Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.
Cadillac
 

Cadillac Forums | Help Us Help You | Advertise | Cadillac Parts | Cadillac News | Cadillac Classifieds / (Old System)

Cadillac Technical Archive | Cadillac Dealers | Cadillac Reviews | Cadillac Dealer Reviews | Cadillac Vendors

CadillacForums.com is the premier Cadillac Forum on the internet. Registered Users do not see the above ads.
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 31
Cadillac CTS First Generation Forum - 2003 - 2007 Discussion, Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside. in Cadillac CTS Coupe, Sport Sedan and Sport Wagon Forums; Hello, I used to be a regular on these forums back when I had my 04 CTS (3.6L, sport luxury). ...
  1. #1
    Top-Gun is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2004 CTS 3.6L Sport Luxury
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    61

    Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    Hello,

    I used to be a regular on these forums back when I had my 04 CTS (3.6L, sport luxury). I loved the car but was unfortunately forced to get rid of it when the factory transmission cooler in the radiator failed at 100,000 km's. This allowed coolant into the transmission and trans fluid into the cooling system which caused havoc. The vehicle required a new transmission/torque converter, radiator, thermostat, waterpump, and all associated cooling hoses. The repair bill was so astronomical that I was forced to sell the vehicle at a massive loss after only owning it for a short period of time. I contacted GM as this was clearly a manufacturing defect, however they told me where to go as the car was just out of warranty. Stupidly, I sucked it up and purchased another GM product.

    It gets better, my father also owns a nearly identical 2004 CTS and this past week it too failed in the exact same way with only 120,000 kms on the clock. While getting the car assessed for repair, the dealership mechanic noted that they had also just replaced a trans in another CTS for the same reason.

    Being as how all three of these cars have been ruined by the exact same problem, I'm looking to find out how widespread this issue is? Has anyone else experienced a failure of the factory transmission cooler? I know its a losing battle but I really want to elevate this with GM, I'm sick of being taken for a sucker.

    Thanks

  2. Remove Advertisements
    CadillacForums.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    briggy's Avatar
    briggy is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
    Automobile(s): CTS 3.6L 2005 80,000 Miles
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Age
    39
    Posts
    805

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    This is the first time I'm hearing of this issue. Did the tech mention if the problem was specific to 04 models or others. Last question is how exactly did it fail?

  4. #3
    Top-Gun is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2004 CTS 3.6L Sport Luxury
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    61
    Thread Starter

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    Both of our cars were 04's, the tech did not mention what year the one they just did was. Mine failed gradually, I began to notice a sludge forming in my coolant overflow reservoir shortly followed by the thermostat failing. I replaced the T-stat and flushed the cooling system, and after some time it again became discolored with sludge forming in the overflow. I then began to get transmission codes, and draining the trans fluid revealed a strawberry milkshake looking substance. At this point I replaced the rad as the cooler was diagnosed as the root cause and again replaced all the fluids, but by now it was too late. The trans completley failed shortly after due to the coolant attacking the frictions and seals. The repair quote from multiple dealerships was in the range of $7000-$9000 and the trans was too much for me to take on at home (tech 2 required). I traded the car in however I got very little for it as I was honest about the condition.

    My fathers car failed a little more suddenly and actually pressurized the cooling system to the point that it blew fluid out of the overflow reservoir. The coolant was discolored in the same manner, and the transmission was full of coolant. A pressure test proved the trans cooler to again be the culprit.

    I really want to get ahold of the old rad to see if I can find the failure mode, maybe its isolated to a batch of parts that was used in 04's? Either way its extremely frustrating and has really soured me on GM products.

  5. #4
    Pwayne is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
    Automobile(s): Cadillac
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    179

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    Please follow thru and let us know if it was isolated to 04, and which engines. Put this on top of the cheesy timing chains they gave us that are breaking on many members and you really start to wonder. I really like my car, but sometimes I wonder if I should bail out while everything is still good (2005, 3.6, 75K miles)

  6. #5
    ghettomike's Avatar
    ghettomike is offline Cadillac Owners Master
    Automobile(s): 03 CTS 3.2L (Sold) / 09 CBR 600rr /2014 GMC Sierra
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    off the grid.
    Age
    30
    Posts
    7,915

