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Just bought a '97 etc w/67000 miles. On way home it overheated and the dealer tells me it is a blown headgasket. The Cadillac dealer wanted to replace the engine but the selling dealer has sent it to an independent(non-Cadillac garage) for repair. What are the chances of this being repaired correctly and is there anything I should look for to indicate if its been done right? What would cause a northstar with only 67000 miles to blow a head gasket?
 

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1993 Triple Black Allante
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Tough Break!

Improper Cooling System Maintenance

Got to change the coolant and add pellets every two years.

I hope this is not out of your pocket!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks
dealer gave me a 12/12000 drivetrain so its on him. Just worried that a non cadillac garage won't do it right. Only had the car 18 hours but its my dream car.
Allante North * said:
Tough Break!

Improper Cooling System Maintenance

Got to change the coolant and add pellets every two years.

I hope this is not out of your pocket!
 

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MMNineInchNails said:
Just because it's a noncadillac garage doesn't mean they don't know how to fix a blown head gasket. Everycar has a head gasket.
I agree. Just because it's NOT a Cadillac dealer doesn't mean anything.
 

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2005 CTS-V, 1994 Infiniti Q45
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You may ask to make sure that they have some experience with the northstar!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Good point. I guess I was thinking that the Northstar was particularly sophisticated and may require specific expertese. The service Manager at my local Caddy dealership said the reason they prefer to replace the engine in these cases, is that the head bolts frequently break when removed.
Katshot said:
I agree. Just because it's NOT a Cadillac dealer doesn't mean anything.
 

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garryday said:
Good point. I guess I was thinking that the Northstar was particularly sophisticated and may require specific expertese. The service Manager at my local Caddy dealership said the reason they prefer to replace the engine in these cases, is that the head bolts frequently break when removed.
Welcome aboard!

The head bolts don't break - the threads pull out in the head bolt holes in the (aluminum) block. Do a search of the forums using Time-Sert, overheating or headgasket & you'll find numerous threads. The Time-Sert is the ONLY way to properly repair/upgrade the holes. I would recommend insisting on a shop that has experience doing this repair. I'd be afraid that a non-Caddy mechanic might run into a problem and try to bubble-gum the repair. You don't need to have the inconvenience and possible expense of doing the headgaskets again just after your warrantee runs out.

In my opinion, the dealers prefer to replace the engine because it's a very time-consuming repair (book rate is 19 hours labor for both heads) and the risk of extra expense due to pulled threads is fairly high. Swapping in a new engine is a much more predictable repair.

My STS was/is my dream car and started showing symptoms 2 days after I bought. Mine was a private sale so I was SOL. After having fixed mine myself (including the Time-Serts on all headbolt holes), I think I'd rather have a PROPERLY repaired block than a new engine. Despite the headgasket repair, I still think this car is just the greatest thing.

I'm not trying to scare you. I just think it's good for you to be forewarned/forearmed. Can you contact the shop that is actually doing the wrenching and have them keep you posted? I think if you can show the selling dealer that you know what should be done, you will be in a good position to make them do it. If they try to take any shortcuts or snow you, tell them to give you your money back and keep the car.

Good luck with everything and keep us posted.
 

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Listen to this guy, he KNOWS what hes talking about!!! Look at his thread, he's no dummy (like me) when it comes to the northstar!

If you do decide to go the dealer route, tell them to REPAIR it or leave...... A new engine wouldnt be worth it..... A new engine would cost a ton, and a take out would need so much R/R to get it back into useful shape that you could have the head bolts fixed already.......

Make sure that if anything else needs to be done that you get it done while the engine is out.... Things can take 1/2 the time (esp on a transverse engine) when the engine is out!!
 

