What kind of problems does a Cadillac SRX have? This blog has outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for an SRX. However, let’s first start with a quick answer.
Both generations of the Cadillac SRX have had problems with hard shifting or transmission failure, clunking noises or vibrations from the suspension, and premature wearing of the timing chain. The 2010 – 2016 model years also had numerous electrical problems because of water leaks and braking and steering problems.
However, that certainly doesn’t tell you the complete story about the problems several model years of the SRX have experienced. In the article below, we’ll thoroughly discuss all model years of the not-that-reliable SRX. We’ll also discuss what caused these problems and if any recalls were issued. Read on!
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Second Generation (2010 – 2016)
1. Exterior Lighting Doesn’t Work
Easily the most complained about element of the second generation of the Cadillac SRX were its headlights. These headlights were such an issue that the website of the NHTSA received more than 500 complaints from 2010 – 2016 SRX owners.
The problem with the headlights was that, over time, they would start to illuminate the road very little or not at all. Of course, this results in dangerous situations. One owner of a 2010 SRX captured the sentiment in the following comment:
When driving at night with my headlights on regular low beam, I can’t see a [XXX] thing! It is beyond dangerous to drive with low beams on.
Unfortunately it has resulted in me driving with my brights on causing oncoming motorists to deal with being vision impaired, making it another dangerous situation! This is completely ridiculous that Cadillac will not recall these headlamps.
I am not able to afford the replacements and was totally unaware of this issue when I purchased this SUV last April. What a shame! I love the car, just hate that I can’t see driving at night.Source
As owners and dealers eventually identified, the problem was that the SRX had faulty weather seals that wore aware prematurely. As a result, water could enter the headlight casing, causing short-circuiting and failing headlight bulbs.
What sounds like an easy fix or a quick recall turned into a customer satisfaction disaster. Cadillac refused to recall the SRX for years on end. So much so that a class-action lawsuit in 2017 eventually determined that Cadillac has to reimburse owners up to $1,600 for any repairs that were done on the SRX.
However, that still left the 2016 SRX owners without reimbursements. As it turns out, this SRX model year also had the problem, and, therefore, another class-action lawsuit was started in 2021. This case hasn’t been settled yet at the moment of writing, but it’s likely these owners will also be reimbursed.
2. Leakage Causes Electrical Problems And Mold
Owners of 2010 – 2013 SRX had other substantial problems because of leakage. Apparently, the cars with a sunroof installed had a faulty sunroof drain hose that would shrink due to changing environmental conditions. When this problem occurred, water was able to leak out of the drain hose and into the interior of the vehicle, where it caused different kinds of damage as described by Cadillac themselves:
Water leaked into the vehicle interior may damage interior components, including wiring, electronic modules, the sound deadener and carpet.Source
Because of this reason, owners complained about electrical systems such as the keyfob malfunctioning. Another commonly heard complaint was mold that became so bad that drivers developed breathing problems when driving the car.
Cadillac acknowledged the problem in its service bulletin and advised dealers to replace the sunroof drain hose when they encountered this problem. However, Cadillac did not recall the almost 222,000 SRX that were involved, nor did they offer financial compensation for any of the vehicles that had the problem already or that still needed to be repaired.
Because of this, Cadillac got hit with another class-action lawsuit, although the court ruled this one to not be covered under warranty and was therefore dismissed. Nevertheless, owners of the SRX have had to pay more than $1,000 to have the sunroof drain hose repaired, and all of these costs have been out of pocket. Read here more about the cost of maintaining a Cadillac SRX.
3. Transmission Problems And Recalls
The second generation of the SRX was undoubtedly equipped with some problematic transmissions. When the SRX first got introduced, it carried an Aisin Warner AF40 6-speed automatic for the 2010 – 2011 model year. From 2012 onwards, it had the Hydra-Matic 6T70.
Aisin Warner AF40
GM also used the AF40 transmission in the Chevy Cruze, and we know that it caused the following problems in both vehicles since it was heavily complained about:
- Shift flare is one of the common issues with the AF40-6 transmission. It indicates that transmission fails to engage correctly into the next gear when upshifting. Essentially, it increases the running speed of an engine before the next gear engagement. Although the problem is prolific with lower gears, it can occur with any shift.
