Common Cadillac SRX Problems

2009 first generation cadillac srxI am the proud owner of a first-generation Cadillac SRX. Although I still enjoy this car its been far from trouble-free. This article will cover some of the common problems people are likely to experience if they own a first-generation Cadillac crossover. I hope SRX fans will find their way here and discover this page useful as well as leave comments about problems they’ve experienced.

Before I get into the problems I wanted to provide a quick background on the car itself. I bought this 09 model from a Toyota dealers pre-owned lot in late 2010. I was able to tell during an inspection the car had been hit in the right front and Sheet metal replaced. The Manager came running out with the history report showing no accidents, but he could not deny there was a new right front fender. Also on the report was the original owner blank rental car.

cadillac factory floor matsSo let’s be clear as I list problems experienced with this vehicle, I bought a retired rental unit that was hit in the right front that the dealer purchased from auction. Although this isn’t a good start to ownership, it’s probably more common than people realize.

The reason I overlooked these glaring problems was because the negotiated price was about $7,000 under book value. Putting a one-year old Cadillac with 16,000 miles in the driveway for around $20K seemed like a good deal. The family and I still love this car. We spent some of the money saved on a set of factory Cadillac floor mats, chrome door handles and stainless A pillar upgrades.

Cadillac SRX Problems

The car was trouble-free for the first two years but still required a trip to the dealership for a recall. Like most first-generation SRX models this car has a 3.6L all aluminum V-6. This engine has been experiencing timing chain problems to the point where General Motors has extended the warranty on this item to 10 years 100,000 miles. It’s not a recall is actually a special policy. In hopes to reduce the amount of timing chain replacements GM decided to reduce the oil change interval from one year to six months.

cadillac timing chainThe recall was a software fix that reprogrammed the oil life monitor to notify the driver more frequently. The problem with this is a Cadillac oil change is expensive even if you do it yourself. This is due to 6 quarts of Mobil one full synthetic engine oil. Of course the bargain jug only comes in 5 quart and you have to buy an extra single quart bottle. My year has a cartridge type oil filter not carried by AutoZone so it’s about seven dollars from the dealership.

I’m willing to perform the expensive service twice a year if it saves my timing chain. The jury is still out on whether this will help. In fact on start-up I can already hear the timing chain rattle as the hydraulic chain tensioner takes up the developing slack. This rattle on start up has become another common complaint of first-generation SRX owners. When I questioned the dealership about the noise, the service adviser stated the special policy relates to a check engine light code set for a timing error. Eventually enough slack develops the camshaft starts to wander out of time, setting this code. The dealer doesn’t want to replace the chain until the light comes on.

Difficult Daytime Running Light Replacement

The day after my 2009 SRX expired on its bumper-to-bumper warranty of three years 36,000 miles a daytime running light went out. I figured as a mechanic there was no sense in fighting the 24-hour thing and push for the dealer to replace a simple bulb. I was shocked at just how difficult it was to gain access to this combination daytime running lamp and turn signal. The problem is the lamp assembly is covered on the backside by a plastic bezel with no hatches to gain access.

Six torx T15 screws need to be removed to get this bezel off. You can’t get at it from the top side and you cannot gain access underneath because the bumper is in the way. This means you have to go in through the wheel well and this is easier done with the tire removed. The bulb is only a couple of dollars but you should figure on about 45 minutes worth of time to replace it. I wrote a detailed article on how to replace the Cadillac daytime running light if you’re interested.

Tire Pressure Warning Lights

tire warning light
What the tire warning light looks like

Although the tire pressure warning light system is not specific to Cadillac models and shared by General Motors cars and trucks it can still be a pain to deal with. This is one of those systems that get better every year it’s out. In 2009 it was better than previous years but still not as good as the ones out for 2014.

On cold mornings tire pressure will decrease and often the light will come on for the morning commute and go off for the evening ride home. This means filling the tires to maximum specifications several times a year to avoid this. This needs to be done with the tires cool. I ran into several situations where I had picked up a nail and the light had done a good job of notifying me.

tire warning message
Tire warning message

I installed a temporary plug in the tire but it’s still leaked two psi a day after repair. I needed an inside patch but was short on time, so I spent a couple weeks filling up the tire. I finally figured out if you fill the tires with the key on engine off the system will recognize the pressure faster. This just scratches the surface of the Cadillac SRX problems that I have experienced.

In fact I hope to write an article in more detail about the problem with owning a vehicle that has different size tires on the front and on the back as well as the costs associated with replacing them. Until then I hope that other people that own a first-generation SRX will find this article and leave some comments about the problems that they experienced below so I know what else I can look forward to. Update: Added a second page for additional Cadillac SRX Problems.

