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The GMC Terrain is a dependable SUV with comprehensive safety features and a user-friendly infotainment system. It’s a serviceable vehicle and it doesn’t cost much to maintain compared with other SUVs. The Terrain also holds value well. It only depreciates 47% after five years, according to CarEdge.com.

Are GMC Terrains Reliable?

The GMC Terrain scored okay in terms of reliability. RepairPal gives it a 3.5 out of 5.0 rating, ranking 22nd out of 26 SUVs in the same category. The Terrain is a basic vehicle with all the bells and whistles you 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 driveability as long as you follow its proper maintenance and service schedule.

2018 gmc terrain sideshot
The GMC Terrain is a dependable SUV with comprehensive safety features and a user-friendly infotainment system.

Top GMC Terrain Problems

Despite being a fairly reliable SUV, the GMC Terrain has its share of potential problems per model year. Here are the most commonly reported issues for various Terrain models:

Malfunctioning Airbags

One of the most dangerous issues with the 2017 GMC Terrain is its malfunctioning airbags, which may not activate in the event of a collision or crash. This problem has become extremely concerning, with reports of injury because the vehicle’s airbags didn’t deploy during an actual crash. Some owners have shared that there were no signs that their airbags had problems. Their service airbag alerts did not turn on at all, but it went off after impact instead. One report stated that aside from airbag deployment failure, the vehicle’s passenger seat belt also locked. These issues are potentially fatal, so it’s best to make sure to include a routine airbag inspection to your regular maintenance activities.

Problematic Electronic Stability Control System

Recent Terrain models, including the 2015 model year, have an electronic stability control system called StabiliTrak®. However, it’s widely reported to act out, affecting both vehicle control and performance. Stability control system malfunction may lead to sudden stalling, jerking, poor acceleration, erratic engine function, vehicle shut down, and so on. All of these symptoms are accompanied by an illuminated check engine and/or StabiliTrak light. GMC is aware of these issues and has released TSBs to help address 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 problems. These usually happen with low-mileage vehicles at around 50,000 miles. Some owners have reported that they took their SUVs to their dealerships, but mechanics were not able to provide an exact diagnosis and they had to do repairs on a case-by-case basis. If your Terrain’s StabiliTrak system acts out, report it to your authorized GMC dealer immediately to get it inspected as soon as possible.

2019 gmc terrain interior
Faulty ESC, HVAC, and transmission are just some of the common issues reported about the GMC Terrain. Image source: GMC

Faulty Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC)

The 2014 GMC Terrain’s heater 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 woes don’t end there. Aside from heater issues, GMC released multiple technical service bulletins (TSB #10178385, #10126107, #10135395, and #10112343) to address other problems, including heating/cooling malfunction, water leaks due to a clogged HVAC drain hose, abnormal odor from the HVAC system, and more.

According to reports, symptoms may start setting in at around 61,000 miles, beginning with heating or cooling issues. If you’re experiencing any HVAC complications with your 2014 GMC Terrain, it’s best to consult your mechanic to get an exact diagnosis. Repairs required for your HVAC may be done on a case-by-case basis, so total cost may vary based on work needed, part cost, and labor rates.

Engine Problems

The top 2013 GMC Terrain problems usually involve its troublesome engine. According to numerous reports from Terrain owners, its engine may exhibit many issues with no exact cause, such as excessive oil usage, stalling, poor engine power, and severe engine damage. These issues may start showing up as early as 52,000 miles or later at around 108,000 miles.

Some owners have shared that the engine issues may make the check engine light turn on, but that’s not always the case. Others have reported that their engines got blown without raising any warnings or alerts. An engine replacement may be required to completely resolve your 2013 GMC Terrain’s engine problems. Take note that some owners have shared that work involving engine trouble may be covered by the standard warranty, so it’s best to check with your dealership first to help you save some money on repairs.

Abnormal Water Pump Noise

If you’re experiencing 2012 GMC Terrain water pump problems, you may likely need to get it serviced or replaced. However, one of the most notable issues you may encounter is an abnormal whining noise after getting work done on your water pump, water pump chain, or cylinder head. It may happen if your Terrain was serviced without using a water pump sprocket holding tool, causing the water pump chain tensioner to act out. GMC is aware of this complication, which is why TSB #10157015 and #10126983 were released in 2017. These TSBs include information on how to properly reset the water pump chain tensioner, which helps get rid of the abnormal noise.

Failing Transmission

The 2011 GMC Terrain’s transmission problems can get so severe that it may basically fail at around 88,000 miles. Some Terrain owners have reported that their vehicles simply died after wrestling with jerking and hard-shifting for a while. Other symptoms include transmission lag and stalling, which may become apparent while driving on the road. Some have reported that they had to get their transmissions replaced to resolve the issue. However, it may not be an easy decision because of how pricey it can be. A transmission replacement may cost over $3,000, depending on part and labor costs. Some have shared that they had to replace their transmission more than once. If you’re having transmission troubles 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 the potential problems of the model year you’re interested in to make sure you can manage them as they happen. Before making up your mind, take time to research and check out the widely reported issues of the model year you plan to buy. Also, iron out all the details with your seller before making any payments.

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