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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated April 18, 2024

Have Older Cadillac CTS Models (2008 - 2013, Second Generation) Aged Well? Their Reliability, Possible Maintenance Problem Issues, Overall Pros And Cons

Related: How To Get The Lowest Price On A "Brand New" Cadillac

The Cadillac CTS nearly single-handedly rejuvenated the Cadillac brand. With its striking and modernized look, the CTS captured a new group of consumers and became one of Cadillac's most popular vehicles.

2012 Cadillac CTS

The CTS captured a sporty luxury-car feel with a stiff body structure and very sport-focused handling dynamics, and has appealed to those looking for both a more affordable luxury car as well as a superior and more dynamic driving experience.

The Problem Today And CTS Reliability:

But now, historically high new and used car prices have forced many buyers to look for "older" vehicles that have aged well as a way of saving money. This has made the issues of reliability and dependability even more crucial.

So, how about older Cadillac CTS models? Have they proven to be reliable? And by older, I'm referring to models generally 10+ years old, so those from its second generation, produced from 2008 - 2013.

Well, history has proven that many of these older CTSs have indeed aged well, with many well-maintained examples lasting in the 150,000 to 200,000 mile range ... and some much further. Still, other owners have run ito problems.

A key ingredient is the "well-maintained" part. Other factors include the previous driver’s habits as well as the road conditions and climate where the vehicle was driven. All of these things impact vital engine components.

And the well-maintained and cared for models are the ones you need to identify before buying today. This doesn't guarantee anything, but it does put the odds much more in your favor.

It should also be noted that the overall reliability of the second generation is considered better than the first generation (2003 - 2007), especially in later model years as Cadillac made refinements and addressed issues.

So here, ...

- We'll list actual mechanical issues that have been reported by some owners for this generation so they can be checked before buying today.

- Next will be a general comparison with its competitors.

- We'll follow that with an overview of these 10+ year-old CTS models, specifically those of its second generation, spanning the 2008 - 2013 model years.

- And then we'll summarize the overall pros and cons of an older Cadillac CTS worth consideration for potential buyers.

But first, and very importantly ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" CTS

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

And My #1 Price Tip: Please, always get online price quotes at auto sites such as and (both, actually), whether looking for a new or used car. Competition among dealers for your business does amazing things to prices, and it's so easy. It really does make a difference.

And quickly, while we're at it, my #2 Tip is to always know the up-to-date trade-in value of your current car. You can get a quick and surprisingly accurate one at Edmund's Trade-In Quotes.

It's free and just takes a couple of minutes. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN# followed by many simple, but specific, yes/no questions. It really focuses in on the detail of the specific vehicle.

2008 - 2013 Cadillac CTS Possible Mechanical Problems

Second generation CTS models generally saw improvements in reliability compared to its predecessor. However, there were still some reported issues. While not universal, these are the more common problems reported by some owners which should therefore be included in an inspection before buying:

Transmission Problems: Some models experienced transmission system issues, mostly caused by fluid leaks, ruptured transmission seals, or a bad torque converter.

Timing Chain Issues: Some models equipped with the 3.6-liter V6 engine experienced timing chain problems, including stretching and premature wear, which could lead to engine damage or failure if not addressed promptly.

Sticky Hydrauic Valve Lifters: Some 3.6-liter V6 engines experienced issues with sticky lifters, causing noise and potential engine performance issues.

High-Pressure Fuel Pump Failures: Some models equipped with the direct-injection engines experienced failures of the high-pressure fuel pump, leading to rough idle, misfires, or stalling.

Suspension Bushings: Some owners reported problems with suspension bushings and control arms, resulting in noise, vibration, or handling issues.

Steering Rack Leaks: There were occasional reports of power steering rack leaks, leading to a loss of power steering assist and potential fluid leakage.

Electrical Issues: Some electrical problems were more common in the 2008-2009 and 2013 models, ranging from infotainment system gremlins to problems with the lights and battery.

Cooling System Problems: 2008-2009 models were more likely to have problems with their cooling systems, including leaks and overheating engines, often caused by radiator or water pump failures.

Overall, while the Cadillac CTS may not have the same reputation for bulletproof reliability as some Japanese luxury brands, many owners have had positive ownership experiences with proper care and maintenance.

How Does An Older Cadillac CTS Meaure up With Its Rivals

The Cadillac CTS competes in the midsize luxury sedan segment, which includes formidable rivals from both domestic and foreign manufacturers. Here's how it generally measures up against some of its competitors:

BMW 3 Series: The BMW 3 Series is often regarded as the benchmark in the segment for its sporty handling, strong performance, and well-crafted interior. It offers a wide range of engine options and advanced technology features. The CTS aims to challenge the 3 Series with its sharp handling and powerful engine choices but may lag behind in terms of brand cachet and overall driving dynamics.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class: The Mercedes-Benz C-Class emphasizes luxury and refinement, with a plush interior, comfortable ride, and advanced technology features. It may offer a more upscale feel compared to the CTS, particularly in terms of interior materials and build quality. However, the CTS can compete with its sportier driving dynamics and competitive pricing.

