1999 Catera head gaskets

Asked by Feb 02, 2008 at 12:05 PM about the 1998 Cadillac Catera RWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Does anyone know if the heads can be pulled on this vehicle without removing the engine?  I've got water in my oil and think the head gasket(s)may be the problem. I really don't want to pull the engine unless absolutely necessary.  I'm wondering if I should replace anything else while I've got it apart. I've heard this engine has lots of problems especially with the overhead valve system. Not sure if this engine has a belt or chain timing drive for the cams?  Any comments would be appreciated.

7 Answers


http://www.carsurvey.org/ try this site and read what other Catera owners are saying, I know that ths Catera is problematic. But you my have to pull the engine and you might want to have a good look over and replace anything that looks "bad", I find the biggest thing most people forget to do is send the heads out to be "Magnafluxed" (spelling is not spot on) They "bath" the heads and x-ray them and mesure them. If they are "warpped" by a little you wont know but if you get this done you will know for sure if the heads are good. Nothing is as worse as doing a great job and having the same issue, just because the head it self is bad. Hope this helps and best of luck. Cheers

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I believe you can remove the heads on this vehicle without pulling the engine. This has been a problematic vehicle since it was built. I believe it does use a timing chain but I am not 100% certain on that.

thankyou for your feedback. I really appreciate it. Russ


Heads can be pulled with engine block in car. Catera does not use a timing chain but rather 2 timing belts which were a REAL problem issue (recalled in Canada). Belt tensioners would fail, valves would hit pistons, goodbye engine. GM came up with a fix, belts supposedly good for 160,000 km. now

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I believe that all models use a timing belt, a design for which the Germans are famous for. Because they are supposed to be replaced about every 65,000 miles. I know mine need to be replaced. In AZ the repair at an independant shor is about 600$ because they replace the water pump at the same time.


I was just wondering the Catera seems to have the same problem the Northstar has, the bolts let go in the aluminum block and headgasket failure is the outcome. The shop who created a fix for the northstar is using the sam type of fix on the catera. for information on his company go to www.expertengines.com He worked on hundreds of Northstar engines and perfected the fix.


It looks like you should be able to remove the head without pulling the engine , however you will have to pull the intake out of the way first. You can't even lift the valve covers because the intake sits right above it. I believe the recall for the timing belt pulleys was for the 97- 99 cars.

1 people found this helpful.

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