6 Cadillac XLR Problems, Many Issues and Most Reliable, Best XLR Models

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

The Cadillac XLR is a luxury convertible with striking features, yet it’s essential to know the common problems you may face as an owner.

Some XLRs have been reported to experience issues like radiator leaks, oil pan leaks, and power steering reservoir leaks.

Don’t worry, though; these issues are not present in every XLR, and being informed will help you maintain your vehicle in top shape.

Cadillac XLR issues

Model Year Differences


In the Cadillac XLR lineup, there were some notable differences between model years and the XLR-V performance variant.

For instance, the XLR-V, introduced in 2006, came equipped with a powerful 4.4-liter V8 Northstar engine.

Meanwhile, the standard XLR received a significant transmission upgrade in the 2007 model year, shifting from a 5-speed to a more robust 6-speed.

As you explore further, you’ll discover that Cadillac XLR owners have experienced various common problems throughout its production years, from 2004 to 2009.

By considering these differences, you can better understand which XLR might suit your preferences and avoid potential issues down the road. Remember to always stay well-informed in your search for the perfect Cadillac XLR experience.

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Engine and Performance Issues

The Cadillac XLR is equipped with a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine that generates 320 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Despite its impressive output, the XLR’s V8 engine has had common problems, some of which include:

  • Carbon Buildup: This affects your engine’s performance, causing poor acceleration and fuel efficiency.
  • Water Pump Failure: A malfunctioning water pump can lead to engine overheating, posing a risk to your XLR.

Additionally, some XLR owners have reported oil leaks in the front cover and oil pan. Keep an eye out for these issues to maintain your XLR’s performance.

Electrical System Problems

In your Cadillac XLR, electrical system problems have been reported by owners. Issues include battery dead and sensor failures such as steering wheel position sensor malfunctioning.

Sometimes, mere software updates can resolve these problems. Always make sure to keep your vehicle’s software up-to-date to ensure optimal performance.

Remember, maintaining your XLR’s electrical system is vital for a safe and enjoyable drive.

Quality and Reliability

Your Cadillac XLR may experience some problems with its retractable roof mechanism, which could cause inconvenience while driving.

However, you’ll enjoy the overall quality and luxurious interior as seen in Consumer Reports.

While not all XLRs have serious issues, owners have reported 15 complaints over 6 model years according to Cadillac Problems.

Still, you can trust the drive and handling as it ranks 16th in overall reliability out of 22 Cadillac models. Always keep an eye on potential issues and enjoy your Cadillac XLR.

Body and Interior Issues

In your Cadillac XLR, you might face body-related problems such as difficulties with the trunk.

To improve your experience and keep your XLR in great shape, be sure to inspect the trunk mechanism and reach out to a professional if you encounter any issues.

Additionally, some owners have reported rattles in the dash. If you notice any unusual sounds, have your dealer examine the issue and possibly install new foam to eliminate the rattles, ensuring a more enjoyable ride for you.

What is Cadillac XLR Best Year?

When looking for the best year of Cadillac XLR, you should consider purchasing a model from around 2008 or 2009.

As with most cars, the later production years have more upgrades and “fixes” built in.

While you browse, keep in mind that both the 2008 and 2009 models have improved reliability, making them better choices for a long-lasting, enjoyable ride.

So, if you want an outstanding Cadillac XLR experience, put your focus on these particular years.

Cadillac XLR Competitors

Your Cadillac XLR comes with a set of competitors that offer similar performance and luxury features, but with their unique touch.

Let’s take a look at three major competitors: Lexus SC430, BMW 6-Series, and Mercedes-Benz SL Class.

Lexus SC430

The Lexus SC430, a luxury convertible coupé, provides a smooth ride with a distinctive style. While both the XLR and SC430 have V8 engines, you’ll find the Cadillac XLR offers slightly more power.

However, the best Lexus SC 430 is known for its reliability and comfortable interior. If you value a cozy, dependable drive, the Lexus could catch your attention. Anyway, you may care to find the SC430 problems here!

BMW 6-Series

As a driving enthusiast, you might appreciate the agility and performance of the BMW 6-Series. The precision handling and balance make it a joy to drive, while still offering the luxury amenities.

Comparing to the Cadillac XLR, the 6-Series has a choice of engines, including turbocharged inline-six and V8 variants.

If performance and driving dynamics are your priority, the BMW 6-Series could be your preference, however steer clear of 6 Series known years with serious issues.

Mercedes-Benz SL Class

For prestigious luxury and innovative technology, the Mercedes-Benz SL Class stands out from the crowd.

While both the XLR and SL Class are hardtop convertibles, the Mercedes offers more advanced safety features and a refined, comfortable cabin.

Keep in mind, though, the Cadillac XLR provides a unique American flair that might appeal to you over the European refinement of the SL Class. Here are the problems with Mercedes S class and documented issues!

Each competitor has its own set of strengths and drawbacks, but ultimately, the decision rests upon your unique preferences and priorities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common Northstar engine issues?

The Northstar engine used in the Cadillac XLR has a few common issues to be aware of. These include front cover and oil pan leaks, radiator leaks, and power steering reservoir problems. Make sure to keep an eye on these, and take your car to a mechanic if you spot any such issues.

What are the pros and cons of owning a Cadillac XLR?

Owning a Cadillac XLR can be a great experience due to its elegant design, luxurious interiors, and powerful performance. However, just like any car, it has a few downsides.

In addition to the aforementioned engine issues, the XLR might also have complications with its retractable roof, and many owners report difficulty filling the gas tank.

Is the Cadillac XLR considered a reliable car?

When comparing the Cadillac XLR to other luxury sports cars, it’s considered relatively reliable. It ranks 16th in overall reliability out of 22 Cadillac models.

Make sure to perform regular maintenance and address any issues as they arise to ensure long-lasting performance.

Why was the Cadillac XLR discontinued?

The Cadillac XLR was discontinued in 2009, due to low demand and sales in the midst of the global economic recession. General Motors also began focusing more on their core brands, phasing out several other models at the time.

How does the Cadillac XLR engine compare to a Corvette engine?

The Cadillac XLR’s engine is based on the Corvette’s 4.6 L Northstar V8 engine, but it has been tuned differently to prioritize luxury over raw power.

While the Corvette engine offers a more aggressive driving experience, the XLR engine provides a smoother, more refined performance that suits the XLR’s luxurious character.


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