By on April 22, 2015

 

(photo courtesy: maeng9981 on www.CadillacForums.com)

Chris writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve got a 2002 Cadillac Seville with the infamous Northstar engine. I bought it nine years ago and at the time it was four years old and had 30K on the clock. Before I even ask, I’m sure you can already guess what happened. At 149,000 miles the head gasket issue has reared its ugly head. For those readers who are unfamiliar, the repair requires the engine and cradle to be dropped, stripped down, and re-studded with twenty new holes. As opposed to timeserts, this fix is usually permanent.

I can afford a car payment, that isn’t what I’m asking about. If I did buy a car, I would limit myself to $20-$25K, but there isn’t anything I really want in that range. I know the car has many drawbacks and is a bit outdated, but I have an attachment to it. I’ve kept it in amazing condition and aside from the said problem, it is mechanically perfect. I’ve obsessed over keeping it in this condition and any time I’ve heard a noise or noticed anything out of the ordinary, it was replaced. I’ve even wet sanded out the factory orange peel and buffed it to a mirror like shine.

I may be able to pull off the repair myself and if I do, it will cost me about $800. Otherwise I need to find someone to do it and it will cost me around $2K. The car isn’t worth much. Should I just bite the bullet and get rid of the thing or should I do the repair and hope to get another 1-2 years out of it?

Sajeev answers:

We wouldn’t even consider this if it wasn’t a Caddy…if any other car had this problem…

As a butthurt Lincoln-Mercury fanboi, its always burned me how Lincolns are more disposable than Cadillacs. Considering the poor quality of bespoke Cadillac power trains that, for most of my life, never deserved the higher demand: you see it all the way from new car inventory down to fully depreciated Craigslist rubbish.

It’s kinda “Ludacris.” But I digress…

If you are willing to save labor and install a head stud kit by yourself, you go right ahead and do it. It adds resale value while giving you time to enjoy the car before actually needing a replacement. That’s good for your wallet, your piece of mind and it’s probably a good character building experience.

Who here can say they did a Northstar head gasket repair, fixing that fatal flaw? 

If you pay a shop for it…perhaps its time to let someone else deal with it. You gotta really, really love this car to shell out that kind of cash.

But then again, it’s a Cadillac!

[Image: maeng9981 on www.CadillacForums.com]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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65 Comments on “Piston Slap: Northstar Mills, Northstar Bills…...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    “Who here can say they did a Northstar head gasket repair, fixing that fatal flaw?”

    Yo. But I probably wouldn’t again, usually not worth it anymore.

    In the peak demand days for these repairs maybe 7 years ago, there was a guy about 2 hours away from me that would do them for about $1500. He was a GM tech that did them on the side in his garage and was doing 2-3 a week at one point.

    I liked these cars and owned a 2001 for a time myself, but they didn’t age well. If you like yours and it’s otherwise pristine, I say fix it yourself if you have the means. Just take your time and research everything to make sure you’re doing it right.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      +1

      If you love the car, and you clearly do, fix her up and keep her for another couple of years. One of the things I regret… I had a 2000 Pontiac Bonneville, and while a Cadillac or Lincoln or Lexus, that big, horribly-interiored American car had a fond place in my heart; one of my regrets is dumping the thing when some big repair bills came up, instead of investing the money to fix her up and keep her running.

      Plus, in 2-3 years, the not-great-for-$70k-but-excellent-for-$30k-used Cadillac XTS will be available in the mid 20’s. You can already find ample examples in the low to mid 30’s. Or if you don’t want to go with Cadillac again, the new Chevy Impala is fantastic. Don’t let the V8 lovers kill your dreams, either: a 300-ish horse power V6 with 6 speeds is plenty of power, especially compared to a sub 300 HP V8 with a four speed.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I would fix it for sure, especially if it’s in such nice shape. They don’t even make a car like this anymore at Cadillac or Lincoln. If you want something close with V8 power you would have to cough up 50 large or more for a Hyundai or even more for a Bimmer or Mercedes which have trouble going 50K miles without major repairs let alone 150K!

