11 Most Common GMC Acadia Problems (Explained)

The GMC Acadia was first released in 2007 and is known for its comfortable ride and roomy cabin.

Its well-appointed interior, third-row seats and large cargo area also make it an excellent family vehicle.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the Acadia’s most common problems and their solutions.

1. Transmission Wave Plate Failure

Transmission failures caused by a broken wave plate is one of the most common issues of the first generation Acadia.

This was a common problem in the 2007 to 2009 model years of the Acadia.

GM fitted them with a weak wave plate that would easily break and damage other vital components.

Other GM vehicles that used the same 6-speed automatic such as the Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse and Chevy Malibu also had lots of reported failures.

GM updated the wave plate in newer model years, but these can also break, although at much lower rates.

Symptoms of a broken wave plate include:

  • Won’t shift into 3rd, 5th and Reverse
  • Bucking or shuddering
  • Check engine light
  • Hesitates to accelerate
  • Needs higher RPMs to get to speed

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

“I’m the second owner of a 2007 slt2 awd and my tranny just went out a couple of weeks ago at 80,000 miles. My 3,5,r wave plates shattered and ruined the whole tranny. My local Chevy dealership sent the findings to GM and they offered to pay half of the tranny and labor repairs.”

“Back in November, 2011, my 2008 GMC Acadia just died on the road, and on the repair slip, it indicated that there was a broken 3/5/R cushion plate, damaged housing and cover, and debris throughout unit. The dealer replaced the 3/5/R clutches, housing cover cleaned the debris and replaced filter. All was covered under warranty.”

“I have a 2008 Acadia SLT II with just over 80K. The transmission went out this week and had to get towed. I took it to my regular mechanic who quoted me $4500.” 

Aside from updating the wave plate in newer model years, GM also extended the transmission warranty on the 2007 to 2009 GMC Acadia and other affected models to 10 years or 120,000 miles. 

When the wave plate breaks into little pieces, the transmission has to be opened up, cleaned out, and completely rebuilt. Getting this done out of warranty can easily cost over $3,000. 

You can get a used transmission for much cheaper, but this might also fail at some point, so it’s better to look for a remanufactured transmission or get your old one rebuilt with new parts.

If your Acadia hasn’t had its wave plate replaced yet, it’s best to get the updated wave plate to avoid more expensive repairs down the road.

2. Timing Chain Failure

The first generation GMC Acadia had lots of timing chain problems that could eventually lead to catastrophic engine damage.

Early model years had the most reports of timing chain stretch, but it can also occur in later years of the first generation Acadia.

The timing chain is responsible for keeping the rotating assembly of the engine synchronized. When it stretches or becomes loose, the valves will hit the pistons and damage lots of related parts.

This is a common problem in lots of GM vehicles equipped with the 3.6-liter LLT V6 engine such as the Chevy Malibu, Chevy Traverse, Chevy Equinox, Cadillac CTS, Buick LaCrosse, Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave, among many others.

Common symptoms of a stretched timing chain in the Acadia include:

  • Rattling from the engine
  • Check engine light
  • Car shakes or vibrates excessively
  • Misfires
  • Engine shuts down, stalling 
  • Rough idle

On CarComplaints.com, engine failures caused by timing chain problems were reported up until the 2012 model year.

Here’s how one owner described their experience:

“Purchased this used 2012 GMC Acadia from a dealer in St. Louis, MO in March of 2020. Drove for approx.7 months and put on approx. 4,000 miles. Has 120,000 miles total. The check engine light came on while on the way home from town, approx. 3 miles. Before I could pull over the engine died – like two seconds after the engine light came on.”

“Took the vehicle to our mechanic. Say the timing chain broke and caused a catastrophic failure of the engine. Will cost near $8900 to replace.”

Other owners on AcadiaForum.net also had similar problems:

“I am a new first time Acadia owner. Bought my 2009 used with 28,000 miles this past January. Had it about six weeks and the check engine light with P0008 code showed up. Took it to my local GMC dealer. They said the timing chain stretched and wound up replacing all chains and guides in there.”

