Update on our TOAD – 2013 Cadillac SRX


The start of our journey in our new to us motor home with our new to us toad! Read the linked post about how long it took us to get it hitched up and how many miles I had to follow Bill.

Our six weeks in Myrtle Beach are coming to an end. As we mentioned in a previous post (or two), we had declared we wanted to see lots more new places. Thanks to an unexpected surgery, it turned out this was the place to go after all – great area to heal! And for those who know about Bill’s heart health journey, he is to live in a low stress environment. You’d think that was what we have been doing here, right? Nope, we’ve been consumed with a few issues, the main one was what to do about our TOAD?

That’s the car towed behind our motor homes, affectionately called TOADS, short for tow-ed. Some even call them their dinghy. We wrote about our decision making process in selecting our Cadillac SRX here. So how has that worked out for us? Read on…..

As a recap, we didn’t have much time to make a decision on what car to buy to serve as our TOAD.  Our truck had been totaled while we were in the midst of the selling of our 5th wheel and the purchase of our motor home (affectionally called Tiffany for our precious ‘tween dachshund 1982-1999) . When we started our research, it looked like the two main options for us were various Jeeps and the Honda CRV. We quickly eliminated the CRV as it just didn’t fit Bill’s 6’2″ stature. It didn’t take long to learn there just weren’t many used Jeeps in Florida. But now we are wondering if we shouldn’t have been more patient and taken our time looking for a jeep out of state. But we were pressed for time, so after a few days of trying out several CRVs, we learned about the Cadillac SRX – it sounded like it would meet our needs.

Since we bought our Tiffany in Cocoa, Florida (May 2015), we decided to look for our car there. In a matter of days, we had to expand our searched to our former home (my mom and step dad still lived there) Sebring, Florida to Orlando, and finally, down to Del Ray Beach. We made Internet inquiries over to Fort Myers and Sarasota as well. We were willing to go about anywhere in Florida, but hoped we could find it in central Florida. We loved the convenience of the internet and we used “Car Gurus” to find our car. We weren’t about to buy a new car to tow, so we focused on the used car market.

Our car search included about 500 miles of driving in one weeks time! We visited Orlando twice, Sebring once and several other places nearby before we found the “perfect” one in Del Ray Beach.

We finally found the SRX that met all of our requirements. We eliminated the 2012 and older models year due to how the GPS “rose” from the dash when in use. We had a price point of $15,000 – which pretty quickly went up to $20,000 as the most we would pay. We wanted a “luxury” car as mentioned in the previous post – there might be times we would have to make some very long road trips, up to 14 hours or more for family emergencies.  It had to fit two car seats for our grandsons in the back seat. We wanted the color to blend with our motor home. We preferred around 20,000 miles. And of course, it had to be flat towable! Not all of them are, we learned.

Oh happy day! On May 12, 2015, we found what we thought was the perfect car! We also weighed a bit more then. Bill has since lost 50 pounds and I’ve lost 25. It’s crazy to see these pictures now.

And a bonus with this purchase was the 50,000 miles bumper to bumper warranty. Since it only had around 20,000, that was 30,000 miles we could drive with some peace of mind. They also provided free oil changes every 5,000 miles and a 27 point “check up” which included tire rotations. We used the warranty several times. The main problem was with the CUE (Cadillac User Experience) or the infotainment center. We had to have it replaced once and a software updated the next time. We had one hydraulic lift go out on the trunk – which was an easy replacement by the Service Advisor at a Cadillac Dealership (coincidentally here in Myrtle Beach).  Then there was an issue of the dimness of the low beam lights for night time driving.

I want to say, I was never a fan of Cadillacs and I really didn’t want the “brand.” A bit too high brow for my taste. But Bill is a car guy. He has been involved in the car business for decades. He watches all the car shows on TV and used to listen to the Car Guy Radio show. He actually worked at a Cadillac dealership for a brief time and was very impressed with their quality and workmanship. He had wanted one for decades but I always said no…..Until when we had no choice.

We had one week to buy the car since we were given a rental as part of the settlement from the wreck that totaled our truck. And during this time, our daughter was pregnant with our second grandson and we had a lot of territory to cover to get back to be there in time for the delivery in August! In fact, she closely monitored our travels and began to beg us to come earlier as our first grandson, who was entering the terrible twos, needed some TLC while she struggled with her last two months with severe back pain!

