Northstar Disappointments Part II
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Open Letters to Cadillac Corporate Discussion, Northstar Disappointments Part II in Item Specific Cadillac Discussion; In an older thread, there were a lot of members giving a guy with a 99 Deville a hard time ...
  1. #1
    akimball442's Avatar
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    Northstar Disappointments Part II

    In an older thread, there were a lot of members giving a guy with a 99 Deville a hard time for complaining about having a bad engine in a Northstar and GM doing nothing about it.

    I'll have to agree with him, and disagree with all of you. GM SHOULD do SOMETHING for people with blown head gaskets in their Northstar engines.

    I have a 98 SLS that just lost a head gasket.

    Yes, I did buy the car used. I bought it one year ago last month. No, I did NOT buy the extended warranty, because I bought the car to drive, and I've put 50,000 miles on it during the course of that year. Any extended warranty that was availble to me would be expired by now, and I would have wasted a substantial amount of money.

    I digress.

    This is a major problem, and many of these vehicles are ending up on the side of the road for $500-1000. That's crazy. My car still looks new, smells new, and is in fantastic shape.

    The killer is, say what you want about people not maintaining the car, etc... My coolant has been changed every single year since the car was new. The original owner actually kept track, and those receipts were with the car when I purchased it. Last fall, I too had the coolant changed.

    All of the service has been dealer service. This has not been a good car, it has had many electrical problems that the dealer could not even figure out, and I've managed to have it be fairly reliable, because motor vehicle electronics is my day job, and I bought this car because I was not afraid of it. Early on, the dealer was great about taking care of the problems, and they are still good to me. The dealer gets plenty of points with this car.

    So it seems, everything I read here is blaming the owners of these vehicles for not maintaining the coolant, etc... there is nobody to blame here. I've driven this car how everyone says... "WOT" it once or twice a week, and most of the mileage is highway.

    In the post I mentioned above, the members of this forum were blasting the poor guy for having an older car and expecting it to be perfect, etc.

    He's RIGHT, for the most part. No ten year old car is going to be perfect, but.. I have owned MANY Cadillacs, and they have all been fantastic vehicles.

    The Northstar engine is significantly flawed. That SHOULD be GM's responsibility, at any age. How could their engineers design such a complicated engine using STEEL bolts in ALUMINUM? I'm shocked they didnt figure out that aluminum and steel dont mix back when bumpers were falling off the RWD cars. Furthermore, why would you mix those two metals in a highly corrosive environment?

    People buy cars in good faith. Especially cars that they preceive to be qualty cars. Overall, the car is quality, but the engine stinks. 90,000 miles is too low of mileage for any car in modern years to have a major engine problem. I traded in my 1993 Deville with almost 300,000 miles, and if it were not for NY state salt corrosion and rust, I'd still be driving it. THAT was a good car. Not nearly the fit and finish of the SLS, but it was dependable.

    I've also owned many full size oldsmoblies, and I owned two pontiac bonnevills, all of which had 3800s. They all overheated and acted up, GM took care of those with a recall. I realize it cost them less to put 3 rivets in the plastic intake manifold than it would cost to repair the head gaskets in a Northstar, but they could offer a coupon or SOMETHING to people having this problem, especially since the majority of the repair cost is labor.

    People do not expect modern cars to break down at such low mileage. I've read of people having this problem with the vehicles still in the original warranty. That's just insane.

    Finally, if the problem IS related to Dexcool, that makes GM even MORE responsible, because clearly, even changing it regularly does not prevent the problem from occuring. And their dealers replace the coolant with more Dexcool.

    I really like Cadillacs, it's a shame I'm going to start buying cars from the other side of the pond. Everyone says the new ones are much better, nobody can be so sure. You'll all have to wait a few years and see what creeps up. The older ones seemed pretty decent when they were new too. Recent Cadillacs simply do not hold up over time like the old ones did.

    Aaron Kimball

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    Rolex's Avatar
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    Re: Northstar Disappointments Part II

    Quote Originally Posted by akimball442 View Post
    I have a 98 SLS that just lost a head gasket.

    Yes, I did buy the car used. I bought it one year ago last month. No, I did NOT buy the extended warranty, because I bought the car to drive, and I've put 50,000 miles on it during the course of that year.
    Well this is where I stopped caring. I don't think anybody here denies the idea that the N* engine is notorious for head gasket issues. You'd also have to be simple to not know that the CTS has rear differential issues. But you're one of the faithful people that bought such an animal. And you were bold enough to do so without buying a warranty.....on a used car.

