The GMC Terrain is a reliable SUV with extensive safety features and an easy-to-use infotainment system, but it also has a few flaws, such as common GMC Terrain faults you should be aware of.
It’s a serviceable vehicle and doesn’t cost much to maintain compared to other SUVs. The Terrain also holds its value. It only depreciates 47% after five years.
How good is the GMC Terrain?
The GMC Terrain scored well in terms of reliability. Various reports give it a rating of 3.5 out of 5.0, ranking 22nd out of 26 SUVs in the same category. The Terrain is a basic vehicle with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from an SUV .
However, it has an impressive lifespan if you take care of it correctly. It can last up to 300,000 miles or around 20 years of driving as long as you follow its proper maintenance and service schedule.
Common GMC Terrain Faults
Despite being a fairly reliable SUV, the GMC Terrain has its share of potential problems by model year. Here are the common GMC Terrain failures reported for various Terrain models:
1- Airbag malfunction problems
One of the most dangerous problems with the 2017 GMC Terrain is the malfunction of its airbags, which may not activate in the event of a collision or crash. This problem has become extremely concerning, with reports of injuries because the vehicle’s airbags did not deploy during an actual crash.
Some owners have shared that there were no signs that their airbags were having a problem . Your service airbag alerts did not come on at all, but went off after impact. A report stated that, in addition to the airbag’s failure to deploy, the vehicle’s passenger seat belt also locked.
These problems are life-threatening, so it’s best to make sure you include a routine airbag inspection in your regular maintenance activities.
2- Faults in the electronic stability control system
Recent Terrain models, including the 2015 model year, have an electronic stability control system called StabiliTrak®. However, it has been widely reported to act, affecting both vehicle control and performance.
Malfunction of the stability control system can cause sudden shutdowns, jerkiness, poor acceleration, erratic engine operation, vehicle shutdown, etc. All of these symptoms are accompanied by an on StabiliTrak and/or check engine light.
GMC is aware of these issues and has posted TSBs to help resolve them. TSB #10139278 and #10135242 can provide more information on stability control complications.
However, some owners have shared that they are repeatedly experiencing StabiliTrak-related issues. These usually occur with low mileage vehicles at around 50,000 miles.
Some owners have reported that they took their SUVs to their dealerships, but the mechanics were unable to provide an accurate diagnosis and repairs had to be made on a case-by-case basis. If your Terrain’s StabiliTrak system behaves improperly, immediately notify your authorized GMC dealer for prompt inspection.
3- Problems in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
2014 GMC Terrain heating problems are widely reported by many owners. Some have shared that they turned on the heater but cold air blew into the cabin instead.
The Terrain’s HVAC problems don’t end there. Aside from the heating issues, GMC issued multiple Technical Service Bulletins (TSB #10178385, #10126107, #10135395, and #10112343) to address other issues, including heating/cooling malfunctions, water leaks due to a clogged HVAC drain hose, abnormal odor from HVAC system, and more.
Symptoms can reportedly start to appear around 61,000 miles, starting with heating or cooling issues . If you are experiencing any HVAC complications with your 2014 GMC Terrain, it is best to see your mechanic for an exact diagnosis. Required repairs to your HVAC can be done on a case-by-case basis, so the total cost can vary based on the work needed, the cost of parts, and labor rates.
4- Engine problems
The main problems with the 2013 GMC Terrain are usually related to its problematic engine. According to numerous reports from Terrain owners, the engine can display many problems with no exact cause , such as excessive oil usage, stalling, poor engine power, and severe engine damage. These problems can start to appear after 52,000 miles or later, around 108,000 miles.
Some owners have shared that engine problems can cause their check engine light to come on, but that’s not always the case. Others have reported that their engines blew up without raising any warnings or alerts. An engine replacement may be necessary to fully resolve the engine problems in your 2013 GMC Terrain.
Note that some owners have shared that work involving engine issues may be covered under the standard warranty, so it’s best to check with your dealer first to help save some money on repairs.
5- Problems with noises in the water pump
If you are experiencing problems with the water pump on the 2012 GMC Terrain, it may need to be repaired or replaced. However, one of the most noticeable problems you may encounter is abnormal noise after you have done work on the water pump , water pump chain, or cylinder head.
This can occur if your Terrain was serviced without using a water pump sprocket holding tool, causing the water pump chain tensioner to actuate. GMC is aware of this complication, which is why TSBs #10157015 and #10126983 were published in 2017. These TSBs include information on how to properly reset the water pump chain tensioner, which helps get rid of the abnormal noise.
6- Transmission failure
Transmission problems on the 2011 GMC Terrain can become so severe that it can basically fail around 88,000 miles. Some Terrain owners have reported that their vehicles simply died after struggling with jerks and hard shifting for a while.
Other symptoms include transmission lag and stalling, which may be apparent while driving on the highway . Some have reported that they have had to replace their transmissions to resolve the issue.
However, it may not be an easy decision due to how expensive it can be. Transmission replacement can cost upwards of $3,000, depending on parts and labor costs. Some have shared that they had to have their transmission replaced more than once. If you’re having transmission problems with your 2011 GMC Terrain, you’re definitely not alone.
Whether it’s a new or used unit, the GMC Terrain is a great vehicle. However, you need to be aware of potential issues for the model year you’re interested in to ensure you can handle them when they occur. Before you decide, take some time to research and check the widely reported problems for the model year you plan to buy. Also, clear all the details with the seller before making any payment.