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1985 Cadillac Eldorado -- Your Advice or Experience

Thinking about buying a very clean, well maintained 85 Eldorado for a weekend cruiser. The car would be used lightly for short trips – a fun car for me, so to speak. If you have experience with this model, please feel free to share. Thanks.

I know that the 4.1L aluminum block engine was horribly unreliable. And that the electronics, especially the dashboard failed with alarming regularity.

If it has the HT4100 engine, run away as fast as possible. If it has a carbureted Oldsmobile V8 like the 307, it may not be a bad car to have, and will not be too difficult to service or too unreliable. Pretty sure the Eldorado had the HT4100, though.

I was told that most of the issues with the HT4100 were in the earlier models. This model is an 85, the last year for the HT4100 in the Eldorado. If anyone knows anything about this point, please comment. Thanks!

From 1981 until 1988 were “The Dark Years” for U.S. autos…Smog nightmares… Feedback carburetors and Prototype fuel injection systems…Completely unreliable electronics…Control systems changed every 6 months as the EPA and Detroit fought it out…Parts are no longer available…As an added bonus in the model you are looking at, an automatic transmission with a very short life expectancy (even shorter than the non-repairable aluminum engine…By 1989, things got a lot better, and the big leap came with the NorthStar in 1993 in some models…By 1994 all Caddy V8’s were NorthStars…Sweet engines but high-maintenance…

If you have an itch for a hobby-weekend Caddy Roadster, the Allante cars (1987-1993) are a lot of fun. Stick with '89 and newer to avoid the worst of the breed…

If I were to get a Cadillac from the '80s, I would get a Fleetwood Brougham and stick a Chevy 350 under the hood to have some cheap, reliable fun, but that’s just me. Caddyman does make an excellent suggestion with the Allante. It’s a sporty, stunningly gorgeous car that is fun to drive. Even the engine is beautiful, and not terribly difficult to work on, either, from what I recall. The Northstar V8 is probably the best engine installed in a Cadillac throughout the '80s and '90s, though. They are smooth, powerful, pretty reliable, and not terribly difficult to work on for most things (although I have heard rebuilding them is a daunting task for most people. Never done it myself). If I were to buy an older Cadillac for something other than a hot rod project (like the Fleetwood I mentioned earlier), it would be something from the '90s with a Northstar in it.

If you get that year Cadillac, find the sticker that tells you what weight oil to use. If it says 30Wt when temperatures don’t get below +30 F for more than an hour or so per day, use the straight 30 Wt or the oil will leak out. Do not use 5W30.

If you get total gas gauge failure, high idle speed and no power and (sometimes) bucking, change the computer, it’s cheap.