Should I?
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Cadillac Catera and Cimarron Forum Discussion, Should I? in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; Hey guys, I have an opportunity to purchase a 1997 Catera from its original owner. It has about 16k miles ...
  1. #1
    StuPastu is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Question Should I?

    Hey guys,

    I have an opportunity to purchase a 1997 Catera from its original owner. It has about 16k miles on it, from an elderly couple. I believe they have the maintenance records but I won't know for about a month when it's driven up to New Jersey.

    I've read through the warnings, the sticky posts, and poor reviews on other sites, but I'm still very curious because the asking price is relatively cheap.

    What do you guys think? Should I buy it?

    The first thing I would do is take it in for all the recalls...

    Thoughts?

    Thanks...

    -Stu

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  3. #2
    investor74 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Should I?

    ********Kaustein Alert************

    BTW, there is no way that Caddy is going to honor regular recalls on this 17 year old car. They would honor safety recalls, but I don't remember the Catera having any.

  4. #3
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
    MoistCabbage is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Well if you've read all the bad, and you're still interested, it must be a car you really like. If the maintenance records are all there, and the test drive/inspection goes good, go for it.

  5. #4
    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Should I?

    The only reason to buy it would be to re-sell to an unsuspecting person. Trust me and take your money and buy something else for personal use. Who's going to work on it? Where are you going to get parts? Let's assume you have deep pockets, from experience Caddy dealers don't want to work on these cars.

    RUN!

    Sorry, but if you are a young kid, why would you want to drive a grandma car? To impress the kids as to how slow it is, still can play cassette tapes, how lumbering it handles? Or as a long distance drive, it is very comfortable.

  6. #5
    elvin315's Avatar
    elvin315 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Should I?

    To Kaustein: Don't you get tired of the bullshit. Yes the Catera is trouble plagued. Yes it's not the most powerful sedan out there but grandma car? Lumbering? Shows how slimy you are to suggest reselling to an "unsuspecting person". You sometimes surprise me with useful advise but the majority of time you just spout crap. Take your own advise and RUN!

    To StuPastu: A well maintained Catera with only 16K miles sounds like a great find. True the electronics can be a nightmare but parts for the car's mechanical issues like the timing belt & tensioner are readily available. Same for the oil cooler. The suspension & brakes are wear items and those parts are easy to find. They're also upgradeable if the owner wants to pump up the performance. Info on the Catera's good and bad points as well as upgrades is sometimes hard to find here using the search feature. There is another forum where such info is easier to find.

    http://cateraowners.forumotion.com/

    I suggest the Overview & History by yours truly as well as articles regarding the suspension and brakes, some also by moi. If you decide to buy the car there are helpful owners who will offer good advise. As for some...........

  7. #6
    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Should I?

    To Kaustein: Don't you get tired of the bullshit. Yes the Catera is trouble plagued. Yes it's not the most powerful sedan out there but grandma car? Lumbering? Shows how slimy you are to suggest reselling to an "unsuspecting person". You sometimes surprise me with useful advise but the majority of time you just spout crap. Take your own advise and RUN!
    Bullshit no, truth yes. LOL. You state the car is" troubled plagued", but yet you don't tell them not to buy it. The car is rated one of the fifty worst cars on many lists. The car is just down right awful when it comes to problems and reliability. It doesn't matter that the car has only 16k on it. Matter of fact that is too low if miles. I have owned my share of bad cars, sadly this was one of them. So was the Fiat that I owned and I would tell someone looking to buy a Fiat not too. Just be honest with the person and tell them like it is and what can and will go wrong.

  8. #7
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
    MoistCabbage is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Generally speaking, those "lists" are compiled by idiots. I bet you any "worst cars ever" lists that the Catera is on, completely ignore all the Chinese and Russian garbage out there.

    It's a late model car with some common electrical issues, big deal. I wouldn't drive one, for several reasons, none of which are "I'm afraid everything's going to break next week".

  9. #8
    elvin315's Avatar
    elvin315 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Should I?