“I had work done at the dealership under this special coverage. They replaced the timing chains and I had my Acadia back within a couple of days at no cost to me. Here I am 2 years later and the check engine light comes on. I have a code reader so check the codes. p0017 and p0008. I’ve got a friend whose a GM certified mechanic and he stated right off the bat…. timing chains. Especially with those 2 codes popping at the same time.” 

“Our 2008 with 90K finally hit the timing chain issue. My local repair shop won’t replace and recommended using the dealer. Looks like about US $3500 all in. The Acadia is in good shape – 90K, original owner, all standard maintenance.” 

GM extended the warranty for 2007 and 2009 GMC Acadias affected by timing chain failures to 10 years or 120,000 miles.

However, this warranty doesn’t cover other model years that have also suffered from similar timing chain problems.

Replacing the timing chain is a fairly big job, and if it’s left off for too long, be prepared for a major engine overhaul costing several thousand dollars.

If you want to avoid major engine problems caused by timing chain issues in your first gen Acadia, you can change your oil more frequently using high quality synthetic oil. You should also have your mechanic check the timing chain, guides and tensioners periodically.

3. Power Steering Issues

Lots of first generation GMC Acadia owners have encountered issues with the power steering pump and steering rack.

The most common symptoms of steering problems in the GMC Acadia include:

  • Leaking power steering fluid
  • Steering wheel is difficult to turn at low speeds
  • Squealing or whining noise when turning the wheel

These steering issues can affect all model years of the first generation GMC Acadia from 2007 to 2016, but tends to happen more on the 2008 to 2011 models.

Here is how a few owners described their experience on AcadiaForum.net:

‘We had our 2010 Acadia (63k miles) into the shop last week for power steering issues. This is the same issue you’ve all had — whining sound when turning at low speeds that led to a loss of power steering function at low speeds/idle. The shop investigated and determined that the rack needed to be replaced. They replaced the rack, but the problem still persists after we picked the vehicle back up.” 

“I own a 2010 GMC Acadia with approximately 80K miles on it. I also experienced the same steering problems discussed in your Forum. The initial diagnosis by my GMC Service Dept, was a failed steering box which was replaced at a cost to me of $1,300. Two weeks later the same problem re-occurred. This time the steering pump had to be replaced because it was damaged due to fluid starvation from the first leak (no cost to me).”

“Verbatim what happened to my 2011 at 19k miles. Just hit 48k miles on it and the same problem is returning. Steering wheel feels like it’s stuck on a piece of rubber at low speeds, 1/2 inch to 1 inch play in the wheel at highway speeds.“

“About a month ago, my family took a trip in our 2015 GMC Acadia SLT. (Roughly 89k miles). My wife noticed a strange feeling in the steering wheel when she would turn, almost as if the steering wheel was pushing back against the turn. When we got back home, I checked the power steering fluid level, and it was empty!”

Due to the number of failures, GM extended the warranty on the power steering pump of the 2007 to 2011 model years of the GMC Acadia, as well as the Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse and Saturn Outlook to 10 years or 150,000 miles. 

Replacing the power steering pump and steering gear at the dealer typically costs around $1,800 if done out of warranty. 

Once dealers replace the power steering pump and steering rack, they’ll also change the steering fluid to DEXRON-VI transmission fluid to prevent future leaks and failures.

Related: 16 Best & Worst GMC Acadia Years (With Pictures)

3. Excessive Oil Consumption

Many first generation GMC Acadias suffered from excessive oil consumption where owners had to top up the oil in between oil changes.

This issue can affect all model years of the first generation Acadia especially as they get older.

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

“I’ve owned my 2007 Acadia since new and going on 185,000 miles. As with most Acadias, mine would use a quart of oil or more between oil changes. Since 90,000 miles I’ve been using Shell Rotella T6 5-40 Synthetic, this is actually a diesel engine oil. It hardly uses any running this oil. Still going strong at high miles too!”