42 Replies to “Common Cadillac SRX Problems”

  1. Christina

    Hi, thank you for your insight into what has been a problem for me. My SRX is a 2012…I have a question please. The OBDII light or Engine light lights up before any other lights come on when I first start my car up, then the others show up afterwards and then they all go out. It didn’t do that for the first almost 2 years..a couple of months before the 2year mark it started showing up and now it won’t go away. Can you explain…please. Thank you.

  2. Mark Gittelman

    Christina: I can’t say I completely understand your check engine light situation but it might warrant having the vehicle scanned to see if there are any pending codes. These are codes that don’t keep the check engine light on but have logged intermittent failures during the course of operation.

  3. char

    I also own an SRX 2008, and this car has been nothing but trouble. Multiple engine problems, timing belt, oil problems which is not leaking, but going somewhere. I have been told to get ready of the car and Cadillac does not want to take responsibility for a car they developed with lots of problems. Please if you are considering purchasing this car, save yourself the headache and money.

  4. Leah

    I have a 2007 SRX Cadillac. My car has been nothing but trouble as well. This car is the money black-hole in my pocket, and I been trying to get rid of this car after having this for 1 year. I obviously overpaid for this vehicle, for in 2012, I bought this car at $21,000. Now, after 2 years, my car engine is completely shot, and I am waiting for my vehicle to get towed so they can replace my engine. I upkeep on Synthetic Oil & everything, but Mechanic says there is so much gunk in my Engine, hard telling how good the previous owner took care of this car. I wish I would have been able to find someone to buy this piece of crap before this engine blew. I still owe $12,000. But, I guess I will have a brand new inside after its all said and done. I’ve replaced the whole inside of the car, from Radiator to Battery to all the other bells and whistles…Good luck everyone! 🙂

  5. Kyle

    2005 Cadillac srx popped up engine light with message check gas cap. I checked and even bought a new one that I can tell seals good, cleared code and about a week later same message appeared, had mechanic clear code just in case it wasn’t performed right the first time, about a week later same thing. What can I do to solve this problem?

    • Mark Gittelman

      Kyle: Would need the actual code number to cross check against technical service bulletins and provide some advice. The fuel vapor leak detection system can set about 10 different codes.

  6. Fred thompson

    my wife’s 2007 Cadillac SRX won’t start sometimes . It started about two years ago around 45,000 miles . Wife was out running erons when she came back to leave the car wouldn’t start . I went to where she was and jumped the car and I started right up . After having this happen three more times we took it back to the dealer and it took them three days to tell us that it was the battery. Battery was replaced and we were on our way . The same problem started about a year later and we are having to deal with this once again . I can jump it and it starts up right away .i don’t think it’s a battery issue at this point but something much more . Anyone else having a problem like this or does anyone have a idea what might be happening . The Cadillac dealer sure doesn’t.

  7. Robert Marshall

    Echoing Fred Thompson’s Issue with starting problems. This is my daughters car. We’ replaced the Battery. The car starts fine for several months then with no warning it won’t crank. She now carries battery cables. The dealer is useless. Anyone have an idea what’s going on.

  8. bob

    I have a 2008 SRX. Blown 3-4 coils over the past year. Now a bigger issue has developed…#3 and #5 cylinder are at 75% out of 120…with 102k for miles….$3k to fix by Caddie dealer… first SRX blow 3-4 coils—-GM what’s with the coil problem? I should of known….Everytime I go into my dealer, SRX new and old are on the lift………Yeah, oil and tire changing …my foot…….Come on GM, built it to work or this guy is leaving the GM brand. Promise

  9. Martin

    I have a 2006 Cadillac SRX. I pulled into the grocery store lot, went shopping, came back out, and my car wouldn’t start. Just a tick, tick, tick noise. The lights were on, radio on, power working, but it wouldn’t turn over. I called AAA and they came out the hooked a battery up to the car. After two attempts, it cranked right up and I drove off.

    This morning, I went out to the car and had the same problem – tick, tick, tick. Did not turn over. I’m going to take it to the dealership. I’m concerned whether this is an electrical problem or related to an After-Market radio that I had installed about two months ago. I don’t believe it is the battery. Any help out there?

    • Mark Gittelman

      Martin: This problem really interests me. I’ve heard others complain about this exact issue. However, no one has yet to post the resolution. Curious about the age of your Battery. Obviously it can’t be the original and wonder what you replaced the OE battery with. The Delco that came in these cars was an AGM (absorbent glass mat) battery. Most have not replaced the factory one with the same technology, because of the extra cost. However, your aftermarket radio kind of throws a monkey in the mix. Please let us know what the dealer say’s as there might be a TSB (technical service bulletin) on the issue.

