Which Cadillac CTS Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

The Cadillac CTS is a midsize luxury or executive car series manufactured and sold by General Motors between 2003 and 2019. Even the Cadillac CTS models got 3.5 out of 5.0 ratings on Cadillac CTS Reliability – 2022 Ratings | RepairPal and ranked 17th on the RepairPal’s luxury midsize cars category.

However, not all the Cadillac CTS released models were designed and built in the same manner, and as a result, models like 2003, 2004, and 2009 ended up being the most problematic ones due to the significant engine, body, and transmission concerns.

Thus, if you are eager to know more about those Cadillac CTS infamous models, keep reading the following article- 

Cadillac CTS Years To Avoid (List of Years)

The first Cadillac CTS model was introduced in early 2002 as a 2003 CTS sedan model, which was built on General Motor’s newly invented rear-wheel drive Sigma platform as well as the first Cadillac model to be equipped with a manual transmission and fully independent suspension.

Throughout the years, Cadillac offered three generations of CTS luxury cars. In each generation, GM made sure to bring out the best styling, interior & exterior structure, sturdy body configuration, and powerful engine to offer luxurious performance.

Unfortunately, reports also claim that some Cadillac CTS models feature significant engine, body, and transmission issues.

If you are looking for Cadillac CTS used model, remember to avoid the following released years:

  • 2003 Cadillac CTS
  • 2004 Cadillac CTS
  • 2008 Cadillac CTS
  • 2009 Cadillac CTS
  • 2014 Cadillac CTS

All these mentioned CTS models years made Cadillac rank in 21st    position on the CarComplaints.com website’s Least Reliable Cadillac Models category due to 277 received complaints and an 11.97 score on the PainRank™ scoring system.

These CTS models are infamous for having issues like timing chain failure, dead transfer case, or complete transmission failure.

What Makes These Cadillac CTS Years Worth Avoiding?

Many owners have expressed their dissatisfaction with particular model years after filing many complaints about them. As a result, these years have been placed on the avoid list. Now, let us look more closely at the Cadillac CTS years-

2003 Cadillac CTS Problems:

This year’s vehicle owners mainly reported body and engine concerns, where they noticed rear Bezel cover tends to fall off, poor visibility, engine freezes, oil leak, clicking noise during start-up, significant engine power loss, engine periodically shutting off without prior warning or reason and complete engine failure.

2003 CTS users also claimed to encounter electrical and brake issues such as rapid battery draining, no start or electrical system failure, premature brake pad wear, and leakage in the brake line.

Besides that, transmission problems such as vehicles tend to die after filling the windshield fluid, do not shift out of the park, or won’t go in reverse were also reported.

2004 Cadillac CTS Problems:

Several engine troubles continued to appear in the 2004 CTS models, and most users mentioned issues such as stretched timing belt, significant oil leakage, engine starting failure, bad or dead engine, broken engine rod, and engine failure.

2004 CTS users also claimed that the rear Bezel cover was not modified in the 2004 model and still tends to fall off.

Users also noticed interior issues like stuck ignition key and cracked or broken dash. Also, noticed electrical issues, such as vehicle stalls, refusing to start, and losing all default/pre-set settings.

2008 Cadillac CTS Problems:

This year’s CTS users mostly reported transmission problems where they encountered common symptoms like screeching sound, the vehicle would not shift into gear, or suddenly stopped moving due to complete transmission failure.

Consumers also reported engine troubles like stalling, chugs at idle, or complete engine failure.

2008 CTS users also had to deal with drivetrain issues such as clunk from vehicle drivetrain or differential disintegrated, unusual vibration, and noise coming at above 50 MPH.

Other common issues of 2008 CTS were water leaking into the trunk, central console blacking out, StabiliTrak system warning, A/C control not working, and fuel Odor.

2009 Cadillac CTS Problems:

This year’s model users claimed to notice engine-related problems like the timing chain not working or failure and significant loss of power during acceleration.

Another most common 2009 CTS complaint was the transmission, where they had to deal with symptoms like dead transfer case, failed transmission internal mode switch, and complete transmission failure without prior warning.

2009 CTS users also noticed that the water leaked into the vehicle interior, paint & clear coat came off earlier, ECM failure caused no start issue, and power doors malfunctioned.

2014 Cadillac CTS Problems:

This year’s Cadillac CTS vehicle users most commonly complained about several interior defects such as spider web crack on the vehicle touch screen, infotainment system malfunction or not working, and Bluetooth connectivity not working.

Some even noticed cracked or faded steering wheel buttons, the rear charging port door stuck closed, and heated seats not working properly.

2014 CTS users also claimed engine-related issues like the check engine warning light keeps illuminating, or delay in acceleration and electrical errors such as the vehicle abruptly shutting off while idling, the drive assist system not working, and the check battery & charging lights malfunctioning.

