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How many people have had head gasket issues?


mhinchley

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What year and how many miles were on the engine when the problem occurred?

Just out of curiousity............and the fact I may have them myself. The Northstar seems to be famous for this thus far. I did a search on the net and found never-ending stories with these engines. Some people say that you only hear/or see about the bad ones.........and that may somewhat be true.........but then again, everyone who has a problem, does not post it on the net either. Coolant maintenance is also a necessity too, I understand.............but it seems to be much more important for this engine, then any I have ever heard of, as far as it actually resulting in problems.

97 Deville, 75k miles. I personally bought the car on Ebay for $4500. I have noticed since I bought it, that when getting on it, would sometimes see smoke out of the passenger wheel well. Also had a clogged heater core that I had to flush (probably from someone adding abundant sealer to the system). I was at the time unfamiliar with the Northstar, and unsure of what problems to look for. I did install a temp recovery bottle at the end of the overflow hose, and I am finding coolant in it. Also, rough idle at start up. If I come to find it is a gasket, I will just replace the engine, as I can buy a reman job (long block) close to home here for $3k. Not sure yet, but thinking that is the case. Curious to see how many here have had head gasket issues.

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Try looking at this thread, this thread was the focus of people who had their engines time serted. You said, "Some people say that you only hear/or see about the bad ones.........and that may somewhat be true.........but then again, everyone who has a problem, does not post it on the net either". However, conversely, people who are driving around happy don't come here and post that they are happy either. I WOULD tend to think that the problem would be exaggerated on the net because people come when they have PROBLEMS. Understand that LOTS of manufacturers and engines are having head gasket problems with aluminum engines, my son just had one done on a Ford Triton 5.4 for $2300.

This thread shows that about 15% have had their NS timeserted. Understand however that as the engines exceed 100,000 miles there will naturally be a higher incidence of head gasket problems. Just remember that in the 50's and 60's at about 120K most cars were junkers.

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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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Did mine at 130K after a broken pump belt and subsequent overheat. Have added about 12K since then.

If this had been any other car, I would have sent it to the crusher. Body condition, interior and other parts held up very well over the 130K. A tribute to a decent design in my opinion.

I tore the engine down to the block half. After this examination, I could honestly say the head gaskets and the rear main seal (found it had just started to leak slightly) were the only things that really needed to be replaced. Even the cylinder bores (still had crosshatch) and crankshaft journals were still at factory specs. A very well designed engine.

Bought an '02 while repairing the '97. I'm hooked!

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Let's try and put the head gasket issue into perspective. Every engine that has ever been produced, is susceptible to head gasket failure. And every engine size, type, manufacturer, etc, has had head gaskets fail. The reason you hear about the N* gaskets, is due to the cost for repair. You don't hear of the Ford 3.8 gaskets, because they can be replaced with the engine in the car, and cost is relatively cheap. The N* engine must be dropped, timeserted, and reinstalled. that adds up to alot of $. Think of this. If the head gaskets for the N* could be replaced, with the engine still in the car, for about $750.00, do you really think that there would be this controversy? I think not. but that is just my opinion.

Don

"Modern warriors saddle iron horses of chrome."

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If the head gaskets for the N* could be replaced, with the engine still in the car, for about $750.00, do you really think that there would be this controversy? I think not. but that is just my opinion.

Don

I agree 100%. When a head gasket repair is up over $2000, it's time to curse.

Brother-in-law recently had his '98 Deville done - $2000 by a guy who only repairs Cadillacs. Mileage was about 110K miles. Let's just say this - his kids are going to private school and his lot has plenty of Northstar cars needing head gasket repairs. No shortage of work. He is the king of Timecerts, probably dreams about them.

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What year and how many miles were on the engine when the problem occurred?

Just out of curiousity............and the fact I may have them myself. The Northstar seems to be famous for this thus far. I did a search on the net and found never-ending stories with these engines. Some people say that you only hear/or see about the bad ones.........and that may somewhat be true.........but then again, everyone who has a problem, does not post it on the net either. Coolant maintenance is also a necessity too, I understand.............but it seems to be much more important for this engine, then any I have ever heard of, as far as it actually resulting in problems.

