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Top 5 Problems Cadillac CTS Sedan 2nd Generation 2008-14

Created on: 2019-11-07

In this video, 1A Auto tech Andy walks you through the top 5 issues found in the second generation Cadillac CTS, using our 2008 3.6L as an example.

  1. step 1 :Timing Chains
    • Timing chains can stretch, which causes the camshafts to turn out of sync with the crank shaft and pistons.
    • Diagnosing or repairing the timing chain requires dismantling the front of the engine.
    • Pushed out chain tensioners indicate stretched chains
    • The best prevention is regular oil changes and maintaining proper oil level
  2. step 2 :Door Handles
    • The front door handles trigger an electric actuator to open the door latch
    • Diagnosing these requires removing the door panel
    • Disconnect the door handle electrical connector
    • Test the door latch by jumping the blue and brown wires together and connecting them to ground
    • If the door latch actuates you know you need a new door handle switch.
  3. step 3 :Wheel Speed Sensors (ABS Sensors)
    • If able, use a scan tool that will read the ABS sensors live
    • Turn each wheel by hand
    • Erratic or blank data for that wheel indicates a sensor problem
    • Visually inspect the wheel sensor, wire and connector for damage that would break the circuit
    • Visually inspect the wheel hub for damage
    • Cracks in the wheel hub or bearing will cause erratic readings
  4. step 4 :Evap Codes
    • Check the gas cap, and filler neck rim for wear, rust, or damage
    • Check the evap purge solenoid located above the passenger side valve cover
    • Inspect the electrical connector for damage
    • Inspect the hose fittings for leaks
    • Vacuum test the purge valve for leaks
    • Check the evap canister vent valve, located above the rear differential
    • This is a difficult to reach location that requires removing the rear suspension cradle
  5. step 5 :Camshaft Position Codes
    • The camshaft actuators control the variable camshaft timing
    • The solenoids are located outside the camshaft cover
    • Clean oil at the proper level is essential as the system operates with oil pressure

Tools needed

  • Scan Tool


    Jack Stands

    Wire Terminals


    Floor Jack

Here we have a 2008 Cadillac CTS, and in this video, we're going to be talking about the top five issues with the car and how to repair them.

I just want to emphasize there's nothing wrong with this vehicle. There's nothing wrong with buying it or with owning it. Every car has its problems, so let's get into it.

The number one issue with these vehicles is timing chains. The timing chain on this vehicle is located right here behind this cover. First, let's talk about how a timing chain works. So while the engine is running, the crank shaft is spinning and the pistons are going up and down. They're attached to the crank shaft. What you need to do, the reason we have timing chains is to synchronize the camshafts to spin in the same orientation as the crank shaft. The reason you need the camshafts to spin is so that it opens up and closes the valves. There's lobes on the camshafts, so that will be timed with the crank shaft.

So when this is all synced up, if you think of these as clocks and these are all lined up at 12 o'clock. So a common problem with this system is these timing chains actually stretch. So you have this chain here and now it's stretched out. Now that's going to change the time of the upper cam, so the exhaust will now be pointing at 11 o'clock and same with the intake because those chains are stretched and these chains stretch as well.

When the timing chains stretch, these cams are not going to be in synchronization with the crank. So the computer is going to think something's wrong, and it's going to set a check engine light. So there's many different codes you could get. You could get an engine position performance code or a camshaft position performance code. Anything related to that.,It's a good idea to check the timing chains to make sure they're not worn or stretched.

All right, look, this is not an easy thing to diagnose or repair. What you have to do is take the whole front of the engine apart, get to the timing chains themselves. If you can check the tensioners and the tensioners are pushed out a little bit, then your timing chains are definitely stretched. One way, an easy way to prevent this is changing your oil regularly and making sure your oil level is up to par with a good quality oil.

Number two, the door handles. Most door handles operate like the rear doors on this vehicle. When you pull the handle, there's a mechanical lever that pushes down on a rod or a cable and that releases the door. On the front doors, there's actually a switch in here. Basically when you pull on the handle, it pushes on the switch and it electronically opens the latch. If you listen, you can hear.

So we took off the door panel. Now we made sure that the door panel was still connected because the switch itself and latch actually the wiring goes through the window switch. So if you take that off, then this isn't going to work either way. We disconnected the connector right here. This side goes to the switch, which is connected to the door handle and this side goes to the wiring harness to the door. So it goes through there and then it goes to the latch. The way this switch works is it uses these last four wires, the black and white wire right here, the brown wire, the blue wire, and then the other black and white wire. That is how it releases the latch. Now what you need to do is jump the brown and white to the black and white and then the blue and white to the black and white simultaneously.

What we actually did was make this jumper harness so I can attach these to the brown wire and the blue wire and then touch this to the black and white wire. Now the black and white wire, both wires go to a ground, so it doesn't really matter which one you go to. So we're going to put this on the brown one, put it right on the terminal, and then put this one on the blue one right here. Then you can actually just jumped the last one and listen and see if the latch actually works. And it does. So it works that way. And then if I tried from the other side and it does the same.

