GM Cadillac 1967-1989 Repair Guide

Engine Overhaul


Most engine overhaul procedures are fairly standard. In addition to specific parts replacement procedures and complete specifications for your individual engine, this section also is a guide to accepted rebuilding procedures. Examples of standard rebuilding practice are shown and should be used along with specific details concerning your particular engine.

Competent and accurate machine shop services will ensure maximum performance, reliability and engine life.

In most instances it is more profitable for the do-it-yourself mechanic to remove, clean and inspect the component, buy the necessary parts and deliver these to a shop for actual machine work.

On the other hand, much of the rebuilding work (crankshaft, block, bearings, pistons, rods, and other components) is well within the scope of the do-it-yourself mechanic.


The tools required for an engine overhaul or parts replacement will depend on the depth of your involvement. With a few exceptions, they will be the tools found in a mechanic's tool kit (see Routine Maintenance ). More in-depth work will require any or all of the following:

  1. a dial indicator (reading in thousandths) mounted on a universal base
  3. micrometers and telescope gauges
  5. jaw and screw-type pullers
  7. scraper
  9. valve spring compressor
  11. ring groove cleaner
  13. piston ring expander and compressor
  15. ridge reamer
  17. cylinder hone or glaze breaker
  19. Plastigage
  21. engine stand

Use of most of these tools is illustrated in this section. Many can be rented for a one-time use from a local parts jobber or tool supply house specializing in automotive work.

Occasionally, the use of special tools is called for. See the information on Special Tools and the Safety Notice in the front of this repair guide before substituting another tool.


Procedures and specifications are given in this section for inspecting, cleaning and assessing the wear limits of most major components. Other procedures such as Magnaflux and Zyglo can be used to locate material flaws and stress cracks. Magnaflux is a magnetic process applicable only to ferrous materials. The Zyglo process coats the material with a fluorescent dye penetrant and can be used on any material. Check for suspected surface cracks can be more readily made using spot check dye. The dye is sprayed onto the suspected area, wiped off and the area sprayed with a developer. Cracks will show up brightly.


Aluminum has become extremely popular for use in engines, due to its low weight. Observe the following precautions when handling aluminum parts:

  1. Never hot tank aluminum parts (the caustic hot-tank solution will eat the aluminum)
  3. Remove all aluminum parts (identification tag, etc.) from engine parts prior to hot-tanking.
  5. Always coat threads lightly with engine oil or anti-seize compounds before installation, to prevent seizure.
  7. Never over-torque bolts or spark plugs, especially in aluminum threads. Stripped threads in any component can be repaired using any of several commercial repair kits (Heli-Coil®, Microdot®, Keenserts®, etc.)

When assembling the engine, any parts that will be in frictional contact must be pre-lubricated to provide lubrication at initial start-up. Any product specifically formulated for this purpose can be used, but engine oil is not recommended as a pre-lube.

When semi-permanent (locked, but removable) installation of bolts or nuts is desired, threads should be cleaned and coated with Loctite or other similar, commercial non-hardening sealant.


See Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Several methods of repairing damaged threads are available. Heli-Coil® (shown here), Keenserts and Microdot are among the most widely used. All involve basically the same principle, drilling out stripped threads, tapping the hold and installing a pre-wound insert, making welding, plugging and oversize fasteners unnecessary.

Two types of thread repair inserts are usually supplied - a standard type for most Inch Coarse, Inch Fine, Metric Coarse and Metric Fine thread sizes and a spark plug type to fit most spark plug port sizes. Consult the individual manufacturer's catalog to determine exact applications. Typical thread repair kits will contain a selection of pre-wound threaded inserts, a tap (corresponding to the outside diameter threads of the insert) and an installation tool. Spark plug inserts usually differ because they require a tap equipped with pilot threads and a combined reamer/tap section. Most manufacturers also supply blister-packed thread repair inserts separately in addition to a master kit containing a variety of taps and inserts plus installation tools.

Before effecting a repair to a threaded hole, remove any snapped, broken or damaged bolts or studs. Penetrating oil can be used to free frozen threads; the offending item can be removed with locking pliers or with a screw or stud extractor. After the hole is clear, the thread can be repaired.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Standard torque specifications and fastener markings

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 2: Damaged bolt holes can be repaired with thread repair inserts

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 3: Standard thread repair insert (left) and spark plug thread insert (right)

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 4: Drill out the damaged threads with specified drill - drill completely through the hole or to the bottom of a blind hole

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 5: With the tap supplied, tap the hole to receive the thread insert - keep the tap well oiled and back it out frequently to avoid clogging the threads

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 6: Screw the threaded insert onto the installation tool until the tang engages the slot - screw the insert into the tapped hole until it is 1/4-1/2 turn below the top surface - after installation, break off the tang with a hammer and punch