How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them? in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I'm on the fence about the Northstar. On one hand, it's fun to drive, fast, with an awesome sounding exhaust ...
  1. #1
    I~LUV~Caddys8792's Avatar
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    How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    I'm on the fence about the Northstar. On one hand, it's fun to drive, fast, with an awesome sounding exhaust note, it's advanced, modern, smooth, fuel efficent and quiet at idle or at a steady cruise. On the other hand, it's high maintenance, hard to work on, expensive to repair and troublesome.

    Do the positives balance or outweigh the negatives?

    I've driven about 4 Northstar Cadillacs (94 SLS, 95 Eldorado, 99 deVille Concours, 97 deVille, and there may be some more I don't remember) and I've always been impressed with how that motor works. Good power down low, awesome power above 3500 RPM! When that motor kicks in, it's awesome! It's fun to drive, heck ya! But is it awesome to own and live with, or is it really as high maintenance and expensive as everyone says?

    I have a few questions regarding the Northstar:

    How many of you have had your headgaskets replaced?
    What is the cost to have that job done on a 1993-99 Northstar?

    How many of you have that "oil consumption" problem?
    Is it a problem?
    How many quarts of oil do you have to put in between oil changes?

    How many of you have had starter/alternator problems?
    What does it cost to replace one of those?

    Is the motor as hard to work on as everyone (GM technicians incuded) says?

    What other problems are common?

    Do the positives outweigh the negatives or is it the other way around?

    Would you recommend a Northstar powered Cadillac to someone who is used to relatively trouble free cars?

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  3. #2
    Cadillacboy's Avatar
    Cadillacboy is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    Yes, I can highly speak well of NS especially from '00 and up .In my previous ride '96 burning oil,proclivity to overheating,smelling coolant out of exhaust .I also experienced some hard starting issues .
    My inference from other people saying is that even the most problematic NS still beats HT4100 at least in terms if performance .I knew that NS was still a great engine and without any hesitation I picked up another NS after getting rid of that car
    My current car is perfect and making me smile each time I start the engine . I hope this will continue .
    Please be careful 'bout coolant , otherwise this might turn you back in expensive repair costs .
    However if you still have some worries and concerns I can recommend you a Fleetwood wih LT1 engine .

  4. #3
    I~LUV~Caddys8792's Avatar
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    With coolant, do you need to flush it every two years like you do on the 4.9? I had my coolant flushed last week because I've owned the car 21 months now, and for what ever reason, I noticed an increase in average MPG. I usually drive 180-190 miles in a week, mainly to work and class and back, well usually I'd get about 13.5 MPG, this last week I got 14.3 MPG.

    Was there a "better" Northstar? By my understanding, the Northstar was improved and refined in 2000 so among other things, it could run on 87 octane? Was the reliablility and durability improved in '00? The only '00+ Cadillac I like is the Eldorado, and those are a little bit out of my price range now.

    It's funny that you mention the LT1 Fleetwood. That's the other newer Cadillac I'm really considering. Well, that and the '91-'92 Brougham D'Elegance 5.7, but I can't find a lot with the D'Elegance package AND the 5.7 V8. I had an LT1 Roadmaster. I miss the power and the RWD layout.

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    Cadillacboy's Avatar
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    Flushing the coolant seems crucial to mainly any aluminum block engine .Last week I was at MB dealer and talked about reflushing the coolant.Technician told me that it would be better to reflush the coolant every 3 years if we want a healty engine and radiator .
    I don't remember though we reflushed coolant in our Jags .However maintenance wins always
    It's interesting flushing the coolant has to do with the MPG ,I didn't realize that but that's good news .I am sure other gurus would know better for it
    Yes, you can use lower octane from '00 and up NS but I still run premium .Because as far as I know , all major gasoline firms put their best additives in their premium products which's very healty to engine .
    I had been on the fence what to choose a '96 FB or '00 STS but I picked up STS and very happy with my decision so far so great .However I would like to own a FB as well .
    I think durability and reliability improved from '00 and up to my experience because I am glad I have a trouble free car

  6. #5
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    While mostly unrelated to the northstar, the fact that you have a caddy makes you cool. From my friends I've had nothing but compliments ranging from "dude you have a really nice car" to "dude that car is sick" These reactions offset any extra work I have to do to maintain my N*, it's like having a really, really hot girlfrined that isn't interested in anyone else, makes all your friends jealous and lets you have guy time, but requires lots of money to spend. If you like what your doing, and your willing to pay the price, why not?

