11 Most Common GMC Terrain Problems (Explained)

The GMC Terrain is a small crossover that was first introduced in 2010.

It’s mechanically the same underneath as the Chevy Equinox and offers lots of space, a nice interior, and a comfortable ride.

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

1. Excessive Oil Consumption

Many first generation GMC Terrains suffered from excessive oil consumption where it would lose more than 1 quart in between oil changes.

This was more common in the early model years of the GMC Terrain with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine from 2010 to 2015.

The issue stems from a faulty piston ring design which allowed oil to get into the combustion chamber where it gets burned up.

Later model years with updated engines can also still suffer from oil burning issues, although at a lower rate.

It was also a common problem in the second generation Chevy Equinox which used the same engine.

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

“I have a 2010 GMC Terrain 2.4L (bought new in summer 2010) that I’ve had zero issues with until now. It has about 54k miles on it, and it started burning oil a few thousand miles ago.”

“I purchased my used 2012 GMC Terrain a few years ago. After having some issues with losing oil between changes, I did some searching and found out about the Special Coverage Adjustment related to that issue. I am finishing up the oil consumption test at the dealer today (no loss in first 1,000 mi, 1 qt loss in 2nd 1,000 mi, and after checking it myself last night, looks like another 1 qt loss in the final 1,000 mi of the test). So looks like I’ll be getting new pistons and piston rings in the next couple of weeks.”

“I have the same issue on my 2015 terrain. I’d say I’m burning 1-1.25 quarter per 1k miles. Bought the car with 90k on it and I’m up to 165k now.”

Due to the number of complaints they received, GM extended the warranty of the 2010 to 2013 model  years of the GMC Terrain and Chevy Equinox to 7.5 years or 120,000 miles.

To fix the oil consumption problem, dealers will replace the pistons and piston rings with updated parts that are less prone to fail. Unfortunately, several owners who have had their cars repaired under the extended warranty reported that they eventually started losing oil again after a few years.

This is also a fairly expensive repair since mechanics will basically have to completely rebuild the engine.

Many Terrain and Equinox owners recommend replacing the oil more frequently using high quality synthetic oil if you want to avoid oil consumption issues. 

This ensures that the oil is always fresh and clean which prevents the piston rings from getting stuck. Waiting for the Oil Life Monitor to tell you when to change the oil will eventually cause more problems in the future.

2. Leaky Rear Main Seal

The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder Ecotec engine in the first generation GMC Terrain has also had many reports of rear main seal failures.

This issue is more common in the 2010 to 2013 model years of the Terrain, but it can also affect newer model years.

The second generation Chevy Equinox also suffered from similar problems.

When the rear main seal breaks, it causes oil to leak out of the engine. If you see oil on the back of the oil pan near the transmission, it usually means you have to replace the rear main seal.

Problems associated with a leaking rear main seal include:

  • Clattering or noisy engine
  • Engine pressure warning light 
  • Noticeable drop in oil levels 

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

“I have a 2015 GMC Terrain with the 2.4L motor, it has 78k miles. I have maintained this vehicle throughout. Yesterday, in single degree weather the rear main seal blew.’ 

“2016 GMC Terrain just blew a rear main seal. Weather is cold 20-30 degrees. 76,000 miles.”

“Yesterday my rear main seal decided to go on me without much warning, I have a 2017 terrain with about 136 000km have owned it just over a year at this point.”

Early failures of the rear main seal are often caused by a blocked PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) system. 

The PCV system improves the vehicle’s emissions by recirculating blowby gasses back into the engine so it can get burned up.

When the PCV hose gets blocked, pressure builds up in the engine crankcase, which pushes out the rear main seal.

GM extended the warranty of the PCV system and rear main seal on the 2010 to 2013 model years of the GMC Terrain equipped with the 2.4-liter engine to 10 years or 120,000 miles.

Repairing these problems out of warranty can be quite expensive since the engine needs to be taken out of the vehicle to replace the rear main seal. The intake manifold also has to be removed to clean out and unblock the PCV system.

Many Terrain and Equinox owners also install a vented oil filler cap to prevent excess pressure from building up.

3. Stretched Timing Chains

Premature timing chain wear and stretching is a common problem in a lot of first generation GMC Terrains. 

The timing chain is responsible for keeping the camshaft, pistons and valves synchronized. When it stretches too much or breaks, the valves will hit the pistons and cause lots of engine damage.

The 2.4-liter engine is more prone to timing chain issues, but the early V6 models from 2010 to 2011 can also suffer from similar problems.  

Aside from having weaker timing chain components, early model years of the Terrain also had longer oil change intervals which increased the chances of premature wear.