    • 0 avatar
      Liger

      ponchoman49, your exactly right. Most BMW’s/Mercedes built today can’t make it to 150,000 miles with out extensive repairs or maintenance. It’s just the type of the vehicle, luxury cars have bleeding edge technology that hasn’t had all the bugs worked out yet, and besides luxury cars are all about style (except Lexus). So, this Cadillac sounds like it functioned as well (or better) as anything else in it’s class. If you want a 300,000 mile car, buy a basic car with time tested, proven technology, like a civic or corolla.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        Did I just visit crazytown?! I mean, I’ve engaged in some questionable repairs, but that much cash/time on a car that’s fully depreciated? I understand liking something, but you’ll like something newer even better! Treat yourself to something modern, you won’t regret it. $25k goes a long way in the used market, you’d be shocked what you can turn up.
        And I still don’t get the notion that BMWs and Mercedes are horrible cars that can’t crack 100k miles without extensive repairs. Looks like there are a few here over 200k at Autotrader, and these are just in Ohio bit.ly/1Gj8862. Who in their right mind goes from a Cadillac to a Corolla anyway?
        I say, if you’re able to pull off this job, go get yourself a newer Cadillac or MB or the aforementioned Lexus and enjoy! If you can wrench to the degree that you’re considering, I’m willing to bet you’d be fine even with some gremlins here and there. Life’s too short to drive the same car that long anyway

        • 0 avatar
          Alfisti

          What the car is worth is completely inconsequential as to whether or not you do major repairs.

          All that matters is the cost to replace said vehicle. I recently had a $1,700 repair on my 2008 wagon, I cringed but other than the one known fault the car has been issue free for nearly 5 years. Replacement cost is in the vicinity of $500 a month, by the 4th month i’d have been in the red.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      What about the big Fiats? They’re not terribly expensive and have no resale value.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I would agree fix it, because your attached to it, you took care of it, and you may get a few more years out of it, I would find someone to do the work since you said cash is not a concern, or maybe find a engine that had the work done but was than in a accident? Good luck glad to see some old cars taken car of and still loved, not sure how many cars built today will be loved a decade from now.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I’d say it depends on your planned usage. Is this a Sunday car or is it your daily driver? If it’s your one and only means of transportation, turn it loose and get something newer, if it’s a play car, fix it and keep it.

    • 0 avatar

      Fantastic advice, wish I would have said that!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Yeah I’m going with this too. Old North* isn’t good for your work attendance. And the Seville (since you don’t have an STS) is worth even less than other cars in similar condition. Believe it or not, it’s not hard to find these in pristine shape still under their original old lady owners.

      I like the “wait for an XTS to cost what you want” advice as well. But a car at this age would worry me each morning I went to start it up if I didn’t have another car there waiting. These are sensor nightmares as they age.

      • 0 avatar

        And there’s the bottom line. If you have the space and money for more than one car, you can tolerate and even enjoy a car without 100% uptime. I had to semi retire my 315k miles car and buy a new, new car to get to work on time. When the old car needs a part, it isn’t a crisis, it’s “drive the black car” instead of “take the blue car”. When the part arrives, you can wait for a nice day, instead of having my experience one weekend a few cars ago, bolting an exhaust system into an A2 GTi in a 47 degree rainstorm, (no garage, natch) because you needed it to get to work Monday. For a variety of reasons, money, space, HOA crazies, this does not work for everyone.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….Believe it or not, it’s not hard to find these in pristine shape still under their original old lady owners….

        Trouble is, he’s attached to HIS car, not another person’s car. So swapping for a different car is not going to suffice, at least is would not be for me and I suspect for him as well. In the big picture, $2K is not a life changing amount of money. Fix your car and enjoy it. Not everything has to make financial sense. Cars are emotional; go with your heart.

  • avatar
    eManual

    I spent $1000 three years ago on an intake gasket for my 2000 Impala at 154,000 miles. This extra expense cost me $30/month. At $2,400, this is $200/month for a year, or about the cost of a new sub-compact (yuk!) with a multi-year commitment. And you might save on collision insurance if you live in a high cost State. Go for it if you like the car.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I have an older and much more battle-worn Seville of this generation (1994).

    Ironically, the only thing on it that really competes with the Lexus and German offerings of the times is the Northstar V8. That engine is great when it isn’t exploding.

    FWIW, I will not be repairing the head gaskets on mine when it blows. Although I probably would if I had a pristine Allante or Deville Concours.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Both of those were available with the 4.9 if you buy the right year, so I’d go with that route rather than picking an N* one.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The Allante was never available with the 4.9, just a 200hp version of the 4.5. I also prefer the styling of the ’97-’99 Deville to the ’94-’95.

