Founded some 108 years ago, GMC or General Motor Company is a GM marque that focuses on producing light and heavy trucks, SUVs, buses, and vans. Because GMC only sells trucks and a few SUVs, most North American dealerships also sell Buicks – for those looking for sedans and other upscale models from the GM bandwagon.
That said, GMC’s reliability ratings seem to have taken hit over the last few years, with many of their models having a higher pain index than a reliability one. Consumer Reports rated GMC as the seventh most unreliable brand to buy, giving it another setback. Here go ten of the most unreliable GMC vehicles, ranked, for you to know and buy better.
10 2001 GMC Jimmy
The GMC Jimmy, as well as the Chevrolet Blazer, is what the Chevrolet Trailblazer and the GMC Envoy came to be based upon. The Jimmy had a jimmied ignition, pun intended because there were times it started smoother than butter and other times no amount of jiggling brought the ignition alive.
There were fuel leaks and rust issues, and low gears slipped too often for comfort. Another common complaint is that the reverse gear would simply not engage, leaving a parallel-parked Jimmy stranded unless the car in the front moved. A few transmission problems were reported as well, and finally, in 2005, Jimmy left GMC for good.
9 2003 GMC Savana
The GMC Savana is a full-size van, like its sibling, the Chevrolet Express. In 2003 alone, there were some 10 recalls around it. Problems with the semiconductor, hydraulic pump failures, the brakes feeling slushy and unresponsive – and a lot more.
Continuing to be in production, GM doesn’t sell too many of these, averaging about 9,000 a month for combined sales of both the Savana and the Express. It’s a handy car; used by handymen like electricians and plumbers to lug around stuff with ease. Not powerful and nothing to look at it, these are simply convenience vehicles. We only wish they were more reliable.
8 2002 GMC Sonoma
The Sonoma has been plagued with kooky interiors and rust issues all its life. When upgraded to the Syclone, the pickup became a racer's classic. But as a plain and simple Sonoma, the second generation was simply boring.
The Syclone, the Sonoma GT and Typhoon were all relegated to the shelf, and initially, there were no airbags in the models. When they put in the airbags, there were complaints of them not deploying. In some cases fuel tanks rusted through, causing gas leaks. And in other complaints, windshields tended to go foggy just like that.
7 2015 GMC Canyon
2015 seemed to be a bad transmission year for GMC – other than the Canyon, similar complaints came from the 2015 models of the Yukon as well as the Sierra 1500. Its reliability ratings as a brand slipped further, and there were plenty of recalls for both the GMC Canyon as well as its sibling, the Chevrolet Colorado.
The most common issue faced by consumers was with the transmission as the Canyon would not shift properly. It also jerked, shuddered and clanked all over the road, and had an issue with the torque converter as well, leading to power loss. Not a GMC favorite for 2015.
6 2004 GMC Envoy
The GMC Envoy was built on the largely defunct Chevrolet Trailblazer and suffered the same problems. Or should we say, its buyers suffered the same problems as did the drivers of the Chevy Trailblazer?
Really bad gas mileage that took gas costs astronomically high, Mattel-like gimmicky interiors, and tech that was so old no one knew what to do with it. The cluster gauges would fail religiously, and the Envoy also leaked gas – mostly because of a bad part – the gas tank filler neck was below par. Not a car that should have been made and not at the time it was made at.
5 2003 GMC Envoy XUV/XL
There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip, and this slip is called the GMC Envoy XUV. The idea was to extend the wheelbase on the existing Envoy, add in a retractable roof and a movable watertight partition on the back – so basically, it was a modular car.
Sadly, the existing Envoy was nothing more than a Chevy Trailblazer, which in itself was a largely forgotten and forgettable car. The interiors remained plasticky and the mileage next to nothing. And then for some reason, the XUV was also more expensive than the Envoy, though technically it could not haul any better. So the Envoy XUV was booted out and rightfully so.
4 2011 GMC Terrain
The 2011 GMC Terrain was far more expensive than its counterparts, with a fully-trimmed one having a price difference of $10,000 over and above its competitors. Now had they offered mind-blowing advantages over the competition, the price could have been justified.
All they were offering instead was a rear-seat entertainment system and a few other frills. Add this to the fact that the Terrain drank oil like nothing else, and even then had transmission problems. How then, could they justify an almost 30% premium over the cars offered by Nissan, Honda or Mazda? The answer is, they couldn’t and Terrain was a shoddy offering by GMC.
3 2015 GMC Yukon
You’d think GMC would have wizened up by now, in 2015, to finally churn out good cars. They must have tried but the 2015 GMC Yukon did not fare a lot better – much like the headlight problem in the 2015 Sierra, the 2015 GMC Yukon had a taillight and brake light problem.
This proved especially dangerous during night driving. There were transmission problems aplenty and much like its sibling the Chevrolet Tahoe, the Yukon seemingly suffered from the same platform problems – and that could be the root cause of all its woes. There were some issues with the quality of parts as well.
2 2008 GMC Acadia
The GMC Acadia is one car that makes its owners cry bitter tears of regret as well as bitterness over repair costs. The problem with the Acadia lies with the transmission that tends to fail whenever it wants to and brings with it an upwards of $3000 of cost for its owner.
Its reliability ratings are in the pits, and another problem with this mid-size SUV is that while it is loaded with technology, not all of the tech works. There have been complaints about the display screen blacking out for no rhyme and reason, and the Acadia deserved to be booted out.
1 2015 GMC Sierra
Even the 2020 GMC Sierra has not been given any great shakes when it comes to reliability, getting just a measly 2 out of 5. However, the 2015 GMC Sierra took the cake when it came to reliability issues, with a poor headlight pattern that barely illuminated the road for this pickup and even so tended to conk off at the most inopportune times.
Like the middle of a highway in the dead of the night – where it was pitch dark and no could see you were there. The engine lost power for no reason and the AC was as temperamental as the headlights, so this wasn't a car you'd be proud to own.