The second gen Chevy Equinox which used the same engines also suffered from timing chain problems

Common symptoms of timing chain issues in the Terrain include:

  • Rattling from the engine
  • Check engine light
  • Car shakes or vibrates excessively
  • Misfires
  • Engine shuts down, stalling 
  • Rough idle
  • P0011, P0016 or P0017 trouble code 

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

“I have a 2012 Terrain with a broken timing chain. I took my Terrain to the dealership I purchased it from for repairs. After the service department diagnosed my engine, I was told it would cost around $1490.00 to repair it.

“My timing chain was replaced at 26k miles. The dealer noticed the noisier sounds the engine was making that indicated this problem and acted accordingly. (Sounded like a cement mixer once warmed up).”

“My 2010 Terrain 4cyl with 75,000 km died when I was on the highway. The dealer opened up the engine and everything was blown apart inside, the figured the timing chain skipped even though it was still on and tight.”

“I have a 2016 GMC Terrain and the timing chain broke while I was exiting the interstate. Literally the engine died like I ran out of gas.” 

GM extended the warranty for the 2010 to 2011 Terrain’s 2.4-liter engine to 10 years or 120,000 miles to deal with the timing chain failures. The 2012 models also got a warranty extension of 7.5 years. 

Unfortunately, the newer model years which could also suffer from timing chain issues weren’t included in the extended warranty.

Replacing the timing chain is a fairly big job and dealers might charge you up to $2,000. Independent shops and experienced mechanics will usually give you a much lower quote.

If you want to avoid major engine problems caused by timing chain issues, you can change your oil more frequently and make sure to use high quality synthetic oil. You should also have your mechanic check timing chain, guides and tensioners at least once a year. 

When the timing chain breaks and damages the engine, most people simply replace it with a remanufactured or used engine.

Related: 12 Best & Worst GMC Terrain Years (With Pictures)

4. Exhaust Manifold Crack

The 2.4-liter engine used in the first generation Terrain also had a tendency to develop cracks on the exhaust manifold. 

The exhaust manifold directs exhaust gasses from the engine into the exhaust piping. It can get really hot during normal operation which is the main reason why it cracks over time.

This issue affects all model years of the first generation Terrain from 2010 to 2017.

Symptoms of a cracked exhaust manifold include:

  • Noisy exhaust on cold start
  • Exhaust smell
  • Rattle from front end

Thankfully, a cracked exhaust manifold doesn’t lead to severe drivability problems. However, exhaust fumes getting into the cabin isn’t very good for your health.

Many high mileage Terrain owners have also reported that they’ve had to replace the exhaust manifold more than once during the course of their ownership.

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

“I have a 2017 GMC Terrain, 49,000 miles, and recently my check engine light came on. I took it to the dealer and after 4-days of trying to figure it out, they came back with I have a cracked Exhaust Manifold.“ 

“Our 2015 Terrain with the 2.4 just failed state inspection for a cracked manifold (about 70K). The dealer claims they can hear it at idle but I do not hear anything, except a plastic type rattle when you put it in gear with your foot on the brake. One of the Managers where I work has an Equinox that makes the same sound at the same time.”

“I had the exhaust manifold on my 2010 Terrain replaced in Feb 2016. After 30K miles and exactly 2 years to the date, the new one cracked again. I took it to the dealer yesterday and they ask $500.” 

OEM and aftermarket exhaust manifolds cost around $100 to $200. With labor, the total repair might cost you around $500 at a shop. It’s not a very difficult job and you can easily do it in your driveway if you go the DIY route.

In addition to replacing the exhaust manifold, you should also check your engine mounts. If they’re already worn out, the engine will vibrate more which can make the manifold develop cracks much quicker. 

5. VVT Solenoid Failure

Faulty VVT (Variable Valve Timing) solenoids on the first generation GMC Terrain are a common cause of drivability problems and strange engine issues.

VVT solenoid issues are more common on the 4-cylinder but it can also affect the V6 engines.

The VVT solenoid adjusts the timing of the camshaft to balance the engine’s fuel economy and performance when necessary.

With such an important role, a faulty VVT solenoid can cause issues like:

  • Stalling
  • Hesitation
  • Jerky acceleration
  • Surging RPMs
  • Rough idling
  • Hard starting
  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Check engine light
  • P0010, P0011, P0014 or P0024 trouble codes

Here’s how a few owners described their experience with faulty VVT solenoids:

“Recently had error code P0013. Took my 2012 GMC Terrain to shop and had VVT solenoids replaced. The old one had little metal shavings on it.”

I have a 2016 GMC Terrain. It starts rattling once engine is warm and will stumble at stops. I have found a few codes p0010 and p0011. I have replaced VVT solenoids but haven’t changed oil yet. The suv has 68,098 miles and I never miss oil changes. The suv drives fine and replacing both solenoids seems to have helped but it still has slight rattling at low speeds or low RPMs and stumbles. 

