Potential Catera Owner
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Cadillac Catera and Cimarron Forum Discussion, Potential Catera Owner in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; Hello, Im probably going to end buying a 99 Cadilac Catera Sport, (thought it kinda looks like the 2000 so ...
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    Gravatrax is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Potential Catera Owner

    Hello, Im probably going to end buying a 99 Cadilac Catera Sport, (thought it kinda looks like the 2000 so perhaps the dealer is mistaken). Anyways its 102k miles fully loaded with bose and the sport edition which has the features Im sure you're familiar with. Off the bat my boss is recommending a tune up in the near future, though I do that with any car I buy regardless of maintnence and a valve cover leak (easy inexpensive fix).

    However I have yet to test the car and it sounds promising and is steal at 2000$ so even if I have to put some money into no big deal, also it has 2 owners, an original adult owner and a bank, pretty obvious what the deal was there.

    Is there anything I should be on the look out for? I here sometimes Cateras are plagued with small annoying issues but not necessarily crippling (to the car, not necessarily wallet :P), he has it listed at 2900 but Im on good terms with this dude so hes helping me out.

    ---------- Post added at 11:57 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:44 PM ----------

    Some pictures for those that are curious







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    hemic05 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    The 97 thru 99s were the worst electrial problems as all of the the oil cooler my god the list is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long with the craptera that goes wrong with these caters i'd run read this site that should tell you

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    Gravatrax is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    That's disappointing to here, But even if cars eminent for 2000$ its the best thing out there. Is there a time in the Cateras life line where these problems occur? mileage wise? Because if its had an owner for around 5-7 years chance are many of those problems may have been fixed

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    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    It isn't a 2000 Catera. 99 or less.

    But don't buy this car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read this forum and you will see the vast majority of posts are for repairs/problems.

    This car is not more than a piece of crap! Never-ending problems! Isn't worth the $2000. The is of problems goes on and on.

    Go buy a used Toyota!

    But if you do buy it, keep us informed on your relationship with your Craptera!

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    Gravatrax is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    Might not really have a choice...Im in desperate need of a car, and everything else in my area for that price is obvious crap.

    ---------- Post added at 10:15 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:20 AM ----------

    Sorry to double post. According to this forum the only consistent major problem with the 99 was a valve cover gasket leak, in which my boss said he had a mechanic who would fix it for $65 USD. Everything seems to work fine, however he did mention those flickered off then on when driving back from Nashville, I figured thats just maybe a lose wire, or maybe even a tell tale sign of alternator/battery going out. Would make sense since a bank has been holding onto it a while. I think I might take a gamble on it, but Im bringing my step dad who is very seasoned with many makes of cars of different brands and origin.

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    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    Trust me when I say this the car is "obvious crap" but you don't know that! There is not a known Catera in the universe that hasn't had problems. They are never ending!

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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    NO car in the universe has never had problems.

    Gravatrax, kaustein had a particularly bad experience with his Catera, they're not the most reliable cars, but they're not complete garbage either. I wouldn't right out recommend a Catera, but there are owners that have had good experiences and enjoy their cars. Keep in mind that these are 10+ year old cars they WILL require maintenance and repair, more than others perhaps, but the decision of weather or not you like the car enough to justify the repair bills is up to you. (For instance,I bought my Seville knowing full well that I may have HG issues in the future and that shocks/struts would cost me a fortune, but I wanted the car enough to accept that).

    There is a sticky on common problems with the Catera: http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...ons-click.html

    It's rare to come across a thread on any forum, about any car, where the OP tells about how trouble free their car is.......The majority of posters only do so when their cars are BROKEN. so it's hard to get a good idea of a cars reliability.

    The leaking valve cover- if I'm not mistaken, the valve covers on these cars are plastic, and tend to warp over time. In that case, the cover must be replaced, not just a cheap gasket job.

    Do more reading on this forum, talk to the Catera owners that still own their cars, and make your decision based on that.

