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Discussion Starter #1
I’m looking at possibly buying a 08 CTS. It looks really nice inside and out. Clean carfax. Has both keys, manual etc... I have not test driven it yet which leads me to this post. It has 109k miles which to me, is a lot. What are some things I should look for when checking out the car? The few things I know are - these cars guzzle oil sometimes, so I will check that. I’ve read about the clunk noise when putting in gear. I’ve read there are known timing chain issues, but not sure how to recognize the issue, but am aware the fix was only covered after 10 years - which has expired. I’m not too familiar with them otherwise.

So, I’m potentially buying a high mileage (109k) 08 CTS 3.6L Cadillac. When I go to view and test drive it, what are some known issues I should look for?
Car is claimed all highway miles, what are known issues I can expect to eventually encounter?
If car was well maintained, what kind of mileage do people get out of these cars before disasters happen?

Thanks in advance guys!! I appreciate all replies!
 

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2011 CTS Coupe Premium
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Well that's about 10k per year which is OK as long as price reflects the mileage. Does it have good tires ? Should be on about the third set now and the quality of the tires is an indicator of how well the maintenance was done.
When was the last oil change and what kind of oil (+1 if recent and synthetic). How does it drive ? Everything work ?

With the VIN a caddy dealer can tell you if the timing chain has been changed and if the car is still covered.

Battery should have been changed. +1 if AGM.

Any trouble codes recorded ? Any rust (do not know where you are).

If you have a gauge, oil pressure should be about 25 psi at hot idle and over 50 over 50.

Are a lot of factors but price should be well under $10k. Can check what KBB.COM has to say.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well that's about 10k per year which is OK as long as price reflects the mileage. Does it have good tires ? Should be on about the third set now and the quality of the tires is an indicator of how well the maintenance was done.
When was the last oil change and what kind of oil (+1 if recent and synthetic). How does it drive ? Everything work ?

With the VIN a caddy dealer can tell you if the timing chain has been changed and if the car is still covered.

Battery should have been changed. +1 if AGM.

Any trouble codes recorded ? Any rust (do not know where you are).

If you have a gauge, oil pressure should be about 25 psi at hot idle and over 50 over 50.

Are a lot of factors but price should be well under $10k. Can check what KBB.COM has to say.
Thanks for the reply. I will answer to the best of my ability:

Tires are new all around - under 2000 miles on them. They are Cooper Zeon RS3 tires. However, Rims are a little beat up.

Oil was done 1000~ miles ago synthetic 5-30 I think.

I have not test driven it yet, so I can’t give a opinion on how it drives and what works. Although I’m told it has zero mechanical flaws.

He said the timing chain was done - good idea to call the dealer and see!

Not sure on battery. No sure on rust - what are know problem areas for rust? I will look when I go see it.

I do not have an oil gauge, but don’t these cars have some type of oil pressure reader in the dash settings??

Currently no SES lights - not sure what’s in the vehicle history

He’s asking 5k$ for it. The interior is white and practically perfect. There is a large scuff on front passenger bumper and the rims are bad, 3/10. But that’s it for cosmetic flaws

Anything else?
 

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Test drive more than one, you need reference points for ride quality. Take it to a shop that can connect a scan tool to it and see if an engine code was cleared within the recent past and if there are any pending codes. A record is usually kept in memory for a certain amount of miles after a code is cleared. I am not sure whether or not a battery disconnect can erase that history. It would be a very good idea to find someone with a scan tool that can check for any existing codes, particularly those associated with the body control module (BCM) that do not turn on the engine light when they are present, if the owner will allow.

Function test EVERYTHING. If it has remote start, test it, if it doesn't work, there's a problem. Take your time and get what you want, don't rush, there's no shortage of good deals. Don't take anyone's word for anything, ask for proof. Your money is worth its face value, you want an equally fair shake in return with the purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to test drive multiple different CTSs. I just moved and need to purchase a car ASAP for work, as the uber costs are astronomical.

I don’t have my heart set on this car. I just saw it was fairly cheap for what you get, looked like good condition and I LOVE the interior. I have owed a 2003 STS before and it treated me well, but only had 60k on it.

