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Transamlt1

Same old story 1997 Eldorado

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              I've been reading this forum since I got this car in May. The problems that I'm writing about come up on google with tons of threads to this forum and I've read most of them. Beating a dead horse would be an extreme understatement BUT, you guys are the experts so I'm going to run my symptoms by in hopes that maybe I'm missing something.  By now  you must realize that I'm heading down the blown head gasket road ( I felt I needed to get that out now so anyone that wanted to jump off can without investing another minute.)

              I picked up my 1997 Eldorado in May this year with only 88,000 miles on it. Black on black real nice shape but the AC didn't work (compressor leaks) and there were some running issues that I figured out again thanks to this forum ( fuel pump relay= cold start and fuel pressure regulator=hot start). So I had this caddy that ran good now, looks great and gets 22 mpg (i travel 30 miles each way to work 6 days a week).  Some time around the end of June I go to start the car and my coolant low warning comes on. I check it and sure enough I need about a 1/2 gallon. I keep my eye on the coolant level for a few days and found a constant wet spot under the expansion tank were the hose connects so I replaced the tank after determining the hose was okay. At this point I had no issues for a few weeks even took the car on a trip (yes without ac) and had no problems.   

                     One day on the way home from work it starts to get hot, I pull over into a nearby  parkinglot shut it off and pop the hood . Coolant is boiling out the overflow hose. I wait and let it cool down dump the left over coolant I have in go on my way. Not even a mile down the road it gets on again, I pull over pop the hood and this time the coolant is comming from the drivers side. I call a tow truck and get her home.  I get on the forums and start reading about the crossover housing gaskets and the heater hoses by the firewall but after checking everything out it turns aout the water pump was leaking. So I figured I would take a shot at replaceing the water pump , and thermostat.( I replaced the upper hose also because I didn't like the way it came off).

                     Everything went smooth replacing those parts (  I got the waterpump socket and that made it real easy). no leaks. Car was running good. Then one day I was on RT 80 heading up a big hill in 86 degree weather and she got hot again. This time it happen real fast , I pulled over as soon as I could and waited. after about 20 minutes it cooled back down to normal operating temp so I started on my way (didnt have any coolant to put in it) and it started getting hot again this time I hit the limp mode before I could shut it down.  I called my wife, had her pick up some coolant and bring it to me. A little more than a gallon later and Im back on the road.  The car was running fine for the next couple of days until I got stuck behind a school bus going up a hill. Again it got hot to the point of the car going into damge control (270 degrees)

                    The car runs fine except for extreme loads on hills, and now if I catch it going up I pull over put the heat on ( at this point I checked the fans and they were working) let it idle for a bit   and it will come back down to normal and Im good to go. I replaced the water pump, thermostat, expansion tank, then changed the cap on the tank several times (3 caps total) checked the purge line going to the top of the tank (coolant runs out when the car is running)  checked the water pump belt and tensioner. The fans dont come on when I put the ac on because theres no freon in the system but when it gets hot they come on.

                      Now I know my next step should be testing for exhaust gas in the coolant system but I cant afford the test kit right now.  Maybe there is an issue with the coolant fans because the ac doesnt work? Or maybe there is air  trapped in there somewhere? Point being, if I cant afford the test kit right now then theres no way I'm gonna be able to do head gaskets even if I do it myself. So if there might be just the slight bit of hope I'm willing to listen to suggestions ( other than test for exhaust gas and report back. I will do that once the funds allow it).

                       I would like to thank anyone that made it to this point and an even bigger thank you if have any suggestions.  

                                    

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It is extremely difficult to get all the air out of the NS engine after doing repairs. 

If there is air in the system, when it is overheating, when you turn the heater on it will blow cool/cold air on the floor with the temp set at max heat  (90f).

If it is blowing hot air, then it is not huge amounts of air in the system, but possibly small combustion leaks into the cooling system. There is a small possibility it could be a surge tank cap not holding pressure, the faulty cap will lower the boiling point of the coolant. Take the cap to a local auto parts store and see if they will test it for you - most will test it for free -

The exhaust gas test will be the definitive test, but check it out, you may get lucky !!

 


THERE IS ALWAYS ENOUGH TIME TO DO THE JOB RIGHT - THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH TIME TO DO THE JOB AGAIN !!!

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Welcome to Caddyinfo.

If you still can, please change the title of your thread from Same old story 1997 Eldorado to something that actually describes the issue you are having.

You will notice that the top of this page says, "Forum for the Enthusiast".   Starting your first post with a direct negative complaint is not a way to get help, my first instinct is to say "have it towed to the junk yard and be done with the thorn in your side".  Keep in mind that your car is 20 model years old and you know nothing about the maintenance history over that period of time. The 88,000 miles mean nothing, its age, corrosion, acidic coolant, etc.   If you do research you will find that BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Toyota and even Chevy have difficulties with head gaskets with aluminum blocks.   So please change the title of your thread to something that describes your problem so it is easily searched by other members.

