I bought a new 97 Catera in late 1997, thinking I was getting a good deal with discounts/rebates. Catera was not without its virtues. It handled very well, had a fun sport suspension setting and was pretty comfortable. I overlooked the bland styling. None of these things mattered when the car began falling apart within weeks. First, the gas tank was removed to fix a broken sensor. Soon after, a gasket blew. Then the fuel pump died. The most persistent problem was with the door locks, which malfunctioned often and prevented the doors from closing. Lindsay Cadillac service (VA) was terrible, with many return visits for door locks. All of this happened within about 16 months of purchase.
This is an amazing car. Yes it has a few problems we are going to have to work on. But my dads psycho ex girlfriend parked it in the grass and took the chip out of the key. That's the reason for most of the problems. It is a 15 year old car, so yes it's going to have other problems to. But before it was taken off the road because of the crazy psycho it was running fine. The ride is smooth just like a Cadillac should ride, the Bose stereo system is beyond amazing and the speed and look of the car fits my personallity to a key. This car is one of the most amazing cars I have ever seen.
Bought in '02 with 36K miles for $7K ($32K new in '97. 136K miles/9+ years later, can't complain. Spent $800 on leaking oil cooler, timing belt/tensioner warranty replacement, $300 on timing belt replacement at 106K miles, $70 twice to replace heater control valve and $100 on oxygen sensor. Got climate control module for $25 to replace defect. Serviced spark plugs, trans fluid and brake pads. The timing belt is due to be changed in the next 10K or so. The only annoying thing to me is the electrical gremlins like the TC/ABS lights and the radio shutting off if the volume is too loud. If you do the work yourself, this can be a fun car to own because it has never left me on the side of the road
Over the past 2.3 years, I have had this car in the shop over 10 times. I also have had problems with the water pump, leaky oil cooler, leaky gasket (which caused $1200 worth of damage), tires replaced twice, new front brakes, extensive wear on the seats, 3 new headlights, and a computer failure.
This is one of our favorite cars we have owned. Overall excellent comfort and performance and fun to drive. Initial quality problems disappeared over time. The longer we owned it, the better we liked it.