    Unlike you I tend to be a positive person but that doesn't mean I'm not realistic. I know the Catera isn't the greatest car ever made, still I enjoy its ride, handling, power, and accept its foibles. I've owned many cars in my time, enjoyed them, sold them, and moved on. Of course this was before the Internet came along and provided a pulpit for people like you to endlessly rant. Why, having sold yours years ago, do you incessantly need to continue this negativity. Maybe you draw a sense of superiority from it. A wisdom only you perceive. Maybe you just enjoy trolling for reactions from owners like me who occasionally fall into your trap. I have always been honest about the Catera to newbies and pointed them to my overview article, I just never bother to post its entirety on this forum over and over so maybe you construed that as dishonesty. Maybe you've never bothered to read it so I'll paste a portion of it now for your benefit.

    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 which increased internal pressure, 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 indicate 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, the engine will overheat, and the aluminum heads will warp. The spilled coolant 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. Cleaning the crankcase breather relieves the excess crankcase pressure that blows oil past the gaskets so you must clean it out. This is very expensive if you let Cadillac do it. They charged me $750 including the gaskets. Order the gaskets and have a trusted local garage do the work or DIY.

    • 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 end 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 front 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. UPDATE: The transmission refused to shift into 3rd and 4th gears so I had it replaced with a used 4L30E transmission. So far so good.

    You'll notice that most those were maintenance items. And that's my point. The Catera has many faults but most are due to lack of proper upkeep. Owners neglect the car's regular maintenance and blame her when something goes wrong. One legitimate design flaw, however, is the robustness of its suspension parts, or lack thereof. 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 like worn bushings, broken springs, and premature tire replacements. The desire for better and longer lasting suspension bushings drove me to find polyurethane ones. I found them, plus high performance dampers, springs, brakes, and more. I've since swapped my Catera's dampers for Koni Sport struts & shocks. GTO front brakes too.

    My Catera Sport now 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 towards 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. Most are older. Lots of potential problems waiting to bite us in the A** 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.

  10. #9
    StuPastu is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Should I?

    To elvin315: Thanks for your informative posts. I'm a bit of a DIY'er and would probably take advantage of some of the upgrades applicable to the Catera.

    As I said previously, I've read through some of the posts/horror stories/bad reviews/etc. While I'm definitely a bit hesitant I'm also just trying to get a feel for where a majority of the more experienced owners feel.

    I still have a few weeks until the car is in my area. I'll be sure to come back and let you guys know what my decision was.

  11. #10
    elvin315's Avatar
    elvin315 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Should I?

    I want to apologize for turning your thread into a childish argument. Please understand that despite the troubles we've had with our Cateras the majority of us enjoy our cars. For some reason she makes me take the long way to every destination.

    My Catera Sport has Koni Sport struts & shocks, polyurethane bushings front & rear, new tie-rod ends, GTO front brake calipers with C5 Corvette pads, and a K&N air intake in place of the OEM filter. In the past I've always preferred small sporty cars but as I've gotten older the practicality of a 4 door sedan suits me better. Before this car I had a Taurus which while comfortable left we wanting something more exciting.

    As much as she pisses me off with her nagging electrical headaches (the latest is a sunroof which tilts open at will) she still brings a smile on my face when speeding along a twisty mountain road. I'm a sucker for women who treat me wrong too so maybe that has something to do with my stubborn streak when it comes to the Catera.

  12. #11
    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Should I?

    Chinese and Russian garbage out there.
    You also left out Botswana, Chad, and Peruvian car makers too! Come to think of it, some Klingon modes suck too!

    ----------

    ride, handling, power, and accept its foibles
    The car has no handling capability as there is no DSC on the car and it weighs, if memory serves me, 3800 pounds. And I be willing to bet most have broken rear springs and don't know it.

    Power, the car is grossly underpowered for it's weight. The technology of the car is 15 years old at best. But you still tell people to buy one, knowing the issues! GM should have bite the bullet on this and offered to buy back all of these cars for "quality control reasons."

    I will contiunue to tell prospective buyers NOT to buy one. Not worth spend money on the car.

    However I do agree with you the that car is/was very comfortable on long trips on the interstate. But I never went more than 100 radius as I didn't want to get stuck. My AA membership was for 100 miles of towing.

  13. #12
    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Should I?

    Did you buy it?

  14. #13
    JohnJJO's Avatar
    JohnJJO is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    This car only for diy people.... other wise if u can't fix all this problems with this car by your self, u have to take it to the shop every month and that's not worst . . . .

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