NHTSA — Exterior Lighting Problems


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
71,746 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2003 Cadillac CTS Owner Comments

problem #19

Jun 012015


  • 49,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. When the contact opened the vehicle doors with the key fob, the headlights and overhead lights illuminated extremely bright and then dimmed. In addition, the contact stated that the navigation system failed. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed as a legal issue. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the issue. The approximate failure mileage was 49,000.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #18

May 032014


  • 135,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that the air bag and anti-theft warning lamp illuminated intermittently. Also, the contact mentioned that the running lights and the fog lights remained illuminated and failed to turn off even when the key was removed out of the ignition switch. In addition, the contact stated that the vehicle failed to turn off and the key became lodged in the ignition switch. The battery had to be disconnected in order to turn off the vehicle. The VIN was not available. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The approximate failure mileage was 135,000. Updated 12/09/14

- New Lexington, OH, USA

problem #17

Apr 102013

CTS 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated while driving various speeds the third brake light would not illuminate upon depressing the brake pedal and the rear brake light plastic panel housing was faulty. In addition, the center of the frame exhibited severe corrosion. The defect was not diagnosed nor was it repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the defect. The failure mileage was unavailable. Updated 09/05/13

- Aurora, OH, USA

problem #16

Aug 082012


  • 140,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that she drove over a road bump and heard a loud noise from the rear of the vehicle. The contact looked in her rear view mirror and noticed that the lens cover of the brake lights had detached from the vehicle and fractured. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for inspection. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified and stated that there was no recall for the vehicle. The failure mileage was 140,000.

- Aiken, SC, USA

problem #15

Sep 052012


  • 125,000 miles
Driving on the expressway and the reverse bezel fell off, broke and the part is too expensive!

- Battle Creek, MI, USA

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problem #14

May 192012


  • 103,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact stated that the rear tag panel detached from the vehicle and as a result, water was entering and damaging the wiring of the brake lamps. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the adhesive that was used to hold the panel was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 103,000.

- Gadsden, AL, USA

problem #13

Nov 052011


  • 76,000 miles


Just got off the xway, stopped at red light. While waiting at the light, which was stuck red for about 5 min, both (hid) head lights failed at the same time. They flashed on & off 3 times, than stayed out. I switched on the fog lights so I could drive the last 3 miles home. The dealer had to replace both lights at a cost of over $2,000. The dealer had no idea what caused both to fail at the same time. I wrote a letter to Cadillac customer service. They called me and said they would not forward the info to a technical dept to determine the cause. I estimate there are 10,000 miles on these lights. I wrote a second to Cadillac, again they called me and said they were closing the file on this case. To me this is a safety issue as it could happen again at 70 mph on a curve. These (hid) lights are a pricey option and are sold that under normal use they should last the life of the car.

- Marysville, MI, USA

problem #12

Feb 012012

CTS 6-cyl

  • miles
While I was driving down the highway, I heard a loud noise, when I looked back the plastic piece which covers the two small lights around my license plate, had flown off and hit the car behind me. Fortunately there was no damage done, however the part obviously broke, and a new part costs anywhere from $750 to $1000 dollars (for a plastic piece that is no more then 28 inches long) every vender of this part I have called has told me it is so expensive because so many people have them fall off of their cars. There is no clips or screws to hold the part on, which means even if I buy another one the same thing could happen. My biggest concern is the car behind me.

- New London, MO, USA

problem #11

Aug 012011


  • 58,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. The contact noticed the rear light cover on the back up light fractured and detached from the vehicle. As a result, water entered the back up lights and he believed that it may cause an electrical failure. The dealer advised the contact to purchase a lens cover to protect the light. The manufacturer was not notified nor was the vehicle repaired. The current mileage was 60,096. The approximate failure mileage was 58,000.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #10

Jul 222011

CTS 6-cyl

  • 61,000 miles
The plastic panel cover for the reverse lights fell off, and now the reverse lights are exposed.

- Tacoma, WA, USA

problem #9

Mar 152011

CTS 6-cyl

  • 55,000 miles


The rear back up light panel has a plastic cover over it. Mine fell off and I am having a terrible time replacing it. I contacted Cadillac, but they don't sell that piece anymore. They have redesigned a replacement that will not fall off but it costs over $500 and Cadillac won't cover it because they claim it has not been recalled. As I drive up and down the streets and highways in Chicago, I notice many 2003-2007 Cadillac Cts are also missing this part. How can this plastic part fall off with out cause and yet not be recalled?