Over the last two and 1/2 years, we enjoyed our interactions with the dealerships when we took the car in for service. We visited a total of seven different ones and had service 10 times since we’ve owned it. However, each time we took it in, we complained about the dim lights for night time driving. We virtually can’t see the road when driving at night! We have to use our high beams and that’s not the best way to drive. So more than anything, we just TRY to avoid night driving or drive it before sun rise. Each time we complained about them, we were told in essence, that’s just how the SRX model is.

Our daughter drove our car this past August in the dark and said she couldn’t believe we were still driving with such poor lighting. Bill had changed the bulbs to a brighter light bulb, but it didn’t make a difference. In September, it was time for an oil change so we decided to push the service department to figure out what was wrong with our lights. We weren’t accepting anymore excuses. We were supposed to go in earlier, but the unexpected surgery pushed our date up until the Friday before we left for Myrtle beach.

By the way, we were just out of the 50,000 miles bumper to bumper warranty. And wouldn’t you know it, the Fredericksburg Cadillac dealership finally acknowledged there was a problem, they said and internal fault. The entire light kit on each side needed to be replaced at a total cost of $1,100. Does this make sense?  We were pretty upset. The Service Advisor said he would ask the manager when he returned from vacation the following Monday, the day were were leaving, if there was anyway they could help with the cost. But more than anything, we were mad at ourselves for not insisting it be diagnosed BEFORE we hit 50,000.

We were about to head to Myrtle Beach when we got the phone call, YES, they could offer us a Good Will Warranty! What great news. We had dealt with Tiffin Motor Homes and their Good Will Warranty so we knew this had to be good news. The only bad thing was once they made us the offer, we had 30 days to accept or reject it. We were leaving for six weeks. BUT we said there was a wonderful Cadillac Dealership in Myrtle Beach – we’d just take it there.

Did you note I said, WAS? When we arrived in Myrtle Beach on October 10, 2017, we had just spent three hours on the side of Interstate 95 after we had two flat tires, written about in this post. We were pretty exhausted, but our primary concern was getting the car into the dealership. (So much for this being a stress free life style, right? 😳) We called and made an appointment. They were very accommodating and said they’d like to have it brought in first thing in the morning and possibly have it most of the day. We actually would be “worked” in as they were doing it as a courtesy since our warranty had ended.

On October 12, I took our car into the dealership. Bill still had more to do setting us up since we planned to be here for a month. I thought it was a job I could handle….I offered to wait for the decision about the car, but the Assistant Manager said I could just take a shuttle back to our campsite as she thought it might take all day. But when I arrived for my appointment, the shuttle had left. She gave me a loaner car. Sweet! Since we weren’t under warranty, she went out of her way for us. I was so hopeful.

I hadn’t made it back to the campground, stopped at Aldi’s for some provisions, when I got the phone call. Yes, they agreed the light kit needed to be replaced but for a different reason. They said the lens inside the headlight has a white cloud over it. Remember, the dealership in Fredericksburg said it was an “internal fault.” Interesting, both agreed entire headlight kits on each side needed to be replaced. The Good Will offer was they would install the $800 lights for free, saving us over $221.00. But of course, we had to buy the headlight kit. It didn’t sound like a good deal to us. And now we were a bit confused with the different diagnosis.

It took us a few days to process this conflicting information. Bill then called the General Motors Headquarters, Customer Service Hotline. We explained our tail of woe and how our car isn’t safe for us to drive, per the Service Manager at the Cadillac Dealership in Fredericksburg. And then said what the offer was from Myrtle Beach Cadillac, not a bargain. The man who took our call/complaint said he would escalate our complaint and we would hear back in a day or two since it was confirmed, it was a safety hazard.

FINALLY, on October 20, we got the phone call back. We had to re-tell our tail of woe. The Representative said he had to call Myrtle Beach Cadillac before he could make us another offer. He’d call us back in a few days. WRONG, it was another week and I had to call him back! He apologized. He then explained there was no recall on the headlights for one, then went on to tell us what he learned from the Myrtle Beach Cadillac – it looked like our lights were glazed over from sun damage. Now that’s a third opinion as that was not what I was told! Bill keeps the outer lens over the light buffed and they are clear. The Representative continued, the offer we received was a good one and that’s all they would do for us.

