14 Best & Worst GMC Sierra 3500HD Years (With Pictures)

The GMC Sierra 3500HD is a heavy-duty full size pickup truck that started out as a 2007 model year. 

It is a reliable vehicle that has powerful engine options, supreme towing and hauling capabilities, and premium tech.

In this article, we’ll analyze the best and worst model years of the Sierra 3500HD.

2023 GMC Sierra 3500HD

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The GMC Sierra 3500HD Are:

The best GMC Sierra 3500HD model years are 2023, 2022, 2021, 2019, 2017, 2010, and 2009. The worst model years of the Sierra 3500HD are 2015, 2020, 2008, 2011, 2007, 2018, and 2016. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The GMC Sierra 3500HD?

2023 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2023 Sierra 3500HD is a powerhouse full size pickup truck that offers the latest and greatest towing tech.

It comes in 5 trims: Pro, SLE, SLT, AT4, and Denali.

The top-spec Denali, priced at $76,195, is the most popular choice among truck owners.

For those looking for cheaper alternatives, the entry-level Pro trim starts at $49,695 and the midrange SLT is priced at approximately $63,500. 

The model comes with a massive 6.6-liter gasoline V78 engine (401 horsepower). A $10,000 upgrade will get you a diesel engine of the same size, but with better horsepower and torque for easier off-road maneuvering. 

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0

2023 X7, Edmunds review:

“ … I have to say that this truck was well worth the wait. It drives smoother than any truck I’ve ever owned and the safety features are incredible. I have absolutely no complaints and with it being a Denali there really isn’t any more stuff I will need to add.”

2022 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2022 Sierra 3500HD is bold, ambitious, and aggressive in its design and power.

It has stout towing capabilities, a roomy cab fitted with the latest technology, and advanced trailer towing technology to make hauling easier. 

It has 5 trims: Pro, SLE, SLT, AT4, and Denali.

Towing capacity is best-in-class (compared to the Sierra 1500 and Sierra 2500HD), rated at 20,000 pounds.

When equipped with additional specialized towing equipment, this figure can rise up to 36,000 pounds. 

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0

2022 X7, Edmunds review:

“Superior truck bolt on appearance and capabilities. Functional yet luxurious.”

2021 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2021 Sierra 3500HD is a massive machine capable of immense towing and hauling activities.

It comes in 3 configurations: Crew Cab, Regular Cab, and Double Cab.

It also has 5 trim levels: Sierra, SLE, SLT, AT4, and Denali.

The Denali trim is the most popular. Aside from its superior wheels, lights, and tech, it also comes with a lot of driver assistance and safety features.

These features include Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and Surround-View Camera System. 

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0

2021 X7, Edmunds review:

“I purchased this Denali two weeks ago. I absolutely love this truck. The ride is so smooth and the power band is incredible. What a huge difference between my 2008 GMC 2500HD Duramax, it’s like night and day…”

2021 GMC Sierra 3500HD

2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2019 Sierra 3500HD is the final iteration of the third generation of Sierra trucks (the 2020 model year ushered in the fourth generation).

To eliminate excess production and to streamline certain manufacturing processes in preparation for future model production, the regular cab and short-bed double cab versions were removed from the lineup.

Based on our research, the top aspects of this model were its fuel efficiency and minimal road noise. 

One owner claimed that fuel economy could hit 13 to 14 MPG for highway driving. 

Critics, on the other hand, loved the overall utility and practicality of the truck as it can tow and haul massive loads and has an abundance of interior storage. 

  • Edmunds: 3.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.0 / 5.0

2019 X7, Edmunds review:

“ … This is an awesome truck. It’s more “luxury car” like then any truck I’ve ever driven. And now I have had 40,000 miles of trouble free use. My wife enjoys driving it because she has great visibility and it is so easy to handle for the “beast” that it is.”

2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2017 Sierra 3500HD is an impressive full size pickup truck that is durable, practical, and reliable.

