NHTSA — Engine And Engine Cooling: Engine Problems


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,598 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

problem #11

Jun 102011

CTS 6-cyl

  • 31,000 miles


Under 33,000 miles on this car. While driving down a hill I heard a loud clank noise. Car lost all steering and brake power completely locked up. Had towed to shop and they said timing chain is broken and passenger side of engine is locked up with bent valves. No warning what so ever. Check engine light never came on. Now this car needs a new engine.

- New Kensington, PA, USA

problem #10

Oct 272009

CTS 6-cyl

  • 68,782 miles
I've had numerous problems ever since I bought my 2003 Cadillac Cts. My engine starts smoking under the hood when I turn on my heater when it's cold outside. I replaced my brake lights several times. My windshield wiper module is broke. I had to get a new motor for my window because that broke. I had nothing but problems with this car and many other people have the same conditions as me. Why isn't it on recall "?" I mean we paid good money for it so we should get the same quality back !!! I know GM has to review our comments. They just don't care about there customers. GM needs better customer service because there service sucks!!!! recall....recall....recall!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Lynn Haven, FL, USA

problem #9

Sep 012010


  • 62,000 miles
Oil in coolant reservoir due to oil cooler located under the intake manifold, between the cylinder heads leaking. Cadillac 2003 Cts with 6 cylinder opel motor with only 62,000 miles.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #8

Dec 122009

CTS 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. Whenever the contact drove the vehicle at any speed including approximately 10 mph, the vehicle suddenly began to stall and shut off without notice. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and the crank shaft sensor and the ECM computer were replaced; however, the failure continued to occur. There were no prior warnings. The current and failure mileages were 88000. Updated 2/1/10 the cam sensor and crankshaft position sensor were defective. Updated 02/02/10.

- Enid, OK, USA

problem #7

Apr 232008


  • 30,948 miles
Car engine failed at 30,000 miles - it started making a clicking sound, so my husband decided to take it to the shop. He didn't even make it to the shop - just had to tow it. The car was driven gingerly by my 80 year old grandmother for 7,000 miles, then by me (age 40 with two children in car seats) for the remaining miles. Cadillac offered to pay 1/2 the cost to rebuild, but the total cost was estimated at over $15,000. They said there weren't any new engines to drop in, but they found one used engine (with 1 mile on it) that they could use that would cost about $4,150. However, they wouldn't pay any of the cost of dropping in the used engine. We opted to replace the engine at our cost instead so we could get away with paying $4,150 instead of $7,500. I complained to GM service department, and kept being given incorrect information. One person would tell me they would pay 1/2 the cost to repair or replace the engine, the next would say they would not pay. I kept good records of all persons contacted during the long, long process. They even had me gather all my prior service records so they could be certain the car) had been properly maintained (which it had.) at one point I was even told (by the district specialist office at GM) that my grandmother had apparently purchased an extended warranty on it, and they could just use that. Later, I was told that no extended warranty existed. I was led on and misinformed for 1 1/2 months, while my car sat at the dealership 90 miles away. I was without my vehicle for 1 1/2 months, while everyone decided what should be done, and as it ends up, it could have been done immediately if I hadn't been given the run around being told GM was going to help with the repair cost. Not a good experience - not a good car.

- Plankinton, SD, USA

problem #6

Jan 242008

CTS 6-cyl

  • 90,500 miles
Picked up vehicle from short term parking 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. They have a correction listed in their tsb that looks to fairly inexpensive but since this is not on a recall list the cost for repair will be much larger due to the blown out gaskets. It could have been much worse if the vehicle would have caught fire. To fix before this happens to you use GM PCV hose kit, P/N 55558592 and oil filter cap, P/N 12589430.

- Springfield, OH, USA

problem #5

Feb 052007

CTS 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles


- the contact has a 2003 Cadillac Cts with a current and failure odometer reading of 71000 miles. The contact stated that she was driving under cold dry conditions at about 55 mph, while exiting the freeway she notices dark smoke coming from under the hood of the vehicle. The contact was able to reach a parking lot, and when she lifted the hood she saw flames. The fire department came out and extinguished the fire, but were unable to determine the cause of the fire. The contact had the vehicle towed to the dealer and they also have been unable to determine the cause.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #4

Dec 082006

CTS 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,282 miles
2003 Cadillac Cts with 45852 miles - oil leaked from the engine cam/ valve cover seals due to extreme cold weather operations. I was merging onto a major highway and had just removed my foot from the brake to the accelerate when thick black smoke began pouring through the heating system into the car. Visibility was obstructed and breathing was impaired. Within seconds, I was forced to evacuate the car. Smoke began rolling out from beneath the hood. I opened the hood and saw sparking and small flash fires along the left side of the car near the tire. I was in a rural area in 20 degree weather and was forced to slowly limp the car to a safer area to get help and contact towing service. As of December 20th, my car has not been repaired and I am receiving conflicting information between Cadillac and the dealership. General Motors document id # 1644918 states that they were aware of this problem on April 7, 2005 and also states that to prevent recurrence an after market part must be installed. However, there has not been a recall and General Motors/Cadillac are refusing to assist me in either handling the issue as a warranty or repairing the car which is still awaiting parts and service at the dealership. This is a serious consumer safety issue as it only occurs during extreme cold and could pose serious health concerns due to exposure as well as traffic incidents due to visibility impairment from the smoke.

- Miracle, KY, USA

problem #3

Aug 272005

CTS 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
1. I purchased a used 2003 Cadillac Cts in 2005 with 45,000 original miles from a GM dealership in Ontario, Oregon. It was reputed to be in excellent mechanical condition by the GM mechanics. 2. this vehicle has since cut engine power spontaneously several times on the freeway and in town, presenting sudden and serious danger to driver, passenger, and other motorists as the vehicle must be steered powerless to the median/shoulder. Once we were in the middle lane of 75 mph freeway traffic and several vehicles were nearly involved in an accident. 3. GM tech's are unable to diagnose the problem after 7-8 attempts, so it continues to recur. GM refuses to repurchase the vehicle despite their inability to diagnose, enforce the warranty, and the obvious danger to all involved. The better business bureau would not arbitrate because mileage was over 24,000. I am currently seeking legal counsel, but feel this vehicle should not be on the road.

- Lagrande, OR, USA

problem #2

Jan 032005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,170 miles
Vehicle lost power when the consumer hit the brakes. The transmission jolts and then the engine shuts off. It has been to the dealer 6 times since January. The dealer tried something different every time she took it in. Manufacturer said she could have a new vehicle if she paid for it. She wanted to get rid of the vehicle. The check engine light illuminated.

- Uxbridge, MA, USA

problem #1

May 222003

CTS 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,900 miles
After heavy rain and if undercarriage gets wet "oil pressure low" warning alert. Requesting driver to stop engine. Dealer can not find anything wrong.

- Miami, FL, USA

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