Since my Legacy GT has gone from daily driver into an extended project I needed a replacement. I narrowed my list down to a comfortable RWD sedan and one of the choices was a Cadillac STS. I decided to look around and wanted to keep my choices within a certain budget. Using my available resources and access to insurance auctions I started searching for one that could be saved.

I came upon this 2005 Cadillac STS at the auction that needed lots of repairs but was not out of reach for my expertise and budget.


The vehicle was purchased and transported to me at an initial cost of a little over $3000. At the time it had 106,000 miles and had a host of issues, some of them included:

-Poorly fitted front bumper and hood

-Missing lower grille

-Fog lights zip tied in place

-Wheel and dash airbags destroyed

-Dash broken

-Driveshaft and differential noise

-Wheel bearing noise

-Bent wheels and bad tires

-Timing chain and tensioner noise

-Oil leaking from front cover

-Misfire under load

It appeared that repairs were started on the vehicle and it may have been totaled out in the process. I started on my journey to bring the vehicle up to par. The first order of business was to repair the engine. I found that the timing chain guides had become extremely worn and the chain had stretched so I ordered a whole new timing set, all related seals and gaskets, new oil pump, new water pump, as well accessory tensioners and belts.


This was by far the most difficult timing setup to put together from all of the setups I have done as there are 3 separate chains and GM made a revision to them so it took a while until we verified that it was just right. Once the chain was complete, all of the gaskets were replaced, along with new spark plugs, and an ignition coil. The engine was ran with some conventional oil and a little cleaner and then replaced with synthetic oil and a new filter.


Once the engine was complete we moved on to the driveline. I found that the center bearing for the driveshaft was bad and that the differential was making noise as it was loose internally. I took this opportunity to upgrade the differential and picked up an LSD unit from a CTS along with new seals. This unit was installed along with STS-V bushings.


We checked all of the wheel bearings and found 3 to be noisy so we went ahead and replaced all 4 with new units and resurfaced the rotors and put on new pads while we were in there. We put air in the tires and fixed a bent rim so that it could be driven around the lot. The car was finally running and driving properly.

Since the mechanical were complete we moved to the inside and started pulling the interior. The seats were pulled, which was followed by pulling the dash and all of the safety equipment that was blown up. New restraints and airbags were installed and the interior was thoroughly cleaned. I am not a fan of the wood trim so I found a used replacement dash with brushed aluminum trim.


We put everything back together and made sure there were no creaks or rattles. We finished up by aligning the body panels properly and ordering all of the clips and brackets necessary to mount the lights properly as well as a new lower grille. Since the wheels and tires were not in usable condition I decided to upgrade. I found some used Chrysler 300 OEM 20 inch wheels on craigslist and wrapped them in some nice Falken tires. I chose the Chrysler wheels as they have the same bolt pattern and hub size and the offset fit well. The end result of my and my friends labor was a nicely polished ride.



The car now rides like a dream and is a real looker. My inital goal was to stay under $6000 dollars and I met my budget easily. The breakdown is below:

It was $3119 at the auction including fees.
Transport $275
Dash, Airbags, etc were $400
Cosmetic Pieces $200
Engine Parts $450
LSD, Mounts, Bushings $300
Wheels, Tires, Lug Nuts $900

Total Invested is around $5700


Bozi is the founder of and creates articles on everything from engine swaps to late model car restorations. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or drop him a line at Hoonable!