What kind of problems does a Cadillac ATS have? This blog has outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for an ATS. However, let’s first start with a quick answer.
The most common problems of a 2013 – 2014 Cadillac ATS are misfiring and coolant leaks in the 2.0t engine, electrical failures because of a bad battery, and transmission shuddering because of a detached transmission shift cable. 2013, 2016 – 2017 model years also had a loss of power steering.
However, that certainly doesn’t tell you the complete story about the problems several model years of the ATS have experienced. In the article below, we’ll thoroughly discuss all model years of the ATS. We’ll also discuss what caused these problems and if any recalls were issued. Read on!
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We Use Real World Vehicle Data To Create This List Of Problems
Before we dive into the most common problems, let’s quickly explain how we created this list.
This data comes from vehicle owners like you. It’s based on real data from real drivers. No guesswork or hypotheticals here.
We use resources like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and many others, to review the most common complaints issues by owners along with the full history of recalls and active investigations.
From there, our team of automotive experts takes a closer look into each problem and breaks down why it happens, what you can do to prevent it, and how to fix it.
We review the data and interpret the results to make your life easier. Now that you understand how we came up with this list, let’s get into it!
1. 2.0T Engine Misfiring
One of the most significant problems you’ll come across with the 2013 and early 2014 ATS models is the fact that the 2.0T engine had a design flaw. This was because these engines, because they’re turbos, generate a lot of heat and pressure. Cadillac stated that the pistons of the 2.0T engine would become damaged because of a pre-ignition condition (misfiring).
Common symptoms of this problem were misfiring of the engine, stalling, and the check engine light illuminating. Owners reported their vehicles stalled on highways, which causes dangerous situations.
Cadillac did eventually figure out what the solution to this problem was. In a technical service bulletin, dealers were ordered to reprogram the engine control module (ECM) with a revised spark control calibration. Furthermore, they had to install spark plugs with a colder heat range.
Later 2014 models, and all models years after, haven’t had problems with the pistons, which indicates the problem was fixed.
2. 2.0T Engine Coolant Leaks
Besides the commonly complained about misfiring, the 2.0T engine was also notorious for burning an incredible amount of oil. This was mainly a problem in the 2013 – 2014 models. Once again, this would result in engine stalling and, in some cases, lead to overheating of the engine and even smoke coming from the hood.
As it turns out, the timing cover gasket in these vehicles was leaking, which created a phenomenon called ‘seepage’ in which oil drips (or leaks) out of it and causes all these problems. In the image below, you can see all the dried-up oil on the turbo.
Unfortunately, this problem wasn’t covered by the standard Cadillac warranty, which was a shame given the problem typically occurred around the 40,000 – 50,000 miles mark, which is quite early for a vehicle to show this kind of problem. Furthermore, replacing the timing cover gasket on an ATS typically costs $800, which is quite a sum as well.
3. Electrical Failures
Owners of the 2013 – 2014 Cadillac ATS also had to deal with a host of electrical problems, which all seemed to have very little in common. A typical problem for other models as well like the 2017 model year of the Cadillac XT5.
One owner described the situation perfectly:
The car would be completely dead. Several times the radio and steering wheel controls would be blank and not work. I’d undo the battery terminal and they would go back to normal.
Sometimes I would turn on the car and various dash lights would be on and several messages would pop up, such as “power steering drive with care”, “open then close driver window”, “traction control on”, and “battery saver active”.Source
As it turned out, all of these problems were related to a bad battery. Apparently, the OEM battery installed in these early model years could fail at just six months old. Luckily, this problem was solved by installing a new battery which would typically cost $150.
4. Transmission Shuddering And Rollaway Risk
Again a problem that is related to the 2013 – 2014 model year of the Cadillac ATS. In this case, owners complained about heavy shuddering of the vehicle in the 1,500 – 2,000 RPM range. Furthermore, in some cases, it was reported that the ATS had rolled away even though the transmission was put in ‘Park’.
Cadillac did issue a recall for this problem in June 2014 under NHTSA number 14V338000. As it turns out, the problem involved both the 6-speed GM 6L45 Hydra-Matic automatic transmission and the 8-speed GM 8L45 Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Cadillac describes the problem as follows:
These vehicles may have a transmission shift cable that is not fully seated on the shifter and/or transmission bracket. This cable may detach from either bracket and the driver may not be able to select a different gear or place the transmission in Park.Source
The solution involved having dealers ensure that the cable connection is fully seated at the transmission and the shifter bracket. Dealers inspected this by removing the center console trim. This was done free of charge.
5. Loss Of Power Steering
The 2013, 2016, and 2017 model years of the ATS have all had problems with a sudden loss of power steering. Owners complained about this happening suddenly and that its power steering would come back when the car was re-started.
For the 2013 model year, the problem was caused because of a low voltage of the battery that could happen when starting the vehicle. This low voltage would disable the power steering. The solution was to reprogram the power steering control module, which would take a dealer around 25 minutes.
The same symptoms plagued the 2016 – 2017 model year of the ATS. However, in this case, the power steering would be lost randomly instead of after starting the vehicle. As it turned out, the problem was more severe and related to the power steering gear assembly, which needed to be replaced. That’s much different from a power steering fluid leak which is usually what causes this problem in other vehicles.
Luckily, Cadillac issued a recall for this (19V086), and the replacement was performed free of charge.
6. Cue Screen Broken Or Unresponsive
One problem that’s specifically common in the 2013 – 2014 model years of the ATS is the delamination of the cue screen. This means the touchscreen delaminates, starts cracking, and creates something that looks like a spider web on the complete screen, as seen in the picture below.
GM has issued a series of technical service bulletins that address this problem under the following reference numbers: PIC6055, PIC6055A, PIC6055B, and PIC6055C.
However, they’ve failed to issue a recall, and cue screens that fall outside the warranty aren’t reimbursed. This means some owners spend $1,500 to replace the complete infotainment screen. Because of this, two class-action lawsuits were started in September 2019 against GM, but a decision is yet to be made.
7. Rear Defogger Overheats
At the end of 2015, 2013 – 2016, model years of the ATS were recalled (15V558000) because of overheating of the coil antenna module that powers the rear defogger system. This problem was caused because of faulty electronic climate control module software. This software made the coil antenna module stay on all the time, which caused the overheating.
The solution was to update the electronic climate control and remove the automatic ‘on’ function, which was part of it.
8. Unintended Roof Panel Closing
Another 2013 – 2016 ATS recall involved the unintended closing of the roof panel (15V463000). This wasn’t because of an electrical or mechanical malfunction. Instead, it was because the roof panel switches weren’t recessed, which caused occupants to push them without intending to do so.
The vehicles were recalled, and the roof console accessory switch trim plate was replaced free of charge.
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.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!