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1993 Fleetwood Brougham, 2007 Escalade EXT
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Discussion Starter #1
A serious problem has developed with my '93 Sixty Special, and I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions for an 'alternate' method of fixing it.

On Monday, I went to take the Sixty Special for a drive, and noticed a big puddle of anti-freeze on the ground under the engine. I immediately opened up the hood, and found the resevoir completely emply. So I refilled it, and watched the antifreeze I had just poured in splattering all over the ground.

So, I took it to a local mechanic- I know these folks well, I've been doing business with them for years, they are AAA-rated and they're pretty good friends of mine. I guess my point is that I trust them. So when they tell me that one of the freeze plugs at the bottom of the engine has completely corroded away (a function of the fact that a previous owner of the car probably didn't change the anti-freeze at regular intervals), well, I believe him.

The problem, of course, is where the freeze plugs are located. My mechanic has told me he knows of no way to replace the freeze plugs (and he recommends if I do this, that I replace all of them) without pulling the entire engine. Frankly, the idea of doing that scares the hell out of me. Once you do, you scare up all sorts of other issues that wouldn't have been issues otherwise. You can never quite get that genie back into the bottle entirely after you've pulled the engine.

And that's before we talk about the cost: the labor involved in removing the engine is $2800. I love my Sixty Special, but I can't justify sinking that much into it.

Does anyone know of a method to change freeze plugs on these 4.9L engines without having to fully remove the engine? Can you just lift the engine a few inches without having to fully disconnect it from the car?

I'm worried that if the answer to my questions is no, that the engine must be fully removed to do this, that I will likely be getting rid of the car (as much as that thought breaks my heart) by donating it to a charity for a tax credit.

Thanks in advance for any advice you folks have.

-Patrick
 

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1993 Fleetwood Brougham, 2007 Escalade EXT
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128 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
A sad day.

My Sixty Special is dead. All that remains are some details I need to take care of (like removing the car alarm I had installed in her last year) and then she will be donated to charity.

The coolant leak I found was not, in fact, caused by a corroded freeze plug. I got a second opinion from an acquaintance who works as a Service Writer at a Cadillac dealership locally. Freeze plugs could never have been the problem, because the 4.9L engine wasn't built with them.

The problem appears to be a very large leak that was apparently caused by some form of electrolysis (at least, that the dealership's theory.) Which means the scope of the problem (how big is the leak) is what needs to be determined. And, unfortunately, to find that out, the transmission would need to be completely taken off- labor comes to $800 on that. And at the end of that, it MAY be that this leak can be patched using JB Weld and/or some sort of epoxy. On the other hand, I may spend that $800 and find that the leak is so large, the only thing to do is put in a new engine.

I simply can't justify that kind of expense for the Sixty Special ($800), if I can't be guaranteed that spending it solves the problem. All that $800 to remove the transmission gets me is the chance to see what's behind Door Number 2, and that could mean spending several thousands for a new engine.

So there's nothing left to do, but donate it to a charity for some tax credit and let them see if they can do something with it. The engine, as it sits now, starts and runs just fine. The only problem is this coolant leak.

I will miss my Sixty Special. I really liked that car. But by this time next week, it will be in someone else's hands.

-Patrick
 

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1993 Fleetwood Brougham, 2007 Escalade EXT
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128 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Tough to give up an old car--especially that engine and body style.
I agree. I love that Sixty Special. But what keeps going through my mind is that this is one big leak. Within seconds of putting the antifreeze into the resevoir, it starts spilling out, and not just in a trickle, but in a pretty strong stream.

So, I have to approach this from a worst case scenario perspective: what if I have the transmission pulled and find there's no choice but to drop in a new engine. What's that going to cost? $4,000? $5,000? And that's after I've already spent $800 to get to that point. I could find another Sixty Special on Ebay or Autotrader for less than that.

Oh well, the tax credit will come in handy.
 
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"I guess my point is that I trust them. So when they tell me that one of the freeze plugs at the bottom of the engine has completely corroded away (a function of the fact that a previous owner of the car probably didn't change the anti-freeze at regular intervals), well, I believe him"

"The coolant leak I found was not, in fact, caused by a corroded freeze plug. I got a second opinion from an acquaintance who works as a Service Writer at a Cadillac dealership locally. Freeze plugs could never have been the problem, because the 4.9L engine wasn't built with them.
"
So do you still trust the first guy?. I mean he was gonna charge you $2800 to fix a part that doesn't even exist on the car. :rolleyes:
 

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Get a third opinion--independant shop. That car is not that hard to work on..... Why pulling the transmission would reveil the leak does not register with me. My focus would be on the head gaskets and or the intake manifold, rear of the engine. Find a dependable shop, describe the problem and ask for a quote on replacing the head gaskets, the replacement would include the intake manifold, if nothing found at that point.

