11 Most Common GMC Canyon Problems (Explained)

The GMC Canyon is basically the same as the Chevy Colorado with different bodywork and trim levels.

Despite its smaller size, the GMC Canyon can still do all the standard things you’d expect from a truck like towing and hauling.

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

1. Transmission Problems

The second-generation GMC Canyon had lots of complaints regarding a noticeable shudder from the 8-speed transmission.

This widespread transmission shudder was common in the 2017 to 2019 model years of the GMC Canyon.

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:

“My 17 clunked a few times the first 2-300 miles. Felt a light shudder 2 times about 2 years ago. Had the flush done and nothing since.”

“My 2019 Z71 3.6 8sp likes a warmup, especially in colder weather (live in PA). If I start out cold, first couple of shifts feel a little clunky. After that, it’s fine.”

Another GMC Canyon owner on 355.net had this to say:

“I have a 2017 GMC Canyon SLT. It worked on mine. Was shuddering bad, especially going up an overpass. They do a complete transmission and torque converter flush and put a redeveloped atf in.”

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 flushed 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 GMC Canyon 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 engines.

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
  • 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:

“This 2004, 3.5L, 5-speed, 3.42-1 gear, extended cab, 2WD, Canyon was purchased new to be more of an economical work mule than a race horse… My questions were all answered after a failed compression test at 159,000 miles. Removing the head & taking it to a great machine shop I learned that the failure is ALWAYS just the easily replaced intake valve guides. Add a normal valve job & new oil seals & you are good to go. Mine head repair cost $325.00 total.”

Another owner on ColoradoFans.com had this to say:

“I too have this problem the CEL light coming on all the time. The dealer diagnosed as a engine misfire and did a compression leak test which cylinder #5 is losing 80% of its compression. GM will fix this problem under a special warranty 7 years or 160,000 Kilometers ( Canadian eh! or 100,000 for the Americans). My problem is my truck is over that mileage but only 3 1/2 years old, lots of Highway mileage which usually doesn’t wear the engine as much. Now I am looking at a $4,000 to $6,000 repair which incorporates alot of labour or I can buy a new 3.5L engine for $5,600.”

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

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 GMC Canyon owners have had issues starting the truck 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 GMC Canyon from 2004 to 2012, as well as the Chevy Colorado.

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

“I’ve owned my 2007 Canyon for about two months and experienced my first Passlock problem tonight. I went to the grocery store and locked the truck with the remote. When I came back out, I unlocked the truck with the remote. I may have hit unlock more than once and possibly hit lock, also.”

“I loaded the groceries in the truck, got in and closed the door, put the key in the switch and turned it to start. The engine turned over but didn’t start. Tried again with the same result. Then I saw the Passlock light in the cluster and knew I had a problem.”

Another owner had this to say:

“2012 GMC Canyon. When I bought this 2WD Extended cab truck 2 years ago, I LOVED it. Up until this past summer, I LOVED it. Now after dealing with this insane passlock system for the past 6 months, I HATE IT! I am seriously getting ready to sell this next week if someone on here can’t help me. First it was just once a week, now it’s EVERY time I try to start it, anti theft system won’t let me. I cannot afford to spend $800-$1200 at a garage to get this fixed.”

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 for each part.

Sometimes, just cleaning out corrosion on the ignition switch can also fix your Passlock problems. 

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

4. Blower Motor Issues

Many early model year first generation GMC Canyons suffer from blower motor problems.

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 Chevy Colorado.

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

“Just got my Canyon (2008 extended cab I5 165000 miles 4×4) about a month ago, 2 weeks later I started having electrical issues. Took it back to the dealer, everything is working except no high beam, either way forward and back. The dealer I bought it from is going to replace the multiswitch. Since that time the blower motor stopped working on all speeds but the AC light stays on in the off positions.”

Another had this to say:

“My blower was starting and stopping at every setting but off and #4. I checked out my resistor and terminal plug and lo & behold there it was. Prong #3 burnt just like in the pics on the above posts. Harness and resistor at the local stealership was a special order ($60.00+). I ordered the kit from GMpartsdirect.”

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: 16 Best & Worst GMC Canyon Years (With Pictures)

5. Timing Chain Rattle

A lot of first generation GMC Canyons 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 bought my truck 1 month ago. When I start it cold, I hear the timing chain rattle for about 2-3 seconds till oil pressure comes up.”