So at that point if you tested that and the latch actually worked, you would know that you needed a switch. This plastic piece right here that you can actually see the handle moving. That's part of that whole switch.

Number three, wheel speed sensor codes. All right, so we hooked up a scan tool that actually reads ABS codes and we found a left front wheel speed sensor code. So any type of C code that's in the ABS that refers to a speed sensor, you're kind of going to check out the code the same way. With this scan tool, we can actually monitor each wheel speed sensor. Now the code was for the left front, but if I take the right front wheel and I spin it, I can actually watch the miles per hour go up.

So now I'm going to check the wheel that was actually having the problem, and the reason why we checked the other wheels was just to confirm that we could actually see the data moving. And with the left front wheel speed sensor, it's not moving at all. So there's something going on there. While I'm spinning it right here, the right front wheel happens to be spinning, so that's why you're getting a reading on the right front. You can also graph on some scan tools. So it's a good idea to put a graph up, especially if you don't have a complete fault, a complete open circuit to see if there's any spikes. So I was just spinning the wheel right there and it's going to be a little chattery because I wasn't consistent with the speed. But if you saw a huge spike up or huge spike down, there could be a break in the reluctor wheel and that could cause your wheel speed sensor code.

So the speed sensor is right here. It goes through the knuckle, and it's going to pick up on the wheel bearing. There's a reluctor wheel on the wheel bearing. And what you want to do, it's kind of hard to see here, but once in a while those reluctor wheels will crack. So you want to spin the wheel and just look and make sure there's no cracks in it. This is really hard to see. It's right there behind the CV shaft, and if that's cracked at all or there could be a piece missing, then you're going to have to replace the wheel bearing.

So let's check out the wiring. So you want to check any of this wiring. Generally right here, it's solid so it probably won't break there. Over on this side in front of the wheel, this is where the sensor actually bends a lot. So every time you turn the wheel, this is going to bend. So there's a lot of flexing in this wiring, so the wire could break right there. What you could do is you could actually manipulate the wiring and have someone else spin the wheel while you're looking at the scan tool and see if it shows up, then you know there's definitely a break in that wiring. And then follow it back to the connector. Connector's right here. You can do the same with the connector. You can wiggle the connector while you're spinning the tire and checking the scan tool. See if it comes back. If not, disconnect the connector, take a look at it, see if there's any corrosion in there or anything. This vehicle, it looks good. No problem with that.

So the back of this hub looks similar to the Cadillacs and if there's a break in this connection right here, when the sensor, when this goes by the sensor, that's going to cause an erratic signal and that's going to cause your ABS light to come on. So in that instance, it would need a hub, but it's always a good idea to check the sensor as well. In our case, because we had an open circuit in the sensor, we would need a new sensor.

Number four, EVAP emissions codes. Whenever you have an EVAP code, the first thing you want to do is check the gas cap, unless it's a circuit code. Just make sure it's tight. Always take it off, take a look at the seal, make sure the seal looks good. Also check around the filler neck. There's some rust starting to build up right there. If you see rust on that, a lot of times that will cause a EVAP small leak, so keep that in mind.

The EVAP purge solenoid is located right here. Now if you have a purge circuit code, chances are you need just need a new purge valve. You can disconnect the connector and just check the connections, make sure that's good. These can also leak. It's a good idea to test them with a smoke tester, but a lot of people don't have a smoke tester. So what we can do is just take this line off here, and you can try putting a vacuum tester on there and see if it holds vacuum with no power going to it. If it doesn't hold vacuum, then there's something wrong with the purge valve that needs to be replaced.

So unfortunately if it's not the gas cap or it's not the purge valve, it's probably the vent valve, which is attached to the EVAP canister, which is above the rear differential. Especially if you have a four motion. If you have one that's only two wheel drive, maybe you'll be able to access it, but that's the connector right there. The only way to access this is to remove the rear suspension. This whole cradle has to come down and it's kind of a big job,

Number five, camshaft position codes. The camshaft actuators are actually underneath the valve cover right here and right here on both sides. The timing chain is attached to them and then those get attached to the camshafts. Now that's how the cam timing gets adjusted, how you have variable valve timing. Now something you want to keep in mind, the solenoids are right here. That's what controls the oil pressure to the actuators to change the timing. What's very important for this system to work properly is engine oil level and engine oil condition. So you want to make sure you change your oil frequently and keep the oil level up to par. If it is, if you do get one of these codes, check the level first may need to top off your engine oil. And if your engine oil level is fine, it may have something to do with the actuator solenoid valves or the actuators themselves.

So I hope this information helped you out. If you actually own one of these vehicles and you've had some of these conditions, leave me a comment below. And if you haven't subscribed to our channel yet, subscribe to our channel. Thanks.

I'm going to show you the... I'm going to be... 2000... 2000... Itself is just a piece... EVAP emissions... It's going to cause an erotic symbol... signal. Do it again.

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