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muddshark

Northstar year-by-year problem list?

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Hello everyone.

I just bought a 2002 Seville SLS with 56K mi. Driven for two days and I love it.

However, while the car was being shipped to me I went on a fishing trip. On the trip my cousins husband told me he had a 1999 Seville STS that had a engine failure at 50K mi that required a $6k fix. He claimed that the dealership told hime this as a common issue at 50K with the Northstar. He described that they had to take the whole engine out and split it to get to a failed something. He then said 20K after that he had another big issue that was "common" according to the dealer.

Does anyone know of a year by year northstar 'common problems' list? Anyone have any insight in general?

Lastly, does anyone know a good non-dealer mechanic for Northstar engines in Portland, OR or is it the kind of car that should always go to the dealer?

Thanks!

-Muddshark

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Although I am sorry to hear that your cousin's husband had a bad experience with his 99 STS, I do not know of any frequent problems to be expected at 50K miles on any of the NS's. The early years 93/94 did have some opportunity for a half-case seal leak, and a rear main seal leak. The repair for that should not run $6K, although I would not be overly suprised to hear that a Dealer was able to charge that amount. Please read the article here for the repair procedure: http://caddyinfo.onedgesolutions.com/howto/casehalf.htm

A cost of $6K would be something like $1K/hour for that repair? Ian, who is a GM Cadillac mechanic, mentions here http://caddyinfo.onedgesolutions.com/howto/nsrepair.htm that it takes him around 1 hr 20 min to have the powertrain out of the car and ready to work on.

If you can find a good mechanic there are few things that HAVE to go to the dealer for repair. There are several discount parts places online for original equipment parts, so it is just a matter of finding a mechanic who is competent on the northstar.


Bruce

2016 Cadillac ATS-V gray/black; 2013 Cadillac ATS 2L Turbo Premium (Wife's)

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There are no problems that the Northstar is known for having with less than 100,000 miles. What you are describing sounds like a car that wasn't driven very much and had a case-half O-ring problem at 50,000 miles and a pulled head bolt at 70,000 miles. Case-half O-rings are known to fail at about 130,000 miles, but they do, rarely, fail sooner, resulting in really messy oil leaks that manifest themselves only when the engine is running, and are fixed on warranty. An oil leak that leaves spots on the garage floor is the oil pan gasket and is less serious; the oil pan gasket tends to seep on older cars. Head bolts pulling out are caused by going too long without changing the antifreeze, resulting in corrosive coolant getting into the head bolt threads. You should change your coolant at 3 or 4 years, not 150,000 miles unless you drive more than 30,000 miles a year.

If the car is out of warranty, I would decide whether to take the car to a dealer or to a mechanic based on the problem I'm having. I have the oil changed at a reliable service station that gets in 8 fresh quarts of 5W-30 Mobil 1 when I make an appointment. I have an appointment with the dealer on the 3rd to look at a spotty A/C compressor clutch, which is under lifetime parts and labor warranty by GM because I replaced the compressor at the dealer in 2003.

I selected the mechanic that I use for most things on these criteria:

  • He is comfortable with my car.
  • He is quite bright and knows what he is talking about.
  • He has a code reader, PC based, that can do everything tha the dealer code reader can do, like read trouble code snapshots and monitor data in real time.
  • He can do wheel alignment and dyno tests on-site.
  • He knows when to do jobs homself and when to ask his crew to do them.
  • Some senior mechanics are on his crew and you see them there ever day for a long time.
  • Mechanic's credentials for him and his crew are prominently displayed in the office area.
I also checked out work he had done. He was the third one that I tried.

If you are just now getting the car, I would have the coolant checked for life and combustion products, then change it. Also, of course, change the oil and filter. I'll leave to you whether to change the serpentine belt and the hoses.


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-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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Rather than ask for "known problems", you should rather try to understand how these problems can be prevented. for starters, as mentioned, maintaining the coolant is very important. purchasing a used vehicle without being able to verify if the coolant was changed & changed correctly, you might want to drain & fill with new dexcool. also add the tablets to the coolant. also change the brake fluid, Power steering fluid.

search the board, & you'll find plenty of ways we all use to maintian our vehicles. For starters, search for "WOT", you'll have fun with that one. Happy reading.......