‘Our Acadia blew out a pile of smoke from the tailpipes after I had done a brake job. I’m talking about enough to fill a 3 car garage. The oil was about 3/4 quart low in 2000 miles. The dealer said that from having it jacked up while doing the brakes, oil drained into the intake manifold.”

“I have a 2011 Acadia that just went over 100k miles and is now out of warranty. As Murphy would have it, the Check engine light just came on and the dealer is telling me that oil is leaking into the spark plug tube through the cylinder head.” 

“My first generation Acadia experienced oil in the air-intake tube as well as consumed about 1 quart oil in every 3000 oil change interval. It has caused misfire and oil found on spark plug thread.”

“2011 SLT AWD with 79,200 mi. Purchased used with about 13,500 mi. Checked oil level this morning, first time checking in about 600-700 miles with a good mix of probably 70/30 percent highway to city driving in between. Dipstick was in the middle of add oil red zone, added about 1 quart of oil to get it towards the top of the “normal” zone.” 

In a lot of cases, oil can end up in the intake hose and get burned up once it gets sucked into the engine due to an issue with the PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) system.

Replacing the valve cover gasket with the updated part should prevent the oil from ending up in the intake tube.

A clogged PCV system and infrequent oil changes will also result in excessive engine sludge which causes the piston rings to get stuck. 

Once the rings are stuck, oil can get past and get burned up in the combustion chamber.

Aside from shortening the oil change intervals, GM eventually switched to Dexos oil which reduced the amount of engine sludge. 

Some Acadias also had defective cylinder heads which caused oil to end up in the spark plug tubes.

In most cases, you’ll have to replace the entire cylinder head which is going to be an expensive repair.

Oil can also leak through the timing chain cover which can cost around $2,000 to fix.

4. Sunroof Leak

Early model years of the GMC Acadia were very prone to water leaks coming in through the sunroof.

Aside from soaking the car’s interior, sunroof leaks will cause other problems such as:

  • Dampness and discoloration of headliner and A and B-pillar
  • Electrical issues
  • Engine won’t shut off
  • Mold problems

Here is how a few owners on AcadiaForum.net described their issues:

“I have a 2008 GMC Acadia that has a leaking sunroof which is causing electrical problems. The battery keeps draining and when the car is shut off the engine keeps running.”

“I also have a 2008 and had a leaky sunroof. Determined water was running down the post by the drivers door and causing corrosion in an electrical component house there.”

Leaks are often caused by blocked drain tubes along the A-pillar which just need to be completely cleaned out and unclogged. This is a fairly common issue on all vehicles equipped with a sunroof.

The leaks can also be caused by worn out weather seals which need to be completely replaced. Some dealers will also completely replace the sunroof assembly to fix the water leaks. 

5. Shift to Park Error

One of the most common issues of the second generation GMC Acadia is the Shift to Park error.

This is caused by a defective microswitch in the shifter assembly which makes the vehicle’s electronics fail to recognize the shift lever is already in Park.

This issue usually affects the very early model years of the Acadia, as well as other GM models.

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

“I have a 2018 Acadia SLT. It has had an ongoing issue with not recognizing when the vehicle is in PARK-I get a notification saying “Shift to Park” with the slightly annoying “ding! ding! ding!” that will not go off.”

“MY 2018 GMC Acadia recently had the “shift to park” issue described in many GM bulletins. My ignition could not be turned off once I shifted to park as the SUV was not “recognizing” that the vehicle was in park. Dealer replaced the Shifter and jumper harness. Vehicle has 54,779 miles on it.” 

“At 54,000 miles my 2017 Acadian started telling me that I had to shift to park when I turned the engine off. I had already placed the lever in park. Sometimes shoving the lever worked and other times I had to restart and reshift with more force. If I didn’t correct the apparent problem the horn was triggered and the driver‘s door would stay unlocked.” 

GM released several TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) to correct the issue.

Originally, dealers would replace the entire shifter assembly. Nowadays, they just replace the wiring harness that has the microswitch.

A low-cost DIY solution is to short the white and purple wire with the black wire on the shifter’s wiring harness with a jumper wire to make the car think the shifter is in Park.

