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Anybody use Northstar Performance?


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Northstar Performance

First Post and possible caddie owner to be. Thanks for having me on this DB!

Has anyone had any experience with this shop?

My in-laws have a '98 Deville with 58K owned since new that appears to have a blown head gasket. They want to fix it and give it to me and my wife for my wife to drive.

The car is losing coolant with none on the ground or visible coming out of the engine. Other day on 45 mile trip coolant light came on and the info center said "stop engine immediately" or something like that (my wife was driving to meet me). She pulled over at next safe exit and we came to her and added 1 liter of water and one gallon of antifreeze. Drove car 5 more miles without incident and had it towed 45 miles home. My father-in-laws tech pressure tested the system and it leaked down within a minute. Plan to perform exhaust strip test on coolant soon but am preparing for the worst (head gasket or cracked head). Car stumbles a tad on startup then runs great. They are driving it now short trips locally in their small town.

I would trailer or ship car to Northstar Performance if I could verify any good experiences with them.

Any experiences with this company at the above link?

Thanks!

Andy

Duluth, GA

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From the area code, these guys are in Ontario, Canada. It will be cheaper to drop the engine out the bottom and ship it to them. A Northstar R&R will cost $1200 to $1500 so you are looking at a total cost of about $3K by the time you're done.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- 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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Northstar Performance

First Post and possible caddie owner to be. Thanks for having me on this DB!

Has anyone had any experience with this shop?

I have no experience with Jake at Northstar Performance. But I have been watching his threads on the other Cadillac board for more than one year and have not seen a negative comment on his services.

My in-laws have a '98 Deville with 58K owned since new that appears to have a blown head gasket. They want to fix it and give it to me and my wife for my wife to drive.

The car is losing coolant with none on the ground or visible coming out of the engine. Other day on 45 mile trip coolant light came on and the info center said "stop engine immediately" or something like that (my wife was driving to meet me). She pulled over at next safe exit and we came to her and added 1 liter of water and one gallon of antifreeze. Drove car 5 more miles without incident and had it towed 45 miles home. My father-in-laws tech pressure tested the system and it leaked down within a minute. Plan to perform exhaust strip test on coolant soon but am preparing for the worst (head gasket or cracked head). Car stumbles a tad on startup then runs great. They are driving it now short trips locally in their small town.

Take the final diagnostic steps and confirm gasket failure (a head failure is rare).

I would trailer or ship car to Northstar Performance....

That is going to be a costly proposition. I drive to the general area in Ontario where Jake is located and his shop is approximately 1,125 miles from my driveway in Coweta County. My route is through Cincinnatti, Columbus, Cleveland and Buffalo. At least one night on the road each way plus several nights in London waiting for Jake to do the job.

Do not leave the country without a passport!

Take a long hard look at shipping; but I can't give you any idea what kind of hassle to expect getting the car in and out of Canada via a commercial trucking company.

Keep us informed; I'll bet there are others considering have Jake do the job.

Jim

Drive your car.

Use your cell phone.

CHOOSE ONE !

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Some discussion in this earlier thread and the owner has participated here on the board in the past

as NorthstarPerformance

This appears to be a legitimate business taking a unique approach to Northstar repair. If I had confirmed that my Northstar had a head gasket lead I would consider taking it to them for repair. If you do take your car to this shop to be repaired please do report on your experience.

Bruce

2016 Cadillac ATS-V gray/black

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I guess I don't spend enough time at CaddyInfo....

I'm the owner of Northstar Performance- Jake Wiebe is my name (pronunced wee-b.)

I need to be a paid member of these forums to advertise services and I believe I will register soon as a vendor.

Background on myself- general hobbyist, grew up with a wood saw in one hand, welder/torch in the other.... love cars, always have, particularly GM's. Built up a few toys, lots of engines, done head gasket repairs on lots of cars. Northstars- I've rebuilt a few, done the head gaskets on over 65 cars. If I added it up again I'd say #70 left the shop today. Few people believe that if I tell them, but I have pictures to back it up. It started with my 1997 Eldorado and a concept, and the demand out there.

I pulled my 1997 Eldo in for HG replacement, 2 months after I bought it. My first Cadillac. Sold my 1996 Olds LSS just because I saw this car for sale. and the problems started. Slow coolant loss, then the overheating and severe coolant loss, etc. First N*, had the engine out in one day (took it slow, wanted to memorize placement of all the parts) pulled it through the top. Tore the engine down and looked at the threads that came out WITH the bolt. Then found a forum devoted to Cadillacs and researched this. Found out the repair involved a small threaded insert, that essentially made the bolt bigger.

What I developed was a stud that is 2 different diameters and thread types. I did this on a Ward metal lathe. The studs originally were 1/2" thick and required re-drilling the heads, but since I have set up a contract with a fastener supplier that custom CNC machines the studs for me and heat treats them to a specific hardness. Now the diameter of the studs is 5/8 in the block and pretty much what the factory bolt is, passing through the head. All torquing is done on top of the stud with a special fine threaded nuts and high alloy washers.

Word got around that I wasn't afraid to fix these engines and I did some advertising as well. I originally backed my repairs with a 1 year/18,600 mile warranty but is now a 2 year/31,000 mile warranty (50,000 kilometers).

I have done a lot of testing with these studs and I also sell the kits to repair the engine yourself with studs. I guarantee that the block will not crack due to the use of the studs (just follow the instructions) as this sometimes happens with threaded inserts.

I have done roughly around 70 engines to date, and sold about 35 kits. I have NO reported failures with my repairs, and one reported failure with the stud kit (someone else did the work and used my studs.) He tore the engine back down and checked the block, the block deck had a low spot and was out .006". Always check the deck and head surfaces. This is almost unheard of with Northstars, but it pays to check every time.