  10. Eric

    I have a 09 SRX it’s been a pain too work on like most Cadillac vehicle’s. The SRX really does take the cake. I get 10.9 mpg. I figured I’m heavy footed, but while maintaining speed at 45mph I could feel the car jerking. The throttle body needed replacing. The alternator caught fire. The OE ones are no good, a return charge to the battery went out same click click was a starter once again no good. OE manifold part losing coolant, not from any where visible. Compression right around 155-170 the car is a total pain. Wait till a motor mount needs replaced.

  11. Hugh

    Regarding car will not start, Was advised by AAA service tech. that leaving a charging cable for my Apple phone in socket will cause battery drain. Regarding water under carpet, caused by improperly designed sun roof drain which separates allowing water to drain into car body. Cadillac issue service bulletin #14225 but only covers certain states on 2010-2012 SRX models. If you do not reside in those listed states, Cadillac might not resolve your issue.

  12. Dan

    Caddilac SRX first gen with the 3.6 Had timing chain replaced once by the dealer due to stretching, car eats oil, and now on the freeway in traffic puff of smoke from under the hood and the motor just shut off. It wont start, wont jump, no click from the starter nothing, all dash lights work radio works, got towed to local shop and he is saying maybe a computer and recommended getting it towed to the dealer for further diag. Can you help me try and figure it out, sounds like a blown motor to me, but oil was just checked before the freeway incident and it was full. Timing chain is a little over a year old, can this be possible?

    • Mark Gittelman

      Dan: I’m curious about the miles on your SRX? As you know these 3.6 L engines are complicated beasts. I agree with letting the dealer perform some diagnosis. There is a short fuse-able link from the alternator to the starter that has to be removed and reinstalled during the timing chain operation. This can be a possible cause and when it burns open it makes a small puff of smoke. But I don’t think you could see it while driving. The problem is the timing chain repair requires a tremendous amount of skill. If short cuts are taken by flat rate mechanics then the longevity of the repair is reduced. It could be so many things and in the end it might not be related to the timing chain repairs. Please update us so I can share your story with other Cadillac owners. Here is a video about the fuseable link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMhQdUtrHwY

  13. John

    Many use the 3.6, v6 do all have these problems? I have a 2006, I purchased it at a real deal $5000. So far so good. Replaced the p/s pump, disk changer gave up, didn’t repair that. I really like the car. About 20-22 miles per gallon, that’s not so great, my DTS gets far better. When I need tires the size on the front will be on the rear. I see no need for two sizes on a SUV. I normally keep a car a minimum 150,000 miles and I fully expect the SRX to cross the finish line in 2024. I will change engine oil 4,000 miles trans and differential oil at 40,000 for the life of the SRX.

  14. Brinda

    Hello, I have a 2009 used CAD/SRX that I have been very pleased with. I also have experienced the ‘no start’ as others have talked about. I had it a little over a year and one day it just ‘ticked’ and wouldn’t start. My husband changed the battery and it’s been fine, but now, about 6-8 months later-same thing. Well actually, when I went to start it -it kept trying to start and husband changed something out, can’t remember what. Anyway, fine again. now the other day, when I got in it to go home from work, nothing…not a ticking …just no sound/start. I tried it about 4 times on the 5th try…started and running fine? Has anyone heard any resolution from this problem other than battery? Mine is new and I read on one post about leaving charger drains battery, that’s not my situation. Any help will be appreciated thanks.

    • Mark Gittelman

      Brinda: One thing to check into is the replacement battery. The original equipment is an AGM battery and often people will replace them with a regular battery because they’re half the price of an absorbent glass mat battery. I wrote a post about replacing the battery in your Cadillac here. With that said, these first generation SRX crossovers are also known for alternator issues with intermittent no charge conditions. I carried a jump box with me at all times just in case I got the no start thing.

      • Brinda

        Hi Mark, we just had the GM Dealer replace timing chains on my 09 cad/srx due to the recall–(no charge) just got it back last night. When we first started it up there is a ‘distinct’ noise that wasn’t there before. Don’t quite know how to explain the noise…like a whistling, jet engine sound that only gets louder until it speeds enough to shift. Then it’s still noticeable. They said they replaced the timing chains but not the actuators (or whatever else there are). Should I take it right back to them? I really want to but almost afraid to? Thanks

  15. Mike

    After jump starting my 2011 SRX, it would not go over 30mph for about a half hour. The engine light came on. The next day when I was going to take to a dealer the engine light went off and it drove normal. Any answers why it drove like that after jumping battery?