In many cases, the Shift to Park message also goes away if you move the shift lever in and out of Park a few times. 

6. Blind Spot Monitoring Issues

The modules for the blind spot monitoring system in later model years of the first generation and early second generation Acadia have a tendency to stop working after a few years.

This issue typically affects the 2013 to 2017 model years of the Acadia.

When the SBZA (Side Blind Zone Alert) modules go bad, an error for the “Service Side Detection System” will appear.

In many cases, the faulty modules can also cause all sorts of strange electrical issues and even make the vehicle fail to start.

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

“I have a 2013 Acadia Denali that started giving me the “Service Side Detection System” error when the car starts. At first one side would still work and the lights were not always on, but now neither side works and the lights in the mirrors stay on at all times the car is on.”

“I own a 2013 Acadia Denali with service side detection issues. I have had three failures of the system in the past five years. Each time the dealer has said that the module and harness are corroded and need to be replaced. The first two times were under warranty but now the third time is out of warranty and the dealer wants over $2,000.00 to replace the module and harness.” 

“I have a 2016 Acadia Denali with 40k miles that received the “service side detection system” message about 2 weeks ago. Sure enough, the other day while driving down the tollway most of the electrical system went out, radio, turn signals, power locks & windows, etc, and then on the DIC I received messages to service TPMS, Forward camera, and rear park assist. Got to my destination and backed into a parking spot, having read on this forum while researching this problem that some owners ended up with a car that wouldn’t start. Turned the vehicle off and tried starting it again and it started, but a half hour later it was completely dead.”

The SBZA modules usually fail due to water intrusion. GM updated the part several times but even the newer sensors can fail over time.

The only way to get rid of the error message and the associated electrical issues is to replace the SBZA modules. New sensors typically cost around $600 to $800 a piece at the dealer.

GM eventually offered an extended warranty for the sensors on the 2013 to 2017 Acadia to 6 years or 80,000 miles.

7. Brake Noise

Many owners of the second generation GMC Acadia have complained about a loud grinding or squeaking noise during braking, usually after the vehicle has been sitting overnight.

This problem has been noted on many 2020 to 2021 models, but can also affect other model years as well.

The noise doesn’t negatively affect braking performance and usually goes away after driving the vehicle for a few more minutes. However, some owners have also noticed vibration in the brake pedal when the grinding occurs.

This issue also affects the Chevy Traverse, Chevy Blazer, Buick Enclave, Cadillac XT5 and Cadillac XT6. 

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

“Bought my 2020 Acadia AT4 on Feb. same issue. Had the brakes changed which resolved squeaking for about 100 miles, then started again. I did my best to put up to it but I’m 3,500 miles into these brakes and still squealing.”

“I have a 2018 Acadia Denali with right at 5000 miles and the brakes squeal when cold. Dealer says they hear the noise but can’t do anything under warranty since there is no safety issue involved.”

“My 2021 Acadia Denali has had a brake noise from the L/F wheel since I got it. The noise can best be described as a grinding noise and slight vibration similar to what I would expect when brake pads are totally worn out. The grinding noise can be heard and also felt in the steering wheel. The strange thing is that the noise does not happen during the first one or two stops when the brakes are “cold”, but then happens during the next 4 or 5 stops and then disappears totally for the rest of the day.”

GM has released a few TSBs (Technical Service Bulletin) to address the grinding noise from the brakes.

According to the TSBs, the noise is likely caused by the compounds used for the front brake pads. 

The only solution so far is to replace the brake pads and resurface the brake rotors. 

If the issue persists, you can also try replacing the brake pads with aftermarket ones.

Related: How Long Do GMC Acadia Last? (Solved & Explained)

8. Headlight DRL Problems

Pre-facelift models of the first generation Acadia had issues with the DRL (Daytime Running Lights) generating enough heat to melt the headlight assembly and its electrical connectors.

This was a common problem on the 2007 to 2012 models, especially those equipped with HIDs.

Aside from the malfunctioning DRLs, the headlights will also eventually stop working when the connectors have become too deformed. 

