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Defective Northstars'?


MAC

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I like my Eldorado and will probably stick with Cadillac; however, I’m surprised that Cadillac hasn’t been sued already for the seemingly exorbitant number of defective Northstar transmissions. When I say defective, I mean transmissions that need rebuilding at 40-90,000 miles; or even 100,000 + miles. It's been said that transmissions should last almost indefinitely depending on maintenance and driving habits. Cadillac transmissions and/or components seem to fail way too prematurely. It would be interesting to see whether my observations hold water by comparing Cadillac Northstar transmission failure rate to other transmissions. It would not be surprising to see that Northstar transmissions fail at a higher rate than on average.

I know that this is a sensitive topic considering that we are all Cadillac enthusiasts. However, as far as I’m concerned if Cadillac is innocent of any wrongdoing, then it has nothing to worry about! If there are legitimate issues regarding “defects in NorthStar V8 engines”, then Cadillac should be held to same high standards that consumers expect and deserve, especially when it comes to $40,000 plus automobiles. The only thing I’m confused about is what is so special about Deville Northstars’ that don’t apply to other Northstars.

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What are you talking about? The transmissions are probably the strongest part of the Northstar drivetrain. Besides the shift solenoids on early models, which is a cheap fix, they are solid as a rock.

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I didn't realize that their transmissions faile anymore than the rest of the cars on the road.

Still I have to question the life of the fluids these days. It just seems strange the same fluid will last 100,000 miles. I'm going to be changing mine in the near future as well as the DEXCOL anti-freeze.

Jim

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The only thing I’m confused about is what is so special about Deville Northstars’ that don’t apply to other Northstars

I don't follow you on this one. The only thing I know about the DeVille is the Concours and the DTS get the 300 HP set up and the Deville, DHS get the 275 HP set up. In other words a DTS will have the same drive line as a STS or ETC.

Jim

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You must be a newbe with GM's: I have been a GM man all of my life. One big complaint is that GM transmissions start dieing @ 50k. That doesn't mean that you won't get well over 50k. Mine has 65k, and it's like brand new, and I don't see any reason why it won't last 150+k. (There was a spell in GM where 50k tranmsmssion failure could almost be set on the calander.)

The statement that GM trannies start to die @ 50k means that 50k is zone where there is a possibilty that transmission will fail. The same applies for men and the heart attack zone. Men enter the heart attack zone @ age 35 to 40, meaning that's when men start having heart attacks. That doesn't mean that it's a plauge; rather, it means that the clock says it's time for some to have such failure. Same with GM tranmsmisions.

Because Ima GM man, I don't know the rates for other manafacturers and the zone where transmissions fail. I don't see some parts--no matter what part it is, water pumps, alternators, itnitions, cv's, exaust, whatever parts--failing at 50k as something to complain about. If there is a massive failure rate, I'd like to see the source of which you quote. Then I'd like to see the comparision sources.

By the way, you'll never hear people bitching about imports. It's not because they don't break down; rather, it's because the owners don't dare to *smurf*. After all, who are they going to *smurf* too? They just got done telling you what a pos American cars are, so who the hell are they going to *smurf* too? It's not that their cars break down less; in fact, they probally lie becuse no one likes to admit that they made a poor choice, especially after taking the stance they took when bying an import. Also they aint got the nuts to *smurf*!

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My post is in response to a post today from a California law firm, which has since been removed as a result of complaints. The law firm is looking for owners of 94 + Devilles’ in an effort to establish class action status regarding alleged defects in Northstar engines. Frankly, I don’t disagree with the post being removed.

However, regarding my transmission observations, all you have to do is search the Old Forum archives to see what I'm talking about. Many contributors to this Forum, including myself, have had transmission problems such as the infamous P039 (Torque Converter) code. It is my observation that Cadillac Northstar transmissions tend to have more problems on average. Whether due of a failed torque converter, shift solenoids, or other internal problem, it seems there are simply too many problems with GM/Cadillac transmissions. To my recollection, one recent post talked about transmission problems at 40K. This is not new! I remember a number of contributors to the Old Forum indicate that they were having transmission problems with less than 100K. Simply put, in my opinion, too many transmission problems for $40K + automobiles.

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Haven't heard many bad things about the 4t80's, except for the solenoids, there are exceptions but I haven't seen many (Im on here fairly often). Also the head tech at the local tranny shop said something about tranny problems due to the front wheel drive power train...not sure if there is any validity to his statement. After all I have read on these cars (northstar eqpd.) I would say the trans. is fairly sound. I can't remember the last post (or even A post) about the torque converter disintegrating, failing etc...there is a new post on here about a 4t80 having problems in 3rd or 4th, but only when the engine is hot.

A.J.