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    catera6 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    If you don't like the Catera why are you on this forum. As Moist Cabbage stated, many cars have a lot issues that can be fixed at a reasonable price if the owner has some mechanical skills. Take a look at the BMW 3, 5 and 7 Series, Audis and Mercedes...even some of the Japanese models have their issues. I have 176,000 miles on mine and despite the oil cooler, heater control valve, and timing belt issues (changed under warranty), I have to say I have not spent any more money than I would have spent on any other model.

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    Gravatrax is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    He said that when his mechanic looked the car over and said it'd be 65$, I see where you guys are getting at. My step dad is a fairly seasoned and usually helps me when it comes to fixing the car. Im thinking since it has that many miles on it perhaps the previous which apparently was one guy, and then a bank, went through and fixed the problems a while ago?

    But how much money (in terms of parts) are we talking? Im a working college student but If I bear all this in mind perhaps I can keep money on the side for if and when.

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    Re: Potential Catera Owner (Part 1)

    There's a lot of inaccurate info here starting with the model year. It's not a "99 or less", whatever that means. The wheels, side rockers, and spoiler identify her as a 1999 Catera Sport, period. It was the only year the Sport was offered before the 2000 face-lift. The most problematic Cateras were the 1997 - 1998 models. Cadillac began addressing the problems, as they saw them, in 1999. They were the timing belt tensioner and the oil cooler. They also upgraded the engine with a revised "Long Nosed" intake plenum & Multi-Ram induction system, a Fly By Wire throttle, and a "Coil on Plug" ignition. The following is my Catera overview which includes my experiences with her "problems". I know it's long and drawn out but it's pretty thorough and even handed, (at least IMHO).


    I fell in love with the Catera when it debuted in 1996 and blown away by the supercharged Steinmetz Concept Car in 1999. Smaller, sportier, and more agile than any Cadillac ever, the Catera was different from all the American FWD junk out there. I wanted one but I quickly gave up on the idea. At over $30,000 the Catera was too rich for my blood at the time, what with alimony, child support, and all. Plus Cadillac's stupid Ziggy promotion was embarrassing. It made a joke of the car before it had a chance to establish itself in the market. Not even Cindy Crawford's ad presence could make up for that. Why would I buy a car that wasn't respected by its own GM division?

    The Catera wasn't a homegrown Cadillac project. GM saw the success that foreign automakers were enjoying in the US sport sedan market segment and decided they wanted a piece of the pie. It was "suggested" to Cadillac that it quickly fashion a sporty car to attract the Yuppies. They had tried years earlier with the Allante, but even with Pininfarina styling and a NorthStar V8, it was the wrong car. The Seville STS, while a great looking car, was too big and heavy to pass for a sport sedan. Touring yes, sporting no. Besides, GM wanted a rear drive platform to match the European competition. With no time or money to design and build one themselves, nor finding anything suitable they could co-opt from GM's stateside stable, Cadillac searched GM's worldwide holdings. They found the Opel/Vauxhall Omega B. Designed and assembled in Germany on a RWD platform, with a British built GM V6 engine (used also in some Saturns and Saabs), and a French built GM transmission (used in BMW's 3 & 5 Series). This was no warmed over Chevy Cavalier like the Cimarron. It was a genuine rear drive sedan born & bred to fly down the Autobahn and devour sharp twisting Alpine roads. This midsize European executive sedan was the foundation for the Cadillac Catera.

    In the early '90s Opel & Vauxhall built a world class super sport sedan based on the rather ordinary Opel Omega A platform. They handed it over to Lotus, then also owned by GM, where its 3.0L Inline-6 grew to 3.6L, with twin-turbochargers, generating 377 HP. Its drivetrain consisted of a ZF 6-speed Corvette transmission with a Lotus tuned semi-trailing arm IRS w/Limited Slip Differential (LSD). The Opel Lotus-Omega / Vauxhall Lotus-Carlton was the world's fastest production sedan in its time. Top speed was 177 MPH, with 0 - 60 MPH attained at 5.2 sec with no governors or other restrictions. Not only fast and quick but it handled like the Devil's own racer. Before today's electronic traction controls and active suspensions the Lotus-Omega carved its way around "old school style" with skilled feet on the pedals, and quick hands at the wheel and shifter. Tires squealing and smoking said you were doing it right. Obviously Opel had the credentials for building the world class sport sedan which GM wanted the Catera to be. According to GM MediaOnLine 2000:


