: Problems problems a-z

05-07-11, 12:56 PM
I bought my 1998 Cadillac Catera 3 months ago roughly. It had 147,000k. It now has 154k I know a lot of miles in a short time but I do alot of commuting between drop off and pick up off my 3 kids and going to work. It is my only vehicle right now. Since I bought the car I have done some research and I have found that their are three kinds of people who own this car. The people who hate it, the people who love it and the people who have a love hate relationship with this car. I am definetely on of the love hate people. I do love this car. BUT, it has been some trouble. Now dont get me wrong I bought the car at an auction(paid 2800) so I didnt expect to get a perfect car. Anyway now that you have some backstory. I am going to document all service repair starting with symptoms and eventual repair I am going to take pics and hopefully I will save someone out their the headaches I am going through. This car is very costly to repair. Mechanics hate this car and some of them refuse to work on it. I am no mechanic I am a carpenter by trade but even I know mechanics are RIPOFFS there is another word that ends in off I would like to use but lets keep it familly. I try and do all repairs myself unless its just to out of my league. But most people dont realize how easy some of these repairs really are if you take your time and do a little research before you start. I took my cat in to get valve covers done cost me 900 and after I got job done I read up on it and if I had realized before how easy it was I could have saved a bundle. My coil pack blew and I called the mechanic or as I like to call him the devil. And he said It was gonna bee 700 parts and labor. I called autozone and the part does cost 255 but the job is so easy to do I did it myself saved 445 you cant beat that and all i lost was 2 hours of my saturday afternoon well worth the 445 I saved dont you think. Since then I dont even call the devil anymore. I will post pics of my car later today or tomorrow after I wash it. And start posting all of my repairs to date.

05-07-11, 06:38 PM
When it comes to reliability, well it is awful. No one can dispute that! The car will be a money pit!

But when all is copacetic, the car is a joy to drive. Unfortunately for me there were only a handful of days that fit that description, and after 7 years, I got rid of the car! Try to buy some GM shop manuals. Those can save a ton of money!

05-07-11, 08:52 PM
Thanks So far I have changed fuel filter, coil pack, fixed a vacuum leak and had head gasket replaced all in last 3 months. also Plugs and wires. I have already saved a bundle doing all but gasket myself. I would like to purchase some service manuals

05-08-11, 09:44 PM
Here is my baby.

05-11-11, 12:44 AM
Ok first up is the coil pack. This car only has one thats a plus. Here are some symptoms, my wife was at a red light she said she heard a pop and when she let off the brake the car jumped forward. After that the car ran really rough, it felt like it wasnt getting enough fuel or spark plugs werent firing correctly. I put the pedal all the way to the floor for some speed that was the only way to get it to accelerate somewhat normal. When you are driving it you have to give the car more gas that normal to stop the engine from going into convulsions. The car was drivable but like I said very rough I would not recommend driving like this very long, the coil pack isnt firing correctly and it doesnt burn the gas up and can ruin your catalytic convertor. You can pick a new one up at Autozone for $255.00 or you may be able to get one a little cheaper online but not much. It is located on the rear of the engine at the top. This is definetely a do it yourself job. It took me about 2 hours give or take fifteen min. I have included pics of the coil pack so you know what to look for. First you need to take off both windshield wiper arms, and the black trim on bottom of windsheild then the black cowl on driver side. There are a couple of black screws that hold on cowl, a quarter turn with a flat head screw dirver then take out cowl. Next you need to get the wiper control arm and motor out(all tools needed on wiper arms and control arm and motor are all standard in any socket set) I found it easier to take the bolts out of the hoodshock on drivers side and move it towards front of car to help manuevering the wiper motor, a little tricky. After you get that out you are ready for coil pack. Like I said back of engine near top. best way to find it is to trace from spark plug wires on drivers side. You will need a special socket to get this off, it is a six pointed socket I picked up a set a autozone for $15.00. VERY IMPORTANT make sure you label each wire before you take it out of coil pack, I labeled them in a way I could remember just make sure they go into new pack same they went into old one. Four bolts later and an electrical plug on left hand side of pack and its out now all you have to do is put everything back the way it was and carry on. If you had those symptoms thats probably your problem. You may also want to change fuel filter at this point, that will be my next post. Take your time and dont get frustrated.

