2000 Cadillac Catera ECU Replacement

Michael Mobile Technician Utah Posted   Latest  
Case Study
2000 Cadillac Catera 3.0L (R) 4-spd (4L30-E)
Crank /Brief Start

Got a call from a shop that does most of their own programming. They had a vehicle that was really causing some trouble. This Cadillac Catera had some emissions issues that required an ECM replacement. The re-manufacturer stated that it was plug and play. They told this shop to just go through the 3 x 12 minute immobilizer cycle and it would work. When I got the call to look at it, I was unable to work it into my schedule for a few days. I figured it would be a bear to do so I wanted a time I could focus on the issue. After doing some research, I found that it was a Bosch ME1.5.5 ECU that was common in the Opel brand. In fact the Catera is a re-branded Opel. Being such, the security system was much more advanced than the standard GM product of the time. I formulated a plan of attack based on what tools I had at my disposal.

The security lamp remained off when key was in on position. Engine started then stalled. Classic immobilizer symptom. Not typical to GM as the security light seems to mirror security issues. There was a P1501 code in the ECU. This stated that the Theft Deterrent is not stored in the ECM. No codes in the immobilizer.

First try was to read the original ECU and to copy it to the donor. Since the Catera was not listed in my ECU cloning software, I tried an Opel with the same ECU. I was able to read the ECU but the checksum did not jive with the model I chose. It failed in the end. That was a no-go. I then used a product called Carprog to reset the donor ECU. This would put the ECU in a mode where the security code could be transferred from the immobilizer to the ECU. The VIN was correct but the security code did not match what the dealer had given the shop manager. Carprog set the number to 0000. The vehicle did not start.

In service information it stated using TIS to complete the process. It instructs to program the ECU. It also mentions a Techline Terminal which is either only a dealer tool or no longer in existence. (Maybe a GM tech can elaborate on what this is) I experienced the same difficulties as the shop manager did. The TIS 2 Web software kept on stating that there was no communication with the ECU. I tried the Tech 2 in both remote and pass-through mode. In remote, it reported the VIN from the tech 2 but then produced an error. With Tech 2 Legacy Pass-Through, it produced an error immediately.

I then broke out the TIS 2000 software. I was able to program the ECU to the latest calibration using Tech 2 Remote programming. Still no joy. So much for plug and play, the ECU was not even at the latest calibration. The TIS 2000 disc did not have any security applications or VTD learn. I went back online. One of the options of the TIS online system is security access. It was worth a try. I ran the application. It communicated with the engine ecu. It then granted access. I expected more but that was it. Not sure what that did but after that the engine started and kept running.

I suppose that GM figures most of these vehicles made it to the crusher by now. It is not important to support them any longer. It took three tools and multiple methods to get it to go. After spending hours with this thing I am so glad to have it work. Nothing worse than working so long and taking the walk of shame.

Anthony Technical Support Specialist

Hi Mike: Techline is GM-speak for their computer terminal. The nomenclature goes back to the floppy disc days. Your issue sounds like GM forgot to include Tech2 support for that vehicle. I'm surprised the Remote worked. It should be Legacy Passthru (when things are working properly). HTH, Guido

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Michael Mobile Technician

Hi Guido, I had to use my old "offline" TIS 2000 software to do the update. That is why the remote function worked.

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Martin Instructor
British Columbia

Hi Mike. I'm glad that you got it completed, by essentially using the same remote programming methods as back in the day. I cannot recall all of the details and prefer not to! VBG. The Catera had a relatively short life span as a re-born Opel Omega from Europe from … It was a problem prone vehicle ranging from extreme engine mechanical issues galore in the cylinder head, valve train…

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Alvaro Service Manager

Good Morning Mr. Martin! I am a eager reader of all your post and very teaching comments. a very BIG THANK YOU for all your nice work to help us all around. As you can say: "erased all memories of my days working on the "Caterrible"! " but I think your post Remembered a lot on your Brain!!!!. You noted a lot of problems with those cars back in the day! :-) Regards and have a Nice Day1

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James Owner/Technician

And people give me a hard time about working on Volvos. I had a couple of Cateras in my customer base, and I shuddered whenever they came in. Almost any job : "Step one- Remove wiper mechanism."

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Eric Owner/Technician

Ha, my step one for working on those was to stand before the car and tell myself, this too shall pass, like a kidney stone. For some reason I had more than my share of them come through my shop.

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Stephen Educator

Thanks for the post. Your the man. I just hope this doesn't become your problem child down the road. Those vehicles didn't need a tech, they needed a priest. They were cursed from the get go.

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Scott Owner

Hi Michael, The graveyard called and they want that Craptera back. Amazing there's one still on the road. Boy, I don't miss those turds. youtube​.​com/watch?v=h3sm8D… Un huh, the Cadillac that Zigs. The brain trusts behind that probably/should have got ZAPPED. No, they came out with the CTS - Crappy Transportation System. Although, that was a step up from that pile, although not...

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