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Old 03-10-2019, 05:49 PM
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2000 Cadillac Eldorado ESC

My 1995 daily driver Cad SDV was getting tired and has a front main seal oil leak so something new(er) was needed. CL to the rescue.

I saw this Eldo on CL and ran to the seller near me and we made the deal...way below fair price. It is a 2000 ESC tricked out with most options and 37,000 original miles after 20 years. Like new. It jumps from the line. It is a bit tight for my 6'2" frame but ok.

It does have the problematic Northstar engine though. Reading much about it, the popular opinion was to get rid of the orange Dexcool coolant for the aluminum block/head. It thickens with age, the engine heats up and the aluminum warps and pulls the head bolts causing fluids being where they should not be. Cad changed untold numbers of these engines. My mechanic said change to green coolant. It had already been done.

The retired rich owner bought it in 2000 and passed away a year ago. His rich nephew did not want it and was glad to get it to a Cad fan. It needs a radiator cap and a oil send switch and a spot in a few car shows to show the muscle car entrants what a stylish car is.
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Last edited by Dave A; 03-10-2019 at 06:57 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:34 PM
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A friend of mine has or had (might of gotten rid of it since I last visited) a Norstar cad (think it was a early-mid 90's B body boat)...It was his second-first car (other was a cad that in IIRC a day or less after he bought it was T-boned and totaled by a red light runner* and got replaced by the one he has). He didn't give it much maintenance aside from oil and it has gone over 15 years since he got it used...At this point, he's kinda waiting for the wheels to fall off so he can send it to the scrap heap. It's developing issues that once they get past the ignore point will cost more than the car is worth to fix.

*He the guy that hit him needed their doors pried open, his still opened just fine.
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Last edited by Electronic M; 03-10-2019 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:42 PM
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I had a '98 SLS back years ago, and the engine was very dependable, but used some oil between changes. Plus, I remember it used 7 quarts of oil or something like that, so oil changes always cost more. According to the mechanic who serviced mine back in the day, getting rid of Dexcool is a smart move.

The car would flat out fly, and was the fastest thing I had after selling my '93 Lincoln Mark VIII.
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Old 03-10-2019, 11:34 PM
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Nice.

The Northstar engine is not what I'd call 'problematic.' I've worked on scores of them and literally only encountered one that had the 'notorious' head gasket problem. And it had 180k on it. I've done head gasket jobs on many other engines with less miles.

Aside from running regular coolant and not shitty Dexcool (though Dexcool has a lot of cool properties, it also has a lot of problems), my advice is simply to make sure it NEVER overheats. Which... you should be doing anyway, with any car.

It is actually a very good engine. It's very high tech - especially for its time - and they tend not to have any major problems. Also has a lot of power. Too much for a little car. They are a little bit of a pain in the ass to work on, but no more than say an Audi or BMW. Also, there's nothing wrong with aluminum heads, in general. In fact, since the block is aluminum as well, it's even less of a problem. The thing about aluminum heads is that, yes, they tend to warp when overheated. But again, you shouldn't allow any car to overheat.

Cadillacs were initially notorious for head gasket problems with the HT4100. Which, despite it's name, was barely High Tech at all. It had an aluminum block with iron heads. And they didn't yet have the gasket technology to fix the 'scrubbing' problem - when the two different metals expand and contract at different rates and slowly grind away the head gasket between them.
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Old 03-11-2019, 07:43 PM
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Best pray the starter never goes in that Northstar engine , As a fun fact I'll let MadMan tell you all where it's located ....
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Old 03-11-2019, 09:16 PM
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Thanks for the observations. I studied most of them and the tricks needed before I pulled the trigger and will continue to learn. The car was too original to walk away from and I took a flyer. For now it is just a weekend car with antique plates. And I have one eye on the temp gauge...a steady mid point all the time. And MadMan is right. It is overpowered...but a ton of fun.
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Last edited by Dave A; 03-11-2019 at 09:24 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-11-2019, 09:44 PM
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10 years ago I was seeing cars come into the shop suffering "death from Dex-Cool". It was plain lack of maintenance, really. I rarely saw it on pickups or a Buick driven by a little old lady, but on Pontiac sedans & third-hand Cadillacs. The type of people who owned cars like that were the sort that only opened the hood when the "low oil pressure" light came on. They'd dump in a couple quarts of store brand 10w30 from Dollar General and let it roll. Those Cadillacs, when at the hand of folks like that, went downhill fast. With owners that cared, though, they have a lot to offer. I think I'd have more confidence in one of these than a Lincoln or anything European from that era.
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Old 03-11-2019, 10:36 PM
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I wonder if there is merit in switching to the green on my suburban? Its got the red coolant in it, I haven't changed the coolant in the 1.5 years I've had it, and lately it's been reading low coolant when parked nose downhill...Recovery bottle stays in the neighborhood of full cold (but does fluctuate), temps have been normal too...
That is the kind of problem that makes me mad at Gm for not designing a proper radiator cap to check what is in the actual radiator.
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Old 03-12-2019, 02:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by init4fun View Post
Best pray the starter never goes in that Northstar engine , As a fun fact I'll let MadMan tell you all where it's located ....
lol yeah it's ridiculous! It's in the valley of the engine, under the intake manifold. But actually the starter is probably the easiest thing to change on that car. While in concept it seems like it'd be a pain in the ass, it's only about 6 bolts, lift up the whole intake with everything on it, and the starter is right there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgadow View Post
The type of people who owned cars like that were the sort that only opened the hood when the "low oil pressure" light came on. They'd dump in a couple quarts of store brand 10w30 from Dollar General and let it roll. Those Cadillacs, when at the hand of folks like that, went downhill fast.
Exactly.

I should also mention - now that it comes to mind - that Northstar crankshaft position sensors go bad. I don't want to say 'frequently' because I've probably never changed them on a single car twice, but they are not the longest-lived component. Now those are a pain in the ass to change. And there are two of them, in the same place. So, redundancy, yay! On your car, being a 2000, it will probably throw a code that says crankshaft position sensor or something, but maybe on yours, and always on the older ones, the PCM had no direct connection to the sensors, and instead would throw a code like ignition pulse 24x or something weird ignition related like that. Because it read the sensors through the ignition module, and the PCM would think the ignition module was messing up. The engine will probably misbehave if the sensors go bad. Hard starting, misfires, stuff like that.

Last edited by MadMan; 03-12-2019 at 02:28 AM.
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Old 03-12-2019, 05:29 PM
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It's not the Northstar I hate, Its FWD cars with transversely mounted Vee engines I hate

I didn't know Dex Cool was problematic itself, I thought it just caused problems when mixed with other types of coolant.

I try not to mix brands/types of coolant in my cars.
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Old 03-12-2019, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electronic M View Post
I wonder if there is merit in switching to the green on my suburban? Its got the red coolant in it, I haven't changed the coolant in the 1.5 years I've had it, and lately it's been reading low coolant when parked nose downhill...Recovery bottle stays in the neighborhood of full cold (but does fluctuate), temps have been normal too...
That is the kind of problem that makes me mad at Gm for not designing a proper radiator cap to check what is in the actual radiator.
I remember that "low coolant" issue now that you mention it. Used to see a lot of those in the shop. Bad sensor, as I recall, though I seem to remember even that didn't always fix it. Pretty sure it's in the reservoir and it was the Dex Cool that would do it in. When I was a service writer I read many articles on these problems but I've managed to forget most of the details I do know that there are so many different coolant variations today that it's difficult to have complete confidence in your choice. If I were doing a 100% flush/fill, I think I'd put something else in there, either yellow or green.
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