Don’t hate me, but I’m looking at Nissan maximas and Honda accords as well. I see plenty of them with 150k-200k on the odometer - just wasn’t sure if that kind of mileage can be expected out of a well maintained CTS as well?

Called service department to check vin #. They closed at 5. I will call back tomorrow to see what, if anything, has been serviced.

Anyone have a unlimited carfax? My apologies if this is against forum rules to ask - I’m new
 

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Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to test drive multiple different CTSs. I just moved and need to purchase a car ASAP for work, as the uber costs are astronomical.

I don’t have my heart set on this car. I just saw it was fairly cheap for what you get, looked like good condition and I LOVE the interior. I have owed a 2003 STS before and it treated me well, but only had 60k on it.

Don’t hate me, but I’m looking at Nissan maximas and Honda accords as well. I see plenty of them with 150k-200k on the odometer - just wasn’t sure if that kind of mileage can be expected out of a well maintained CTS as well?

Called service department to check vin #. They closed at 5. I will call back tomorrow to see what, if anything, has been serviced.

Anyone have a unlimited carfax? My apologies if this is against forum rules to ask - I’m new
I have no dislike for good reasoning. Having purchased an 08 used in good condition and given your most important reason for purchasing a car at the moment, I would stop looking at the CTS. It is a car version of a diva in a high maintenance sense, usually beginning around the 120k miles point. For your purpose I would seriously be looking at a Honda. I really like my CTS and purchased it with the understanding that I would need to address anticipated repairs which I could perform myself. You need dependability in a high mileage car, the CTS in my opinion for your circumstance is a symbolic bloody nose, to broken jaw waiting to happen. If you buy it, make sure you have a couple grand set aside for a bad day.

You don't have to test drive multiple cars, just one good one as a reference in the flavor you're looking for.
 

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Sounds like a good deal, offer $3500, settle on $4250 & keep $1k for fettling.

Haven't said what you are looking for beyond transportation or what your capabilities are but the same drivetrain is in many Camaros. If luxury are some Lexii and Infinittis and even Mercedes (watch out for 350 balance shaft) or even Legends.

In a used car I avoid the bottom end because upscale cars tend to have better care. If just transportation I'd look at a rent a car lot. Will have base cars with some options (AC) that have had reasonable maintenance and if torn up will be visible.
 

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At 110K miles you are likely to need motor mounts (vibration at idle) and shocks at a minimum. These aren't particularly expensive or unreasonable maintenance on a car with that many miles. If the spark plugs haven't been replaced you'll need those too. I'm not a believer in running plugs to 100K miles, I think 60K - 70K is more reasonable.
 

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"Car is claimed all highway miles"

This gave me a chuckle. EVERY car I've ever looked at with more than 90,000 miles had an owner that made that statement. It IS just that; a claim. No way to prove it.
Take Joseph's advice and don't take anyone's word for anything without proof.
The CTS is a great car, but if you just need transportation, go with the Honda or Nissan.

Best of luck with your search. If you end up purchasing a 2nd gen CTS, let us know.
 

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If you can do your own work, and are ready to do plugs, a water pump, wheel bearings, control arms, and trans fluid, go for it. These are common/normal maintenance and wear items on these cars. It would be nice to have proof of what has already been done (if anything).

Realistically, any 5k car will need some money spent on it. Some, the day after you buy it. All will need work done in the first year of ownership.
 

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If you can do your own work, and are ready to do plugs, a water pump, wheel bearings, control arms, and trans fluid, go for it. These are common/normal maintenance and wear items on these cars. It would be nice to have proof of what has already been done (if anything).

Realistically, any 5k car will need some money spent on it. Some, the day after you buy it. All will need work done in the first year of ownership.
I think you're being a little generous, Honda and Nissan maintenance does not equal CTS maintenance. For what a 100k mile CTS can potentially cost in repair expenses in a surprise flash in that mileage range, especially an 08, one can purchase a decent quality used, newer conservative Nissan, or Honda of equal mileage outright with little worry of any serious trouble anytime soon.

