: STS buying advice - AWD or RWD?

09-10-11, 11:50 PM
Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forum here so please go easy if I come off as a bit naive.

I was very recently the victim of an auto theft, and while waiting for my insurance claim to be settled I've been driving a rented Cadillac (a 2011 DTS). I've never experienced a Cadillac before, and I must say I am beyond impressed! So much so that I am now looking to purchase a Cadillac to replace my stolen vehicle; with luck, my claim will be settled by the end of this coming week.

While I like the DTS a lot, I have been leaning towards getting an STS, particularly a 2007 or newer model. My top choice would be a Raven Black with Light Grey or Light Tan interior, but I'm not picky when it comes to color combination so long as it looks good. Besides, buying used sometimes means you don't always get exactly what you want.

However, I am having trouble deciding whether I should go with an AWD STS4 or a RWD STS? I've recently moved to Michigan which, from my understanding, has some rather bad winters, so AWD may be the better option. However, I'm a bit concerned about both the fuel economy and potential repair costs (more moving parts typically means more wear and tear). I've read on the forum here that some people feel the RWD handles better and feels more 'nimble', which is something I like. But I don't know what a RWD STS will be like in the winter months. Regardless of which version I get I'll undoubtedly get a set of snow tires for the winter.

Any insight from those of you who may have some experience with both the AWD and the RWD versions of the STS would be highly appreciated.

Thanks very much in advance.

09-11-11, 12:36 AM
Have you ever driven a RWD car in the snow? I suggest AWD or a FWD DTS for Michigan winters.

09-11-11, 12:44 AM
Thanks for the response.

Most of my winter driving experience has been behind the wheel of FWD 4-cylinder cars, but I did drive a RWD Chevy Malibu (this is going back almost 20 years ago) in winters, although I will admit it was very sparingly. I did drive my '89 Corvette in the snow once, which was NOT fun to say the least.

I will admit, I've never driven a car (FWD, RWD, or AWD) with snow tires. I would think a set of snow tires on a modern day RWD car like the STS, with it's electronic driver aids (like traction control, stability control, ABS, etc...) would make a difference, no?

09-11-11, 12:56 AM
After you drive an AWD STS with Blizzaks in the snow you wouldn't walk across the street to drive anything else in similar conditions.

09-11-11, 02:34 AM
We get some nasty winters in Alberta and I would not purchase another RWD car, unless it was a summer only car. My tires last winter were still stock and not that great. Despite this, I had ZERO problems and I attribute this to my AWD. As far as I'm concerned, if you have much snow in the winter there is no real option. The 2008 STS underwent a bit of a facelift that I much prefer to prior years. Whatever you do, buy an extended warranty! I think pretty much anyone here on the forum will likely make the same (warranty) recommendation.

09-11-11, 09:49 AM
Thanks for the responses.

I think it's unanimous regarding the AWD vs. RWD argument. Given the driving conditions I'm going to be facing, I should definitely go for the AWD version.

But ddalder has raised an interesting subject I hadn't thought about: extended warranty. I was under the impression that later STSs (2006+) were relatively trouble-free vehicles. This may be opening a big can of worms, but are these cars riddled with problems that are not being reported outside of an enthusiast site like this? Are these issues severe (ie. leave you stranded or cost thousands to fix) or are they relatively minor? I'm fairly mechanically inclined, and have never shied away from doing my own work to my cars. But when it comes to a daily driver (as an STS would be for me) I tend to prefer letting professional mechanics or the dealer look after things; I'm a big proponent in preventative maintenance too. Not to doubt ddalder's suggestion, but is an extended warranty really needed?

Also, from what I've read it seems the V6 gets about the same fuel economy as the NorthStar V8. Other than initial cost, is there a reason NOT to get a NorthStar V8 equipped STS4? Are the V6s more reliable with respect to fluid leaks, mechanical issues, electrical problems, etc... than the V8? I know the NorthStar isn't perfect - I've read posts re: intake bolts coming loose - but I haven't really read much about the V6, either good or bad. Thoughts?

Forgive me if my questions seem a bit "basic". This would be my first Cadillac, so I am trying to gather as much info as I can before purchasing anything.

Thanks again for your responses.

09-11-11, 10:08 AM
When we lived in the high-country of CO, my wife had a '95 Intrepid with rudimentary, but pretty effective, traction control. FWD, and a well-balanced car. The first think we did, the day after we got to Evergreen, in January 1998, was to go into Denver, buy four steel wheels, and immediately get bona-fide studless snows. The difference was night and freakin' day.

My ride was a '94 Grand Cherokee limited, V8, Quadra-Trac, and unfortunately the MPG to match it. A really nice truck, and unstoppable off-road/on-road, save for mechanical, um, 'issues'.