- Another problem with the transmission is hard downshifting. A driver is susceptible to harsh gear engagement when pressing the throttle while a vehicle almost comes to a halt.
GM eventually issued a recall in 2011 under number 11V595000 because the car would not shift into park completely (even though it made you believe it did) or it would not shift out of gear. This specific problem was caused by a transmission shift cable that was not correctly installed and would detach from the transmission bracket.
Realizing the AF40 wasn’t an ideal transmission, Cadillac switched this transmission for the Hydra-Matic 6T70 made by General Motors. They did so in 2012, and this went surprisingly well because the SRX doesn’t seem to have a severe amount of complaints for this model year.
However, problems continued in 2013 when Cadillac had to issue another recall under number 14V212000. Specifically, Cadillac recalled the SRXs with 3.6L engines because these vehicles experienced transmission lag. This meant the vehicle would take 3-4 seconds to accelerate, resulting in dangerous situations.
It turned out the transmission control module was programmed incorrectly, and reprogramming it solved the issue.
However, this did not solve all issues. Besides the problem mentioned in the recall, the 6T70 turned out to be another problematic transmission after all. Owners of the SRX (as well as the Chevy Impala, in which the unit was also used) complained about the following things:
- Overheating is a common problem with the 6T70 transmission. A faulty circuit often causes the issue.
- Another problem with the transmission is the brake switch issue that occurs because of some internal complications.
- A problem with the planetary gear system is another point of concern with the transmission. The gear ratios lead to misconfiguration when it becomes faulty. Consequently, climbing steep slopes and acceleration become problematic.
4. Suspension Clunking And Vibrating
All 2010 – 2016 SRX have had problems with its suspension. The most commonly heard complaint is vibration from the back of the car, whereas rattling and knocking sounds and a stability warning message are other clues to what’s happening.
Cadillac issued a recall for the 2010 – 2015 model years at the end of 2014 under number 14V571000. In it, they described the problems customers had been experiencing and what caused them:
The jam nut in the rear suspension toe adjuster link may not be torqued to the proper specification. A loose toe adjuster link can cause the vehicle to sway or wander at highway speeds. A loose toe adjuster link may lead to thread damage and eventual failure. Failure of the toe adjuster link will cause an abrupt change in the vehicle’s alignment.Source
For this specific recall, dealers were instructed to check the torque on the toe adjuster links and replace them if there were any visible since of damage.
Unfortunately, this recall did not fix the problem as expected. In the middle of 2021, Cadillac, therefore, had to issue another recall under number 21V473000. They stated that owners had been experiencing the same problems as before. Replacing or tightening the previous toe adjuster links hadn’t fixed the problem.
In this recall, the toe adjuster links were replaced with ones that couldn’t be adjusted. However, from the customer complaints that we’ve read, we understand that this recall also didn’t fix the suspension problems. Even after, owners still complain about a vibrating car and premature tread wear on the tires.
5. Timing Chain Issues And Engine Stalling
The engine of the 2010 – 2012 SRX also proved to be a culprit for many owners. Owners complained about the check engine light coming on and the engine stalling. As it turns out, there are two separate problems at play here.
First, there’s the fact that the timing chain of the SRX is a known weak point. So much so that the first generation of SRX had a recall for them because they were wearing prematurely. However, owners of the 2010 – 2012 SRX have also experienced this problem but did not get a recall.
Instead, GM issued a service bulletin (10287C) which stated that the engine control module needed to be recalibrated so that it could indicate more frequent oil changes (read here about what kind of oil is needed for the SRX). However, if your SRX still ended up suffering from this problem (which did happen), no compensation was given if this happened outside of the warranty.
Secondly, there’s the engine stalling that happened in 2010 models. GM did issue a recall for this (10V223000). This engine stalling (if the timing chain issue did not cause it) was the fuel used.
However, the car would completely malfunction (a connecting rod or piston would break) if owners had to use regular gasoline. Especially in situations in which the car was used for optimum performance (such as when you’re towing with an SRX).