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My experience .... 95 etc. 140k miles. I had a solenoid failure 10k miles ago. THE CAR TOOK ME HOME!. Limp mode, of course. And it would have served me, even in that mode for a long time, if I was willing to put up with 65mph+ in 2nd gear... Anyway, for less than 70 American dollars, my willingness to dig in a little bit and information from this web site .... that problem it resolved.

I have for a couple of years and still have the p056 input speed sensor code, but it has not yet caused anything to happen. I will let you know if and when it ever does.

Don't let your local tranny shop tell you that it needs a rebuild, if its just that code popping up. Change the solenoids before you do anything else. A couple hundred could save thousands.

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Let's see...Three STS's, all driven very 'vigorously', total elapsed miles >200,000.

NO problems.

...and I'm not afraid to talk about it..

I'm not afraid either. 140,000 miles on the original transmission AND the original fluid. Not a single leak, not a single code, not a single malfunction. Still shifts as it did 100,000 miles ago. My folks are in town (they owned it before I did), and my mom drove the car the other day. She bought it at 42,000 miles, so it's literally been 100,000 miles since she first drove it. She's still amazed at how smooth the Seville really is.

Jason(2001 STS, White Diamond)

"When you turn your car on...does it return the favor?"

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You can not judge the reliability of the 4t80e from this website. Remember this website is to help people fix their problems so the problems seem bigger than they are. Go back and count the number of people having problems and then consider how many 4t80e trannys are out there in Devilles, Sevilles, Eldorados, etc.. You have to be careful not to get paranoid from the problems people are having on this website. For every problem there are probably hundreds of thousands of 4t80's with no problems at all. I agree it does seem overwhelming at times especially when you have a problem, I too have had my shift solenoids changed at 70,000 and have had the intermittent p056 for 3 years but for the power and gas mileage I would take a Caddy any day.

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Where are you bbobynski when we need you? He adds so much to this type of discussion.

First off, with regard to the engine itself, I recall that the percentage of engines that have had problems with head gaskets is statistically small (after 95) and I believe that to be true of the transmissions also.

You ONLY hear about the nighmares not the owner that is perfectly happy! I don't recall a single transmission here that has failed or had problems with low mileage, they all have in excess of 70 to 90K miles if not much more mileage when problems arise. It is important to recall or if you are too young to recall that cars in the 50s, 60s and 70s were POS and DOA at 100,000 miles, these cars today are good for 200,000 miles. BUT they require proper maintenance.

Newsgroup sites are focal points for people with problems, owners that are not having problems normally don't frequent newsgroups (except enthusiasts like myself that come here) to say how good the vehicle is running. So to look at this site whether it be a SINGLE post or MANY posts about transmission issues and to CONCLUDE that there is a problem is simply a foolish and a bias thing to do. To cite that ONE tranny has problems at 40K miles when there are hundreds of thousands of cars out there with NO problems is bias. If a vehicle has an engine or tranny problem how can you understand why it happened, since you don't know the facts about the car, its maintenance history, whether it originally started out as a rental, whether or not the owner let the fluid run low, whether or not the current driver or previous driver abuses the vehicle, whether or not the owner constantly does full trottle starts and abuses the tranny, whether or not the owner has damaged the internals trying to get out of a snow bank, whether or not the owner has a teen driver that regularly races the hell out of the car or whether or not the wrong fluid was used!!!

Quite frankly the tranny just could have failed at 40K miles AND that failure might JUST represent 1 tenth of one percent of all the tranny's in service! DO NOT draw conclusions from a handful of situations, you do not know the details.

Quite frankly to give ANY credance to a law firm, ESPECIALLY a liberal California law firm given that attorneys are notorious ambulance chasers trying to drum up business is foolish.

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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?Quite frankly to give ANY credance to a law firm, ESPECIALLY a liberal California law firm given that attorneys are notorious ambulance chasers trying to drum up business is foolish.<

Amen to that, Mr. Scott.

'93 STS.. opened, dropped, wide...fast.

user posted image

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Quite frankly to give ANY credance to a law firm, ESPECIALLY a liberal California law firm given that attorneys are notorious ambulance chasers trying to drum up business is foolish.

:lol::lol::lol: Mike, lawyers are lawyers everywhere even in Africa I believe!

As for the representativeness of the people posting at this forum to make conclusions about reliability of Cadillacs let's not forget that despite there are owners that are not having problems and normally don't frequent newsgroups there are also owners which do have problems and do not share their negative experience with us either.

