11 Common Chevrolet Colorado Problems (Explained)

The Chevy Colorado is a midsize pickup truck that replaced the Chevy S-10 in 2004.

Its smaller size makes it easier to drive, but it still excels at regular truck things like towing, hauling and off-roading.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the Chevy Colorado’s common problems and their solutions.

1. Transmission Problems

The 8-speed transmission in the second generation Chevy Colorado had lots of complaints of shuddering and jerkiness.

This transmission was first introduced in 2017 and problems persisted until 2019. 

Owners reported the following symptoms:

  • Lugging or jerkiness at low speed
  • Delayed downshifts
  • Gear hunting
  • Clunking noise

Here’s how a few owners on ColoradoFans.com described their experience:

“Just got a new to me Colorado with ~56k miles. Wouldn’t you know it, it has the dreaded transmission shudder. Pretty intermittent so didn’t notice it when buying less than a week ago.”

“Just picked up my 2019 ZR2 from being at dealer for over 5 days for a transmission flush and fluid change for the shuddering while shifting gears on a 8 speed automatic.”

Another Colorado owner on 355.net had this to say:

“I’m thinking of trading in my 05 Colorado for a 2016 diesel Colorado, super nice truck but when I test drove it I felt it shudder – a couple separate times while accelerating from a stop, and a couple separate times while accelerating from about 55 to about 70.”

GM released a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) in late 2019 that recommends using an updated automatic transmission fluid to get rid of the transmission shudder.

Getting your old transmission fluid drained and replaced with the reformulated transmission fluid should only take a few hours and should only cost $100 to $200 at most shops.

In some cases, owners were only able to get rid of the shudder by resetting the transmission software or replacing the torque converter.

2. Worn Valve Seat

Early model years of the first generation Chevy Colorado were prone to premature valve seat wear.

This issue typically only affects the 2004 to 2006 model years equipped with either the 2.8-liter or 3.5-liter engine.

It’s also a common problem on the GMC Canyon.

Once the intake valve seats have worn out, the check engine light will show up on the dash and the engine will often misfire.

Other common symptoms of a worn valve seal include:

  • Rough idle
  • Misfiring
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Reduced power
  • Hard starting
  • Low compression
  • Oil consumption
  • P0300 and P0304 code

Here’s how one owner described their experience on 355.net:

“The truck in question is a 04 2WD 3.5 colorado with 127k miles on it. I found out a couple months ago that my head needs to be replaced.”

“2004 Colorado Ext 4×4 Z71 5cyl. I’m the original owner. Now, at 7 years 4 months and 117k miles, I get the “rough idle” misfire with the code.

The recall extended the initial warranty to 7 years and 100,000 miles.”

Another user on ColoradoFans.com had this to say:

“On Friday a 23,000 mile 2005 Coly came into my job. Had a SES light on, P0300 code stored and was definately missfiring right in front of me. Service history showed the exhaust valve spring TSB had already been performed at 17k. So i checked dealerworld and found out a new Preliminary Information (PI) had me do a compression and leakdown test. Failed, number 1 cylinder intake valve was not shutting completely due to poor valve seat wear leaking 80% when it should be closed. PI says, “Replace cylinder head with updated hardened seats and all valve train.”

GM acknowledged the defective valve seals and offered an extended 7-year/100,000-mile warranty for the 2004 to 2006 models of the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon.

To fix the problem for good, dealers would replace the heads with a redesigned unit. Another option is to have the valve seals replaced and getting the head fixed at a machine shop.

In many cases, fitting in a used or remanufactured engine will be easier, quicker and cost almost the same as getting the head rebuilt.

3. Passlock Issue

Many first generation Chevy Colorado owners have had issues starting their trucks due to problems with the Passlock system.

Passlock is GM’s immobilizer system and prevents the truck from being started if it can’t detect the right key.

When the ignition switch or Passlock sensor fails, the engine won’t even crank when you turn the key. A Passlock light will also show up on the dash.

This issue can affect all model years of the first generation Chevy Colorado Canyon from 2004 to 2012, as well as the GMC Canyon.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience on 355.net:

“I have a 2006 Chevy Colorado with the 3.5L in it. For years the truck has struggled with the 10 min no crank concerning the passlock system.”