05-13-11, 07:01 PM
Ok time for the fuel filter. This I didnt really have any symptoms. The fuel filter doesnt cost much around $20-$30 and its just good maintenance. It really does help with alot of things I used to do it every other time I would chnage oil on my old 91 camaro. Anyway, the fuel filter is located on the passenger side rear right behind the tire. I found it much easier to take the back tire off to give me very easy access to fittings. The fuel line is under alot of pressure so you need to cut off fuel to engine. To do this you need to get into fuse panel under steering wheel. Take the fuse out for the fuel pump, and start the vehicle it may just turn over or it may run for a second but it will die, after the vehicle shuts off you have drained pressure. Now you can take the fuel line off without getting sprayed, I do recommend putting a towel over the fittings just in case, some fuel will come out regardless. The fuel filter is held on by a metal strap with one bolt screwing it to car. And of course the inlet and outlet lines. Again all bolts can easily be taken off with standard socket set. For the inlet and outlet lines I used a pair of robogrip pliers, one to hold filter and other to loosen the line. Access to this repair is extremely easy, and job shouldnt take more than an hour. Remember to clean all washers and bolts otherwise you wont get a good seal. If you want to know if fuel filter was bad blow into inlet and see if you feel air no air bad filter. I will take some pics and post them later of parts

05-15-11, 12:15 PM
On regards to your original post. I bought mine for $900.00. with 124k on it. I knew it needed work. This car was literally driven till it stopped! It was not cared for at all. Now that I have put work into it, it is wonderful. It comes down to this. Take care of it and do what needs to be done. Yes, you will have to put time in to it. True, outside mechanics hate the car because it is hard to work on. I now find it quite easy. The most difficult thing I have found is setting the timing. Since I purchased the GM timing tool kit ($89.00 on ebay $400 on the Snap on truck!), now it is really easy!

So it sounds like you are off to a good start. Keep it up and the car will reward you. When you are ready to do the heads (IF you need to do them) let me know and I will guide you right down to the last bolt! If you have not already, get a set of Shop manuals "Second Edition" you can find them on eBay for about $40.00 - $50.00. Oh and by the way...the coil paks are 89.00 on ebay. That is where I got mine. :-) But yeah, the "gorillas" here wanted to charge me 850 to swap it out. Wankers! Again, you are doing it right. Keep it up! For the record. I would buy your car from you in a second!

05-15-11, 02:52 PM
Thanks I am trying to get into doing everything myself. I could definetely use advice like I said im no mechanic but I have had about a million cars and I always try to fix them myself. I just had the valve covers done not head gasket I wrote that wrong. If you have any clue what could be making it smoke I would appreciate the help. Im pretty sure its leaking oil from back of engine somewhere, just not sure where. And the car shakes when I stop at high speed, so does gear shifter. I dont think its rotors the car was just inspected last month and the devil said the car was the best he had ever seen. Didnt have to fix anything to pass inspection.

05-15-11, 03:23 PM
Does it "CLUNK" when you go over a bump? That is due to worn out shocks or if the shocks are good, then it is the control arm bushings - this might cause a slight shake as mine does the same thing too even with new rotors and brakes. . I am getting ready to do mine. Smoke is caused by either a leaking head gasket or leaking oil cooler/combination of the two. If you know for sure the heads have not been done, then I would suggest having them done. Then while you are in there, do the oil cooler, PCV/Oil separator, etc. That will get all your leaks and it will stop smoking. As you might already know, blue smoke is oil burning, white smoke is coolant leaking in. So replace the head gaskets will take care of this. If you car is not misfiring, in other words the engine is running smooth with decent power, then you can get by without doing the heads, but heck, if you got them off, you might as well just get it all! :-) I hope this helps a bit. The heads and oil cooler are the main deal though. I know they came out with an aftermarket, Better oil cooler, you just have to look around. I will be doing my Driver's side head and NEW oil cooler this summer. Other things too. Make sure you use DexCool with the GM pellets in the coolant. That helps thwart leaks as well. It is actually in the manual to do so. :-)

05-15-11, 05:38 PM
I dont have any symptoms of a blown head gasket and the car runs great. When It sits at a light after a long ride and the temp goes up past halfway just to next small line thats when it starts to smoke then fan kicks in and goes back down to halfway. I have a lot of oil underneath car but After 4,000 miles I still havent added any oil its not a very big leak at all. I thought only coolant would leak out of head gasket?