    The Northstar gets a bad rep from the posts here, I challenge you to find a post where somebody says, "My headgaskets are fine, lucky me, whats my problem, why arent they leaking yet?" People only post when there is problems. Same thing happened with Apple's iPod nano, everyone got them but then 20% broke and people complained, the media ignored the 805 that had perfectly fine iPods.

    Long story short is that the Northstar is awesome, especially when you love the car it's attatched to

    Edited because I suck at typing...

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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    Well I suppose..but the Intech is almost the same performance wise as the Northstar, doesn't have the headgasket or "oil consumption" problem and is more modifiable and sits north to south to power the rear wheels in the VIII!

    Which brings up another good point. Between a better looking "less reliable" Northstar '98 DeVille Concours and a less beautifiul, more reliable Intech '98 Continental, I'd take the Concours if it was in good enough condition and didn't have any (major) problems.

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    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    My '97 Deville had 107K when I sold it. Never had a problem with the engine other than a misfire after the fuel rail recall. Plugs & wires cured it and where very easy to do.

    Never had a head gasket problem, but if you do it runs about $3000 because the drivetrain must be dropped.

    Oil consumption is not a problem. Check out the Technical Archives, top left of this page.

    Never had to R & R a starter or alternator. Start is easy. Alternator is another story.

    Somethings (head gaskets) are hard to work on, others (water pump) are easy, but overall, my expirience is that they are very reliable. Takes a beating and keeps on ticking.

    I'd say positives (great power, great milage) outway the negatives (possible head gasket problems, see Tmans post).

  9. #8
    eldorado1 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    See my subtitle thing.

    The only way I would improve upon it would be Eagle rods, Ross pistons, and a turbocharger. 500hp on 7psi... but heck, a stock engine could take 7psi, I'd go for 15.

    Timeserts so I never have to worry about failures...

  10. #9
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    I did not take the time to read all of the post in their entirety so I'll just post what I know.

    Head Gasket on a Northstar will run between $3000 and $4000. I think. Mine has not been done at 37,000

    Oil consumption varies. I'm on the high side using about 1 quart every 1500 to 2000 miles.

    Don't buy a Northstar if you're not going to drive it. Putting around town will ruin the engine.

    Keeping the coolant changed is a good way to prevent HG failure. It's not a guarantee but old coolant is the one thing we know will cause premature failure. Recommended duration is 5 years or 150,000 miles with DexCool.

    As far as mileage is concerned the Northstar is NOT good at all on fuel in the city. Stop and go kills the economy. The engine was designed for the open road, where you will get good mileage.

    Conclusion: The Northstar is a very dependable engine when properly maintained. They can be costly to repair but the only major thing that's consistent is the HG problem.
    Ownership:
    91 d'Elegance 350
    02 DTS
    01 DTS:
    Custom installed Volant CAI
    Custom PCM
    Body color engine components
    Cruiser Alloy wheels
    EBC brakes and rotors
    Eibach springs
    Corsa exhaust
    Sportwing Spoiler
    Semi-custom interior
    Custom quad Hi-Beams
    Future Plans: More interior work.


    Memberships:
    National and regional Cadillac & LaSalle Club
    Proud Volunteer - Northstar Tuning Project
    Guinness World Records - Largest Cadillac Parade

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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    once you go northstar you dont go back. i just love the way it hums along, nothing like the feel of a V8 aluminum engine. so smooth and refined.

  12. #11
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    Sounds kinda like the 4.9 than Codewize. Headgaskets on a 4.9 will run around $1500 atleast. I've never had a problem with mine, it's never, ever had the "Stop! Engine Temp" light come on, but I did have a problem with the coolant leaking out, but that ended after my waterpump was replaced. Also, like the 4.9, the Northstar needs the coolant flush to stay in good health, but the Northstar uses the more advanced DexCool which has a life of 5 years, the 4.9's coolant needs to be flushed every two years.