It has impressive hauling and towing capacities (approx. 14,500 pounds and 4,500 pounds, respectively).

It is also known for its refined and quiet driving experience, massive power from the optional diesel engine, and solid build quality which gives it a premium feel.

New to this particular model is the 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 engine. It is now more powerful, boasting 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque.

Overall, critics believe this model to be composed and easy to handle, regardless of road conditions. 

  • Edmunds: 3.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.0 / 5.0

2017 X7, Edmunds review:

“ … The suspension is great with a load. The gas engine tows well – I pull horses, boats and campers. The fuel economy is 13-14 empty (highway) and 6-8 towing any trailer (2000-8000 lbs) Update – after 38000 miles including over 15,000 towing heavy trailers I give this truck a great rating. It loves its fuel – but it is a reliable workhorse. Never a complaint and a flawless service record! Not a single issue. Now at 50,000 miles and nothing other than normal maintenance. Great vehicle!”

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 3500HD

2010 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2010 Sierra 3500HD is practical and confidence-inspiring, thanks to its engine power, towing capacity, and premium tech.

New to this particular model year are a more powerful 6-liter V8 engine and minor equipment changes.

These minor changes include a standardized air conditioning unit for the regular cab Work Truck trim and the addition of a USB port.

There are 3 trim levels to choose from: Work Truck, SLE, and SLT.

Towing capacity, when properly equipped, is pegged at 13,000 pounds. Payload capacity, on the other hand, is up to around 3,900 pounds. 

  • Edmunds: 5.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0

2010 X7, Edmunds review:

“The GMC truck is a great truck to own. I’ve had it for a few months now and so far it’s been a good experience. It’s the first time I’ve had a truck with four-wheel drive and with the winter we’ve had, I don’t know how I managed without it! The handling is excellent for a vehicle its size. Gas mileage is acceptable for this type of vehicle (3500 HD). I would certainly buy another GMC vehicle again and recommend it highly.”

2020 GMC Sierra 3500HD SLT Crew Cab

2009 GMC Sierra 3500HD

Do not be deceived by the age of the 2009 Sierra 3500HD. Despite being the most dated model year on this list, it is one of the best value-for-money trucks with tons of practical features and competitive tech (for its age).

It has prodigious towing and hauling capacities, a relatively smooth ride, and respectable build quality.

Steering was also a high point, with both critics and owners stating that steering was quite smooth and responsive. 

The standard engine is a 6-liter V8 that generates 353 horsepower and 373 pound-feet of torque.

For those looking for a diesel option, there is an available “Duramax” 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 engine that boasts 365 horsepower and a whopping 660 pound-feet of torque. 

  • Edmunds: 5.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0

2009 X7, Edmunds review:

“I bought the top model, 3500 HD, crew cab, 4wd, dually with all options. The Duramax is strong and the Allison tranny shifts smoothly. Great power with acceptable mileage. The interior is a complete overhaul from the Classic models. The navigation system is addictive and the integrated brake controller is a step in the right direction. Very quiet and great driving. I rate overall a 9 out of 10. No one is perfect.”

Consumer Scores For Best GMC Sierra 3500HD Years

Model YearEdmunds
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Rating
2023 GMC Sierra 3500HD4.2 / 5.04.3 / 5.0
2022 GMC Sierra 3500HD4.2 / 5.04.3 / 5.0
2021 GMC Sierra 3500HD4.3 / 5.04.3 / 5.0
2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD3.3 / 5.04.0 / 5.0
2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD3.1 / 5.04.0 / 5.0
2010 GMC Sierra 3500HD5.0 / 5.04.6 / 5.0
2009 GMC Sierra 3500HD5.0 / 5.04.6 / 5.0

Related: 12 Best & Worst Ford F-350 Years (With Facts & Stats)

What Are The Worst Years For The GMC Sierra 3500HD?

