: Well,, the dreaded time has come......

03-18-06, 10:16 PM
Well, i found out what was wrong with my 1997 catera, as i posted it had problems in another thread... The Engine has blown, for apparanly No reason.. i had it checked my 3 diff mechanics, the engine is toast.. Now my question is, since i will be getting a new engine, can i use the engines out of the newer cateras that have less problems? if so what do i need to do to get it to work in my car. also i hear something about a saturn engine might fit? any help would be appreciated , thanks

03-18-06, 11:01 PM
The Saturn L series V8 will fit, but the heads are slightly off I believe. It will require minor other tinkering, such as fittings. It's literally the same engine though other than that.

03-19-06, 06:44 AM
Boy, what a bitch.

How many miles are on the car?

How many miles were on the car when the recall service was done? This includes the timing belt and tensioner and a few other things. If you are not the original owner you can telephone Cadillac on their toll-free number and obtain this information. Or, your Caddy dealer can give you the information if you telephone his service department. In either case you will have to provide your VIN so they can look this up on their computer.

Was the car looked at by techs you are sure went to Catera school? Did you take it into a Caddy dealer? Simply saying the engine is "blown" is not helpful. If these techs are expert and performed even rudimentary tests, they should be able at least to venture an opinion as to what is wrong with your engine. That opinion, from an expert, would be valuable and helpful to know. Detail is pivotal.

Note: It is unlikely - VERY unlikely - but there is a chance your car never had the recall service. In this case Cadillac might end up fixing your engine for fee, since they would owe you this recall service, even if you are not the original owner.

Bottom line, you need to know what it says about your car on the Caddy service computer. This is called the "service history". Get it.

I am not aware of anyone ever successfully having put a V8 engine into a Catera. I hope if there are folks out there who have done this that they will share their experience.

Remember, the Catera is a computer controlled vehicle. Thus, changing engines is not a purely mechanical consideration. The Cat computer must also be satisfied as to inputs, at least. To me this is NOT a trivial matter. But there are MUCH more capable folks than me out there. Maybe somebody has done it. I hope so.

Beyond that, consider the following:

GM has built other interference engines. GM has built other engines with a timing belt, as opposed to a chain. But except for the type of engine in the Catera (as well as Saturn, Saab), GM has not built another interference engine with a timing belt. Do you think maybe there is a lesson there someplace? Think about it. Real hard.

Many 1997 Cats with bad engines are just being written off. It is because the repair cost is such a large percentage of the value of the entire car.

You are not providing anywhere near the amount of detail information needed to render an opinion on your situation. You are going to have to write more than just a few sentences and tell us about your car and tell us about who gave you your diagnoses and their qualifications. Details matter. sorry But that's how it is. You can't provide too much information.

But regardless anything else, I am not happy to hear you lost your Catera.:rant2:

03-19-06, 11:09 PM
I really appreciate your input, the car has 95,000 miles on it, the timing belt looks almost brand new, and they said they know its shot because when u turn the crank shaft back and forth some of the pistons rock back and forth and make a slight knocking.. they said the engine has basically self destructed,the cams are also scorred really bad as i could see that for myself.. i just want to know if i can buy a 99 up engine and replace the ecu and wonder if it will work ok , i also hear something about electronic throttle? will it still work? thanks everyone..

03-20-06, 04:09 AM
Why don't these problems apply to Saturn engines? It's the same Opel 3.0 V6 with different electronics. I've also noticed that the Saturns don't have the water pump issues either.

03-20-06, 06:27 AM
OK, understood.

Do not have enough knowledge to address introduction of a 1999 engine into a 1997 car. I have not done this personally. It's going to take somebody with more knowledge than me, or somebody who actually had ATTEMPTED this conversion, to answer your question with authority.

However, please consider the following:

There appears to be a LEGION of dead 1997 and 1998 Cats about. And I am speaking of cars having miles significantly less than number on your car. Read my thread nearby wherein I wrote about seeing two such cars just last week on a single "Cat watching" trip. Such cars have scant little value.

Unless your car is in EXCEPTIONAL, pristine, magazine centerfold condition, at least consider selling it and buying a different Catera. If it were me this is what I would do. And I would try hard for a 2000 or 2001 Cat with much lower miles.

There are cars out there. Somebody just posted he bought a RUNNING Catera on eBay for $1500. You can buy a running car certainly for beneath $3000.