97 Deville, 75k miles. I personally bought the car on Ebay for $4500. I have noticed since I bought it, that when getting on it, would sometimes see smoke out of the passenger wheel well. Also had a clogged heater core that I had to flush (probably from someone adding abundant sealer to the system). I was at the time unfamiliar with the Northstar, and unsure of what problems to look for. I did install a temp recovery bottle at the end of the overflow hose, and I am finding coolant in it. Also, rough idle at start up. If I come to find it is a gasket, I will just replace the engine, as I can buy a reman job (long block) close to home here for $3k. Not sure yet, but thinking that is the case. Curious to see how many here have had head gasket issues.

Why would you replace the engine if it needed head gaskets??? The total cost of the parts including the Timesert kit and inserts is in the $850 range - a little more if you decide to replace the crankcase half seal and rear main seal. I would not be too hesitant to jump to the conclusion that a head gasket is gone without performing a proper diagnosis.

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

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If the head gaskets for the N* could be replaced, with the engine still in the car, for about $750.00, do you really think that there would be this controversy? I think not. but that is just my opinion.

Don

I agree 100%. When a head gasket repair is up over $2000, it's time to curse.

Brother-in-law recently had his '98 Deville done - $2000 by a guy who only repairs Cadillacs. Mileage was about 110K miles. Let's just say this - his kids are going to private school and his lot has plenty of Northstar cars needing head gasket repairs. No shortage of work. He is the king of Timecerts, probably dreams about them.

I am thinking that it might be a good business also...

Consider this repair.... my friend has a HONDA Oddessy? with 80,000 miles, he just needed a timing belt for PREVENTATIVE REASONS... or scheduled maintenance..... $1800.....

My other friend has an Infinity I35, he swears by them, he is getting rid of it because the repairs are OUT of control.... Front Struts were $2200, He has 90K miles...radiator side tanks blew, rotors, abs unit

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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Consider this repair.... my friend has a HONDA Oddessy? with 80,000 miles, he just needed a timing belt for PREVENTATIVE REASONS... or scheduled maintenance..... $1800.....

My other friend has an Infinity I35, he swears by them, he is getting rid of it because the repairs are OUT of control.... Front Struts were $2200, He has 90K miles...radiator side tanks blew, rotors, abs unit

Ouch. Last timing belt I had done was maybe $250. Okay, so that was about 15 years ago on a Dodge Omni GLH! The old belt actually jumped teeth and the car wouldn't start.

I'm not going to make any comment on the price of the Infinity struts, because I know how much the Cadillac STS struts will be if replaced at the dealer.

A friend has the Olds Aurora with the 4.0 Northstar and he has a slow oil leak. The shop manual says it takes 22 hours to remove the engine. He has already concluded that if anything major goes wrong, the car is getting crushed.

Are we reaching the time when cars are displosable once the warranty expires?

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Let's try and put the head gasket issue into perspective. Every engine that has ever been produced, is susceptible to head gasket failure. And every engine size, type, manufacturer, etc, has had head gaskets fail. The reason you hear about the N* gaskets, is due to the cost for repair. You don't hear of the Ford 3.8 gaskets, because they can be replaced with the engine in the car, and cost is relatively cheap. The N* engine must be dropped, timeserted, and reinstalled. that adds up to alot of $. Think of this. If the head gaskets for the N* could be replaced, with the engine still in the car, for about $750.00, do you really think that there would be this controversy? I think not. but that is just my opinion.

Don

CORRECT! If we are building a data base... I had to replace the head gaskets on a 5.0L 1990 Ford F150 with about 180,000 miles... No-one cares about this since I did this myself with basic hand tools on a single Saturday afternoon for $91.39 plus tax.

The issue is not with N* head-gasket reliability... N* head-gaskets are as least as reliable as anyones... Newer blocks 2000-2003 are better and 2004-current are even more so...

The real issue is cost and complexity of repair...

caddy.jpg

Easin' down the highway in a new Cadillac,

I had a fine fox in front, I had three more in the back

ZZTOP, I'm Bad I'm Nationwide

Greg

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Of course the newer engines are not displaying head gasket "problems"! They have yet to accumulate the miles or calendar time for cooling system maintenance neglect to do the damage.

Repeat after me: Pay attention to the maintenance schedule for your vehicle. That would be the same maintenance schedule developed by the folks that designed the beast.

We have all read the oil change flame wars dealing with "my Grandpaw taught me to change oil every 3,000 miles" versus the "I trust the OLM that GM spent years and many $$ to develop" groups. Leaves me wondering which group would change their coolant according to Grandpaw and which group would follow the schedule developed by the folks who designed / tested / and stand behind the product.