    "Launched in the fall of 1996 as a 1997 model, Cadillac Catera is part of a global GM vehicle family that includes the Opel and Vauxhall Omega MV6. Catera was developed as part of a cooperative effort between the Opel Technical Development Center in Germany and Cadillac’s world headquarters in Michigan. It is built at the Adam Opel assembly plant in Ruesselsheim using components from GM’s German, French, British and North American suppliers. Catera Sport joined the lineup in May of 1999 to appeal to the sport-oriented set — buyers with a keen interest in expressive styling as well as the desire for a higher level of handling and control."

    With the CTS still on paper and far from production, and all that sport sedan money slipping through GM's fingers, Cadillac had no choice but to proceed with Omega/Catera project. But who could blame Cadillac for its lack of enthusiasm? The Omega B started development in the late '80s and started production in 1993 so Cadillac had no hand in any of its planning, engineering, or styling. Remember, the Catera hadn't even been proposed at that time. Why would they be thrilled about putting their proud name on someone else's car? To Cadillac's credit, they took the lessons learned from the Catera experiment (plus I'm sure a bit from the Lotus-Omega) and applied them to making the CTS a true match for the Euro sport sedans when it debuted in 2003.

    Extensive testing at Germany's Nurburgring racetrack helped the CTS match or surpass Europe's best. One omission Cadillac corrected with the CTS was to include a V8 model. Then came the coupe and station wagon versions. Opel had an "estate" version of the Omega B but Cadillac passed. Another was to make a true world class high performance version; the CTS-V. The Catera Sport was more of an appearance package. It included a slightly lower, slightly stiffer & firmer suspension and bigger wheels & tires but the rest was pure show. The Sport had no extra power to back up her looks. The Omega V8 would have fixed that but, naturally, GM killed it shortly before its debut. By the way, CTS originally stood for Catera Touring Sedan. Cadillac won't admit it today but when the CTS was first proposed, that was its name. Just like STS (Seville Touring Sedan) and DTS (Deville Touring Sedan). But that was early during CTS development, before the Catera's reputation was ruined and sales plummeted. After that Cadillac down-played the Catera/CTS connection.

    Little money was budgeted for new sheet metal to give the Catera a Cadillac family resemblance. A new front bumper cover (incorporating fog and cornering lights), a Cadillac styled front grille, and a trunk lid with LED center brake light strip, were it for the exterior. Oddly, the trunk got a rear light treatment that joined the corner rear light housings via a reflector/light panel spanning the width of the trunk lid. Very un-Cadillac. Next came the Omega Elite's leather interior and near luxury comforts. Major changes to the Omega's engine management system were also needed to convert it to America's OBDII. Not yet satisfied, Cadillac ordered still more revisions before this altered Opel Omega B became the new Cadillac Catera.

    And what other revisions did Cadillac order? Its engineers instructed Opel to add 400 lbs. in "chassis reinforcements and sound deadening" for a “Cadillac feel”. To de-tune the engine from 220HP down to 200HP, to govern the top speed to 125MPH from 150MPH, to delete the 5-speed manual transmission, in addition to passing on the LSD option. Cadillac ordered recalibrating the Omega suspension from autobahn firm to boulevard soft. The suspension was originally meant to be identical to the sporty Omega MV6 but Cadillac nixed it and ordered the softer standard Catera tune. It was still firmer than the usual Cadillac but not what you'd call sporty.

    Granted, the chassis reinforcements were needed to pass Federal crash tests but adding weight while taking away power was just plain stupid. Heavier than the Omega by 400 lbs. but without its 220 HP? By rights the Catera should have had 20 HP more than the Omega just to maintain parity. And no 5-speed manual transmission or LSD? Why? Their target buyers were young people looking for driving excitement not seniors with arthritic knees. Drivers, not occupants. What happened to "the sport-oriented set — buyers with a keen interest in expressive styling as well as the desire for a higher level of handling and control"? Shifts with an "auto-stick" might've been acceptable. No mention of increased power but with no American "autobahn" available handling and control are even more relevant. So why didn't we get the MV6 suspension they alluded to? North America has more than its fair share of mountains and hill countries.