Your Seville 1991 died because of the tranny problem @ 120k, and I red the other day a pretty lengthy list of repair history of your car despite you did not own it for a long time. It is not neither easy nor cheap making really reliable cars and I believe GM does pretty good job. What really annoys me ( as well as many others) are simple problems that we encounter from year to year. Lets mention power windows, if one performs a quick poll among our members we will find quite impressive percentage of failures. And it has nothing to do with driving habits. WHAT THE HELL IS GM THINKING ABOUT? They cannot fix it? No, they certainly can but they DO NOT CARE! Period.

The real bad thing is that gathering reliable statistics regarding reliability of Cadillacs is not easy. If one relies only on the data from dealerships - everybody knows they lie and their data may be worse than the real life situations.

The saddest thing in life is wasted talent

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Cars are a lot like boats. Something that you throw money at but a bit more useful than a boat, unless you live on an island. If you aren't throwing some sort of money at your car then you either own the perfect auto or neglecting preventative maintenance. How many people do you know that say "My car is in mint condition and everything works like it should mmmm I think I'll get rid of it" ? Probably not many. People generally get rid of their cars because something is wrong or soon to be wrong. That would explain why Mr. Scott had so many issues with his 91.

I've been the owner (not always a proud one) of Ford, Dodge, Pontiac, and Cadillac vehicles. And all of them have performed up to my expectations. Some cars I just didn't like for one reason or another but never because of a failure issue. Sometimes things just wear out or break. That's the way of the world and things that are made by man. And sometimes we do things unknowingly to cause or accelerate a problem. Maybe that stone you drove over kicked up and by chance hit a line causing it to wear and rupture prematurely which then in turn caused damage to the tranny (just an example), etc. I can tell you from experience that hitting a telephone pole head on causes more damage to a car then just what the body shop will tell you. It damages every part of the car but you might not notice it for another year. :blink:

Back on track. Remember that some of the repair bills that some paid may not have reflected the actual problem. I'm going to play devils advocate here in closing only because I think it's rather funny and perhaps a little true. Remember what Ross Perot said about GM several years back? This isn't a direct quote but you'll get the jist. "Your the largest auto manufacturer in the world, with the most resources and talented people. Why is it that you can't build the best anything? At least build the best tail lights. Be the best at something." Ol Ross was a bit of a whack job but no one could argue his business sense.

"Burns" rubber

" I've never considered myself to be all that conservative, but it seems the more liberal some people get the more conservative I become. "

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You want to hear about bad transmissions?

go talk to any 98-2002 v6 accord owner or any 01-02 Acura CL owner....

especially the CL owners... they had so many problems with their transmissions... you would not beleive, we are tlaking failures at 5k miles, 15, 28, and it happeneing 2 or 3 times!

ever wonder why all 98-2002 v6 accord owners got a secret letter inthe mail about how honda was now extending their warrany on thei trnasmission to 100k.

now TALK about some crappy stuff... they neither have transmission coolers OR filters in their cars! HAHA

GM Transmissions are the most stout, bar-none. Ask around and anyone will tell you that.

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That would explain why Mr. Scott had so many issues with his 91.

I didn't know that was the impression of my 91. Let me clarify my experience with my 91.

I got that car with 57,000 miles on it and it was beautiful. I bought it from a friend who maintained it carefully by a competant mechanic. While I put money into it, I put money into items as they wore out, that being the CAT, water pump, all bushings, seat frame, ball joints, etc. but much of my replacements were preventative in nature, like replacing the hub bearing because I was there... That car was a dream, a rocket, and a drove the hell out of it. At about 120,000 miles my SPRAG let loose and I had the tranny rebuilt and the rebuilder totally screwed up my car and that was the end of it. It sat through the winter with no battery in it, I put a battery in it and it started immediatly. The 4.9 is an amazing engine! The 91 was an amazing car that I maintained to a high degree. Realize that I am an extreme perfectionist, and if I hear a ping, I bird dog it until its GONE....lol... I had 'normal' maintenance issues like the EGR tubes, TB cleaning, EO48, etc! :D I loved that car and it was very dependable and I don't consider it to have been a car that gave me a lot of trouble. AND I miss it, :(

A side note, in my 91s waning years its fake convertible top exploded off the car at 60 MPH.....The roof was rattling and I didn't pay attention to the rattling and I kind of ignored it. I had never seen a top explode off before that, so I didn't have any experience to draw on! But I do now! :o In the last week I have seen fake tops blow off on a Lincoln Mark IV in front of me, and not one but 2 early 90s Sevilles! :o A word of advice, once the top begins to rattle investigate it before it blows off!!! :lol:

Adallak, how's my grill! :D

post-3-1103037624.jpg

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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By the way, you'll never hear people bitching about imports. It's not because they don't break down; rather, it's because the owners don't dare to *smurf*. After all, who are they going to *smurf* too? They just got done telling you what a pos American cars are, so who the hell are they going to *smurf* too? It's not that their cars break down less; in fact, they probally lie becuse no one likes to admit that they made a poor choice, especially after taking the stance they took when bying an import. Also they aint got the nuts to *smurf*!

