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Cadillac Engine Replacement?


LINDAL

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We have the problem with a 1997 Cadillac Eldorado. This is our 3rd Cadillac. This one was bought for my son to drive and he only drives it 6 miles to work. He has had it for a year and has had to add coolant the whole time. The coolant is leaking out the tail pipes. It is now so bad that he can't even make to work 6 miles away with out it overheating. So, now we have to decide how to fix it.

Is it best to replace the engine? If so, where is a good place to find an engine for it?

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The cheapest way is to have a good mechanic replace the head gaskets, and time sert the block.

If you decide you need to replace the engine the best approach is to go to an Engine Shop that deals with the Northstar.

Bruce

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We have called 3 shops (2 cadillac dealers) and no one wants to touch Northstar engines.

We are located in Southern Illinois. Any idea?

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I split this out as a separate topic. AND Welcome to the Caddyinfo Forum!!

Are you certain the coolant is from the head gaskets? It is not leaking coolant somewhere else, and the engine fans are working, and the radiator is flowing properly? When my head bolts on my 96 had pulled it only lost coolant under certain conditions, and drove just fine for many miles prior to being low on coolant, so 6 miles surprises me.

How do you know it is the head gaskets at fault?

Bruce

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They have called several mechanics and have been told it is the head gasket or the engine block has a crack in it. He put the sealant (glass) stuff in it and it didn't fix it. He gave up and it has been sitting for 3 weeks now. We are getting ready to order a motor from somewhere to ship it to a mechanic in Benton Illinois to put it in. That is about 60 miles away from us. But, he has worked on our vehicles before and does a good job. He has worked on the Northstar engine before but will never do a overhaul on one again. He has put engines in them and has good luck with that.

The mechanics in this area say something about the screws and the block sealing together and makes it impossible to pull them apart to put gaskets in. Is this true?

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Um, no, there is a Factory procedure for replacing the head gaskets. I have read several [wrong] pages on the net which claim this is not the case, but that's the net for you sometimes. Several of our Readers have in fact repaired their own head gaskets!

Check Ian's photo essay here, which shows a head gasket and time sert in progress:

http://caddyinfo.onedgesolutions.com/howto/nsrepair.htm

Once the head bolts have pulled, or the head gasket is leaking, the power train has to be removed from the vehicle to be repaired. It CAN be done in the vehicle (some readers have done it!) but that makes it harder.

The head bolt holes should be time serted any time the heads are off. This is a separate procedure, and strengthens the head bolt holes and helps prevent head bolt stripping or pull out later down the road.

The problem is removal of the engine/transmission and timeserting and head gaskets and replacement can take 20-22 book hours or similar. So the dealer offers to do it for $4K or so, and may balk about timeserting the block. This is odd, as both the head gasket repair and the time serting are GM/Cadillac repair procedures.

The Dealer would rather put in a new engine for $9K. I would too if I were them, as it eliminates a number of bring-back issues customers might run in to and wrongly assume as an outcome of the head gasket repair. Here was a price list from a reader who had the dealer R&R his engine:

http://www.caddyinfo.com/northstareng.htm

A new northstar engine costs around $4,250 (I don't have a recent quote) from places like www.gmotors.com or www.gmpartsdirect.com, which are good sources. Then remove/replace for an engine from your Mechanic would be on top of that.

This type of engine repair cost sometimes leads people to just sell/trade the car as-is, but you'll have to work through how much you like the Eldorado, and what it is worth to you to repair.

Bruce

2016 Cadillac ATS-V gray/black

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The problem is that he still owes $2,000 on this car and we have to fix it to get it up to trading it in. But, he loves this car and wants to keep it. So, we are looking at the best way to get it going again for him. It is his first car and the the first time we have had a problem like this with the cadillacs. The first one we had was driven for 165,000 miles before it was totaled. The one I drive now has 133,000 miles and an oil leak. The AC did have to be replaced on it.

Now this 97 has this major engine or gasket problem. Anyway any help would be appreciated.

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When you said you called 2 diff mechanics, has anyone actually looked at the car?

Normal procedure would be to pressure test the cooling system, and/or do an exhaust gas test to determine if there is a head gasket leak.