        And anyway the car I owned right before the Seville was a 4.5L Allante and the Northstar is just more fun to have. I’m not using these cars to get to work everyday so I can live with the diva engine.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          My mistake! How odd they’d use the 4.5 when it was largely being phased out by then. 28CLs holy grail of Caddy engines has the 4.5 in second place after the 4.9 I think.

          I can agree with you, the pointy and bloated 94-95 Deville didn’t age well. I think they were just preparing people for the end of the B-body.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Correct, but the 4.9 is simply an improved 4.5 which itself was a fixed 4100 (they may have simply rebored the 4.5 and upped the horsepower slightly I can’t recall).

            I disagree on the MY94-95 K-body Deville, it looks great and I would love one. This generation of K-body, and the earlier E and C-body Cadillacs are almost the only ones I see aside from MY06+ Devilles and Cateras. Decade of Northstar and a decade of Cadillac destruction.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It’s the pointy front of that 94-95 that ruins it for me, with the strainer grille. I much prefer the later one, with the big egg crate grille and larger headlamps (especially with DTS package). I find it’s a better look.

            I would like to has a rare and very long 97 Deville Fleetwood.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You have to get it with this:

            http://www.slabcustoms.net/images/pics_slab_section/94-96%20deville%20grille.jpg

            Btw even if you has a 97, you gonna has OP’s problem.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh that E&G is nasty. And I avoid N* altogether, I just like that it was the last, special gasp of the Fleetwood name.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “E&G is nasty”

            Oh, now its on like Donkey Kong :)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’ll bring the purp drank.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      North*…that engine is great when it’s not exploding.

      Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln.

      The North* is the bastard child of the GMC diesel on top of a gasoline bottom end.

      When he fixes it up, he still has just as good a chance of having it cost him another arm and a leg. And after that he won’t have a leg to stand on.

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist that, but it is the truth.

      I’d rather put $2K into an older Panther, and put a grand more in repairs and maintenance over the next three to five years. And if you pick the right one, not even necessarily a TownCar, you will get lots of nice amenities thrown in.

      Personally, I really like my 97 Mercury Grand Marquis GS daily driver, total cost $1500 last year. So far, fan belt and timing belt both OK, no signs of battery, alternator or water pump issues, plastic manifold replaced long ago by the original owner, paint and interior looks like new, and I never drive our “good” other car, unless I have to.

      The one exception to this blatant dissing of Caddys would be the last year Allante, when it finally got some beef under the hood. With that Italian body, it has some potential to become a classic.

      Other than that, the last good Cadillacs were the “Mafia staff car” Caddys in all black, from around the mid seventies. A car like that would be worth repairing, but nothing with that “great innovative technology”, the North*.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “I’d rather put $2K into an older Panther”

        That’s nice. You can do whatever you want with your money and I’ll do whatever I want with mine.

        I’m not looking for approval of the Panther squadron any more than you are looking for mine. I like Cadillacs. You certainly don’t have to.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    “Should I just bite the bullet and get rid of the thing or should I do the repair and hope to get another 1-2 years out of it?”

    1-2 years will be all you can get after repairing? Is this a typo or are you planning to get rid of it?

    If that’s the best case scenario after spending $800-$2,000 I wouldn’t even be considering it. You spend $2000 to repair the head gasket and once you’re done you have a nice $1,800 car. Time to let it go.

  • avatar

    Fix it, unless there is a laundry list of other things it needs. I usually hang on to a car until I know I’m staring a multiple high dollar repair bills. The only exception to that rule, is if it’s a weekend car that I don’t need to depend on but enjoy having around.

  • avatar
    Rday

    a friend of mine buys these old beaters because they are large. nice cars but they cost alot to maintain even without the northstar problems. if you like headaches these cars are for you. and yes they are cadillac’s so BFD. smart people don’t buy GM crap.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      I’ll bet he doesn’t indiscriminately collect old beaters, and the ones he collect probably have some decent service/repair records. I’d be curious to see a list of his beater collection. Bet there’s not a North* in there, unless he flipped it right away.

      And I’d bet there’s a Jeep inline six 4.0L engine in there someplace, and probably a Panther. But no Vegas and North*s.

      Can I get a witness?

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Does that $800 include machining the heads and block to get them absolutely true again? Does it include replacing the sensors, vacuum hoses, and starter that are almost impossible to reach without dropping the engine?

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      Yeah, I think this is a big part. If you’re going to have the engine out, you’re going to quickly run into those “well, while I’ve got it out” things. That doesn’t include the sensors, modules or axle seals that always manage to get broken or nicked when you do an engine out on one of these.

