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Discussion Starter #1
hey,
after checking with the one distributor Timesert has in canada, i found that the GM kit will cost me.. you guessed it, $850 about, before tax (15% here) - and that's shop price, it retails at about $950.
now considering i spent about double that to buy the car, i don't feel like putting so much more into it just to replace the threads in the block, that seems ridiculous.. so now it's time to consider my alternatives.

the salesman we spoke with is looking into pricing the individual parts for the kit. now, are the parts that come with the kit anything special? or are they all standard parts. could i buy the bits and such from somewhere else, such as a machine shop? i wouldnt think that drilling and tapping a hole then inserting a timesert would require special equipment. of course, i have no experience with the kit, so correct me if i'm wrong. i'm just looking for an affordable alternative to not timesert, but the GM kit. i'd rather avoid paying for all the markups and GM branding as well, i'm assuming.

thanks for any help, i'm gonna go get some shuteye now.
 

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I just finished timeserting my 98 STS and hope to have it running again this week. I just put the engine in last night. If you are still looking for a Timesert kit email me at [email protected] Additionally I will share my experience of doing it myself with you if that is of interest and/or help. If I had it to do over again I would do a couple of things differently. It's called the learning curve.
 

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A new timesert kit is for 1 head. You have to order inserts for the 2nd head.

Cooper, did you see the headgasket thread in tech tips? If you have stuff to add, add it to that thread so it stays easily available.
 

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I've read a lot about the N* and the head gasket problems.
And I keep hearing reference to needing to timesert the heads?

What does that mean???
Most modern high-performance powerplants are made of aluminum alloys. The head bolts (hold the heads in place), are made out of steel.

When the engine overheats, the aluminum expands and contracts around the headgasket (which itself is made of steel and other compounds), overheating and normal temperature cycling (car on and off, etc) compromise the treads in the bolt holes... so they can pull out.

TimeSert is a company that was hired when the Northstar engine was developed, to create a kit to repair the headbolt holes. They drill the hole and put a specially designed sleeve that is made of steel, and has new treads in it. The kit, includes the drill bits and guides necessary to do this particular repair.

It is recommended, that if you are replacing a headgasket, all 20 headbolts be TimeSerted. Once you do this repair, the engine is seldom affected again (unless it was done improperly or it overheats again). There is a different kit--the last chance to save the block--which takes place AFTER the TimeSert job failed.

This is true of all aluminum heads. Cadillac, at least, had the forsight to hire TimeSert to engineer the kit (proper length and materials, along with specific directions)... knowing an aluminum engine needs the provision. Other manufacturers may leave some in the dark.... who knows.

Another failure point for the headgaskets is poor cooling system maintenance. The anti-corrosion ingredients in the coolant wear out with time. This could cause corrosion (bubbling) of the headgasket.
 

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Thanks, now I know what you guys are talking about.

I'll cross my fingers then as it sound s like a very expensive job all told.
Maintain the cooling system, and never let it overheat (Don't wait for limp-home to kick-in). Pull over immediately if temperature is abnormal... if there is a major breach (leaking coolant or fans not working, etc), have it towed. At least that's what I would do.

The odds are small. There are millions of Northstars out there... without this repair.

The part that's expensive, is that the engine has to be dropped from below, entirely, in order to Timesert the rear headgasket.
 

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Mine is now 5 years old so I'll change the coolant then.
I take it I just order GM Dexcool (v. expensive over here as it has to be shipped in)?
You don't have to use GM DexCool. GM gets it from Texaco, and authorized DexCool products are made by other manufacturers such as Prestone. There is also a "universal" coolant out there that is warranted for 5 years or 150k miles and it is compatible with DexCool.

Use the Search feature above and you will find a nauseatingly huge amount of information about DexCool and how to change the coolant on this site. If you still have questions, just let us know and someone will be able to help.
 

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The problem is becoming more apparent as older Northstar engines age. Some say it has to do with cooling system maintenance, some say its the frequency of short trips, startups, and shut downs, but I [and GM, since they changed the design in later Northstars] say its a design flaw. Fortunately, its not tremendously common.

The Acura Legend has the same problem, without an easily accessible fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
hey, thanks for the replies,
wish i had of read thread sooner, i already ordered a kit from Fastenal in WA for $350, plus the cost for shipping, border clearance fees and the additional 10 inserts. I would of had the kit today, but the Fastenal guys managed to ship from Timesert in Reno to their place, but forgot to then ship it out to me. I should have it sometime Thursday hopefully, and then it's back to work on the Northstar. haha i really wasn't expecting my car to be sitting around like a lawn ornament for so long, but ah well.
 
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