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Hello,

I'm looking to buy a 97 Eldorado with 130,000 miles on it and the person that has it just doesn't want to contend with it. They were told it was either a head gasket, water pump or thermostat. Assuming the worst, would $1000 be a good deal? It's been garaged it's whole life and they are the 3rd owners.

I would probably try to attempt the head gaskets myself with the help of my father-in-law. Do you think we'd be okay? We just did a intake gasket on a 3.1 v6 and it didn't seem too bad. I know it's nothing close to a head gasket, but it wouldn't have taken much longer to get to them on the 3.1. It seems taking all the little crap off is the annoying part.

Does anyone have a step by step for doing the head gaskets on a northstar? Maybe also where to get the new bolts and such. I've always wanted to attempt one, but never have.

What do you think?

-Dusty-

2006 Cadillac DTS Glacier Gold Tri-Coat with 175,000 miles

1993 Cadillac Sixty Special Gold Mist with 185,000 miles

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On a side note, I know everyone says that the bottled head gasket fixes don't work (for common sense reasons because the head bolts are loose). But has anyone actually tried Steel Seal or Thermagasket?

-Dusty-

2006 Cadillac DTS Glacier Gold Tri-Coat with 175,000 miles

1993 Cadillac Sixty Special Gold Mist with 185,000 miles

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A smoking great deal on a used 97 Eldorado with 130K miles and a head gasket problem is FREE. If the condition of the rest of the car was great then $1K for the car knowing you will have several $K in repair work and end up with a car worth somewhat less money than you have in it is a matter of taste.

To repair the head gasket you will need to take the power train out of the vehicle, then timesert all of the head bolt holes, then put in the new head gasket and new bolts. Out of pocket for the timesert kit has to be added in to the head gasket / bolt kit cost. Check http://www.timesert.com/html/gm.html and there is a movie about the fix.

Bruce

2016 Cadillac ATS-V gray/black

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On a side note, I know everyone says that the bottled head gasket fixes don't work (for common sense reasons because the head bolts are loose). But has anyone actually tried Steel Seal or Thermagasket?

No, that snake oil will not work. It has been tried.

Keep in mind that this is not your average head gasket job. You have to drop the drivetrain out the bottom. You have to drill out all 20 head bolt holes, rethread them and either insert or stud them.

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I would suggest getting a coolant test done to see if there are combustion gases in it to verify whether or not it IS actually a head gasket problem. You can get a do-it-yourself test kit at NAPA and probably some other parts stores. If the only clue this person has is that the car overheats, then that could be a number of things. Don't assume the worst yet. Find out everything you can about the car first.

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Thanks for the replies!

I did not know that you had to drop the powertrain, that's crazy! How come you have to do it?

I know that the head gasket repair crap usually doesn't work, but does it work temporarily at all? Like enough to get me home (100 miles) if it is in fact a head gasket.

I was thinking about getting a combustion gas test at NAPA.

I got a little more info out of the person (keep in mind they are completely clueless about cars). They said that it doesn't seem to EVER overheat when idling, but starts to overheat about 25-30 minutes after driving.

I got a picture of the car and it is in very good shape. Could it be a waterpump or thermostat? They lowered from 1300 to 900 in a day, so I'm sure I can get them to 500 or so. There is brand new tires and new radiator.

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Edited by 93SixtySpecial

-Dusty-

2006 Cadillac DTS Glacier Gold Tri-Coat with 175,000 miles

1993 Cadillac Sixty Special Gold Mist with 185,000 miles

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I've also heard a couple people that have the wrong radiator cap can have problems overheating, maybe they put the wrong radiator cap on with the new radiator? *crossing fingers*

-Dusty-

2006 Cadillac DTS Glacier Gold Tri-Coat with 175,000 miles

1993 Cadillac Sixty Special Gold Mist with 185,000 miles

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The car looks like it is in nice condition. Pull the purge hose from the surge tank (the one that comes from the throttle body area) and have someone start the engine while you watch the hose. Coolant should pee out the hose. If it doesn't, there is a restriction in the line that is causing the overheat condition. The most likely location of the restriction is where the hose connects to the water pump cover area.

The reason the engine needs to be removed to R&R the head gaskets is due to all the fasteners that are at such awkward angles. You can replace the head gaskets and Timesert the bolt holes with the engine in the car but it takes less time to just pull the engine and place it on an engine stand. With the engine on a stand, it is much easier to work on.