2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The Sierra 3500HD is the most problematic model year ever produced. Its main problem areas include: exterior lighting, electrical system, service brakes, and engine.

According to numerous reports, the brightness of the truck’s headlights were not strong enough to provide adequate visibility at night.

In terms of electrical issues, owners reported faults with hands-free communication, dashboard malfunctions and Bluetooth connectivity issues.

Regarding brake problems, owners reported brakes locking up, brake warning indicators coming on, and brake non-responsiveness.

The engine system was just as problematic. Take a look at the report below for more details:

“While driving white smoke billowed out the front right tire wheel well. Upon inspection, smoke coming from the exhaust pipe clamp near the turbo. It smells so bad I have to drive with the window open. It appears the engine is on fire from the amount of smoke emitting from under the hood. At idle it gets worse. It appears smoke is exhaust fumes leaking from the pipe joint. No engine light to indicate a problem.”

The 2015 Sierra 3500HD had a total of 36 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 9 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Poor visibility
  • Injection pump exploded
  • Intermittent loss of power steering
2015 GMC Sierra Denali 3500HD

2020 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2020 takes second place, with almost as many problems as the 2015 model year.

Unlike the previously discussed 2015 Sierra 3500HD, this model year has only one frequently reported problem area – the electrical system.

Owners reported several malfunctions, shutdowns, and inaccuracies that affected the dashboard, infotainment system, and the computer itself.

Below is what one owner had experienced with his truck:

“The computer lights up the dash , reducing power and taking the trailer brakes away. This almost caused a wreck when the truck shut off and the brakes failed. This truck has been in the shop at least once per month trying to fix the issues, from computer and brake failure to injector failure. Glenn Polk Chevrolet in Sanger has been working on this since the truck was new. Also we have cases open with general motors without resolution. The dash lights up at the same time as the brakes fail.”

The 2020 Sierra 3500HD had a total of 28 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 6 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Engine light on
  • Shaking in the steering
  • Knocking sound

2008 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2008 Sierra 3500HD received a barrage of complaints regarding the airbag system, related to none other than the infamous Takata airbag recall.

For those unaware, the Takata airbag recall is one of the largest automotive recalls in history that affected millions of models across various vehicle manufacturers from the mid 2000s to the early 2010s. 

Defective airbags were known to explode causing injuries (and even fatalities).

Due to parts shortage, many owners were left with no other choice but to wait for the parts to be available, ranging from a couple of weeks to several months.

The 2008 Sierra 3500HD had a total of 26 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Transmission failure
  • Takata recall
  • Electrical problems

2011 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2011 Sierra 3500HD, like the 2008 model year previously discussed, fell victim to the Takata airbag recall. 

Owners were notified of the recall, however they had to wait unacceptable periods of time for the parts to be available.

One owner had to wait for at least 2 years, as noted below:

“Takata recall, I have contacted the GMC dealer about replacing the airbags under recall 2 years ago and was told they would contact me when the replacement air bags are available. Still not available, what now?”

The 2011 Sierra 3500HD had a total of 20 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 1 complaint at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Cracked dashboard
  • Takata recall
  • Transmission problems
2011 GMC Sierra 3500HD chassis cab

2007 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2007 Sierra 3500HD was also affected by the airbag controversy of Takata.

One owner was very frustrated with this ordeal, as stated below:

“It is totally unacceptable for it to take over a year for a dealer to receive the parts to complete a safety recall. When I contacted the GM they told me they recommended I have no one sitting in the passenger seat, which was their only solution at this time. Meanwhile I suffered from the loss of use of my vehicle.”

The 2007 Sierra 3500HD had a total of 18 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 2 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Brake line broke
  • Surging and pulsing brakes

2018 GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2018 Sierra 3500HD did not have as many problems as the others on this list, but the most frequently reported issue was quite dangerous – brake system malfunctions.

According to several reports from owners, the brake system would abruptly fail on them while traveling. 

