Chevy Tahoe Problems: 9 Common Issues (Explained)

The Chevy Tahoe radiates ruggedness owing to its sturdy truck chassis and body-on-frame construction. Its several trim levels, four-wheel drive options, and engine sizes place it as a serious challenger among the most dependable SUVs on the market.

But, despite its reputation for toughness, the Tahoe is not without its share of potential problems.

We’ve previously looked into how long the Chevy Tahoe lasts and also listed some interesting statistics and facts on the Tahoe models.

Now, let’s look at the most common Chevy Tahoe problems with the Tahoe models.

1. Transfer Case, Position Sensor Switch, or Selector Switch May Fail

When the transfer-case encoder motor position sensor or the selector switch fails, it will cause a fault code.

The failure of either of these parts may cause a ‘service the four-wheel-drive code’ to appear.

Knowing, with certainty, that your four-wheel drive is engaged or disengaged is essential.

Your car dealership’s technician can diagnose the issue with the fault code(s) displayed on your vehicle. Then, using a computer, they can determine what the exact code means and repair the problem with your transfer case.

However, replacing the encoder motor or the selector switch is not an inexpensive undertaking. But, you will be without your car for a day, at the very minimum.

This repair ranges from $500 to $600 when performed by a trained technician and was a common problem in Chevy Tahoe models from the model years 1995 to 2012.

2. Cracks on the Upper Dash

Although they are ugly, a cracked dash does not affect a vehicle’s performance. However, it can lower its resale value. As a result, an entire industry has arisen from cracked dashboards that make covers to fit every car.

The problem with a dash that is not repaired is that the soft backing will disintegrate quickly once it is exposed to the sun. The padding lies below the outer cover and is there to protect you in an accident.

The loss of foam is not only ugly – it can be a safety issue and may be especially so in the event of an accident. Padded dashes are designed to protect you properly.

A dashboard without foam components loses that ability and can become problematic.

However, General Motors has not issued a recall for cracked dashboards. Instead, they have offered hefty reimbursements for replacing the dash.

So if you have a GM product with a cracked dashboard, check with your local dealer before shelling out the money for a repair.

3. Air Delivery, Mode Door Actuators May Fail in the Heating and AC Systems.

Any vehicle’s air conditioning and heating system uses doors to direct the cool and hot air to where it needs to be.

They are made to open and close to control and mix hot and cold air to give you perfectly blended air at a preset temperature.

The actuator is the switch that opens and closes these doors, and if one fails, the entire system may not function properly.

This problem is found in Tahoes built between 1995 and 2017. GM has had recalls of specific models due to this issue.

So again, if you think your Tahoe has this problem, check with your local dealer to see what recall repairs have been made to your vehicle.

Here are some quick indicators of faulty air conditioning actuators:

  • Banging noise from your AC vents
  • The warm air should be cold
  • The cold air that should be hot
  • Inconsistent airflow from the vents
  • Clicking noises from the vents
  • The temperature won’t stay set

4. The ABS Speed Sensors on the Front Wheels May Fail

The anti-lock brake system (ABS), as well as the front-wheel speed sensors, have been known to fail in certain Tahoe models from 1995 to 2012.

This failure may trip an ABS warning light on the instrument cluster. Even more dangerous, your ABS can behave erratically with no indication beforehand.

The anti-lock braking system on your car prevents the brakes from locking up in a hard stop situation or when on slick surfaces.

General Motors (GM) has issued recalls for Chevrolet Tahoe vehicles from 1999 to 2002 and 2005 for a variety of reasons.

In their biggest ABS recall, they discovered that more than 800,000 vehicles’ anti-lock braking systems had corrosion, rendering their sensors ineffective. Similarly, their 2005 model was recalled owing to a missing push-rod retainer.

So, check with the local dealer to see if the repairs have been made. They keep records of everything that Chevrolet has repaired and can tell you if your vehicle has other issues that need to be addressed.

If your ABS is not working correctly, your brakes could lock up, even on dry pavement. If it happens on a wet road, you could lose control of your car, leading to crashes.

Have your vehicle serviced immediately if your brakes feel different, make clicking noises, or the ABS light on your dash comes on. Brakes are critical safety equipment on your car, and any issues must be addressed.

5. Erratic Speedometer and Instrument Panel Gauges

Unlike the recall of the ABS for the Tahoe, gauge cluster malfunctions are not a recall item with GM.

Several older Chevy Tahoe vehicles, notably those produced between 2001 and 2008, have been noted as being prone to instrument gauge problems.

Owners commonly report erroneous readings from instruments such as speedometers, tachometers, odometers, and fuel gauges.

Although it has been determined that speedometers become erratic and other gauges fail, any expense for repairing this issue is left up to the vehicle owner.

Besides, other pertinent information is supplied on the instrument cluster of your Tahoe.

A faulty instrument panel can give you false information, or none, which can lead to speeding tickets or even a ticket for going too slow!

