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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Need "New" Northstar in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; OK - my 1994 STS w/91k on the clock is in need of a new powerplant. A small crack in ...
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    chevyorange's Avatar
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    Need "New" Northstar

    OK - my 1994 STS w/91k on the clock is in need of a new powerplant. A small crack in the head, major oil leak straight onto the cat/con, and a bunch of little things that add up to overheating and generally unsafe travel have me looking for Northstars from auto recyclers.

    I found a mechanic in Seattle that does a lot of Northstars and we have both decided for the amount of money I am willing to spend (3k or less) that a used engine is the best way to go. Rationale is that we'd rather have a "factory sealed" engine rather than chancing a rebuild or tear down of my problems only to not fix it. Leak down test shows no head gasket problem, but compression test ranges from 195 to 120 in 3 cylinders.

    I'm open to all kinds of ideas here - I am located in South Seattle, WA and need the car running at the very least to trade in, but in a perfect world would like to drive it a few years as I've only had it 8 months.

    Adam

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    Quote Originally Posted by chevyorange
    OK - my 1994 STS w/91k on the clock is in need of a new powerplant. A small crack in the head, major oil leak straight onto the cat/con, and a bunch of little things that add up to overheating and generally unsafe travel have me looking for Northstars from auto recyclers.

    I found a mechanic in Seattle that does a lot of Northstars and we have both decided for the amount of money I am willing to spend (3k or less) that a used engine is the best way to go. Rationale is that we'd rather have a "factory sealed" engine rather than chancing a rebuild or tear down of my problems only to not fix it. Leak down test shows no head gasket problem, but compression test ranges from 195 to 120 in 3 cylinders.

    I'm open to all kinds of ideas here - I am located in South Seattle, WA and need the car running at the very least to trade in, but in a perfect world would like to drive it a few years as I've only had it 8 months.

    Adam
    Wow, it's the first time I hear about something other than a headgasket. What do you attribute the failure to? Chance?

    Look on eBay. Also, I heard about Jasper Engines, but they're over the $3k. They do come with a 3 yr warranty though.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    Alex

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    I have no idea - it was missed on inspection 6 months ago and obviously got worse as I have driven it over the months. I'm very disappointed.

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    junkyarddog.com

    also, there's a good Cadillac wrecking yard in Sacramento, California...they'll ship it to you for fairly cheap...lemme get the # for you...

    Toll Free 800-368-2223 • Phone 916-638-5515
    I ended up finding an engine down in Texas for my '94...overpayed for it after many f ups by the wrecking yard, but i needed it right then as my replacement '78 Oldsmobile Diesel blew up the tranny... good luck with your search! On junkyarddog, I found many used engines under $2000, but I didn't look into warranties on them.

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    Quote Originally Posted by chevyorange
    I have no idea - it was missed on inspection 6 months ago and obviously got worse as I have driven it over the months. I'm very disappointed.
    The Jasper Engines have been timeserted too, but again, the $ is more.

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    scroggin dickey performance, dont remember the web address, just do a search but they sell crate northstars form gm like the ones that go in the xlr and srx dont know if they could be used in an old seville or not and they are around 4k i think, not too bad for a brand new one though i didnt think

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    Quote Originally Posted by mtflight
    The Jasper Engines have been timeserted too, but again, the $ is more.
    My mechanic has found a 17k mile Northstar for $2500 (I like the idea of a factory sealed N*) and R&R labor is going to be $1300.

    Looks like the best path for me.

    Thanks for all the support guys, this is a tough time for me, I've never had a GM motor fail on me before, that is why I was comfortable buying the STS.

    Let's hope my luck with GM cars gets back on track with this lo miles replacement as I take care of it better than the original owners obviously did.

    Does $1300 labor sound about right to anyone out there?

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    1A) Without tearing the engine down how did the mechanic determine a cracked head? You can't tell a cracked head from a blown headgasket unless he has a borescope and could see the crack.( I don't have a borescope but I thought they don't bend to 180deg to check the head. I could be wrong on that.)

    2) The price is about right. THe cradle should be dropped but you can pull it out the top. With a lift it's much faster to drop the cradle.

    1B) There have been very few cracked heads on the forum. There have been a few cracked blocks...

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    He does have a borescope which verified the hissing sound emitting from crack in the head.

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    that's a helluva deal...1300 in labor is about 500 lower than my best quote, and you're only paying about 200 more for the engine itself than I did...with a whole lot less miles...if you're getting the intake and water pump and alternator and such as well, then hell yes you've got a good deal...that's all ebayable stuff to get some of your money back, like I did/am doing.

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    Thanks for the tip. I hadn't even thought of that part of it. I might even just keep the parts for extras!

    And yes, that is a complete engine.

    Adam

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    I have never seen a cracked Northstar head in the field.....

    Can you take pictures of the "crack" when the motor is out and apart just for informational purposes??

    On dyno tests, the engine can crack the head in the exhaust ports IF straight water is run in the system. The aluminum in the area of the exhaust port will corrode and create a stress riser in the corrosion pits and eventually crack... That is a common failure mode with ALL aluminum cylinder heads but it NEVER happens if the coolant is refreshed and the correct corrosion protection is maintained. So...a real crack in a head is very very rare to the point that I have never seen one happen on an engine from a car.

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    Quote Originally Posted by chevyorange
    My mechanic has found a 17k mile Northstar for $2500 (I like the idea of a factory sealed N*) and R&R labor is going to be $1300.

    Looks like the best path for me.

    Thanks for all the support guys, this is a tough time for me, I've never had a GM motor fail on me before, that is why I was comfortable buying the STS.

    Let's hope my luck with GM cars gets back on track with this lo miles replacement as I take care of it better than the original owners obviously did.

    Does $1300 labor sound about right to anyone out there?

    What year Northstar are you putting in with only 17K on it..?? Only a 93 or 94 Northstar is a direct bolt in to your 94. 95 and later Northstars have a completely different intake manifold and EGR system which will not directly replace the system in your 94. You cannot use your intake and EGR system on a 95 or later replacement engine. It is possible to use a 95-99 in your 94 by using the complete engine and cobbling the wiring harness and such from inside the intake manifold of your 94 engine onto the later model engine. They are quite different in the cylinder head area where the intake mounts, the EGR flow path and EGR system and the intake itself so the conversion to a later model engine is not that straight forward. At the very least it will take cobbling the wiring harness and such.

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    Good catch...I didn't even think of 17 being really ReaLLY low for a 94...

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    Re: Need "New" Northstar

    I've left that to the mechanic. He's done Northstars before but I will mention it to him in passing. I have my quote though! It is his tough luck if he's got himself in deep!

    But if it is just a little wiring harness issue, I think that is not a problem for him. I'll be letting him borrow my factory manual if he needs it (I think he already has it).

    Adam

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