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1996 Cadillac Deville Base
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not very good with cars, let alone this Cadillac. I'm a 20 year old college student who happened to be in need of a car when my grandfather wanted to sell one of his. With a deep discount on the price to sweeten the deal, I acquired this 1996 Cadillac Deville in the summer of 2011, with 58,000 miles on it.

Fast-forward 10k miles, and here I am now. I've had a persistant oil leak for the past few weeks and after a few trips back and forth to figure out what it could be, my mechanic (who I've been with since I bought the car and is someone that I feel pretty confident with) says that there is a lot of oil at the bottom area of the engine and he says that he thinks that it really couldn't be any other part other than the head gaskets.

I obviously know how big of a repair job this is, and my mechanic says that he's done these jobs before but they take at the very least 20 hours of labour to complete. I'm not in the position financially to pay for this to be done. To add insult to injury, the water pump needs to be replaced as it is giving up and the rack for the steering is slowly leaking.

My mechanic says that one thing that he can do that may or may not help anything is add some additives to the oil (?) to try and block up the leak in the head gasket. Otherwise, I'm not sure what I should do.

Is it worth spending the money on the waterpump and using these additives or should I just sell the car? I honestly cannot afford another car and I doubt I'll get much for this car despite the great condition it is otherwise (only has seen 1 winter, 68k miles, no rust, leather is in good condition, etc.) which is a shame but I guess a sign of the times.

Thanks for your help.
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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Northstar head gaskets do not leak oil, additives won't help, and YOU need to get the car up on a lift, clean the underside and then look, a week later, for the source of the oil leak.

My guess is oil filter, oil pressure sending switch, oil filter adapter, halfcase, oil pan seal, rear main bearing seal - in that order.

When you start having mechanical problems with a 1996 Northstar, you had better have very deep pockets or a rich drunk uncle.

(Even at Mom&Pop shop rates the water pump and steering rack will come in at over $600.)
 

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2001 Seville STS, 1990 Seville (RIP), 1972 Sedan Deville
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:welcome:

Step 1- Find a new mechanic.

Head gaskets have nothing to do with oil leaks, NOTHING. There are several places that the oil may be leaking from. Some are fairly cheap, some require complete engine removal. To find the source of the leak, the engine needs to be cleaned, driven for a couple of days, and someone needs to get under there and look.

How do you know the water pump is going? Is it making noise or leaking? Did this mechanic tell you it was bad?

Is it really the rack that is leaking, or could that be engine oil too? Have you had to add power steering fluid?

Oops, sub beat me.
 

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1996 Cadillac Deville Base
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
As for the waterpump, that's what the mechanic said. I have seen at one instance this week coolant that had leaked from the car (not much). Also, as for the steering, I checked the level of the power steering fluid and the dip stick was barely touching any of the liquid, was about a half inch below the FULL COLD line.

I guess I take from both of you that I should get a second opinion at another shop. He replaced my front breaks and rotors recently (I knew they needed replacing) for $250 which I thought was reasonable and he's pretty good at explaining things, or so I thought, but I guess he might not know what he's talking about.

As for the additives, do they work better for the power steering than the head gaskets or are they all not worth trying?

Thanks again for your help. Having such a complicated first car is a big learning curve for someone who doesn't know much mechanically speaking about cars.
 

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2001 Seville STS, 1990 Seville (RIP), 1972 Sedan Deville
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Additives do nothing more than lighten your wallet, and can sometimes do more harm than good.

A cooling system pressure test, performed with the cooling system cold, is the best way to find a small leak.
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
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I agree with MoistCabbage - and Ranger - 100% -

STEP #1 - find a competent mechanic -
I wish you understood just how RIDICULOUS this "mechanic's" statement was -

he says that he thinks that it really couldn't be any other part
other than the head gaskets


it would be VERY - VERY - VERY - RARE for ANY engine to leak oil due to a failed head gasket -
and virtually unheard of for a Northstar motor to leak oil due to failed head gaskets -

to make such a foolish statement - it tells me this guy known NOTHING about a Northstar motor -
and very little about engines in general -
FURTHERMORE - it tells me he did NOT even have the car up on a rack to look for the oil leak -

guys like this give REAL MECHANICS a bad reputation -
 

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White Diamond '03 DHS (with DTS floor shift)
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That was MC, but I'll join in and make it unanimous. FIND ANOTHER "MECHANIC".
 

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1996 Cadillac Deville Base
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Discussion Starter #8
Well, I guess it has been decided -- I'm going to go get another opinion on this. Like I said, I'm new to cars and I have no one in my immediate family or circle of friends who is gifted with knowledge of the mechanics of cars. The mechanic went into detail and that is what I took away from it, but perhaps I misconstrued what he was saying... However, I do know that two weeks ago when I brought it in the first time, he did a block compression test and it did fine according to him so thats why I'm confused with how he thinks it could be the head gaskets leaking.

I'll be taking it in to another mechanic to see what they say, including to see if it truly needs a new waterpump. I have few or no tools at all to work on cars and have no way of getting it lifted besides the jack to change the tire so this is the only way I can do this as of now.
 

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2001 Seville STS, 1990 Seville (RIP), 1972 Sedan Deville
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A compression test is not a definitive test for HG failure, that's what a block test is for. But why did he do a compression test in the first place? From what you've posted, it's pretty clear that this guy does NOT know Northstars.

Feel free to ask us any questions you may have, even if you think it's stupid. We don't mind going into detail to clarify.
 

