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1998 Deville d'Elegance
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm in Fredericksburg, VA 22408. Any suggestions on a shop around here would be greatly appreciated. Or a shop that would pick up the car at a nominal cost. I went to a couple local shops and they say they don't want to mess with it.

Anyway, here is a brief synopsis of my situation and any and all help/advice would be greatly appreciated:

The car is a 1998 DeVille d'Elegance. It has about 89,000 miles. Last October (2014) it began losing coolant. A check revealed that the radiator was leaking.
I replaced the radiator. The car continued to lose coolant. I changed the water pump since I had noticed some coolant loss under the pump.
I also replaced the thermostat and the recovery tank cap. The car continued to lose coolant. The loss wasn't substantial and the recovery tank had to be refilled every other week or so.
Up until recently, it was possible to see a poodle of coolant under the car (different places most of the time.) I wasn't able to pinpoint the leak but it appeared to be external.

Since early June we've had temperatures in the mid 90's. About 10 days ago, as I was driving the 5 mile distance between my house and the grocery store, I noticed the coolant temperature suddenly jumped to 233 degrees F for a few seconds to come back down to 205 degrees (I have been driving watching the temp gage.) The car normal operating temperature is 196 degrees.

From that day onward, coolant loss was more substantial, having to replenish the tank every day. I never received any warning from the car computer, such as "Shut off engine" etc. To my knowledge the temperature never went above 233 degrees and this only once. I drove with the hood semi opened (on safety latch) to help with the cooling.

The car developed rough idling in the last few days. The day before yesterday, I changed the spark plugs and PCV valve. After that, it started with no problem and ran very smoothly for a few minutes then began misfiring again with engine code P0300 Current.

I couldn't see any water in the oil from the dipstick or the interior of the oil filler cap, but I drained and refilled the oil and changed the oil filter since it was almost time to do it anyway. It appeared to me that about a glassful of water came out first then followed by the used oil.

The night before last, white smoke could clearly be seen coming out of the tail pipes (the first time I see this.) Also, when I jacked up the front of the car, a poodle of water/coolant formed behind it. No doubt in my mind it was fluid residing inside the tail pipes that flowed out when I raised the front end of the car.

I haven't started the car since then.

So, this is the situation as of now.

However, I do not know if a piston developed a damaged ring recently. The car has been eating oil ever since I bought it (like a quart every other month or so.) So there could have been a bad piston ring to start with and this may be how the water got into the oil after the HG went bad. But it could be a cracked block too. I just don't know.
Considering the amount of coolant I poured into the car since last October, a glassful of water in the oil is a relatively very small quantity.

Obviously, it appears at least one of the two head gaskets is shot. But I am not sure about the coolant in the oil issue.

Does this mean an engine rebuild is necessary?

I purchased this car in 2001 with 25,000 miles on it. I am retired with practically no income other than Social Security benefits. The idea was since Cadillacs were built to last forever, this car would take me far into my older years with no major expense.
Of course, like many other Cadillac owners out there, I have been let down by General Motors. Now I am left with a $500 piece of junk after having shelled $27K for it upon the "good" advice of the dealer.

Of course, I understand I will have to pay for the repair. But I do not want (nor can I afford) to pay for one repair (head gasket) just to learn I need another one (engine rebuild.) For me, money is very tight and I can't afford to make a second mistake.

I am aware no one can tell which repair will be necessary as long as they haven’t seen the car but I would like to know the members' thoughts on the above and how they would handle this situation.

Any advice and/or suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

97 ETC x2, 04 GXP, 04 STS x2, 97 ESC, 99 Deville, 05 SRX
2,603 Posts
Clayton's Automotive - Salem VA - 540-387-9058.

Talk to Clayton or Amy and tell them Jake @ NorthstarPerformance sent you. They're very good people; I've done business with them for about 5 years now.

Often a Northstar can be run on "milkshake" oil for quite some time and still have no internal wear as a result. Depends on how it was driven and how thin that oil had become.

Keep me posted and talk to the shop in Salem; let me know if there is anything else I can assist with. Best of luck :)



Reading further that you're on a fixed income; I can see you're in a bit of a tough spot. Please email me. info(at) - I will do what I can to help out.
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