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This is my first post and I did skim just a bit through the questions before posting this, but here is my question. I have 5.5K to spend on a used car I need to last me about a year, maybe a 2. Through my search I've found two 02 Devilles, both have a clean carfax with 1 owner, one has 84k miles, the other 48k. The problem is I've had 3 mechanics tell me to avoid them at all cost because the North Star engines in those models are notorious for blowing head gaskets and it's not worth the risk. I REALLY love these two cars, they're immaculate and the test drive was great. I start a new job July 13th and I can't miss one day the first 12 weeks which is training. As Cadillac owners, what would you advise me?
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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A 2002 model year car is now 14 years old, regardless of mileage.

Used cars are a crapshoot - any used car. Beginning in 2000 several running changes were made to the Northstar engines - block metallurgy and head bolt design - so the later series exhibits much less chance (chance) of head gasket failure than pre-2000. The 2004 and later is even less susceptible.

BUT, if you are on a limited budget for repairs and maintenance as well as near-bulletproof reliability, I would look for a creampuff copy of a Ford Panther - Crown Vic or Mercury Grand Marquis.
 

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1992 Fleetwood S&S Hearse, 1993 Buick Roadmaster
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Submariner tells it true! I'd maybe even consider buying two cars ($3500 for one, $2000 for another?). Used cars break down. New cars break down. Having a backup might be a good idea. I have a 1993 Buick Roadmaster that I've owned over 6 years and it has only broken down once in that time, and had to be towed. It had over 200,000 miles on it when I bought it for $1800. You can buy a decent used car for $3500 if you look around. Pick up a high-mileage Honda, then spend the other $2000 on an old ugly GM pickup. BAM.
 

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2011 CTS Coupe FE3, 2003 Thunderbird, Gone 2013 ATS, 02 Deville
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I would not count on a 14 year old car to be trouble free. maybe look into a month long rental new car or a 24 month lease on a new car. I have spent a lot of time and money on my 2002 deville,at 141,000 miles now BUT the next time it breaks and cost $500 to fix that's it. bye bye.
 

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White Diamond '03 DHS (with DTS floor shift)
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A lot of mechanics are uneducated and opinionated about the Northstar. Take it with a grain of salt.

Here are some facts.
The Northstar was redesigned in 2000 to lengthen the head bolts and the HG failures dropped dramatically.
In '04 they went to a coarser thread pitch and they fell even more.
My '03 DHS has 113K.
My daughters '04 SLS had about 130K when I bought it. Drove it cross country last Jan. and pulled into PDX with 160K. Probably close to 165 now.
There are no guarantees.

All that said, I would not be too concerned about either one. Just be sure there was no previous cooling system work or overheating problems. Take it on a long test drive and give it some WOT. Climb some hills if there are any around and if the temp starts to climb, walk away.
Just another opinion.
 

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They are nice cars. I paid 1000. For mine in Feb this year. I had the transmission rebuilt and secondary air pump repaired and new intake gaskets, so I'm in too deep to stop now! I have 4300.00 into it at this point
 

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General rule of thumb for FWD Northstar cars is $1000-$1200 a year or $100/1000 miles to keep up and running in proper condition paying someone qualified and legal to do it. That is $0.10/mile for maintenance and repairs.That is in my area. Your local economy/cost of living may vary to some extent. Some years all you do is oil changes some years just other scheduled maintenance. Other years you are dropping the engine for a reseal. Or dropping the trans for a torque converter and solenoid. But, I track my customers that keep their cars in proper condition (nothing broken or bypassed) and that is what it costs.

When someone sells a car it often has had this $0.10/mile neglected for several years worth of miles. They knew they were going to sell it so they skipped fixing that oil leak. Skipped that brake fluid replacement, skipped the coolant service, left the dry rotting tires on, etc. The result is that most used cars are a year or two behind on their maintenance and repairs. Which adds up to $1000-$2400 to bring it back up to speed. Some of these will be problems that don't inhibit driving like minor oil leaks. Others may stop you in your tracks. Some of these problems haven't even shown up yet and the used car dealer doesn't know about them to fix them if they wanted to.

As a rule for me when I have $XXXX to spend on a car I look for one that costs at least $2000 less than I can spend on it. And even if I can find that car and it seems perfect I keep the extra $2000 in the bank because it WILL need to be spent on the car at some point. If you can find a low miles Deville for $2000 less than your budget I say go for it. The transmissions are among the most reliable I have ever worked with. Most that have made it to 84k without an issue will make it to 200k with the proper maintenance and car. The ride quality is superb. I have yet to ride in a car of any luxury make that fits my tastes as well as the FWD Northstar cars. The power and pickup is outstanding. The fuel economy was great all things considered for its time. Its a little low by modern standards but not a bank account buster. They truly are great cars.
 

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do your self a favor and go buy a toyota, nissan or a honda, but never never buy a ford, i have a fleet of ford vehicles were i work and these things are nothing but problems
 

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2003 deville
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I do really enjoy my deville but a Town car or crown Vic is a reliable vehicle. Many parts are nice due to sheer amount of vehicles and as several are shared with mustang and f150s. But I do agree when buying really any luxury car espically a deal keep extra money as a rainy day, that way some of the sting is taken from any problems.
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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1998 DeVille
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FORD's? I prefer some GM cars but, I've put over 200K on every Ford I've bought. Some well past that. Sold with original engines
and only 1 transmission in a 99 Sable. Other issues, yes. Parts were way cheaper than my friends Toyota. Maybe some years/models
live up to the hype but, never saw a make without issues. Find out what those issues are and decide which ones you'd rather deal with?
 
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