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1999 Cadillac Deville Tuxedo edition By E&G
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Discussion Starter #1
I've called several northstar engine 'specialists'
and they all say that the Northstar engine will more than likely blow the headgasket in between 100,000 and 140,000 miles..
I have 160,000 miles on my caddy, and it runs hot at 50mph+
and I have four options.
1)low mileage engine 2.3k
2)new rebuilt northstar 2.9k
3)repair headgasket.. 3.5k..
4) sell it.

I reaaaaaally don't want to sell it, I really love the car.. but I need a cheaper way out,
Is the 4.9L Cadillac V8 more reliable than the northstar? what are the commonly known problems?
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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67,164 Posts
Drive the Northstar, and if it requires a top overhaul at some high mileage (as ALL engines eventually do) then get on with it and continue to enjoy the car. I don't believe that the obsolete 4.9 will mate with a later original Northstar drivetrain.

$2.9K into a car with 160,000 miles is peanuts - and not too many years ago that kind of mileage on any car engine was practically unheard of. Actually, the forthcoming car maintenance will far outweigh an engine top overhaul price: It all wears out sooner or later.
 

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1998 Seville STS / 2013 Chevrolet Impala
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1,889 Posts
The 4.9L is no more reliable than a Northstar, it's susceptible to its own problems, including H/G issues, just like every other engine ever made. It's a decent engine, but the Northstar eclipses it in nearly every way.

That engine wouldn't be an option for you anyways, unless you sell the car to buy a 4.9 powered one.
 

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2011 Crown Vic LX, 2009 Chevy Malibu 2LT
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5,607 Posts
While it's pretty hard to answer which is more reliable in terms of problem frequency, I'll go ahead and say that the 4.9 is definitely CHEAPER to maintain due to it's simplicity and smaller external size.

Accessory for accessory, sensor for sensor, gasket for gasket, the 4.9 will almost always be cheaper (in man hours or dollars) to repair than a comparable problem on the northstar.
 

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1991 Cadillac Brougham D'Elegance 5.7 Litre, 1994 DeVille
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6,796 Posts
4.9s are more reliable. Their biggest problem are water pump and ISC failures that are an inconvenience more then anything else.
 

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White Diamond '03 DHS (with DTS floor shift)
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and I have four options.
1)low mileage engine 2.3k
There is no guarantee that the "low mileage" used engine won't develop the same problem unless you stud or insert the block before installation.


they all say that the Northstar engine will more than likely blow the headgasket in between 100,000 and 140,000 miles..
There are plenty of people here with well over 250K and no HG failures. Conversely, there are plenty with less that have. :noidea:
 

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1999 DeVille, 2002 DeVille
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4,175 Posts
There is no guarantee that the "low mileage" used engine won't develop the same problem unless you stud or insert the block before installation.



There are plenty of people here with well over 250K and no HG failures. Conversely, there are plenty with less that have. :noidea:
My thoughts exactly. The Northstar powertrain is phenomenal. It is completely worth the HG repair, in my opinion. The 4.9L may be less expensive to repair, but it is on the same par as the N* when it comes to reliability, and the N* trumps it by 100hp. If I were you, I would dish out the extra cash for a new rebuilt N*. The rebuilt N* will probably outlast the rest of the car! Lol
 

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1998 Seville STS / 2013 Chevrolet Impala
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The 4.9 is also showing its age recently, the number of issues we're having with my family's cars (all of them are 4.9 Devilles, only I made the jump to the N*) has increased exponentially over the years.

There's really only two things that allow the 4.9 to always stay in my good graces, and that's the fact that it's simple and traditional so it can be worked on (modded...) without a computer throwing up in your face. Also the low end torque is phenomenal relative to its power output. I'm certain that in a standing start 0-30, my old Deville could take even my STS. Of course, above and beyond that it would be a very one sided outcome...:cool2:
 

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1991 Cadillac Brougham D'Elegance 5.7 Litre, 1994 DeVille
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6,796 Posts
My thoughts exactly. The Northstar powertrain is phenomenal. It is completely worth the HG repair, in my opinion. The 4.9L may be less expensive to repair, but it is on the same par as the N* when it comes to reliability, and the N* trumps it by 100hp. If I were you, I would dish out the extra cash for a new rebuilt N*. The rebuilt N* will probably outlast the rest of the car! Lol
Not really. Northstars have 2 big issues- the headgaskets and the oil leak. 4.9s don't have any major problems like that. Both the 4.9 issues are minor and cost about $100 each to fix. They also don't have the oil consumption problem.
 

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2006 STS V Tango int
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Ever change a water pump, spark plugs or starter on a 4.9? Yea well they're all a PITA nuff said
 

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1998 Seville STS / 2013 Chevrolet Impala
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The worst thing about the 4.9 power train isn't even the engine, its the 4T60-E. It's a V6 transmission that they just threw on a V8, and the engine is just right on its maximum torque rating. This means the trans isn't very reliable, a lot of ours have had issues after they crossed the 100k mark.

In other news, I just found out that my sister's Deville is losing coolant, but it isn't leaking externally, so there's a good chance it could be a water pump or a head gasket. Both promise to be miserable jobs.
 

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1992 Sedan DeVille
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821 Posts
4.9 seems to be more reliable IMO. They do have ISC and water pump issues and working on them are a PITA.

Northstar is ok each person is entitled to their own opinion I guess but what kept me away from the Northstar has been the dreaded HG issues.

I agree about the 4T60-E just be gentle with that transmission, maybe look into a aftermarket transmission cooler or run DEX-VI in it. That MIGHT HELP in preventing issues from happening.
 

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2011 Crown Vic LX, 2009 Chevy Malibu 2LT
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Ever change a water pump, spark plugs or starter on a 4.9? Yea well they're all a PITA nuff said
4.9 starter? No problem, classic - two bolts, one nut on the back of the starter holding it to a bracket, disconnect wires and it's out.

N*= removal of intake manifold before you can even see it.

Starter replacement is definitely a win for the 4.9.

Like STS Hunter, I also don't share the popular frustration of changing 4.X plugs like other members display. In fact, for a FWD with a "v" type engine, it seems to me that they are one of the easier plug replacements out there.

Water pump is probably a northstar win.
 

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1991 Cadillac Brougham D'Elegance 5.7 Litre, 1994 DeVille
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6,796 Posts
The hardest part of 4.9 water pumps is getting all the old gasket off. The whole job from start to finish takes less then 2 hours. It's actually easier then most engines because there are no hoses to deal with. It probably is easier on a northstar because from the sound if it all you need is that special socket to twist it out.
 

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1999 DeVille, 2002 DeVille
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Comparing the 4.9 to the N* is really apples to oranges, in many ways. Neither can be better overall than the other. I simply prefer the N*. Lol.
 

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2003 deville
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I had a 97 continental which also had a transmission that basically was beefed up a bit to handle the power of the 4.6dohc and also used on the taurus SHO's. Both of which had problems because it really couldn't handle the power even if driven gingerly. Things like using a good shift kit and running quality synthetic fluid can help as well as aux trans coolers. But if the fluid wasn't changed quite often bout every 2 years with regular fluid. Its only a few years before problems can start if you're averaging 15k miles a year. So if you're deciding between possible engine work or likely trans work its likely you'd end up spending the same amount of money just differently.
 

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93 Deville.. 91 Deville (My 2 old Ladies)
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A good Ol' fashioned N* Vs 4.9 brawl!! I bet the 4.9 wins :stirpot:

Umma open another beer and watch the action!! :lildevil:

:alchi:
 
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