GMC is most known for their pickup trucks, but they also offer a solid line of SUVs. No model is perfect, however, and GMC is no exception.
If you’re hoping to find out whether GMC SUVs are prone to certain issues, we’ve looked into some of the brand’s most reported mechanical problems for you.
Read our list below for the details.
Table of Contents
1. Excessive Oil Consumption
This issue occurred most frequently for 2010 and 2011 Terrain model years.
Check the most seen problems with the GMC Terrain models here.
Many owners have noticed their cars are burning oil, sometimes as early as 85,000 miles. In their complaints, owners report having to add 2 or 3 quarts of oil to their vehicles between oil changes.
Drivers also reported other signs of engine problems on their Terrains, including random car shut-offs, stalling, and rough driving.
Excessive oil consumption can be a sign of various engine malfunctions and often occurs when an internal leak allows oil to escape its usual route and burn up on hot engine components.
Loss of oil can also lead to further engine damage, as the components suffer due to a lack of lubrication.
Mechanical diagnoses include shoddy piston rings and timing chain failure; in some cases, the root cause remained a mystery. While the problem could have been due to various issues, the repairs for many owners cost upwards of $5,000.
Some owners even ended up having to replace their entire engines. Many owners were disappointed that the problem occurred despite regular maintenance and engine upkeep. However, there have been no recalls on the engine components of the vehicles.
This is not uncommon among SUVs. You also find this problem among Toyota SUVs.
2. AC System Problems
In the last few years, many GMC drivers have experienced AC deactivation while driving, particularly for the Yukon between 2015 and 2017.
Other drivers had their AC turn on and off randomly, or stop blowing cold air.
It’s obvious that an AC failure can be pretty uncomfortable in extreme temperatures – but they can actually pose a safety hazard as well.
If the malfunction affects the performance of elements like the defroster, the visibility of drivers could be considerably impaired.
The failures are most often due to a freon leak in the system, a relatively simple repair that can still result in a bill around $1,000.
GMC has not issued a recall for the problem, but they have extended another SCA for those affected.
3. Tail Light Not Working
This problem is a simple one, but no less annoying for it.
Many drivers with a Yukon model from 2015 have noticed that their tail lights are unusually unreliable.
There are several light complaints for tail light issues on the 2015 Yukon, with many drivers stating that they would work intermittently, or that they were pulled over for not having a working tail light.
Some drivers would also have the lights fail again even after replacement, or have the other light fail shortly after the first.
There have also been other problems with the GMC Yukon models.
The phenomenon seemed to be fairly common – enough to warrant the idea that GMC may have used defective factory parts.
The problem often occurred before 60,000 miles.
An entirely new tail light assembly – bulb, lens and all – can run drivers at a replacement cost of nearly $1000.
If their vehicle was no longer under warranty, drivers would have to pay out of pocket. Understandably, many owners were disappointed that GMC wasn’t more accommodating in regards to the problem.
A special coverage adjustment, or SCA, was finally released in late 2019 for the tail light problem, granting refunds to anyone who had paid for replacement costs and covering future occurrences of the issue.
4. Stability Control System Malfunctions
Newer GMC vehicles include a vehicle stabilizing system called “Stabilitrak”, which is designed to adjust to driving conditions and increase traction to prevent slipping.
It does this by monitoring the speed of each wheel and making adjustments that help the driver to avoid veering off-road or losing control of the car.
Because Stabilitrak is a sensitive feature that has big safety implications, drivers are attuned to any problems that may arise with it.
All GMC SUVs have warning lights that notify drivers when the system requires servicing, which also temporarily disables the feature in the meantime.
Many drivers have noticed the service light coming on prematurely, or turning off and on randomly. Other drivers may have difficulty turning the Stabilitrak feature on and off, or having their cruise control affected by problems with the Stabilitrak system.
When one of these problems occurs, it may be due to a failure of one or more of the wheel motion sensors, a malfunction in the powertrain control module, or an issue with the GM-LAN communication, which is responsible for connecting the vehicle’s computer-operated systems.
The Stabilitrak may also function improperly if your vehicle has tires of the wrong size.
Because the system utilizes software, it can be a tricky one to fix, though it’s relatively inexpensive – depending on the exact issue, it can cost anywhere between $80 and $500 to repair.
5. Transmission Failure
Several GMC models have suffered problems with their transmissions – the 2017 Acadia and the 2010 Terrain are particularly prone to malfunctions.
On the Arcadia, drivers would frequently report that their vehicle would not register that they had shifted into park, leaving them with a “shift into park” notification and unable to turn off their engines or walk away from the car.
The vehicles were often low mileage, and repeated trips to the mechanic didn’t always fix the issue, though it was sometimes solved by replacing the shifter park control switch.
The 2010 Terrain tended to have more severe problems, often requiring that the entire transmission be replaced. Sometimes, the transmission would slip gears and show other signs of malfunction, and other times they would fail without warning.
You can see here how long the Terrain SUVs normally last.
Replacements ran owners an average of $3,500 in repair costs, with many vehicles failing right after the expiry of their warranty.
6. Cluster Gauge Malfunctions
Cluster gauges consist of the meters in front of a vehicles steering wheel, conveying information such as speed, RPMs, vehicle temperature, and fuel levels.
Many owners of GMC Envoys from 2004 experienced problems with their instrument gauges, ranging from incorrect readings to loss of gauge power.
The malfunctions could have serious consequences, as drivers may not have accurate information on their speed, or know if they’re low on fuel or if their vehicle is running hot.
The problem was also frequently accompanied by other electrical issues; owners report their radios shutting off and their window switches losing power.
Warning lights for car problems, such as the check-engine light, would also turn on without reason.
Many drivers were not able to totally resolve the malfunctions or find the root of the problem. Replacement gauges sometimes displayed the same malfunctions, indicating an underlying problem with the electrical system.
General Pros and Con for GMC SUVs
Even with some mechanical irregularities, many GMC SUVs still have a lot to offer:
- Roomy interior, with space for passengers and cargo
- Advanced technology systems
- Robust, pickup-inspired styling
- Strong tow performance and decent off-road abilities
- Luxe trim options available
- Excessive oil consumption
- AC system problems
- Tail lights not working
- Stability control system malfunctions
- Transmission failure
- Cluster gauge malfunctions
What Do the Reviews Say?
The Yukon is the most well-reviewed of GMCs SUV options, typically scoring around an 8 out of 10 from major reviewers.
Edmunds says of the latest model:
“This newest and improved GMC Yukon is an appealing pick for a large SUV. With a comfortable ride and roomy interior, you no longer have to make as many concessions if you need a big truck-based SUV for towing. It’s also relatively easy to drive, especially when equipped with its suite of useful tech features.”
Other models, however, face criticism for their poor handling and uninspiring ride, as they carry over the worst aspects of driving a truck into the realm of SUVs.
Consumer Reports said of the 2023 Terrain:
“The Terrain was recently freshened with exterior updates and an outdoorsy AT4 version. It is a corporate cousin of the Chevrolet Equinox, but a few critical differences compromise it, even though it is positioned as a more premium offering. We found it to be loud and stiff-riding, with severely hampered visibility.”
[Source: Consumer Reports]
What’s the Resale Value On GMC SUVs?
GMCs depreciate fairly well, tending to hold their value.
The Yukon is the SUV with the steadiest resale prices of all the brand’s models, with a 35% depreciation rate after five years.
2023 GMC Yukon Sample Depreciation Rate
Note: Estimates are based on resale of vehicle in good condition, with a original value of $72,667.
ⓘ 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.