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1995 SLS, 1996 STS
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Discussion Starter #1
Ok. So today I planned on getting the cylinder pressure test done. I drove to my local mechanic (who originally told me it was blown) and he did the test by pressuring one cylinder. He pumped the cylinder up and then checked out one of the tailpipes. He put his hand over it and claimed to have felt warm air. He said the head gaskets were leaking. He didn't even check the other cylinders. He didn't charge me a dime.

In pursuit of further peace of mind, I went to the mechanic ("Cadillac expert" Mohammed) I visited yesterday for the first time. He was 100 percent convinced my gaskets were fine. I asked him about doing the test the other day and he said it was unnecessary. Today I asked him again and he laughed again. He told me not to worry, that it wasn't the gaskets. Instead he said it was probably a faulty thermostat sensor of sorts that was telling me the car was overheating. He said the car wasn't overheating and that I should forget about it. I told him I'd drive around the block a few times and come back.

I drove the car aggressively around a few blocks before coming back with the temperature gauge marker all the way to the hot side. I summoned him. He used a laser thermostat thing to read the temperature of the hoses. Even though my gauge was saying the car was too hot, one hose read 197 degrees. Another read 208 degrees. Obviously, this isn't hot. Maybe it was a sensor or something that was sending the wrong read.

So he gets the RPMs up in an attempt to overheat the car. Within a minute or two, the diagnostic device is reading the temperature getting hot. 235 degrees. 240 degrees. 245 degrees. Once it hit 250 or 255, the Idle Engine message came on. Boiling coolant came out of the overflow. About two quarts worth.

Ok. So the mechanic was finally convinced the car was overheating.

Again... I said, "let's do the cylinder pressure test." His answer was, "don't waste your money... I'm telling it's not the head gaskets."

He then had two of his assistants take out the radiator and check it out. They cleaned it up a bit. They checked all the hoses and looked for leaks. He thought maybe the fans weren't coming on correctly. No, they looked fine. He told me to drive it around again.

I drove it around a few blocks for less than three minutes and brought it back with coolant overlflowing again. Idle Engine message. Etc.

One of his assistants checks it out and tells me he thinks it's the head gaskets.

Ok...so that brings the total number of people who suspect the problem is the head gaskets up to three. It is most certainly not looking good.

Purge line is clear. Radiator new. Thermostat new. Upper and Lower hoses new. Water pump new. Belt tensioner fine.

What the heck is the problem? Is this mechanic in denial? What else can it be?

I'm at the point where I think it's either the radiator cap (everybody told me the cap is fine but I'll spend the $5 on the cap and see it for myself before I believe them) or the head gaskets. Right? What else?

Why in the world is this mechanic refusing to believe it's the head gaskets? Could it just be his experience with blown head gaskets have come in dealing with worst-case scenarios and mine is simply the start of a leaking gasket?

He keeps telling me head gasket issues are more noticeable. He tells me about white smoke and shaking engines, and this and that. Is he just off his rocker?

Long story short I left the car with him. He said if he's going to tell me my head gaskets are messed up, he wants to be 100 percent sure (and see it with his own eyes).

Why the heck won't he just do the cylinder pressure test? I mean, he's not charging me money for any of this. He's not trying to rip me off. It's as if he's dealing with the ultimate puzzle and he's zoned in on figuring it out.

Could it be anything else besides the gaskets? Anything... ?

Thanks.
 

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1992 STS / 2005 MB G500 / 2003 STS / 2006 XLR-V
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Sometimes when someone is so convinced of something, they will do everything in their power to prevent from being proven wrong, especially when they cost you money and need to save face. Obviously I hope you have no question by now that it is the headgaskets.
 

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White Diamond '03 DHS (with DTS floor shift)
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I drove to my local mechanic (who originally told me it was blown) and he did the test by pressuring one cylinder. He pumped the cylinder up and then checked out one of the tailpipes. He put his hand over it and claimed to have felt warm air. He said the head gaskets were leaking.
Jesus Christ, find another mechanic. Unless he took the time to be sure that the cylinder was at TDC all he did was blow air out of the exhaust valve. He was either trying to humor you are he is an idiot. When the cylinder is pressurized, you look for bubbles in the tank. Listening to the exhaust tells you if you have a burnt exhaust valve.