Here’s how a few owners described their experience:

“I have a 2011 Denali and noticed my driver’s side DRL is out. The passenger side is melted badly and the driver’s side is also melted but not as bad.”

“My driver side low beam is on its 2nd melted socket on my 2010 halogen model.” 

“I have a 2011 Acadia Denali that has HID’s and the DRL’s have melted the headlamp assemblies. I was told by the dealer that it would be $1800 to repair both but GM was willing to pay 90% of it because it is a known issue.”

“I have a 2009 Acadia SLT with HID Headlights. The other day I noticed the DRL out on the passenger side. I am the original owner and have replaced the DRL bulbs once already. It’s a pain but do-able. I went to take out the bulb. The socket and housing was melted and the housing was all cracked. I was able to replace the bulb but cannot get it to stay in the housing because it is melted and cracked. I noticed the driver’s side is starting to do the same but not as bad yet.”

GM extended the headlight assembly warranty to 10 years or 120,000 miles for the 2007 to 2012 Acadia to address the widespread failures.

However, over time, the new headlight assemblies can still suffer from the same problems.

Some owners switched to LED headlight bulbs which don’t generate as much heat as HIDs to extend the life of their headlight assemblies.

Others also pulled the fuse for the daytime running lights to prevent the headlights from overheating.

You can also buy new headlight connectors instead of replacing the entire assembly, which can be very expensive.

9. Power Liftgate Recall

First generation GMC Acadias equipped with a power liftgate had a recall because they had a tendency to close too quickly when the struts that held them up started wearing out.

Owners also reported lots of other problems with the liftgate such as:

  • Clunking sound when fully opened
  • Groaning sounds when opening or closing
  • Fails to fully open
  • Won’t open at all
  • Opens on its own
  • Fails to stay up

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

“The powered liftgate on our 2012 Acadia has started making a moaning/groaning sound going up and down.”

“When it comes close to opening completely, the motor “jumps” and makes “clunking” noise. It stays up and seems to work ok.”

“I have an 08 and the power liftgate worked perfectly until I took it in for the recall (Feb. 2016). After the recall the liftgate will sporadically reverse itself after opening about halfway (it does this via key fob, button on the dash, and external button on the handle). It begins to raise, halfway up you hear a clunking sound, then it reverses.”

“At just under 36K and when the temps dipped into the 30’s, the liftgate would ‘clunk’ when the hatch was fully raised.”

“Just bought a 2008 Acadia SLT2. Power liftgate doesn’t work. I’ve tried via the fob and the interior switch. The latch just cycles and continues clicking.”

When owners took in their trucks for the recall, dealers would simply reprogram the software so that it would keep the liftgate up even if the struts were already weak.

The clunking and groaning sounds are also symptoms of a worn strut.

Replacing worn out liftgate struts is fairly easy and only costs around $50 for a new pair of struts.

Issues where the liftgate would open on its own were usually caused by a faulty external liftgate switch or button. These would often break due to water intrusion and would simply need to be replaced.

If it won’t open at all, you can still manually open using the emergency release lever that’s on the interior side of the liftgate. 

It might not be opening due to a blown fuse, a broken latch, a faulty motor, or some other electrical issue that needs to be diagnosed by an experienced mechanic.

10. Battery Drain Problems

Many owners of the second generation GMC Acadia have had issues where the battery suddenly stops working and the truck fails to start.

After jump starting the vehicle, owners would also often report random error messages and electrical issues.

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

2017 GMC Acadia SLT. Started happening in July 2019 with a dead battery after driving to my first job 10 minutes from home (Where car had sat overnight). Resolved with a jump, happened again the next day, so I replaced the battery. Car was 2 years old with 45,000 miles on it.

“We’re also having the same problem with our 2019 Acadia Sle-2. Sometimes we go out and it will start fine other times it won’t. Like today after my wife got done with work it wouldn’t start once again. But with us owning a towing company we have jump boxes in every car so she had to jump it. But also all the service lights come on and then will start saying remote not detected.”

If your truck fails to start due to a dead battery, have the battery tested at a parts store. 