    Why did Cadillac water down Opel's design? Who knows? Maybe, it being a rushed project, they relied on their existing customer database and, erring on the side of caution, tailored the car to fit past buyers. Maybe they asked potential sport sedan buyers what they'd like in an American sport sedan but didn't trust their answers. Why were sales down from expectations? Initially sales were good ('97 - 25,411 & '98 - 24,635) but "Ziggy the Duck"? "The Caddy That Zigs"? A cartoon character and a cute catch-phrase? You don't impress potential buyers by talking down to them. Plus several mechanical issues, resulting in a 1999 recall, tainted the Catera's reputation. By the time Cadillac realized their mistakes, addressing the oil cooler and timing belt tensioner, plus upgrading to Omega MV6 kit with the Catera Sport, it was too late. The buying public stayed away in droves.

    Catera production ended in 2001. European production of the Omega continued until 2003. There are rumors that a few 2002 Cateras made it to the US. One was supposedly sighted in or near Chicago by a forum member. Supposedly it was equipped with the upgraded 3.2L (LA3) V6 used in the CTS and a 5 speed manual transmission but it was never verified. "If they're ain't no pictures it didn't happen". An Opel Omega V8 with a 5.0 Liter Chevy Small Block (LS1) and a 5 speed Corvette manual transmission was ready for production and weeks away from debut when GM canceled it due to engine cooling problems. Huh? The Small Block? Haven't they been cooling that engine since 1955?

    Compared to the Ford Taurus SHO, the only car close to being an American sport sedan at the time, the under powered Catera was still a sport sedan but the souped up Taurus wasn't its real competition. The SHO was more of a FWD muscle car and not meant to handle like the European sport sedans. They came closer with the Contour SVT but again, it was FWD. Ford saw the RWD light same as GM and introduced the Lincoln LS6 and LS8 which were within the Catera's design parameters but a little more on the luxury side than sport (however, since they used Mustang engines there were aftermarket performance sources.). GM was looking to compete against the foreign models sold here like the Mercedes C280 and BMW 328i, both RWD. Audi's A6 too, specifically the all wheel drive Quattro version. Jaguar had the XJ6 but it was more touring than sport. Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti had sport sedans too but not in the requisite RWD. Saab too but besides being FWD it was a GM holding thus it wasn't considered competition.

    In the '80s Ford tried to transplant the "Ford of Germany" (FoG) Sierra and XR4Ti (Sport Sedan and Coupe) into the American market. Both were good performance cars. Ford's failure was in their marketing. They would have sold better as Mercurys like the very successful '70s Capri, also from FoG. Instead the Sierra and XR4Ti were sold here under the Merkur banner. New cars from a new division? No, they were cars already in production at FoG but unknown in the "States". American car buyers were confused. Many of the more simple-minded couldn't even pronounce Merkur. Americans are a suspicious bunch so few bought them. Our loss.

    The car magazines often mention the Catera, along with the Cimarron, as one of the worst Cadillacs ever but that's not fair. The Cimarron was a Chevrolet Cavalier, 4 cylinder "Iron Duke" engine and all, trimmed to look like a Cadillac. They later fitted it with a 2.8L V6 but made no other substantive changes to improve the car and justify the price they were asking. It was an economy car, poorly built, with none of the Cadillac excellence buyers expected. The Opel Omega was an executive sedan designed with the Autobahn and Alpine roads in mind. Unfortunately Cadillac de-tuned them to protect the frail American drivers from themselves not to mention for the poor American roads this reworked Omega would encounter. So that, plus the Elite's leather interior, a few Cadillac badges, and some body colored trim, turned them into Cateras. Lightyears better than the Cimarrons but once the connection was made nothing, not even the facelift and Sport versions could remove the stink. Not saying the Catera didn't have problems just that she wasn't the fraud that the Cimarron was. If Cadillac was truly serious about competing against BMW, MB, et al they would have addressed the problems.