I have had a few cars come back to me.

- One developed coolant loss. It was a faulty heater core. No overheating, but coolant smell inside the car and windows that were fogging up.

- One had an oil leak after doing the lower seals. Drain plug gasket was split and seeped slowly across the pan.

- One overheated, new thermostat had failed. New thermostat and the problem disappeared.

- One had developed a knock- long story but it was a camshaft drive pin that had fallen out and the sprocket loosened up. He drove too long and it did some damage. I pulled the engine again and repaired it for next to nothing.

I will be honest with everyone and I want to keep a good reputation, so successes and failures are reported alike. The day is coming where I will have a HG failure, and will have to re-do my work, but I have kept a good track record so far. All internal engine fasteners are checked 3 times for proper torque. I don't want ANY mistakes. Nobody but myself (no hired help) does the actual stud conversion or engine assembly. I am very picky, but for good reason.

I currently charge $1500 CDN parts & labor for the head gasket job on any Cadillac/Aurora, or $1800 including the case/crankshaft/oil pan seals. 5 year warranty is available for extra cost, but probably not worth it because I'm quite sure my repairs will last longer than 5 years anyway. More like 5-10+, depending on maintenance of the cooling system/engine.

I have recently aquired a very large facility and will be moving May 15th (10 minutes from my current location) into a 4400 sq. ft. shop. I'm in business to stay and have hired one employee for now.

-Jake

Edited by NorthstarPerformance
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I wish I had known about this guy in June 2006. All mine needed was Timeserts and gaskets.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- 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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  • 2 weeks later...

I am all set with Jake to come up 5/21.

I think I pretty much confirmed it is the head gasket. I did combustion gas test and it failed with flying (yellow) colors. I am getting false boiling in surge tank and when I drive the car at higher revs it blows coolant out of the surge tank overflow tube at a quick rate. I lost 1 gallon in 125 miles driven easy and another gallon in 10 miles driven harder with some WOT.

Sure hope the head isn't cracked.

I will report back to all of you my experiences.

See ya bright and early on the 21st Jake!

-Andy

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See you then Andy, just give me a call when you're getting close - 519-550-0056. Have a safe trip!

I am all set with Jake to come up 5/21.

I think I pretty much confirmed it is the head gasket. I did combustion gas test and it failed with flying (yellow) colors. I am getting false boiling in surge tank and when I drive the car at higher revs it blows coolant out of the surge tank overflow tube at a quick rate. I lost 1 gallon in 125 miles driven easy and another gallon in 10 miles driven harder with some WOT.

Sure hope the head isn't cracked.

I will report back to all of you my experiences.

See ya bright and early on the 21st Jake!

-Andy

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  • 12 years later...

Hello folks,

I'm a Cadillac fan from Germany. My STS had the well-known overheating issues earlier this year.
I then found the solution from Northstar Performance on the Internet and was convinced that it would be a good investment to buy the stud repair set here.

In conclusion, however, I have to say that Mr. Wiebe's service is by no means satisfactory.
At first I had to wait over 2 months for the delivery without any further explanation, even though I had paid directly via PayPal. Inquiries in this regard were only answered very sparingly.

When I started the repair a few days ago, I noticed that the stud bolts are not dimensionally accurate. One of the studs had a belly in the middle and had to be cut to size.
In principle, inquiries regarding these manufacturing errors went unanswered.
Being aware of this inaccuracy, I found that the other studs went so easily into the new 5/8 "- 11 threads that it seemed a little strange to me.
The studs had partly different dimensions. To be exact, according to the screw table up to 0.15 mm (0.006 ") too little for the new 5/8" - 11 thread in the engine block.
As a result, it was not possible to achieve the 75 ft. Lbs. Torque recommended by Mr. Wiebe. to reach.
Rather, there was a risk of tearing out the new threads and ruining the engine block.
I'm not sure if this has happened to me with at least one stud bolt. That will be seen when the engine is reinstalled and hopefully starts up.

Aside from this unfortunate state of affairs, I still believe that the process makes sense. However, with dimensionally stable components. Maybe I was just unlucky and grabbed the toilet, as we say in Germany.

However, the question arises as to whether the torque of 75 ft. Lbs makes sense.

In the workshop manual, the original M11 screws are tightened as follows:

1st pass - 40 Nm (30 lb ft)

2nd pass - additional 70 degrees

3rd pass - another 70 degrees

4. Final Pass - final 60 degrees

(total 200 degrees)

... so significantly less than a whole further screw turn or a little more than half a screw turn.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to realize that starting from 40 Nm + a little more than half a turn, 100 Nm (75 ft. Lbs.) Certainly won't come out, and certainly not with the fine thread used.
So the cylinder head bolts certainly don't have to be 75 ft. Lbs. tightened to seal the engine in the area of the head gasket.
So I wonder what drove Mr. Wiebe to set such values.

Does somebody has any idea?

I would like to be instructed and I would be happy to receive feedback.

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You can't go wrong with Cadillac's recommendation, Timeserts and new studs from GM.  As you note, the GM studs are torque-and-twist.  This method uses long studs from the head to the bottom of the head bolt well in the block as a tension spring, and keeps head clamping force within bounds as the bock heats up and cools down.

Torque-and-twist is a time-honored method for reliable had studs on aluminum engines of all makes.

Using steel bolts that are too wide to stretch as the block heats and cools is well-known to result in too-high clamping forces if the engine overheats.

If you end up pulling the engine again for further repairs, see if you can get the recommended Timeserts for your engine installed.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- 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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