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    extremely common from 03-06... i havent heard of any 07s yet but im sure they will follow.
    if you search you will find hundreds of threads on it and i wouldnt be surprised if the STS has the same issue on their 3.6
    i was luckey as i had just read about it and when my line blew off i lots all power, shifted neutral pulled over and shut down, the second i hit the gas and had no power i knew it was the line. i had to replace the tranny lines, rad and did a full transmission filter and fluid flush. it ended up costing 11-1200 i think but i did a lot of the work myself and just towed it in to be filled and lines attached otherwise it would have probably hit 2grand.

    what happens is the lines build up corrosion around the threads, it weakens and starts to push out then all of a sudden it blows off and strips the threads.... its a horrible design, should have been made with stainless and double the amount of threads on the line bolt.
    me gaetano and caddykid all had this issue and probably tx, i know of reading about at least 2 other canada guys that had it blow off
    mine
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...hanks-tow.html
    and a lot more

    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...-radiator.html
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...luid-line.html
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...wont-move.html
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...car-ready.html
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...line-part.html
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...ase-reply.html
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...luid-line.html
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...ler-issue.html
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...-need-oil.html
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...-radiator.html

    there is a lot more of these but i think you get the point...

  7. #6
    ghettomike's Avatar
    ghettomike is offline Cadillac Owners Master
    Automobile(s): 03 CTS 3.2L (Sold) / 09 CBR 600rr /2014 GMC Sierra
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    off the grid.
    Age
    30
    Posts
    7,915

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pwayne View Post
    Please follow thru and let us know if it was isolated to 04, and which engines. Put this on top of the cheesy timing chains they gave us that are breaking on many members and you really start to wonder. I really like my car, but sometimes I wonder if I should bail out while everything is still good (2005, 3.6, 75K miles)
    you dont have to bail, you have to read this forum and then keep a eye on things you have seen go bad on others cars.. if i were you i would be all over those tranny lines right now before something bad happens because trust me it is going to. fix it now for cheap, just buy a new rad and get the tranny flushed, the rad comes with the bolt that breaks the threads so the rad seems to be the faulty part.

  8. #7
    Pwayne is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
    Automobile(s): Cadillac
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    179

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    The way the thread was started up top, it sounded like his trans. cooler failed internally, and mixed the fluids together. Sounds like this is a problem AS WELL AS the problem with the threads blowing out. The thread problem is bad, but probably not as bad as the other failure. If your threads fail you should know right away. If your tranny cooler starts leaking into your radiator, you might not know until it's too late.

    WOW, a lot of real cheap parts in our cars. I wonder what else is lurking.....

    crappy rear diffs
    crappy cam chains
    tranny fittings that fail
    tranny coolers that leak inside the radiator

    What have I gottem myself into here??

  9. #8
    ghettomike's Avatar
    ghettomike is offline Cadillac Owners Master
    Automobile(s): 03 CTS 3.2L (Sold) / 09 CBR 600rr /2014 GMC Sierra
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    off the grid.
    Age
    30
    Posts
    7,915

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    well i now have a aftermarket rad in the cts...maybe its made better than the delco... its the one that my local dealer replaces them with if its not warrenty, also i got it for a better price.
    ewill once explained that the section that the tranny line pushes into (yes its a push in but requires a special GM "J" tool) if the threads come out that the 2 fluids can mix..or something like that.. i cant remember exactly so i dont want to put words into his mouth.
    but either way you cut it its a horrible design, this rad and connectors are junk.

  10. #9
    txbest1980's Avatar
    txbest1980 is offline Cadillac Owners Master
    Automobile(s): 2003 CTS "Ebony Maria" 2005 Cadillac STS "Grace"
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Wherever Uncle Sam sends me
    Age
    34
    Posts
    6,441

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghettomike View Post
    but either way you cut it its a horrible design, this rad and connectors are junk.
    i 2nd that mike...i to have an aftermarket rad in my car, and i noticed yesterday while putting on the new wheels that i have a leak by that damn fitting

  11. #10
    Top-Gun is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2004 CTS 3.6L Sport Luxury
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    61
    Thread Starter

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    Hmm interesting info. I'll inspect the fittings on the old rad to see if theres anything obvious, however my problem was a little different in that the failure was internal (i.e. I didn't have any external leakage). Over time the coolant and transfluid intermixed until the mixture destroyed the transmission and cooling system components with little to no warning of a problem. I religiously maintain my vehicles and it was because of this that I noticed the discoloration in the coolant, most would probably never know until major damage was done.

    The big concern is that once even the slightest bit of glycol gets into the trans, it pretty much destroys it. The seals all swell up and the glycol attacks the bonding material that holds the friction material in place. Likewise, the transmission fluid will eat the seals on the water pump and thermostat, as well as make all the rubber coolant lines swell and sludge up.