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MMNineInchNails said:
I can't wait to become an automotive technition. AHH book hours. good ol' makin people pay for 5 hours when you can do it in 1. :)
Or just be a DIYer and take over two months of evenings and weekends for a "19 hour" repair :banghead2
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I want to thank all you guys that have taken the time to advise me. I find this forum immensely helpful. I can now speak knowledgably about "time-sert" and my plan is to let the dealer do his thing(comming up on three weeks now) and take it directly to a certified cadddy mechanic and have a pressure test done on the engine. Anything else anyone can suggest to be sure that the engine is repaired correctly would be appresiated. Thanks again guys. Ill keep you posted.
eehoepp said:
Or just be a DIYer and take over two months of evenings and weekends for a "19 hour" repair :banghead2
 

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Yes, keep us posted...... Hopefully the head gasket isnt the problem........ it could possibly be something else, but dont get your hopes up!!!
 

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OK
I went and found the garage that has the car and they were planning on putting a salvage engine in the car. I nearly flipped. I went to the selling dealer( the one providing the warranty) and said I want a Caddilac certified garage doing the repairs which ultimately means a new engine( since that's how the caddy dealer wanted to handle it in the first place) If they want the Caddilac garage to replace the head gaskets(which I doubt since the SOP is to replace the engine) should I demand that they go through the engine? What else could be wrong if the head gasket blew AT 67000 miles? You guys have proved to be tremendously valuable with your advice and I sincerely appreciate it.
Thanks
elwesso said:
Yes, keep us posted...... Hopefully the head gasket isnt the problem........ it could possibly be something else, but dont get your hopes up!!!
 

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Well, if the gasket blew at 67k miles (most fail closer to 100k), that possibly means that it may not have been maintained really good...... Maybe this new engine will give you a chance to maintain it perfectly.......

how much did they want for the engine replacement...... You may consider getting a take out engine, BUT, you MUST, MUST make sure that you have it r/r'd, or it will cause more problems later..... Doing stuff with the engine out can be take half the time, and jobs that are difficult and time-consuming can be a cakewalk when the engine is out.......
 

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elwesso said:
Well, if the gasket blew at 67k miles (most fail closer to 100k), that possibly means that it may not have been maintained really good...... Maybe this new engine will give you a chance to maintain it perfectly.......

how much did they want for the engine replacement...... You may consider getting a take out engine, BUT, you MUST, MUST make sure that you have it r/r'd, or it will cause more problems later..... Doing stuff with the engine out can be take half the time, and jobs that are difficult and time-consuming can be a cakewalk when the engine is out.......
I know this may be your dream car but I would back away from this whole deal...get your money back and go to a different car. Do you want a car that was obviously not maintained? If the cooling system wasn't maintained properly, doesn't it stand to reason that none of the other systems were maintained properly also? These cars are high tech and wonderful; but everyone is beginning to learn that proper maintenance is absolutely paramount! This car is telling you that it wasn't maintained properly..you can get out now at no cost..don't be foolish..take the hint! The alternative can and will cost you $thousands.

If you stick with this car and even if you get the engine back the way you want it, what's next? You were lucky and this problem surfaced before the warranty expired; but what if the engine had been fine for the 12 months and 12,000 miles and then went bad and YOU had to pick up the repair cost? You KNOW the next repair will be on you; and the next and the next, etc. Nothing major on these cars is cheap! Doesn't sound like a good plan to me.

Last time I looked, there were plenty of cars available for sale; don't get stuck with this turkey! Start looking again and be sure that there are complete maintenance records with the car you are looking at. No records, then walk away from the car, no matter what. A Model A is simple enough you can fix most anything in your garage, but repairs on a '97 etc requires expertise, the right tools and lots of hours at big bucks per hour (which YOU are going to pay for!).
Brian Bray
 

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Thats a great post, Brian........ And a good point...... BUT, if he does get the replacement (new) engine, then there is no reason why he cant maintain it and have many more happy miles.......

And since its under warranty, have him replace the engine!!!! Nothing else makes sense....... If he wants to replace it, replace it....... If the dealer is sending it to an independent shop, chances are they are reputible and have experience with the northstar.......

Putting in a new engine would be like starting fresh..... You can maintain it perfectly, and it will be a great car.........