We weren’t happy with this new diagnosis and lack of real concern.  He said he would do more checking and see if he could do any better for us. Give him a day or two. WRONG, it was another week when he finally called. He again apologized and said, “I bet you think I forgot to call you back. Well, I did.” He then went on to say, the best he could do is suggest we go buy a $40 kit from Sam’s Club that he saw on sale over the weekend. We just needed to buff out the lens! What a joke! The lens is crystal clear….

Back to the drawing board. Bill had already spent hours and hours searching the internet for a solution. As it turns out, there are a lot of others with the same complaint. And the worst thing is that replacing the entire light kit doesn’t always “cure” the dim lights. Cadillac just isn’t acknowledging there is design flaw. In fact, there is a class action lawsuit that is bubbling up over these light kits.

Bill was now confused as ever.  He went through the manual and tried to do some diagnosing himself – based on a lot of research. We finally decided we needed to call the Service Manager here. He said to bring it back in. Bill wanted to see how new light kits look and meet the mechanic who gave us the diagnosis. As it turned out, the Master Mechanic owns a 2014 SRX he tows behind his recreational motor home! And he quickly explained he is starting to see more and more headlight kits with the same issue. The actual light bulb “projector” is clouded over. We hadn’t been able to see it until we looked at a new one and he showed us. We need to replace the light kits. At least now Bill doesn’t have to try a lot of other possible solutions. Now to be able to find them at wholesale price…..(this saga continues but we think we know how to get them discounted.)

There is so much to like about our SRX, but this has taken the bloom off the rose! We are stuck with it. It cost about $3,000 to have the “plates” installed to “hook” it up to a tow bar. We’d lose that amount and it probably wouldn’t enhance our trade in value. Thankfully, Bill will be able to install the new light kits. But the saddest part is that we have been pretty consumed with this during our almost six weeks here in Myrtle Beach.

Has anyone else heard of this issue? If you have a TOAD, tell us about your experiences with it. Are you satisfied? Did you make the right decision? If you had it to do all over again, would you buy the same one?

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. Psalm 55:22a

13 thoughts on “Update on our TOAD – 2013 Cadillac SRX

  1. Good to see your pictures and update on your road travels! Blessings for a healthy, restful Thanksgiving!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have a Jeep and love it as our toad. But we understand your not getting a Jeep for east coast travel. Since we spend almost all our time in the west, a Jeep is necessary for our activities. Without it we would miss so many neat trails and roads where the Jeep is necessary to get to the trailhead. Now the new CRV’s can’t be towed four down.

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    • How is the comfort for a long drive, say 10 hours or more? We looked at a few Jeep Grand Cherokees for that reason. We do say we certainly couldn’t go on some of your adventures in our SRX!

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      • We have driven it from our daughter’s in PA to northern NY to my mother’s for 6 1/2 hrs but not any longer. It’s fine for us but would be tough for you to change after the Cadillac. The Grand Jeep Cherokee would be more of what you are use to and go a few more places you wouldn’t take the Cadillac. Our Jeep is not built for comfort:)

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  3. Lights glazing over from sun damage – that’s a new one to me! What a palaver with having the faults and then struggling to find what’s wrong and how to get it fixed without costing a fortune 😦
    Sending you my best wishes for some success with the TOAD and safe travels! xx

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  4. Sorry about all the troubles you have had with your toad!! I am sure it is very frustrating!! When we had the Endeavor and the Dutch Star our toad was a CRV and a Jeep! We loved the Jeep and still miss it! Hope you get things straightened out and fixed very soon!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Bill!!

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    • Thanks Mike and Gerri. Bill finally found a way to get the headlights at cost. So rather than the $800 goodwill price, it’ll be under $500. It’ll take him under two hours to install both. We didn’t want to go down the road about our house batteries issue or that he’s also going to replace our slide covers-so they are on order. Once they are on and new headlights, we’ll work on the batteries! Geez motorhomes take a lot of maintenance and $$$!
      Enjoy your Thanksgiving! 💝

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  5. OH my Debby! What a frustrating experience. The only redeeming value of all this was that you were in a beautiful place to wait. When one puts it into perspective, if you owned a land-based home, it would be the equivalent of having a water leak and spending thousands searching for the mysterious source. At least, in motorhome living, you can literally “move on” from the problem . . . aaah sorry, but laughter is the best medicine 🙂 Blessings for sanity,

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  6. I immediately started missing Myrtle Beach after reading this. I like the beach during the off seasons. I pray you will continue to stay safe as you travel.

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