NHTSA — Electronic Stability Control Problems


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
73,417 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Cadillac CTS brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Cadillac CTS Owner Comments

problem #17

Apr 022016


  • miles


When the car is driving at 50 mph or higher a message is sent across the dashboard saying to "service stability system" I took it to a mechanic so sensors were bad and he could not find the issue, when this message appears on the dashboard at high speeds it feels like ABS kicks in without me touching the brakes at all, so the car will brake on its own and almost caused a multi-car pile up because my car started braking on its own out of my control

- Palatine, IL, USA

problem #16

Dec 132015


  • 51,000 miles
Car shutdown during driving. This has happened 2 times since I bought it used in December 2015

- Jacksboro, TN, USA

problem #15

Oct 282014


  • 115,909 miles
Was entering the on ramp on to a freeway and just tapped the brake and noticed and heard the left front tire grind and the steering wheel pulled to the left real hard. I was going into a blind under pass and thought that if it seized up around the blind corner I would surely be in an accident. I first thought that a stone chip was in between the brake and rotor. The car was towed away to a aaa location about 3 miles away. The service station then took it out around the block and was not able to duplicate. The put the car up and the lift and could not see anything that was wrong. Then I took them out around the block real slow and the left front brakes would grind away. They tested it and could not find anything wrong no error codes. They I said could drive the car home from san diego to South orange county not didn't make it a block away before it locked up the left front tire. Was able to limp to marvin K. brown auto center about a mile away and it was there for two weeks and $500 for a steering sensor replaced. Then it continued to happen and the Cts was taken to tustin Cadillac and they tried to correct the problems after spending 2 days at the dealer and $1700 later the car continues to have not only the left front but now it is the right front. The brakes continue to activate on both the left and right front at anytime at any speed. This last time it felt like the left rear activated, the car got out of control every one around me backed off. I have been driving the car through the locking of left or right front tires and it does say ding and read " check stability system" this car it no longer save to be driven and I was told the last part to fix it is "obsolete" the only thing that might work is to disable the "stability system" by unplugging the fuses on in the trunk on up front.

- Mission Viejo , CA, USA

problem #14

Mar 012014

CTS 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles


My daughter was driving her dad's 2003 Cadillac Cts on 1st March 2014 when she was involved in an accident. A vehicle tried to move over into her lane and when she tried to avoid the car she skidded and spun 360 degree and came to a full stop in a "T" position on the highway in atlanta. After it stopped, the car was completely shut off and could not get started. Thereafter another car broadsided the car and knock it to the curb moving the vehicle form the "T" position. Her dad contacted marietta Cadillac dealer a few days later and informed them of the shut-off and asked if there were any recalls. The dealer said they would check and call back. There was no further response from the marietta, Cadillac dealer. In August of 2014 I called general motor (GM) and informed them about the accident, the representative said it sounded as though the cause of the accident could be the ignition slip-of-the-key to another position causing the car to shut off. A carol from GM called me and went over my complaint, she later scheduled an appointment and said they would check the car then they would let us know if it has anything to do with the ignition. Carol told me to leave the Cts at the Cadillac dealer in marietta where an independent person would check it. I also told carol about a shut-off incident that occurred 11/2014 where suddenly shut off when my husband mistakenly hit the curb while turning onto the driveway. The car shut off on a busy throughway. On Tuesday September 16, 2014, carol called and said that GM is not liable because they checked the car and they are not liable, she told me to return the car to enterprise the following day September 17, 2014 which was done. On September 18, 2014 my husband received the first recall notice to take the car to the Cadillac dealer to have the ignition.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #13

Mar 052012


  • 92,000 miles
Driving down road it just cut off other times it just would not start I have had it 3yrs and only got to drive it 2 mths I really wanted this car but never knew what was going to happen!also some kind of seal we had fixed blew maybe a week after it was fixed.