In less than two years of owning my CTS, I've performed the equivalent of ~$5000 of necessary (engine stopping) repairs; in tank fuel pump which is a known potential trouble maker, fuel injectors, and the timing chains. Except for having accepted that the timing chains are no longer a life of the engine part, at least for the 3.6L. Those are not routine repairs and keep in mind the infamous blend door motors, the worst of which I am still taking my time to get to, which would add another $1k to the total if I had taken care of it. I also left out the approximate dealer cost of addressing a leaking sunroof, having addressed the drains myself and that literally stopped the car.

My little Nissan however, with 5000 more miles than the CTS, has settled quietly for a radiator, over the last 6 years as a necessary (engine stopping) part and as far as I can recall since it was new in 07, that has been the only potential engine stopping repair so far.

The old V6 Accord purchased new, saw 250k miles before one of my nieces took it out with a rod through the block, from poor maintenance. It too needed a radiator at one point and saw three timing belts, installed by repair shops, totaling less than what it costs to replace the timing chains in a CTS once.

Let's not forget all of the "Welcome to the forum." wishes over the past two weeks, to CTS owners with less than, or just over 100k mile cars, who joined specifically to get help with a problem, in addition to long time members with low mileage cars with a problem in the mix.

The CTS is a wonderful car, and I don't regret buying mine one bit, but make no mistake about it, when it comes to maintenance, the CTS can "bite you in the booty" with repair costs if you can't fix it yourself.

The OP can get a very clear and concise picture of what to expect by simply scrolling through the Cry For Help, excuse me, the General Discussion section and looking at the subject lines and then opening the thread to check for mileage.
 

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If you can do your own work, and are ready to do plugs, a water pump, wheel bearings, control arms, and trans fluid, go for it. These are common/normal maintenance and wear items on these cars. It would be nice to have proof of what has already been done (if anything).

Realistically, any 5k car will need some money spent on it. Some, the day after you buy it. All will need work done in the first year of ownership.
Yeah, all 100K mile cars need shocks, control arms, wheel bearings, etc. Even sacred virgin Honda's and Toyotas. Doesn't mean they get them, many (most?) just bounce and wobble down the road during their twilight years.

I think you're being a little generous, Honda and Nissan maintenance does not equal CTS maintenance. For what a 100k mile CTS can potentially cost in repair expenses in a surprise flash in that mileage range, especially an 08, one can purchase a decent quality used, newer Nissan, or Honda of equal mileage outright with little worry of any serious trouble anytime soon.

In less than two years of owning my CTS, I've performed the equivalent of ~$5000 of necessary (engine stopping) repairs; in tank fuel pump which is a known potential trouble maker, fuel injectors, and the timing chains. Except for having accepted that the timing chains are no longer a life of the engine part, at least for the 3.6L. Those are not routine repairs and keep in mind the infamous blend door motors, the worst of which I am still taking my time to get to, which would add another $1k to the total if I had taken care of it. I also left out the approximate dealer cost of addressing a leaking sunroof, having addressed the drains myself and that literally stopped the car.

My little Nissan however, with 5000 more miles than the CTS, has settled quietly for a radiator, over the last 6 years as a necessary (engine stopping) part and as far as I can recall since it was new in 07, that has been the only potential engine stopping repair so far.

The old V6 Accord purchased new, saw 250k miles before one of my nieces took it out with a rod through the block, from poor maintenance. It too needed a radiator at one point and saw three timing belts, installed by repair shops, totaling less than what it costs to replace the timing chains in a CTS once.

Let's not forget all of the "Welcome to the forum." wishes over the past two weeks, to CTS owners with less than, or just over 100k mile cars, who joined specifically to get help with a problem, in addition to long time members with low mileage cars with a problem in the mix.

The CTS is a wonderful car, and I don't regret buying mine one bit, but make no mistake about it, when it comes to maintenance, the CTS can "bite you in the booty" with repair costs if you can't fix it yourself.
And @Joseph Upson provides a good reality check. These are luxury-performance cars so they have more cool stuff to break, and a couple minor weak links. And some of the cool stuff is expensive, like steerable HID headlights. If you don't want to pay $900 for a fancy replacement headlight, then buy a Toyota. Although to be fair, you can be sure a European luxury car would with such headlights would cost considerably more.

