By on December 22, 2016

2016 Cadillac CT6

Owning a range-topping Cadillac is supposed to be a trouble-free affair, and — barring gremlins — it still can be, so long as your sharp-edged, oddly light CT6 remains unbent and unbroken.

Cadillac’s liberal use of high-strength aluminum in the sedan’s body structure won accolades when the CT6 debuted for the 2016 model year. Body stiffness, curb weight, and fuel economy all benefit from this mingling of metals. However, trouble arises when those carefully bonded metals come apart.

As it turns out, fixing a damaged CT6 could prove difficult for many of the model’s 7,876-plus owners.

According to GM Inside News, there’s a serious lack of collision repair shops capable of handling the model’s advanced composition. Only GM-certified shops can come near a battered CT6, and they’re pretty thin on the ground.

How great is the dearth of CT6-capable shops? The current tally sits at 150, found in 25 states. Yes, half of all U.S. states do not have a shop capable of performing collision repair on Cadillac’s three-box flagship. As such, the repair process could take a lot longer, especially for those living in the upper Great Plains, central Gulf Coast and extreme Northeast.

The marriage of steel to aluminum though both laser and aluminum arc welding, as well as piles of structural adhesive, makes putting Humpty Dumpty back together again a tricky thing. Certainly, you don’t want anyone screwing that up, and neither does GM.

GM wholesale channel associate Rachel Rodriguez told GMI that certification usually takes one to three months, depending on the shop’s resources. High-end shops with plenty of gear on hand might simply require an audit by the automaker. Still, the CT6 is new to the market, and so far hasn’t exactly flown out the door (though it has beat the CTS in sales for the past two months).

Until those numbers come up, many shops won’t feel the need to bother gaining certification.

[Image: General Motors]

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75 Comments on “The Cadillac CT6’s Achilles Heel: Collision Repair...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Its almost as if the Northstar was reshaped into an entire car model.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    Oh I remember when Audi brought out the first space-frame A8, how long my then-dealer-mechanic friend complained that now the body shop has to stock two different sets of hammers, one for the aluminum, the other for the “regular” Audis. This was 1993, as I see some problems persist. Don’t the alu-cab Ford pickups have this exact same problem?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      The problem with the CT6 is that it doesn’t sell a ton of volume and the structure itself is 64% aluminium. The F150 sells hundreds of thousands units a year and Ford has made it pretty easy to replace body panels.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        in 97′ when I was working at a VW/Audi store A8 wreck repairs were an issue. Memory serves at the time there were only two shops in the U.S that could repair them due to the aluminum and what not. I was told the closest one to Denver was in Chicago.

        I was a young man selling cars for the first time while in college. How to repair a then 80k car was not something I cared about so I never verified the authenticity of the statement.

        • 0 avatar
          PRNDLOL

          When I read this headline I immediately thought of the 90’s A8.

        • 0 avatar
          PRNDLOL

          When I read the headline I immediately thought of the 90’s A8, I bet many of us did. This story is retro haha

        • 0 avatar
          qfrog

          Today some parts for the Aluminum bodied Audis are only available to shops that Audi has certified. That means only some dealerships sell those parts as not all dealerships have a relationship with an Audi aluminum certified body shop. Not even all Audi dealerships that have their own body shop are Audi aluminum certified. I believe a dealership must “sponsor” a shop and those shops can only be within a certain radius of one another. The whole thing must be blessed by Audi and the shop can then spend big bucks on training and tools they might more or less already have for BMW or Mercedes Aluminum.

          As for the parts, the car’s VIN must be entered by a certified shop into a particular database which Audi has access to. The database links the car to the shop for the repair and then allows the dealership to call Audi to order certain parts that are otherwise not available for ordering.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      I think the Ford being a conventional body on frame rig makes it easier…I don’t know if the aluminum is welded to steel anywhere. I bashed the front fender of mine into a pole and had to get a new fender and bumper. I had zero issues finding a body shop. Granted the fender is probably the easy part. I could see how on a more complex unibody may cause issues though but he said they had no issues with the F150 and they were certified to repair them though my repair could have really been done anywhere.

