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1995 cadillac sls back-front black silver fade sts interior
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39 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
hows it going guys still some what new to the cadillac family. this is only the second caddy that i have owned and its treated me pretty well its a 95 sls
and its just about to roll over on 200k miles. so im on the look for a replacement cadillac im goinging up to look at a couple 03 and 02 sts' on wednesday and hopefully take one home is there anything i should check for when going over her besides like oil leaks and such anything thats known to go out that i can look for i know about the headgasket problems but ive heard that it kinda subsided a little in about 99 anything thing else i should pay attention
for hopefully i can get the new one home and continue working on the old one to give to my friend as a gift

Thanks Guys much appreciated
Greg Smith
 

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Administrator
2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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68,413 Posts
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

Just as with any used car buy, check the entire car from top to bottom, side to side, end to end. Depending on just where you'll look at these later models - private - used lot - dealer - all determine the depth of your inspections. Private = no warranty, no recourse. The Korner Kar Korral = a Golden 90 warranty: 90 seconds or 90 feet, whichever occurs first. Manufacturer dealership = some limited warranty or help with repairs for maybe 30 days.

Otherwise the question of what to look for is contained many times over in Seville, Deville, Northstar Performance and all the stickys therein.
 

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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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19,250 Posts
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

besides the usual "used car" stuff -
certain things on a Cadillac are really expensive to repair -

oil leaks - $2500 to fix oil leaks -
get the car up a hoist and very carefully inspect it for ANY oil leaks -
a quick look under the car won't find anything -
oil pan gasket - case-half seal - front main seal - rear main seal -
ALL mean remove engine - and disassemble -


check for codes -
look for P0741 - if it's present - $2500 to fix -
it's a transmission torque converter code - worn seals deep in the trans -
with only one solution -

another bad code is the P0300 - misfire code -

STS model Seville's have VERY - VERY EXPENSIVE suspension systems -
EACH strut/shock is worth around $700 -
if the car has near or above 100,000 miles - PLAN on some VERY EXPENSIVE repairs -

the 2002 1/2+ F55 magnaride is much LESS prone to problems than the F45 -
check the RPO sticker on the underside of the spare tire cover -
that will tell you which system the car has -

are the shocks/struts original - if NOT - what did they replace the originals -

check the tires - all 4 should be the same model and condition -
are they good quality - or el-cheapos -
if el-cheapos - you need to wonder what else did the previous owner cheap out on -

if you can - take it out for a "test beat" - then do a "BLOCK TEST" -
to make sure there are NO head gasket problems - at least not at this time -

check all the other electronics -

heated seats - front and rear -

all windows and locks -

crank the stereo - listen for bad speakers -

run the heat and AC - run it in manual mode -
put fan on low speed - select all the different MODES - listen for the various doors moving -
run the temp slowly from 60 to 90 - and back to 60 - SEVERAL TIMES -

check the spare tire well for evidence of water damage - or leaks -

test drive at highway speeds - pay attention to any vibrations -

if you can - hit the brakes hard a few times -
should be straight and true - no fade - no drift -

be very leery of ANY aftermarket stuff -

that is a pretty good starting list -
I'm sure other members will have other tips to add -
 

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1995 cadillac sls back-front black silver fade sts interior
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39 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

what is a black test to be exact never had to perform one and yeah i know of the oil leaks i guess my 95 has a half seal leak and im going start removing the motor here pretty soon so and i was wondering about a block test how do you perform it what does it do so on
 

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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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19,250 Posts
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

the BLOCK TEST is the DEFINITIVE test for head gasket failure in the Northstar motor -

MOST motors with failed head gaskets show certain unmistakeable symptoms -
oil in the coolant - somewhat rare -
coolant in the oil - very common -
leaking coolant in the cylinder - creating a fog trail behind the car -

loss of cylinder compression on one or more cylinders -

these symptoms just don't happen in the Northstar motor -
except burning coolant - sometimes -

when a Northstar head gasket fails -
you ALWAYS get exhaust gasses in the cooling system -

the BLOCK TEST uses a blue liquid that changes color -
when it detects hydrocarbons - engine exhaust -