    Continued in Part 2

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    Re: Potential Catera Owner (Part 2)

    Continued from Part 1

    As for those problems, if you want a Catera shop carefully. Within days of buying mine, in November 2006 at 48,000 miles, I had to have the Heater Bypass Valve replaced after it puked most of the engine's coolant. I didn't do my homework. Had I known about the Catera's inherent problems I'd have had the dealer inspect and replace it prior to my taking possession. I saw a pretty car at a great price. A German Sport Sedan in Cadillac trim. I later had the leaking camcover gaskets replaced. The crankcase breather was clogged, forcing oil past the gaskets, and onto the exhaust heatshields where it smoldered. Two years later the Crankshaft Position Sensor (CPS) failed and left me stranded. AAA to the rescue. The '97 - '98 Cats had the most problems. Some were addressed, but not necessarily cured, in '99. The 2000 - 2001 models are less trouble prone but not perfect. When you find a Catera that looks good on the outside, here's what to look for on the inside.

    • Have Cadillac check the VIN for the cam-belt tensioner bulletin #02041A. This is critical. If the tensioner seizes the belt will break and the pistons will bend the valves. All 24 of them. This service must be done every 5 years/50,000 miles or sooner.

    • Replace the Crankshaft Position Sensor (CPS). If it fails your Catera will stall and not restart until the sensor cools. Eventually it will quit altogether and strand you. Located near the oil filter, it's easy to replace and fairly inexpensive for a Cadillac part.

    • Check the engine oil for coolant contamination. It will appear as a cream colored emulsion residue under the oil filler cap and maybe the dipstick. Wipe it off and drive the car at operating temp for 30 minutes. If it doesn't reappear it was probably normal water condensation and boiled off. If it reappears it could be antifreeze in the oil. Another indicator is oil in the coolant reservoir. They all mean the oil cooler is leaking and needs replacement. Left alone it will burn your engine's bearings and clog the radiator and heater core. A laborious but relatively cheap repair (for a Cadillac) if you do it yourself. Improved coolers were introduced in '99.

    • With the engine running, check the coolant tank for bubbles or an exhaust smell. That's probably a blown head gasket. It's not that common but does happen. We suspect worn out coolant is to blame. Acids in the coolant attack the gaskets.

    • Have the Heater Bypass Valve (HBV) behind the engine replaced. It's not expensive as Cadillac parts go and the labor is DIY easy. If you wait and it leaks it will puke all your coolant. When that happens it can also damage the DIS ignition pack on the '97-'98s.

    • The cam cover gaskets can leak and drip oil on the exhaust heatshields and create smoke. This is too expensive to leave to Cadillac. They charged me $750 including the gaskets. Order the gaskets and have a trusted local garage do the work or DIY. Cleaning the crankcase breather relieves the excess crankcase pressure that blows oil past the gaskets so clean it out.

    • Check for tire wear front & rear. Cupping or feathered edges indicates worn/split front & rear control arm suspension bushings. OEM replacement bushings are available as well as some polyurethane substitutes. New front suspension arms come with the stock bushings and ball joints already installed so that's an option too. Whichever fix you choose you'll need a wheel alignment. There's an aftermarket eccentric bolt available that will extend the front camber adjustment's range by +/- 2 degrees over stock to help bring it to where the tires wear more evenly. Eccentric rear suspension bushings for the Pontiac GTO, G8, or Opel/Vauxhall Omega, adjustable for camber and toe-in, will do the same for those tires.

    There are other things like weak door stays, cracked brake light switches, EBTCM failure, cracked radiator caps, and HVAC control malfunctions. Search the forums for more info. Most irritating are the computer gliches and sensor failures which leave you stalled and stranded. Given the level of electronics in cars today and the harsh environment they operate in I doubt the Catera is worse than other cars. A failure is never an easy thing to endure but this is the 21st century and electronic controls are here to stay. Thanks to the database, on this and other Catera/Omega sites, information is available and you can go to your chosen service facility armed with knowledge.