Long story short I left the car with him. He said if he's going to tell me my head gaskets are messed up, he wants to be 100 percent sure (and see it with his own eyes).
I commend him for that. I think Mohamed knows more than the other wrench bender.
 

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1995 SLS, 1996 STS
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81 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Honestly, I'm still not 100 percent sure it's the head gasket because I've been getting a lot of mixed signals (As Ranger has pointed out more than once, some of the people I've dealt with are lazy or dumb). And the one guy who has remained solid (or stubborn) in saying it's not the head gaskets isn't 100 percent convinced it's the head gaskets.

Even if Mohammed the mechanic is just trying to save face, I really like the fact he's trying to save face. It means his reputation and word mean something to him.

If tomorrow he tells me, "I'm sorry," I can walk away in peace. I'll know he did all that he could and that the situation is what it is. My other mechanics didn't make that kind of effort.

And again... he hasnt't brought up money at all (and he did waste at least five gallons of coolant on me; and at least three+ hours of his time). I'm not expecting this, but I have a feeling that if he has to tell me tomorrow that the gaskets are bad, he won't even ask me for a dime.

So we'll see tomorrow. But yeah, it's not looking good.

Worst case scenario... sell the car for $1500, or remove its part and sell them individually? I'd think the parts would get me more money. I have a driveway.
 

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1995 SLS, 1996 STS
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81 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Also... nobody seems to know the following terms:

"Surge Tank"

"Purge Line"

"Block Test"

I told one guy to check the purge line, and his response was, "who told you that?" I said the gentlemen on Cadillac Forums did. He grunted and retorted, "I never heard of a purge line."

Barbarians all around me. If I win the lottery, I'm moving to a log cabin just outside of Vancouver where I'll eat fresh fish and watch sap drip. And if I can't do that, I'm outfitting my 95 SLS with 80-inch wheels and running over everyone and everything in sight.
 

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I feel your pain...

Went through the same crap with mechanics either being ignorant or too lazy. Today they finally showed me without a doubt that I have a blown head gasket on the 94sts. With pressure tester on radiator cap housing, they pumped it up to about 25psi or about as high as the needle would go, then got it up on lift and looked underneath at the coolant dripping out of the headgasket. Finally, I can stop wondering if it is something else or headgasket. Odd thing is, I drove it twice today, and not once did it overheat. This Norstar drives me nutts. My engine is not even missing a beat, no misfires just losing coolant out the headgasket, which ultimately leads to overheating. But it seems that as long as coolant is in the system, it will not overheat.
 

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1995 SLS, 1996 STS
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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I feel your pain...

Went through the same crap with mechanics either being ignorant or too lazy. Today they finally showed me without a doubt that I have a blown head gasket on the 94sts. With pressure tester on radiator cap housing, they pumped it up to about 25psi or about as high as the needle would go, then got it up on lift and looked underneath at the coolant dripping out of the headgasket. Finally, I can stop wondering if it is something else or headgasket. Odd thing is, I drove it twice today, and not once did it overheat. This Norstar drives me nutts. My engine is not even missing a beat, no misfires just losing coolant out the headgasket, which ultimately leads to overheating. But it seems that as long as coolant is in the system, it will not overheat.
This is craziness. Really. My mechanic did the coolant pressure test as well, as told me there were no leaks. It's losing coolant very slowly, and out the exhaust, i'm assuming.

What do you plan on doing? I'm having all sorts of crazy thoughts. Everything from "I wonder if I can take the engine from 95 SLS and put it in there," to "I wonder if I can get a crackhead to steal the car so I can collect insurance money." I've been looking for engines on eBay and they're all $3000+. Then I think about fixing the gasket and wonder what kind of problems I'll be having AFTER the job is done. What if the mechanic misses something?

For $4000, I'm better off just buying another used Caddy. How much do you think I can get for a 96 STS with 48,000 miles and a leaking HG?

I'm sorry you're going through this, as well.
 

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I feel your pain...

Went through the same crap with mechanics either being ignorant or too lazy. Today they finally showed me without a doubt that I have a blown head gasket on the 94sts. With pressure tester on radiator cap housing, they pumped it up to about 25psi or about as high as the needle would go, then got it up on lift and looked underneath at the coolant dripping out of the headgasket. Finally, I can stop wondering if it is something else or headgasket. Odd thing is, I drove it twice today, and not once did it overheat. This Norstar drives me nutts. My engine is not even missing a beat, no misfires just losing coolant out the headgasket, which ultimately leads to overheating. But it seems that as long as coolant is in the system, it will not overheat.