Bruce

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They have called several mechanics and have been told it is the head gasket or the engine block has a crack in it. He put the sealant (glass) stuff in it and it didn't fix it. He gave up and it has been sitting for 3 weeks now. We are getting ready to order a motor from somewhere to ship it to a mechanic in Benton Illinois to put it in. That is about 60 miles away from us. But, he has worked on our vehicles before and does a good job. He has worked on the Northstar engine before but will never do a overhaul on one again. He has put engines in them and has good luck with that.

The mechanics in this area say something about the screws and the block sealing together and makes it impossible to pull them apart to put gaskets in. Is this true?

The engine does not need to be "overhauled" to replace the head gaskets. If proper diagnostics point to the head gaskets, the curent enging can be repaired properly by Timeserting the block. I did my '97 STS that I bought in March for about $800 in parts - I've put over 1200 miles on it since the repair and it is fine.

These engines cannot be worked on as if they are a small block Chevy engine - the factory repair procedures must me followed for success. If you're not going to do the work yourself, make absolutely sure the shop that does the work has expierence in properly repairing the Northstar or you will be in for certain failure.

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

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I cannot convince the guys to do the gaskets. They insist that another engine is in order.

So, we are searching for another engine. Do they need to buy a rebuilt one that has been time serted or what should they be looking for in an engine?

Linda

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I have heard Jasper Engines praised by people I trust.

I suspect it will be difficult to discover if a rebuilt engine has been timeserted or not as part of the rebuild process. I recommend you focus now on what type of warranty comes with the engine. I think 12 months/ 12k miles is frequent, although 24m/24K would be better of course.

It is important to get the same year engine, as there are differences from year to year, and the same type of engine. The 95 STS had the L37 engine with 300hp, so a LD8 engine with 275 hp would not be a good match.

Bruce

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This engine would be for the 1997 Eldorado. What is a good match for it?

I went to the Jasper site. It looks like it would be $4,982.00 for the engine. No one in the area for installation though. Still looking. The engine has a Y in the VIN number which I think means a certain type of engine??

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The engine code in the VIN will either be 9 or Y. I think the Y code is the 275 HP engine. If you decide on the Jasper or some other rebuilder other than a GM Goodwrench engine, ask them if they install Timeserts in the block. If not, find another source. Out of curiousity, where are you located that you can't find anyone to fix the existing engine?

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

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Southern Illinois

We have a Cadillac dealer in Anna that we are not too sure about and one in Carbondale that does good work just really high on every little thing and they find more and more things wrong to repair.

Anyway, Neither place will guarantee the work if we just have the gaskets replaced. They both say the best thing is to replace the engine.

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I cannot convince the guys to do the gaskets. They insist that another engine is in order.

So, we are searching for another engine. Do they need to buy a rebuilt one that has been time serted or what should they be looking for in an engine?

Bull! They say that because they don't know what they are doing or don't want to do it.

This engine would be for the 1997 Eldorado. What is a good match for it?

'96 - '99 vin "Y"

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Anyway, Neither place will guarantee the work if we just have the gaskets replaced. They both say the best thing is to replace the engine.

That sounds familiar... it's the same line of BS the dealer gave the previous owner of my '97 STS only they botched the Timesert job first and then wouldn't stand behind the work... They lie and use the no warranty routine to intimidate you into replacing the engine which equals more money for the dealer.

I would contact a Cadillac dealer in the closest major city and speak with the service manager - ask about Timeserting and replacing the head gaskets. Ask how many engines they have done and what their warranty is. This should tell you a lot. If they do not do the work in-house, ask who the subcontractor is and then contact them with the same questions.

Properly done, the Timeserting will be succesful and the engine will be stronger than when it was new and it will cost less than a new engine.

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

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My local Cadillac dealer has a "heavy line" mechanic(s?) who does some of their engine work, but then they also send engines out to be rebuilt by a local shop I never would have found if I had not heard of it through them.

Perhaps the Service Manager at your local Cadillac dealer will tell you who they send engines to to be rebuilt.

Bruce

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Ian did a nice photo essay on repairing the case-half gasket and the rear seal here:

http://caddyinfo.onedgesolutions.com/howto/casehalf.htm

which lets you see what gaskets and where to try to help visualize.

Bruce

2016 Cadillac ATS-V gray/black

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Lindal, since you didn't bring this up you may not be interested but I'll throw it out anyway. Is your son or any friends competent to do this repair? It is a long job but the cost savings are substantial. The cost of special tools is easily covered by the cost savings.