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I have the oil changed at a reliable service station that gets in 8 fresh quarts of 5W-30 Mobil 1 when I make an appointment.

I think you meant 7.5 Jim. Overfilling it will actually promote oil consumption. personally I use 7 qts and add when needed.

Don't let your cousins husband scare you. Follow the advice above and enjoy it.

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http://autos.msn.com/ is a great place to read up on details about reliability , read user reviews etc. Its a great way to read about any car before purchase.....

An example of what it has for reliability is: (This is for a a 2002 sts)

Occasional problems on this vehicle are the failure of the Crankshaft Position Sensors and the Fuel Pressure Regulator. A failure of either component can cause the vehicle to stall. A problem with the Crankshaft Position Sensors can cause the vehicle to not start. The cost to repair the Crankshaft Position Sensors is $55.31 for each sensor, there are two sensors, and $97.50 for labor to replace both sensors. The cost to replace the Fuel Pressure Regulator is $42.62 for parts and $39.00 for labor. All prices are estimates based on $65.00 per flat rate hour and do not include diagnostic time or any applicable sales tax.

The user reviews give you all kinds of info about what someone has to say about the car. It has Pros, Cons and Overall catagories. Example: (

Pros:

Soft ride, but tight handling. The best of all worlds. This vehicle has an excellant powertrain. As reliable as the high end imports that I've driven in the recent past.

Cons:

Goodyear tires develop ride disturbance after 15k miles. This has been my experience with all Goodyears. A vehicle in this price range should come with the BEST tires.

Overall Review:

I am very satisfied with the ride and handling of this vehicle. The engine is just great ! What get up and go ! Smooth ! Overall quality of the finish on the interior and the exterior is not up to the high end imports, but the price of the vehicle is. This is Cadillac's weak spot. The service department has been very good, but lacks the polish of the hgh end import facilities. Nice touches such as a wash after service are not always performed.

Good luck with your car, i'm sure you will love it, keep the regular maintence up and you should be fine.

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And, remember - the people on this board LOVE to discuss anything having to do with Cadillacs - so please do post often and thoroughly - any little question or noise or smell or anything you notice about your car will be discussed at length here once you post the topic.

Spend a coupla hours reading past posts and you'll get a feel for what goes on here - and what to watch out for in your car - and what should be avoided (like politics and gratuitously dissing Cadillacs)

And, scrupulously follow the recommendations you find here to the letter (for instance adding the "tabs" to the new coolant and where to add them) - attention to small details can mean a big difference in your car's reliability and loveability.

Enjoy!

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An example of what it has for reliability is: (This is for a a 2002 sts)

Occasional problems on this vehicle are the failure of the Crankshaft Position Sensors and the Fuel Pressure Regulator. A failure of either component can cause the vehicle to stall. A problem with the Crankshaft Position Sensors can cause the vehicle to not start. The cost to repair the Crankshaft Position Sensors is $55.31 for each sensor, there are two sensors, and $97.50 for labor to replace both sensors. The cost to replace the Fuel Pressure Regulator is $42.62 for parts and $39.00 for labor. All prices are estimates based on $65.00 per flat rate hour and do not include diagnostic time or any applicable sales tax.

Some good advice... except it is only partly right... you will get this from services that do not actually live with or fix these cars:

1) Crank sensors... Based on mine and about 9 people I know with 2000-2002 (and early 2003s) Northstars and Shortstars...And the parts guy at the dealership... EVERY SINGLE ONE will need new crank sensors between 40,000 and 60,000 miles... Not "Occasional". All of them. When these fail the car will stall and then easily re-start... this usually happens within the first 2-3 minutes during warm-up. The price above is full retail... The effort to install them is only slightly harder then changing your oil. This is a DIY project.

