GMC Acadia Problems: 6 Common Issues (Explained)

The GMC Acadia is a popular midsize SUV that is easy to drive, easy on the wallet, and user-friendly.

However, like any other popular model, the Acadia is not a perfect car. There are some common problems you’ll likely encounter along the way, which we shall discuss in this article.

Before we dive in, check our article about how long the GMC Acadia lasts.

1. “Shift to park” warning problem

The Acadia’s computer fails to recognize when the transmission is put in a parking position. As a result, it will keep all your interior electronics running, the radio, dashboard, and everything else.

The problem is more common in the Acadia 2017 and 2018 models.

In extreme cases, the issue can lead to other problems such as battery damage or the car moving when you have shifted the SUV to park.

General Motors reached out to address the issue in 2019.

They stated that the most probable cause of the intermittent message and error is a parking switch in the transmission control assembly that’s not pulling the BCM signal enough to show that the vehicle is in the parking position.

In the document, General Motors provided details on addressing the problem by installing an in-line shifter wire harness jumper.

Here are the steps to help you do it:

  • Gently pull off the bolt covers to access the bots behind them using a screwdriver and unscrew the bolts on both sides.
  • Detach the shift cables from the knob itself first and put the shifter into neutral mode.
  • Grab the shifter firmly and twist it while lifting it at the same time.
  • Remove the boot from the console cover, but keep the chrome lining.
  • Remove the liner from the cup holder and pry out the rubber portion and grab it with your hands to remove it.
  • Remove the shifter console by unclipping the retainers or clips located on the sides of the panel using a screwdriver.

2. AC Not Working or Working Intermittently

If you notice some hissing sound from the center of the dashboard (probably compressor engaging and disengaging) or your air conditioner is blowing cold air, you’re not alone.

In fact, you’re among thousands of buyers dealing with one of the most common problems with the GMC Acadia 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 models. The 2015 models have the most complaints, with most of the problems cropping between 44, 000 miles and 79,000 miles.

The leading cause of the non-functioning AC in your Acadia is the refrigerant leak that shuts off cooling in the entire vehicle.

Most owners say that fixing the leak doesn’t fix the problem entirely as it doesn’t cool the cabin as it used to. Some drivers report that their AC will work appropriately in the first few miles and suddenly turn off at low vehicle speeds or when the car is idling.

Replacing the AC piping or the evaporator coil can help fix the problem.

Make sure to check signs of leaks in the AC condenser before leaving the garage and the evaporator, which requires the removal of the interior dashboard to replace.

A faulty AC may also cause problems with acceleration.

If you can’t find any leakage, use an R-134a leak detector to check areas in the system that could be experiencing a refrigerant leak even after running a dye test.

You will spend about $700 to $1,000 on average to fix the problem.

3. Airbag light on without any trigger

Over one hundred GMC Acadia owners reported problems with their airbag lights turning on without any apparent cause. Some noticed the problem from the time they bought the vehicle.

If your Acadia computer system runs diagnostics on your airbag system and finds an issue, you will see the airbag light on indicating a problem.

When it comes on at the start of the vehicle and disappears, that’s completely normal. If it keeps popping up or stays on for the entire trip, you’re among the 100 people with an airbag light problem.

GMC Acadia airbag light on causes

The airbag system in your car is part of the more extensive supplemental restraint system designed to protect you in the event of an accident.

If any part of this system is malfunctioning, the airbag light will come on, signaling that the airbag may not deploy correctly in the event of a crash. Some of the common causes include:

Seat sensors

Seat sensors signal the airbag system that the seat is occupied. If the wiring under the seats becomes dislodged or damaged, the airbag sensors may recognize the problem and turn the airbag light on.

Fixing the wiring will automatically solve the problem.

The airbag itself

If the airbag system doesn’t get a response from the airbag itself during the diagnostic cycle, the system will report the issue to you by turning the airbag light on.

Getting a professional to check the entire airbag system can help diagnose and fix the problem.

ECU sensors

If the ECU can malfunction when you get into a fender bender, that doesn’t deploy the airbag. The crash sensor may have been triggered but not enough to deploy the airbag.

Seat belts

Some vehicles have sensors running through seat belts to let the computer system know if you’ve buckled up or if they’re locked up. If you have a seat belt stuck in a locked position, the system may turn on the airbag light to signal the problem.

4. Fuse block connections causing engine stalls

The GMC Acadia is not new to engine problems, particularly with the earlier models. Drivers have reported over 703 complaints related to engine and transmission.

According to most drivers, the vehicle suddenly slows down and stops in the middle of the road. Others get an error message, while others say they don’t receive any signal that something is wrong.

The main problems GMC found were loose, broken wires and loose connections inside the fuse block. This disruption to electrical flow can cause the vehicle’s engine to stall or intermittently flash warning lights.

We have a good list of bad and good years for GMC Acadia.

·Lose relays cause the engine to shut down when driving

Some Acadia models have loose relays that wiggle from the vibrations made on the road or engine. This causes a temporary loss of electrical flow, affecting traction control, power warning lights, and check engine.

·Cracked wires stall the hot engine

The copper wires transporting electrical current between the relays, ground, and fuses inside the fuse block can crack, creating a dead-end for electrical flow, causing the engine to stall.

