Which GMC Terrain Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

The GMC Terrain is a very popular small SUV which started its journey in 2009 and is still running strong to date. They were one of the first to break the design stereotype of these vehicles.

With the advent of this new design, a lot of the other automakers also followed suit and started implementing identical designs.

However, nothing is perfect and the GMC Terrain is not as well. Some of the first couples of years of production have introduced flaws that have been slowly remedied as the years have passed.

I’ve created a list of the GMC Terrain years to avoid when buying secondhand to not have your money wasted on fixing issues rather than enjoying your SUV.

GMC Terrain Years to Avoid (List of Years)

As a new product, the first lineups of it are usually flawed here and there which automakers try to fix when a new batch is to be manufactured.

These flawed models aren’t worth the attention because nobody wants to buy a product with knows issues that hinder its usability of the product.

To not let your money go to waste, these GMC Terrain years should be avoided. So far, these are the worst years ever for the GMC Terrain.

  • 2010 GMC Terrain
  • 2011 GMC Terrain
  • 2012 GMC Terrain
  • 2013 GMC Terrain
  • 2014 GMC Terrain
  • 2015 GMC Terrain

What Makes These GMC Terrain Years Worth Avoiding?

The engine is the most common point of the problem among all these GMC Terrain years. Let’s look at the issues of the different years one by one.

2010 GMC Terrain Problems:

There are two major complaints with the 2010 variant of GMC Terrain. Engine and Transmission problems.

The engine consumes excessive oil which increases the overall cost of the owner in refueling. The engine makes noise when the vehicle is started and the power delivery is very erratic.

Transmission failure is another problem that occurs very often this year. The vehicle also randomly stalls up which can make the owners day to day activities very hard to accomplish.

2011 GMC Terrain Problems:

The 2011 variant is the worst model year for the GMC Terrain. According to  carcomplaints.com, the problems range from serious vehicle failures like engine and transmission problems to seat belts and steering problems.

The engine stalls or shuts down during driving and the engine powering down and the check engine light starts flashing very often. It also has excessive oil consumption issues.

Transmission failure also seems to be very common in the early years of the GMC Terrain.

Another problem is introduced in this year’s model which is the exhaust system. The exhaust manifold gets cracked and the catalytic converter fails with exhaust fumes filling up the car.

2012 GMC Terrain Problems:

Three years into the GMC Terrain and the manufacturers did nothing to the excessive amount of engine problems and complaints. Like its predecessors, the 2012 variant also consumes a lot of excess oil. The engine also often misfires and the rear mean seal fails.

There are also reported problems with the accessories in the vehicle. Like the console and door lights going dim and the OnStar navigation being inaccurate.

Electrical problems include the engine shutting off and radio, Bluetooth and other services being unavailable.

2013 GMC Terrain Problems:

Engine and transmission problems seem to be neglected every year of the development of GMC Terrain.

Main seal blowing up, reduced engine power and sometimes a blown engine is the major ones this year. The most common excessive oil consumption problem seems more like a feature at this point.

The transfer case breaking down is a major issue because it costs more than $4000 to repair a broken transfer case. There’s also a lot of vibration during the acceleration.

2014 GMC Terrain Problems:

With the 2014 variant, the engine shuts down a lot while driving. It also consumes excessive oil. The PCV Valve also breaks down quite a lot and the repair cost for it is $1800.

Accessories cause a few problems here as well. The dash display lights go dim, the radio doesn’t work properly, the stereo system shuts off and even the Gps is out of date.

This vehicle also doesn’t shift properly. The seals break down and the car rolls back when parked.

2015 GMC Terrain Problems:

Engine problems have been a major issue all these years. This year also has the excessive oil consumption problem. Engine stalling while driving and blown real seal on the motor are also problems that this variant introduces.

This variant also has known issues with the windows and windshield. The windshield wipers often stop working for no apparent reason.

Accessories problems include radio and camera screen going black or just not working at all. The seats this year are very uncomfortable and the heated seats stop working a lot of the time. The lift gate doesn’t stay up in some cases as well.

Most Common Problems of GMC Terrain?

If you’re in the market for a GMC Terrain, there are a few things to check for.

Having this knowledge of the risks and issues that come with buying a GMC Terrain will help you choose better and give you a better understanding of the models to avoid.

My research shows three major problems for which we are going to avoid certain years:

  • Engine troubles
  • Transmission failure
  • Excessive oil consumption

1. Engine Troubles

The early versions, especially the 2010 and 2011 ones had the most devastating engine issues. Fixing these issues is costly and if not taken care of quickly they can become fatal. A malfunctioning engine is a major headache for any vehicle owner.

Other engine problems include:

  • Idling and inconsistent power delivery of the engine
  • The engine that shuts down while driving
  • The engine light constantly on

The engine is one of the most important parts of a vehicle steering clear of faulty engines should be everyone’s top priority.

2. Transmission Failure

Transmission failure is another issue that needs to be considered heavily.

Transmission problems can become as costly and problematic as the engine. These may halt your day-to-day activities or travel plans. Some common problems with the transmission are:

  • General transmission failure
  • Lack of proper reset after fix
  • Powertrain failure

A used automobile does not come cheap. You have to pour in a hefty amount to get one secondhand. A vehicle with these problems will never be appealing to a driver.

3. Excessive Oil Consumption

Excessive oil consumption has been a ‘trademark’ of the early years of the GMC Terrain. So much so that it can be called a feature of the 2010-2015 variants of the vehicle.

Four of the 15 owners who filed complaints had their engines replaced, while the other two had their engines refurbished. The fixes are covered by the same class-action lawsuit that addresses the 2011 model year’s high oil usage.

One owner mentioned, “Had nothing but problems since I drove it off the lot.” Another said, “Thank you, General Motors. I’ll never buy/recommend any of your vehicles again.”

The average cost of the repairs was $4,020. The problem was regarded as “very terrible” by the owners, who gave it an 8.7 severity rating. On average, the problem started at 94,400 miles.

Between 2010 and 2013, engine problems remained the most common complaint with the GMC Terrain. The issues were significant, and the owners had to spend a lot on repairs.

The number of complaints has dropped over the years as manufacturers started to implement fixes in their later versions of the vehicle. These days, Interior accessory issues are the main cause of complaints after the year 2014.

Which Years are Safe to Buy Used?

Based on the severity of the complaints and how often these problems arise and the cost of repairs, I’ve selected some candidates that are safe to buy used.

Following years of GMC Terrain have fewer problems, and the problems that these variants introduced aren’t as costly to fix either.

The best years to buy a GMC Terrain:

  • 2016 GMC Terrain
  • 2017 GMC Terrain
  • 2018 GMC Terrain
  • 2019 GMC Terrain
  • 2020 GMC Terrain
  • 2021 GMC Terrain

These have been some of the greatest years for the GMC Terrain to date.

You can make a better judgement of exactly which GMC Terrain year to buy by looking into which year provides what and what fixes have been implemented in each year.

Take the time, look into the different years and make an informed decision so that the money you spend does not go to waste and there are no additional charges for fixing the specific issues that come with each year.


With all the information above, and after knowing the considerable issues associated with each year of the GMC Terrain, you can make the best decision on what to look for when trying to buy your dream car.

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