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Hello,

I bought a 1997 Cadillac Catera in May of this year. When I bought the car I had it serviced and all seemed well. Later I began to notice a burning smell coming from the car and smoke coming from under the hood. Took to a mechanic to have it diagnosed and he said it needed new valve cover gaskets to start with. Replaced those and cleaned the engine well. (When I changed the gaskets, the spark plug resevoirs were full of oil) Cleaned them out, put new plugs in, new gaskets, and all seemed well up until recently. It is smoking from the drivers side of the engine and the bottom left front of the engine is drenched in oil which I suspect could be either motor oil or power steering fluid. I plan on taking it to a mechanic, but I was just wondering if anyone has had any experience with this before and what could be some possible leak locations? Thanks and all comments and replies are welcome! :)

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It sounds like a backyard mechanic had a go at the car and didn't know to tighten everything up, and hot tight to tighten things. The block and heads are probably aluminum, so being cautious is a good thing, but knowing what the torque specs are and using them are part of what makes a good professional mechanic.

This time, make sure the mechanic doesn't leave anything out when he goes over the engine.


CTS-V_Dashboard.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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I have run into this before. I must say be careful. I have seen them catch fire on the driver side, The last one I did that had caught fire I found that the cam cover on the driver side had warped and leaked oil. I had to replace the cam cover.

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this was on a 2000. at first I thought it was power steering fluid but found it was not leaking. also note the oil fill tube is not available and can be very hard to find one so try not to break it. I got lucky that I got it off the cover without further damaging it. It also had oil in the plug holes, Replacing the cover fixed that, and I did the gasket kit for the other side.

I wish you luck but on the catera I would not wait long to figure it out.

Welcome to Caddyinfo.


GM FAN FOREVER

Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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UPDATE:

Took it back to a mechanic, only to find out that the valve covers are leaking. AGAIN. Not sure what went wrong. Could it be the torque possibly? Also, I have read that the covers on this car are defective due to the fact that they are made from a plastic material. I really cannot afford to pay the mechanic to fix it. I've been told to remove the covers, clean them really well and apply Permatex to eliminate leaking. Has anyone done this before? Will it work?

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I dont recommend it.. I would suggest replacing the covers. The only true proper fix to me anyway.


GM FAN FOREVER

Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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The problem with replacing the covers, is one, I'm broke, and two they're plastic. So if they are warped, or cracked it's bound to just happen again. And I cannot seem to find ANYWHERE that makes metal valve covers, or any other material other than this plastic like crap. I have heard of people that say they can't stop oil leaks from the valve covers on this car, so they just constantly put oil in it. That doesn't seem safe to me, especially since mine is leaking directly on the exhaust manifold. Any advice on that?

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exactly. PErmatex will not fix a warped valve cover. The last one I did resolved completely by using oem valve covers. So far 50k miles since and no oil leaks yet. I know the feeling of being broke. I think all but few know the feeling. And for that there is no easy answer.


GM FAN FOREVER

Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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Hmm...have same engine in a Saturn VUE. Was leaking but no warped covers. Just new gaskets...200k mile engine.

Anyway...that V6 engine is used in several other GM models...not just the Catera...may help in your search for valve covers.

Cadillac Catera 1997-2001
Cadillac CTS 2003-2004
Saab 900 1993-1998
Saab 9000 1995-1997
Saab 9-5 1998-2003 (+turbo)
Saturn L Series 2000-2005
Saturn VUE 2002-2003

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I don't think that the valve covers are leaky just because they are plastic. If they have been overtightened for a long period of time and have taken a set with a warp that doesn't seal oil, then they are done, but I wouldn't be afraid of new plastic valve covers. Just read the manual and put them on they way that they were designed to be put on and you shouldn't have any trouble.


CTS-V_Dashboard.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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I should add....all the valve cover versions I have seen are plastic. There are a couple of versions of the valve cover gasket sets...early design and late design. I would assume a '97 would be using the early design.

I would also ignore my info above about different engines....the latter Saturn version uses a coil on plug design....The Catera uses spark plug wires and a separate coil pack assembly. Hence different valve covers and possibly explaining the 'early' and 'late' design issue.

The intake has to come off to get to the valve covers. It's dry so no coolant involved.

Unrelated....be sure to service the rubber timing belt on these engines. If you lose the timing belt the engine is destroyed.

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The 2000 and 2001 I did had COP setup with 2 coils. each were 1 piece and had 3 plugs. Also fairly common failure item. I dont know what year that started though. Maybe 2000 was the first year


GM FAN FOREVER

Nice, clean, luxury= fine automobile

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Right now...If accurate...I'm seeing 3 versions of valve covers. All plastic.

Picture above shows Catera version with spark plug wires and oil fill on passenger rear.

Added pics show Catera version cover with COP. 2nd pic shows Saturn boxy version with COP (also note the oil fill hole..moved to front of engine for FWD). Our 2003 VUE has the boxy COP version.

Its quite possible that the latter COP covers could be used on the earlier Catera with spark plug wires. It would just look different. But then again...it may also rub on the intake or something worse. So the idea is untested..

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