05-16-11, 01:47 AM
okay..so when you say smoke, you mean as in overheating smoke...not smoke coming out the back. Hmmm...well, off the top of my head:
Thermostat might not be functioning properly. If it is not opening when it is supposed to it would cause coolant to not circulate properly. Sound like the fan is doing most of the work. The coolant temp sensor is on the coolant bridge, there might be an issue there as well. How is the coolant pump? Do you or can you see anything collecting on the under-car engine cover. I dunno, I call it a leak collector! :-) In other words, might the coolant pump be leaking? The basics as you know to a car getting hot is improper circulation of the coolant as well as when it is not being cooled quickly enough before it goes back to the block. So either something is slowing it down or you have, low coolant, or a thermostat is not working...check those if you can.

If your car is leaking oil, then it might be low and cause your engine to work harder than it needs to. Try this: Check the oil and put some in it if it is low. Check the coolant and make sure it is at proper level. then see how it drives. If the temp stays even for awhile, then you will know it is due to low oil and over working your engine. I have found that if my car is/was low on oil, it heated up quickly. I always carried extra oil with me until I did the head. Once the oil leak stopped, I did not have any overheating issues/engine getting hot issues. Oh and for the record. I changed out my coolant pump too and ALL issues regarding temp went away!


05-16-11, 11:36 AM
My oil is always at max and so is coolant level. The coolant never drops and I loose just a little bit of oil, like i said very small leak and I check on a daily basis to make sure levels are ok. Did I mention I love this car, I am trying to baby it. If I only drive between 55 and 65 I get 24 mpg and thats a mix of city and highway. The smoke I dont think is from the coolant I think its oil burning off hte bottom, I only notice smoke sometimes at stoplights. and no visible leaks on top of engine only see oil on bottom. I started the car this morning it was 61 degrees outside and I had some smoke coming out tailpipe this is first time ive seen this. not sure if it was cause of outside temp or not?

06-01-11, 10:44 AM
When it is cold, mine smokes a bit too out the back. I think it is because a little bit of coolant has leaked in over night. As I drive it, it is not noticeable. After I did the Passenger head, my smoke issues out the back decreased significantly. I am getting ready to do the driver's side head so I am sure my smoke problems will go away after that. I have coolant leaking on mine from that side, underneath from somewhere. Not sure yet; might be oil cooler and if money allows, I will swap that out too. It still has the stock oil cooler and there is a better aftermarket replacement. It is very little (the coolant leak) and easily manageable, but I cannot have it! I want it not leaking at all. Again, When I bought this car, it was leaking from just about anyplace oil and coolant could leak, so I am close. Now, If you are seeing smoke burning off the engine, the oil is leaking from somewhere in there and of course burning off as you mentioned. Have you checked the oil cooler. These are notorious for leaking as well, but easily replaceable.

Wish I could see it, I might be able to assist a little better.

06-05-11, 02:19 PM
Yeah Im the same way I want my car running perfect and not leaking anything. It seems like a little bit of smoke coming from back of engine. From the middle of the engine in back is where i see smoke.

06-05-11, 02:35 PM
The smoke is caused by oil leaking from the camcovers onto the exhaust heat shields. Your crankcase breather is most probably clogged forcing internal pressure to squeeze oil past the gaskets. Fix? Replace the gaskets and clean the breather. Do a forum search for the method.

06-13-11, 11:06 AM
Without seeing it happen it is hard to determine. However, oil seeping down will burn off and cause smoke. Now, I cannot remember if you already did it, but MANY Catera owners neglect the ill-fated Oil Cooler. It is notorious for leaking. To prevent it, all one needs to do is clean and seal it properly, or replace it with the improved aftermarket version. So..if it is leaking down the back, then I can only 'assume' at this point that you have a small leak in the oil cooler..somewhere. Again without seeing it is hard to determine. Wish I could be more help. Is there anyway you can put it on a rack with good lighting and take some video?

06-13-11, 11:09 AM
Oh..I just noticed the post about the CAM covers. This might be too. I think I mentioned this early on. Those CAM covers are plastic and many times others will CRANK them down hard and crack the gasket channel, hence causing the leak. You can only see it if you pull the Upper intake and check it.