Car Buying Tips:

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Audi A4: The Audi A4 is known for its elegant design, high-quality interior, and advanced infotainment system. It offers a smooth and composed ride along with a lineup of efficient and powerful engines. While the CTS may offer more engaging driving dynamics, the A4 excels in terms of interior refinement and overall comfort.

Lexus IS: The Lexus IS emphasizes reliability, comfort, and value. It offers a well-appointed interior, smooth ride quality, and a reputation for bulletproof reliability. However, it may lack the sporty driving characteristics and performance options found in the CTS.

Infiniti Q50: The Infiniti Q50 focuses on performance and value, offering a lineup of powerful engines and available all-wheel drive. It features a stylish design, comfortable interior, and advanced driver assistance technologies. The CTS may offer sharper handling and a more dynamic driving experience but could lag behind in terms of interior refinement.

In comparison to its competitors, the Cadillac CTS typically stands out for its bold styling, engaging driving dynamics, and competitive pricing. However, it may face challenges in terms of brand perception, interior quality, and overall refinement when compared to some of its European rivals.

Ultimately, the choice between the Cadillac CTS and its competitors will depend on individual preferences for driving experience, features, brand affinity, and budget.

2008 - 2013 Cadillac CTS (Second Generation)

2008 Cadillac CTS

With it's cutting edge design and considerable developmental work on Germany's famed Nürburgring test track (normally home to Porsche and BMW), this CTS was among the leaders in the midsize luxury car competition. In fact, it was really the only domestic sedan that could truly compete with the top European and Japanese entry-level luxury cars.

The second generation CTS was significantly enhanced in terms of both refinement and power. Two V6's were offered.

The base engine was a 3.6-liter that produced 258 horsepower, while the optional 3.6-liter direct-injection (DI) V6 generated 304 horsepower. Both were mated with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.

This CTS is also available in either rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive forms (AWD models come with the base engine and automatic transmission only).

The cabin of this CTS is roomy, attractive and upscale. Models can also be found with options such as leather upholstery, a hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage, and a premium sound system.

A full complement of safety features and technology is standard as well. In addition, there are two optional sport suspension packages that further enhance the CTS's driving performance.

The second generation Cadillac CTS-V sport sedan is equipped with a 6.2-liter V8 (also found in the Corvette ZR1) and delivers 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque.

Equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, the CTS-V blisters from a standstill to 60 mph in a scant 4.3 seconds and blasts through the quarter-mile in 12.4. These times clearly put the CTS-V right up with the high-end sports cars, but for less money.

It should be noted that models with the optional six-speed automatic with wheel-mounted shift paddles can also be found.

Pros And Cons Of An Older Cadillac CTS

Older Cadillac CTS Pros

Cadillac CTS-V (2009)

Lower Purchase Price: Clearly, older CTS models typically have lower purchase prices compared to newer models, offering potentially significant savings upfront.

Depreciation: Older cars have already experienced the bulk of their depreciation, meaning a buyer is less likely to lose significant value over time compared to buying a new or newer used car, lowering the overall cost of ownership.

Lower Insurance Costs: Generally, insurance premiums are lower for older cars compared to newer ones. This can result in savings on insurance costs, helping to offset other potential expenses associated with owning an older vehicle.

Improved Styling: The second-gen CTS continued Cadillac's trend of bold and distinctive styling, but with a more refined and modern look. Its design was well-received and helped to distinguish it from its competitors.

Better Interior Quality: Cadillac made significant improvements to the interior quality in the second generation CTS. Materials were upgraded, resulting in a more luxurious feel overall. The cabin was also quieter, with better insulation from road and wind noise.

Comfortable Interior: While not as luxurious as some European competitors, the CTS still offers a comfortable cabin with ample space for passengers and cargo.

2011 Cadillac CTS

Enhanced Performance: The second-gen CTS offered improved performance compared to its predecessor. It introduced a more powerful V6 engine option and a new V8 engine with still more horsepower, providing buyers with impressive acceleration and dynamic driving characteristics.

Advanced Technology: Cadillac equipped the second-gen CTS with a range of advanced technology features, including an updated infotainment system, available navigation, and optional safety features like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring.

Older Cadillac CTS Cons

Reliability Concerns: While older CTS models may offer savings upfront, due to age and mileage they could be more prone to reliability issues and require more frequent repairs compared to newer cars.

Reduced Fuel Efficiency: Older cars often have less advanced engine technology, resulting in lower fuel efficiency compared to newer models. This can lead to higher fuel costs over time.

Outdated Features: Older models may lack some of the modern features and amenities found in newer cars, such as advanced safety technology, infotainment systems, and driver assistance features.

Firm Ride: While the CTS offered agile handling, some drivers found the ride to be on the firmer side, especially with the sport-tuned suspension setups. This could lead to a less comfortable experience, particularly on rough roads.

Complex Infotainment Interface: While the infotainment system was improved in terms of features, some users found the interface to be complex and unintuitive, especially compared to systems offered by competitors.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting A Low CTS Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" Cadillac CTS if the price was really good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

And checkout our Facebook page for more tips, car news and fun.

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