Trucks & SUVs

Cadillac Escalade: The Most Annoying Problems Owners Complain About

When you buy a new car, you’re probably hoping that it will last you for years with little or no problems. You’ve done your research and read the reviews, and everything looks good. Unfortunately, every car will have its issues — they’re kind of like people that way. You may not expect any problems from the Cadillac Escalade.

After all, it’s a luxury SUV often used in TV shows and movies to give off the impression of importance. The 2021 Escalade is supposed to be the best yet.

While there are things to love about it, like its easily identifiable slick exterior, quiet interior, and ample features, it also has its share of problems. And while Cadillac says they aren’t going down without a fight, Consumer Reports isn’t a fan of the brand overall. And RepairPal.com breaks it down and tracks reported issues across model years. There are 56 total problems reported on their site. Here are the top complaints.

The most complained about Cadillac Escalade problem

Door handle breakage on the Escalade was the most complained about issue, with over 236 people reporting the problem for inside and outside handles. This issue usually creeps up at about 96,000 miles on average but has been noted as early as 8,000.

Affected years go back as far as 1999, with 14 total model years with the issue through 2015. It seems like Cadillac may have fixed this issue in its newer model years, or they might not have aged enough yet to see it. Only time will tell.

One commenter said it cost him $150 for each handle he had to replace, and he’s had to replace each door handle three or more times in about eight years. Another was quoted $250 per handle. The issue is that the door handles are made from plastic, and not metal or steel. This problem is part of why it makes the list of expensive luxury cars that aren’t reliable

The heating and air conditioner have issues

The issue reported here deals with the mode door actuator failing, which results in incorrect air delivery or temperature. It could involve one or more heater or HVAC. This would be no fun in a cold winter or hot summer when heat and AC are crucial to the comfort of your drive.

This issue affects 11 model years from 1999 to 2010, with 167 reporting it a problem. While it typically happens around 129,000 miles, it has been reported as low as 28,000) One commenter shared that when he turned on the AC, he’d get heat on the driver’s side and cool on the passenger’s side.

Others reported that the AC would suddenly blow very hot air. Consumers showed their frustration at never knowing what temperature they were going to get. There were also three reports of the air conditioner compressor becoming noisy further down the complaint list.

While the report says that it will be about $100 to get a diagnosis, commenters shared that it cost about $1200 to $1800 to fix. Ouch. Maybe that’s why the Cadillac Escalade gets a reputation for one of the used SUVs you shouldn’t buy.

Some instrument panel gauges may work erratically

When you’re driving, it’s essential to know what you’re car is doing. In the case of some instrument panel gauges, like the speedometer, working erratically, technicians at RepairPal say that it’s a fix that can only be done by sending the instrument cluster to a repair facility.

Fortunately, the warranty has been extended on some units to 7 years or 70,000 miles to adjust accordingly. Getting a diagnosis will cost about $100, but there was no information on the cost to replace it.

161 people reported this issue, with 11 model years from 2000 to 2016 being affected. The average mileage was at 150,000, but it was reported as low as 109 miles! Maybe this helped it score the least reliable car in the US award. 

Here’s what else to watch for in a Cadillac Escalade

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Of the issues that had more than 100 reports, the steering wheel position sensor failing had 145, power door lock actuators failing had 126, the anti-theft system failing and causing the car not to start had 122, and the fuel level sensor failing had 108.

While this may seem like an abundance of issues for one car, factors such as not reporting or the total number sold do skew the numbers a bit. If you’re in the market for a Cadillac Escalade, it’s not that you can’t enjoy one, but it’s good to know what you’re getting into.