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my wife crazy, 1997 STS, 2004 CTS
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188 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All,
I haven't been here in a Looooong time.....was canuck97.....

but here goes...
I have a 97 Canadian born STS...I drove the heck out of the car....and then past it down to my kids (who have each hit something of value with it....). Now my old faithfull, with about 200K miles, can only be called old faithfull due to the frequent overheating gysers out of the reservoir....I'm pretty positive I have killed the HGs. Instead of studding the head or even dealing with timeserts, I'm considering buying one of two engines off of craigslist. One engine is a 99SLS engine and tranny with 100K miles....with of course, NO PROBLEMS...(yeah right...). The other is a 97 engine with about 80K miles (not sure if STS or SLS). Both engines are pretty cheap ($400-600). Is there any way to check the headbolts without running the engine in a car? Both are out of the cars. If the bolts are tight, I'll assume the gasket is good. Can I put a torque wrench on the head bolts, and try something much lower than they were originaly tightened to (like say 30-40 ft*lbs), and if they don't turn, the bolts haven't backed out? Is there a potential downside to trying it?

I'm not afraid of rebuilding the motor...I've done my share of others...and have had to do some interesting stuff on the STS (like replace the tranny scavenge pump....while leaving the engine/drivetrain in the car), so no fear of work....just can't see putting $1000 in the top of the engine...only to have the bottom quit in 10-20K...or spend $3000 building the whole thing....on a car worth $2000. The car is IDEAL for my kids, and will only get about 5000K a year on it in semi-retired status.....but if I could trade my 2004 CTS for a "brand new" version of the 97 STS, I'd do it in a heart beat!
 

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Super Moderator
2010 DTS
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88,163 Posts
DO NOT put a wrench to the head bolts. There is a sealer/thread locker on the bolt threads when it is installed. You do not want to break that seal. The only other way to test the head gaskets is with a leak down test. That said, the '97 - '99 seem to have the worst failure rate with the '99 being the worst. See the sticky poll in the Northstar forum. I'd be leary of either even if they test good ....................for now.
 

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1996 Eldorado
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2,814 Posts
It would be difficult if not impossible to check. I don't no if you can do a coolant analysis or if it would show anything. Why don't you go ahead & fix the head bolts? You know how well the current engine runs. I would never consider a used engine unless doing the work prior to installing it anyhow.

Considering the amount you would invest in the end, a northstarperformance long block may be thought.
 
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