Probably because you are leaking out the bottom water jacket and not into the cylinder yet. It will eventually make it's way into the cylinder and then you will get the miss.
 

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This is craziness. Really. My mechanic did the coolant pressure test as well, as told me there were no leaks. It's losing coolant very slowly, and out the exhaust, i'm assuming.

What do you plan on doing? I'm having all sorts of crazy thoughts. Everything from "I wonder if I can take the engine from 95 SLS and put it in there," to "I wonder if I can get a crackhead to steal the car so I can collect insurance money." I've been looking for engines on eBay and they're all $3000+. Then I think about fixing the gasket and wonder what kind of problems I'll be having AFTER the job is done. What if the mechanic misses something?

For $4000, I'm better off just buying another used Caddy. How much do you think I can get for a 96 STS with 48,000 miles and a leaking HG?

I'm sorry you're going through this, as well.

Personally, I am never buying another Cadillac of these years 93-2002. You would be wise to trade it in for another car that is not so prone to head gasket failures. I looked on many other car forums and cannot see any with so many head gasket failures as these cadillacs. If they were cheaper to repair, then it would be a different story. Don't get me wrong, you cannot beat the cadillac for ride, but reliability and cost effective to operate is key. Now my neighbor has blown headgasket on his 95 seville.

Good grief... I need to find a Buick Century for my wife. She wants a car with a front bench seat to replace the Seville. How the hell she drives stretched out with feet on seat I do not understand. I called a local dealer and they have one, will take my car for trade in. Only thing I didnt tell him it was blown headgasket as of yet.
 

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2001 DTS(140K), 2000 ETC(284K), 1990 allante( 80K)
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just a off topic question here well not really
what seems to be the pattern with these head gaskets ? like why are they going so much?
is it the year or how the people drive them ? like whats the deal
 

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98 Deville, '15 Ford Fusion Hybrid Titanium, '12 Ford Escape
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I'd get a new radiator cap, and drive the car until it won't drive anymore. Just my 2 cents. I drove our 89 Deville for 6 months with a bad head gasket, and it was rough, but I couldn't let go...

and with 8mpg I was getting, and gas at $1.20 a gallon or whatever it was back then, it wasn't a big deal. ha!
 

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White Diamond '03 DHS (with DTS floor shift)
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just a off topic question here well not really
what seems to be the pattern with these head gaskets ? like why are they going so much?
is it the year or how the people drive them ? like whats the deal
It is more like maintenance, or lack thereof with a little luck, or lack thereof thrown in.
 

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It is more like maintenance, or lack thereof with a little luck, or lack thereof thrown in.
I have to respectfully disagree. There is documentation from GM showing that the head bolt threads were made too deep, this allows the bolts to pull out more easily. They even started to monitor certain year vehicles for this problem with blown head gaskets.
 

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This is what I am referring to, and why they did not include all 4.6 engines I do not know:


GM Service Bulletin
Campaign - Cylinder Head Bolt Hole Counterbore
Customer Satisfaction - Engine Block Cylinder Head Bolt Thread Holes-Deep Counterbore # 99086 - (Mar 19, 2002)
Models:
Certain 1999 Oldsmobile Aurora Model Vehicle
Equipped with 4.0L Engine (RPO L47-VIN Code C)
Certain 1999 Cadillac Seville, DeVille and Eldorado Model Vehicles
Equipped with 4.6L Engine (RPO LD8-VIN Code Y or RPO L37-VIN Code 9)
THIS CAMPAIGN BULLETIN ADDRESSES VEHICLES IN DEALER INVENTORY AND VEHICLES DELIVERED TO CUSTOMERS. VEHICLES THAT PASS THE INSPECTION PROCEDURE WILL BE RELEASED FROM THE STOP DELIVERY ISSUED SEPTEMBER 13, 1999 VIA DCS MESSAGE WIS19990023 AND WIS19990024. DEALER INVENTORY VEHICLES THAT DO NOT PASS THE INSPECTION ARE NOT TO BE DELIVERED TO CUSTOMERS BUT ARE NOT TO BE RETURNED TO GENERAL MOTORS. CUSTOMER VEHICLES THAT DO NOT PASS THE INSPECTION HAVE SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS. REFER TO THE SERVICE PROCEDURE FOR DETAILS.
Important: Cadillac customers involved in this campaign will be notified by GM beginning December 17, 1999. Oldsmobile Aurora customers involved in this campaign will be notified by GM at a later date when 4.0L engines become available.
General Motors has decided that certain 1999 Oldsmobile Aurora model vehicles, equipped with 4.0L engine (RPO L47, VIN C) and Cadillac Seville, DeVille and Eldorado model vehicles equipped with 4.6L engine (RPO LD8, VIN 9 or RPO L37 VIN Y) may exhibit a condition in which they cylinder head bolts may become loose and cause coolant leaks and possible engine damage. This may be due to the engine block cylinder head bolt counterbore holes being machined too deeply into the engine block.
To prevent the possibility of this condition occurring, dealers are to inspect vehicles held under the above referenced stop delivery and those delivered to customers. Depending on the findings, the engine may not require any further repairs, may require replacement or the vehicle may need to be returned to GM.
Vehicles Involved

