GMC Sierra: What are the common problems?

Every vehicle has its own set of issues that tend to crop up more often than others, so what are the common problems with the GMC Sierra? To find out, we scoured the internet for the most commonly reported problems for every model year of the Sierra since it first appeared in 1999. By familiarizing yourself with these common issues, you will know what to look out for when you shop or a used Sierra or what to expect if you currently own one. So, what are some of these common problems?

While no issues persist through all model year, most early model year GMC Sierras have some shared common problems like transmission issues and HVAC control failure. There are some other issues that were resolved by GM soon after cropping up. But it’s worth learning all common problems because even small niggles; a squeak here, a crack there, can end up causing a huge headache. Also note that there are some issues, like rough idling, that were not included because a common cause has not been found at this point.

Okay, ready to learn? Let’s find out which issues commonly plague GMC’s Sierra trucks by model year.

Contents

GMC Sierra 1999 Models – Reported Issues

1999-2006 GMC Sierra Extended Cab | Photo in the PUBLIC DOMAIN
1999-2006 GMC Sierra Extended Cab in the US

Problem: Transmission sunshell failure

The 4L60E transmission commonly develops broken sunshells, meaning 2nd, 4th, and reverse gears no longer work.

Solution: A complete gearbox disassembly is required to replace the sunshell.

Cost: $800 – $1200

Problem: 4WD motor position selector switch failure

The “Service 4WD” light appears on your dash, indicating a malfunction.

Solution: A new switch must be ordered, usually costing about $50.

Cost: $150.

Problem: Fuel gauge failure

A faulty fuel gauge will show the incorrect fuel level in your Sierra.

Solution: Fuel gauge replacement.

Cost: $85 for parts, $700 to $1000 for a full repair including fuel pump.

Problem: Temperature Control Failure

The temperature inside the cab becomes erratic.

Solution: New HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) actuators will fix this problem in most cases.

Cost: $100 (easy to do at home).

GMC Sierra 2000 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Transmission sunshell failure

Solution: A complete gearbox disassembly is required to replace the sunshell.

Cost: $800 – $1200.

Problem: 4WD motor position selector switch failure

Solution: New 4WD switch

Cost: $150.

Problem: Fuel gauge failure

Solution: Fuel gauge replacement.

Cost: $85 for parts, $700 to $1000 for a full repair including fuel pump.

Problem: Temperature Control Failure

Solution: New HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) actuators will fix this problem in most cases.

Cost: $100 (easy to do at home).

GMC Sierra 2001 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Parking Brake Failure

Solution: Replace tailgate hinge cables.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Transmission Sunshell Failure

Solution: A complete gearbox disassembly is required to replace the sunshell.

Cost: $800 – $1200

Problem: 4WD Motor Position Selector Switch Failure

Solution: New 4WD switch

Cost: $150.

Problem: Fuel Gauge Failure

Solution: Fuel gauge replacement.

Cost: $85 for parts, $700 to $1000 for a full repair including fuel pump.

Problem: Temperature Control Failure

Solution: New HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) actuators will fix this problem in most cases.

Cost: $100 (easy to do at home).

GMC Sierra 2002 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Tailgate Hinge Corrosion

Solution: Replace tailgate hinge cables.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Transmission Sunshell Failure

Solution: A complete gearbox disassembly is required to replace the sunshell.

Cost: $800 – $1200

Problem: 4WD Motor Position Selector Switch Failure

Solution: New 4WD switch

Cost: $150.

Problem: Fuel Gauge Failure

Solution: Fuel gauge replacement.

Cost: $85 for parts, $700 to $1000 for a full repair including fuel pump.

Problem: Temperature Control Failure

Solution: New HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) actuators will fix this problem in most cases.

Cost: $100 (easy to do at home).

GMC Sierra 2003 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Tailgate Hinge Corrosion

Solution: Replace tailgate hinge cables.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Incorrect Rear Seat Belt Position

Solution: Removing a portion of the guide loop.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Transmission Sunshell Failure

Solution: A complete gearbox disassembly is required to replace the sunshell.

Cost: $800 – $1200

Problem: 4WD Motor Position Selector Switch Failure

Solution: New 4WD switch

Cost: $150.

Problem: Fuel gauge failure

Solution: Fuel gauge replacement.

Cost: $85 for parts, $700 to $1000 for a full repair including fuel pump.

Problem: Temperature Control Failure

Solution: New HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) actuators will fix this problem in most cases.

Cost: $100 (easy to do at home).

GMC Sierra 2004 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Transmission sunshell failure

Solution: A complete gearbox disassembly is required to replace the sunshell.

Cost: $800 – $1200

Problem: 4WD Motor Position Selector Switch Failure

Solution: New 4WD switch

Cost: $150.

Problem: Fuel gauge failure

Solution: Fuel gauge replacement.

Cost: $85 for parts, $700 to $1000 for a full repair including fuel pump.

Problem: Temperature Control Failure

Solution: New HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) actuators will fix this problem in most cases.

Cost: $100 (easy to do at home).

Problem: Incorrect Rear Seat Belt Position

Solution: Removing a portion of the guide loop.

Cost: Free (under recall)

GMC Sierra 2005 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Fuel Rail Failure (5.3-liter engines only)

Solution: Replace fuel filter.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Fuel Leak

Solution: Hub assembly replacement.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Transmission Sunshell Failure

Solution: A complete gearbox disassembly is required to replace the sunshell.