If this happens, you may not be able to restart the engine immediately. The copper wires that feed electricity to the starter can heat up due to hot weather or the engine getting hot, making it impossible to touch them.

To fix the problem, technicians are advised to inspect terminal 51 for loose connection, signs of burning, or damage and replace the fuse block with a new terminated lead.

The average cost of repairs for these issues costs between $3,000 and $9,000.

5. Multiple transmission failures

The much-dreaded transmission failure is a common complaint among Acadia drivers. Owners would notice their transmission seizing up and failing to work suddenly. Some of the most common problems found and solved include:

Transmission shifter not working

Summary: The GMC Acadia transmission shift lever can become loose and detach from the transmission shift cable adjuster, preventing the gear indicator from displaying the selected gear.

Solution: If you experience this kind of problem, consider inspecting and replacing the affected transmission shift and cable adjusters.

Torque converter malfunctioning

Summary: If you are not getting the proper responses when you release the brakes and press the throttle pedal, you’re experiencing torque converter engagement or disengagement problems.

This means you will not be able to get the car moving even if you press too much throttle or stop the car when you release the throttle pedal.

Check if the clutch of the torque converter is damaged and replace it. In some cases, the solenoid might be broken, which may also need replacing. The transmission control module may also require reprogramming to correct the problem.

Transmission slippage

Transmission slippage or shift can cause slow response or further damage to the transmission system. It indicates there is a problem with the mechanical components of the transmission.

There is a good chance that the solenoids of the two gears might be broken or worn out. Consider replacing them.

6. Headlights too dim

GMC Acadia owners have made more than 94 complaints about exterior lighting, particularly in the 2017 models.

Car owners say that the headlights barely light up roadways enough to be used at night, and most of them have resulted in using fog lights which only light 30 feet in front of the vehicle.

Others opted to change their headlights on their own after the headlights melted and left a hole in the lamp. The lights can get extremely hot, and the problem is common in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2015, and 2017 models.

For dim headlights, consider replacing the headlight bulbs.

However, if your headlights melt down, you could be dealing with a wiring issue. Be sure to confirm any wiring issue causing the headlights to melt before replacing the headlights.

The average cost for headlight bulb replacement for GMC Acadia ranges between $300 and $410, including the labor cost.

General pros and cons for the GMC Acadia

The GMC Acadia is among the most discussed SUVs in the market today. It is well-built and spacious, with innovative features and plenty of technological elements.

What it lacks is storage for small items, limited row seating space, and limited cargo space.

Pros of the GMC Acadia

Here are the advantages of the GMC Acadia:

·Affordable buying price

The GMC Acadia is one of the most affordable midsize SUVs in its class. The vehicle is packed with all the features you need to drive around busy streets and highways, such as innovative infotainment features, safety features, and comfortable seats.

·Great user experience

The GMC Acadia is easy and fun to drive, and the V6 engine has enough power to run over any terrain. It also comes with a sport-tuned mode and multi-mode adaptive dampers to give you the proper compatibility for your driving needs.

·Spacious and sleek interior

The Acadia is one of the roomiest sport utility vehicles you will come across. The cabin is spacious enough to carry seven people with enough head and legroom for longer trips. Most buyers who choose this vehicle buy for space, especially big families.

Cons of the GMC Acadia

Here are the drawbacks of the GMC Acadia.

  • Shift to park” warning problems
  • A/C Not Working or Working Intermittently
  • Airbag light on without any trigger
  • Fuse block connections causing engine stalls
  • Multiple transmission failures
  • Headlights too dim

What do the reviewers say?

“GMC Acadia is an excellent midsize SUV with two capable engine options – a turbo-four and a V6 – to cushion the ride and two rows of massive, luxurious seats. It also features a respectable maximum cargo capacity, an easy-to-use infotainment system and it returns impressive gas mileage.”

“The Acadia is well-designed and powered, especially with the availability of V-6 in the engine compartment. It has great abilities as the smaller second-generation does better on paved roads. The interior is sleek and the exterior looks stylish with every new model release.”

What is the resale value of the GMC Acadia?

Year mileage Price $
2009 154,929 8,493
2010 71,660 18,998
2011 112,818 11, 875
2012 121,086 10,000
2014 89,319 16,990
2015 129,341 20,374
2016 70,724 24,600
2017 87, 918 24,998
2018 71, 259 24,995
2019 43,521 26,655
2020 50, 111 36, 390
2021 12, 624 40,551

Final Thoughts on GMC Acadia’s common problems

The GMC Acadia is a perfect choice if you’re an avid traveler with a family. The spacious cabin allows everyone to sit and enjoy short and long trips. It performs well on any road, and the styles keep improving every time.

To top it up, it’s reasonably priced to meet your SUV budget.

However, this SUV has several issues, particularly with the engine and transmission, that every buyer should know about before making a purchase decision. You could save yourself time and resources by researching these issues or reading reviews.

Overall, GMC is doing a great job correcting these problems as later models have fewer reports.

Go Back: Car problems for all GMC models.


Was this article helpful? Like Dislike

Click to share...

Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
We would love to hear your thoughts! (PS: We read ALL feedback)

ⓘ  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.