Which GMC Sierra Years To Avoid and Why? (Explained)

Over the years, GMC Sierra has been widely considered one of the most powerful, versatile, reliable, and dependable light-duty pickup trucks.

GMC Sierra trucks feature Variable Valve Timing, a Direct Injection System, Driver Control Technology, Duralife™ brake rotors, and Coil-over-shock Suspension to deliver steady power, bold acceleration, quicker cold start, maximum efficiency, quiet operation, emissions, and ultimate driving comfort.

However, not all GMC Sierra years models are built with similar quality, and some models came up with major flaws.

Therefore, make sure to avoid those problematic Sierra model years while considering between model years, and today’s article will guide you with that.

GMC Sierra Years to Avoid (List of Years)

Whether you wish to buy a new or used Sierra pickup truck, you must know which year’s model of Sierra is the most troublesome and avoid them.

Remember to avoid the following problematic years of GMC Sierra-

  • 2003 GMC Sierra: Bumpers tend to rust prematurely, Instrumental cluster failure, rusted brake lines, Steering, and Seatbelts or Airbags problems.
  • 2004 GMC Sierra: A/C or heater malfunctioning, Stereo system tends to stop working, Transmission failure, several Interior accessories and Steering problems,
  • 2005 GMC Sierra: Rust and corrosion cause premature brake lines failure, A/C completely shuts off, and speedometer malfunctioning or failure.
  • 2007 GMC Sierra: Transmission failure, Excess oil consumption, faulty Service airbag light, and Suspension problem.
  • 2008 GMC Sierra: Lifter tends to stick, Door locks do not work accurately, water leaks into interior components, body or paint problems.
  • 2010 GMC Sierra: Rough idling, Engine power loss or complete failure, Cracked or faulty dashboard, A/C or heater, and Suspension problem.
  • 2011 GMC Sierra: Transmission hesitates, cracked dash, unusual knocking noise, Engine failure, and Drivetrain problems.
  • 2013 GMC Sierra: Transmission failure, Paint tends to peel off, Cracked dash, Engine, Drivetrain, and lights problems.
  • 2014 GMC Sierra: Poor visibility due to terrible headlights, Interior accessories problem, Electrical error, problematic Transmission system, Suspension and Steering issues, A/C condenser leaking, and failing to work properly.
  • 2015 GMC Sierra: A/C not working properly, poor lighting patterns, skipping issue, faulty windows or windshield, Transmission, Drivetrain, Cooling system, wheel or hub problems.
  • 2017 GMC Sierra: Hard shifting, out of first gear, Transmission jerks and slips, Engine running rough, Brakes and Drivetrain issues.
  • 2019 GMC Sierra: Brake system failure, Check engine warning light problem, Engine shaking, Service brake assist warning, and Transmission failure.

According to the CarComplaints.com website report, 2004, 2014, 2015, and 2017 are the most problematic years of GMC Sierra trucks.

What Makes These GMC Sierra Years Worth Avoiding? 

I already highlighted the most significant problems of each troublemaker year of Sierra trucks earlier, which made those years’ worth avoiding. However, some of them are the most common and available in almost all of those Sierra years.

Let’s learn more details about the GMC Sierra truck’s most common issues-

1. Transmission Problem:

The trouble with automatic transmission systems or complete failure commonly occurs in almost all problematic years, which I highlighted earlier.

Especially transmission problems are reported to arise in truck models of 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Also, transmission issues are available in some of Sierra pickup’s best years, such as the 2016 and 2018 models

People have experience symptoms where the truck fails to move after being placed in drive or reverse, the shifter fails to shift out of Park or back to Park, the Check Engine warning light keeps illuminating, and the vehicle gets stuck in limp or fail-safe mode.

Some users have also reported encountering harsh gears engagement, shifting difficulty, slipping, or situations where they were unable to stop the transmission.

2. Engine Problems:

Most consumers claim GM failed to give more attention while creating some Sierra models, and due to the lacking of design and manufacturing, some model engines fail to perform as they are supposed to. 

Especially, engine troubles or major part failure issues arise in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2017, and 2019 Sierra truck models.

The most common symptoms are rough idling, Engine power loss, running rough, and visibly shaking problems.

Many users have complained about experiencing engine misfiring, unusual knocking noise coming from their truck’s engine, even the lifter tends to stick, and the engine shakes dangerously.

According to the consumer forum, many users even had to replace the lifters and pushrods with new sets of their brand-new Sierra. Some also claimed that even after replacing the faulty parts, they could not get rid of engine troubles.

In one of its service bulletins, the company announced that some Sierra truck models are suffering from engine misfiring because of the defective lifters, which tend to come apart.

3. Speedometer Malfunctioning:

The Speedometer malfunctioning or failure is another major troubleshooting issue that arises especially in GMC Sierra 2005 models.

This problem mainly occurs due to electrical and wiring failure or faults.

When the speedometer malfunctions, it stops displaying the correct reading and shuts off completely. Due to wrong reading, you might take a curve at the wrong speed or lose control over speed while driving on the highway. That will eventually lead you to encounter a severe crash or accident.

Unfortunately, you can hardly spot this issue unless you live in an area where a speed monitoring machine is installed on the side of the roads.

The easiest thing that you can do when your vehicle’s speedometer suddenly stops working is either call a technician or crawl your vehicle to the nearest workshop or servicing center to fix it.

4. Electrical System or Components Malfunctioning:

According to consumer reports and complaints, major electrical malfunctioning or errors are available in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2019 GMC Sierra pickup models.

People have reported encountering electrical problems such as dash gauges malfunctioning, interior and exterior lights not properly turning on or off, as well as vehicles erratically locking or unlocking.

Many Sierra users even claimed to experience major miscellaneous issues that led them to deal with costly repairing or servicing.

5. A/C Or Heater Failure:

Generally, A/C or heater malfunctioning or failure mainly falls into the electrical component category.

But this issue has become so commonly available in several Sierra models and sometimes becomes too troublesome that I had to highlight it separately.

A/C malfunctioning problems commonly occur in 2004, 2005, 2010, 2014, and 2015 GMC Sierra models where people have noticed symptoms such as A/C condenser leaking and not working properly, or abruptly shutting off completely.

Some users even mentioned encountering situations where the heater randomly turns on in the middle of the hot summer.

Besides the earlier discussed problems, other typical issues are rusted or premature brake failure, Cracked or faulty dashboard, paint peeling off tendencies, airbag issues, problematic steering, Suspension, and Drivetrain problems.

Which GMC Sierra Years are Safe to Buy Used? 

According to the GMC SIERRA 1500 MODEL YEAR COMPARISON detailed report, these are the GMC Sierra years to consider the safe purchase as a used vehicle-  

  • 1994-99 GMC Sierra
  • 2001 GMC Sierra
  • 2002 GMC Sierra
  • 2006 GMC Sierra  
  • 2016 GMC Sierra
  • 2018 GMC Sierra
  • 2020 GMC Sierra
  • 2021 GMC Sierra

Based on the CarComplaints.com detailed graphical presentation, 2020 and 2021 are the best years of the Sierra. Even the newly released 2022 GMC Sierra pickup trucks are reportedly one of their best creations to date.


If you are looking for a new or used pickup truck built with quality and ensures excellent power, durability, and performance, then GMC Sierra trucks are one of the best choices.

However, you can only regard them best when picking among those years’ models that came up with fewer major flaws and avoiding the most problematic years of GMC Sierra trucks.

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