The recall involved reprogramming the engine control module to prevent misfiring and make sure the engine wouldn’t blow up if regular gasoline was used for whatever reason.
6. Brake Pedal Assembly Low Build Quality
Significant problems while braking are also on the list of well-known issues that the SRX has. Especially the 2010 – 2012 model years are much complained about, but concerns weren’t completely fixed in the 2013 – 2016 model years.
The most commonly heard symptom was that the owners would press the brake, and the brake pedal would go all the way to the floor. They then had to drag it back up with their foot to have the pedal go back to its original position. At the same time, a warning message would pop up stating ‘brakes overheating.’
My front passenger side brake keeps locking and overheating. I have replaced the calibers 2 times, my brake pads 2 times and the brake hose all in a period of 3 months. My back rear brake light also gets stuck and stays on after i put my car in park and turn off my car.Source
Owners have taken their vehicles in for inspection, where some of them were diagnosed with rusted brake lines, whereas others got the advice to replace the complete brake pedal assembly. Cadillac eventually issued an investigation with this document, stating that dealers had to replace the brake pedal assembly when owners of 2010 – 2015 SRX described this problem.
7. Steering Pump Failure
Another problem that’s worth mentioning for the 2010 – 2012 model years is the fact that the power steering tends to give out. A recall was only issued for the 2010 model year (10V450000). In the case of this model year, a power steering pressure line was damaged during manufacturing which caused a leak of power steering fluid and a loss of power steering.
However, in other cases, owners did not have a brake fluid leak but still had a loss of power steering. For one reason or another, owners found that replacing the original steering pump with a GM-Delco one worked wonders and fixed their problems (even though they had tried many other things before).
I had my son order a brand new GM-Delco Power steering pump from the dealer he works for. We installed it and flushed the system again with the new pump to start. After 2 Cardone- One reman. pumps and 1 used GM pump and a rack, plus many weeks of aggravation, I now have power steering that steers like a hot knife through butter.Source
However, keep in mind that changing the power steering pump in an SRX will cost between $400 – $600, so it’s not a cheap fix.
First Generation (2004 – 2009)
8. Electronic Stability Control Activating Randomly
One of the most common problems with the first generation of the Cadillac SRX was its braking system. Specifically, we’re talking about warning lights from the electronic brake assist system in the 2004 – 2005 model years (although 2006 – 2008 model years have this problem occur less frequently).
The electronic stability control, when activated randomly, would jerk the car left or right because it thought it was correcting incorrect steering from the driver, while in reality, it was causing chaos. The problem seems to be a broken steering wheel sensor, as explained by one owner of a 2004 SRX
Problem as I recall was a broken STEERING WHEEL sensor. The sensor detected the steering wheel turning differently than the wheels, so the Stability System engaged.Source
9. Suspension Falling Apart
Cadillac SRX have had several problems with their suspension. Several recalls have been carried out as well; however, they differ depending on what model year of SRX you have:
- 2004 (04V273000): The control arm is at risk of separating from the knuckle, which will drop the affected corner of the vehicle, force the control arm downwards and contact the wheel, causing it to tilt.
- 2005 (06V125000): The left or right rear suspension has a toe link that could separate because of incorrect welding.
10. Powertrain/Drivetrain Problems
Transmission and drivetrain problems have also plagued the first generation of the SRX. When it comes to the transmission, owners have complained about transmission failure, which, in many cases, was due to a failing transfer case. Furthermore, two recalls were carried out, one for the transmission and one for the differential.
- 2004 (08V527000): the transmission could switch from the ‘park’ position to the neutral while the vehicle was on or off, resulting in a risk of rolling away.
- 2005 (07V589000): rear differential failure because the rear axle pinion seal may experience a fluid leak.
11. Timing Chain Failure
The 2007 – 2009 SRX had a recall because owners complained about engine failure or stalling. This was caused because the timing chain could wear prematurely. This was because the interval between oil changes was too large, leading to premature wear.
12. Tailpipe Too Long
One final thing to be aware of is that many people sustained burn marks on their legs when reaching into the tailgate because the tailpipe of the 2004 SRX was too long compared to the bumper.
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
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