ANY CHANGE IN COLOR from the original blue - is a POSITIVE reaction -

do a search hear - in the Deville forum - also in the Northstar Performance forum -
it has been discussed a million times -

there are asle a few very good videos on YouTube that show how to use the test kit -
and what to expect -

just remember - ANY COLOR CHANGE - means trouble -
 

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Premium Member
1997 ETC
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4,929 Posts
What Basscat and Sub say is true. Despite their aging, these are very expensive cars to maintain let alone repair. If you find one my recommendation is to study, study, study the car, there's nothing more rewarding about a car other than knowing it first hand in and out. The mechanics of the 90's Cadillac are a marvel of engineering, another leery point is the audio system in which to be looked out for in the list of aftermarket inspection Basscat has provided (if its Bose). I learned the hardway, with Headgaskets new engine, etc, but i also have been able to help others too about these cars, Cadillacs and this forum are a true two way gift. These cars are awesome.

The STS isnt a car to worry whether its worth it vs cost paid for it. As they age they become a labor of love, but they give back ten fold when working perfectly. :)
 

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1995 cadillac sls back-front black silver fade sts interior
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39 Posts
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

yeah ive the labor of love ive got a stack of receipts that has about 6k in parts on it ive put into it including rebuilding the top half of the engine and replace the oil pan and oil pan gasket along with having the transmission rebuilt i know that they can be a labor of love that im used to im jsut ready to upgrade and wanted to keep the power of the v8 i could go newer but the v6 doesnt appeal as much to me as the get up and go of the 4.6 plus i wanted an 02 and a 1/2 and up for the magnaride and such i really just want to upgrade to a newer car with the newer gadgets and such im ready to own my new labor of love and dont mind fixing things im usually my own mechanic unless i dont have the time to do it i just wanted to know if the northstar had any issues that could be looked for when buying it i will now try a block test cant hurt to ask if i can how long does it take to do one any sensors go out pretty quick anything like that i should look for the reason why i want the magnaride is because i ahd heard they were more reliable than the airbag i have under my current sls which is about to be taken out and replaced with some arnott passive shocks and struts im ready to get my new cadillac just wanted to know what to look for are there any other signs on the north star that something could be going out ????? Thanks by the way guys dont know what id do without this forum lol
 

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1997 Cadillac STS (BOSE w/AUX In, Massage Seats, URPAS, "Z")
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6,405 Posts
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

You are confusing Magnaride & CVRSS with the ELC.
All Cadillacs regardless if passive suspension, CVRSS or Maganride have ELC.
Passive suspension refers to cars with conventional struts (non-electronically controlled).
CVRSS refers to the cars with active suspension having solenoids in the struts/shocks controlling the flow of oil thus the stiffness.
Magnarides refers to cars with active suspension (much like CVRSS) just that instead of solenoids controlling a conventional fluid, the fluid viscosity can be controlled magnetically. As a result the solenoids are replaced with coils (no moving parts), and this is how the fluid flow is controlled.
The car will still have ELC (in the rear), thus either one of the 3 versions of shocks will have a air bladder that is inflated/deflated with the use of a compressor to maintain the level of the car constant regardless of the weight applied.

You have to understand what you are buying before making a decision.