    I tend to be aggressive with my cars every so often. I don't do it all the time with my 4.9 anymore because frankly, I got bored with it. I figure that a Northstar would be a much more fun engine
    What kind of mileage does a N* get in mostly city driving? I'd think something around 15-16. I hear on the highway, in good tune, they'll get 27-28MPG.

    Basically, what I've learned is that the Northstar is a great motor when you take care of it, and run it aggressively. If the previous owner didn't take car of it by neglecting the coolant flushes and the aggressive driving, you're gonna have hell to pay.

  13. #12
    white97deville is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    In mostly city driving my '97 Deville gets 18-21 mpg. All highway 23-28 mpg. I've had a Deville with the 4.9 also ('94). It was also a very nice car but the engine doesn't even compare. I'd much rather have the Nstar even after going through the Headgasket/Timesert repair job.

  14. #13
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    Quote Originally Posted by white97deville View Post
    I'd much rather have the Nstar even after going through the Headgasket/Timesert repair job.
    Wow! Really? That means a lot!

    There are five high performance engines in the cars I'm looking at now.
    The Northstar, the Intech, the 5.9 V8 in the Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited, the 5.7 LT1 in the Brougham and the S/C 3800 in the Regal GS, Park Ave Ultra and GTP. Now the Northstar is the most advanced and it's got the highest horsepower, but it's the most "needy" of the four with the most expensive problems. The Intech is like the Northstar, but isn't as advanced or award winning, but it's got a lot of aftermarket support and it's more reliable. The 5.9 is a throwback to the muscle car days, it's got the most torque and the most cubic inches, with a ton of after market support, but it's a total gas hog at 13 city/ 17 highway. The S/C 3800 is a great motor too, time tested, very reliable, but it's very old tech, and I kind of think of it as a "cheater motor"...but the forced induction is part of the appeal. And the LT1 is a lot like the 5.9, but it gets great mileage on the open road, and it's got that damned Optispark.. $400 distributor change, but granted it'll last 150k miles atleast, but other than that, it's an extremely reliable V8, and the other drawback is that I've already owned an LT1 and I want something new.

  15. #14
    white97deville is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    All of the cars/engines that you listed are proven great performers. All of them also have some expensive things to maintain about them. In the case of the Jeep it is gas mileage, the Intech engine will be in a car with an expensive air suspension, etc. for each.

    Decide what you want in a car and then choose the car/engine combination that is closest to that goal. Each is distinctive in its own special way. Love them all but buy one and maintain it. You will probably spend about the same amount of money on each one over a couple of years to maintain if you do your own wrenching.

    As for me, my actions will be speaking for themselves. I own a '97 Deville, a '93 Mark VIII, and a 1984 Mustang. I love the Nstar and it is my daily driver. The Mustang is in the garage awaiting new engine/transmission...it is part of my family...bought it new in High School. And lastly I love the DOHC 4.6 in the Mark VIII. I bought the car specifically for three reasons: 1) For a daily driver while the Caddy was down awaiting me to repair the Headgaskets. 2) to supply the engine/tranny for the Mustang. 3) At $600 it was dirt cheap although it has suspension and other problems.

    I really have grown to like the DOHC V8 engines.

  16. #15
    codewize's Avatar
    codewize is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: How do you Northstar owners like your Northstars? Would you recommend them?

    That mileage sounds about right. I see around 17 city and 25ish hi-way. Yes the Northstar is one hell of an engine from many perspectives.
    Ownership:
    91 d'Elegance 350
    02 DTS
    01 DTS:
    Custom installed Volant CAI
    Custom PCM
    Body color engine components
    Cruiser Alloy wheels
    EBC brakes and rotors
    Eibach springs
    Corsa exhaust
    Sportwing Spoiler
    Semi-custom interior
    Custom quad Hi-Beams
    Future Plans: More interior work.


    Memberships:
    National and regional Cadillac & LaSalle Club
    Proud Volunteer - Northstar Tuning Project
    Guinness World Records - Largest Cadillac Parade

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