    My car has suffered the HBV, CPS, radiator leak, and EBTCM failures. I did have the timing belt & tensioner replaced plus the serpentine belt and its tensioner. The lower control arms were rebuilt swapping their front/horizontal bushings for polyurethane ones, as well as new rear/vertical bushings and ball joints. The anti-sway-bar received polyurethane bushings too plus new anti-sway-bar links. All the cooling system hoses, all filters including the crankcase breather box, all fluids including the differential oil, and the cam cover gaskets were replaced (I haven't had the Transmission fluid changed yet because it shifts so sweet but at the first sign of trouble she'll get new fluid and a fresh filter.), but those were all maintenance items.

    And that's my point. The Catera has many faults but a lot of her "problems" are mostly lack of proper upkeep. Owners neglect the car's regular maintenance and blame her when something goes wrong. European roads tend to be smoother than our pocked and bumpy ones and no allowances were made for them in the Omega's transformation into the Catera. The price we pay is frequent suspension repairs and tire replacements. The desire for better and longer lasting suspension bushings drove me to find polyurethane ones. I did, plus high performance dampers, springs, brakes, and more.

    My Catera Sport scoots like her tail was on fire, handles like she's on rails, and stops on a dime. Energy wasted scrubbing the tires into black dust by worn suspension bushings is now directed to speed and handling. I drive her hard like I'm sure many of you do and that's taking a big chance if you don't address past abuse and neglect. Don't forget, these cars are over 10 years old. Lots of potential problems waiting to bite us in the ass if the previous owners didn't perform the scheduled maintenance properly and timely. You want a more dependable Catera? Then you'll have to bring her neglected maintenance up to date.

    Sounds bleak doesn't it? Don't get me wrong. It's not all gloomy. I'm just a "bad news first" type of guy. I love my Catera. I bought it in 2006. Some call the styling dated and bland. Sue me. I like it. It's soft and streamlined compared to the new edgy origami-like stealth fighter look Cadillac is pushing nowadays. Mine gets compliments all the time. And what about the "Japanesque" type styling the Germans have adopted with all sorts of sheetmetal sculpting and weirdness? Just look at the latest Mercedes Benzes and BMWs. They look like Hyundais and Kias. Makes me wanna gag. The Catera's '97-'99 prefacelift models have an aerodynamic form with a steeply sloped grille and low profile hood. Their rear treatment features full body width tail lights.

    The 2000 model, sometimes mistakenly called the Omega C, introduced facelifted front & rear facias, side mirrors, as well as a restyled interior. The grille was more upright with a slightly raised hood for a more formal look that better matched the rest of the Cadillac line. The rear lost the full width lightbar and gained separate corner units with LED turn signals. Not quite the traditional razor thin Cadillac "Tail-Fin" lights but closer to them than full width lights. All Cateras have smooth body sides with no need of lines and creases to clutter their simple beauty. Like a young girl with too much make-up, or heaven help us, tattoos & piercings, the others are trying to be stylish or just plain different. The Catera was never a big seller here so there is nothing in the way of aftermarket styling upgrades beyond custom wheels and some tacky chrome body trim. There is still some body stuff from Irmscher, Steinmetz, and others in Europe for the Omega that will fit the Catera but it's rapidly becoming scarce.

    The Catera has a roomy, comfortable cockpit for the driver and I never hear the passengers complain (except for the poor unfortunate stuck in the middle). I frequently spend 6 hours or more behind the wheel and arrive without stiffness or sore spots. The front power memory seats are comfortable and supportive with too many adjustments to list (heated too). I just wish they had bigger side bolsters. All Catera front seats were made by Recaro. Some came with Sport Seats equipped with manual adjustments, extendable thigh support, and thick side bolsters. Some cars came with heated rear seats as well. Even the side mirrors are heated. The HVAC has separate driver and passenger zones. The steering wheel tilts and has remote stereo control buttons. The cruise controls are on a separate stalk to the left of the wheel. The leather interior's styling is clean without Cadillac's traditional bordello plushness. It's very Teutonic. There were few options as the Catera was well appointed but there was an available sunroof, a power rear window sunshade, and of course the Sport package. The standard stereo was good but the optional Bose system was better. Superb actually.