N* engines are pretty darn reliable, you only have to service it once every 100K, and that means do a tune up. You have to pay attention to the fluid levels, and so on, basically regular maintenance. Everybody is talking about headgasket this, headgasket that, the reality is these engines are not affected less or more than any other all aluminum engine. Is true is very expensive to repair when it happens (IF it happens) and people do tend to pass the issue to another sucker (is human nature, honesty is lacking allot when it comes with used car sales). 3-4 years ago the most affected years for HG were '96-'97, 2-3 years ago was '97-'98, 1-2 years ago was '98-'99 see a pattern here (can you guess what is going to be next year)? Bottom line any engine ever made will have seals going bad in time and it happen that statistically speaking in a N* (generally in an engine) you should expect issues past 150K or 10-12 years (ANY ENGINE).
Issues that are common with these cars:
1. Suspension (the very expensive struts, CVRSS or Mangaride) do not hope to be still good past 150K. But it depends where the car was driven mostly, who was the driver and so on. Do expect a car from a big city to have far more worn suspension components that a mostly HWY driven car. Maganaride suspension because of its simplicity versus the CVRSS does tend to last longer and the struts/shocks are marginally less expensive. Still with suspension: ELC system, the compressor may fail past 150K, causes: water ingestion=corrosion or air leaks in the system=overworked.
2. Front engine mount. It is known for failing often, again more prone for cars used in city traffic. The '98 and up Seville do not have the torque struts anymore so the stress on the front engine mount is much greater.
3. Oil leaks, yest almost all engines will develop oil leaks in time. Most common places: oil level sensor, oil adapter, oil pan, case halves. It is a very expensive repair (at part with the HG, and if far, far more common), most people just drive it as is (oil is cheaper, and it does not tend to worsen in time).
4. Trunk leaks. Some people will complain about leaks because of the sunroof, but that is caused by clogged drain lines and any car can have that.
5. Steering wheel turning rate sensor is known for failing pretty often - but is not very expensive.
6. Steering shaft intermediary link is prone to dry out and squeak (redesigned components are available).
7. Alternator issues also are not unheard of. Generally many unpredictable things happen if the battery voltage is low. Make sure that the battery is in good condition, do not modify the electrical system (like adding aftermarket equipment), buy the proper replacement battery (the '98 and up cars require a special battery - not much more expensive). The ~'99 production year cars use to have a water cooled alternator very prone to leaks (most cars already have the regular alternator by now).
8. Late '90s car were known for CPK sensors failure. If the car is stalling while coasting or coming to a stop in traffic then 99% chances are the CPK are bad.
9. Rust on the rear quarter panel (above the wheel well) and bottom rear lip of the rear doors (especially for the cars in the snow belt). However generally these cars are far better than the average cars when it comes to rust.
10. Dash pad cover is shrinking (the skin) resulting in a slight curling up at the corners and around the defrost grille.
11. Plenum rupture (resulting in vacuum leaks) - fairly cheap and easy repair.
12. The cars in the Snow Belt in time develop corrosion issues with the brake lines, fuel lines and the filler neck pipe.
13. Cracks in the side tank of the radiator (plastic) and or the expansion tank. I will mention also the heater core not because is common but if it happens to crack it is a very labor-intensive job to replace (as opposite to the '97 and earlier cars).
14. Wheel bearings and brakes. The wheel bearings are not uncommon (specially front) to fail, by that I mean electronically as the ABS sensor is part of the bearing and in the early stages before you can see a noticeable play the ABS sensor will fail. The brake pads do require a brake pad wear sensor (each) and not that is an issue with it, just that most people fail to replace the sensors with the brake pads or install the sensors improperly (like left disconnected) and you have the "change brake pads" message.

There are far more other issues that could happen among others we are talking: A/C compressor, window regulators, HVAC fan, EBTCM, bad/corroded grounds, burnt heated seats elements and so on, and so on. But these happen in any cars and sure you may not have some of these problems with say Japanese cars, but that's because most Japanese cars don't have these items at all.
Generally the engine will be the least of my concern when kicking tires on these cars, just be careful of the human nature, generally the cars are sold for a reason, be aware and suspect everything (and yes HG is more frequent of an issue in the cars for sale).
First thing you do when getting into the car is to PULL THE CODES, the car has a code reader (I hope you know that by now).
Stay well away for car with ANY aftermarket “improvements”.
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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68,413 Posts
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

Thanks by the way guys dont know what id do without this forum lol
This ^^^ and the entire "paragraph'. Have you ever heard of sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar ? urpostsrpracticallyimposibltoread andontmakeanysenselol.

............. and, if you remove the ELC system in your present car and replace it with only passive shocks (struts are in the front suspension) you will most certainly have a "tail dragger". The rear springs can only support the car weight as built - you add extra weight to the trunk or rear seat, the shock bladders inflate to maintain correct ride height, not control.
 

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1995 cadillac sls back-front black silver fade sts interior
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Discussion Starter #11
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

sorry about that. when i said passive shocks and struts, i meant both the front struts and the rear shocks. Then what is the point of the product if they do not meet or exceed oem standards. I have read up on them and only a handful of people had found problems with them. I didnt want to go back to the active air system mainly because im giving the car to one of my friends and didnt really want to shell out the 1200 dollars to replace the back airbags and have them weather down again in the next 6 years. I am going to replace bothe front struts and rear shocks on the 95 sls i have and will most likely go with a passive air system as ive heard they ride about the same as the active but someone on here told me to look into a good set of monroes, which doesnt sound like a bad idea and i might give them a quick view. Yeah and i also wrote that paragraph late at night and was hoping that i didnt get in trouble for making one giant run on sentence.
 

