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2005 CTS 3.6 redline red
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all.
I'm new to the forum, and to Cadillacs. I've been looking at used cars and I found a one owner
1999 STS with 80000 miles fully loaded in really good condition. I really like it, but while researching
Cadillacs I found the head gasket issue with Northstar engines.
Does anyone here have an idea of what percentage of these engines eventually blow a head gasket?
Do they all eventually suffer this fate? 50%, 25%, 10%?
Like I said, I really like this car, and the asking price is much lower than comparable cars, but I don't want to risk blowing a head gasket when I'm a long way from home.
What do you guys think? Do you avoid these engines like the plague, or is it a reasonable risk to buy and drive these cars?

Thanks, Dan
 

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Cadillac 95 STS, 02 SLS
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13,792 Posts
No I don't avoid these engines I have had three Sevilles (two series 4 '92-'97) and one series 5 2002. I have not had a head gasket failure on any of my Northstar engine cars. My 1995 STS is now 20 years old and has served me well as a daily driver. If the car has been well maintained it should give good service. However set aside $1500. to $2000. per year for maintenance and repairs on the Car. STS suspension maintenance can be a costly item on this model. Much more than a SLS model.
 

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2001 Seville STS, 1990 Seville (RIP), 1972 Sedan Deville
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26,323 Posts
Nobody can give you an exact number of failures. There is no average mileage. There is no average age.

According to an unscientific poll on this site, '97's, '98's and '99's are the most likely to fail, '99 being the worst.

That said, the issue is blown way out of proportion. This is NOT something that happens to every Northstar.

In '00, changes were made to the block casting process, and a switch was made to longer head bolts, greatly reducing the chance of failure.

In '04, coarse thread head bolts were phased in, essentially eliminating the chance of failure.
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
Joined
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19,270 Posts
Hi all.
I'm new to the forum, and to Cadillacs. I've been looking at used cars and I found a one owner
1999 STS with 80000 miles fully loaded in really good condition. I really like it, but while researching
Cadillacs I found the head gasket issue with Northstar engines.
Does anyone here have an idea of what percentage of these engines eventually blow a head gasket?
Do they all eventually suffer this fate? 50%, 25%, 10%?
Like I said, I really like this car, and the asking price is much lower than comparable cars, but I don't want to risk blowing a head gasket when I'm a long way from home.
What do you guys think? Do you avoid these engines like the plague, or is it a reasonable risk to buy and drive these cars?

Thanks, Dan
==========================
there are several other maintenance/repair items that are as expensive -
or more expensive - than replacing head gaskets -

here are two -

if the car has the original F45 active suspension -
and mileage is near 100,000 miles -
it - most likely - NEEDS struts and shocks -
around $2500 to $2800 - plus labor -

if it has the all too common P0741 trans code -
it takes a $2500 to $3000 repair -
 

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Super Moderator
White Diamond '03 DHS (with DTS floor shift)
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86,781 Posts
I don't want to risk blowing a head gasket when I'm a long way from home.
The HG's don't "blow" as in a sudden catastrophic failure. It's a long, slow process that usually starts out with repeated low coolant warnings, hard starts and then overheating getting worse and worse. Not good, but it will not leave you stranded anywhere.
 

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2005 CTS 3.6 redline red
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Okay, so the head gasket isn't a huge problem on ALL of these, but overall maintenance costs are high. I guess that explains
the low asking price for such a beautiful car. I think it is still worthy of my consideration. Maybe if I can get a carfax I'll know
if any of the major maintenance has been done. Seems likely that it was traded in to avoid costly maintenance.
Thanks so much to those who responded. That was exactly the kind of info that I wanted.
 

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2001 Seville STS, 1990 Seville (RIP), 1972 Sedan Deville
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26,323 Posts
General maintenance costs aren't bad. The dampers on active suspension models are very expensive (however it can be bypassed, but then what's the point). The TCC issue isn't uncommon, but if you're not in an area that requires inspections, the only downside is a light and 1-2 MPG less in the highway.

ANY older luxury car is going to be more expensive to repair than an older run of the mill family sedan. But honestly, these aren't even close to the high end of the spectrum.
 

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Administrator
2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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68,449 Posts
Overall maintenance costs are NOT "high". 80,000 - 120,000 miles is high mileage for ANY car - parts wear out and stuff fails. THEN the costs go out the roof which is why used cars cost more to maintain than new cars. Every part of every car, including paint and underbody, is subjected to horrible environmental abuse. A used car is - a used car. You find a creampuff and drive it until costs dictate otherwise, or you buy a turd from a front lawn (no warranty) or the Korner Kar Korral and use the Golden 90 Warranty - 90 seconds or 90 feet, whichever occurs first.