2) GM got some really bad Catalytic Converters in 2002... These can and do fail at about 50,000 - 80,000 miles and are covered under a federal emissions warranty. Off warranty go for aftermarket universal fit.

3) Early 2002s have a problem with the BOSE (non NAV) radio unit "talking" with the CD Stacker over the serial bus. It will drop from the list of choices on the Head Unit... They only way to fix this is to replace the head unit. This problem takes about 2 weeks to a month to manifest... $900+ to fix off warranty.

4) Most (all?) 98-2004 Sevilles trunks leak... do a search... easy fix...

5) Lots of 98-2004 Sevilles "vibrate" at 65-75 MPH... do a test drive at this speed... also do a search... usually an easy fix

6) The FPR problem seems more common on the earlier N*s. The 2000 and newer cars seems less likely to have this problem... My 2002 is a high mileage beast and the original FPR is just fine

7) Motor mounts are an issue on all N*s... particularly bad on 2000-2004 when GM removed the top "dog bone" mount... My car is on its second one..

8) Water Pump covers will eventually start to leak on these cars GM redesigned the cover and gasket... I wonder how many of these are diagnosed as head gaskets? I replaced mine last week... Solved my "Hey I smell coolant" problem... (thanks Scotty/Body By Fisher ;) )

9) Search "cabin air filter" My advice... when it is due for replacement, remove it and forget about it... Major pain in the back... trust me ;)

These are great cars and amazingly fun to drive and own. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I love mine!

Edited by OynxSTS

caddy.jpg

Easin' down the highway in a new Cadillac,

I had a fine fox in front, I had three more in the back

ZZTOP, I'm Bad I'm Nationwide

Greg

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9) Search "cabin air filter" My advice... when it is due for replacement, remove it and forget about it... Major pain in the back... trust me ;)

Just to clarify your point about cabin air filter replacement: I have read horror stories about how difficult it is to replace these on Sevilles and Eldorados and I'm sure your point is well taken. On 2000 and later Devilles, however, cabin air filter replacement is quite easy. The filter is located beneath an access panel under the hood, on the passenger side, just forward of the base of the windshield. The filters are kind of pricey ($45 at Pep Boys, $65 at dealers). When I replaced mine, I noticed a significant increase in air flow through the vents and they do help keep dust and pollen out of the cabin.


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Happiness is owning a Cadillac with no codes.

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Just to clarify your point about cabin air filter replacement: I have read horror stories about how difficult it is to replace these on Sevilles and Eldorados and I'm sure your point is well taken. On 2000 and later Devilles, however, cabin air filter replacement is quite easy. The filter is located beneath an access panel under the hood, on the passenger side, just forward of the base of the windshield. The filters are kind of pricey ($45 at Pep Boys, $65 at dealers). When I replaced mine, I noticed a significant increase in air flow through the vents and they do help keep dust and pollen out of the cabin.

Absolutely! But this guy, like me has a Seville... The design of the air filter in the 98-04 Sevilles is just plain whacked.

Worst of all it is near the end of the air stream (unlike the Devilles where it is near the start)...

Again on the Sevilles the air filter seems designed to hold mold and dirt against the evaporator... Not only is it a calisthenics exercise to get to it... IMO it does not make the air quality in my car better... it make it worse...


caddy.jpg

Easin' down the highway in a new Cadillac,

I had a fine fox in front, I had three more in the back

ZZTOP, I'm Bad I'm Nationwide

Greg

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My guess is (and it's only a guess) Cadillac came up with the cabin air filter idea after the Seville/Eldorado climate control was designed. As a result, I think they retrofitted it wherever they could. It's the only logical reason to put a routinely replacable item where it's next to impossible to replace. I'd be interested to know where the filter is located on the new STS.


photo-36.jpg

Happiness is owning a Cadillac with no codes.

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Couldn't be easier... in 2005 and newer Its behind the windshield wipers at the base of the windshield like it is on 99% of the cars that have this feature...


caddy.jpg

Easin' down the highway in a new Cadillac,

I had a fine fox in front, I had three more in the back

ZZTOP, I'm Bad I'm Nationwide

Greg

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