      If you’re going to do it definitely do it yourself, but it’s still definitely borderline worth it.

  • avatar
    Jgwag1985

    Fix it. Maybe in 2 years (if fix lasts that long, maybe it will last longer), something will come out that you do like enough to purchase. You like it you fix it, who cares what somebody says it worth. Obviously it’s worth more then money by the way you take care of it.

    Full disclosure, I have over $20k into a Jeep Grand Wagoneer that I bought for $800, only worth $5k as it sits, and still not road worthy.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Good grief, you could have bought an already restored one from that company in the northeast for that much.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      That is some serious Jeep love, Jwag1985. I let a 95 Cherokee Sport go for a few hundred after the rear seal developed a serious (quart a day) oil habit. Could have had it fixed for a couple of grand, or a new rebuilt for about twice that, all in, but had a chance to get a real deal on a 2nd Corolla and let my wife talk me into it.

      Kind of wish I’d fixed it up, up until I recently got a 97 Merc Grand Marquis, which has turned out to be better than I would have thought, by far.tit

      I also let an 88 Thunderbird Supercoupe 5.0L/AOD titanium silver metallic, moonroof, midnight blue leather, aluminum billet drilled wheels, go at almost 300K, after three near total wrecks, and the AOD crapped out. The fact that our son had just been born figured into that also. Yet I still wish I had fixed that one up and kept it…I firmly believe that setup will be a classic someday soon.

      And I once let a 3.8L MkII 61 Jag go in a swap for a rebuilt and repainted Beetle with a sunroof, when it got to where it needed about two grand worth of cam bearings. While the Beetle lasted for a good while, I have often regretted letting it slip away. One of the best production street Jags ever made.

      But I wouldn’t regret letting a North* Caddy go, any more than I would regret having bought it in the first place. Looks nice, mechanical nightmare. Not my cup of tea.

      You could fix your Caddy, and I’d raise you a 2nd Gen Aero Grand Marquis AND an Aero P71. And I’d bet the ranch I’d have less outlay five years later on both of those caers, than this guy will on his beloved Cadillac.

      But if you like them enough to overlook their faults when you first buy one, you are probably going to continue to overlook their faults when you come to another investment junction.

      Just wish I was his mechanic. Or the guy someone else wrote about, that was doing three of these repairs a week, “shade tree” at $1500 each. Probably netted over $6K/wk there for a while, before taxes, such as they might have been. That would be around a quarter mil a year. Damn, if I knew I could do that, I never would have left a dealership and gone to engineering school. I had a good career, but never a quarter mil year.

      I should have been chasing GMC…the famous diesel engine, the Cimarron, the North*, there was a built in retirement plan in there, for the one who could stumble into it, or foresee it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    This is the final gen of the K-body Seville IIRC, which debuted I think for MY99. We had so many issues with these in the mid-00s other than the typical Northstar fail, the wholesaler started to avoid buying them. Personally my thought is F this car, but I do understand having a “keeper” and if you’ve come this far with it its less likely you will have the endemic problems I witnessed on the MY99-00s (maybe you have a “Wednesday” car?). So spend the coin and fix it. Playing devil’s advocate though, how long will you be keeping it for? 50K miles? Five years? You’ve pretty much got a $400 junkyard grade car at the moment, spending a weekend and $800 (or more) turns it maybe into a $2K car that’s physically 14 years old. $20K-25K buys you a clean Sigma CTS, Lincoln MKS, or less for the fabled MY12 Lincoln Zephyr both of the latter being very close to your Seville in a practical and spiritual sense. My other thought is this: can a 3800 be swapped in? I’ve read different things over the years, some say after MY98 the Cadillac fuel system changed and is incompatible to anything but Northstar. I don’t really know if it could be done, but I might look into a swap as well.

    @Sajeev

    “its always burned me how Lincolns are more disposable than Cadillacs.”

    You are the resident LM expert, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Contis were somewhat disposable because of air ride and trans and/or motor issues in the 3.8 models, but not Townies and Mark VII/VIII. People used to *keep* those, but I can’t speak to now.