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

Aug 152010


  • 89,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. While driving approximately 50 mph, the rear overlay panel for the rear reverse light fell off. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who stated that the contact would responsible for repair expenses. The vehicle had not been repaired. The contact called the manufacturer who referred him to the corporate office. He had not received a response. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 89,000 and the current mileage was 98,000.

- Montgomery, IL, USA

problem #7

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 #6

Aug 222010


  • 50,556 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Cadillac Cts. While driving approximately 60 to 70 mph, the rear license plate cover fractured from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the rear light module was replaced with a new, improved module. The back up lamps and the rear finish panel was also replaced with a safer panel. The manufacturer advised that the failure was not considered a safety hazard and would not provide any assistance. The contact believed the failure to be a manufacturing defect. The failure mileage was 50,556 and the current mileage was 50,700.

- Midlothian , VA, USA

problem #5

Nov 182009


  • 92,000 miles
The exterior back brake lights fell off my Cadillac Cts 2003 model. I have noticed a majority of the 2003 Cts models have the same problem. It's a shame Cadillac would not be responsible, the vehicle cost me over $30,000 after its paid for, they have no concern for the condition of my vehicle. It really makes Cadillac look awful to have that many vehicles in the same condition. I will not purchase any more Cadillac.

- Dolton, IL, USA

problem #4

May 212010


  • 90,000 miles
2003 Cadillac Cts - the backup light assembly came off in car wash... dealerships are well aware of problem but say their hands are tied because of GM. They said the reason was because the supplier to Cadillac used an incorrect epoxy to build the part. GM knows about the issue but will do nothing. Part is over $550 to replace!! one search on internet brings up hundreds of complaints for same issue. This is ridiculous. I called Cadillac and they said they would call if a recall was issued, but they can do nothing more.

- Plymouth, MI, USA

problem #3

Nov 012002


  • 5,007 miles
Third brake light improperly seal allowing water to leak into mechanism and burn out led bulbs.

- Elmont, NY, USA

problem #2

Jul 012008

CTS 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
2003 Cadillac safety issues: Premature and rampant failure of the ebcm - electronic brake control module. It is widely known these modules fail and cannot be rebuilt. Dealer cost is over $500 with most dealers charging more than $750. Premature and rampant failure of the rear center brake light. GM even admitted failure of the neon lights used for this application and quickly switched to a reliable light media. Replacements range from $250 used (if you can find one that works) to $500 retail at GM. Both of these units are known high failure items and both cost a fortune through your local GM dealer.

- Rochester Hills, MI, USA

problem #1

May 292009


  • 90,837 miles
The rear back up light fell off my 2003 Cadillac Cts. I called the dealership to see about getting another one put on, only to learn that GM does not even make that part anymore due to it being defective. To fix my vehicle I would have to order a newer made part that cost approximately $697. After doing extensive research on the internet, I learned that this is a problem that numerous consumers have encountered. The dealership said that the manufacturer that produced this part for GM did not use the correct epoxy to adhere the back up light to the body of the vehicle, and I would have to call GM corporate office to take the "problem" up with them. After almost a month of the district specialist "investigating" the problem, he told me he would call me with a final decision and never called. I have placed calls to them everyday since and I kept getting the run around. Supposedly no one but the district specialist handling my case can help me and he will not answer or return my calls. My question is this, under the law someone cannot sell anything knowing that it is defective. With vehicles all exterior components of the vehicle are suppose to withstand "mothernature" and natural occurrences of the weather, so why when knowing the part is defective do they expect the consumer to replace it" GM claims that because it can not cause bodily harm they do not have to replace it or recall the defective part. Is this what our economy has come to, large corporations swindling the "little" consumers that keep them in business? with GM filing bankruptcy and the taxpayers and government "bailing" them out, you would think they would want to treat their "little" consumers better. How is it legal for them to know a product is defective, to the point they won't even make that same product to replace it when it tears up but are not responsible for fixing it"

- Columbus , GA, USA

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