  • avatar
    319583076

    OK, but what’s the demand for CT6 body repair? It doesn’t really matter if qualified shops are “thin on the ground” if the vehicles aren’t getting banged up in disproportionate numbers does it?

    Sometimes I suspect people speak before they think…

  • avatar
    No Nickname Required

    And the old adage is still true.

    “If you can afford to buy a Cadillac, you must be able to afford to fix it.”

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      Cost in terms of money may but be an issue, but time is probably a big one. Being high maintenance makes it less likely to go into the hands of the poor, which means Cadillac remains “fancy”!

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        Oh it will get into the hands of the poor. First owner leases, second gets it CPO, Then some poor schlep who can least afford it grabs it from a BHPH lot after owner 2 dumped it when their extended warranty was up.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    It is hard to repair. OK. Got it. What does it mean for the consumer? Higher insurance rates. How high? Not higher than a Tesla Model S, I assume.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      As Adam pointed out above, the CT6 is only about 64% aluminum in its structure. An improper repair where aluminum meets steel is a recipe for that joint corroding away *fast.* I don’t think people grasp that aluminum is actually a very reactive metal. The only thing keeping it from burning up in the air is that it passivates; i. e. forms a thin coating of aluminum oxide on the surface shielding it from further oxidation. if you disturb that surface or prevent it from forming, it’s all over.

      if you’ve ever seen an older car with alloy wheels where someone used clip-on wheel weights, you’ll know what I mean.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    In a sea of generic aero-blobs, that is a genuinely striking and attractive car. Shame that it seems to have so many faults, I’d like to see it succeed.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      It looks even better in person IMO, as photos tend to scale it down to CTS-size. It’s got a great stately presence the awkwardly-proportioned XTS and even the last-gen Deville-DTSs never had.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      I love it. Complete opposite of the Mercedes on the outside. C, E, and S have no straight lines, no chiseled-ness about them. Very blobby.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    “Certainly, you don’t want anyone screwing that up, and neither does GM.” There may be some who think GM has already messed this up.

  • avatar
    BatmanBrandon

    I work in insurance, so I’m in shops for about 75% of my day. Most shops aren’t equipped for these newer vehicles and I make sure to point it out to customers. Now, Ford will sell its parts to whoever wants to buy them, but for the CT6 dealers aren’t supposed to sell parts for the car until they verify the shop is certified. That’s where the cluster will be, Tesla operates the same way. If manufacturers only sell to certain shops then it binds the customers and insurers hands. It’s an interesting dilemma we’ll face in collisions repair soon as shops preferred by owners and insurers may be left behind while some shops invest in the training and tools to dominate certain markets.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, zero shops in Massachusetts even. That’s not good.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’m curious how cheaply I’ll be able to get a 2016 CT6 with the turbo V6 and all the goodies (Panaray, rear-seat package, etc.) in 2019 or so.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      2015 CTS VSports are going for low-mid 30s at auction right now. So, somewhere in that vicinity. With the Continental and CT6, we are in the glory days of large CPO American luxury vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      “I’m curious how cheaply I’ll be able to get a 2016 CT6 with the turbo V6 and all the goodies (Panaray, rear-seat package, etc.) in 2019 or so.”

      It’s looking like the purchase price will be the cheapest part of the ownership experience.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I can afford some money for maintenance if it means I get to drive flagships cheap. My current car is a mint, low-mile 2008 LS460 that I bought in the mid-20s in 2015, and the price of ownership was replacing the fragile original front control arms with expensive redesigned OEM parts.

        I’m under no illusion that the CT6 would be either as durable or as quiet as the LS, but I really like the way it looks.

        • 0 avatar
          whitworth

          “I can afford some money for maintenance if it means I get to drive flagships cheap. My current car is a mint, low-mile 2008 LS460 that I bought in the mid-20s in 2015, and the price of ownership was replacing the fragile original front control arms with expensive redesigned OEM parts.”

          ___________

          A better comparison would probably be a 7 series BMW if you wanted to compare flagship owner experiences outside of warranty. Not Lexus.

          Even though that generation of LS had its issues (like control arms) it was still a much more reliable vehicle than most.

