Have you ever owned a vehicle that you loved so much but you can’t help but hate it sometimes? Our 2005 Cadillac SRX, known to us as “Captain Jack”, fits this category perfectly. If you’ve ever owned a first generation SRX, then you most likely know why. In our case, we continue to love this vehicle and can’t get ourselves to trade it in, despite its faults.
(For those of you wondering how this topic fits into our homesteading genre, keep reading.)
In 2013, our fleet of vehicles consisted of a 2009 Chevrolet Trailblazer LT (which we still own today) and a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier.
The Cavalier was at the end of its useful life; safety was becoming an issue, and it wasn’t worth spending any more money on repairs. So, the search began for a replacement. My heart was set on a pickup truck, but it just wasn’t in our budget. After weeks spent in research, I narrowed down our choice to the Cadillac SRX.
We found “Captain Jack” at a nearby dealership. He fit most of our criteria, so I decided to take it for a test drive. I immediately fell in love with how he drove and his price tag. That same day, we pulled the trigger and traded in the Cavalier for the Cadillac (what a upgrade!).
Why we chose this vehicle:
Depreciation for the model year had pretty much hit bottom, minimizing the depreciation we’d see post acquisition.
For an eight-year-old vehicle, it only had seen 75,000 km, and was in fantastic shape.
Plenty of space to comfortably and safely transport our soon to be family of four with all the baby accoutrements.
Specifications: 2005 Cadillac SRX with Northstar V8 RWD
The Cadillac SRX went into production in 2003 as model year 2004. The first generation was produced through model year 2009, and was then replaced by the second generation in model years 2010 through 2016. It was then replaced in the spring of 2016 by the Cadillac XT5.
Why We Consider this an Appropriate Topic for Our Blog
Homesteading, to us, is about living self-sustainably and teaching our children to be responsible with our resources, taking care of our home and property, and of course, the equipment we own. Our vehicles are part of that category. When possible, we want to learn to take care of problems ourselves; small repairs and some preventative maintenance projects that can safely be done with the tools and space we have. This allows us to continually acquire knowledge, as well as save some money on parts and labour. (Larger projects are always left to the professionals.)
Preventative Maintenance and Repairs
Since acquiring “Captain Jack”, we have inevitably needed to maintain it to prevent failures. Unfortunately, we have had to do some semi-major repairs as well. Based on my recent memories, here’s what’s been done in the past four years:
Engine Mounts (Repair) – Replaced one mount in 2015 and a second in 2016. (These weren’t cheap repairs! To replace the mount, the exhaust manifold first needed to be removed for access.)
Brakes (Preventative) – We replaced both front and rear rotors and pads in 2017 (done six months apart due to budget constraints).
Winter Tires (Preventative) – As this vehicle is rear wheel drive, it was a must to install a good set of winter tires for safety during our Canadian winters. We purchased a separate set of aluminum wheels and tire pressure monitoring system sensors (ouch… those are expensive!) along with a complete set of Hankook iPike RW11 to match the front tire sizing of P235/60R18 rather then follow the stock staggered fitment.
All Season Tires (Preventative) – After years of wear on what we believe were the original factory tires, we replaced our summer set in 2016 with Yokohama AVID ENVigor tires.
Battery (Repair) – Replaced in late 2014.
Ultraview Sunroof (Repair/Preventative) – The sliding mechanism of the Ultraview Sunroof was serviced and greased (after I brought it in, believing the motor mechanism to be failing) at LAD’s Auto Repair (ladsauto.com). (This is the ONLY place we bring our vehicles to in Calgary!)
Rear Wiper Spray Nozzle (Repair) – In the winter of 2013 we were traveling back to Calgary from Manitoba. We drove through a decent amount of snow on the Trans Canada Highway (thanks Saskatchewan for not clearing the snow… you’re welcome, we did it with “Captain Jack”) and eventually the spray nozzle froze and split from the supply tubing.
Headlights (Repair/Preventative) – Since modern vehicles don’t make it easy to replace headlights, I decided I’d replace all the bulbs after one of the low beam headlights had burnt out in 2016.
Headlight Assembly (Preventative) – Once the front of the vehicle was disassembled, I also took the opportunity to recondition the headlight assembly (which had yellowed and faded) using Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit. (This product worked as advertised and I would absolutely use it again if needed.)
