I will discuss the pros and cons, myths and facts. Hopefully this will set the record straight and save you money.
Shortly I will speak about why the Northstar loses it head gaskets, but before I do, I want to get the cons out of the way.
Fix in a bottle?
First, as an experienced master mechanic, I will be frank! There is no such thing as a fix in a bottle, and for the Northstar, it does not exist! So if you have thought about it or tried it and failed, don't waste your time or money. Even if it lasted for two days, you're just out money and now you have a clogged system.Your heater core is now on the verge of not heating. In essence, don't do it!
Could your Cadillac need a radiator? Is that why it is getting hot? Not likely. The radiator does not just fail, and if you think it is clogged, try flushing it and that should eliminate that potential problem.
The radiator (like all radiators) have a minimum life of 10yrs. If you have used the correct coolant regularly, then it can last the life of your car.
Remember: a Northstar is all aluminum and does not just rust, so that is not the problem!
I recommend a new radiator only after 10yrs, but even that is not necessary. I can't count the many Cadillacs I have repaired head gaskets on where the owner had just replaced the radiator, and with others, also the heater core. It did not help to buy them, but it is nice to have them. I like new stuff too!
If your Cadillac has a Northstar, you can forget it being your radiator.
Have you been told your heater core must be the problem$ I used the sign "$" because that was definitely the symbol at the end of their question.Your heater core cannot cause your Cadillac to run hot--period! The water is automatically bypassed through direct lines, and the flow of water never stops. Of course, heater cores can break or clog, but if this does occurr, you will know it because the heater will not heat the interior of your car.
The thermostat is used to warm your car up to operating tempeture on cold mornings. Once your car has reached operating temp, the thermostat will open, allowing water to flow through the system, thus allowing the radiator to do its job of cooling the motor to the proper temp, then closing when the motor has cooled. This keeps the temp at a comfortable level for you and protects your car from both freezing and overheating. I recommend always changing the thermostat in the event your car is overheating. It is a simple operation to determine if your thermostat is causing the overheating. If your car continues to run hot, then you will have to do some more tests.
OK, so the head gaskets are not the only flaw! Lets take a look at the cooling fans. Why are they not coming on if the car is hot?
The cooling fans can be a real issue, and it seems as though I have to deal with them all the time. Why? Well, the fans circuitry is a complicated computer-controlled system and is combined with the AC system, so if your system is low on pressure, then the circuit is cut off to keep the compresser from activating. This in turn can also cut the power to the cooling fans. There is also a number of things that can cut the system: fuses, relays, and so on, so it needs to be diagnosed by a trained tech.
For myself, I have a separate fused system in my own Cadillac that allows me to operate the fans at my discretion. In the summer time, my fans run when the car is running and periodically when it's winter. This is a way of never being in the blind to overheating related to the cooling fans. I hard wire them separate of the AC system to avoid costly repairs. Although I offer this fix to my customers, I also will repair them to operate as it was designed, but it goes without saying that there is no guarantee that they will not stop when you least expect it; the older the car, the longer it can take to activate the fans.
Anyway, back to overheating causes. The fans not operating may not be the reason for your blown gaskets, but they do assist in failure over the course of time. If your Cadillac is above 100k, then all these things become a factor in prolonging head gasket failure, so do keep an eye on them, repair as necessary, and you may get a little more time before the gasket repair becomes necessary.
Could it be? Please no, not the head gaskets!
Well, lets discuss the head gaskets. I heard it was a disaster, too much $$$$$$ to repair, now what? Well this may sound bad, but it is not that bad. When you wanted to drive a Caddy, did you think it was as cheap as a Honda?
If you don't care about the gas prices as long as you can drive in luxury, then what is the big deal about fixing your head gaskets?
Anyhow here is the thing: the Northstar is one of the most awesome engines ever built, and if you have one you should be proud. Check out the Northstar Info specs page and see what you have.
Although this is a magnificent piece of engineering, the block threading cannot contain the torque forever and you can guarantee that if you have not already suffered this, you will.
All Northstars will lose their head gaskets around 100k to 140k depending on how the car has been driven, sometimes sooner sometimes later. Now, the dealership is a 4500 dollar fix and they "Do Not" repair your threads properly. They do however give you a three month warranty--WOW--because they will fail again--No Exceptions.
The cost can be cheaper if you find the right mechanic. There are a few who will tackle the Northstar. When a Northstar has to be repaired, it must be removed from the car and that is why the price is high--not a simple task. I am the only cadillac shop in the Northwest, so the help that I can provide to you that are far off is limited. So all I can offer you is long distance help like answering your questions and maybe helping those willing to tackle it by being here for a step by step procedure. Those questions can be asked through our contact page. For those of you who are able to talk your mechanic into the task, you can offer my web site for long distance help by giving my web address to the mechanic. I will take it from there. Please refer to the Repair Cost page for repar cost estimates.
My advice to those who can afford the repair is to have it done before failure occurs when it's affordable and you will enjoy your Cadillac without worries.