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Cadillac Catera Maintenance & Repair

Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
Please report any Catera problems and possible solutions here.

Owner's Clubs


  • I have a 1998 Catera which I adore everyday I drive it. One problem is the transmission seems to "bump" when going from 1st to 2nd and sometimes 2nd to 3rd, but never 3rd to 4th. Is this normal as it is a sporty car? My 1997 Saturn SC2 automatic shifted much smoother. Also how hard is it to change to cabin compartment air filter?
  • Is a brake job terribly hard to do on a Catera? My 1998 Catera needed brakes at an astonishing 36,000 miles, not one of my previous 6 cars needed them so early, but ok I have no real choice. The dealer wanted $400, a local shop wanted $130....I went for $130. The first time out of the gate he put on the front pads WITHOUT the sensors....I went back and the second time her said he had a problem finding the pads, but when he does they will be $140 from the dealer. Is this right $140?? for pads?
  • I replaced the brakes on my previous Catera, a 97, and the dealer charged me $400, at about 30,000 miles. I now have a 2000 and I presume the cost will be the same. I'm at 25,000 miles now and will be needing tires soon.
  • I notice that danieltiger plans replacing tires at about the same mileage that it appears I will have to at <30k. Any recommendations as to how to increase the mileage: tire brand, type, etc.?
  • alex80alex80 Posts: 3
    Has anyone noticed that the AC on your Catera does not perform very well. Our 2000 model does ok when the sun is not so bright and the outside temperature is below 85F. When it is 90F and sunny, the AC can't seem to keep the car cool. This is with the setting at 60F (lowest possible). We have taken it to the dealership twice and they say that all is functioning well. I can only assume that it is undersized. I noticed that the 2001 model added tinted windows as standard equippment. Any insight?
  • I've posted this question in "Sedans" before I found this segment of the board. I hope someone here has performed this replacement herself.

    Aside from the tensioner and the belt, are there other parts required to do the job?

    Thanks a zillion/John Fader
    ToobWiz(at sign)
    change (at sign)to @ to send private email.
  • john347john347 Posts: 1
    My tensioner broke during May 2002. Since dealer supposedly replaced tensioner, timing belt, and water pump -- car has not been the same. It has had coolant leaks, rough idle -squeal, and dealer refuses to give repair order after last repair. If you have had these problems, let me know. Apparently, there is either a manufacturer's defect or defects in the repair or both? IS there any pending class action on this? My vehicle broke down on highway and it was a dangerous situation. My vehicle is unsafe and it's a shame since it was a great vehicle until May- tensioner problem. Suggestions please...
  • Yes, we did notice that the AC on the Catera could have been better, especially in Florida with our high humidity, scorching sun and 95 degree temp. We just traded ours in on a big GM car whose AC is perfect. I loved to drive the Catera 2000, but, we were just too afraid to keep it - too many coolant and battery problems. It was a great car even though it was underpowered. What a shame it had all those problems.
  • yean99yean99 Posts: 1
  • My 97 Catera Timing Belt just failed at 82,000 miles, with major engine damage. GM is not helping out, claiming that the timing belt didn't fail, but a bearing in the tensioner failed. Some messages refer to extended warranties; others suggest class action. Please let me know about either.
  • tommeektommeek Posts: 3
    GM Special Policy Bulletin 02018 states GM will repair for 7 years/100,000 miles any failure related to the timing belt tensioner, timing belt and/or water pump and related engine damage. The bulletin includes special telephone numbers for owners to contact who have had this problem. The bulletin is available for printing and review at the Yahoo Catera Owners Group.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You could light your dashboard with flashlight batteries. Even a near dead car battery could do that.
  • I need some suggestion on the AC. I have a 97 Catera. For some reason my AC went dead. There is no power in the controller at all. None of the button on the controller work nor the digital display. It seem that the seat heater went bad also. It may be the same controller went bad on it. Anyone have this problem before? I am thinking of the fuses blown somewhere. Anyone have this type of symptom before or anyone have any ideas what may go wrong with it? I would appreciate your information if you can give me some suggestion. You may email me with suggestion if you please: [email protected] Thank you very much.
  • 3 out of 4 oxygen sensors out and a PRNDL switch on my 1997 Catera. I was forced to buy the PRNDL switch at the dealer for $300. A local mechanic will install for $50. However, I lucked out on the Oxygen Sensors. Dealer wanted $150 ea. But I was able to locate them for $40 ea. I will be installing them this weekend and let the discussion board know how it went. If all goes well, it will save me in excess of $450.

    This car is like owning my Harley. Love the ride, hate the maintenance.
  • I had a 1998 Cadillac Catera which when my tires wore out prematurely, Cad replaced all 4 and said alighment problems. Now I have 2001 Cad Catera with basically the same problems and GM denies the problem. What to do? Thanks---John Klucher
  • bwitchbwitch Posts: 1
    I have a 1997 Catera and I experienced a similar problem last year. The solution turned out to be a switch that ran 300+.
  • jemillerjemiller Posts: 183
    The recommended service interval on those V6s in their Saab and Opel applications outside the US (and the Catera is an Opel) is ~45K miles for belt and tensioner replacement.