 “My ’07 3.7 Colorado got the red security light on the dash. My mechanic friend said it’s a passlock problem and would get worse. Based on the codes and symptoms, we decided I needed the ignition switch and housing for passlock.”

These problems typically start intermittently and then progress to becoming a daily occurrence.

Once the Passlock light appears, you’ll have to remove the key and wait 10 minutes before trying to start the truck again.

Disconnecting the 12-volt battery terminals and waiting a few minutes will also force the truck to exit Passlock mode and reset the security system. 

You can also charge up the 12-volt battery while you’re waiting just in case it’s a bit weak.

Many owners have also simply cut the white and blue-striped wire on the ignition wiring harness while the truck is running to permanently bypass the system.

You can also replace the Passlock sensor or ignition switch which should only cost $100 a piece.

Sometimes, just cleaning out corrosion on the ignition switch can also fix Passlock problems in lots of GM vehicles. 

4. Blower Motor Issues

The HVAC blower motor resistor is a common weak point of many first generation Chevy Colorados.

When the resistor goes, the blower for the heat and A/C can suddenly stop working or not work at certain speeds.

It’s also a common problem on the GMC Canyon.

Here’s how a few Colorado owners described their issues on 355.net:

“I had a 2005 Colorado that had a bad resistor and I found a site that talked about using a Toyota blower motor resistor that was a printed circuit board instead of the ceramic one that was installed. It was a plug in play and worked perfectly.”

“When my resistor crapped out, it damaged the wires on the connector. I spliced in a new connector and everything has been working since.”

“Blower motor stopped working in my colly. I have 12V at the blower plug, on all speeds except off, as normal. Replaced the resistor, nothing changed. replaced the motor, and it seemed to work for maybe a second, and then never again. Tested the switch again, still got 12V at the plug. I’m thinking bad ground at this point.

Blower motor issues are often caused by a faulty resistor. GM eventually updated the blower motor resistor and wiring harness to prevent premature failures in later model years.

Ordering the updated parts from the dealer should only cost around $50 to $100 at most. 

You can have your trusted mechanic install the new parts and continue troubleshooting, or you can just DIY it at home by following online tutorials.

In some cases, blower issues have also been caused by faulty ground packs.

Related: 19 Best & Worst Chevrolet Colorado Years (Complete Guide)

5. Timing Chain Rattle

A lot of first generation Chevy Colorados equipped with a 2.8-liter 4-cylinder engine have a timing chain rattle on startup.

The timing chain is responsible for keeping the engine internals rotating in sync. When it breaks, it could create lots of engine damage as well.

When the timing chain starts making noise, it could mean that it’s stretched out or loose.

If it jumps timing, you could experience problems such as:

  • Check engine light
  • Rough idle
  • Misfiring
  • Reduced power
  • Stalling
  • Poor fuel economy

Here’s how a few owners on 355.net described their experience:

“I’ve got a 2006 Colorado 2.8L 153k miles with a rattle that happens at idle. Sounds like the same rattling during a cold start but that goes away after a few seconds. I’m really hoping i don’t have to do a timing chain.” 

“At start up, I am hearing a rattling noise or a vibration type sound coming from the front of the engine. It goes away after a few minutes. I do know it is almost quiet right after an oil change. It is not a tapping or knock, it is a sound new to me with engines. This 04 Colorado has over 166, 000 miles on it.”

In many cases, the timing chain rattle goes away on its own after a second or two. 

It might take a little longer to go away if the truck has sat for a while and the engine takes longer to build up oil pressure.

Most owners just keep running the truck even with the timing chain rattle, and just swap in a used or remanufactured engine once it goes.

The engine can still last a very long time even with a timing chain rattle.  

To prolong the life of the chain even further, you have to ensure that the truck gets regular oil changes using high quality synthetic oil.

If the engine is already at 200,000 to 300,000 miles, you’ll have to change the timing chain soon, which can be a fairly big job.

6. VVT Actuator Solenoid

Another common cause of engine rattle on startup is a worn VVT solenoid or camshaft position actuator.

These components are part of the variable timing system that ensures the engine has good fuel economy and also delivers good performance when pushed hard.