- Pelzer, SC, USA

problem #12

Dec 112013

CTS 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that the stabilization warning light illuminated and the vehicle started shaking abnormally. The vehicle was taken to a dealer. The technician was unable to find a failure. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 140,000 and the current mileage was 166,000. Updated 8/28/14 updated 9/10/2014

- Placerville, CA, USA

problem #11

Mar 192013

CTS 6-cyl

  • 57,422 miles


My car stalled twice, while driving. It has happened six more time over the past 2 years, latest at 82499 miles. In all instances, the car stalls and the service stability system appears. After the car sits for a minute or so it'll start back up and drives normal. I've had it into several service stations and no one can diagnose or recreate the problem. I'm concerned it's a safety issues as it has happened on the freeway, which could potentially lead to a serious accident. I've seen several posts on the internet of other Cadillac owners experiencing this same issue, however GM will not acknowledge it.

- Stillwater, MN, USA

problem #10

Jan 122014

CTS 6-cyl

  • 69,000 miles
When driving it would engage to stability mode and also service stability.. however the car would get out of control and it would be as if you put you brakes on when you were in water... but no water and I hadn't put the brake until I had to.. because it went out of control for a quick (but more frequent) time...I took it in finally and asked if there were any recalls becausewhen I purchased it in 2003 new. I had to have the shaft bolt fixed... then I had to have the air bag serviced and they charged me for that another time. Then my seat motor went out. Etc. All within the 1st 5 years with low mileage too. So I've bee waiting to fix this since I am a widow and don't who to trust anymore... I was told this time it is leaking in the differential and that's why it runs rough and jolts when I put in gear...and the thermostat and 2 caps in front leaking... who knows.. but tomorrow they will call me with the amount it is going to cost... approx. 13 hours of work....

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #9

Nov 022013

CTS 6-cyl

  • 62,560 miles
Street.. on Nov 2 2013 I was unable to get car started stranded at walmart 10 at night tried to get a. battery chgd by walmart automotive dept no good came from that nxt day bought new battery had it installed. The nxt day going another stranded situation ask macs car dearler to help they advised me to have cad dearler check it out they would pay for diagnostico they could not find. Anything wrong.as soon as I left stoppe at ss building there for an hour, get to car wont start again..clld tow truck he couldnt get it started he lowered the flatbed to hitch my car for towing. He said let me try one more thing. He put car in N it stared making us look like fools..the same day got hm stopped at dollar store. Good thing I live across.

- Newark, DE, USA

problem #8

May 152013

CTS 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,204 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, the vehicle swayed abnormally from side to side with the illumination of the stability traction sensor light. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis where it was stated that the stability traction sensor needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 80,204. The consumer stated back in 2012, she started having issues with the stability traction engaged displaying on the screen. When the foot pedal started to vibrate, she checked the manual to find the cause, and it stated the stability traction sensor needed to be replaced. After being quoted a price, of $500, she decided to wait. But, on May 29, 2013, while driving down the freeway, at 70 mph, the vehicle started to hop across the lane, the stability traction engaged was displayed on the screen. The consumer was able to drive to the dealer, where she was informed, again about the traction control sensor. Updated 11/20/13

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #7

Nov 132012

CTS 6-cyl

  • miles


As I was driving down the highway, the stability control light came on, then the brakes seemed to jerk a little and the car lost most of it's power. I had a mechanic test it, and they said they couldn't find a reason for it. The stability control light stayed on, but I didn't seem to have the problem again until about 2-3 months later when I was going 70 down the highway, lost all power and the motor shut down. Cadillac would not restart, had to have it towed over 2 hours back home, only to find that this time the timing belt had broken and the motor is blown since these cars have interference motors which causes the valves to get bent when the timing belt breaks. I am now without a vehicle and was almost in 2 accidents due to this. Another issue is the light cover from the lights on the trunk came off in the car wash and broke. Apparently this is a known issue yet Cadillac refuses to fix it. Their adhesive was not strong enough to hold on the plastic. This was my first Cadillac, and will be my last. They are dangerous and they refuse to fix their failures.

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #6

Nov 212011

CTS 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
I purchased this vehicle in November 2011 with approx. 97,000 miles showing on the odometer. During a thanksgiving holiday trip of some 1600 miles, consisting mostly of highway driving with the cruise control engaged, and for no apparent reason, the asc (automatic stability control) would disengage the cruise control, "tug" the vehicle to the left or right slightly, seemed to have a slight braking effect (although it may have been the sudden deceleration that caused the sense of braking) and would display " stability control engaged". this occurred numerous times. Also, on this same trip, the "traction control" would engage, without warning or need, and disengage the cruise control causing sudden, unexpected, deceleration. This too happened numerous times. Although I did notice that the "traction control" seemed to engage when in a curve on rough or bumpy roads. I concluded that this was the result of a sudden "wheel hop" or "spin" as a result of losing traction from the "bounce" when hitting a bump or rough spot. I've run the "onboard diagnostic system" several times and no codes pertaining to these events are displayed.