What is the Worst Years Of Cadillac CTS?

According to the CADILLAC CTS MODEL YEAR COMPARISON graphical presentation, following Cadillac CTS years are the worst-

The 2003 Cadillac CTS

This year’s models got 481 complaints reported by consumers, and it is the highest number compared to other Cadillac CTS released models. Also, Four Recalls were issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which also forced the Cadillac to issue 540 TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETINS (TSBS).
The 2003 Cadillac CTS most highlighted symptoms were the rear Bezel cover tending to fall off (average fixing cost $700), excess tire wear (average fixing cost $500), and complete engine failure (average fixing cost $4,500).

The 2004 Cadillac CTS

307 complaints were reported and NHTSA officially issued Six Recalls. Also, Cadillac officially released 608 TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETINS (TSBS).

2004 CTS’s most highlighted complaints were like rear Bezel cover tends to fall off (typical fixing cost $800), stretched timing belt (typical fixing cost $1,500), and broken engine rod (typical fixing cost $2,700).

The 2009 Cadillac CTS

This particular year’s CTS got 234 complaints, including Five Recalls issued by NHTSA. Also, Cadillac officially had to issue 1465 TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETINS (TSBS). 
Most 2009 CTS highlighted symptoms such asthe timing chain failure (average repairing cost $3,400), dead transfer case (average repairing cost $3,500), and transmission failure (average repairing cost $4,000).

What is the Most Common Problems Of Cadillac CTS?

Let’s learn about the most common problems that make some CTS models worth avoiding- 

1. Engine Problems:

According to the what breaks the most list of Cadillac CTS there are 67 cases reported against some CTS vehicles.

According to CADILLAC CTS Year-By-Year ENGINE PROBLEMS visual representation, engine troubles were most severely available in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2009 released CTS vehicles.

The most highlighted symptom was the timing chain failure, which commonly occurs at 95,050 miles and requires an average $3,400 fixing cost.

Another most reported issue was a broken timing chain, which most users noticed after 82,000 miles, and the repair cost was around $2,400.

Many users also reported engine failure, which commonly occurs as soon the vehicle reaches 98,500 miles and the repairing expense was around $5000.

2. Body Issues:

According to the What Breaks The Most list of Cadillac CTS, 30 cases of major body problems were reported against some CTS vehicles.

According to CADILLAC CTS Year-By-Year BODY/PAINT PROBLEMS representation, vehicle body or paint troubles were most commonly available in 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 released CTS vehicles.

But issues seemed relatively severe in the 2003 and 2009 CTS models.

One of the most highlighted symptoms was rear Bezel cover fell off. Reportedly, the manufacturer used cheap quality plastic which tends to fall off as soon the glue loosens. This issue commonly occurs at 83,400 miles of operation and requires $770 to fix.

Another most reported issue was water leaking into the vehicle trunk, which commonly occurs as soon the vehicle reaches 38,300 miles.

But unfortunately, the reason behind this issue has not been cleared yet, and different dealers pointed at different faulty components.

Which Cadillac CTS Years are Safe to Buy Used? 

According to the CADILLAC CTS MODEL YEAR COMPARISON, following years’ models have been considered safe-

  • 2016 Cadillac CTS
  • 2018 Cadillac CTS
  • 2019 Cadillac CTS

The 2016 Cadillac CTS features high-quality interior materials to offer a stylish interior as well as designed with the distinctive exterior styling, powerful, high-tech powertrain options, a 3.6-liter V-6 engine, standard Eight-speed automatic, and rear- or all-wheel drive.

2018 Cadillac CTS is available in both Performance-oriented V-Sport and CTS-V versions. The 2018 CTS vehicles are compatible with Apple Watch integration for using the MyCadillac app, so you can enjoy using Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto connectivity. Also, the Rear camera mirror feature is available.

The 2019 Cadillac CTS got 4.9 consumer ratings out of 5, and most users highly recommend this vehicle. Most consumers claim that the 2019 CTS offers generous gas mileage, is very reliable, and has a great combination of style and comfort.

Which Year’s Cadillac CTS Have Most Engine-related Problems?

According to Carcomplaints.com, CTS 2003 and 2007 models have the most engine-related issues reported by the consumers.

Which Year’s Cadillac CTS Have Most Transmission Problems?

According to Carcomplaints.com, CTS 2007 released models have the most transmission issues reported by the users.


Since Cadillac discontinued the production of its CTS series models in 2019 and GM’s authority has not shown any sign of starting the reproduction of this particular lineup, one can only buy used Cadillac CTS cars now.

Thus, it is only wise to rely on the CTS models, that are originally problem-free or less problematic.

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