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Cadillac Catera and Cimarron Forum Discussion, Catera ownership experience? in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; Hi all - I've always been tempted to buy a Catera but have never actually done it - partially due ...
  1. #1
    Jaeger63 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Catera ownership experience?

    Hi all - I've always been tempted to buy a Catera but have never actually done it - partially due to the stories of some of the initial problems. I've read the sticky about the most serious problems especially with the '97s and 98s, and some of the early parts availability problems.

    But now that many years have passed and any Cateras still on the road have presumably had these issues addressed, what is Catera ownership like now that many are into the high mileage phase of maintenance, rather than early design/manufacturing issues?

    Have they held up well to high mileage? Are parts available at reasonable cost, if not from original sources, then salvage yards? Is it common to encounter a need for an obscure dealer-only part that is either unavailable or only available at ridiculous prices?

    If one is diligent can you find compatible Opel Omega parts from European discount sites? Lots of questions, I realize, but I'm thinking of finally picking up that Catera that has always tempted me.

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    investor74 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    ****Uh-oh Kaustein Alert********

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    Jaeger63 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by investor74 View Post
    ****Uh-oh Kaustein Alert********
    I've skimmed the older posts often enough to know Kaustein's opinion on the topic. No need to repeat it. I think every forum has at least one disgruntled former owner in it.

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    investor74 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaeger63 View Post
    I've skimmed the older posts often enough to know Kaustein's opinion on the topic. No need to repeat it. I think every forum has at least one disgruntled former owner in it.
    Tell you the truth, with a 16 year old car, there are so many variables that it is hard to make general statements about it. Even Consumer Reports only goes back 10 years on a car. So much depends on how the car you are buying was maintained. We've had ours since new in Sept 1996 with no major problems. Other Cateras were sold, re-sold and sold again to people who may have botched a DIY project or had work done by shade tree mechanics.

    That being said, if you search this forum, someone has compiled a list of things to watch out for when you buy a Catera. The single most important is the timing chain recall work. If you can't find it, I will search and post it.

    I've never had a problem getting mechanical or engine parts. If you need a body part, you probably can't buy new but sometimes luck out on e-Bay. I needed a trunk release actuator and bought one for sale there.

    My 1997 Catera has 117K miles and looks brand new inside and out. I want to buy a new car, but every time I look at my Catera in the driveway and see how great it still looks, I find it hard to trade it. Some older cars have fading, rusting, or chipping paint, interiors that look shabby, etc. But I have never seen an older Catera that did not look great.

    Make sure that any Catera you buy has a smooth running engine. My engine is silky smooth after all these years, and if it is not, I would expect there is something wrong. I have the usual coolant and oil leaks, and the A/C refrigerant leaks. All fixable, but I haven't decided if it is worth fixing if I am going to trade soon.

    BTW, we had a lot of fun visiting Ottawa two summers ago. Fun and scenic walking along the river and canal.

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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    My 2 cateras... I was to young with the first one and scared of repairs, so i didnt keep it long. It was a 97 with 65K and I actually really liked it!! it was way better on gas than, catera # 2 a 2000 sport.

    I liked the wheels on the sport, but actually liked the regular seats better than the sport racaro seats.

    The sounds system is the best factory system I have ever heard, and I ve had 30plus cars now!

    My last catera was bought wiht 119K or so, and I sold it with 142K after 2 yrs. I loved every minute I drove it. It did drain my pocket though.. I was smart and got the car for about 2200 and then spent 1300 on a super good 24 month warranty that paid me about $3500 in repairs. I prolly sank another $1500 into it myself.

    The car mostly had old car issues, leaking waterpumps, moisture in elect. throttle body, torn air hoses or dry rotted, stuck purge valve, leaky p/s hose... I mean nothing you would not expect from a 12 yr old car.

    The worst problem is finding a super good mech that will repair the car proper and not rip you off.

    I finally found one after 2 ripped me off.

    I loved the car. it was so fun to drive, but the 2000 got horrible gas mileage compared to the 97. I got 17 winter and 20 summer with the sport, and on hwy I got 33mpg in the 97.. dramatic differance!

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    Jaeger63 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by investor74 View Post
    I've never had a problem getting mechanical or engine parts. If you need a body part, you probably can't buy new but sometimes luck out on e-Bay. I needed a trunk release actuator and bought one for sale there.

    My 1997 Catera has 117K miles and looks brand new inside and out. I want to buy a new car, but every time I look at my Catera in the driveway and see how great it still looks, I find it hard to trade it. Some older cars have fading, rusting, or chipping paint, interiors that look shabby, etc. But I have never seen an older Catera that did not look great.
    That's good to hear about the parts availability. I'm quite familiar with the maintenance needs of older cars, having kept a few German cars to 200-300K, and I have a '94 Miata as a summer toy. No matter the brand, time and mileage eventually wear down the belts, hoses, tie rod ends, wheel bearings, radiators,etc. It's something I can live with as long as parts are available at reasonable cost.

    And I agree I've never seen a rusted out or trashed Catera, either. Ten to fifteen Canadian winters destroy most cars, but the Cateras seem to stand up quite well.

  8. #7
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    IvoryWhiteCatera is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    I have a '98 Catera with 162,000 miles. Still strong. A few problems here and there like the usual oil leaks. My a/c compressor recently went out and I found a used one for $40 on eBay. I want to do an LS1 swap badly, though.

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    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    I am not disgruntled, but honest. Read the posts on here. Symptomatic problems with the car. Electrical nightmare. I have 3 other vehicles 92k on a Toyota, 122K on a GMC pu, and 61k on a Volvo. I spent more money in the 5 years owning the Craptera, than the 14 years of total ownership of the other 3 cars. The car is bad, real bad.

