NHTSA — Engine Problems

2003 Cadillac CTS (Page 1 of 2)


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,756 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Cadillac CTS Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #23

May 052016


  • 70,000 miles


The crank and cam sensors have caused the vehicle to stall out while driving or being stopped. I have seen several complaints online regarding this issue in my car and other GM cars. How many complaints have you received for this issue in GM cars. It seems the dealership should have recalled this since it is a well known and documented issue and is a safety issue with cars stalling in the middle of driving and while being stopped. I stalled on a freeway on ramp, at a stop sign and while being parked on the side of the road.

- Northridge, CA, USA

problem #22

Jan 072016


  • 140,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact left the vehicle at the dealer overnight for an oil change. The contact received a call from the dealer that, due to a stripped screw in the oil pan, the oil change could not be performed. The contact observed a large amount of oil under the front of the vehicle when it was retrieved. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was approximately 140,000.

- Essex, MD, USA

problem #21

Oct 262015


  • 145,000 miles
Purchased car from dealership in Oct 2015. While driving, I begin to smell burning oil and noticed oil leak under vehicle on left side. Took it to a mechanic to see where leak is coming from and he stated that valve cover gasket is leaking oil out as well as oil is present in the spark plug reservoirs. Will have to get gaskets replaced before further damage is caused. This seems to be a common problem with this model vehicle and I recently saw on news where GM recalled other models and years of vehicle with same issue. Why wasn't this model Cadillac included in the recall when is should have?

- Newark, DE, USA

problem #20

Apr 282014


  • 50,000 miles


The contact owned a 2003 Cadillac Cts. While driving approximately 30 mph, the contact turned sharply to avoid an animal. The engine stalled, but the vehicle continued to coast and crashed into a tree. The air bags failed to deploy and the contact was launched through the windshield. The contact sustained lower back, neck, and head injuries that required medical attention. The vehicle was destroyed. A police report was filed. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign number: 14V394000 (electrical system); however, the failure was already experienced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 50,000.

- Holly Hill, FL, USA

problem #19

Jun 052015


  • 67,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that while driving at approximately 25 mph, the engine stalled without warning. The vehicle had to cool down completely before the vehicle restarted. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer or diagnosed. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V394000 (electrical system). The failure mileage was approximately 67,000.

- Racine, WI, USA

problem #18

May 252015


  • 79,000 miles
My car just shut off in the middle of exceleration.........this happen to me 2X... once to oncoming traffic!!! and the other just before a blue line train...dealership takes this very lightly.I guess someone has to die first..it is in the shop right now. I have so many issues that I don't think I should be having or had when new too..I also noticed that where my airbag on my steering wheel.is looks like it is separating...not sure but it is not flush....I'm afraid to ask about that since all it does is cost me$$$$$$$ also I had brakes fixed that weren't that bad because of noise but the noise is still there not all the time but more frequent and it sounds like its from some part of clutch part not the brakes..... new brakes didn't fix anything.. I am fixing this car more than what I am writing about. The 1st month I bought it I had to return for a bolt was coming loose on my steering column...found out it was a recall. I need to talk to someone for work that was done to my car that later I found was not my work order or my VIN #. or my mileage... after I paid for half the work since my car wasn't brought in for any of that stuff.. only a stability light to be checked... which after 11months when I took it back again... found that was never taken care of.. thats why it would come off and on... I was just tired of being taken... thats how I felt.. being that I am a women........

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #17

May 152014

CTS 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles


Leaking valve cover gaskets resulting in oil on coils, oxygen sensor and risk for oil related fires. The smell of burning oil is prevalent because of oil on hot engine parts. A review of various internet forums shows this is a common problem on this make/model. A consensus opinion appears to be the valve cover gaskets were made from inferior materials. Since this is a fire safety issue and/or a result of the manufacturer's negligence, this car should be recalled.

- Panama City, FL, USA

problem #16

Jan 242013

CTS 6-cyl

  • 104,492 miles
The PCV valve system design is defective. On (4) occasions the pressure build-up causing massive oil leaks at the valve cover. I experienced smoke from the engine compartment as oil leaked onto a hot engine. A potential engine fire. It took years for the Cadillac dealers to correct the problem. This is a extreme cold weather issue. The automobile was in Arizona for a few years and the issue was not a problem but once returned to Michigan, the problem got serious. I have all of my repair documents. This car should has been recalled. It is not safe to drive. I was lucky as I was near dealers when this occurred.

- Northville, MI, USA

problem #15

Jan 122014


  • 104,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. While driving approximately 70 mph, the steering wheel became difficult to maneuver and the engine stalled. The driver side door latch became inoperable, and the brake, check engine, and traction control indicators illuminated. The contact waited for a few minutes and the vehicle restarted. The failure occurred multiple times. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, but the cause of the failures could not be diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 104,000.

- Methuen, MA, USA

problem #14

Sep 022014

CTS 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
I have had my car stop running several times during the time I have owned it... it has always been at a stop light. The car just shuts off. I have to restart it again. It does it on occasion, sometimes months apart. I am just hoping that it will never shut off like that while driving down the highway.

- Miamisburg, OH, USA

problem #13

Jun 022014


  • 102,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. While driving 55 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who stated that there was an internal leak in the engine and the motor needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 102,000.