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Anyone who has pulled a northstar motor to fix the heads is probably aware of the block oil leakage issue. It's common while the engine is out for the head job to also do a case half oil seal repair if needed but it is extra work. Someone doing the work themselves may just shrug and go for it. But paying a mechanic to do the work is expensive. Seems like most here seem to think it is a block oil leak issue and your mechanic mighty try and yank the heads when they are ok and not the cause of the oil leak.
 

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:welcome: I Agree with, Submariner, basscatt, MoistCabbage, and Ranger:
Get Another Mechanic cause this guy doesn't know a thing about North*'s and do a Block Test to find out if the HG's are really going.
 

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1996 Cadillac Deville Base
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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Here's an update... I went to a second mom and pop mechanic and the mechanic listed these items:

- Power Steering Reservoir is leaking
- Water Pump is leaking
- Head Gaskets and Intake Manifold Gaskets are leaking
- Oil Pan Gaskets and possible Rear Main Seal

The last phrase included on the service report... "Car is not worth put alot of money into"

As I previously mentioned, I'm a college student and I don't have the time or money to fix the head gaskets. I could do the waterpump, but I don't really know how much time that would really buy me. The mechanic said, in contrast to the first mechanic I saw, that the waterpump seems to be functioning right now and it isn't a repair that I need to do right away. The car runs seemingly fine right now besides a power steering whine and the drops of oil (and sometimes a little coolant) found after taking the car out for a drive.

However, I drive to a college almost 6 hours away and I need to have a reliable car so as much as I like this car, I think probably one of the best solutions is to sell it/get rid of it.

Just curious; does anyone have a basic idea of what one can get for one of these in this condition? Besides all of those mechanical issues, the interior is in great shape overall, with the back seat looking practically new. The front seats have no rips and the paint is in good condition too. This is the car's 2nd winter being driven. I know KBB is about $2,486 for fair condition. Do you think it is better to sell it now before the problems get worse to get the most value out of it?

Thanks for all of the input.
 

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1998 Cadillac Deville
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854 Posts
new_to_cadillac said:
Just curious; does anyone have a basic idea of what one can get for one of these in this condition? Besides all of those mechanical issues, the interior is in great shape overall, with the back seat looking practically new. The front seats have no rips and the paint is in good condition too. This is the car's 2nd winter being driven. I know KBB is about $2,486 for fair condition. Do you think it is better to sell it now before the problems get worse to get the most value out of it?

Thanks for all of the input.
About $1,000 - $1,500

Jus Estimating

but that's jus my opinion

as from my view point it's a running parts car

Junk yards typically buy'm for around $500 - $600 round my way ( Running or Not )
 

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the oil leak is most likely to be what is commonly called either 'lower block seals' or 'lower case seals' or 'case half seals'

or something like that

the lower end of the Northstars is known to seep oil but over the years it can develop into a true leak and the best fix involves a lot of labor resealing up the bottom end

read this thread
http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/northstar-performance-technical-discussion/255165-n-upper-lower-block-half-sealing.html

and be sure to follow the link in post #1
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
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19,268 Posts
Here's an update... I went to a second mom and pop mechanic and the mechanic listed these items:

- Power Steering Reservoir is leaking
- Water Pump is leaking
- Head Gaskets and Intake Manifold Gaskets are leaking
- Oil Pan Gaskets and possible Rear Main Seal

The last phrase included on the service report... "Car is not worth put alot of money into"

As I previously mentioned, I'm a college student and I don't have the time or money to fix the head gaskets. I could do the waterpump, but I don't really know how much time that would really buy me. The mechanic said, in contrast to the first mechanic I saw, that the waterpump seems to be functioning right now and it isn't a repair that I need to do right away. The car runs seemingly fine right now besides a power steering whine and the drops of oil (and sometimes a little coolant) found after taking the car out for a drive.

However, I drive to a college almost 6 hours away and I need to have a reliable car so as much as I like this car, I think probably one of the best solutions is to sell it/get rid of it.

Just curious; does anyone have a basic idea of what one can get for one of these in this condition? Besides all of those mechanical issues, the interior is in great shape overall, with the back seat looking practically new. The front seats have no rips and the paint is in good condition too. This is the car's 2nd winter being driven. I know KBB is about $2,486 for fair condition. Do you think it is better to sell it now before the problems get worse to get the most value out of it?

Thanks for all of the input.
----------------------
OK here is what I would do - and do this yourself -

1 - do a BLOCK TEST -
autozone and other big autoparts stores
will let you borrow their kit -
you just have to pay for the special liquid - around $10

the BLOCK TEST is the definitive test for failed head gaskets in a Northstar motor -
the blue liquid changes color when it detects exhaust gasses in the cooling system -
ANY COLOR CHANGE AT ALL is a positive reaction - which is NOT GOOD -

a minor head gasket leak - or the early stages of head gasket failure
will turn the blue liquid a lighter shade of blue -
a bigger leak could turn the blue liquid almost clear -
an even bigger leak - the blue liquid turns green -
and the most dramatic change turns it yellow -

this is a very easy test to do -
it does not require any tools - except for the kit -
and if you follow the directions - the test is 100% accurate -

there are several good videos on YouTube that show the kit -
how to use it - and what to expect -

2 - once you have done the BLOCK TEST - your decision is much easier -
if it DOES have the failed head gaskets - get rid of the car -

if it passed the BLOCK TEST - you will need to get that coolant leak fixed -

oil leaks are not unusual in Cadillac engines -
depending on how bad the leak is
will determine your course of action -
 
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