For me, this Northstar powerplant has been trouble-free!

As for information available on the internet; it is all suspect, including this.

Jim

Drive your car.

Use your cell phone.

CHOOSE ONE !

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I understand that other cars do blow headgaskets for various reasons. Such as the chrysler 2.2 was famous for them, but mainly because they were crappy 4 cylinders and ran hot all the time for various reasons. However the Ford 5.0's, Gm 350's, Gm 305's, etc, it was a very rarer occurence. I owned many of them (70's-80's models), lots in hot rods even, that I beat the crap out of.........and never blew a head gasket on any....some of which had 200,000 miles on them by the time I was done. Another example of a more similiar engine is the intech 4.6 Lincoln........and I rarely ever hear of a head gasket going on one of them (I am on my 2nd Mark VIII now). And in case of the Lincoln, I participate in 3 forums pertaining to that car and have for years. And by similiar I mean 32 valves, aluminum blocks and heads. But with the Cadillac northstar, after doing a search on the net..........I find many, many with UNDER 100,000 miles.........some way under with blown head gaskets. I also found many articles in which mechanics have noticed the problem, and magazine writers as well. Not to mention that the cars are in the 40k plus range new, I would just not have expected to see so many cases with under 100k. And sure maintenance plays a part.............but in all honesty, the engines listed above, atleast in my case.........I don't know that I changed the coolant on any of those cars ever more than 1 time on each vehicle......and coolant was not as good back then. I just bought the Caddy, so I don't know if the maintenance schedule was followed or not. Guess that is the chance you take with a used car.

As for the diagnosis, I am going to look into it. As I said, I don't know for sure, but the initial signs don't look good.

And the reason I would just opt to change the engine is because I only have a one car garage, so doing this job myself is out of the question. If I have to pay a shop $2000-$2500 to replace the headgaskets and I get maybe a 1 year 12,000 mile warranty on a 75k engine, vs paying $3000 for a new engine and another $1000-$1500 for the install with 0k miles and a 3 year unlimited mile warranty...........I am probably better off with the latter. For an extra $1500-$2000 I have a new engine and rebuilt heads with a much longer warranty with all new upgraded internals and gaskets. Not to mention it is put together in a shop that only rebuilds engines, so they have the correct machines, and then pressure test everything once completed. For piece of mind and plans to keep the car, I would go that route. Just personal choice.

I thought if it is true, then I could just trade it in at a local lot for say an STS (another Deville would surely bring up red flags)................but then eventually it would just be burning someone else with the problem, which I would not feel right about.

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First off, the Ford 5.0 and GM 305 and 350 engines were cast iron engines and as we all know cast iron engines rarely had head gasket problems. So your comparison is irrelevent. In addition, coolant in cast iron engines was not critical. Aluminum is a different animal. Why the Ford 4.6 32 valve engine does not have head gasket issues is interesting. I don't know much about the Ford 4.6 32 valve engine but is that engine aluminum (both block and heads)? If you know about that engine, what happens when the heads must come off? Can they be retorqued again without issue? What kind of bolts do they use and what size are they?

As far as whether you think a time-serted NS is better or worse than a new NS? A properly time serted engine is stronger than a new engine. It costs about $2200 to replace head gaskets with time-serts and a new engine costs quite a bit more. I suppose if you are looking solely at the warranty periods new is better, but for my purposes, a time-serted engine is just as good.

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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slightly off the subject topic but of great interest (imo) to anyone thinking of buying a used northstar: unless you know for absolute certainty the maintenance history for a northstar (i suppose one could make the argument that it's applicable to any motor) three procedures should be performed BEFORE the purchase: a coolant pressure test, a cylinder compression test and the most critical: a cylinder leak down test. these three diagnostic tools will help to identify the health of the motor. i would not buy a northstar without having all three done.

when i first started frequenting the board and had some experience with aluminum block/heads engines, i posed the question to the now departed whether the block of the n/s had cast iron inserts for the head bolts and his answer was twofold: it was too expensive and it wasn't necessary. my response was is it possible to do a maintenance item of checking the torque on the head bolts and his response was it wasn't necessary....this makes sense from a marketing/maintenance standpoint: who wants a luxury car that needs tohave the bolts tightened/checked on a regualar basis. this was many moons ago (8 years?) before the blown head gasket was a major issue on this board. at the time, i had some concerns about the longevity of the motor bynot utilizing cast iron sleaves in the block.