“My 2007 3.7 Canyon SLE reg. cab 4×4 has done it from the first day I got it when I ordered it brand new. He was very much aware of the sound and told me at that time it was just oil drain from the chain tensioner after it sit like overnight or for several hours which put a bit of slack in the chain. And it takes a few seconds for the pressure to have the tensioner take that slack back up. He said it does no harm.” 

“I have a 2007 Canyon i4 2wd. 128k miles. Check engine light came on, on the way home so I took it in to the dealership. Far out of warranty. Dealership is saying it’s putting out code p0017 which means too much play in the timing chains? Service rep told me $3800 to replace the timing chain and up to $7800 if there’s a problem with the head.”

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.

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 startup engine rattle is a worn VVT actuator 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 355.net:

“My 2012 3.7L developed a rattle at 68k miles, I traded it in at 78k still rattling because I had no clue what the sound was. From my experience with my 2012 2.9L rattling, I recognize the similarities.”

In most cases, a worn 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.

7. Electrical Issues

Older GMC Canyons 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

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 GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado 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 GMC Canyon 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.

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

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

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

“I started getting the ‘Fuel Cap’ message pop up on my DIC for a while. After some time, it threw a CEL. Had it scanned and it was the evap code. I replaced the cap with a Stant cap from Advance. Much tighter seal. For about a week, no messages or codes. Today on my way to work, I see “Fuel Cap” pop up again!”

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 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 compatible but uses a slightly better design.

9. Excessive Rust

A lot of GMC Canyons and Chevy Colorados are used as work trucks which are prone to excessive rust if they’re not regularly cleaned.

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 have some frame rust I’m going to address shortly. 7 years of ny winters and 200k miles.”

“I’m writing this thread due to some major issues with my fathers 2005 GMC Canyon. The truck has a mere 51k miles on it. While driving it today, i went over a small bump through town. As I passed over it, I heard a loud boom and instantly heard a dragging noise. Turns out the drive shaft snapped and was laying on the axel. Once the truck was towed, the mechanics noticed extreme frame rot underneath the truck. They basically informed me that the truck should be sent to salvage.”

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

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

To keep the truck body 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 GMC Canyon have a tendency to 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 one owner 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.”

Other diesel owner shared their experience on ColoradoFans.com:

“Just had my DPF fail and need replacement, luckily still under warranty at 18.2k miles, it threw the code on an uphill grade in northern Arizona, running at like 2300 RPM. Rolled in to the nearest GMC dealership where I was told the news. We cleared it, tried to force a regen but it failed and went in to reduced power mode after another 500 miles or so.”

“So I’m getting the P1478 code on my 2018 Canyon and have determined (hopefully correctly) that I need to replace the DPF sensor. I have ordered the sensor and will do the work myself.”

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 GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado.

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 GMC Canyon 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. 

Related: 7 Most Common Ford Ranger Problems (Explained)

11.  Bad Alternator

Higher mileage GMC Canyons 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 GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado both seem to require a new alternator a bit sooner than other trucks. 

The GMC Canyon 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

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

“A few months ago I purchased a 2004 GMC Canyon. The truck has a little over 72,000 miles on it. About a month ago the battery light would come on for a minute so after I would start my truck in the morning. I replaced the battery at that time because it was the factory original, and was probably due for replacement. But now the battery light is still coming on momentarily in the morning.”

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.

GMC Canyon Pros & Cons


  • Attractive styling
  • Well-appointed interior
  • Lots of tech and features
  • Roomy cabin
  • Off-road options
  • Good handling


  • First generation engine issues
  • Below average fuel economy
  • Expensive

What Do The Reviews Say?

“The redesigned Canyon’s emphasis on off-roading is most evident in the new AT4X model. It shares its hardware with its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, but wrapped in more upscale styling.” 

“This is particularly true inside the cab, where the GMC’s more expressive detailing and premium materials help to justify the higher price compared to the Chevy.” 

“Considering the popularity of off-road-ready pickups, we think the Canyon AT4 will give you the most bang for your buck. It’s not quite as capable as the AT4X, but it holds its own in most off-roading situations and saves you a considerable sum of money.”

“The 2023 GMC Canyon is a midsize pickup truck available in a crew-cab short-bed configuration with your choice of four trim levels: Elevation, AT4, AT4X and Denali. All four are powered by a turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four (310 horsepower, 430 lb-ft) paired exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission.”

2024 GMC Canyon | Edmunds

What’s the Resale Value of a GMC Canyon?

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


Related: GMC Canyon Beeping Problems? (13 Common Causes)


  • 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...