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Oil Film on valve cover, 2001 STS


Faust

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I have been looking at a '01 STS at a local delaership. Mileage is high, 160K, so I am wary. The only defect I have noticed is a fairly heavy oil film on the front valve cover. This is heavy enough that I had to wipe it down to read the lettering. I know oil leaks in Northstars are common, but is this any particular cause for concern? Is it an easy fix?

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I have been looking at a '01 STS at a local delaership. Mileage is high, 160K, so I am wary. The only defect I have noticed is a fairly heavy oil film on the front valve cover. This is heavy enough that I had to wipe it down to read the lettering. I know oil leaks in Northstars are common, but is this any particular cause for concern? Is it an easy fix?

A film of oil up that high on the engine would have to come from road grime or a leak somewhere near the exhaust. If something vaporized the oil or maybe if the fan scattered it, it could form a film on the front valve cover. Maybe the PCV? More likely, it is 160k miles of grime and so on that just hadn't been cleaned.

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There could be a bad grommet on the PCV system - I don't recall if that is in the area of the front cam cover. It could also be from the previous owner spilling oil on the cover when filling the engine with oil.

It's also possible that the cam cover gasket is leaking but it would be rare for the oil to travel up.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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Since the oil film is thick, but widely and evenly distributed, I am assuming that it is of long standing and not a spill. Something like a leaking PVC gasket seems likely. I am not that familiar with the Northstar, but I knew of their propensity to leak oil. That, combined with the high mileage, had me concerned.

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Since the oil film is thick, but widely and evenly distributed, I am assuming that it is of long standing and not a spill. Something like a leaking PVC gasket seems likely. I am not that familiar with the Northstar, but I knew of their propensity to leak oil. That, combined with the high mileage, had me concerned.

Not all Northstars leak... If they do, it is most likely to be the oil pan gasket or oil manifold/distribution plate which is in the bottom half of the engine. Case half seals will seep oil but rarely leak to the ground.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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I think it would depend highly on your expectations of the car. My guess is that the car has made it to 160k because of good maintenance habits, but I'd be very careful to ensure that all the required servicing has been performed. With proper care, the Northstar is capable of going for well past 160k miles.

If the price is right, and you're in love with the car, don't hesitate. Just realize that it has high mileage, and take the money you saved in the purchase of the high-mileage car and leave it for any potential 'high mileage' problems you may (but hopefully won't!) run into. Since it's a 2001, I'm guessing this car spent most of it's life on the highway. I suppose you could argue that a car with 80k city miles probably has MUCH more wear and tear than the same car with 160k highway miles.

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I'm real tempted, it is at our local donation lot and the price is $2000, so no history is available. Looks well cared for. Very attractive car Anthracite with lighter leather. I stop there a few times a week, looking for the odd and unusual. I can afford to lose some money on the car, but I hate to throw it away.

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I suppose for $2k, you can't really argue the price! Check for any diagnostic codes, make sure it doesn't overheat, and you may have just found yourself a nice car at a good price! The lack of history scares me a little bit, but if it's not showing any obvious signs of trouble (major leaks, low fluids, exhaust odor in the coolant), it sounds like a deal!

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If you decide to buy the car, have a combustion test done on the coolant at a radiator shop - that will verify the integrity of the headgaskets.

Kevin
'93 Fleetwood Brougham
'05 Deville
'04 Deville
2013 Silverado Z71

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