The head gasket problems only (or usually) occurs on ill-maintained northstars...... There are pleanty of cars that have the OEM head gasket..... But i bet every one had the coolant changed every 2yrs/24k, or 5yrs/50k with dex-cool.......

Sorry for the contradicting posts, but I just reread your post..... :eek:
 

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MMNineInchNails said:
I can't wait to become an automotive technition. AHH book hours. good ol' makin people pay for 5 hours when you can do it in 1. :)
Shut up you! You're the kind of mechanic I want seen in my local graveyard if you charge that!!!
 

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garryday said:
Just bought a '97 etc w/67000 miles. On way home it overheated and the dealer tells me it is a blown headgasket. The Cadillac dealer wanted to replace the engine but the selling dealer has sent it to an independent(non-Cadillac garage) for repair. What are the chances of this being repaired correctly and is there anything I should look for to indicate if its been done right? What would cause a northstar with only 67000 miles to blow a head gasket?



I am a one-owner of a 1997 ETC. Leased for 3 yrs, then purchased the car. I have loved the vehicle. However, after the warranty ran out, I've had nothing but problems with my car. I also owned a '94 ETC and had no problems whatsoever. I have spent at least $6K in repairs since 48,000 miles. Everything, from an oil leak to the coolant problems to the A/C not working. My car overheated at 71,000 miles. The dealer quoted me $12,000 to repair it. I've now been without a car for 2 weeks. I know of another person whose '97 did the same thing at 70,000 miles. So, it is a problem that Cadillac is becoming well aware of for the 1997's. My car has been perfectly maintained. I've had oil changes every 3,000 miles. I go to a full-service station once a week to fill my car, and they check everything out. This problem is not the result of a poorly maintained vehicle. This is a problem associated with the '97's. It needs to be repaired by a qualified garage. I don't think the non-Cadillac garage is a huge issue IF they have previously dealt with Northstars. If not, I'd run to the nearest dealer and call Cadillac to see if they will help pay for it. Just call a Caddy dealer and ask them for the Cadillac Customer Service #. I don't know if Cadillac will do anything for a person who bought from other than Cadillac, BUT....it's worth a try. They screwed up on the 1997 ETC's. By the way, I've loved my car too. It is a wonderful vehicle, but paying as much as I paid for my car ($53,000) to get only 71.000 miles is not acceptable to me. Let me know what happens, and I'll try to keep you informed about my situation also. Good Luck! Lois
 

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garryday said:
OK
I went and found the garage that has the car and they were planning on putting a salvage engine in the car. I nearly flipped. I went to the selling dealer( the one providing the warranty) and said I want a Caddilac certified garage doing the repairs which ultimately means a new engine( since that's how the caddy dealer wanted to handle it in the first place) If they want the Caddilac garage to replace the head gaskets(which I doubt since the SOP is to replace the engine) should I demand that they go through the engine? What else could be wrong if the head gasket blew AT 67000 miles? You guys have proved to be tremendously valuable with your advice and I sincerely appreciate it.
Thanks
You want this to be your dream car & not your worst nightmare. I think you should demand your money back and find another car. You bought a car in good faith and it crapped out before you got it home. Has the dealer arranged a suitable alternative vehicle for you to drive while they are "fixing" the engine? You have no idea of the history of the salvage engine, nor I presume its mileage. What happens if the salvage engine craps out in another month? The salvage yard probably gives a nominal guarantee, but that will only be for the engine and not the labour. Even worse, if it tanks in 13 months, you're SOL.

You should probably spend some time reading the fine print of your extended warrantee or contract of sale to see exactly where you stand. I think you'd have a strong case for a refund if you took it to court (but then nobody really wins). Some negative publicity - or the threat thereof - may force the dealer's hand.

Or the "repair" may be done and the car gives you many thousands of absolutely trouble-free miles and years of enjoyment. Are you willing to take that chance?

Gotta love the "dreams" you get when you polish off a big bowl of extra-spicy three bean chili just before bedtime...
 
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