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2001 Seville STS, 1990 Seville (RIP), 1972 Sedan Deville
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26,323 Posts
You're still confusing active RIDE CONTROL, with the ELC LOAD LEVELING system. ELC compatible shocks (with "air bags") are very inexpensive. ACTIVE shocks/struts are expensive.

Read post #8 again.
 

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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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19,250 Posts
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

man - that's one L O N G - run-on sentence -
what's with you young guys and punctuation -

i want the magnaride is because i ahd heard they were more reliable
than the airbag i have under my current sls
which is about to be taken out
and replaced with some arnott passive shocks and struts

along with magnaride - the STS also has ELC -

ALL Cadillac Devilles - Sevilles - and Eldorados have ELC -
Electronic Level Control - or air-shocks in the rear -

and before you order any new shocks/struts - check out Monroe -
EXCELLENT quality - better prices -

Monroe front strut kit - 90008 -
everything for the front struts except new springs -

the best price today is $208.08 with free shipping -
http://www.amazon.com/Monroe-90008-Suspension-Conversion-Kit/dp/B004AJ0R4Q

---------
the rear shocks are Monroe 40046
the best price today is $99.60 - each - with free shipping -
http://www.amazon.com/Monroe-40046-Rear-Shock-Absorber/dp/B0047D9TS0/ref=au_pf_pfg_s?ie=UTF8&Make=Cadillac|46&Model=Seville|413&Year=1995|1995&carId=001&n=15684181&newCar=1&s=automotive&vehicleType=automotive

so - for $407.28 - TOTAL - you can get new front and rear -
 

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1995 cadillac sls back-front black silver fade sts interior
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Discussion Starter #15
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

so the airbags are less expensive than the magnaride? the magnaride is the active ride control ride the electronic leveling is pre 02 right
 

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2006 STS V8 1SF RWD
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6,478 Posts
gdsmtih07 said:
so the airbags are less expensive than the magnaride? the magnaride is the active ride control ride the electronic leveling is pre 02 right
There are no air bags...the ELC is controlled by a bladder and an electronic compressor...ALL Seville's have this.

MagnaRide is the active suspension introduced in 2002.5 STS's.

Prior to this STS's and some SLS's used an electronic active suspension, detailed by the F45 RPO code, also known as CVRSS.
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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Re: looking into buying a new caddy

gdsmtih07, read that post ^^^ by curtc and then read it again.

NO FWD Cadillac has "air ride"
There is no such thing. The cars have either passive (soft) or active (sport, electronically controlled) suspensions. The "air" part of this is - depending on which manual you read - either called Automatic Level Control or Electronic Level Control and what it does is to compensate for extra weight in the trunk or rear seat. You delete that load carrying function and you create a taildragger, but as basscatt posted you can either overhaul the existing level control system and use the replacement Monroe shocks or you can use the Monroe shocks with manual inflation valves run into the trunk.

For the FWD Seville/Deville/Eldorado series of bodies:

ALL these cars have electronic rear leveling.
SOME of these cars (SLS, primarily) have passive suspension
MOST of these cars (some SLS and ALL STS) have active suspension
A FEW STS (2002.5 and 2003) have Magnetic Ride Control. (ONLY STS ever got F55)

The RPO (Regular Production Option) sticker under the spare tire cover is the key:

There is no RPO for ELC/ALC - that's part of the car and was not a changeable "option".
RPO code FE1 = soft springs, passive suspension
RPO codes FE1 + F45 = soft springs, active suspension (rare)(not expensive-rare, just not common).
RPO codes FE3 + F45 = Sport suspension, active suspension.
RPO codes FE3 + F55 = Sport suspension, magnetic ride control.
 

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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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19,250 Posts
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

so the airbags are less expensive than the magnaride? the magnaride is the active ride control ride the electronic leveling is pre 02 right
---------------------
you are confusing two very different things -
Electronic Level Control (or Automatic Level Control if you prefer)
is just that - a method of controlling the height of the rear of the car -
to maintain a level ride - regardless of how much weight is in the back seat or trunk -

it is a system that includes an air compressor assembly -
a ride height sensor - and special REAR shock absorbers -

The special rear shocks have an air bladder built in to adjust the height of the body -
by adding compressed air - thus raising the rear end -
or expelling compressed air - thus lowering the rear end -