Cost: $800 – $1200

Problem: 4WD Motor Position Selector Switch Failure

Solution: New 4WD switch

Cost: $150.

Problem: Incorrect Rear Seat Belt Position

Solution: Removing a portion of the guide loop.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Fuel gauge failure

Solution: Fuel gauge replacement.

Cost: $85 for parts, $700 to $1000 for a full repair including fuel pump.

Problem: Temperature Control Failure

Solution: New HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) actuators will fix this problem in most cases.

Cost: $100 (easy to do at home).

GMC Sierra 2006 Models – Reported Issues

1999-2006 GMC Sierra Double Cab in Canada | Photo released in PUBLIC DOMAIN
1999-2006 GMC Sierra Double Cab in Canada

Problem: Power Steering Failure

Solution: Power steering hose replacement.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Transmission Sunshell Failure

Solution: A complete gearbox disassembly is required to replace the sunshell.

Cost: $800 – $1200

Problem: 4WD Motor Position Selector Switch Failure

Solution: New 4WD switch

Cost: $150.

Problem: Fuel gauge failure

Solution: Fuel gauge replacement.

Cost: $85 for parts, $700 to $1000 for a full repair including fuel pump.

Problem: Temperature Control Failure

Solution: New HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) actuators will fix this problem in most cases.

Cost: $100 (easy to do at home).

Problem: Wheel Hub Failure

Solution: Hub assembly replacement.

Cost: Free (under recall)

GMC Sierra 2007 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Transmission Sunshell Failure

Solution: A complete gearbox disassembly is required to replace the sunshell.

Cost: $800 – $1200

Problem: 4WD Motor Position Selector Switch Failure

Solution: New 4WD switch

Cost: $150.

Problem: Fuel Gauge Failure

Solution: Fuel gauge replacement.

Cost: $85 for parts, $700 to $1000 for a full repair including fuel pump.

Problem: Temperature Control Failure

Solution: New HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) actuators will fix this problem in most cases.

Cost: $100 (easy to do at home).

Problem: Washer Fluid Heater Can Catch on Fire

Solution: Disable washer fluid heater.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Wheel Hub Failure

Solution: Hub assembly replacement.

Cost: Free (under recall)

GMC Sierra 2008 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

Problem: Washer Fluid Heater Can Catch on Fire

Solution: Disable washer fluid heater.

Cost: Free (under recall)

GMC Sierra 2009 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

Problem: Washer Fluid Heater Can Catch on Fire

Solution: Disable washer fluid heater.

Cost: Free (under recall)

GMC Sierra 2010 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

GMC Sierra 2011 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Steering Linkage Separation

Solution: Tighten intermediate steering shaft bolts.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

Problem: Ignition Lock Actuator Binding

Solution: Ignition lock housing replacement.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Rear Axle Cross Pin Failure

Solution: Install new cross pin.

Cost: Free (under recall)

GMC Sierra 2012 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Fuel Transfer Pump Failure

Solution: Replace Fuel Transfer Pump

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

Problem: Fuel Transfer Pump Failure

Solution: Replace Fuel Transfer Pump

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Ignition Lock Actuator Binding

Solution: Ignition lock housing replacement.

Cost: Free (under recall)

GMC Sierra 2013 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Fuel Transfer Pump Failure

Solution: Replace Fuel Transfer Pump

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

Problem: Steering Column Lock Failure

Solution: Replace Steering Column

Cost: Free (under recall)

GMC Sierra 2014 Models – Reported Issues

GMC Sierra 2014
2014 GMC Sierra | Photo by Sarah Larson

Problem: Power Steering Failure

Solution: Software update.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Ignition Lock Actuator Binding

Solution: Ignition lock housing replacement.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

Problem: Front Airbag Failure

Solution: Software Update

Cost: Free (Under recall)

GMC Sierra 2015 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Ignition Lock Actuator Binding

Solution: Ignition lock housing replacement.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

Problem: Front Airbag Failure

Solution: Software Update

Cost: Free (Covered under recall)

GMC Sierra 2016 Models – Reported Issues

GMC Sierra 2016 (PUBLIC DOMAIN)
2016 GMC Sierra

Problem: Broken Front Control Arm

Solution: Replace both upper control arms.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

Problem: Front Airbag Failure

Solution: Software Update

Cost: Free (Covered under recall)

GMC Sierra 2017 Models – Reported Issues

Problem: Broken Front Control Arm

Solution: Replace both upper control arms.

Cost: Free (under recall)

Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

Problem: Front Airbag Failure

Solution: Software Update

Cost: Free (Covered under recall)

GMC Sierra 2018 Models – Reported Issues

 

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Problem: Broken/Warped Dash

Solution: New dash panel.

Cost: $500 – $600

 

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In Summary

As you can see, some GMC Sierra model years have proven themselves to be more problematic than others.

Does that mean you should avoid those years with more frequent problems?

Not necessarily.

For one thing, the older a model gets, the more problems they accumulate. Just remember: All of these pickups are capable of staying on the road for many hundreds of thousands of miles if properly maintained.

By knowing what problems to expect, you can ensure your truck is safe and road-ready. Also, if purchasing a more problematic model year, you can be sure to factor in any expected repairs as you decide on a price.

And of course, the same kind of list can be made for any vehicle. GMC is a great brand and we’re not bashing the Sierras here! Just trying to help prospective owners know what to look for when buying a used one. And if you still need help with that, check out our guide about buying a used pickup truck for more tips and tricks.

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