what is my point? the fact that cast iron sleaves were not installed at the time of manufacture is some cause for some concern...it's not a deal breaker but anyone who buys a used n/s without knowing it's maint history and not having the three procedures performed is asking for trouble, imo.

jackg 90seville

100k

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You may be surprised at how many 302, 350, 305 head gaskets have failed over the years. You do not hear people screaming foul about it, because they are fairly inexpensive to replace. And you cannot compare head gasket failures (actual #'s) on a low production engine (N*) and an astronomically high production (302, 350, 305) engine. For every N* on the road, there are easily 100-200 of the other engines. So to say that you have heard of 20 N* HG failures (using a random number), and do not hear of other engines failing, isn't fair. I would bet that the failure rate of N* HG's, is in line with the other engines listed. The major point is that when people take a 350 to a shop for repair, and get a bill for $500-$750, they don't write every message board, newspaper, Chevrolet corporate, and tabloid that they can find. but when people take thier N* to the shop, and get handed a bill for $2,500-$6,000 for the same repair (although a hell of alot more work involved) you can bet you will hear and read about it more. I will make my statement again. All engines are susceptible to HG failure. None are excluded.

Don

"Modern warriors saddle iron horses of chrome."

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This board has always been about positive people trying to solve problems. Love is not always logical. It does not come down to dollars and cents. It does not come down to dependability. It is not about negativity. It has more to do with being different, more to do with the feeling you get when you drive it, more to do with amazement and awe. Its illogical at best. The NS is an amazing engine its been said over and over again. Can it have problems? Any mechanic device can have problems period. Right now FORD is paying owners about $800 each in a multi-million dollar suit over cracked intake manifolds. The point is, you claim to be a Cadillac/NS lover but you continually complain about everything under the sun including head gaskets over engineering, computers etc. You don't even use the search function to find answers as evidenced by this thread. You prefer red-herring offerings and needling and you don't get it that we are not like you. You compare Cadillac/NS to your Mark VIII (I assume you mean the 32 VALVE LSC so its APPLES TO APPLES) and say the Ford 4.6 does not have head gasket problems. That is why I say you don't LOVE the Cadillac and NS... For most here, we wouldn't be caught DEAD in a FORD, they are TOTALLY different cars, the feeling, the smell, the ride, the tranny, the mechanicals, everything about them irks me and I hate them. So for you to actually own a Mark and Cadillac is illogical and it tells me again that you don't get it.

Please don't consider my comments as censorship, my comments are an observation.. You are continually negative. This is a positive board typically filled with positive members. Might I suggest a few things 1) sell the 97 Cadillac and cut your losses ASAP, there is no love lost there for you, 2) move toward a clean LSC since in your mind they are so superior and 3) since you like to mix it up and be negative there are other boards out there with different tones that might be more to your liking (I am not throwing you out, don't get me wrong, its just that personally, I hate negative BS). Find a LEMON site and spill your bile over there, find a I HATE NS/GM site and go throw some mud. Over at cadillacforums.com there are people there that will be glad to answer your continual negative attacks and you might find the tone more to your liking, its a more traditional forum. You will need to be a contributor to search over there. Over here we really don't care about negative, gloom and doom, blaming, comparing the NS to 305s, 350s, 4.6s or 5.0s. That type of behavior is always met with resistance and the day it is not is the day I stop coming here. If you want a problem solved come here for help, if you want to sling mug and spew bile and negativity, whats the point, does that solve anything? Selling the Fn 10 year old car does, PROBLEM GONE

You see I see life very clear, there are the POSITIVE DOERS and NEGATIVE MOANERS, where do you fall? All we care about is driving these beasts and repairing them when they break! Either get on the bandwagon or sell the car, its only money and you might as well get something that you enjoy, life is too short to be miserable and negative it will only make you sick

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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1993 191000miles, no head gasket problems....yet :lol:

Yep someday its bound to HAPPEN!

(Hey email me some LOTTERY numbers! :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:)

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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Of course the newer engines are not displaying head gasket "problems"! They have yet to accumulate the miles or calendar time for cooling system maintenance neglect to do the damage.

