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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.