- Clinton, OK, USA

problem #5

Jan 132011


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that the electronic stability control light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact also stated that the brakes seemed to skip when the failure occurred and it was difficult to control the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer on five occasions and the contact was informed that nothing was wrong with the vehicle. The failure mileage was 120,000 and the current mileage was 150,000.

- Calumet City, IL, USA

problem #4

Apr 012011


  • 64,000 miles
While driving at a steady and even speed my car would suddenly pulled to the left as if the left front wheel had the break apply. Almost instantly my "stability system engaged" display would go on and the car would correct itself. This went on to become a regular event with each time I took the car out. The most it occurred was 30 or so times in a 90 mile trip, but it happened regularly on local 2 mile trips to the store. Sometimes it would be more severe than others. In addition and occasionally, when the breaks were applied, there would be a "loudish" crunch sound and resistance to foot pressure that would give way after the initial break application. There was also a vibration "buzz" through the gas pedal when this all would occur. The first time I took the car to the dealer they could not find anything wrong or duplicate the problem. I took them information I had found on the web about the problem and they checked their service bulletins for a problem. It was fixed by changing a steering sensor at a cost of $430.

- Laquinta, CA, USA

problem #3

Oct 292010

CTS 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
2003 Cts - service tracking system began to display and engage frequently. Took to local dealer and was told nothing was wrong with vehicle. Problem continued and began vibrating badly and pulling toward left (unable to brake). Returned vehicle several times before they replaced "steering sensor" $650. Two months later began to lose power immediately after start up, dealer replaced battery. While driving vehicle home problem began again. Displayed low battery, then multiple warning lights for service (ABS, tracking, airbag ect...). returned vehicle to dealer and they are currently replacing alternator. I have no confidence that this is the real problem based on what I have read on-line regarding this same issue. I also have same leakage issues from both coolant and oil sources that I have read on-line. Dealer continues to tell me to replace both gaskets and thermostat. These again are common issues that are posted consistently on-line by consumers. These are seriously dangerous failures based on people's personal safety. GM must step up and honor these safety issues by recalling these items. Inability to control vehicle due to tracking system engaging and not able to brake, vehicle losing power and stalling while driving 50 miles an hour, and lastly fire hazard due to leaking plastic valve cover gaskets.

- Brandon, FL, USA

problem #2

Mar 152010


  • 55,000 miles
I have a Cts Cadillac and it is seems to have a system problem. While driving the car the stability system engaged lights comes up and you hear a grinding noise. It has jerked on me a few times when this light comes on. GMC does not want to hear about the problem they do nothing. This is a dangerous situation for the driver because you have no idea when this light is going to come on and the car starts grinding and moving. I feel that GMC should take responsibility for this and do a re-call. I have purchased new tires, I have done what I thought would fix the problem, but this light is really scaring me and the way the car grinds and makes this noise while driving.

- Suisun City , CA, USA

problem #1

Aug 112010


  • 40,000 miles
I have a 2003 Cadillac Cts with 52,000. Miles..I bought it new /demo with 4,000. Miles on it. In the last two years I have had the car in the repair shop at the dealership 4X. The stability engaged system light appears and the car pulls to the left and the accelerator pedal vibrates. They can not fix and have replaced several areas of front end. Sse light still appears and is now more frequent. Yesterday it happened 6X in 20 min. I got off at the next exit and then upon brake pressure, vibrating pedal, ABS engaged. I have been to many forums to try to find a fix for this problem to no avail. This problem is increasing and the car pulling and vibrating is going to cause an accident. Is that what it's going to take to demand this problem be repaired?you have to look into this problem. It is very numerous and GM is ignoring the problem or worse yet they don't know how to fix it...please help!

- Lees Summit, MO, USA

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