Why would anyone buy a car with a Northstar engine?

Hi group:

This is a rhetorical question for me because just this past summer, I bought a 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora and it contains what some call a "baby" Northstar engine.

Recently, while having the car lubed, the technician suggested putting a dye in the oil so that the source of oil leaks could be found. I did this and at the next oil change, the leak turned out to be the oil pan gasket.

Well, according to my local Mr. Goodwrench service writer, to replace this gasket, they pull the engine from the car, turn it over and remove the oil pan and replace the gasket. He quoted a price of around $2,300 to replace this gasket.

I looked at the GM factory service manual for the car and they suggest two methods of replacing the oil pan gasket:

1. Pull the engine, etc., as Mr. Goodwrench suggests; or

2. Pull the transmission (transaxile) only and you then have the necessary access to pull the oil pan with the engine in the car.

Either way, it's a very expensive fix.

So I ask, given the truism that most engines and probably all Northstar engines at some point will start leaking oil, then why would anyone buy a car with a Northstar engine?

Mr. Goodwrench went on to say that the newer Northstar engines do not leak oil from the oil pan gasket.

Wow...I believe that GM introduced this engine in the 1993 Cadillac Allante and now some 13 years later, they finally solved the oil pan gasket leaking problem.

Personally, I don't believe it.

When you read the review of new cars in the car magazines, the writers never address the cost of repairs except when they use a car for a long period of time.

If a potential Buick Lucerne buyer knew up front that it was going to cost him or her some $2,000+ down the road after the warranty expires to fix a simple oil pan gasket leak, that person might start looking for another car.

By the way, I own three (3) cars and they are all GM cars (1985 Cadillac Cimarron, 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix SE and the 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora). I generally like GM cars but I believe Northstar engine, despite all the good performance things you can say about it, is very disappointing when it come to a simple oil pan gasket repair.

What are your thoughts?

Regards, Al Gershen Grants Pass, OR snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com

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Anything on that engine is expensive outside of plugs and filters. Very poor access to all peripheral components.

-

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Do a google search on the engine and read about the older Northstar's that had a problem with the head bolts being strip out during iassembly. As years went by the heads became loose. The fix - replace engine.

Northstar is the reason I didn't buy an 04 - 05 Cadillac.

Harryface 05 Park Avenue, 34,145 91 Bonneville LE 305,890

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GM had to do something about the 3800 lasting so long and being so trouble-free(exc. for the intake leaks). Buy a car w/the 3800 and it runs 300K giving excellent service and performance. They needed more 'designed obsolescence' to replace the 3800's--but who would buy anything else? Maybe, just maybe if we put a 'Cadillac' engine in, the public just might buy into it and learn to forget the reliable 3800! Pure speculation on my part; however there just might be an element of truth in the idea of designed obsolescence! Talked to lead mechanic at local Caddy dealership & he told me that whenever they quote a labor job on a Northstar, they add in the cost of heli-coil on each bolt. Sometimes they give a refund on the lucky bolts; sometimes it takes them all. Who said I was biased toward the 3800??? sdlomi

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Well, SD. Not all the 3800's are 'reliable' either. The plenum decomposition issue can be damn expensive and inconvenient.

I wouldn't buy a Lucerne...Too expensive for a first year run, questionable engine, and the Buick penchant for too much electronic BS, which can be troublesome and expensive.

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I agree totally, HLS, altho' I referred to it in original post as "(exc. for the intake leaks)". I've never understood why they released such a poor design(change?) unless they wanted, again, to decrease its lasting too long!? I even got GM to agree to pay for an elderly lady's Royale when it filled cylinders w/liquid which we all know doesn't compress--car was 6-7 years old, but had only 28000 miles. Thx for the reminder! s

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On Thu, 16 Feb 2006 00:59:56 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Harry Face) wrote:

The fix is actually to use timeserts (www.timesert.com). There is a kit specifically designed for Northstars. Cheaper than a new engine but still pricey by any standard.

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my reccomendation is get rid of the northstar and buy a better made car, dont buy oldsmobile.

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Why not? Olds made some good cars right up to the end.

--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
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Loved my 64 F-85 Cutlass Convertible. LOL

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Tim,

Boy can I relate to that: my very first car was a '64 F-85 Cutlass convertible. Small V-8 with the 2-speed automatic (not a Powerglide - same 2-speed made by HydraMatic used by Buick during that same era0.

Traded that Olds in on a 1968 AMX (which I sure wish I still had).

Regards, Bill Bowen Sacramento, CA

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Mike Marlow wrote:

I agree Mike. I owned a couple of nice Oldsmobiles over the years. I still see a lot of late model Oldsmobiles on the road and I seriously lament the fact that they're no longer being manuafactured.

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Mike,

I'd agree. My neighbor has an 03 Alero and loves it, and I have numerous friends that own Oldsmobiles ranging from a '63 Starfire to a 99 Intrigue that love them.

The only caneat I'd give anyone on buying an Olds - don't buy any Olds with a Northstar or any variation including the "ShortStar" V-6 in the later Intrigues OR any Olds with the 3.4L TwinCam (thankfully very few Olds ever used that engine).

Regards, Bill Bowen Sacramento, CA

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Al,

I know you posted in the Olds group about buying an Aurora, and I warned you not to buy a '95 through '97 due to the rear main seal leakage (it's not the oil pan). This repair requires a total disassembly and reassembly of the engine... to the tune of $1800-$2300, probably what you are quoted.

As long as you monitor your oil levels, and the leak isn't too bad, and you don't mind oil on the garage floor/buying some Oil-Dry, you're fine. There is a revised rear seal which doesn't leak. Since GM made this revision (after changing from the green coolant to Dex-Cool due to head gasket issues with the old-style coolant), the engines have been fairly bulletproof.

Nevertheless, the new "Ultra" V8 engines are coming, to replace the NorthStars. I believe the first release will be in the new Buick Enclave, with more details to follow as that gets closer to production... supposedly the Ultra V8's will be better packaged/easier to service, among other improvements...

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