Also, I have to point out @Joseph Upson 's story is worse than typical. The only mechanical problems I've had so far are worn motor mounts and some suspension parts. The previous owner actually changed the spark plugs, and there has been no timing chain engine code, water pump or thermostat leak. Yet. With regard to timing chains, it is my opinion that a 200K mile engine, with DOHC and VVT, usually doesn't have a 200K timing chain in it. It may not break, but it will stretch and wear. A high-tech V engine should have it's timing chain changed once in it's life, it isn't really lifetime for most engines. It least not a good, full specified performance lifetime.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Really appreciate your replies everyone. It appears to be as I had thought - that the repairs maybe vast and costly. While I have owned 2x corvettes and a Camaro, my only Cadillac ownership was a 2003 sts with 60k and I had literally zero issues with it at all. Albeit, the newer CTSs have vastly more “trinkets” to fail, costing potentially an arm and a leg...

I am still really attracted to the CTS, although everything everyone has said is completely logical and makes sense. I will probably end up with a maxima or Accord, but can’t stop entertaining the CTS option. It’s a sickness lol

On a side note, 09 CTS AWD - the fuel level sending unit: how much does this repair typically cost? Parts and labor. I know the pumps are typicalled changed while in the tank, bc it’s free labor since your there... what is a good expectation on costs? This inquiry is for a different CTS, one of significantly lower miles but priced competitively to the 08.

Thanks again guys!!
 

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Depends on your skill level. I just replaced the thermostat, plugs, and water pump in mine and think it cost about $150 where I have been told a dealer would charge over $450 for just the thermostat.

And I did it in my front garage which is for drivers (rear garage has the lift). Took a while mainly because I have other cars and do little work when over 90F. Also am very slow.

Really nothing I cannot handle so overall my costs have been very little and include things like swapping engines. They are only expensive if need to support the dealer.
 

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Really appreciate your replies everyone. It appears to be as I had thought - that the repairs maybe vast and costly. While I have owned 2x corvettes and a Camaro, my only Cadillac ownership was a 2003 sts with 60k and I had literally zero issues with it at all. Albeit, the newer CTSs have vastly more “trinkets” to fail, costing potentially an arm and a leg...

I am still really attracted to the CTS, although everything everyone has said is completely logical and makes sense. I will probably end up with a maxima or Accord, but can’t stop entertaining the CTS option. It’s a sickness lol

On a side note, 09 CTS AWD - the fuel level sending unit: how much does this repair typically cost? Parts and labor. I know the pumps are typicalled changed while in the tank, bc it’s free labor since your there... what is a good expectation on costs? This inquiry is for a different CTS, one of significantly lower miles but priced competitively to the 08.

Thanks again guys!!
$1k on the fuel level sender of which there are two, one on each side of the tank. 09 AWD you say, I dare you. Take a look at this recent revived thread covering two low mileage cars in the very first and last post on the first page.



...I have to point out @Joseph Upson 's story is worse than typical.
I have to disagree on that one. Not at all. I truly do have a hwy miles car purchased with 175k, so relatively good use was had from the parts when replaced. The timing chains were not setting codes, I just didn't want to give them a chance. Still, the pump and timing chain issues are common as they both involve recalls across a number of different GM cars. The injectors are less talked about, but there are two very recent threads addressing injector problems.

The timing chain challenge in the 3.6L was a total surprise to owners. The Northstar V8 is a doohickey (DOHC) motor that has no chain problems that I've been aware of, as a decent from the idea that timing chains in well maintained GM DOHC motors, should not be expected to last the life of the motor. Perhaps that's why the newest 3.6L has a timing chain system similar to the Northstar now, in an effort to achieve a life of motor status.

There are a lot of CTS gadgets that can fail, but my focus is on those that can stop the car. We haven't mentioned the not so rare occasional electrical problems that can put the car in limp mode.

Depends on your skill level. I just replaced the thermostat, plugs, and water pump in mine and think it cost about $150 where I have been told a dealer would charge over $450 for just the thermostat.