    And then there's the Catera's performance. Compared to her direct competitors, like the BMW 3 series, our Catera is overweight (3770 lb.) and underpowered (200 hp.) so 0 to 60 times suffered (8.5 seconds) but that only counts if you're planning to race her. For normal, and even slightly illegal, backroad driving she is a joy. In the transmission's Sport mode the Catera accelerates quickly (once above 40 MPH) so watch the speedometer. You'll be doing 90 MPH before you know it. This engine loves to rev. She's a little thirsty though (17mpg - city/24mpg - highway). She'll drink Regular (86 octane) but really comes alive on Premium (93 octane). The ECM adjusts the ignition timing accordingly using knock sensors. In 1999 the engine received updates like a Fly By Wire (FBW) throttle and Multi Ram Induction that carried over until production ended in 2001. Multi Ram Induction is a system of butterfly valves and passages that manage air flow through the plenum for the best performance. Before 1999 it was called Dual Ram Induction. The new system added more passages to better manage air flow for optimum efficiency. FBW throttle is controlled by your foot but through the ECM via a Throttle Position Servo so that there is no hard connection to the gas pedal. The advantages? I'm not sure.

    The 4L30-E 4 speed electronic transmission shifts smoothly and has a Sport Mode that lets the engine rev close to redline before shifting to squeeze every horse out of it. The transmission uses what Cadillac calls adaptive logic but what that means, I haven't a clue. Some owners lament the lack of a 5 speed manual transmission but this automatic isn't a bad consolation prize. It has its quirks but generally gives good service with quick sharp shifts, up or down, plus the option of hitting the Sport button when you want that extra pop. The transmission can't be too pedestrian. BMW, among others, used it in some of their cars.

    The transmission also has a Winter Mode (the mysterious Snowflake button) that locks out 1st and 2nd gears for 3rd gear standing starts with less torque to the wheels for better traction in snow & ice. It can only be activated when stopped and disengages automatically above 30 MPH. It doesn't work as well as we'd like but our cars are light in the rear so they're at a disadvantage. The Winter Mode works better if you use real snow tires instead of all season tires and pack some sand bags in the trunk. Be sure to anchor them to the rear shock towers to stop them from shifting and keep that weight over the rear axles. Snow tires and sand bags. Not a magic bullet cure, just better.

    If you prefer a sportier ride and sharper handling then you want a 2000 - 2001 Catera Sport. Cadillac finally delivered on the full Opel MV6 suspension they promised at the beginning. It's stiffer, but not harsh, and tuned for the backroads. There is less body roll than with the standard Catera and the Sport's wider 235/45-17 low profile tires (standard size was 225/55HR16) keep the car planted. There was a 1999 Catera Sport but it was an intermediate step to this one. The '99 Sport had firmer damping and stiffer springs that became the 2000 Catera's base suspension. Even firmer and stiffer components were used for the 2000 Sport. The '99 Sport had unique 16 inch alloy wheels, front Recaro Sport Seats, re-contoured rocker panels, and a rear wing. The 2000 - 2001 Sports came with a satin silver grille instead of chrome, unique 5 spoke 17 inch alloy wheels, a rear wing, satin silver interior trim in place of the standard faux wood, and exclusive HID headlights for superior lighting. "Motorweek" road testers at the time praised the 2000 Catera Sport and called it comparable to Europe's best. They also drove the '99 Steinmetz Concept Catera, with its centrifugal supercharger, and loved it even more.
    Continued in Part 3

  13. #12
    elvin315's Avatar
    elvin315 is online now Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner (Part 3)

    Continued from Part 2


    Other than the K&N style intakes kits that add a raspy howl, but little added performance, and a few free flowing mufflers there's not much engine stuff here for an orphan like the Catera. Check for Vauxhall/Opel stuff on British and German Ebay but remember, the Catera uses a unique ECM so Omega performance chips won't work. They won't even fit. Beware of performance modules claiming to increase power. All they do is keep the high idle, meant to warm the engine and transmission, on indefinitely. There are owners exploring V8 engine swaps but those are still in the project stage (except for the magnificent 7.0 liter/500 HP V8 Lingenfelter Catera) and a few shadetree V8 installs I've found. Some owners have fabricated true cold air intakes for a breath of fresh air. At the rear some are trashing the original twin mufflers for a crossover X pipe and high flow glass-pack mufflers, but keeping the large resonator at the rear. Though it appears to have a single exhaust with twin tips the Catera has a true Dual Exhaust system from the factory. Just what performance gains, if any, by modifying it I don't know but the glass-packs sound great if that's what you're after.