Now, it sounds like you have a head gasket problem, from the going up hills difficulty you are having.   It seems you did your research and hit everything that could cause the problem, air purge line, you fixed leaks, probably checked the water pump belt and tensioner, etc.  

I would immediately say, buy the Balkamp block tester from NAPA but you say you cant afford it.   But that is what you need to do.   My guess is you have a head gasket problem.   The repair will be expensive, if you are mechanically inclined we can help.  There is a company northstar performance that will sell you an engine that you could consider also. 

In the meantime, take the cap off the coolant tank and stick your nose in it, and smell, if you have a blown head gasket you can smell exhaust fumes, my 96 had a distinct smell of exhaust fumes.  


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11 minutes ago, OldCadTech said:

It is extremely difficult to get all the air out of the NS engine after doing repairs. 

If there is air in the system, when it is overheating, when you turn the heater on it will blow cool/cold air on the floor with the temp set at max heat  (90f).

If it is blowing hot air, then it is not huge amounts of air in the system, but possibly small combustion leaks into the cooling system. There is a small possibility it could be a surge tank cap not holding pressure, the faulty cap will lower the boiling point of the coolant. Take the cap to a local auto parts store and see if they will test it for you - most will test it for free -

The exhaust gas test will be the definitive test, but check it out, you may get lucky !!

 

I don't want to contradict you here but I disagree with your first line.  No, its not difficult.  If the purge line is open and flowing, its easy as a matter of fact, its the reason the "bolt with a hole in it" is at the top of the engine. Other cars, yes, air gets trapped, not the NS.    I have NEVER had a problem with overheating after doing work on a northstar with an open and flowing purge line.  The only time its true is when the purge line is clogged and air cant escape. 

This fellow needs to do a combustion by products test, he knows that from his post but cant afford the tester. 


Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

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To late to edit the title. I apologize for the negativity, just frustrated. I like the car, I even had it at a few car club shows this year.   I'll see if I can smell anything in the tank.

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Don't automatically jump to the conclusion that the head gaskets are bad.

The Northstar engine self purges any air in the system as long as the purge line is clear and flowing.  Have you checked that?  With the car cool, disconnect the 1/2" line at the surge tank that comes from the throttle body area.  Remove the surge tank cap and place the disconnected hose in the neck of the surge tank.  Start the engine and observe the flow from the purge hose - there should be a steady flow of coolant peeing out of the line.  If not, you have discovered the root cause of the overheating.  Follow the hose back to where it connects to the water pump crossover (it passes through the throttle body first) and disconnect the hose, remove the hollow bolt and clean it out.

Another possibility is your radiator cap is not holding pressure.  Very easy to test it with a borrowed tester from Autozone.

Rule out the easy things first.


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

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1 hour ago, Transamlt1 said:

To late to edit the title. I apologize for the negativity, just frustrated. I like the car, I even had it at a few car club shows this year.   I'll see if I can smell anything in the tank.

No problem, I was frustrated myself this morning.  

As KHE stated I also try not to assume bad head gaskets, but it seemed you had done alot of smart diagnosis already and you overheated under load going up the hill.  

See what you smell and pull the bolt with a hole in it and see if its clear


Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

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7 minutes ago, KHE said:

Another possibility is your radiator cap is not holding pressure.  Very easy to test it with a borrowed tester from Autozone.

Rule out the easy things first.

Echo in here...

 

2 hours ago, BodybyFisher said:

I have NEVER had a problem with overheating after doing work on a northstar with an open and flowing purge line.  The only time its true is when the purge line is clogged and air cant escape.

I HAVE, most recently was the 99 Deville. Clear bolt hole, changed t-sat, ran to oper temp. ran for 10 miles, parked for 3 hours, rechecked coolant lvl in recovery jar 1/2 gal low.......

:wacko:


THERE IS ALWAYS ENOUGH TIME TO DO THE JOB RIGHT - THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH TIME TO DO THE JOB AGAIN !!!

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I think that is different, and I see what you mean.  


Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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I sure hope that it's a stopped up purge line or bad cap. Overheating while going up a hill is a classic blown head gasket sign. How is the exhaust? Is it whitish? Can you smell any coolant in it?  Is there any way you could post some photos or short video clips?

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Welcome to Caddyinfo.

The system on the Northstar actually purges air very nicely. 

It is a closed self purging system. Never had any problems purging air. Could be though because I am used to working on cooling systems all the time


GM FAN FOREVER

Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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17 hours ago, BodybyFisher said:

, take the cap off the coolant tank and stick your nose in it, and smell, if you have a blown head gasket you can smell exhaust fumes

Yup no need to buy a test kit. The tank doesnt smell like coolant.

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It should smell like coolant :D, but does it smell like exhaust fumes?  

I assume you mean it does not smell like exhaust fumes.  That is good, but not 100% accurate, depending upon when coolant was added.  If symptoms persist a test should be done

You have changed the thermostat, the fans appear to work, the air purge line flows...