Also, guessing one’s gas mileage can be stressful, and running out of gasoline, is even more so.

The issue with the Tahoe instrument cluster was prevalent between 2001 and 2008. If you have a Tahoe of this vintage or are considering purchasing one, replacing the dash cluster will cost $750 to $900.

6. Airbag Inflator Concerns

General Motors’s recent recall of almost 6 million vehicles manufactured between 2007 and 2014 has highlighted a pressing safety issue regarding faulty airbags.

Specifically, there is a risk of explosion during deployment, which can lead to the dispersion of sharp metal fragments inside the vehicle’s cabin, resulting in fatalities and injuries.

According to reports, over 20 deaths and around 400 injuries have occurred in the US alone as a result of these defective airbags.

As an immediate measure, it is essential for owners of affected vehicles to take prompt action by contacting a Chevrolet dealership to schedule the replacement of the faulty airbags.

7. Chevy Shake

Chevy Tahoe from 2014 – 2016 has been plagued by a widespread issue known as the “Chevy Shake,” characterized by a loss of steering control and intense vibrations upon reaching speeds over 35 miles per hour.

These symptoms are caused by faulty 8L90 or 8L45 eight-speed automatic transmissions, which produce abrupt and violent jolts during gear changes. This creates the illusion of being hit from behind or losing control of the vehicle.

Furthermore, the activation of the engine’s V-4 mode has been found to exacerbate these issues, leading to potential premature transmission failure and hefty repair costs.

Not only are the effects of this disconcerting for drivers, but they can also pose safety risks due to the extensive wind buffeting it generates.

At higher speeds, mirrors and cup holders may oscillate violently, producing vibrations that can induce motion sickness or dizziness among passengers. In extreme cases, this continuous wind pressure has led to complaints of headaches, fatigue, and visual disturbances.

8. Gas Cap Causes Check Engine Light

Your car’s fuel system is under pressure, and a fuel cap that no longer fits properly can cause a check engine light to illuminate.

This issue has shown up in the Tahoes from 1996 to 2013. Although it is a simple fix that can cost less than $30, diagnosing the problem can cost a little over $100.

The gas cap problem on the Tahoe tends to occur at about 116,000 miles, yet it has happened to vehicles with less than 20,000 miles.

As with every part of your vehicle, you never know which piece was made on the wrong day.

9. Fuel Sensor Failure

This problem was sometimes found in Tahoes built between 1995 and 2009 and is caused by a faulty fuel sensor gauge in the gas tank.

The cost of the part isn’t too high, but the repair will cost close to $400.

This problem tends to rear its head at about the 150,000-mile mark and is an issue you need to note if you haven’t already run into this problem.

Pros and Cons

The Tahoe receives an above-average rating for a full-size SUV.

In addition, the average annual repair costs are around $750, which is impressive for a vehicle of this size and is a big plus.

Here’s a closer look at the Tahoe’s pros and cons:



Above-average rating for a full-size SUV Rides like a truck
Average annual repair costs around $750 Dated interior
Ten-speed automatic transmission Fuel mileage could be better
Available all-wheel drive on all models Odd placement of shift knob on new models
Roomy third-row seat Challenging to park, but newer models have multiple cameras
Sufficient power for towing and carrying nine passengers
Available in several trim levels
Various engine options
Newer models available with diesel engines
Large cargo area


Expert Opinions

“The enormous cabin is eerily quiet for such a large vehicle. Controls are very easy to use, except for the tricky gear selector.”

Consumer Reports

“It sports a distinctive exterior design and a spacious cabin well-suited for hauling families and cargo.”


“The redesigned Tahoe has big improvements in ride comfort, technology, and convenience features.”


Resale Prices

The Tahoe lost most of its value in the first six and a half years. After that, its replacement cost flattens out to about 30 percent of its original value.

This table is based on a 2021 Chevy Tahoe.

Years Old

Depreciation Residual Value Resale Value Mileage

Resale Year

1 $16,398 75.29% $49,965 12,000 2022
2 $20,679 68.84% $45,684 24,000 2023
3 $20,891 68.52% $45,472 36,000 2024
4 $22,683 65.82% $43,680 48,000 2025
5 $27,222 58.98% $39,141 60,000 2026
6 $30,819 53.56% $35,544 72,000 2027
7 $41,430 37.57% $24,933 84,000 2028
8 $42,532 35.91% $23,831 96,000 2029
9 $46,554 29.85% $19,809 108,000 2030
10 $47,071 29.07% $19,292 120,000 2031

Go back to see problems for all Chevrolet models.

Final Thoughts

Today’s market is a seller’s game.

Many used SUVs, pickup trucks, and other vehicles are priced higher than market value. So whether you are buying or selling a car, research it thoroughly.

You may be selling yourself short before you price a Tahoe or look for one to buy if you don’t know its current value.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.