ALL models of Cadillac Devilles - Sevilles - and Eldorados have this ELC or ALC system -
-------------

there are 3 different SUSPENSION SYSTEMS available for the Cadillac Seville model cars -
the ALL incorporate the ELC or if you prefer ALC system - same thing -

the PASSIVE system is NON-electronic -
it uses front struts - and rear shocks
that have "FIXED" VALVING - or a "FIXED ORIFICE"

F45 is the ACTIVE - or VARIABLE VALVING system -

F55 - MAGNARIDE -

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the inside of the struts and shocks is a hollow tube full of oil -
the shocks and struts have a rod - or piston -
that moves up and down inside that hollow tube full of oil -
as you go over bumps - this piston moves up and down -

this piston usually sits right in the middle of the tube full of oil -
the piston has a hole in it - called an orifice - the oil in the tube is forced through this orifice -

imagine slowly going over a speed bump -
and picture in your mind the piston inside the shocks and struts moving -

as you begin going over the speed bump -
the spring is compressed - and the strut piston moves up -
as the piston moves up - the oil from above the piston gets forced through the orifice -
into the area below the piston -

after reaching the top of the speed bump -
the spring has recovered - and returns to the original height -
and the strut piston also goes back down to it's original position -
as the strut piston goes back down -
the oil from below the piston now gets forced back through the orifice
and into the area above the piston -

every time the springs move - the pistons in the struts or shocks move -
and oil is being forced through the orifice - either above or below the piston -

the SOLE purpose of shocks and struts is to stop the spring from bouncing -

----------------
as I said - the PASSIVE shocks and struts have a FIXED ORIFICE -
this just means that the oil flows through the orifice at the same rate - all the time -

the bigger the orifice - the faster the shock/strut reacts to the movement of the spring -
which usually results is a softer/smoother ride -

a smaller orifice means it takes longer for the strut/shock to react to the spring movement -
so you get a firmer/harder ride -

so - the designers of the PASSIVE - fixed orifice units have to decide
just how soft or how firm the ride is going to be simply by the size of the orifice -
and that's how it will ride - at every speed - over all types of terrain -
-------------
now consider the ACTIVE - VARIABLE ORIFICE struts/shocks -

rather than a fixed orifice - the orifice size changes - at a fraction of a second -
if fact the orifice size CONSTANTLY changes -
depending on vehicle speed - road conditions - direction of travel - etc -

there are some definite handling advantages to the ACTIVE suspension system -
over the PASSIVE system - but very few drivers take advantage of it's capabilities -

the biggest problem with the ACTIVE system is - YES - the electronic valving wears out -
and the ACTIVE struts and shocks are astronomically expensive -
compared to the PASSIVE struts/shocks -
not to mention all the other electronic sensors and modules
needed to control the ACTIVE system -
-----------

the third type of suspension - is the F55 - MAGNARIDE system -

it has all the same sensors and modules the ACTIVE F45 system has -
what is really cool - and what makes the actual struts and shocks MUCH more reliable -
is the way the whole thing works -

FIRST - unlike the F45 active system - the F55 has NO VARIABLE VALVING -
this means the electronic valve doesn't wear out -
THAT is what makes the F55 system more reliable than the F45 system -

the F55 system does not use oil in the struts and shocks -
like BOTH the PASSIVE and F45 systems do -
instead - it uses a special MAGNETIC FLUID that changes viscosity -
from as thin as water - to as thick as oatmeal - in a fraction of a second -
and this liquid just doesn't wear out -

hope this clears things up for you -
 

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2001 Cadillac Eldorado ETC
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912 Posts
Re: looking into buying a new caddy

---------------------
it uses a special MAGNETIC FLUID that changes viscosity -
from as thin as water - to as thick as oatmeal - in a fraction of a second -
and this liquid just doesn't wear out -

hope this clears things up for you -
Keep in mind that, yes, the fluid does not wear out, but the unit could develop leaks and then the fluid runs out. Been there, done that.
 

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03 STS
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2,527 Posts
I had to reread the posts to figure out the gist of the question. Seems the OP wants a f55 car. Which is nice I suppose. In that it is the last of the fwd sevilles for the most part. Going to the grocery store will not allow the car to exhibit its real handling abilities but it's not up to me to decide if that's a big deal or not. Maybe the buyer just wants as new of a fwd seville with low miles as possible?
 
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