will malfunction quickly and expensively with constant use. This is no mystery either. The good news is all cars are becoming this way again. The days of ninety's era Honda's and Toyota's are long gone. Buy a plain engine truck while you still can.

    Vernon
    Having had a 2003 Toyota Camry with the 2UZ-FE, I can tell the difference between smoke. That car had bad valve guides and would blow blue smoke on every morning startup. My 1988 Dodge Ram has a bad carb, it will flood out and then blow gray smoke. The Northstar is blowing out what would be right in the middle. I will argue that the LD8 is NOT a fragile engine. Aside from early HG failures and being prone to oil leaks, my exprance with the actual internals of the engine has been fantastic. The transmission also is not the worse on the market aside from electrical problems. It's not a badly made car. Yes it is very advanced, but I've found it about as easy to work on as many other cars. The Northstar gets more hate than it should get.

  12. #11
    CadillacLuke24's Avatar
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    Re: Northstar Smoke On Startup

    Quote Originally Posted by BONNEVILLEGXP View Post
    The Northstar gets more hate than it should get.


    They can be picky, but if you take care of the, they return the favor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CadillacLuke24



    They can be picky, but if you take care of the, they return the favor.
    People act like the Northstar a 6.0 PowerStroke, but it's not.

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    Well my N* is clearly blowing smoke out now, not steam, but smoke. It smells of burnt crayons, and is gray. Any clue as to what could be causing it? It will smoke for a good minute after it s started, every time after it sits. I don't think it's oil because it does not smell of oil, is not blue, nor does it burn oil. PLEASE HELP!

  15. #14
    Jesda's Avatar
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    Re: Northstar Smoke On Startup

    Until you get the block test kit, we can't do much to help you diagnose the problem further.
    The-Dullahan and The-Dullahan like this.

  16. #15
    BONNEVILLEGXP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesda
    Until you get the block test kit, we can't do much to help you diagnose the problem further.
    It's clearly not the HG. It has not lost a drop of coolant, does not overheat, or anything else. Now I am 100% sure it's smoke and not steam.

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