GMC Terrain Problems & Reliability

By Max Anthony •  Updated: 04/21/21 •  5 min read

GMC Terrain is a mid-size SUV that was first introduced in 2008. The vehicle has been redesigned for the 2018 model year, with new features and upgrades. It’s available in two different trim levels: SLE and SLT. Starting MSRP ranges from $27,995 to $38,495.

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The GMC Terrain has been suffering from several problems since its debut in 2010. Some are serious and expensive to fix, like the aforementioned engine issue which can cost you around $2k depending on your warranty coverage. Here is our review on GMC Terrain problems and its reliability.

Common GMC Terrain Problems

GMC Terrain Reliability
2019 GMC Terrain Denali | wikimedia

Too Much Oil Consumption

The GMC Terrain’s 2011 model year is notorious for excessive oil consumption. 34 owners have reported this issue to date, and a class-action lawsuit was filed against General Motors in 2019 stating that the problem stems from faulty piston rings.

As the engine burns about one quart of oil every 1,000 miles due to their design flaw, it causes damage or even failure at some point down the line—even if affected cars are repaired as part of settlement agreements reached with vehicle owners who had already completed repairs on 2010–2013 models by 2020 (or were reimbursed).

The average repair cost is about $5,160. The severity of the problem was rated at 8.6 on a scale from one to 10 with 1 being “pretty bad” and 10 being “severe.”

There were nine cases where even engine replacement had been required for fixing this issue that first appeared around 88,300 miles on average.

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GMC Terrain Transmission Problems

GMC Terrain transmission problems are often caused by a faulty torque converter. This is the part of the automatic transmission that uses fluid to make gears work in sequence and smoothly.

When it fails, drivers experience jerky or delayed acceleration and braking, as well as a clunking sound when shifting from drive to reverse. The most common cause for this problem is lack of use due to an extended period without driving.

The severity of your transmission problem will depend on the distance when it starts to act up. Typical costs for transmission repairs can often be around $3,650 with a 9.2 rating that could make you want to pull out all your hair!

GMC Terrain Engine Problems

GMC Terrain Reliability
GMC Terrain P4250774 | wikimedia

GMC Terrain problems are a common problem with this model of car. The most common engine issue is that the vehicle will not start or it will stall out when driving. 

Other symptoms may include rough idling, lack of power, and excessive exhaust smoke. There are many reasons for these issues including dirty fuel injectors, clogged catalytic converter, bad spark plugs, and faulty oxygen sensors.

Also, the problem could be a faulty electrical component, such as the ignition coil or spark plug wire.

In some cases, the issue may be related to an air filter that is clogged with dirt and debris. A vehicle’s fuel injectors can also cause engine problems.

Electrical Problems

The GMC Terrain has been reported to have problems with the electric system. This is a known issue that has been around for years, but it may be time to get your car checked out if you are experiencing these issues. It can cause the battery to drain quickly and not charge properly, among other things.

In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating complaints of sudden acceleration in the 2010-2012 GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox.

The investigation found that there was a defect with the accelerator pedal on these models which caused it to move unexpectedly, potentially causing vehicles to accelerate unintentionally. This issue has been resolved by General Motors as of June 2013.

How many miles will a GMC Terrain last?

The GMC Terrain is a family-oriented SUV that seats up to five passengers. It has a four-cylinder engine with an EPA estimated highway fuel economy of 27 mpg. 

The vehicle’s interior features spacious seating, cargo space, and entertainment options for the whole family. On average, it will last about 200 thousand miles before needing major repairs.

Is GMC Terrain Reliable?

According to Consumer Reports, the 2020 Terrain reliability has a predicted rating of 4/5 — which is much better than before.

In fact, during its first two years on the market, it scored abysmally low in this regard and only since 2013 have features such as power equipment started improving!

Topping the 2020 GMC Terrain problems and safety features list is a five-star NHTSA rating, with perfect scores in both front and side crash tests. It’s got standard automatic emergency braking, as well as lane, keep assist to help drivers stay safe on the road.

The Terrain’s excellent braking ability is matched only by its safety, which has been proven in numerous tests.

Consumer Reports gave the SUV a 5/5 rating for brake distance and 128 feet to stop from 60 mph on dry pavement when they conducted their testing.

They also ranked it at 4/5 in emergency handling with decent headlights that were just 3 out of 5 rated overall as well.

Our Final Verdict

The GMC Terrain is not a bad choice if you like the idea of driving around in an SUV that will fit into smaller spaces. The new features are great, and it’s generally reliable!

But before you buy, take stock of all your options because there might be another vehicle out there for you with excellent performance at an affordable price.

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Max Anthony

Max is a gizmo-savvy guy, who has a tendency to get pulled into the nitty gritty details of technology and cars. He attended UT Austin, where he studied Information Science. He’s married and has three kids, one dog and a GMC truck and a Porsche 911. With a large family, he still finds time to share tips and tricks on cars, trucks and more.