    So acknowledging that the N* isn't infallible, any reasonable person wouldn't buy a used N* for a long range commuter IMO. 50k miles in a year could have been asking too much of a used car. There's a common tone among these complaints that I've seen over the years. Every one of them tells a tale of how shiny the paint, supple the leather, and luxurious the interior is. But not one, not one single story telling about the inspection of the mechanics of their vehicle. Nor the research done about the model prior to buying. Your story may be an exception because you admit to knowing it had problems before you lept. But you "weren't afraid" of those issues.

    Live and learn. Research before you buy because every manufacturer has made a model plagued with problems unique to its bloodline. I suppose what I'm saying is don't expect anyone to be surprised when the rear diff takes a dump on your CTS, or the head gasket blows on a used N*.

    I'm sorry about your tough luck. Fact is, your vehicle was used and out of warranty and developed mechanical problems. It happens. Could GM make a better product? ABSOLUTELY. But it's not their job to help you or anyone else with second or third owner used vehicles that take a crap.

    Best. Chris
    The above post is my 2 cents....nothing more.

  4. #3
    dwight.j.carter's Avatar
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    Re: Northstar Disappointments Part II

    97-99 should just expect it to happen at some point.

  5. #4
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    Re: Northstar Disappointments Part II

    lol
    and it HAS on my 97
    oh well id still buy a Northy
    oh yea i did its my 03 STS sitting right next to my ETC

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    Re: Northstar Disappointments Part II

    The word is certainly out on the Northstar, and therefore, it is now Buyer Beware where they are concerned. It's just a crying shame that all those beautiful mid-late '90s ETC's and STS's are pushed by a ticking time bomb.

    But as far as any action over it?... Won't happen. Manufacturers only care about new car sales. The Northstars are not blowing head gaskets on GM's new car customers, they are blowing on second, third, fourth owners. Those who bought them new traded them back in long before they gave trouble.

    History lesson... People forget just how bad the 4100 engines were from the 80's. They were not only prone to blow head gaskets, but they would spin bearings and knock! And all of that without even coming close to the performance of the Northstar. '82-'85 RWD Cadillacs were the most underpowered in Cadillacs ever... even when they ran smooth! I used to own a used car lot about 10 years ago, and when you saw the "HT4100" plaque, you ran!

    If I ever do decide to buy a Northstar car, I know I will be rolling the dice. And I won't have the right to complain because I will have bought it with my eyes wide open.

  7. #6
    dkozloski's Avatar
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    Re: Northstar Disappointments Part II

    The Northstar is a Godsend to the advanced amateur mechanic. They have the pick of many, many cars with blown headgaskets to choose from for salvage prices. They expend a little evening and weekend work along with less than $500 for parts and supplies and they have a great, medium milage, reliable, luxury car. Those that are willing to expend a little effort make out like bandits. The less talented and industrious sit around and bellyache.
    Don't mess with Binky Bear!


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    Re: Northstar Disappointments Part II

    As usual Koz hits the nail on the head.
    The above post is my 2 cents....nothing more.

  9. #8
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    Re: Northstar Disappointments Part II

    [QUOTE=dkozloski;1489648]The Northstar is a Godsend to the advanced amateur mechanic... QUOTE]

    By advanced, how advanced? Would one need to be up on computer systems, or just have the guts and general knowledge to tackle the job?

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    dkozloski's Avatar
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    Re: Northstar Disappointments Part II

    [quote=Faded Crest;1492651]
    Quote Originally Posted by dkozloski View Post
    The Northstar is a Godsend to the advanced amateur mechanic... QUOTE]

    By advanced, how advanced? Would one need to be up on computer systems, or just have the guts and general knowledge to tackle the job?
    Be advanced enough to have more tools than vice-grips and a hammer, have a factory service manual, and be willing to read and follow it. The last part is what overwhelms most of 'em.

    It helps if you can hear thunder and see lightning.
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  11. #10
    Bigsnow is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Northstar Disappointments Part II

    I'll buy anybody's cheap fine condition Caddy with head gasket failure. I got a Timesert kit!

    LOL

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