Unless there was more than about 6" of snow on the ground, I took her car to work whenever possible. However, there was a point, 8", at which her car's bumpers started plowing, and you'd get stuck. If there was a storm in the forecast, I'd take the Jeep.

Her Intrepid, Sheba, was unstoppable on Yokohama Guardex 600's, studless snows. If you need to get from point A to point B all winter, don't even look at RWD, even with a limited slip diff and dedicated snows. Yeah, you'll get around okay, but it'll be much more work than it should be...and in this case, you have a very viable option!

On the intake bolt bit, I've had the same issue on a couple of Mercedes, too...a W126 and a W124. No biggie, it seems. Both of those cars had intake manifold bolts which could be turned by hand. Meh. (I know how lucky I am, believe me...that 'meh' is kinda sarcastic)

GM's big, no, HUGE weak spot used to be the automagic transmission. With the STS/DTS/CTS, they seem to have figured it out. However, for me, NO transmission fluid is "lifetime", just isn't. The OEM synthetic in my wife's RX300 is supposed to be 'lifetime', too, but I change it every 30K. Don't tow with that car, don't abuse it, it's almost recreationally driven, but still, if the fluid gets hot one time, really hot, more than about 250F, it's breaking down at an accelerated rate.

FWIW, I have a RWD N*, love it, and am dead-set to move back to CO. However, my wife's car is now an AWD Lexus RX300, and I'm about to put BFG All-Terrains on it, so we'll still have a great snow car. That tall-Camry wagon will go places you'd not expect it can, if one is careful but not afraid. I've had it with one wheel in the air, more than once, intentionally, off-road.

I could hear very distant screaming, in Japanese, when I was doing it... :)

09-11-11, 02:08 PM
Well, since I've had my car in December of 2010, these items were replaced under initial factory warranty:

LF Outside Door Handle Assembly - Proximity Keyless Entry Non-Functional.
RF Outside Door Handle Assembly - Proximity Keyless Entry Non-Functional.
LR TPMS Sensor - Reported Low Pressure Despite Being Normal.
Head-Up Display Projector - Would Not Adjust Downward.
Navigation Radio - Would Not Accept Navigation Disc, $4K Item if Not Under Warranty.
Lane Departure Warning Module - Internal Fault On Self Diagnostic.
RF Ouside Mirror Assembly - Only 1/2 of Side Blind Zone Indicator Illuminated.
LF Seat Switch Trim - Chronically Pops Off.
High Pressure Steering Hose - Leaking.
L & R Front Magnetic Ride Control Shocks - Weeping.
L & R Front Wheel Hub Assemblies - Cyclic Droning While Cornering.
LF Inside Door Handle Assembly - Peeling Chrome.

I've also replaced the RR TPMS sensor but now that I'm under extended warranty, I paid for it myself as it was cheaper than the $100 deductible. When I bought the car, it was obvious from the condition of the interior and exterior it was not abused. It had just under 50,000 km (31,000 mi). Front outside door handles are a well known problem with these cars, as are some of the other problems. I'm very particular in that if GM put something in the car, I expect it to work. Many people let some of the little things slide so some problems may not be a big deal.

If you look around the STS forum at anyone asking for pre-purchase advice, you'll find a number of threads where members strongly recommend a warranty. These are nice cars, as long as they work. When they don't, they are quite expensive to maintain. It isn't so much the engine or transmission you need to worry about, it's all the other things. With the exception of loose intake manifold bolts (another common problem with the N*), I've had no trouble at all with the powertrain.

On a final note, being mechanically inclined is helpful but you may still be very limited in what you can do. Without the correct tools, many problems are difficult to accurately diagnose. I own a Tech2 so for me, I've got a bit of an advantage. These cars have a lot of technology in them. I took mine to a big city Cadillac dealership for service. The technician didn't agree with my diagnosis, yet seven service visits later, they replaced the components I initially identified as faulty and I haven't had a repeat problem since. Even some of the Cadillac dealers don't have a good handle on some of this stuff.

09-11-11, 04:11 PM
CPO = Certified Pre Owned

CPO is a dealer only warranty extension that will save your bacon when the electronics in these cars flake out.

I too have a laundry list of work done under warranty & CPO, and without the CPO I would have abandoned this car a year ago. With the CPO it remains my favorite car I've ever owned.

As for AWD v. RWD it comes down to tires. I nearly spun my '06 V8 RWD several times in rain and snow (Chicago) while still on the OEM tires with 30K miles. After getting Blizzaks for the winter & new high performance all season tires for summer I haven't had any issues. The V8 will quickly outperform worn tires.

