Blown Head Gasket, Eventual Engine Failure


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
79,650 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. mechanic suggesting engine replacement (4 reports)
1997 Oldsmobile Aurora engine problems

engine problem

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1997 Oldsmobile Aurora Owner Comments

problem #4

Sep 222009

Aurora 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles


It all started with a puddle of anti-freeze on the garage floor. I would put coolant in and it would pour right out. I had a new radiator, thermostat and water pump installed. The car then started running hot, yet it didn't run into the red zone on the gauge. Local mechanic said that it was a blown head gasket and that it would do no good to try and replace them. He said that these engines were never built to re-tighten the head bolts and that the gaskets would just blow again. He pointed to two Cadillacs sitting on his lot that both had blown head gaskets. Both cars were left there by the owners as junk cars as they refused to put anymore money in these lemons. My mechanic did offer a Jasper engine with a 3yr. 75,000 mi. warranty installed for $7000.00. He said that he would get rid of it if it were him. My father-in-law took the car and traded it in during the cash for clunkers program. GM should have had a class action lawsuit brought against them for selling what they knew was a very defective engine.

- sds1, High Point, NC, US

problem #3

Dec 112009

Aurora 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

This is a very common problem with the Norstar engine but then again most GM engines have similar problems and all GM products do not last very long. As a whole they are known as a "throw away products" under 100K miles for the most part but the Norstar engines are at the top of the list of junk. Qualified auto technicians that are familiar with this engine will not work on them do to liability reasons. And after all when it comes to GM, you cannot repair something that was not right to begin with. I would suggest hauling it to a junkyard and learn not to ever buy GM again.

- chrismaine, Hampden, ME, US

problem #2

Nov 182003

(reported on)

Aurora LX

  • 102,000 miles

At 90000 miles, low engine coolant light came on, and car was leaking antifreeze. ENGINE NEVER OVERHEATED. Antifreeze was added and after a few weeks the radiator and cooling system were replaced (By Oldsmobile dealer). Again, ENGINE NEVER OVERHEATED. At 102000 miles, started smoking, lost power; car stopped immediately. Diagnosed with blown head gasket and engine must be replaced at $7500. Service desk at Oldsmobile says they cannot help since it is out of warranty. But I can't believe an engine in this premium automobile should "blow up." I was not crazy about buying a GM product, and this makes me think more of purchasing an Acura or Lexus. I still cannot believe this!

- Stan R., Seneca, SC, US

problem #1

Nov 142003

(reported on)


  • 62,564 miles

Mileage 62.564, this is when problems began with "low coolant warning". Having to add 5 to 6 ounces of coolant to reservior, 1 to 2 times a month. Problem got worse, engine overheating with "low coolant warnings" and having to add more coolant. Finally, radiator ruptured and I had vehicle towed in for repair. Mechanic replaced the radiator and stated that the water pump needed replacement, which had "caused" the radiator to blow. After replacing the radiator and water pump, the engine was still running hot. Mechanic determined that I also had a "Blown Head Gasket", due to the "aluminum block engine" overheating. Mechanic also indicated that GM had been having problems associated with the "NorthStar Engine" in the 1997 Oldsmobile Aurora.

Mechanic completed the repairs by replacing the following: radiator, water pump and head gasket replacements etc. Mechanic then determined that coolant was still leaking from around the engine manifold, due to a additional problem. Apparentially, when the aluminum block became so extremely overheated, that the engine block "bolt threads" had deterriated to the point that the manifold could not be bolted down tightly, which lead to coolant leaking around manifold. Mechanic had to special order a "special bolt hole repair kit" (item on national back order). It took an additional 8 days before repair kit arrived.

Finally after having my vehicle in his service bay for 22 days, the repairs were finally completed, which cost me $4302.36.

Now, here is the "KICK IN THE HEAD", Eleven (!!) months and two(2) weeks later, with mileage at 72,138. My 1997 Olds. Aurora has another "Blown Head Gasket". My machanic states that the reason for the Blown Head Gasket this time, is that the "Bolt Hold Repair Kit" has failed and that the engine bolts cannot be tightened down again.

Mechanic states that I should try to obtain help from Oldsmobile to have the engine replaced..

I have contacted GM Oldsmobile Customer Service, they stated that they will arrange for me to have the engine broken down, at a breakdown cost of $1800. If they determine after breaking engine down, that there is a manufacturer defect in the engine, they will pay for the the breakdown cost and absorb a portion of the total repair cost (would not specify the amount). But, on the other hand, if they determine that the defect was caused by faulty repair work preformed by my mechanic, that I would absorb all cost including the engine breakdown cost.

At present time, I have done nothing, however I am comtemplating getting a attorney and suing my mechanic and GM Olsmobile Divison for a complete engine replacement.

My 1997 Olds. Auora is just gathering dust, setting in my garage, I've been without a personal vehicle for 2 months now.

I would greatly appreciate any help that you can offer.

Sincerely, Floyd Neeley

- neeley01fn, Detroit, MI, US

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