Symptoms of a faulty VVT actuator solenoid include:

  • Engine rattle
  • Misfires
  • Rough idle
  • Check engine light

Here’s how one owner described their experience on ColoradoFans.com:

“I just purchased a 2018 Colorado WT with the 3.6 V6 (2WD). Had it in to do the trans fluid swap already which definitely helped with the shudder. However, I was still having issues at cruising speeds going up hills, clunky shifting, CEL had come on intermittently with the P0024 code, etc. so I brought it back in to the dealer. They’re recommending replacement of the VVT solenoid. However, they said the parts are on back order and they’re not sure how long it will take to get them.”

In most cases, a worn or dirty VVT solenoid just makes a rattling sound at startup and doesn’t cause other drivability issues, so most owners just leave it alone.

If you want to get rid of the check engine light, have the truck scanned for codes so you can pinpoint the actual problem.

A new VVT solenoid from AC Delco should only cost around $60 and it’s not too difficult to replace the old one.

Some owners have also simply cleaned the actuator, which can get clogged over time, and fixed some of their drivability issues.

In early model years of the first generation Colorado, the VVT solenoid was called the camshaft position actuator solenoid.

7. Electrical Issues

Older Chevy Colorados can suffer from electrical gremlins caused by wiring problems, corrosion or worn components.

Many owners have reported random issues such as:

  • No power windows or locks
  • Truck won’t start
  • Lights don’t work
  • Dash doesn’t work

If you suddenly encounter random and intermittent electrical gremlins, the first thing to check would be the ground wire splice packs under the hood.

Over time, these grounding blocks get corroded because of their placement behind the front fenders.

Too much corrosion makes the electrical connections less effective, so you can try cleaning them first or replacing them altogether. 

Other possible causes of strange electrical problems in the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon include:

  • Faulty BCM
  • Bad BCM ground
  • Weak 12-volt battery
  • Wiring problems
  • Busted fuse
  • Melted connectors
  • Blown HVAC blower resistor

8. Fuel Cap and EVAP Issues

The gas caps used in the first generation Chevy Colorado have a tendency to wear out quickly and not seal properly.

Many owners have reported that the gas cap doesn’t close tightly anymore after a few years.

This causes the EVAP or evaporative emission system to think that fuel vapors could be leaking.

Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon owners have reported the following symptoms;

  • Check engine light
  • “Fuel Cap” message on dash
  • P0455 trouble code
  • Fuel smell in cabin

Here’s one owner’s experience on the 355.net forum:

“Have a question about my 2004 Chevy Colorado. Has anyone had this problem. I keep getting a fuel cap message on my dash but no check engine light. I already replaced the cap once and don’t wanna replace again. I have found that a lot of people said it was there EVAP solenoid but they were getting a check engine light and I’m not.”

Simply replacing the gas cap with a new one from a parts store will often get rid of any check engine lights.

If the issue persists, another common culprit is the EVAP solenoid or the EVAP canister that’s under the car and right near the fuel tank.

A new EVAP canister should only cost around $200 and should be fairly easy to install. 

Some owners also install the EVAP canister from the Hummer which is a compatible part.

9. Excessive Rust

A lot of Chevy Colorados and GMC Canyons are used as work trucks which aren’t very well kept and more prone to rust issues.

This is especially common in areas that see a lot of snow and have their roads treated during the winter. 

Due to the poor weather conditions, work trucks are less likely to get rinsed off after driving all day on salt-covered roads.

They also tend to get parked outside completely exposed to the elements when they’re not being driven around for work.

If it’s just the bodywork that’s rusted like the fenders or door sills, you can still drive the truck around as long as you’re not worried about how it looks.

You can always have the body panels replaced or repaired, but this can still cost a few hundred or even thousands of dollars.

What you have to really look out for is rust on the frame rails. The rails can get so badly rusted that holes start to form on specific areas.  

A rusty or compromised frame rail is a safety hazard and the truck chassis could basically fall apart at any time.

Here’s are a few owners’ experiences on 355.net:

“I’m about to trade in my 05 Colorado. It’s a Z71 LS with 121k miles. It starts and runs great as always but it has some major frame rust.”

“My ’04 is hopefully getting an extended life by having new steel welded into the driver’s side frame where the leaf spring attaches on the driver’s side. The welder stated that Colorados/Canyons tend to rust out on the driver’s side and he’s repaired a number of them. $900 seems a good deal considering the option of junking it out, especially when the rest of the truck is in good condition.” 

As long as you don’t see any rust or holes on the frame rail, the truck should be safe to drive. 