          Something like a first generation Cadillac flagship would be more risk than I’d be willing to take.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Cadillac’s recent cars have a middling reliability record. They’re not the LS or GS. But it’s not nearly as bad as the last two generations of 7-series, which are some of the worst cars of the last decade from a reliability perspective.

            An A8 or S-Class is probably a better reliability comparison.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Murilee will have a field day photographing these CT6s circa-2026 through 2034, strewn about in u-pick salvage yards, many sent to a very early grave due unjustifiably high repair costs or choose outright not-possible (even from moderate collision damage and galvanic and other forms of aggressive oxidation and metal fatigue at critical weight/load bearing points).

          Some will have less than 50,000 miles on the odomoter.

          Oh how we’ll laugh at Allante v2.0.

          Good times.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Too bad Steve Lang isn’t around. These cars will litter establishments such as his in a few years with suckers lining up to make weekly payments on them.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’ve only had a crack at a 3.6L CT6 so maybe it makes a better impression when fully-loaded, but I liked the G90 better.

      However, if you’ve got the cash, might as well go S-class or XJ.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I have yet to drive one, but the interior looks okay (no where near the same ballpark as an Audi A8 or A6 or MB E or S Class, especially because there is a lot of mismatch color in the plastic and leather, and there’s a lot of hard plastics of not such a great texture/surface in touch points).

        Surfing the GMInside News forums (a VerticalScope twin of TTAC, btw) and Cadillac Owners forums, there are already a litany of complaints over 1) transmission issues, and major ones at that, including 3rd and 4th gear lockout, and reverse cut off, and 2) a very harsh ride even in the softest MRC settings; harsher than other Cadillacs or other GM vehicles equipped with MRC.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    If GM can’t provide collision repair for all 50 states, the car never should have been designed that way in the first place.

    Do you think any buyer really cares that they were able to shave some weight with advanced composites and welding techniques? Or would they rather have a car that their local dealer can service?

    Cadillac makes the dumbest decisions chasing after their European rivals.

    I will say the CT6 has an attractive exterior, but I would run in the opposite direction for a lot of reasons like this.

    • 0 avatar
      BatmanBrandon

      The issue is more for structural repairs like rail replacement or replaceing pillars. Most shops in America aren’t equipped to repair heavy hits on vehicles with advanced metals. Just because a shop isn’t certified doesn’t mean they won’t fix it. BMW 5 and 7 series have been this way since 2005 but every one of those aren’t being fixed by certified shops 100% of the time. Even 10 years ago Audi only had 2 shops on the east coast capable of repairing frames on the A8.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    “A combination of aluminum spot welds, steel spot welds, flow drill screws, self-piercing rivets, laser welding, aluminum arc welding and hundreds of feet of structural adhesive are all used in assembling the body of the CT6.”

    Oh

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    Here’s the price one pays for extreme light weight. I really want to drive a CT6; a car that weighs that little that’s that large has to be an interesting drive and with that curb weight the 3.6L should feel like a V8.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I assume those that buy/lease these cars pay absurd insurance premiums. And 1 in Michigan. GM can’t get more than 1 in their own backyard. No wonder I see so few of them. And I live in Warren!

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Well, so many people whined about Cadillacs and GM cars being heavy, they decided to do something about it. Good on them for developing the technology. The repair technology will diffuse across the nation if Cadillac keeps it up and does similar engineering on the XT5, Escalade, and other models.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    What is “CPO”?

    As in: “…glory days of large CPO American vehicles”

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Certified Pre Owned

      Lincoln and Cadillac both have decent warranties for their preowned vehicles sold from dealerships. The CT6 and Continental should take quite the hit in value on the used market and should be excellent used buys in a two or three years.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I just checked, no ’17 Contis traded yet but I am most concerned about CT6. Through what I guess is a combination of low supply and moderate demand the model is not yet sinking like a stone. Christ on a bike, someone paid 52,500 Monopoly dollars for a FOUR cylinder example! We NEED Trump in order to fix sh*t like this.