  • avatar
    Jgwag1985

    Bought a 97 Town Car for $4k with 118k miles, air suspension went out replaced with shocks ($500 bucks I think, buddy installed for $200). Still very nice ride. I put 65k on it before getting rid of it. Car still being driven 4 years later. I get why people like these big American luxury cars. Would get a Town Car again. No engine problems, consistently got low 20’s.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      No wonder you could afford to invest in that Grand Wagoneer. And I do understand that at least there is nothing else comparable to it in size, hauling capacity, and style points. Sort of like Land Rover Defenders and older Toyota SUV’s, they are hard to find a suitable replacement, if you want or need what they can do.

      Maybe if I knew I was going to luck into my 97 GM, I might have been able to convince the lovely wife, with whom I am well acquainted, to keep the Cherokee Sport.

      Only problem is, her maximum overall car length is about two thirds that of a Panther or Cherokee, at most. So I can’t convince her it would be her daily driver.

  • avatar

    I’ll tell you based on my experience when I replaced the transmission in my elderly Ford Freestar. Sure, you can solve the problem but it’s an old car and there is always something else just around the corner just waiting to consume more money. Love it or not, dump it and find a new love.

  • avatar
    Toad

    There are a few problems to consider before deciding to make the repairs on this car:

    -It is a complex job. There are lots of things attached to the engine that have to be disconnected and reconnected properly, the engine has to be torn down, every engine part has to be taken off and reassembled properly, etc. Not an easy learn as you go project.

    -All the parts involved are old and due for replacement. When you drop the motor will you also do the starter that is buried between the heads, the water pump, hoses and belts, etc? What about bearings and seals? Suspension parts? Many parts involved in this job (or parts you will have easy access to) are probably due for replacement which will add to the time and cost involved.

    -Do you know what you are doing? A friend that has some mechanical ability with a late 90’s Honda decided to do a head gasket job himself; he spent many hours on the project, ended up doing the whole job twice (maybe 3x), and the car never ran close to right. He sold it to a guy for parts. The Seville will be a much more difficult job.

    -Your Cadillac is not worth much on any level. Pouring a lot of time/money/effort into an early 00’s Seville is awfully hard to justify. It was not one of GM’s better efforts, has no collector value, little resale value, and is not a head turner. Harsh but true.

    My two cents: do a Murilee, ditch the Cadillac, and replace it with a used LS430/460. Just like you did 9 years ago, you can get low mileage luxury at a bargain price but in a much better overall package. As a bonus you won’t be tearing the engine down, ever.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “All the parts involved are old and due for replacement.”

      I was going to make a similar point. If you’re going to do this much work, then other parts should also be replaced at the same time. So the total price for this job is going to be a lot higher than it first appears.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        Or if not, you can pay me now, or you can pay me later.

        If he doesn’t do them now, he will be doing them soon, or junking the car with his new studs installed.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Where is the LSX FTW mafia today?

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I just got my 2000 Cadillac Eldorado ETC back from Carroll Custom Cadillac in Pilot Point, Texas (they are moving about forty miles away as of this writing). They are the ONLY ones I would trust with a Northstar head gasket / new head bolt rebuild. Their advertised price was around $2,700 and they will repair the infamous oil leak (if your Caddy has that also) for an additional $500. Beats the dealership quotes of $6,000 to $8,200 (for the head gasket alone) I got out here in California, and those were for timeserts.
    I now have a meticulously maintained ETC that was owned by an elderly Japanese man in Los Angeles since day one. At 86,000 miles it now runs like new.
    CCC has their own shipping company that will pick up your car and will arrange for return based upon your needs. We had the car returned from Texas to Scottsdale, Arizona so we could fly there for the Arizona Oldsmobile Club Annual show, see the Grand Canyon and then drive the Last Great American Coupe home through the southwest desert!
    So if it’s a good car (you already know it has style!) and you like it…keep it and fix it. My ETC sold new for $37,000 and I bought it for $3,400.

  • avatar
    celebrity208

    Yo, my brother just bought my grandmother’s 2006 DTS. The car is PRISTINE and only has ~35k mi. Do I warn him to dump it at some safe mileage or had they fixed the headgasket issue by 2006? If it is suseptible to the head gasket issue and he wants to keep it, when should they “invest” in a stud-kit install? (He would be paying someone to do the work.)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Supposedly it was fixed in 2004. Since OP went 150K before the motor STB, your brother is probably fine.

      • 0 avatar
        celebrity208

        Furthermore, Northstar Performance’s stud-kit says “There are three kit variations- 93-99, 00-03, and 04-05” implying that ’06 should be in the clear. Implying is the key word/assumption.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Or, that 06+ is so messed up they haven’t figured out how to make a kit for it yet.

