Piston Slap: Northstar Mills, Northstar Bills…
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 I know the car has many drawbacks and is a bit outdated, but I have an attachment to it.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?
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: Shutterstock user Vixit]
[Image: maeng9981 on www.CadillacForums.com]
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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