And I did it in my front garage which is for drivers (rear garage has the lift). Took a while mainly because I have other cars and do little work when over 90F. Also am very slow.

Really nothing I cannot handle so overall my costs have been very little and include things like swapping engines. They are only expensive if need to support the dealer.
Padgett, you left out some detail, it nearly took you the rest of the year to swap out that thermostat, what you saved in dealer costs, you spent in "blood, sweat and tears".:)

As you can see Will83, we "love" this car and despite it not appearing to be the best option for your circumstance, it is apparent we all think you should have one. You appear to want one also.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The more I read, the more I’m coming to the realization it’s probably not my best bet. I am due for a toy in 2020; maybe I will just get the Accord or maxima for work and after the winter maybe I will get a CTS or a coupe or something.

With the slu of issues being discussed, I’m am weary of relying on this car for work - where attendance is necessary, and not showing up bc I’m broke down would not only be frowned upon, but embarrassing.

But that interior. Gorgeous. Damnit
 

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Personally I wouldn't buy the CTS you're looking at if what you need is reliable transportation. Get a Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Mazda or Nissan with the lowest mileage you can afford instead.
 

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I have to disagree on that one. Not at all. I truly do have a hwy miles car purchased with 175k, so relatively good use was had from the parts when replaced. The timing chains were not setting codes, I just didn't want to give them a chance. Still, the pump and timing chain issues are common as they both involve recalls across a number of different GM cars. The injectors are less talked about, but there are two very recent threads addressing injector problems.

The timing chain challenge in the 3.6L was a total surprise to owners. The Northstar V8 is a doohickey (DOHC) motor that has no chain problems that I've been aware of, as a decent from the idea that timing chains in well maintained GM DOHC motors, should not be expected to last the life of the motor. Perhaps that's why the newest 3.6L has a timing chain system similar to the Northstar now, in an effort to achieve a life of motor status.
The Ford modular V8 family included a DOHC version (without VVT), an example of which is in my my Mercury Marauder. It needed the timing chain replaced due to guide wear and a tensioner hydraulic leak. The chain was worn, as evidenced by the improvement in power after replacement. This was common for that engine, which was widely regarded as reliable and ahead of it's time.

You're right the 3.6L timing chain problems are worse than some engines, but I question the claim that a good timing chain design always lasts the life of the engine. When the chain has worn enough that the cam timing is 8 degrees retarded and the engine is down on power for no other reason, that isn't really OK anymore. Probably for an I4 engine you can come closer to the chain lasting the full engine lifespan. And who cares anyway in an econobox.
 

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The Ford modular V8 family included a DOHC version (without VVT), an example of which is in my my Mercury Marauder. It needed the timing chain replaced due to guide wear and a tensioner hydraulic leak. The chain was worn, as evidenced by the improvement in power after replacement. This was common for that engine, which was widely regarded as reliable and ahead of it's time.

You're right the 3.6L timing chain problems are worse than some engines, but I question the claim that a good timing chain design always lasts the life of the engine. When the chain has worn enough that the cam timing is 8 degrees retarded and the engine is down on power for no other reason, that isn't really OK anymore. Probably for an I4 engine you can come closer to the chain lasting the full engine lifespan. And who cares anyway in an econobox.
To be fair, we have to limit the comparison to GM only engines, which brings to mind the fact that there is yet another GM DOHC V6 motor that was not noted for timing chain problems, the 3.5L DOHC V6 from the Oldsmobile Intrigue, which does have a timing chain. The timing chains do elongate over time, but in all honesty, I didn't notice my car being particularly down on power in before and after timing chain performance and perhaps that was because of the variable valve timing which no doubt, GM factored in some compensatory adjustment for chain elongation, considering not all of the camshaft range is beneficial for performance and the camshaft angles are checked against the crank angle, setting a code when the commanded range can no longer be achieved. No doubt it had to lose some performance, but I felt nothing significant.

Still, timing chain replacement in a GM vehicle prior to 200k miles on a motor was unheard of in any GM car that I'm aware of until the 3.6L and at the going rate for repair, it's a hard "pill" to swallow, especially at and below 120k miles.
 
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