Good point! A friend of mine drives a -84 Toyota Supra. Since 94 he has spent a LOT of money to keep that thing going. Recently my STS passed his cars odometer reading (about 130 000 miles), still solid as a rock. He payed over

2000 $ last year and drove 3000 miles...

He has replaced everything in that car that is mechanical except the gearbox and the engine, but the engine has a cracked cylinder lining too :lol:

Once he told me " Look, the car has passed every test since I bought it -92"

I said "It would be strange otherwise since it always standing in a shop for repairs"

He can´t relie on it for a minute, he was even afraid of taking the car to visit me when I lived about 160 miles away from him since he feard that it would all fall apart along the road, but if anyone asks him about it he says "Of course I´m satisfied with it, it´s a Toyota"

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Mike, you did want a convertible didn't you? :lol:

Your picture is a nice illustration of my car/boat point. Where was that pic taken Mike?

"Burns" rubber

" I've never considered myself to be all that conservative, but it seems the more liberal some people get the more conservative I become. "

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Quite frankly to give ANY credance to a law firm, ESPECIALLY a liberal California law firm given that attorneys are notorious ambulance chasers trying to drum up business is foolish.

:lol::lol::lol: Mike, lawyers are lawyers everywhere even in Africa I believe!

Adallak that may be true but lately they advertise for business and jump and I mean JUMP on issues faster than you would jump on Pamela Andersen! An example of that is the recent problem with VIOXX, the attorneys were all over that within days of the problem becoming public. I am sure you have seen that on TV.

Attorney's are a big part of problems we have in this country. Kerry supposedly had 50,000 attorney's ready to jump? While I agree that there is a place for legitimate legal councel, I for one am sick of our litigious society.

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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...“defects in NorthStar V8 engines”...

Can understand how transmission defects are related to NorthStar defects.

Agree with Adallak, it's better to talk about other defects, like "Service Ride Control" problem or else, more common. Oh, I forgot, transmission is much more expensive part, so... ;)

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Your Seville 1991 died because of the tranny problem @ 120k, and I red the other day a pretty lengthy list of repair history of your car despite you did not own it for a long time. 

Adallak, is this post directed at me?

If it is, let me repeat that I do PM that is preventative maintenance. That means that I replace things at times whether they need replacing or not.

As far as my car dying at 120K or so because of a tranny problem, the SPRAG was bad from 60,000 to 120,000 miles when it went. AGAIN, how do I know that the SPRAG was NOT damaged by the prior owner trying to get out of a snow bank or by abusing it in some why?

In addition, I have seen others with a SPRAG problem, maybe that was a weakness in certain years BUT the car got to 60,000 miles before it showed, and went to 120,000 miles before it blew and as I mentioned I drove that car like a mad man, and I mean mad man. I like my cars to perform and to perform good, I put money into that car FOR THAT PURPOSE, to tighten up the front end, and to ensure that it was dependable and that it ran at peak performance. I put over 70,000 miles on that car in a very short period of time driving very hard, given that the car was 8 years old when I got it, I think thats pretty good. JUST as important as mileage is a cars AGE, while a car may have low mileage, AGE kills rubber bushings, bearing grease, etc and you can NOT avoid that no matter how good you maintain a car....

Replacing radiators after 10 years I hardly think implies the car is a POS its part of owning an old car..

I got rid of that car in 2003 and at that point it was 13 model years old.. not bad I would say, and if I wanted to I could have kept it it ran terrific I just needed to find a short created by the tranny rebuilder who was an a-hole.

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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Mike, you did want a convertible didn't you? :lol:

Your picture is a nice illustration of my car/boat point. Where was that pic taken Mike?

That photo was taken in Amity Harbor, NY... The top exploding off was a shock I will tell you, it went from looking beautiful to looking like a POS, in a blink of the eye! :lol::lol:

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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Adallak, how's my grill! 

:D Mike, the grill is fine and so is the ISC motor you gave me generously!

The repair list I mentioned does say something about the person. You are the old school guy who knows it is better and cheaper to prevent a problem. BUT... I have recently made a list of my repairs and replacements.It shows $2.200 in four and a half years and 65kmiles (I bought it with 77k). Everything was iincluded - fluides, filters, bulbs, brakes, tires, belts etc. And I did all the job myself, paid the mechanic ONLY for renting his hoist (not more than $200 in four years). When I looked at the list closely I figured out some 45% of the money was spent for no good reason. I am trying to adjust myself to this observation and spend money wiser.

The saddest thing in life is wasted talent

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