    • Mark Gittelman

      Mike: I can’t say I’ve heard of this issue before. However, I bet we could get to the bottom of it if we new the code number that’s stored in memory. Even if the light went out the code should be retained as a history code in memory.

  16. Mike Chase

    I also own a 2010 SRX 3.0 motor. I bought it used at approx 24k miles from a GM Dealer. At approx 50k miles I noticed rough idle and made note to talk to service writer. Well they replace the timing chains and it seemed to take care of the problems. About 1 1/2 years go by and now have approx 80k miles on the vehicle. I was driving on the freeway and STOP ENGINE LOW OIL PRESSURE came on. I stopped off freeway and had car towed to Cadillac Dealership in Scottsdale, AZ. They said it was the timing chain again and I was one month past the 6 year 100k mile warranty period.

    They would not honor their repairs and I was charged $1582.00 for my portion of the bill. GM took up the rest of the charges. I was also told I was not entitled to a complete invoice to see all that was done. Well after 547 miles later the motor seizes up and I have it towed again to same Dealership in Scottsdale, AZ. Now they say I need a complete New Motor cost $81665.00. My portion will be approx $4319.00

  17. Mike Chase

    Follow up on my last post regarding cost of my 2010 SRX 3.0 motor. The cost of a new motor would be $8638.00 and my cost will be $4319.00. I have filed a complaint with Cadillac on this matter. They are looking into my story.

  18. Lesamuel Lewis

    Still no answers I have a 2006 Cadillac Srx It looks great. But is the worst car I’ve ever had. I’ve had too change the motor twice, and now all of sudden it has decided too start only when it wants too. Just bought a brand new starter for $400. And it ran fine for week. Now it won’t start without a jump off. Cadillac should be ashamed of the garbage it has created.

  19. Faye

    I have a 2006 SRX , 101k miles. I love the vehicle but can’t figure out what’s going on with oil. I have the oil changed regularly. Yet, the oil stays full. Three years ago it did the same thing, then the clicking sound started and my mechanic replaced the engine. He said the old engine was bone dry. Now the engine is clicking again and oil is full as always when I take it in for an oil change. My mechanic has been my dad’s mechanic for over 20 years and mine for 7. I am single woman and it’s hard to find a good mechanic that won’t take advantage of my lack of car knowledge. So, I need help, helping my mechanic. Any clues as to what’s going on with my car? Why is not taking the oil and it remains full.

    • Mark Gittelman

      Faye: I feel your pain as I loved my Cadillac SRX as well. Unfortunately, these cars are to complex for their own good. Diagnosing your issue would also be complex and not possible through cyber space. The big variable is you said you got a new engine yet have the same problem. If I was your mechanic I would start with a mechanical oil pressure test. The oil pump is driven by the timing chains which is a known issue. You can read more about timing chain problems here. And see why I got rid of my Cadillac here.

  20. Gary King

    I have a 2006 SRX that I purchased preowned, since I have a some what of a mechanics ear, I heard the sound of the timing chain before I purchased it and had the dealer confirm my suspicions. The dealer in question did acknowledge that the timing chain was stretched and that since this was an “as is” purchase would not do any type of warranty or repair. I currently have my car in the shop for a service and was just contacted by the dealer indicating that the timing chain was stretched and the cost would for repairs would be 3000.00 dollars. Well, since this car is not driven very much as for as miles annually and reading the other horror stories about other owners even after having theirs replaced I have decided to continue to check the oil and pray for longevity. Cadillac should have really corrected this one for as many of these units that were sold.

  21. Cynthia

    I have a 2008 CAD/SRX purchased from a rental car agency in 2010. I love my car, but I might need to get rid of it before I have a blown engine. I’ve had the same problem with the car not cranking and we purchase a interstate battery from Firestone about 4 months ago. It cranking fine now. But now my engine light has been coming on and off with 123,000 miles. Unscrewed the gas cap (per manual) and the light went off but, then it came back on. Then we checked the oil and found the the oil was low, but couldn’t find any oil on the ground. When I took it to a certified mechanic he turned off the light. He told me if the light comes on again I’ll have to take it to the dealer. Well it came back on a few months later and the dealer said that the code P0021 came up which means I need new timing chains at the cost of $1710. I got a 2nd opinion from a friend who is a mechanic and he said it looks like I need a cam shaft sensor at the cost of $36 because my timing belts are fine. I pray that this solves the problem, but I’m thinking now will be a good time to get rid of the car. Also does anyone have a problem with their back doors locks (cannot open sometimes) my dealer said I need door lock actuators which cost $667 to replace. I really think I’ve had enough of this car.