    I replaced my CTS with a Pontiac G8 GT and it too has been a word of problems, I just hope the rad/trans cooler is made by someone else in the G8.

  12. #11
    cabletech is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
    Automobile(s): 2004 CTS 3.2L M35 LtPt
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    220

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    So why not go with an aftermarket cooler (like a B&M Supercooler) and bypass the factory transmission "cooler" altogether? I've been running Supercoolers for years, no problems on those cars. First and only mod on my truck was a Supercooler...

  13. #12
    ghettomike's Avatar
    ghettomike is offline Cadillac Owners Master
    Automobile(s): 03 CTS 3.2L (Sold) / 09 CBR 600rr /2014 GMC Sierra
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    off the grid.
    Age
    30
    Posts
    7,915

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    Quote Originally Posted by cabletech View Post
    So why not go with an aftermarket cooler (like a B&M Supercooler) and bypass the factory transmission "cooler" altogether? I've been running Supercoolers for years, no problems on those cars. First and only mod on my truck was a Supercooler...
    i was actually just thinking about a hour ago that im going to put that on the list of projects for the winter..shame i tossed out my other rad that only had a broken fitting, i was holding on to it incase someone with a manual posted they blew their rad i was going to just give it to them but after keeping it for a year it was just getting in the way.
    i could have put it back in ran the external cooler and sold a perfectly good one that only has maybe 15km on it...really dont want the fluids mixing.

    gm should just release a recall that they add a external cooler plug the holes and call it a day...everyone would be happy and no more scare of these issues.

    does anyone know how we start placing a complaint and get a petition to form a recall and refund? (usually with a recall if you have proof of the expense they will refund the cost)

  14. #13
    Top-Gun is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2004 CTS 3.6L Sport Luxury
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    61
    Thread Starter

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    An aftermarket external cooler is great for vehicles that exclusively see warm climates. However, I'm in Canada where the winters get cold and an external cooler is not a good option. The reason for this is that in the cold months, the internal radiator transmission cooler actually warms the transmission fluid with engine coolant heat. In cold weather, it is possible that the transmission will never achieve operating temp if a standalone cooler is used exclusively (also bad news). This is why when you look at the install instructions for one of these, they usually state that they should be installed in series with the factory cooler.

    The real problem is, once this failure occurs (which has no warning) your on the hook for a serious repair bill since the transmission will almost certainly be destroyed.

    If there is a way to get a petition or formal complaint logged with GM, count my father and I in. As I said, I'm sick of this crap from them.

  15. #14
    txbest1980's Avatar
    txbest1980 is offline Cadillac Owners Master
    Automobile(s): 2003 CTS "Ebony Maria" 2005 Cadillac STS "Grace"
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Wherever Uncle Sam sends me
    Age
    34
    Posts
    6,441

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghettomike View Post
    i was actually just thinking about a hour ago that im going to put that on the list of projects for the winter..shame i tossed out my other rad that only had a broken fitting, i was holding on to it incase someone with a manual posted they blew their rad i was going to just give it to them but after keeping it for a year it was just getting in the way.
    i could have put it back in ran the external cooler and sold a perfectly good one that only has maybe 15km on it...really dont want the fluids mixing.
    well mike, i went out and bought a damn tranny cooler today and will be installing it tomorrow. after looking a bit deeper into it, it should be a 20 minute job and definitely going to be well worth it for me, especially since i am getting a slow leak right there at that damn return line fitting...

  16. #15
    Top-Gun is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2004 CTS 3.6L Sport Luxury
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    61
    Thread Starter

    Re: Experienced trans cooler failure? Please step inside.

    While removing the trans cooler lines to pull the rad, we found one of the cooler fittings pulled right out of the rad tank. I presume this failed internally and caused the intermixing of fluids, similar to what others have experienced but the fitting failed internally rather than externally.

    There should really be a class action lawsuit against GM on this. Nearly every CTS will likely have a problem with these by the looks of it and some cases could cause severe transmission and cooling system damage like ours did.

Quick Reply Quick Reply

Register Now

Please enter the name by which you would like to log-in and be known on this site.
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.

Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Bookmarks

Cadillac Posting Rules

  • You may post new threads
  • You may post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Read about Lincoln | Buick | Kia Forte Forum
Need products for your Cadillac? Check out your options at the links below:

custom floor mats | Cadillac Chrome and Black Chrome Wheels | window tinting