    The only reason I'm here is to forewarn people and to vent my frustrations at GM for building a piece of crap for 5 years! Others have just left this board and gone on to other things.

    The car did look good and comfortable to drive, however way underpowered and it felt like you were driving your living room. Gas mileage sucked. But did have a nice sound system. I had the trunk mounted 12 cd player.

    Best of luck and I hope you have deep pockets!

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    IvoryWhiteCatera is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Kaustein is sort of right. I just wished they used all American components instead of resorting to England for the engine. Lovin' the BOSE, though.

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    Jaeger63 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by IvoryWhiteCatera View Post
    Kaustein is sort of right. I just wished they used all American components instead of resorting to England for the engine. Lovin' the BOSE, though.
    I realize Kaustein makes some valid points. There really were some serious design and manufacture problems, especially with the earlier years. Those buyers had every right to expect better from a car with a Cadillac badge on it.

    And the points about it being too heavy and getting somewhat poor fuel economy are certainly fair points as well. But I've always liked the car and they can be had very cheap these days.

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    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaeger63 View Post
    I realize Kaustein makes some valid points. There really were some serious design and manufacture problems, especially with the earlier years. Those buyers had every right to expect better from a car with a Cadillac badge on it.

    And the points about it being too heavy and getting somewhat poor fuel economy are certainly fair points as well. But I've always liked the car and they can be had very cheap these days.
    Agreed! But the underlying question is why would anyone spend good money on cheap bad car?

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    Jaeger63 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by kaustein View Post
    Agreed! But the underlying question is why would anyone spend good money on cheap bad car?
    Okay - what do you suggest instead? You can now get a gently used, well kept Catera with moderate mileage for $3k - $5k. Let's say you are not interested in Camry or Accord, but want something that would have been considered a competitor to the Catera circa 2000. What would you recommend instead?

    I'm thinking of comparable RWD entry level luxury sedans - Lincoln LS, BMW 318/530, Mercedes C class, Infinityg35? Maybe I'm missing some.

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    elvin315 is online now Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaeger63 View Post
    What would you recommend instead? I'm thinking of comparable RWD entry level luxury sedans - Lincoln LS, BMW 318/530, Mercedes C class, Infinityg35? Maybe I'm missing some.
    When I shopped for a RWD sporty sedan back in 2006 it was between the Continental LS series and the Catera. The Catera won because of its styling. The LS looked too stodgy. BMWs are over rated but if I had to choose andcould afford one go for an E46 Bimmer.It's the one Caddy aimed at when designing the new ATS. Benz? No. Unless it's an AMG no one takes he seriously as performance sedans. Don't even think of FWD Japanese stuff. Not the same vehicle handling. They depend too much on electronic stabilizing. Hyundai's RWD cars still need maturing. Suspension still too soft and engines down on power.

    I'm a big Catera booster but today I got a punch in the ribs. Took my 2001 Sport to AAMCO for a routine transmission servicing (flush and filter) but once they got her up on the lift they showed me how dangerously worn my front suspension was. Idler arm, tie rod and tie rod ends, all loose enough to shake by hand. Front tires worn at the inner edge. Not enough to warannt replacement but geez they're only 9 months old. Total is $1100 parts & labor. That's not including the cost of a rental car for the eekend. Parts won't be in until Monday.

    Seems everytime I find the cash to finish my rear suspension upgrades something else needs attention. It's getting harder to recomend this car. Granted, my Catera has 109,000 miles on her but my Taurus had 169,000 when I sold it and over 14 years ownership it only needed an alternator and battery. Last month it got a new HBV to stop a coolant leak. I still love the car but it's not unconditional anymore.

  15. #14
    IvoryWhiteCatera's Avatar
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by elvin315 View Post
    When I shopped for a RWD sporty sedan back in 2006 it was between the Continental LS series and the Catera. The Catera won because of its styling. The LS looked too stodgy. BMWs are over rated but if I had to choose andcould afford one go for an E46 Bimmer.It's the one Caddy aimed at when designing the new ATS. Benz? No. Unless it's an AMG no one takes he seriously as performance sedans. Don't even think of FWD Japanese stuff. Not the same vehicle handling. They depend too much on electronic stabilizing. Hyundai's RWD cars still need maturing. Suspension still too soft and engines down on power.

    I'm a big Catera booster but today I got a punch in the ribs. Took my 2001 Sport to AAMCO for a routine transmission servicing (flush and filter) but once they got her up on the lift they showed me how dangerously worn my front suspension was. Idler arm, tie rod and tie rod ends, all loose enough to shake by hand. Front tires worn at the inner edge. Not enough to warannt replacement but geez they're only 9 months old. Total is $1100 parts & labor. That's not including the cost of a rental car for the eekend. Parts won't be in until Monday.

    Seems everytime I find the cash to finish my rear suspension upgrades something else needs attention. It's getting harder to recomend this car. Granted, my Catera has 109,000 miles on her but my Taurus had 169,000 when I sold it and over 14 years ownership it only needed an alternator and battery. Last month it got a new HBV to stop a coolant leak. I still love the car but it's not unconditional anymore.
    I heard LS's have as much problems as the Catera. "It's not unconditional anymore." Exactly how I feel.

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    Jaeger63 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera ownership experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by IvoryWhiteCatera View Post
    I heard LS's have as much problems as the Catera. "It's not unconditional anymore." Exactly how I feel.
    I don't believe any of the plausible alternatives are exactly paragons of reliability. I think the Mercedes was pretty good when new but maintenance won't be cheap now that they're old.

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