1999 Cadillac DeVille Concours 4.9 Northstar V8 from North America
Oil leak -- (so I'm told).
Plugs and wires need replacing -- general tune up.
Haven't owned this car for long. It was THE car I was looking for -- I wanted to make sure I bought a Concours edition and I wanted the older body style from 1997-1999 model years. I've heard bad things about the newer body style and that they don't ride as nice.
I paid $3,800, but my mechanic thinks I could put an ad in the paper and double my money right now. When I brought it in for a pre-purchase inspection, he said that they expected to see a one in front of the four digit price that was plastered on the windshield (it was priced as 3850). That certainly made it much easier to write the check, but I still think I could have gotten it for below $3500.
My mechanic spent about 30 minutes with the car (not including the road test), before just laughing at me when I asked if there was anything wrong with it. They indicated it was more than a solid purchase at that price, and that the only issues were an small oil leak and tune up -- at 121,000 miles the car had the original plug wires.
As for the leak, I was told if it was an upper oil pan leak there was no real way to fix it -- short of tearing apart the entire aluminum engine (stupid) -- you just monitor the car and add oil as needed. If it was a lower pan leak, it was easily fixable.
I've had the car parked in a garage (I don't really drive much) and I haven't seen any spots from leaks under it at all though, so maybe it's not really that bad.
I also asked whether some of the bad things I had heard about the Northstar (guzzles oil, etc) were true. My mechanic said they were not.
The fit and finish on this car are unrivaled for the amount of money I paid. It's literally loaded and all the options work. Most likely this was a one owner car -- not passed along from hand to hand. Heated seats, CD/cassette, self-closing trunk, message center that monitors the battery, oil life, gas mileage, voltage use, even tells you when ice may be a problem, compass, traction control, front wheel drive, air shocks, programmable presets for mirrors, seat position, radio station for two drivers, weather band radio -- it's ridiculous.
The big smooth V8 can hump it up to 70 with seemingly zero effort. So far I've only driven it in very cold weather and for short distances before scurrying back to the heated garage I'm keeping it in -- more than anything I'm trying my best to avoid cold starts. But I've noticed no problems on the road. It takes premium, but who cares -- I'm not commuting 100 miles a day and never will. Mechanic also recommended Chevron Techron, which I was quick to incorporate. Needless to say, it's also quite roomy.
I expect this car to go another 100,000 miles, especially given my driving habits -- I tend to drive like a little old lady without the riding the brakes part -- but we'll see. I'm sure there will be things that will require replacement, but as long as it's limited to general use items like the brakes and shocks, I'm not going to lose my mind over it. It's a friggen car -- not a magic carpet.
I'm curious to see how much of an effect a full, major tune up will have on the performance and mileage. Right now though, I believe I got the best car I could get for the price I paid.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 12th February, 2010
17th Feb 2010, 23:07
Your mechanic is wrong about the rumors. The rumors are 100% true. The Northstar will leak and or guzzle oil. Also if you don't use the seal tablets, it will blow a head gasket.
8th Jun 2012, 10:52
Having owned many Cadillac's and a few Northstars myself, the rumors are not true in my opinion. When regarding the 4.6 Northstar motor, you have to take into consideration that they are a high revving, race inspired motor. They were built to work and work hard all day (used a lot in marine applications because of this).
Like any motor, they were not built for abuse and 0-60 WOT's all the time, but when in gear, they NEED to be red-lined on a weekly basis to keep the piston rings from sticking up, and to clean up the EGR system and exhaust valves. I never consider a Northstar that has been babied its whole life or one that has been bagged on (both situations are abuse IMO).
Some do tend to leak oil, but really not much at all. I have no spots on my driveway, but my pan is a bit shiny, and the surrounding ferrous parts aren't rusting as a result, so the leaks are usually very minor. They are designed to use oil by an aggressive cylinder honing process that retains more oil under high RPM conditions, which allows more lubrication to the rings. They USE oil, but do not BURN it. This is by design, and smart when you think about it.
I also have yet to experience a head gasket issue thus far (knock on wood), but I believe this is due to a lot of highway driving, keeping the thing exercised and routine maintenance.
If you need a car that is a stop & go all day car, then this is not the car you need.
I'm 25 now, and am on my 4th Caddy since my 16th birthday, and a 95 Lexus LS400. The Caddy's are easy to work on for general maintenance, and parts are actually very reasonably priced. For the price of a used one and the class and quality of the car you get, you can't go wrong. They aren't Lexus build quality, but for the price you pay and the superior styling, who cares when you can buy two Caddy's for half the price of an old Lexus, which have their own problems and inferior designs, such as the use of timing belts instead of chains, unlike Cadillac.