If I understood you correctly you now have 2 engines with possible head gasket leaks?

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I hope they both don't need the gasket repair. The 97 Eldorado is the problem right now. We need that thing going. My husband and son just do not want to tackle this one for some reason. All the mechanics keep scaring them.

The 95 has an oil leak with the switch problem. I need to read on how to get the codes off the 95 and see what it all means. Seems that my car is on the bottom of the list right now until my son gets his going. We are having to drop and pick him up at work everyday. Makes it difficult to have time to work on anything else.

I printed off the directions on how to get the codes. I will do that for the 95 STS before I post on it again. I don't have enough information to explain the problem and get good answers.

Thanks

Linda

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I had to replace the head gaskets in my '94 Eldorado about 2 1/2 years ago. I had it done in a small independent shop. The owner of the shop has done work on my cars off and on for about 20 years so I did have a relationship with him. He had never taken apart a Northstar before, he was reluctant to do the job for me, and he wouldn't give me any warranty. He strongly recommended a Jasper remanufactured engine (which had an excellent warranty but cost quite a bit more than just replacing the head gaskets).

I had been following this forum for some time when all this happened and had purchased a set of factory service manuals. I had developed a respect for the manuals' comprehensive presentation of repair procedures and I knew I could get help from the members of caddyinfo.com. I also have a higher tolerance to risk than many people. I struck deal with my mechanic. I would loan him my manuals. He would do the work absolutely and strictly by the book using only genuine GM parts and I would take full responsibility for the outcome. If he didn't follow the book to the letter, he would assume responsibility for the consequences.

I visited the shop every morning and was aware of how every step was done. I was understandably nervous about how the project might turn out. I did turn to this board several times as work progressed for advice on some of the decisions that had to be made. The job went smoothly with no nasty surprises. When the job was finished, we fired her up and she ran like a watch. I have put 35,000 trouble-free miles on that engine since then.

To make a long story short, any competent mechanic who is experienced with major work on any make engine can successfully replace a Northstar's head gaskets if he or she follows the procedures in the factory service manual to the letter. There is no mystery or magic to it. Where mechanics run into trouble with Northstars is when they think they have a better way or an easier way or they think they know more about it than General Motors and they simply don't follow the instructions.

photo-36.jpg

Happiness is owning a Cadillac with no codes.

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Okay, I printed off the pictures of the engine for my husband and he thinks he can do the repair. My son is still nervous about it. But the way I see it he will only lose a fraction of what it costs for another motor.

So, now my question is where to purchase the time sert kit? Do we have to have a special one for this engine or is the one on ebay for a 94 SLS okay to purchase?

What about the gaskets and maybe new heads? Need places to purchase or are they available at the local Auto Zone type places? This is for a 97 Eldorado.

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Please consider getting the Helm Shop manual, which is the factory reference, at helminc.com or they can frequently be found at ebay, if you do not have one. It is very detailed. They are specific by year, although the head gasket repair procedure is probably similar year to year. This is the step by step guide GM mechanics use.

The Timesert page at http://www.timesert.com/html/gm.html suggests that the Northstar timeserts are interchangeable up to 2000, 2000-2003, and 2004+. For prior to 2000, Timesert kit p/n J-42385-500.

The head gasket kit as I understand it from GM includes the head bolts, which can not be re-used. I would go to the dealer for this, or to discount sites such as gmotors.com.

The head gaskets and timesert install can be done with the engine/powertrain in the car, but that makes it harder.

You should not need new heads, but I would cross that bridge once you come to it. Sometimes used heads show up on ebay, or via salvage yards.

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For the head gaskets and the head bolts, I have been pleased dealing with Brasington Cadillac - Saab in Gainesville, FL. 352-378-5302 / 800-535-4608. Ask for the parts dept. and tell the guys you are looking for help with a web-based parts order; have your VIN handy. You will need two head gaskets and 20 bolts.

A new Time-Sert kit for Northstar head bolt repair includes 10 of the inserts. You will need a total of 20 inserts. The Time-Sert home page has a list of distributors and I recommend you call one of the distributors and be sure they know you want the proper kit and a total of 20 inserts.

As mentioned, the first tool you need is the Service Manual. Do not leave home without it!

Jim

Drive your car.

Use your cell phone.

CHOOSE ONE !

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