    Improved handling is available via the aftermarket for any year Catera, Standard or Sport. Suspension upgrades include stiffer Eibach, Vogtland, or Intrax lowering springs plus discarded GTO springs. Front & rear, they'll fit along with its rear shocks, but not the GTO struts. Alternatives are Koni, KYB, or Bilstein struts & shocks but using any performance shocks means sacrificing the self-leveling feature. Suspension tower braces are available from Germany or the UK. Believe it or not some front & rear polyurethane bushings for the BMW M5, Pontiac GTO & G8, Opel/Vauxhall Omega B, and Holden Monaro & Commodore will fit the Catera. I bought a front set made for for the Omega from PowerFlex in the UK. They greatly improve steering response and handling. Polyurethane bushings extend replacement intervals over the original rubber ones. Some also allow fine tuning of alignment specs for the normally nonadjustable rear suspension.

    The Catera's brakes are good and compare well with equivalent sport sedans of its day but can be made even better. Luckily the last ever Pontiac GTO and the Catera shared some Opel ancestry. The dual piston front brake calipers & hoses from the 2004 Pontiac GTO are a direct bolt-on. A big improvement over the Catera's smaller single piston units. Load them with C5 Corvette high performance brake pads. They provide a larger friction zone than the GTO's pads and are a straight swap. At the rear the Catera has dual opposed piston calipers and solid discs. During the last half year of production they were upgraded by the factory to thicker vented discs and wider calipers to accommodate them. I'll upgrade the rear brakes on my Catera Sport as soon as I find the cash.

    As I said before, I love my Catera. The engine performance, the handling, the comfort, the styling, all of it. But don't let my enthusiasm sway you. She does have issues. It all boils down to this: If you're looking for a dependable daily driver, the kind of car you can park and forget at the end of the day. One whose maintenance schedule you can ignore. A car you can subject to abuse, then the Catera isn't for you. Buy an Accord. If you want a true German "driver's car" that, like a thoroughbred horse, requires regular grooming then ..............

    Giddy-Up.
    MoistCabbage and MoistCabbage like this.

  14. #13
    Gravatrax is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    Thank you so much for the info! Ill definitely bear that in mind when we decide to go look at it.

    How is the Bose? I kinda think bose home audio is extremely over rated but their car stuff seems to sound pretty nice. Thought about doing after market HU since I already own won (Kenwood X492, older..but a damn nice hu), and subs. I here that stuff is a pain in itself.

    For a German built car you'd think they'd be better built, but if I recall correctly many cars in their early years are probably worth avoiding until they can get all the kinks out of them (big or small). So the CTS is essentially the new Catera?

    ---------- Post added at 08:44 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:58 PM ----------

    How much is the part(s) to fix the Valve Cover problem? Do vehicles that start out with problem typically lead into the other infamous ones? Or is it largely hit or miss. Might roll the dice, might not, will make final decision saturday one way or the other.

  15. #14
    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    Quote Originally Posted by Gravatrax View Post
    He said that when his mechanic looked the car over and said it'd be 65$, I see where you guys are getting at. My step dad is a fairly seasoned and usually helps me when it comes to fixing the car. Im thinking since it has that many miles on it perhaps the previous which apparently was one guy, and then a bank, went through and fixed the problems a while ago?

    But how much money (in terms of parts) are we talking? Im a working college student but If I bear all this in mind perhaps I can keep money on the side for if and when.
    I have had Caddy dealer owner tell that she doesn't like her staff to repair them. Causes way too much aggravation for them.

    ---------- Post added at 07:12 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:11 AM ----------

    "known universe" was rhetorical in nature. However I have an 11 year old Toyota and the only thing, other than wear items, were two O2 sensors that I have replaced myself. That is it!

  16. #15
    Gravatrax is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Potential Catera Owner

    Umm...Im not buying this car from a Cadillac dealership, nor ir this shop im bringing it to a Cadillac owned delearship

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