We at RB Auto Service specialize in Cadillac and are 4.6l 32v Northstar engine specialists. If you have or suspect you have the all too common headgasket failure you may be wondering how much should it cost? Or, who should I have perform the service? I’ll answer the last question first.
Who Should Repair Your Engine?
The Northstar engine is a uniquely engineered engine that achieves relatively low emissions, good fuel economy for the full size luxury models it powers, and excellent horsepower all on regular pump gas. An all aluminum construction was vital to achieving this level of performance. This construction and other unique design elements give the Northstar its own set of problems that crop up during repairs. These problems include broken main bearing bolts, pulled head bolt and main bolt threads, and specialty tools required to properly installed cartridge style rear main seals, and recessed valve stem seals. Also, space requirements mean that all Northstar engines must be removed to be serviced properly.
For these reasons it is essential that only a Cadillac and Northstar specialist repair your engine. I have repaired many head gaskets the second time after the first repair at a less experienced shop failed. I have also been called in to extract broken bolts, repair threads, and install stud kits for other shops. I charge them as much as I would charge a regular customer. I can only assume that the cost of my services was passed on to their customers. Only experience can teach you the lessons needed to properly repair a Northstar. And. only specialists see the value in owning the thousands of dollars worth of specialty tools required to do it right. Save yourself a lot of money and get it fixed right the first time. The only thing more unpleasant than spending money fixing your car is spending it twice for the same repair.
Estimates for this job vary greatly due to the risk associated with working on the unique engine. Our goal is zero warranty claims for internal repairs. Our thorough repair process has allowed us to meet this goal. Dealership and Reputable independent repair shop estimates range from $4000-6000 and many offer only a very limited warranty if any on the repair due to the risk. Other shops estimate less due to inexperience with the problems they might face and what is necessary to provide a lasting repair and not a temporary Band-Aid. I see many customers after they have already had these low cost repairs done and they fail again. I have also been called in to help out well meaning shops who ran into common issues that are easy for a specialist to deal with but that other shops are just not equipped for. I have seen estimates in this area as low as $2500. Although, most customers report that the final bill was much higher. Many of these customers were in my shop due to the fact that the previous head gasket repair had failed.
At RB Auto Service we charge a very fair $3000 for model year 2000 and later Front Wheel Drive cars, $3100 for model year 1999 and earlier Front Wheel Drive cars, $3200 for Rear Wheel Drive models, and $3300 for All Wheel Drive Models. This price includes removal and installation of the engine (front wheel drive cars), the replacement of all engine upper-end gaskets and seals including valve stem seals, new oil (Mobil1) and filter (Purolator PureOne), and cleaning of valves. Also, the installation of the absolute best head studs for the Northstar application from Northstar Performance, the patented SureGrip HeadStuds. We’ve recently expanded this service to include a new OEM water pump, thermostat, and spark plugs. We often find one or more spark plugs fouled with coolant. We also often find aftermarket thermostats causing overheating or higher than normal coolant temperature at idle. We have also seen water pump seals fail shortly after head gasket failures and head gasket repairs. these changes were made to ensure the highest quality and more accurately reflect the actual cost of the repair on average. To our knowledge we are the only shop in the area installing head studs for the Northstar engine. This is the only lasting fix for head gasket issues on this engine. With our head stud process we offer an unmatched 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. The original head bolt threads will fail, threaded inserts will fail, only the larger studs with increased thread engagement and thread engagement lower in the block produce proper clamping force and reliable threads. If you are going to spend the money, why not make sure it is done right the first time?
Call today for more information on our expert services. (727)430-8750