Fortunately, new VVT solenoids only cost around $50 a piece and you can easily swap them out. All you need to do is remove the plastic engine cover and the old solenoids can be pulled out and disconnected quite easily.

Of course, before you go out and buy new solenoids, it’s best to scan for codes first so you can narrow down the cause of your problems further. If you suspect that the VVT solenoids are causing your issues, you can also pull them out and clean them first. 

6. Engine Power is Reduced

Another fairly common problem that affects the first generation GMC Terrain is the ‘Engine Power is Reduced’ error message. 

This message can appear on both the 4-cylinder and V6 variants of the GMC Terrain. 

Aside from the error message, other common symptoms include:

  • Service Stabilitrak light comes on
  • Car goes into limp mode
  • Check engine light
  • P2135 or P2138 trouble codes

Here is how a few owners described their issue on TerrainForum.net:

“We have a 2011 GMC Terrain (6cyl) with 55,000 miles. My Wife was driving on a snow covered road and received the “Service Stabilitrak” message followed by the “Engine Power is reduced!” message. She pulled over and turned the car off for a couple minutes. Now only the check engine light remains on.”

“I have had this same problem with both my 2011 GMC Sierra and 2010 GMC terrain. I was able to resolve it by just cleaning the throttle both on both and have not had the problem since.”

I own a 2011 GMC Terrain (AWD) with 49,500 K miles on it. While I was driving the car on on interstate, I suddenly noticed an excessive vibration with the error message “Engine Power Reduced” with “Service Stabilitrack” message. 

The ‘Engine Power is Reduced’ error message is usually caused by an issue with the sensors in the throttle body or the accelerator pedal. 

The Terrain uses a fly-by-wire throttle body, which means the throttle is electronically controlled and not connected to a mechanical cable.

In some cases, restarting the car can make the error go away and take the car out of limp mode, but it can easily come back again.

Cleaning out the throttle body often makes the error go away and resolves all the drivability issues. You can also replace the throttle body which should only cost around $150. 

If replacing the throttle body doesn’t work, check the electrical wiring and connectors on the throttle body, accelerator pedal and ECU. In some cases, the error comes up when the wiring gets damaged by corrosion or rodents.

7. Turbo Issues

The second generation GMC Terrain can suffer from turbo issues that often result in reduced engine power.

These problems are more likely to occur in the 2018 to 2019 model years of the Terrain with the 1.5-liter gas engine. It also usually only affects vehicles used in really cold temperatures.

The same turbo issues also affect other GM models like the Chevy Cruze, Chevy Malibu, Chevy Trax, Chevy Equinox and Buick Encore. 

Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • ‘Engine Power is Reduced’ error message
  • Check engine light
  • P0234, P0299, P2227 or P0300 trouble code
  • Oil leaks 

Here is how a one owner described their experience on TerrainForum.net: 

“Low engine power 2020 Terrain. Low engine power mode, lack of power when passing. Check engine light on. Cold foggy weather in Canada. Stopped at service and was told it had moisture in turbocharger intake.” 

Turbo issues in the GMC Terrain are often caused by condensation getting into the turbo intercooler which eventually freezes up and restricts airflow. The condensation can also get to the turbocharger and freeze the wastegate.

GM eventually updated the intercooler and charge pipe design in newer models of the Terrain to address the condensation issue. Early on, dealers would also often replace the turbocharger to get the car running properly again. 

A newer TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) now suggests that removing and cleaning the turbo wastegate regulator solenoid valve can fix the drivability and turbo issues.

8. Vacuum Pump Failure

A number of second generation GMC Terrain owners have had brake failures caused by a broken vacuum pump.

This issue only affects the 2018 to 2022 model years of the GMC Terrain.

The vacuum pump plays a crucial role in the braking system by sustaining a negative pressure in the brake booster, reducing the physical effort required from the driver when applying the brakes.

In some cases, a vacuum pump failure can cause debris to enter the engine and severely damage it.

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

“I have a 19 Terrain. Currently sitting at 86k. At about 70k my vacuum pump stopped working without breaking and was replaced, now at 86k vacuum pump catastrophically failed and hand grenade steering off the end of the cam. Garage recommends whole engine replacement at $5800 as we can’t be sure pieces of vacuum pump didn’t make its way into engine.”

“Own a 2018 GMC Terrain – last week the brake booster pump went bad on the highway, had a hard time stopping, the pump messed up the engine. Dealer is saying camshaft and few other parts need to be changed – after replacing the pump the car does not start but when it starts it runs fine.”

GM updated the Terrain’s braking system starting with the 2023 model year and completely removed the problematic vacuum pump.

GM also recalled several of their trucks to address potential failures of the vacuum pump, but the Terrain was not included in this campaign.