Some owners noted that they were towing a trailer when brakes started to fail, but others also talked about brake failure occurring when the truck was “empty” or had no load. 

One report goes into this occurrence in detail:

“The contact owns a 2018 GMC Sierra 3500. The contact stated after driving on a long downhill road at an undisclosed speed with his 2017 highland ridge 349 RV hooked to the vehicle, as he was reaching a leveling point and depressing the brake pedal to slow the vehicle, the brakes failed to operate as needed. The contact stated that as he depressed the brake pedal further, the brake pedal overheated and would no longer respond properly…”

The 2018 Sierra 3500HD had a total of 14 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 5 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Headlights do not illuminate sufficiently
  • Transmission failure
  • Position lights on fenders break and dangle
2018 GMC Sierra 3500HD Denali

2016 GMC Sierra 3500HD

Steering was the chief concern of owners of the 2016 Sierra 3500HD.

According to our research, owners of this model year experienced excessive play in the steering wheel, with some owners indicating a play of 2 to 4 inches.

This means that the steering wheel would require more rotations to achieve the necessary vehicle turns.

Whether making simple turns or sharp turns, having excessive play on the steering wheel would lead to unnecessary effort in order to steer properly which also put drivers safety at risk.

Here is what one owner had to say about the matter:

“Steering wheel has slop/play in it. Wheel has 3-4 inches of play before it catches. Can drive down the road and 1 min wheel it’s to the left next it’s to the right to keep the truck going straight.”

The 2016 Sierra 3500HD had a total of 14 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Transmission problems
  • Electrical system failure
  • Exhaust system issues

Related: GMC Sierra Tune-Up & Maintenance Costs (Complete Guide)

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Model YearComplaints
2023 GMC Sierra 3500HDNANA0
2022 GMC Sierra 3500HDNA81
2021 GMC Sierra 3500HDNA123
2020 GMC Sierra 3500HD6285
2019 GMC Sierra 3500HD1103
2018 GMC Sierra 3500HD5145
2017 GMC Sierra 3500HD267
2016 GMC Sierra 3500HD0148
2015 GMC Sierra 3500HD93618
2014 GMC Sierra 3500HD31015
2013 GMC Sierra 3500HD5127
2012 GMC Sierra 3500HD0146
2011 GMC Sierra 3500HD1207
2010 GMC Sierra 3500HD016
2009 GMC Sierra 3500HD076
2008 GMC Sierra 3500HD0265
2007 GMC Sierra 3500HD2183

What Problems Do GMC Sierra 3500HDs Have?

  • Continuous fuel issues
  • Driveline center bearing rubber rotted
  • Transfer case failure
  • Headlights do not illuminate sufficiently
  • Engine light on
  • Shaking in the steering
  • Knocking sound
  • Poor visibility
  • Injection pump exploded
  • Intermittent loss of power steering
  • Transmission failure
  • Position lights on fenders break and dangle
  • Air conditioner blowing hot air
  • Complete turbocharger failure
  • Clogged oil strainer
  • Brake lines rust
  • Flywheel failure
  • Hazard lights do not work properly
  • Door handle broke
  • Transmission lines rusted

What Are The Best Alternatives To The GMC Sierra 3500HD?

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Ford F-350NA$46,355 – $92,850City: 2 – 20 /Highway: 2 – 26
Ram 3500NA$52,215 – $89,910City: 10 – 21 /Highway: 14 – 29
GMC Sierra 3500HDNA$43,495 – $68,395City: 14 – 24 /Highway: 17 – 29
Chevrolet Silverado 3500HDNA$42,395 – $65,995City: 14 – 24 /Highway: 17 – 29
Toyota Tundra8.1$37,865 – $76,145City: 17 – 20 / Highway: 20 – 24
Nissan Titan7.2$39,700 – $61,980City: 15 – 16 /Highway: 20 – 21

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com

Related: 14 Best & Worst GMC Sierra 2500HD Years (With Pictures)











  • 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...