Just had head gaskets replaced on my 90 GMC 5.7 @ 413,000, solved all coolant leaking and overheating problems.

If you love it, fight for it!
 

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1993 Fleetwood Brougham, 2007 Escalade EXT
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Discussion Starter #7
So do you still trust the first guy?. I mean he was gonna charge you $2800 to fix a part that doesn't even exist on the car. :rolleyes:
Ah, poor Steve. He apparently didn't have access to some of the technical illustrations the Cadillac dealership had. Do I trust him? Well, yes... up to a point. I've learned he isn't infallable.


Get a third opinion--independant shop. That car is not that hard to work on..... Why pulling the transmission would reveil the leak does not register with me. My focus would be on the head gaskets and or the intake manifold, rear of the engine. Find a dependable shop, describe the problem and ask for a quote on replacing the head gaskets, the replacement would include the intake manifold, if nothing found at that point.

Just had head gaskets replaced on my 90 GMC 5.7 @ 413,000, solved all coolant leaking and overheating problems.

If you love it, fight for it!
The head gasket and intake manifold are easily seen. The leak is happening at a point behind the engine.

It isn't a case of fighting for it, it's a case of paying for it. And I can't justify an $800 speculation on what might be, given the what the worst case would mean.

-Patrick
 

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1993 Fleetwood Brougham, 2007 Escalade EXT
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Discussion Starter #10
Update: I got the Sixty Special back home today. And... I can't figure out why... but it didn't lose any of the anti-freeze I put in it before I started the trip. :confused:

(For the last week, it hasn't held any anti-freeze.)

At any rate, I spoke with Cadillac_Tech, who had a chance to look at the Sixty Special this morning. He has a couple of ideas, but he wants to talk about them with the lead Tech at his dealership. Since the lead tech is out today, there may be more updates.

-Patrick
 

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81 Eldorado, 91 Sedan DeVille, 91, Fleewtwood, 92 Brougham
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I wanted to cry when I read your first post! Hope things turn around for you!!!
 

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1993 Fleetwood Brougham, 2007 Escalade EXT
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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the positive karma, jspeaect.

I had a follow up conversation with Cadillac_Tech this afternoon. It seems we can chalk up the fact that the engine isn't losing coolant to the fact that his dealership added Bar Leak. It is currently holding antifreeze.

But this is, at best, a stop gap solution, and certainly not permanent. Cadillac_Tech has been in contact with folks who have engines that could replace mine. I told him that struck me as a bit like a brain transplant. It may work, but I could inherit a whole bunch of problems with the salvage engine that could make my Sixty Special a perpetual money pit. There's just no way to tell.

I'm weighing some tough choices here. And one of the choices I'm seriously considering is to sell the car.

I know... I know this would be the same as throwing in the towel for a unique and beautiful car. But I've reached a point where I have to be pragmatic about value and cost, and set aside sentiment. It just seems like the right thing to do.

And I understand how unpopular that choice is. I don't like it much myself. But I never bought the Sixty Special intending to make it car show garage queen. It was, and is, a winter driving car. It surpassed itself this past winter, with eight weeks of once a week blizzards. But it's at a point where I can't keep dropping money into it.

At least, those are my thoughts as I consider this. I'll go put my flame suit as I prepare for replies.

 

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2008 SRX
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I spoke with the tech that looked at this Friday. He didn't add Bars Leak or anything else and said it's a crack or other leak in the block that will probably open up when it gets good and hot. My cost to replace the engine with a used one from Arapahoe Auto Salvage, including my time, would be about $1600. The car would bring about $2500 - nice interior, straight exterior, oxidized paint in a couple areas.
 

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92 fleetwood
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Does the 92 Fleetwood FWD also not have freeze plugs? I am considering purchasing one, it is in good condition, but that is the only issue, is the coolant leak, which the current owner told me that it was the freeze plugs, which was going to be about 500 to fix, mostly being labor. I am going to have the car inspected, but I have to wonder now, cause doesnt this car have the 4.9L engine?
 

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70 Deville 77 Fleet 78 Seville 92 Deville 03 Deville
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I don't know why people don't just take a flashlight and see where the coolant is actually leaking from. What's with all the speculation and guessing? I just fixed a PIA coolant leak in my heater pipe. I suppose the average Joe could easily mistake that for a frost plug leak. I didn't realize the 4.9 doesn't have freeze plugs but I have never looked for them either. 91STS, just wear some coveralls and bring a flashlight and see if you can see where it is leaking. It might be something simple and you may get a good deal. If it is that heater pipe behind the AC compressor, PM me and I can give you a few time saving tips.
 
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