    I have no idea what genius at Cadillac decided to tempt fate by recommending something different for Cateras.
  • I have just developed a oil leak that the dealer has informed me is coming from the back of the valve cover. He has also informed me that I should not just change the valve cover gasket, BUT should change the valve covers also since they are plastic and once taken off they don't reseat well. I really don't understand this. Why would someone design a car that once you take something off you need to have it replaced. The cost to do this is $400.00. Then he says that since you have the car broken down that far I should replace some type of heater exchange valve since they have been known to fail and he was surprize that mine had not failed yet.
    I would like to know if someone knows if you overfill the oil how the car acts and where the overfill goes.
    I had an Ople Omega overseas and did not have any problems with this car for the five years I owned it. Why dose GM take a good thing and the screw it up? Leave a good thing alone. Hope someone can help.
  • am looking at a 2001 Catera, non sport, and wondering how well the tractions control really does. can anyone share their experience? i originally went shopping for a FWD but i love this car. the dealer 'say's their is no maintenance record. i suppose i should ask to see that. by brother inspected it and saw all the problems you all talk about, so they agreed to replace rotors and pads, new oilpan, among other things for $16,000. it has 34,000 miles and fits me well. also noticed the coolant was low as i saw mentioned. it's a FUN ride! but worried after reading reviews and boards.
    any info on how it handles in the snow it appreciated as IL can have some nasty winters.
    peachy2 ☺
  • WE just traded our 1998 catera for a Deville DTS.
    Tha Catera was a service nightmare!!!! 2 sunroofs, head gaskets, shifter linkage, etc...
    Had the car in 5 to 8 times a year. NOw has 80000 on it. Cadillac would not even repay me for out of pocket on the timming belt!!!!
    Only thing good about the car was the ride and performance.
  • khicekhice Posts: 13
    We've had 4 Catera's: 97, 99, and two 01's. Except for the 99 they were generally trouble free but, we do take good care of our cars. We leased all of them except one of the 01's. The car is fun to drive, sounds good, goes fast and is all too easy to get a ticket in. The only thing we don't like is the depreciation (We're having little success getting a dealer to offer more than 10K on a trade). Also, the OEM Goodyear Eagle's track & tend to wear out at about 25,000 miles. Bridgestone Turanza's are a better (but expensive)alternative on this car--quiet, sticky and no tracking. You need to keep the tires rotated & balanced. AND get the front & rear alignment checked every 12,000 miles. There were some lemons and Cadillac's recommended service interval on some components under the hood was way off track which led to a lot of bad feelings. Insist on seeing the service records. You can get a lot of car for the dollar, if you find one with a good history and reasonable miles.
  • Any one else have leaky cam covers ? Are gaskets available from anyone other than a GM dealer ? Anyone successfully replace gaskets without replacing the cam cover as well ?
  • chortonchorton Posts: 149
    My wife has a 99 catera sport. We have had to put two headlight bulbs in it and thats it. We do have a SLOOOOOW oil leak in the rear main seal. That will cost SEVERAL hunderd dollars. the only way to fix it is to take the transmission out. The dealer told me it is not common to develop a rear main leak in ANY cadillac, just check the iol every 500 miles or so. So far it has never leaked any noteable amount. so I guess I will just let it drip a little here and there. We have been trying to sell it for about a year not it's got 63k on it. The only bites we've had are people that want us to finance it. we are upside down as far as trade in goes, we owe about 10,300 but we should be able to get that retail for it.
  • browncowbrowncow Posts: 4
    Has anyone with a '98 Catera had the problem of the oil light coming on when it gets hot and the buzzer going off and no oil is needed?
    I had it diagnosed and was told that I have a faulty oil pump which will cost about $1,200 to repair. Does any owner know if this is correct, or maybe I just have an oil sensor that has gone bad?

    Also, about 15,000 miles back (85 + now) I had to have value gaskets replaced. I noticed leak and thought it was where mechanics were spilling oil. When asked on survey form what dealer did wrong, I replied that 3 oil changes back they should have noticed the leak. I found it after having my engine cleaned and leak reappeared.
  • browncowbrowncow Posts: 4
    Re transmission, I have a 98 Catera and ever since I've had it, it sounds and acts as if the transmission is hanging when I first take off, and I don't have my foot exactly right on the accelerator, and its trying to change gears. I inquired about this and was told there was nothing wrong with it. I now have 87,000+ miles and sometimes I notice the gearstick shaking just a little bit.
  • browncowbrowncow Posts: 4
    Concerning cost for brakes. I had to have brakes done and rotors on the front at 86,000+ and the cost was a little over $600 at dealers.
    My cousin heard a roaring and called my attention to the fact that it was my brakes. After that, no roaring sound. I thought it was a high price to pay, but at least I didn't have to go back again.
  • browncowbrowncow Posts: 4
    From your account, I think I got a fairly good deal for brakes and front rotors on my 98 catera at 86,000+ miles, at a little over $600.
  • pberkpberk Posts: 1
    Hi all. Was thinking of buying my dad's 2000 Catera. He is offering it to me at a good price, but was just up having the oil changed on my wife's car, and my mechanic said to stay away from the Catera. His experience was that parts were hard to get, and even the dealers didn't like fixing them. However, some of your postings on here sing praises for the car. More feedback from all of you would be great!
  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    I bought a 2001 Catera new for my wife. we absolutely love it! It has that tight,snubbed-down feeling typical of German sedans. It's actually a little flinty for my wife,but she knows what a car nut I am and tolerates it. I'd definately keep the Catera in your family. They do have horrible redale value-most think they are problematic cars. We've had ours for a little over three years with no complaints. I can't saw I'd necessarily reccommend one buys a Catera on the open market right now,but it really is a wonderful car. They are rapidly depreciating now,though...
  • ironmieironmie Posts: 1
    have you had this oil light problem fixed. I have '98 with 73kmi and started getting the same problem 2 months ago. the oil light / sound come on when the engine gets hot (>15 min driving) and I stop / idle in traffic. Light goes off when restarting engine, but then comes back on. I noticed that the OIl Pressure drops down in red zone and triggers that alarm.

    ANd same thing with the valve cover gasket, it started leaking earlier this year...

    I'll take the car to dealership on Monday.
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