Daytime Running Lights (DRL’s) and Front Signal Lights (I GIVE UP… ARGH!) – Continue reading below for one of our Top 5 Dislikes of the 2005 Cadillac SRX.
Top 5 Dislikes:
Daytime Running Lights (DRL’s) and Front Signal Lights – Here’s how “Captain Jack” got his name (imagine the burnt-out light as an eye patch). Probably the worst design of this vehicle, the DRL’s also serve the purpose of front signal lights. This creates a situation where the bulb sockets overheat time and again, losing connectivity between the bulb and socket assembly. This leads to the vehicle falsely indicating a burnt bulb. Changing these bulbs is no easy task! You either need to remove the front grille and bumper as is required for the headlights, or you can remove the front tire, fender liner extension and associated retainer clips, then remove the 6 Torx screws on the fog light assembly to access the bulb socket. In either scenario you are looking at approximately 1.5 hours to replace both sides.
Radio Unit – The screen on the stock radio unit on occasion has randomly gone dark while still appearing to be fully functional (if you can remember the button locations and sequence to get from one screen to the next).
Ultraview Sunroof Shade Cover – The sunshade, when retracting, tends to bunch up, requiring multiple attempts to get the sunshade to fully retract (usually only an issue during the winter months).
StabiliTrak System – Understandably, the StabiliTrak system is there for safety reasons, but I find that when we need to get out of a “sticky” situation (such as slush or deeper snow), the StabiliTrak system hinders the ability to power through.
Rear Air Conditioning Unit – Our SRX came with the optional Rear Air Conditioning Unit which is great in summer months. However, since the rear roof vents are only connected to this unit, it renders those vents useless during the winter. It would have been better to have this as a dual function unit (Heat and AC).
Top 5 Likes:
Engine and Transmission – The 4.6L Northstar V8 paired with the 5-speed transmission provides this vehicle with plenty of horsepower, and more importantly, torque. When it comes to long distance drives with the vehicle fully packed with the family, luggage, and miscellaneous items, the engine doesn’t struggle whatsoever and will handle hills/steep inclines with ease and few, if any, downshifts. This is the main reason that our beloved “Captain Jack” is our go to vehicle for our family trips.
Drivetrain and Suspension – The independent front and rear suspension, along with the RWD drivetrain, makes for a comfortable yet planted ride, especially for a vehicle weighing in at approximately 4,300 lbs.
Sound Insulation – Road noise is one of those things that get annoying over time, also leading to driver fatigue over long distances. This vehicle has above average sound insulation, which paired with the above two Top 5 Likes, makes this vehicle a fantastic family cruiser.
Climate Control – The climate control system in this vehicle is bar-none light years ahead of our 2009 Trailblazer (which is technically 4 years newer). Except for the rear optional AC unit shortcomings mentioned above, the climate control system has no issues in keeping the vehicle cooled and heated, and will maintain fog free windows longer then the Trailblazer on those humid days.
Ultraview Sunroof – A feature, that at first didn’t seem like a plus, quickly became one when it came to entertaining the kids during long drives. The view the sunroof provides with the sunshade retracted allows for endless fun trying to spot airplanes, birds, shapes in clouds, and skyscrapers (while in the city), keeping the kids distracted from the seemingly boring rolling prairies.
Would we buy a Cadillac again?
HECK YEAH! We would most definitely buy another Cadillac. The selection criteria would be similar that those used when buying “Captain Jack”. We would most likely purchase a pre-owned vehicle again, with the major depreciation already incurred by the previous owners. (Unless we have an endless budget and money is not an issue – highly unlikely, but we can dream!)
What would we buy? Well if it’s a family vehicle, then the Cadillac Escalade is a perfect fit, but if it’s a “sleeper” vehicle that can act as a partial family car then it would be the Cadillac CTS-V.
What are your family vehicles and what are they used for most? Long distance travel? Family commuter? Hauling heavy loads? Do you try to do some repairs yourself or do you see a professional for everything? We’d love to hear from you, so let us know in the comments below.
Check back for weekly posts on a wide variety of topics, including country living, gardening, sustainability, homesteading, family, recipes, and more. We can’t wait to share our lives with you, hear your stories, and gain friends along the way.
Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to hear about weekly updates! Have questions or comments? Leave us a message in the comments section, and we’ll be sure to get back to you. We can’t wait to hear what you think! And as always, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by clicking the links on the right.