Bounce the maintenance costs of a 1990s Lexus, Jaguar, Infiniti, MB with 90,000 miles against the Seville/Deville/Eldorado lines. True costs are eerily similar. You buy a $50,000 sticker price car, you pay $50,000 maintenance.

Never, ever let anyone tell you that a "Cadillac" is inexpensive to maintain. Ain't gonna happen.
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
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19,270 Posts
Okay, so the head gasket isn't a huge problem on ALL of these, but overall maintenance costs are high. I guess that explains
the low asking price for such a beautiful car. I think it is still worthy of my consideration. Maybe if I can get a carfax I'll know
if any of the major maintenance has been done. Seems likely that it was traded in to avoid costly maintenance.
Thanks so much to those who responded. That was exactly the kind of info that I wanted.
======================
Maybe if I can get a carfax I'll know
the ONLY reliable information you can get from carfax -
is the number of previous owners -

ALL maintenance - repairs - damage - accidents etc -
are reported to carfax on a STRICTLY VOLUNTARY basis -
meaning -
if a bodyshop doesn't call carfax
and report that they just completed a $10,000 repair -
the carfax report would say "no accidents" -
 

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Registered
2002 STS, 2005 CTS 3.6
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413 Posts
Bounce the maintenance costs of a 1990s Lexus, Jaguar, Infiniti, MB with 90,000 miles against the Seville/Deville/Eldorado lines. True costs are eerily similar. You buy a $50,000 sticker price car, you pay $50,000 maintenance.
I think you give those foreign vehicles far too much credit Sub. Maintenance costs on them are generally far higher than a Caddy from the same era. Parts prices are usually astronomical, never mind the labour.

At least Caddy parts are easy to get and relatively inexpensive in comparison, it's really only certain labour costs that are higher due to the Northstar. Try buying an OEM ignition wire set for a BMW, likely 5 times the price of a Delco set!

The OEM shocks and struts are rather expensive, but can easily be replaced by passive units for much lower cost and similar performance. I wouldn't write off buying a nice, clean car just because it may need those replaced.
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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68,449 Posts
I think you give those foreign vehicles far too much credit Sub. Maintenance costs on them are generally far higher than a Caddy from the same era. Parts prices are usually astronomical, never mind the labour.
I work part-time behind the parts counter at the local Western Auto. We order and sell parts for and repair about any vehicle you wish to compare. 1998 Lexus midrange sedan, front strut - $86. 1998 STS - F45 strut - $600. For the flip side, other Lexus parts cost more than the comparable Cadillac part, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason for parts price differences - they swing all over the charts. Our shop labor rate is $65/hour. Dealerships around here (30 miles east, 15 miles west) are at $100 - $115/hour.

(Yes, you can cheap out on the STS active suspension replacement, but then the car is no longer a STS)
 

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2002 STS, 2005 CTS 3.6
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413 Posts
Would be nice to find someone who can rebuild the STS's active dampners. I would think they could be re-done for far less than $600 each...has anyone here ever explored this possibility?
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
Joined
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19,270 Posts
I work part-time behind the parts counter at the local Western Auto. We order and sell parts for and repair about any vehicle you wish to compare. 1998 Lexus midrange sedan, front strut - $86. 1998 STS - F45 strut - $600. For the flip side, other Lexus parts cost more than the comparable Cadillac part, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason for parts price differences - they swing all over the charts. Our shop labor rate is $65/hour. Dealerships around here (30 miles east, 15 miles west) are at $100 - $115/hour.

(Yes, you can cheap out on the STS active suspension replacement, but then the car is no longer a STS)
=====================
but then the car is no longer a STS -
ya - it turns into a Chevy - or a pumpkin - or ????????????:stirpot:
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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68,449 Posts
it turns into a Chevy - or a pumpkin - or ????????????:stirpot:
Yup - exactly the same as replacing a blown up Ferrari 3.0L V-12 with a Chevy 283 - it works pretty well but the car is no longer a real "Ferrari".

............. and, as you posted, most people would not know the difference unless they tried to drive the car to its original design limits. It's like having the VIN 9 engine and final drive - you almost never use it all but it's nice to know it's all there.
 

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02 Seville, 04 SRX
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1,341 Posts
Unless you buy an Lexus LS400. Those things were amazing. Things just didn't fail until 200K. Toyota hasn't put out anything like it since 2000.
 
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