If you're comfortable in doing the work yourself, you'll have about $800-$1000 in parts depending on what you replace so figure that into the purchase price. I'd offer $500 and see what happens - you could wind up with a very noce car for about $1300-$1500 plus some labor...

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

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Another good thing to find out is how often and how much has the car overheated? If it isn't a head gasket (crossing fingers for you) then you may end up with a head gasket problem after buying it if it has been severely overheated. Every time the engine overheats the aluminum block and heads are expanding, pinching the head gaskets, then when it cools the gaskets don't always go back to their normal shape, which creates a gap that can start leaking.

That is an EXTREMELY nice looking car for the price. I hope it's not the head gaskets.....

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I know that the head gasket repair crap usually doesn't work, but does it work temporarily at all? Like enough to get me home (100 miles) if it is in fact a head gasket.

It might.

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I've heard that the repair-in-a-bottle stuff can cause clogs in other parts of the cooling system in the Northstar. I'm not sure how true this is. I personally wouldn't put it in my car, but that's just me. I don't like to take chances with my car.

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If it's head gaskets, would coolant still come out of the purge line? Or not as much because of all the air in the system? I'm purchasing a combustion test tomorrow before I go take a look at it, that way I will know for sure.

They said they drove it to there friends house (12 miles away) and it never overheated, but they had to add coolant. When head gaskets are bad, do they burn antifreeze too? Or does it just pump air into the coolant system?

-Dusty-

2006 Cadillac DTS Glacier Gold Tri-Coat with 175,000 miles

1993 Cadillac Sixty Special Gold Mist with 185,000 miles

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I'm not very good at transferring thoughts from my head onto paper, or a computer, but I'll try. If I mistake anything I am sure someone will correct me. When head gaskets are bad, coolant will seem to disappear...meaning it will keep running low with no signs of an external leak. It is very rare for a head gasket to cause an external leak on a Northstar. With a head gasket leak, coolant gets into the combustion chamber, as well as combustion gases getting into the coolant tank. The coolant in the combustion chamber (if there is enough of it present) will cause a whitish vapor to come from the exhaust and can also cause a misfire, particularly when it is first started after sitting for any length of time. This is because antifreeze is not combustible and doesn't allow for the spark plug to fire properly until the engine warms up and the coolant is exhausted in the form of a vapor. If the vapor from the exhaust is present and you smell it, it will smell like coolant. You would also smell exhaust fumes in the coolant tank if you take the cap off and give it a good sniff. (this is not true if the coolant has just been changed, as it hasn't had time for exhaust gases to build up in it yet)

Oh, and as a side note, be sure the coolant cap is on right and tightened all the way. If it's loose, then you can lose coolant that way. Almost my entire coolant system emptied itself on the ground, and the temperature was running higher than what is typical for my car due to my cap not being on all the way

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I'm hoping it's just a leaky hose, cap or bad thermostat or waterpump. The radiator was just replaced, so maybe something wasn't tightened enough and it's leaking coolant or something. I'll find out when I test the coolant tomorrow and test drive it. We'll see!

-Dusty-

2006 Cadillac DTS Glacier Gold Tri-Coat with 175,000 miles

1993 Cadillac Sixty Special Gold Mist with 185,000 miles

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Might I suggest that when you take it for a test drive that (if you can) you get on a highway and drive for a little while, romp on it a little, then go back into slower, stop and go traffic and see how the temperature acts. If it does have an overheating problem then it is very likely to show up then. Just don't let it overheat if the temp does start to climb more than normal. I would also let it sit at an idle before and after test driving it and inspect for external coolant leaks (I say after as well because some coolant leaks won't show themselves until the car is at operating temp and there is pressure built up in the cooling system). Like I said, don't let it overheat if it starts to....pull her over and let it cool off.

Just my thoughts, and GOOD LUCK!

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Thank you! I'll try out the things you mentioned and get back to you tomorrow night with the update.

-Dusty-

2006 Cadillac DTS Glacier Gold Tri-Coat with 175,000 miles

1993 Cadillac Sixty Special Gold Mist with 185,000 miles

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It sold before I got there today :(

I did test drive a 99 Deville though with only 84,000 miles for $2900! It is a blue granite color with a blue soft top. It has heated seats, memory seats, sunroof, and it's gold series, which doesn't mean much, but I think it's cool :D

-Dusty-

2006 Cadillac DTS Glacier Gold Tri-Coat with 175,000 miles

1993 Cadillac Sixty Special Gold Mist with 185,000 miles

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