- Gary, IN, USA

problem #12

Aug 152003


  • miles
My Cts have been in the shop numerous time for smoke and the smell of oil burning coming from the engine compartment.after years of taking my vehicle to the dealership and having parts replace the problem still occur.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #11

Sep 022013


  • 145,197 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. While driving 50 mph, the traction control indicator illuminated and the vehicle stalled. The vehicle was able to be restarted after six minutes, but it shook and idled roughly. The failure occurred twenty times. The dealer stated that the throttle body needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 145,197.

- Wayland, MI, USA

problem #10

Jun 252014

CTS 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
While driving turning left onto an expressway entrance my engine shut down I believe it was the ignition switch. I've taken the vehicle to the dealer numerous times and they can't seem to find a solution. I am in fear that one day this car will lose power at the wrong time and cause a serious if not fatal accident. I would like the problem fixed or a reimbursement to invest in a new vehicle before it is too late.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #9

May 112010

CTS 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,579 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that while driving 60 mph, the engine low power warning light illuminated as the engine stalled. The contact was able to restart the vehicle, but the engine loss power warning light remained illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who replaced the throttle body assembly. The vehicle was repaired. In addition, the contact stated that four years after the repair the vehicle would not start at the first attempt. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 72,579. Updated 8/12/14 updated 08/20/2014

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #8

Mar 312011

CTS 6-cyl

  • 83,397 miles
Engine stopped running. Would not restart. Had to have vehicle towed to authorized Cadillac service center (green Buick GMC, davenport, ia). Green replaced parts (throttle body, part 9128412, connector part 15306420, seal part 90412566) with new ones and then cleaned, at a cost of $1,425.82. To be fair, in retrospect, green should have cleaned old part to save customer unnecessary costs. Now, three years later, this expensive fix is needed again. According to lujack northpark auto, davenport, Iowa, (invoice no. Cvcs863235) date 05/05/14, milage: 113716, these parts need to be replaced again already. (48000 miles later) that means that the $1,425.82 we paid to green was lost to either inferior quality parts (planned obsolesence) or sabotage by the authorized service centers. This car was in lujacks three times this year. Twice their technician removed & replaced V/C & vit gaskets. (parts vs50628R & MS96103. See cvcs854609 & 855596) which means removing these parts. GM refused to make any good faith effort at resolving issue (see GM file # 71-1305208758) updated 11/24/2014

- Bettendorf, IA, USA

problem #7

Jan 012008

CTS 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,730 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that the vehicle exhibited a recurring stalling failure. The vehicle was taken to the dealer numerous times where several unknown repairs were performed on the vehicle but to no avail. The failure mileage was 59,730 and the current mileage was 79,000. Updated 06/30/14 MA updated 07/3/2014

- Murrells Inlet , SC, USA

problem #6

Mar 252014


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that the vehicle suddenly stalled while traveling various speeds and intermittently failed to start. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was found that the ECM needed to be replaced. The vehicle was being repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 65,000. The VIN was not available.

- Newark, DE, USA

problem #5

Jan 232014


  • 80,000 miles
Tsb 05-06-01-007A this has happened to my cadi on at least three occasions. First time, Cadillac dealer charged to replace thermostat. Didn't work. Next time, repair shop replaced oil gasket. Didn't work. This time I found the below description on line and will ask my repair shop to fix. If this is recurring to Cts owners, there really should be a recall. It is also a fire hazard. Irritating. My research found the below and it is right on target.....it rarely happens because it is rarely below 10 degrees in my neck of the woods.... the car involved was a 2003 Cadillac Cts. Started vehicle in approximately 7 degree weather. After starting vehicle and running for approximately 15 minutes notice severe power loss. Within next couple of minutes black smoke with extreme burning smell flooded vehicle interior compartment also smoke starts to come from under hood of vehicle. Pulled into safe location found huge oil leak on left side of engine around valve cover. Could have possibly started a fire due to highly combustible oil being blown on engine but luckily did not catch on fire. Check on-line found tsb 05-06-01-007A stating GM knows this is a problem. "when operating in extremely cold weatherconditions, some 2003-2004 vehicles with 3. 2L V6 engine may leak engine oil from the cam/valve seals, especially from the left side just below the oil fill hole in the cam/valve cover. " this is quite a bit more than a leak since approximately a quart of oil was blown on the engine in only a couple minutes. If the engine would have been hotter there could easily have been a fire. Since this is a know issue with a known cause shouldn't this be taken care of by GM or at least the safety of the drivers and passengers should be considered. It could have been much worse if the vehicle would have caught fire.

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #4

Sep 202012


  • 73,000 miles
Starting around September, my car would randomly shut off while in motion, at various speeds. After hundreds of dollars in diagnostic fees, I found some Cadillac forums stating it was a crank shaft sensor malfunction, which is common in 2003 models. My car would also show the traction control was off with no warning, and not get out of gear while being on, with no warning as well. The computer system would show low oil pressure and other warnings although nothing was wrong. And lastly, at around 78,000 miles, while driving 70 on a highway, the car make a huge bang, and smoke erupted, almost causing me to crash on the highway. All the oil leaked out, and the car won't start. I'm being told to replace my entire engine because of a possible head gasket, which according to multiple forums, tends to be faulty in the '03 models. These should obviously be recalled if so many cars are affected. I'm paying over 5000 dollars in repairs and costs for this. I refuse to ever let anyone I know, as well as myself, purchase another Cadillac, unless this gets resolved.

- Biloxi, MS, USA

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