09-11-11, 04:30 PM
I'm not sure what the rules are for CPO warranties. I understand not all dealerships can offer this. Mine did not have a CPO warranty, but I wonder if this isn't because it was still covered under the initial factory warranty when I bought it. From what I've gathered, CPO is definitely the best first stage warranty when buying used from a dealership.

09-11-11, 05:00 PM
only cadillac dealers can do CPO ... kind of makes sense... if they're not offering it on a car they can often add it in for you

09-11-11, 08:02 PM
Just so I understand, are you saying that in order to sell certified pre-owned cars you must be a Cadillac dealer, or only certified pre-owned Cadillac's?

09-11-11, 08:16 PM
the only way to get a pre-owned cadillac certified is to be a cadillac dealer

other used car places can re-sell those cars (once the car is certified the warranty follows the car, just like the factory warranty)
but even a chevy dealer cannot add the CPO to a cadillac that doesn't already have it - only cadillac dealers can sell the warranty

i hope that clarifies it

09-11-11, 08:36 PM
Kind of helps. I have a dealership about five minutes away that claimes to be the only "Certified Pre-Owned" dealership in my part of the city. They are a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, dealership but not Cadillac. I'm assuming they can offer CPO status on any of those lines then, but not Cadillac? Unless of course the rules vary in Canada.

09-11-11, 09:04 PM
It's my understanding .... only a Cadillac dealership can certify a Cadillac for sale as a "Certified Cadillac". I purchased an STS from a Cadillac dealership that wasn't being promoted as a "certified car". I asked them if it would qualify for certification (of course at the additional cost). They "looked into it" and informed me it qualified. I paid an extra 12-1300 and got it certified. I think it was worth it .... I'd do it again.

Kind of helps. I have a dealership about five minutes away that claimes to be the only "Certified Pre-Owned" dealership in my part of the city. They are a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, dealership but not Cadillac. I'm assuming they can offer CPO status on any of those lines then, but not Cadillac? Unless of course the rules vary in Canada.

09-11-11, 09:19 PM
The "process" of CPO is that a Cadillac dealership inspects/reviews a used car in their inventory and if the meets certain specifications it can be sold with the CPO warranty. CPO is a bumper-to-bumper warranty (excluding tires, lamps, ...) that extends to 100K miles or 6 years from the in service date of the car.

The dealer charged me $1,500 for mine, and based on the prices charged to warranty on my service invoices I've saved over $5,000 in service costs over the last 2.5 years. And that doesn't even include the free loaners. I've never missed a day of work waiting on car repairs. Best $1,500 investment I ever made.

09-12-11, 09:29 PM
Hi everyone.

Lots of great pieces of advice and personal experiences - thanks very much for sharing your insights!

The extended warranty wasn't something I considered at first, but now I'm starting to think twice. Not that I don't have any faith in Cadillac products, but as has been said here before, when these cars aren't working they can be expensive to fix.

I think I'll target finding an STS at a local Cadillac dealer before visiting any non-cadillac dealers. It's too bad... I've found a few really nice STS4s at non-Cadillac dealers. Any way to get a CPO status or an extended GM warranty if not purchased at a Cadillac/GM dealer?

09-12-11, 10:31 PM
cars that were CPO'd at a dealer often find themselves on used car lots... The warranty follows the car (remember)

often that used car lot may not know that the car is CPO ... run the VIN at local dealers (or send it to me) and you'll quickly find out what warranty the car has on it

so don't rule out the used car lots, but often a dealer's service dept will treat you better if you buy the car there (not really right but a reality you have to take into account)

sometimes it might be worth it to pay for a 'check and test' at a dealer when you are serious about a car from another used lot - another thing to think about

09-12-11, 10:59 PM
And if the car turns out not to have warranty left, you can still buy a warranty regardless of where you purchase the car (dealer or otherwise). I have always purchased GMPP warranties. You can purchase this at any dealership but if the car is out of base warranty it will be subject to an inspection. I'm pretty sure part of this includes repairing any deficiencies found before they'll sell you a warranty. You'd need to check cost with the dealership (and this does vary). It is based on model year, term and type of warranty. You should shop around different dealerships though. I recently bought one for my STS and there was a $1,000 spread (lowest to highest quote) on the very same GMPP warranty. A GMPP warranty is not the same as CPO which is why you can purchase it from any dealership, Cadillac or otherwise.

There are also lots of "aftermarket" warranties but I tend to stay away from those for a number of reasons.

09-13-11, 06:22 AM
I had come across the term GMPP earlier, but didn't look into it much. I think I'll do that now based on the suggestion.

But what's the difference between a GMPP warranty and a CPO warranty? I'm guessing the coverage will be different, but are these differences significant? Can a GMPP warranty be tailored to suit a buyers needs (ie. bumper-to-bumper, powertrain only, more miles/years, more/less deductible, etc...)?

