Top 08-14 Cadillac CTS Problems

Pointing to a Cadillac CTS to point out its common problems

As our video studio mechanic Andy says in the video below, there’s nothing wrong with owning or buying a 2nd generation Cadillac CTS, years 2008-14, but that every car has its own common problems. This article reviews the signs of the top Cadillac CTS problems, what causes them and some ways you can diagnose and fix them. To find how-to videos related to the 08-14 Cadillac CTS, check out 1A Auto’s how-to video library.

Top 5 Cadillac CTS Problems – 2nd Generation (2008-2014)

1. Timing Chain

Symptoms of a Bad Timing Chain

Check engine light for position performance code or a camshaft position performance code

Causes of a Bad Timing Chain

The timing chain synchronizes crankshaft and camshaft timing, allowing the engine to work at a consistent pace. When a timing chain to the camshaft, for example, wears and stretches, it can affect the timing of the camshaft. When the engine timing is out of sync, the CTS’s computer will send a check engine light and can run codes like an engine position performance code or a camshaft position performance code.

How to Fix a Bad Timing Chain

Note: It is not easy to diagnose or repair a bad timing chain. Diagnosis and repair on the 2nd gen CTS requires the removal of the front of the engine.

  • If an engine position performance code or a camshaft position performance code appears, check the timing chains for wear or stretching
  • If the chain tensioners are pulled out, the timing chain is stretched
  • Prevent a bad timing chain by changing oil regularly with quality oil

2. Door Lock Problems

Symptoms of a Bad Front Electronic Exterior Door Handle

Front exterior door handle won’t open the door

Causes of a Bad Front Electronic Exterior Door Handle

On most cars and on the rear doors of the 08-14 Cadillac CTS, a mechanical lever pushes down on a rod or cable and opens the door when the outside door handle is pulled. On the front doors of the 08-14 CTS, an electronic switch opens the door when the outside door handle is pulled. Sometimes a wiring connector or the switch is faulty, making it difficult to open the door. These electronic outside front door handles are the main cause for door lock problems on the 2nd gen CTS. If you can access the wiring harness for the electronic switch behind the door panel, the steps below explain how to unlock a front stuck door.

How to Fix a Bad Front Electronic Exterior Door Handle

08-14 Cadillac CTS electrical door switch wiring harness
Door handle switch electrical connector wiring. Brown and white wire and blue wire for latch activation. Black and white ground wires beside them.
  • To diagnose the switch, disconnect the electrical connectors
Jumping the door latch with a jumper harness on the electrical connector
Jumping the latch with a jumper harness
  • Make a jumper harness and connect it to the terminal for the brown and white wire and the blue wire. Press the end of the harness to the opposing terminals for the black and white ground wires. If the latch works, the switch needs to be replaced.

3. Wheel Speed Sensor Codes

Scan tool reading wheel speed sensor codes on the 08-14 Cadillac CTS
Check engine light for ABS C-codes

Signs the 2nd Gen (2008-2014) Cadillac CTS has a Wheel Speed Sensor Code

Check engine light reading for any ABS C-code that refers to a wheel speed sensor

What Causes Wheel Speed Sensor Codes

The wheel speed sensor, also known as the ABS speed sensor, measures how often the wheel hub spins. Sometimes the check engine on the 08-14 CTS will appear for a wheel speed sensor code that leads to a bad speed sensor or a bad wheel hub. For example, the reluctor wheel on the wheel hub assembly can crack, causing the sensor to send an inconsistent signal and triggering the check engine light for an ABS speed sensor.

How to Fix Wheel Speed Sensor Codes

How to Diagnose Wheel Speed Sensor Codes with an Advanced Scan Tool
Advanced scan tool reading data from a working ABS speed sensor on the front right wheel
  • An advanced scan tool that can measure the ABS sensors can help diagnose them. With the car raised, turn the wheel by hand and if the scan tool can’t read data from the sensor the sensor is broken. This can also be tested by moving the ABS sensor’s wires around and wiggling the electronic connector during the reading to see if there is an issue with the internal wiring or the electrical connection.
Scan tool checking for spikes on an ABS speed sensor
  • Some scan tools can graph the sensor to check for abrupt spikes up or down that could indicate there’s a break in the reluctor wheel on the wheel bearing of the hub assembly.
How to Diagnose the Wheel Speed Sensor Codes without a Scan Tool
Reluctor wheel location on wheel hub assembly (behind CV axle)
Reluctor wheel location on wheel hub assembly (behind CV axle)
  • On the 2nd gen CTS, the ABS sensor goes through the wheel knuckle and has a reluctor wheel on the wheel bearing of the wheel hub assembly. Sometimes the reluctor wheel crack, so carefully spin the wheel and inspect the reluctor wheel for cracking, which indicates the car has a bad wheel bearing.
Reluctor wheel on wheel hub assembly with marked crack (orange line)
Reluctor wheel on wheel hub assembly with a highlighted crack (orange line)
  • Inspect the ABS wiring for wear and tear
  • Disconnect the electrical connector and inspect it for discoloration or corrosion

4. EVAP Emissions Codes

Signs the 2nd Gen (2008-2014) Cadillac CTS has EVAP Emissions Codes

Check engine light for the evaporative (EVAP) emissions control system

Causes of EVAP Emissions Codes

The evaporative emissions control system contains fuel vapors and keeps them from leaking into the atmosphere. EVAP emissions codes trigger when there’s a potential fuel vapor leak.

How to Fix EVAP Emissions Codes

Checking the Gas Cap Area
  • Unless it’s a reading for a circuit code, check the gas cap first. A loose or unsecure gas cap on 2nd gen CTSs can turn on the check engine light
Gas cap seal
Gas cap seal
  • Check the gas cap for tightness. Remove the gas cap and inspect the seal for wear and tear like cracking, breaking, or missing pieces.
fuel filler neck
Fuel filler neck
  • Inspect the filler neck for rust or corrosion, which can trigger an EVAP code on the 2nd gen CTS for a small leak
Checking the EVAP Purge Solenoid
Purge valve
Purge valve
  • The EVAP purge solenoid valve, also known as a purge valve, is located next to the exhaust manifold on the passenger side. If a circuit code for the purge control valve appears, the CTS probably needs a new purge valve.
  • You can remove a line from the purge solenoid valve and test it with a smoke tester or a vacuum tester to see if it has vacuum. If it doesn’t hold vacuum, the purge valve is defective
Checking the Vent Valve
Vent valve location
Vent valve location
  • The vent valve on the 2nd gen CTS is attached to the EVAP canister above the rear differential. Accessing the vent valve on these Cadillacs requires the removal of the rear suspension, which is not a simple or fast procedure.

5. Camshaft Position Code

Signs the 2nd Gen (2008-2014) Cadillac CTS has Camshaft Position Codes

Check engine light for camshaft position codes

Causes of a Camshaft Position Code

Camshaft actuator location
Camshaft actuator location

The camshaft actuators are underneath the valve cover on both sides. The timing chain is attached to them and the camshaft, and it’s how cam-timing gets adjusted on the 08-14 CTS. The solenoids control the oil pressure to the actuators, which changes the timing. Engine oil level and engine oil condition can affect this system.

How to Fix a Camshaft Position Code

  • Since engine oil level and condition affects this system, change the oil regularly with quality engine oil and keep the oil at the appropriate level. Check the oil level first and add oil if necessary. If the oil level is fine, it might be the actuator solenoid valves or the actuators.
Fix your 2nd gen 08-14 Cadillac CTS yourself with quality auto parts at 1aauto.com

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