The only solution so far is to preemptively replace the vacuum pump every 30,000 to 50,000 miles to avoid future brake failures and catastrophic engine damage.

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

9. Transmission Issues

A number of first generation GMC Terrain owners have complained about hard or rough shifting from the transmission in certain scenarios.

This issue seems to affect the 2010 to 2015 model years of the GMC Terrain the most.

Some of the reported transmission problems include:

  • Clunking when coming to a stop
  • Rough shifting when decelerating or coasting at low speeds
  • Jerky downshifts
  • Lurching from 2nd to 3rd
  • Hesitation to accelerate
  • Delayed shifts

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

“I bought a new 2012 Terrain SL1 with a 4 cylinder. Had the hard shift problems almost day 1. But not often. Mentioned it to dealer service and he replied back that it was normal for the 4 cylinders to do it. I didn’t worry about it. Only happened 1 or 2 times every few weeks.”

“I just bought my 2011 a year ago and I have noticed that it doesn’t shift harshly all the time lately, just mostly when I’m decelerating then hit the gas again from a low speed. But I finally brought it in today to have the Adapts system reset and now it rides as smooth as butter now!”

“Our 2012 Denali (with the TCM update installed) started doing the same upshift slam-shift (who hit me in the back?) when backing off the throttle after accelerating (like merging into a busy roadway). The dealer did programming to the car in 2015 and it solved the really bad slam-shift issue it seems. The car still upshifts with an irritating lurch during lazy slight downgrade acceleration.”

“We have recently leased a 2015 Terrain, with 3.6L V6. It experiences same issue – there’s an occasional “lag” (engine is revving up but the shifting is delayed) during certain moments and also rare, but very noticeable “jerk” at some times (mostly happens after decelerating).”

In most cases, the dealer can update and reset the transmission software so it can relearn your driving style. This also helps reduce the rough shifting.

10. Wiper Recall

A number of first generation GMC Terrains have had windshield wiper failures causing drivers to lose visibility during bad weather.

This is a fairly common problem on all model years of the first generation GMC Terrain from 2010 to 2017.

Wiper failures are also a problem on the second generation Chevy Equinox.

Here’s how a few owners described their experience:

“I own a 2015 Terrain. Driving home the windshield wiper transmission broke and I can no longer see on the highway and just by luck there was a turnoff on the highway where I turned off and parked the car.”

“So this just happened to me with my 2011 GMC Terrain on my way in to work this morning. The mechanic gave me an estimate of $500. Said he’s “pretty sure” he has to replace the motor, regulator, casing , and suction cups.” 

GM announced a recall for the 2014 to 2015 model years of the GMC Terrain to replace the problematic wiper motors. 

An extended warranty for the wipers was also offered for the early model years of the first generation Terrain.

New wiper motors are not too expensive and cost approximately $60 to $120 a piece, depending on which brand you choose.

11. Headlight Recall

The first generation GMC Terrain’s headlights have a tendency to produce excess glare that can blind oncoming traffic.

This issue affects all model years of the first gen Terrain from 2010 to 2017.

It also affects the second generation Chevy Equinox

To correct the problem, GM announced a recall for the first generation Terrain and dealers simply placed a sticker on the headlight to reduce the glare.

It’s important to note that recalls are done free of charge since they present a safety risk, and you can schedule an appointment at your local dealer at any time.

GMC Terrain Pros & Cons


  • Attractive styling
  • Well-appointed interior
  • Lots of tech and features
  • Roomy cabin
  • Good overall ride quality 
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Affordable starting price 
  • Good fuel economy


  • First generation engine issues
  • Below average fuel economy
  • Lacks performance
  • Quality of interior materials

What Do The Reviews Say?

“The Terrain’s base engine lacks power, the transmission is slow-witted, and the powertrain’s focus on fuel economy eliminates snappy acceleration. In Edmunds’ testing, it took 9.3 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is very slow.”

“Elsewhere, this SUV performs better. The brakes bite smoothly and evenly, with a good relationship between pedal pressure and actual stopping power. The steering is slow and a bit mushy, but steering effort weights up nicely at highway speeds, imparting more confidence and a sense of stability.”

“The Terrain is prone to regular low-impact shocks, vibration and jostling on even moderately rough surfaces like bumpy streets. Road and tire noise is limited to a muted, dull hum on most road surfaces. The front seats are firm but comfortable, and they hold up well over long road trips. The rear seats, meanwhile, are relatively firm and flat.” 

“The Terrain’s interior is attractive and well configured, but some controls are awkwardly placed and impossible to avoid. Least impressive is the Terrain’s unnecessarily clumsy transmission interface.”

2024 GMC Terrain | Edmunds

What’s the Resale Value of a GMC Terrain?

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


Related: GMC Terrain 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...