    • Mark Gittelman

      Cynthia: Both mechanics could be right. However, with the high miles on the vehicle, the needing the timing chains replaced scenario is more likely. Also the SRX is known for the rear door lock actuators having intermittent operation. So you’re not alone with these problems. It’s a shame, because I loved my Cadillac, but it just got to scary to own it.

  22. Keith Miles

    I do not have a comment on any of these problems but I have a 2010 SRX that the engine has failed with 82460 miles. The dealer claims it to be from a plastic cooling tee that is hid down under the radiator. My temp gauge did not show any over heating problem, how ever as I was driving the gauge dropped to 0, the air conditioner shut off the engine blew oil out of the exhaust pipe and the engine failed. I had purchased an extended warranty on the car when I bought it and now the warranty will not cover the engine due to an overheating problem. The car had just under 39,000 miles on it when I purchased it. Has any one else had this problem with the car.

  23. Michelle

    I own a 2004 srx and 2 days after I bought it the check engine light came on so my husband hooked his code reader to it and it said catalytic converter threshold. But then a week later we stopped at a gas station and went to start it and nothing the lights and radio came on, but the cat wouldn’t start. So we sat there for a min and then it started up and drove fine. We also noticed it goes through oil like crazy. We have to check it daily and add at least a half court of oil daily. And there are no oil spots in my driveway. It doesn’t seem to be leaking, but then my husband was on his way to work and he was at a stoplight idling and the exhaust started smoking really bad. Once he started driving it stopped, but the engine sounds great it’s just something with the oil. What could be the problem?

  24. Kirk richards

    2005 Cadillac srx transmission pressure control solenoid electrical issue code p0748 set. Replaced pcs still have the code. Engagement is harsh and up and down shifts are firm. No power to pcs on scanner any one have any idea?

  25. Jonathan Bowers

    Same issues after the car sat for 3 days. I Jumped it multiple times and had the battery tested, still it would just click every time I would turn the key. Finally, I crawled under the car and a few good whacks with a hammer on the starter and it started right up. I ended up taking the starter out to have it tested. Good luck on that. Four hours later it’s out. Have fun dropping the exhaust. I noticed a ton of buildup on the connectors and solenoid. The starter tested out ok. I replaced anyway for $179 and haven’t had a problem since. FYI, cylinder 6 is an oil well and I lose about a quart of oil every week. With no leaks or anything.

  26. O'dell

    I have a 2010 Cadillac SRX, had a P0017 code register from check engine light. One dealer says its timing chain, other says its probably sensor. Warranty denied claim saying it had a TSB. Has anyone had this issue to happen?

  27. Alex

    Regarding that turn signal. There is a better way to replace it. 1. Remove the headlight assembly. Need to loosen the front fascia and remove three bolts attaching headlight in order to do this. 2. With headlight assembly removed, you’ll see the turn signal assembly below it. It is attached with two screws – one on the side of the assembly and easily visible, the other one is on the bottom and can not be seen, need to go by touch. It is in the center of the assembly. Both screws have 7mm heads. Normal socket will not fit between the side screw and stuff around it. I used the ratcheting box wrench. After removing screws swing the assembly in the direction opposite to the side with the screw – there are two plastic hooks that need to be disengaged.

    3. Remove star screws and take the plastic cover off the assembly. Mine had burned a socket, which I had to replace. At that point I have also replaced bulbs with LEDs. Keep in mind that ballast resistors (sold as a kit with the LED) need to be added for the turn light to work correctly with LED. I placed the resistor outside of the assembly to prevent high current from going through the socket. Never had to deal with the turn light ever again.

  28. Kerri

    Tonight my 2006 Cadillac SRX wouldn’t start. After 3rd try, the engine reluctantly turned over. After this, my DIC screen showed I had “low range” for fuel and still had 1/2 a tank of gas. I filled the tank, thinking maybe my gas gauge was broken. Took 13.5 gallons, so I still had 6.5 gallons left. After resetting the mileage, gallons used, fuel economy, and average vehicle speed settings, my DIC screen showed I have a 91 mile range on a full tank of gas. Any suggestions, or has anyone else had this issue?

  29. John rothwell

    Virginia requires emissions test every two years and you can’t renew your tags until you get it. I have a 2007 SRX 3.6L and I have had to do drive cycles to make the vehicle pass. This year I had to get a new OEM module and it still would not pass. The car has been over 250 miles and still it will not pass. I under stand that this is very common with this model. Cadillac should have a recall to correct matter. It is so ridiculous to spend all this time and money.

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