Involved are certain 1999 Oldsmobile Aurora model vehicles equipped with 4.0L engine (RPO L47, VIN C) and Cadillac Seville, DeVille and Eldorado model vehicles equipped with 4.6L engine (RPO LD8, VIN Y and RPO L37, VIN 9), and built within the VIN breakpoints shown
Important: Dealers should confirm vehicle eligibility through VISS (Vehicle Information Service System) prior to beginning campaign repairs. Information for Oldsmobile Auroras delivered to customer will be loaded in VISS at a later date when 4.0L engines are available and Oldsmobile owner letters are mailed. [Not all vehicles within the above breakpoints may be involved]
Involved vehicles have been identified by Vehicle Identification Number. Computer listings containing the complete Vehicle Identification Number, customer name and address data have been prepared, and are being furnished to involved dealers with the campaign bulletin. The customer name and address data furnished will enable dealers to follow-up with customers involved in this campaign. Any dealer not receiving a computer listing with the campaign bulletin has no involved vehicles currently assigned.
These dealer listings may contain customer names and addresses obtained from State Motor Vehicle Registration Records. The use of such motor vehicle registration data for any other purpose is a violation of law in several states. Accordingly, you are urged to limit the use of this listing to the follow-up necessary to complete this campaign.

Parts Information
Parts required to complete this campaign are to be obtained from General Motors Service Parts Operations (GMSPO). Please refer to your "involved vehicles listing" prior to ordering requirements. Normal orders should be placed on a DRO = Daily Replenishment Order. An emergency requirement should be ordered on a CSO = Customer Special Order.
Important: Due to the small number of vehicles involved, dealers are encouraged not to order campaign parts for use as shelf stock. Parts should only be ordered when inspection determines that it is necessary to replace the engine.
Customer Notification
Customers will be notified of this campaign on their vehicles by General Motors beginning December 17, 1999. Oldsmobile Aurora customers will be notified of this campaign on their vehicles by General Motors at a later date when 4.0L engines become available. (See copy of typical customer letter shown in this bulletin -- actual divisional letter may vary slightly).
Dealer Campaign Responsibility
All unsold new vehicles in dealers 'inventory and subject to this campaign MUST be held, inspected and returned to GM if this condition exists, per the service procedure of this campaign bulletin. All unsold new vehicles in dealers' inventory and subject to this campaign MUST be held, inspected and may be released from the "Stop Delivery" order BEFORE customers take possession of these vehicles if this condition does not exist, per the service procedure of this campaign bulletin.
Cadillac customers who have recently purchased vehicles sold from your vehicle inventory, and for which there is no customer information indicated on the dealer listing, are to be contacted by the dealer. Oldsmobile customers who have recently purchased vehicles sold from your vehicle inventory, and for which there is not customer information indicated on the dealer listing, are not to be contacted by the dealer until the Oldsmobile customer letter and Olds Aurora dealer listing are mailed at a later date. Arrangements are to be made to make the required correction according to the instructions contained in this bulletin. This could be done by mailing to such customers a copy of the customer letter shown in this bulletin. Campaign follow-up cards should not be used for this purpose, since the customer may not as yet have received the notification letter.
In summary, whenever a vehicle subject to this campaign enters your vehicle inventory, or is in your dealership for service in the future, please take the steps necessary to be sure the campaign correction has been made before selling or releasing the vehicle.
Campaign Identification Label
Each vehicle corrected in accordance with the instructions outlined in this Product Campaign Bulletin will require a "Campaign Identification Label". Each label provides a space to include the campaign number and the five (5) digit dealer code of the dealer performing the campaign service. This information may be inserted with a typewriter or a ball point pen.
Each "Campaign Identification Label" is to be located on the radiator core support in an area which will be visible when the vehicle is brought in by the customer for periodic servicing. When installing the Campaign Identification Label, be sure to pull the tab to allow the adhesion of the clear protective covering. Additional Campaign Identification Labels can be obtained from Dealer Support Materials by calling 1-888-414-6322 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm EST). Ask for Item Number 5-1015 when ordering.
Apply the "Campaign Identification Label" only on a clean, dry surface.