With all the electronics that modern vehicles use, it’s not unusual for a battery to become weak after 2 to 3 years.

Batteries with manufacturing defects can also stop working much earlier. A defective battery can still show good results after testing, but if you’re experiencing random electrical issues, it’s a good idea to replace the battery first with a brand new one or a known good unit.

If you only use the truck for short trips, the battery won’t have enough time to fully charge up. The battery can also go flat if you don’t use the truck regularly.

In such cases, it would be a good idea to use a battery tender or maintainer whenever you park your car for longer periods.

A faulty alternator or corroded battery terminals can also cause issues with the battery and the electrical system.

GM also released a TSB for the 2017 Acadia, as well as several other models, because the front view camera module would stay on after the engine was shut off and drain the battery.

To remedy this, dealers would updated the software for the FVCM (Front View Camera Module) 

11. Adaptive Cruise Control Issues

Early models of the second generation GMC Acadia have issues where the adaptive cruise control suddenly stops working.

This is more common in the 2017 to 2019 model years of the second generation Acadia.

Owners have reported intermittently seeing a message that reads ‘Adaptive Cruise Temporarily Unavailable.’

In some cases, the LKA (Lane Keep Assist) also becomes inoperable and the light for the LKA switch doesn’t turn on.

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

“2017 Acadia Denali. My issue began around 60+k with occasionally displaying adaptive cruise disengaged, warning chimes then adaptive cruise temporarily unavailable message when the brake pedal is depressed. It has progressively worsened and is happening much much more frequently.”

“I have a 2018 Acadia Denali with 27,000 miles, I bought it new. After 3 years and with 17,600 miles, it started doing the same as yours. I never changed my driving habits or driving locations. On 8-5-2021 the dealer changed the camera and brake switch, which did not correct the problem.”

According to a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) released by GM, the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist error shows up when the front view camera gets too hot.

GM suggests avoiding parking in direct sunlight when the weather is really warm and turning on the A/C as soon as possible to help cool down the front view camera module.

In some cases, dealers will also replace the front view camera in case it is defective.   

GMC Acadia Pros & Cons


  • Comfortable ride quality
  • Feature rich
  • Third row seats
  • Roomy interior
  • Lots of cargo space
  • Variety of different trim levels 
  • Available all-wheel drive


  • Reliability of early models
  • Electrical issues
  • Interior isn’t as luxurious as some rivals
  • Lower resale

What Do The Reviews Say?

“To break the crossover out of its also-ran status, the 2024 GMC Acadia is fully redesigned, with a larger cargo area, improved tech, a healthy list of standard driver assistance features, and General Motor’s hands-free Super Cruise driving system.”

“There’s only one motor for the 2024 Acadia, but the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder is more potent than either of the old powertrains. It produces 328 horsepower and 326 lb-ft of torque.”

“As before, front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional, though the off-road-themed AT4 trim comes with AWD and a unique twin-clutch rear differential. The AT4 also includes a 1-inch lift, all-terrain tires, skid plates, front tow hooks, a Terrain driving mode and hill descent control.”

“The GMC comes standard with a 15-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen, flanked by air vents and with physical toggle switches below. An 11-inch digital instrument panel sits behind the wheel.” 

“The current Acadia isn’t the most spacious vehicle in its class, but the new version’s wheelbase grows by a whopping 10.6 inches. GMC says the increase affords the Acadia 80% more cargo room behind the third row (the 2024’s cargo hold should measure 23 cubic feet with all seats up), but it may also give the Acadia class-leading interior room as well.”

“The 2024 Acadia counts additional driver assistance features as standard equipment, including adaptive cruise control and automatic braking in reverse. But the real star is the latest generation of General Motors’ Super Cruise tech, which allows for hands-free driving in certain scenarios. No other vehicles in the segment (save the Traverse) offers this level of vehicle autonomy.”

2024 GMC Acadia | Edmunds

What’s the Resale Value of a GMC Acadia?

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


Related: GMC Acadia Beeping Problems? (11 Causes & Solutions)


  • 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...