        MY16 Cadillac CT6 RWD I4 Turboz “Luxury”

        09/15/16 Manheim Arena Illinois $52,500 7,975 Avg Gray 4GT A No

        MY16 Cadillac CT6 AWD V6 N/A FFV – base

        11/03/16 Manheim Mississippi Lease $44,700 1,070 Avg White 6G A No

        MY16 Cadillac CT6 AWD V6 N/A FFV “Luxury”

        12/14/16 Manheim Nashville Lease $47,000 3,529 Avg Black 6G A No
        10/11/16 Manheim Statesville Lease $49,500 107 Avg Black 6G A No

        MY16 Cadillac CT6 AWD V6 Turboz “Luxury”

        08/19/16 Manheim Pennsylvania Regular $54,000 2,013 Avg White 6GT A No

        MY16 Cadillac CT6 AWD V6 Turboz “Platinum”

        09/22/16 Manheim Detroit $70,800 707 Avg Black 6GT A No

        MY16 Cadillac CT6 AWD V6 Turboz “Premium Luxury”

        12/22/16 Manheim Detroit Lease $52,300 8,303 Avg Black 6GT A No
        12/12/16 Manheim Orlando $38,200 250 Avg Gray 6GT A No

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          A Trump CT6 would replace the turbo four with an Iron Duke and 3-speed but add gold leaf to all touch surfaces in the interior.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Iron Duke and THC 125 were a stout and reliable combination (technically Tech IV was never deployed in RWD configuration to anything less than a 4 speed though, FWD was 3 spd). Point noted though. However one may argue Trump’s garish tastes applied to an automobile could almost be… brougham? *gasp*

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The Trump limo line that Cadillac promoted in the late ’80s was Trump in a nutshell. Exceedingly garish (gold replacing most interior chrome), heavily hyped everywhere from golf courses to auto shows to TV, and then ultimately vaporware, with only three ever produced. The guy is all TV and no cattle.

            Also, pretty sure the ’82 Camaro had an Iron Duke and three-speed.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          I shall wait….

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Biding your time for a Conti or CT6? My guess is water pumps aside the Conti will be the car to *own* and the CT6 to *lease*.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            On the non-3.7L Contis, the water pump is in a much better spot.

            And I’ll buy a Conti if I don’t like the look/pricing/engine options of the Bronco.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Progress! Thanks for taking the issue to the board.

            They had one parked at the mall yesterday, I approved but can only give it a B+ in terms of presence and styling. Why not ride your C-max longer if a Bronco isn’t in the offing?

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I’ll probably wait until 2020+ anyway. The first year of the Bronco will most likely be 2019. First year orders will be bananas. I should keep the C-Max for at least ten years. Maybe a cheap second car will prolong my next primary vehicle purchase.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    I’ve seen a total of 2 of these in Chicago with 1 sporting Livery plates. Exterior fit and finish was really good on the unit I got some time with but inside wasn’t so much. In that regard the Continental and G90 both use better materials. The Continental on the other hand has some pretty poor fit and finish issues on the exterior which becomes pretty glaring at night when the lights are on.

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    I had a week in the 3.0 Twin Turbo and liked it a lot. No, I liked it enormously. So this is dismaying news. (Although I do recall the same warnings going up when Audi A8s starting getting serious aluminum.)

    But that use of aluminum in the CT6 substructure gives it about a 700-pound advantage over the big Mercedes and you can feel the relative lightness in the curvy stuff. It’s a hell of a good long-distance car. Only thing that bugged me is touch screen, which I suppose is better than before but still leads you to take your eyes off the road way too much.
    Still, it ranks very high on my list of sedans worth craving. It’s damn fun to drive.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Once upon a time, a Cadillac owner could tell a Mercedes owner “Yeah well at least my car is generally cheap to repair.”

    The irony of this whole push by Cadillac to compete with “Ze Germans” and with top tier Lexus cars is that they are alienating everyone.

    The beauty of the Lincoln and Acura Approach is that the cars are Fords and Hondas at heart which can be a big benefit to someone who wants to keep a car for a decade or more.

  • avatar

    Cadillac seems to have paid a high price to make their cars the world’s best handling luxury sedans. Considering what their brand represents was it worth it?


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