Submit a Product Campaign Claim with the information shown.
Refer to the General Motors Corporation Claims Processing Manual for details on Product Campaign Claim Submission.
 

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1995 SLS, 1996 STS
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Discussion Starter #16
I have to respectfully disagree. There is documentation from GM showing that the head bolt threads were made too deep, this allows the bolts to pull out more easily. They even started to monitor certain year vehicles for this problem with blown head gaskets.
The guy I bought the car from was a retired Chinese store owner who bought the car brand new for $45,000+ from the dealership in 1996. He got a five-year warranty, under which CARFAX shows he serviced the car at the dealership every two months like clockwork.

Does this sound like someone who didn't maintain the car? I'm sure he gave it premium gas and synthetic oil - the whole nine yards.

The car is 11 years old. A year ago he had work done on it because it was overheating.

If he had the car properly-maintained the first five years, then that means everything went to shit in just six years or so.

We're talking six years with minimal usage (I understand that too can have a negative effect). 47,000 miles in 11 years.

And the head gaskets go bad?

Meanwhile, I bought my 95 SLS from a punk college kid who got it at an auction. It had 109,000 miles. My mechanic saw the car and said whoever had this car before me didn't treat it well. I had to get work done on the shift solenoids (charged me $500); it rough idles; it had the wrong radiator cap and overheated, etc. Problems galore.

But the head gaskets are great. The car doesn't overheat. It may sound and run like crap but it's reliable.

Then the 96 STS with the low mileage and one senior owner, and brand-new smell and hardly-broken in seats and dead quiet engine...

Leaking head gasket.


Honestly... I may not know as much about these cars as some of you do, but I've spent enough time on this forum to know these Cadillacs are like damn cancer. We have no idea who's going to get the one that runs for 250,000 miles or get the one that craps out at 50,000 miles.

I chalk it up to luck. Seriously. As much as I love and respect these Cadillacs, there are some serious flaws with these cars that I just don't hear about destroying other cars with such frequency.

Every other post is about a blown or leaking head gasket.

It's unfortunate.

Like I said, for now on, I'm only leasing these cars. Just way too much work.

Sorry... I'm not happy. :(
 

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1996 Deville (sold), 2000 Mustang GT
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Sucks that you got a brand new water pump. Welcome to the club of disgruntled former caddy owners, now its you, me ,and destroyer. Mine was a 96 deville, one owner, senior owned, 83000 miles. After fixing the headgaskets I got hit with the 1000 a/c compressor bill and the 2000 dollar suspension bill, the car went bye bye
 

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Previous STS' 1995/97/99/01/03
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To be fair, those of us who have never had a HG issue don't post on this forum to brag about it. I've driven four N* powered cars with zero issues.

The nature of these forums is to ask for help when issues arise.
An iron block GM 3800 motor is more reliable, but I have no intention of
owning one again ... been there, done that .... I love the smoothness and sophistication of the Northstar powerplant.
 

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1996 Deville (sold), 2000 Mustang GT
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I knew i was forgetting someone, thus making the elite club 4 members strong.

There are a ton of northstars out there that never have issues,but we usually don't hear from them.

The 3800 is an amazing motor. I had a 98 intrigue (the best car i've ever owned) it got to around 170,000 miles before I totaled it, and never had a single engine related problem. Granted my a/c didn't work and neither did the turn signals or 3 of the windows. And it was somewhat of a sleeper, nothing was better than making a ricer cry with that car. Always made me want a regal gs or grand prix gtp to see what it was like supercharged.
 
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