Cadi - over heating due to heads blow?

My name is JoAnn and my husband just bought me a classic 1997 Cadi D’Elegance with only 63k miles at book price. I drove it one day and the thing went crazy telling me the car was overheating and I needed to stop the engine immediately (in the middle of I-75 during rush hour, thank God I have great legs).

Long story short my husband had it tested and the problem is a blown head that’s why it got so hot…Cadi dealer won’t guarantee their repair of nearly $3000 and it seems to be a design issue with the northstar engine according to the dealer. What !!! they won’t fix via warranty at 63,000 miles.

Now the bad news nearly $3500 to repair with one year garantee at an independant mechanic or it can be gladly replace for $6500 by our good frienda at the cadi dealer…it is a gorgious car what do we do ? Thank you for your view.


Hi Great Leggs Jo: Your problem is quite common with the North Star engine; many of these had similar problems.

If the car is not used for day to day heavy commuting, I would opt for a used engine from a wreck, if you can find it. The next option is your independent, if he is a good mechanic, to repair it. I would not go for the $6500 deal.

This car has other problems, many of the hardware and electricals are not up to Japanese or Korean quality standards; those were Cadillac’s dark days.

I would not drive this car for heavy use; it will be very expensive to keep going. I have many retired friends who drive cars like that but only to the golf course or bingo parlor and back.

Your husband obviously has good taste, (in more than just cars)and I know you want to keep the car.

Good luck!

“What !!! they won’t fix via warranty at 63,000 miles.”

Despite the low odometer mileage, the car is 13 years old!

Every warranty, just like most maintenance procedures, has an odometer mileage value and an elapsed time value, with the proviso of “whichever comes first”. No matter what GM Powertrain Warranty coverage it once had, that coverage expired about a decade ago. And, while some used cars do come with a 30 day guarantee from the dealership, I have never heard of a dealer giving any kind of warranty on a car that is this old.

I think that this issue really comes down to how much you like this car. If you really like it, then I suppose that it may be worth it to you to “invest” $3,500 in its repair. Right now, its book value with one or two blown head gaskets is…not very good. At least if you repair it, you will be restoring some value to it.

How you decide to resolve this issue will really be related to your values and the intensity of your desire to keep this car. Just be aware that the currently-needed repairs will not be the last.

These cars were not especially reliable when they were new, and after 13 years, things don’t improve. As just two examples, if the intake manifold gasket has never been replaced, that is something else that will need to be done in the future, and if the transmission has not been properly maintained, it may not give many more years of service before a rebuild is necessary.