1998 Cadillac Catera 3.0 V6 from North America
Great Car!...but bring your wrenches
Transmission Soft Part Rebuild
Leaky Valve Covers
A lot of these Catera reviews seem to be written by people who must rely on others to do their auto maintenance. I'd be cranky too if I had to pay dealership fees for the fairly involved surgeries that 97-98 Cateras seem to need.
If your automotive skill is limited to trips to the Quick Lube, take the prevailing wisdom and RUN AWAY from the Catera. However, if you're the type who owns not just one, but several torque wrenches, give these Cateras a serious look.
Cateras have a beastly maintenance reputation, most especially with cold-climate owners. Basically the 97-98 Catera V-6 timing belt is a hot-weather design and it destructs at an alarming rate when started cold. Catera resale values are way lower than you might expect given the caliber of car.
Bought my '98 in May for $1200 and took it down for a week to R&R timing belt, serpentine belt, and valve cover gaskets.
I would not attempt timing belt R&R without the special timing belt toolset - bought mine used for $100, but look around and you can find the toolset new for $200.
A lot of Catera reviewers complain about caution lights that won't go away. This could be bothersome if every new light means a trip to the dealership. So, if you don't have an OBDII scanner already, get one. USB models that work with your laptop go for $150 or so.
My 98 Catera has more than adequate power to "merge evenly with the flow of traffic". Ride quality is Cadillac quiet. It's a fairly heavy car for its wheelbase, and it's stuffed full of sound insulation.
The 97-98 Cateras are really nice cars, but that timing belt/leaky valve cover problem turns a whole lot of people off judging from the reviews. Use that knowledge to your advantage. It's a nice car if you know your way around an engine and you're prepared to do your own work.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th December, 2006