If the frame rails aren’t too far gone, you can also have them repaired or replaced. 

To keep the truck’s body and frame in good condition for a long time, you can apply products like Krown or Fluid Film on the underside of the vehicle to prevent corrosion.

10. DPF Issues

The DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) of the diesel powered second generation Chevy Colorado can cause errors and suffer from early failures.

This diesel emissions system helps reduce the amount of soot that the truck produces.

Common symptoms of a faulty DPF include:

  • Check engine light
  • Reduced power
  • Excess smoke from exhaust
  • Regen errors

Here’s what a few owners had to say on ColoradoDiesel.org forum:

“If you’re at 70,000 you’re looking at the particulate filter. I had one go about 80,000 and just replaced again at 158,000 2 grand a pop. Not covered specifically written out of extended warranties.”

“My Colorado needs the DPF replaced. It was recommended by a DPF cleaning company to remove the DOC for cleaning too.”

One of the most common causes of DPF problems is a faulty exhaust particulate sensor.

GM already announced a recall for the Diesel Particulate Matter Sensor in the 2016 to 2018 model years of the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon.

This recall basically just reprogrammed the ECU to help it detect issues with the particulate matter sensor better.

But it’s also quite common for the diesel Chevy Colorado to need a new sensor every couple of years.

A new sensor usually costs around $200 and you can install it at home if you’re capable of taking the exhaust off. 

11.  Bad Alternator

Higher mileage Chevy Colorados will eventually need a new alternator roughly every 100,000 miles.

Alternators are considered wear items and do need to be replaced occasionally. 

But the first generation Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon both seem to require a new alternator a bit sooner than other trucks. 

The Chevy Colorado is also prone to unexplained electrical gremlins when the 12-volt batteries become weak, which can often all be traced back to a faulty alternator.

Common symptoms of a bad alternator include:

  • Flashing battery light
  • Battery constantly dies
  • Dimming lights
  • Truck won’t start

A new alternator isn’t too expensive and usually costs around $200 to $300.

Any experienced mechanic should be able to get your new alternator installed for you in an hour or two.

It’s also best to have your battery and alternator tested at a parts store before you go out and start throwing parts at it.

Chevy Colorado Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Good handling
  • High towing capacity
  • Many engine options
  • Lots of tech and features
  • Comfortable ride
  • Off-road options
  • Good reliability
  • Affordable starting prices

Cons

  • First generation engine issues
  • Below average fuel economy
  • Expensive higher trim levels

What Do The Reviews Say?

“The Colorado is Chevrolet’s midsize truck designed for those who want a smaller and more affordable pickup than the full-size Silverado. Its 2023 redesign brought several upgrades but also simplified the truck.”

“Chevrolet beefed up the new Colorado’s exterior design and modernized its interior with a digital instrument cluster and a large 11.3-inch center touchscreen.” 

“The former engines have been replaced by a turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four that produces 237 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque in the WT (Work Truck) and LT trims, 310 hp and 391 lb-ft in the Trail Boss and Z71 trims, and 310 hp and 430 lb-ft in the top ZR2 trim. Its max towing capacity of 7,700 pounds is unchanged.” 

“The new Trail Boss trim sports a 2-inch lift and the top-spec ZR2 touts a 3-inch lift with upgraded suspension components and available underbody cameras, plus a roof light bar with the Desert Boss package.”

“The Colorado is a surprisingly comfortable pickup. It doesn’t feel too stiff when it’s unladen and manages to smooth out bumps in the road well. It’s also relatively quiet inside. Trucks with chunky off-road tires tend to transmit a lot of road noise into the cabin, but our Colorado Z71 truck was pretty quiet compared to other midsize trucks. At highway speeds, however, wind noise coming off the front pillar and windscreen is very noticeable.”

2023 Chevy Colorado | Edmunds

What’s the Resale Value of a Chevy Colorado?

Here’s a quick look at used car pricing for the Chevy Colorado on Edmunds at the time of writing.

YearMileagePrice
20237,589$30,997
202213,519$28,973
202121,942$26,987
202033,693$25,500
201940,770$24,950
201851,938$23,398
201757,537$22,498
201676,632$19,984
201591,809$19,495
2012110,333$11,196

Related: Chevrolet Colorado Alarm Going Off? (12 Main Causes)

Author:

  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...