          :)

          I’ve heard people have gasket issues with 06+ but certainly in smaller numbers. Then again, they might not be at high enough miles yet (with their ancient owners at the helm) to have it happen.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      That late and that mileage, just drive it and enjoy it, then toss it if and when the Northstar does vomit its fluids.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      That brings up the point – how does the OP feel about that generation of DTS? They’re absolutely available in that price range, and shouldn’t be too dramatically different from his Seville. Not saying it’s a better call than fixing the old car, but it’s a possibility.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It’s definitely not a job most DIY’ers can handle, I believe it requires the body to be lifted off the engine cradle, so realistically you’d need a lift to do it. And then drilling new head bolts, etc. Not a job to feel your way through.

    But the car is worth scrap anyway with the head gasket issue, you’d at least recoup some of that if it’s repaired and you’d get to drive it for longer.

    If it keeps you from buying a much newer car, I think it’s probably worthwhile. At least in my state, just the sales tax on a new $25k car would be what it costs to pay a shop to fix the head gasket. That’s not even calculating the much bigger cost of depreciation.

    For some reason I thought after 2001 GM had addressed this head gasket issue?

  • avatar
    EAF

    I would;

    First, sell the car as-is or for parts. You could also trade it in or even scrap it if you had to. Leave emotions out of this arena…

    Secondly, factor in the time, effort, nagging wife, aggrevation and the 800 dollars you saved by electing not to perform the repair.

    Lastly, put it towards the purchase of a new car. Finding something that will be more reliable and deliver a better return on the price of a gallon should not be difficult.

    P.S. Stay away from Audi/VW stealerships.

    Goodluck and you’re welcome.

  • avatar
    Jgwag1985

    The op said he could afford a new car, he says there is nothing out there that he likes (in the $20-25k range). Why are people missing this point. Except for the engine issue, the car is in good shape.

    There is a Volvo out there with 3 million miles. Paint isn’t that great. Well taken care of, but showing wear. It’s not worth that much, just junk it right? I guess no one here read Click an Clack’s book (Magliozzi brothers). If engine is only problem and he likes the car. Fix the engine, or pay $500 a month for 4 years(for a car in the $20-$25k range that he does not like), plus higher insurance costs on a new car.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      Or get a Panther of your choice for $2-4K with miles in the mid-100’s and a couple of hundred K left on the engine. They can be had in pristine condition for those prices, especially the late Aeros (95-97) but also into the Whale era (98+). No payments, no higher collision insurance cost, etc. No excessive rust and no nasty leaks.

      Just be sure the plastic manifold bit the previous owner and was replaced by the all aluminum one. Other than that, there was a minor steering column recall on some of them, that I believe all got fixed in warranty. The fire issue is bogus, only about cop cars exploding when rearended by a car going 75mph while parked on the side of the road. Though you could retrofit the gastank protection bar for a couple of hundred bucks if you are paranoid.

      There will still be Panthers running well when the last North*’s have been sent to the crusher. Fighting words, I’m sure, but I’ll stand by it.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        I will second that notion. If something like a 2002 Seville suits the OP’s needs, for heaven’s sake just get thee a low mileage Panther, like maybe a 2003 or later model Lincoln. The soft parts will oxidize and need to be replaced, but the rest (with a few well-known exceptions) will soldier on.

        At the heart of the OP’s original posting is the eternal question for anyone operating old machinery: “is today’s trouble just a problem or a harbinger that the whole damn thing is about to wear out?” Recall that in the theoretically perfectly designed machine, every component will wear out at the same time.

        Panthers are different from most cars. They are an old design refined and re-refined over decades. The result is that a 10 or even a 20 year old vehicle well maintained can still be a reliable daily driver. You just have to deal with 14 mpg.

  • avatar
    andrewallen

    The Standard of the World, hard as it is to believe nowadays but this marque once actually won a Dewar trophy despite being made in the US. Yes once upon a time Caddys really were “The Standard of the World! Ultra reliable and well engineered and manufactured, how the mighty have fallen!

  • avatar
    skor

    This is not a DIY job unless you have a lift. The Deathstar Caddies are worth nothing because of their bad rep. The last halfway decent Caddy engine was the 4.9 and GM killed off that one to replace it with the 4.6 pile of sick. My advice is don’t waste your time. If you really like this style of car, go out and buy a newish DTS, which are not worth much now either.


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