09-13-11, 12:28 PM
There are three levels of GMPP. They have different names here in Canada so I won't start quoting those or it will just add confusion. Basically, there is no "bumper to bumper" warranty as the extended warranty won't cover some items, even with the top level plan. I think this will be true of any extended warranty. Have a look at their website and you'll be able to find answers to your questions.

Seems I can't post a link to their site from here.... so, google "gmprotectionplan" and go to their .com website.

An important point to note is the warranty period for GMPP is from the original in service date for the vehicle. As an example, if you purchase a 60/100 warranty, the coverage is for 60 months from the date the FIRST owner took delivery or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. It isn't an "additional" 60 months or 100,000 miles from when you purchase the warranty. You are purchasing the difference in time/mileage between the factory warranty and the term selected for the extended warranty. This will help you to know which warranty option to consider. You will also need to know the original in-service date of your car. You should be able to get this from you local dealer by providing the VIN.

I can't answer your question about the differences between a CPO and GMPP warranty. I'm sure someone will chime in who knows.

09-14-11, 03:54 PM
I have a Cadillac STS V6 1SC (Luxury Performance pkg) that I bought from my cousin (Dealer) thru Insurance Auction and no warranty, but I got the car for so cheap (salvage title) that I couldn't say no even with the 117k miles it acme with it has 125k now. Yep, I took a big risk I never owned a car and never knew about anything 10 months ago.

I went through the worse Winter of my life, NYC Winter 2010 was so bad that I got my car into a 24hr parking garage for 3 months (February, March, April) even though January was pretty bad too. I left the stock crappy tires it had and had to research the best Ultra-High Performance All-Season since i don't have a garage to have dedicated season tires. After I did change the tires, to Continental DWS I did see an improvement with the car in rain and snow. I can't say its the best in snow, because I do not have the best winter tires but my DWS tires does the best job from all All-Season tires in Dry, Wet & Snow thanks to tirerack.com reviews.

09-14-11, 06:23 PM
Thanks again for the suggestions and personal insights - I can't express how much I'm now looking forward to getting an STS4!

I had my first disappointment yesterday though. I went to a dealer to check out a loaded '07 STS4 with N* V8 and Nav that had 74,000 miles on the clock. High miles for the age, but the price was right and it had everything I wanted, except for the color. I contacted the dealer at 10a to ask if the vehicle was still available, and they said yes. After several emails between myself and the dealership, we had agreed that I could go see the car at 5p after work. When I got to the dealership at 4:45p, I was informed the car had just sold and was no longer there. My heart sank.

They tried to show me an '08 CTS, with lower miles, nowhere near as much equipment, and more money (of course), but I wasn't interested.

I have trouble believing that the car sold as quickly as they claim. Was it bait and switch? Maybe.

Oh well, the search continues...

09-14-11, 08:50 PM
Sounds like two salespeople were working the car. Could be coincidence.

09-16-11, 06:09 PM
The CTS is nice and looks more modern and def sportier. You won't go wrong with either STS or CTS

09-20-11, 10:39 AM
Hey just read this and think everyone would like this. I AM SOLD!!!!


09-20-11, 11:47 AM
hahaha... i remember that article...

so when are you getting your V?

09-20-11, 08:40 PM
LOL I'll keep enjoying STS RWD V6 for a little longer till I can find a nice CTS-V

09-20-11, 08:53 PM
there is F-16 technology in this car and lots of cadillac dealers cant repair these cars

09-20-11, 08:55 PM
Dont forget to change the oil in the t-case ,it is important so you will not burn it..... it cost me one

09-20-11, 10:33 PM
Most STS' are not likely to strand someone. Batteries do get weak and some V-6 owners have had timing chain issues but odds are, it's the other troubles that will prove expensive. Roadside assistance is included or a cheap insurance option.

Looked at one way, you gotta pay to play. My CPO easily paid for itself but my wife's aftermarlket warranty is yet to do so. Either way, we've known our costs. Overall, we love driving our cars and haven't spent much to drive feature-filled luxury touring sedans since 2008.

09-23-11, 08:20 PM
I am not sure I have heard of any modern car that is likely to strand someone

The engine and drive train of almost everything is solid...unless its been abused

Its the electronics that are the wallet killers
..as I have said before.....
you have to be very careful of a car that loses value quickly that has a lot of electrical issues...one can find them selves spending more than the car is worth trying to keep it at 100%
Case in point....look at the 2001-2003..Aurora V8 and STS

typical repair cost/value of the car are very close

the one caveat( plus) with the Aurora is that you dont have to worry about Magride suspension issues

Its more to repair that than an older STS is worth

Having owned both of them...the Aurora V8 is 90% of the STS