Why Cadillac CTS Owners Complain About the 2003 Model the Most

With new models produced from 2003 to 2019, the Cadillac CTS luxury car is now only available to buyers as a used vehicle. Before spending so much money to buy a luxury car, it’s a really good idea to know which ones are most reliable. Searching online is a good way to take a peek at some other owners’ experiences. Here’s a look at the most common issues that owners of the 2003 Cadillac CTS complain about.

Owner-submitted problems on the 2003 Cadillac CTS

The website CarComplaints.com is one spot to see how many problems other owners are having with their vehicles. The Cadillac CTS is among Cadillac’s top-three most complained-about models, coming in just behind the SRX and ahead of the DeVille with 274 complaints.

Car Complaints picked the 2009 Cadillac CTS as the worst model due to its serious problems and issues appearing at lower mileage. Its biggest issues are with its engine and transmission. The very first model year, in 2003, however, has had the most submitted problems, totaling 45. Every other model year has 33 or fewer.

The years since 2010 have 16 or fewer. The three most common problems for the 2003 model year are that the plastic license plate cover fell off, there was excessive tire wear, and there was engine failure.

The plastic cover for license plate light fell off

Exterior accessories problems were the most common category of issues for the 2003 CTS. Owners most often reported that the plastic cover for the license plate light fell off. Once the glued-on panel falls off, it has been difficult for owners to find replacement parts. If it is located, the part also then needs to be painted to match the car.

Owners marked this as a fairly significant problem with a 6.7 severity rating. Reported by 12 people, the problem appeared on average around 87,650 miles and cost $770 to get fixed.

Excessive tire wear

The second biggest problem for the 2003 CTS, submitted by three people, is excessive tire wear. Owners felt the car was sold with bad tires that wore quickly. Some were unable to pass an inspection with their cars. Drivers gave this a severity rating of 10.0 or “really awful.” On average, the tires wore out around 15,700 miles, and it cost $560 to have them replaced.

Engine failure

Engine failure has been the third biggest problem for the 2003 CTS, submitted by one person. By 2009, the owner found that the engine needed to be replaced at 73,000 miles. The severity rating was 10.0, which is again “really awful.” It cost the owner $4,500 to have the engine replaced. Across all the model years, the worst problem category for the Cadillac CTS is engine problems.

The Cadillac CTS


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The first CTS appeared for the 2003 model year. According to Consumer Reports the sedan had good handling and acceleration but fewer features than other luxury competitors. Introduced as a sedan, a coupe and wagon were added in 2010.

The CTS was redesigned and new generations rolled out both in 2008 and 2014. It won the 2014 MotorTrend Car of the Year. 2019 was the final model year for the CTS. The new Cadillac CT5 replaced both the CTS and the ATS for 2020.

With 17 model years to pick from, it’s good to know which years are best and worst. Based on information submitted to Car Complaints, used car buyers should stay clear of the 2003 and 2009 model years. The best model years to take a look at are 2010 and later, especially 2015 or after.