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Should I buy a car with a 4.1 L Engine?

1134 Views 8 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  the APEMAN
I am considering two models, both will low miles, in great condition ... but both dealers do not have service records for the cars. They both appear to be of superior quality: 1985 Seville and 1985 Eldorado.
Should I avoid these cars because of the engine? Thanks
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I would avoid them,just read some of the comments on this forum.
I wouldn't necessarily avoid them...I'd pick the one with the lowest mileage. Just budget for a headgasket job at some point down the road, and be sure the check the oil at least once per week. These engines are extremely reliable, except for gasket issues.
You will certainly help your GM mechanic get his kids through college!!
I've been driving an '87 Deville with a 4100 for three years and I think its a fine engine. They got most of their bad reputation in the early years, when GM had to reverse engineer them into full size RWD bodies.

That being said - all aluminum block Cadillac engines have head and intake gasket issues. On a 4.1, intake gasket replacement is about $700.00, head gaskets around $1000. But that's cheap compared to a Northstar. If you keep the coolant changed and use the sealant pellets, you dramatically reduce the chance of these problems developing.

On these cars, check the oil for a milkshake appearance, and check the coolant for oily streaks or an exhaust smell. If neither is present, you'll probablly be fine.
Both those cars will have chrome or black sheet metal valve covers if engine is original. If the covers are black aluminum, then the engine's been replaced which is a good thing! The gaskets are the main issue with these engines, not the engines themselves. Do a yearly coolant drain and refill with sealant pellets as stated on the radiator brace. Make sure the rear brakes work by verifing the car remains still with the park brake held down and the trans in D. Rear calipers being siezed was another sore spot. They run fine on regular fuel and should get mid 20 MPG on freeway. Big improvement to driveability is to set timing at 12 degrees rather than 10 degree spec.
If the HG isn't a problem, I guess I'd go with it, but I'd rather go with a 80-81 Seville or 79-81 Eldorado because those earlier ones had more powerful engines, which is really saying something because those are still rather slow.

Performance (mainly acceleration) is a pretty big thing for me when purchasing a car, and the early '80s Cadillacs (well most any early '80s car) aren't very good performance wise, but they are quite good on gas all things considered.
70's, 80's, 90's etc Cadillacs (in general) aren't made for performance, racing, w/e, they are cruisers, they look real nice, they drive nice, the cars are meant to enjoy. Theres nothing wrong with the 4.1 engine if you change your fuilds, and drive it like you would a normal car. Throw some wheels on it, do a nice paintjob, and keep her clean. How much $$$ are these caddies going for? Personally i'd go with the eldorado, the rear end of a seville is just wrong. The cars are the same.

If you want to drive fast and beat the hell out of a car, buy yourself a BMW. They will go well over 500,000 kilomters.
Save your money and wait for a deal on something with a good overall track record.
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