1997 Cadillac Seville STS Northstar from North America
Not cheap to operate or maintain, but a blast to drive and own!
Car came off lease and was Cadillac certified used car with extended new vehicle warranty.
Replaced water pump at 80,000 miles. Failed engine gaskets led to engine rebuild at 84,000 miles. Was burning coolant as well as using oil, resulting in overheating on long trip. Repair completed under warranty, low cost to me. Dealer provided loaner car, so inconvenience was limited, although the bloom was off the rose. Dealer also tuned, replaced spark plug wires, and water pump.
Have replaced brake rotors twice in 80,000 miles (every other brake job). Each time left front rotor was warped. Suspect that mechanic (not dealer) turns the rotors too thin.
The car "uses" one quart of oil every 1400 miles -- actually, the car burns it. This is an annoying, and well reported idiosyncrasy of the North star v8. Dealer (and manufacturer) calls oil usage up to 1 quart every 500 miles "normal."
Replaced front sway bar at 100,000 miles. Also completed a number of minor repairs that were ordinary maintenance.
Replaced exhaust gas re-cycler valve at 110,000 miles. Symptoms: rough idle, check engine light. Was stuck in open position, luckily, so car would start. If stuck in closed position (as on my first car), car will not start.
Windshield wipers: Design of feeder tubes from reservoir to wipers results in periodic vibration-related disconnection. Used twist tie to keep together -- has worked since. At 100,000 miles, winter conditions led to a rip in little hose that supplies washer fluid to right hand squirter nozzle. To replace, must replace entire wiper arm assembly. Did not do repair since fluid still squirts -- just not in a pretty pattern.
At 125,000 miles, and have needed to put approximately $2,000 into car. Left front wheel bearing and hub assembly replaced (along with both front tires to keep wear pattern even), also steering position sensor (traction control and stability control messages), battery (it is 7 years old, after all!), water pump. Turn signals are behaving in psychotic manner -- either click rapidly or very slowly, with little rhyme or reason -- dealer first could not figure out. Now on third visit, and found that some of the light sockets in brake light strip on rear of car are corroded and shorting out. We hope that the replacement will fix this problem. Battery is discharging and slow start with some cranking. Dealer at this moment is replacing the MAP sensor since new battery was load tested and is fine. Hope that this solves problem.
It is important to note that despite all of the repairs listed above, the dealer has been very helpful and polite. They have provided me with loaner vehicles, so only the one morning where car would not start and the gasket failure actually inconvenienced me as an owner.
Performance: The performance of the engine, ride, and fun-to-drive quotients are all extremely high. The car steers, corners, and rides beautifully (when suspension parts are in good repair). Power is no problem at all -- and the engine delivers everything a 32-valve 8-cylinder engine with large displacement should. After all, there's no replacement for displacement!
Comfort and entertainment: The seats are extremely comfortable for all passengers and road trips are a pleasure. The 12-CD changer and BOSE audio system ensure that trips through rural areas with limited radio choices are no problem. Dual climate controls and heated seats are heaven. The back seat passengers have limited climate control capabilities as well, which they exercise often. Good availability of cup holders.
Styling: Great fit and finish. I love the overall shape -- definitely looks like a speed machine. Cadillac (unlike Pontiac) controls the amount of body cladding and fairings on car which results in a very cleanly styled vehicle. Waistline is low enough that visibility is good all around, although c-pillar is quite thick, which makes a substantial blind spot. This is better in the STS than the Eldo, by the way. The newer models are tending toward the Evoq styling, which has dampened, but not eliminated my enthusiasm.
I definitely recommend purchasing a low-mileage used version so that the first owner takes the depreciation hit.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 14th May, 2004
16th Dec 2004, 13:02
I too own a 97 Cadillac STS. It is a very nice car to drive when it works, but it is, by far, the worse Cadillac I have ever owned (had a 91 Seville and a 83 Eldo). I have 96,000 miles on it and, unlike you, did not have an extended warranty. I didn't believe the flagship of the Cadillac line could fall apart so quickly as you have so aptly described. What makes matters worse for me is that most of the significant problems were brought to their attention well before the original warranty expired. I got a lot of excuses, but no satisfaction. I am currently considering legal action (awaiting a reply from our State Attorney General). I will never purchase another Cadillac and will encourage all my friends to stay away with the facts.
28th Jan 2009, 20:11
I bought a 97 STS in 2006 with 117k on it, I purchased it knowing the motor was being replaced due to a cracked block. I agreed to a used 97 northstar motor with 55,000 miles on it from a totaled car which I was able to see and verify before agreeing to. I now have 140,000 on the car, 78,000 motor, on it with no engine problems besides the oil usage which amounts to 1 quart between changes every 3-4,000 miles. The main issue I have had is the blower fan for the driver compartment has gone out twice, second time it was covered and I replaced myself (no easy task). I've done the normal things like brakes and tires which are expected.
The car drives wonderful and I like the fact that I feel safe with my children in the car. I handles great in snow and rain slick roads, I live in Minnesota.
Even though the car is 12 years old it still looks great, runs great and I am confident I will get well over 200k on it.
27th Apr 2009, 10:02
Just a comment on the original message. I wouldn't call the 4.6L Northstar V8 a "large displacement" engine. 4.6L works out to be around 280 cubic inches, which is diminutive for an American V8 engine. However, while 280 ci. is relatively small displacement, it should be noted that it cranks out 300 HP. It is extremely rare to find an engine that will turn out more HP than its cubic inch displacement.