The spending of big money on a 1997 Cat with 95,000 miles just strikes me as questionable. An attempt at an engine conversion on such a car, with the attendant uncertainties, also strikes me as risky. These things said taking into consideration the available alternatives.

On the Saturn engines:

I also am unaware of a failure history on Saturn engines equivalent to the bad results seen with Cateras. As compared with Catera, the Saturn engines are a bit detuned. My understanding is the detuning allows use of regular gasoline in the Saturn, which after all is not as "hot" a car as the Catera.

But I really do not know why the Saturn engines seem to exhibit greater longevity. Are they less prone to overheating? Are they subjected to less internal stress? Or perhaps is the entire thesis wrong, and the Saturn engines are not as long lived as I think?

And how about the Saab engines. One does not hear about Saab engines being on the sh-- list. At least I don't.

I wish I had some insight on this stuff. I hope somebody out there will inject some wisdom into our discussion of this matter. It would be nice if something could be done to solve this problem, and worry re engines, for Catera owners.

If there were a formula, a cookbook, to follow, e.g.:

Take an engine from a 19XX Saturn and change this and this sensor and do this and this (whatever)

and then the engine would be ready for Catera use.

But I know of no such cookbook.

Also, just to make it worse, aren't the Saturn engines transverse mounted? I think they are. Am not sure about Saab. But I think the Saturns are FWD. Sucks.

Back to the Cat engine:

In fairness, not all Cat engines fail early. Why do some last longer than others. What is the secret to avoiding Cat engine problems? What is the magic formula? Or is it all just random and unpredictable?

These answers would help the OP on this thread and a lot of other Cat owners. I wish I had them, but I do not.


This is just my impression, my gut feel. I am not really sure of this:

I think HEAT may be the Cat engine killer that is taking out so many cars. Here again on this thread we have another car with a good timing belt harvested nevertheless by the grim reaper, a car lost with under 100,000 miles on the clock.

I do not know for sure. How could I. But for goodness sake, be vigilent about your Cats overheating out there. It cannot hurt and it might do you some good. The Catera is really a great car IMHO. It is painful to see and hear of these dead ones. It is depressing.

03-20-06, 06:58 AM
Just a brief added note on the scored cams:

This symptom might point to lubrication issues, as might worn bores. I hope you were not down on oil at any time, and that you were running the right oil, the right weight.

When valves do not slide easily in their guides it increases cam lobe pressure and could lead to wear and even scoring of the lobes.

But a "sticking" of the valves can also be unrelated to lubrication, caused instead by carbon and/or other combustion byproducts migrating up into the guides from the bottom. This can happen when a needed valve job is not performed and/or if the guides have "bellmouthed" too much and need to be replaced.

This kind of stuff should not be happening though, absent provocation, in an engine having just 95,000 miles.

03-20-06, 11:17 PM
Oil level was fine, run 5w30 in it....
I just hope someone can let me know asap if a 1999 up engine can go in it with no problems...

03-21-06, 04:24 AM
Hey it is your car and your money. Regardless my continuing hesitation it is YOUR wishes which must prevail and be respected.


My best remaining counsel is to seek added help here:


You will have to join.

There are people over in the Yahoo Catera group who know Cateras well. Perhaps somebody will respond who has the experience needed to answer your question with authority.

Also with luck someone here will take the time to provide the information you need. But you have to be respectful not a great many of us have moved a later engine into an earlier car. This is not routine.

Wishing you good fortune and I hope your conversion is successful!

03-21-06, 10:08 AM
With summer soon approching and Catera runs hottest on the temp gauge of all the cars i have ever owned my question is right now i am using dino motor oil,would swithing to synthetic will help it to run a little cooler,i will be glad if some one could conform or deny that based on their personal experience and i dont mean to start an oil debate but just one question though :stirpot:


03-21-06, 05:10 PM
With summer soon approching and Catera runs hottest on the temp gauge of all the cars i have ever owned my question is right now i am using dino motor oil,would swithing to synthetic will help it to run a little cooler,i will be glad if some one could conform or deny that based on their personal experience and i dont mean to start an oil debate but just one question though :stirpot:

We have 262K miles on our Catera and that is with dino oil. I tried Mobil One and it ran no cooler. IMHO it won't help with the temp problem. What does help it to take a gardan hose and wash all the dead bugs off the front of the A/C condensor. Another thing to check...there is a cooling duct that channels air to your alternator. When my alternator went out the duct was packed full of dead bugs. No wonder it failed.

03-21-06, 07:14 PM
Thanks for the input 97cateraowner.