Repeat after me: Pay attention to the maintenance schedule for your vehicle. That would be the same maintenance schedule developed by the folks that designed the beast.

For me, this Northstar powerplant has been trouble-free!

Mine has been trouble free as well..

Let me clarify my post:

1) Maintenance is critical, couldn't agree more... This includes oil, coolant, and combustion chamber cleaning.

2) GM redesigned the head bolts in these engines in 2000 to change the "pitch" giving the bolts more bite into the block. and GM redesigned the bolts again in 2004 to make them longer in prep for 06 Supercharged motor. So these engines should be stronger.

3) For those that think that Ford 5.0 & 5.7s do not have head gasket issues, you might want to Google this issue... Ford 302s and 351s are notorious for leaky head gaskets... Small block chevys are a different animal as they have an extra head bolt (5 vs 4) per cylinder... Much stronger design.

4) N* Vs Ford 4.6 is not Apples to apples... The N* is mostly transversely mounded the Ford 4.6 is not. on 90% of the cars... Head gaskets on a RWD car does not require engine removal... and Timeserting could be done with the block in the car... The effort to remove the N* from the car doubles (triples) the cost of is repair and that is the real issue.

caddy.jpg

Easin' down the highway in a new Cadillac,

I had a fine fox in front, I had three more in the back

ZZTOP, I'm Bad I'm Nationwide

Greg

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1993 191000miles, no head gasket problems....yet :lol:

Yep someday its bound to HAPPEN!

(Hey email me some LOTTERY numbers! :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:)

At that point it will be time to trade.....minivan time :o

Think of me, I will give her a good home...

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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This board has always been about positive people trying to solve problems. Love is not always logical. It does not come down to dollars and cents. It does not come down to dependability. It is not about negativity. It has more to do with being different, more to do with the feeling you get when you drive it, more to do with amazement and awe. Its illogical at best. The NS is an amazing engine its been said over and over again. Can it have problems? Any mechanic device can have problems period. Right now FORD is paying owners about $800 each in a multi-million dollar suit over cracked intake manifolds. The point is, you claim to be a Cadillac/NS lover but you continually complain about everything under the sun including head gaskets over engineering, computers etc. You don't even use the search function to find answers as evidenced by this thread. You prefer red-herring offerings and needling and you don't get it that we are not like you. You compare Cadillac/NS to your Mark VIII (I assume you mean the 32 VALVE LSC so its APPLES TO APPLES) and say the Ford 4.6 does not have head gasket problems. That is why I say you don't LOVE the Cadillac and NS... For most here, we wouldn't be caught DEAD in a FORD, they are TOTALLY different cars, the feeling, the smell, the ride, the tranny, the mechanicals, everything about them irks me and I hate them. So for you to actually own a Mark and Cadillac is illogical and it tells me again that you don't get it.

Please don't consider my comments as censorship, my comments are an observation.. You are continually negative. This is a positive board typically filled with positive members. Might I suggest a few things 1) sell the 97 Cadillac and cut your losses ASAP, there is no love lost there for you, 2) move toward a clean LSC since in your mind they are so superior and 3) since you like to mix it up and be negative there are other boards out there with different tones that might be more to your liking (I am not throwing you out, don't get me wrong, its just that personally, I hate negative BS). Find a LEMON site and spill your bile over there, find a I HATE NS/GM site and go throw some mud. Over at cadillacforums.com there are people there that will be glad to answer your continual negative attacks and you might find the tone more to your liking, its a more traditional forum. You will need to be a contributor to search over there. Over here we really don't care about negative, gloom and doom, blaming, comparing the NS to 305s, 350s, 4.6s or 5.0s. That type of behavior is always met with resistance and the day it is not is the day I stop coming here. If you want a problem solved come here for help, if you want to sling mug and spew bile and negativity, whats the point, does that solve anything? Selling the Fn 10 year old car does, PROBLEM GONE

You see I see life very clear, there are the POSITIVE DOERS and NEGATIVE MOANERS, where do you fall? All we care about is driving these beasts and repairing them when they break! Either get on the bandwagon or sell the car, its only money and you might as well get something that you enjoy, life is too short to be miserable and negative it will only make you sick

WOW...Scotty lost it! Everybody is scared sh_t of Scotty now. :lol::lol:

WOW...If I was mhinchley reading that, I would be like... :D:):mellow::huh::unsure::blink::(:huh::o:o:o:ph34r:

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