As KHE note, its important to check things that can release pressure at to low of a threshhold, like the cap, the tank being cracked, hose clamps, the heater pipes, and the radiator end tanks.  As you know, lower system pressure will cause boiling at a lower temperature.   Typically at this point a pressure test is done to determine if the cooling system holds pressure.  

Have you looked at the water pump belt and tensioner and tensioner pulley closely?

Another thing to consider is whether the coolant concentration is at least 50/50 (50% coolant to 50% distilled water).

When you get a chance, watch at what temp the cooling fans turn on and how strong they turn.  That your overheating happened at highway speeds with air being forced, I tend to think its not fans though.

Until you find the cause, I wouldnt put the car in situations that can cause the overheat until you nail this down.

 


Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

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4 hours ago, Transamlt1 said:

Nope, it smells like exhaust.

Oh I misunderstood, sorry to hear the bad news.  (Your nose was a lot cheaper than the Balkamp tester, huh?)  So what do you plan on doing?   You have had the car since May.    You have a few options if you decide to keep it. 

  • You can find a good scrap yard engine it will take time to find a good one, they range 800 to 1000, and have it installed by a good mechanic that won't slam bang the job in 6 hours, installation runs about 1000.  While the swap is done you can inspect the engine mounts, HVAC cover, brake lines, etc
  • You can buy a new engine from Northstar Performance and have it installed.   Jake builds an engine with studs, go to NorthstarPerformance.com and see what he offers.  You will probably need to send him back the core.  He is located in Canada and is a hell of a nice guy. 
  • You can do the head gasket job yourself if you are mechanically inclined, not an easy job, requiring some special tools, equipment and knowledge but we can help in that regard a lot, less expensive than having a mechanic do it, but physically hard if it must be done on the ground without a lift.  The problem would be finding a mechanic knowledgeable of the Northstar and repair to get this job done right if you don't want to do the job yourself.   I would call this an advanced job, but again we have members who have done this job and can help.
  • The final method would be to buy a good used engine and install it yourself, same R&R as above except you are not repairing the block and head gasket.  You could seal up the engine if you like before you install it, but again special tools (rear seal installer, water pump cam pulley puller, crank pulley puller) and knowledge would be necessary and we could help you. 

It is important to note that the head gasket job requires that the head bolt holes in the block be repaired with timeserts, norms or studs, those are the 3 choices, heli-coil is not a choice.

The engine comes in two flavors a 275 (base models) and 300 HP (ETC, STS and Concours) engine and they are not interchangeable as the intake cams are different.  Same with the tranny's they have different final drive ratios, to watch out for.

Again, I am sorry that this happened and hope things work out for you here. 


Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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I feel for you. Both of my 97s suffered with the same issue.

One I had the engine repaired. The other replaced.

The 97 Deville I bought passed the tests multiple times til I took it out and drove it hard. By the time I got home exhaust was pouring out of the surge tank. coolant temp stated almost 300*f.

That one I had the engine replaced


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Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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34 minutes ago, Transamlt1 said:

There is a guy in Pheonixville Pa, that will do it for $1,800.00. Seems like a good price.

 

Ask him about his methodology. 

Is he going to timesert the block?   Is he going to use new head bolts?  Is he going to pull it out of the top or bottom?  Ask him to replace the torque converter seal and check engine mounts. If he finds worn parts like timing chain guides or lifters, what will he do?  Is he going to seal up the top of the engine?, all new seals?   The price seems low for the amount of work and parts involved.   You should get an itemized list of what is going to be done. 


Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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You want to have them replace the oil manifold plate and re-seal the crankcase seam while the engine is out.

Also, your engine likely has the lip seal for the rear main seal - the latest is the cartridge seal.  You want that replaced as well.  The cartridge seal is literally a million mile seal.


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

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Let the car sit this past weekend (drove my Trans am instead). So on Saturday after work I decided to pull the air cleaner out of the Caddy and go over the area were I replaced the water pump. Sure enough I saw a drip, the by pass hose on the back of the thermostat housing was dripping. I replaced the original when I did the pump and t/stat because I couldn't get the old one to stop leaking. We there was no pressure in the system and the corner of the trans was damp (like it had been leaking for a while) and I could see it drip (about 3 times a minute). So I tightened up the clamp   as best I could and ran the car until it got up to temp. The drip was gone. I put the car back together and took it out fro a test run up a few hills. Temp went up to 12.00 o'clock and stayed there. I took it to work this morning and ran it hard up Bangor mtn rd (rt 191) and it never moved off 12 o'clock. Could it have been something that simple? The coolant tank did smell like exhaust (in my opinion) but no bubbles or anything like that.   I don't want to get my hopes up but so far so good.  

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It very well could be that drip, I had  98 with the same leak that lost coolant and overheated.  It was a bad hose.  

If it drips, then under pressure, you lose pressure and coolant.

Hopefully you mistook the smell for exhaust.   Do a test when you get a chance.


Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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I would love to agree but exhaust smell is exhaust smell.

If the surge tank smells like anything but coolant you have contamination.

Did you have the cap off recently? ie relieve the pressure.

If the hose was your issue you got lucky. For your sakes I hope so


GM FAN FOREVER

Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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