2017 GMC Yukon Denali Top 3 Complaints and Problems – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Brakes, exterior lighting, and fuel system issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

Families that wanted to tow and have maximum seating capacity, purchased the 2017 GMC Yukon assuming it would fit their needs. Immediately, they took to planning out fun road trips and drives to the beach. What they ended up with were problems that were never expected. This full-size SUV regularly receives complaints regarding faulty brakes, a malfunctioning brake light assembly and defective injectors. With this in mind, it can still be described as the perfect family car, if you don’t mind spending all your time getting repairs.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2017 GMC Yukon Denali

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
2
Service Brakes
2
Visibility:sun/moon Roof Assembly
1
Exterior Lighting:tail Lights
1
Suspension
1
Exterior Lighting
1
Fuel/propulsion System
1
Electrical System
1
Structure
1
Visibility
1

Brakes

The brakes are one of the most vital safety components on a vehicle. The system must work properly to keep drivers from getting into an accident. Unfortunately, many GMC Yukon owners find that the brakes don’t work the way they should.  This puts the family at risk and has led to accidents.

Just read what this reviewer said on the NHTSA website. “Low speed brake failure. In my driveway, in parking lots, usually after having foot on brake to ‘roll’ and then stop again, no brakes, or have to put two feet down to stop. I hit a car in front of me two days ago after waiting at a red light, starting to roll because they rolled, then they stopped, and I hit the brake and nothing happened. My husband has taken the car multiple times to be looked at for the brakes not working for at least 6 months.”

What a scary situation these owners find themselves in; constantly wondering if they will be able to stop or not. Service Bulletin #PIT5361D addresses the concern directly. In this communication, GM discusses hard brake pedals, increased effort required to brake and a ticking noise that is sometimes present. To properly repair the problem, technicians need to replace the vacuum pump, vacuum line, brake booster and the master cylinder. Why there wasn’t a safety recall issued considering all the complaints, we don’t understand. Maybe the automaker feels that stopping with your family in the SUV isn’t important. Let’s hope you have a heavy foot if you plan to drive this SUV.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 GMC Yukon Brake Problems

WHEN DRIVING OCCASIONALLY YOU HAVE TO PUSH REALLY HARD ON THE BRAKES TO STOP. 9/10 TIMES BRAKES WORK NORMAL BUT ONCE IN A WHILE YOU HAVE TO PRESS VERY HARD TO STOP. WAS PULLING INTO MY DRIVEWAY AT A VERY LOW SPEED BRAKES WERE HARD TO PRESS AND RAN INTO THE WALL OF THE GARAGE. BROUGHT TO THE DEALER NUMEROUS TIMES SINCE I BOUGHT IT BRAND NEW AND STILL NOT FIXED.

HAVE NO BRAKES AT LOW SPEED DUE TO FAULTY VACUUM PUMP

MY HUSBAND AND I WERE DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY AT 70 MPH WHEN HE NEEDED TO SLOW DOWN AND NOTICED THE BRAKES ON THE YUKON WERE NOT FUNCTIONING PROPERLY. MORE SPECIFICALLY, THE BRAKES WOULD NOT FUNCTION THE FIRST 3-4 TIMES WHEN THEY WERE APPLIED OR TAPPED, BUT THEREAFTER THE BRAKES WOULD BECOME HARD AND HE HAD TO DEPRESS THE BRAKE PEDAL AS HARD AS HE COULD BUT WITH LITTLE TO NO STOPPING ABILITY. THE “BRAKE ASSIST” LIGHT CAME ON. HAD WE BEEN IN ANY TRAFFIC OR ON A SHORTER ROAD, WE WOULD HAVE SURELY CRASHED INTO SOMEONE AND IT COULD HAVE BEEN CATASTROPHIC CONSIDERING WE LIVE IN DALLAS WHERE THERE IS A LOT OF TRAFFIC. THIS DAY WE WERE VERY LUCKY!

Exterior Lighting

When the brakes are working, you can’t rely on the brake lights to function. Many drivers find themselves pulled over on the side of the road because their exterior lighting fails.

One owner wrote on the NHTSA website, “We were pulled over. We were informed that our passenger side brake light was non-operational. After inspection it was found that turn signal and hazard lights worked but not brake. A repair order was issued. We took it to the GMC dealership and was told the whole tail/brake light housing, wire and potentially the fuse needed replaced and that it would cost $700. We were also told by the dealership that they have had several GMC Yukon owners come in with the same issue and that it was a part malfunction that may or may not be covered by our warranty.”

It’s clear that GM understands there’s a problem. They issued Service Bulletin #02-08-42-001I, but it doesn’t talk about fixing the situation. Instead, it’s a correspondence directed at the service techs to determine if the malfunctioning brake light assembly should be covered by warranty. See, the automaker is more concerned with whether or not they should cover their defective part then they are about on-road safety. I guess they figure drivers won’t care when they receive a hefty fine for driving without appropriate lighting.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 GMC Yukon Lighting Problems

2017 YUKON DENALI (ONLY BEEN IN USE FOR 19 MONTHS) DS BRAKELIGHT ASSEMBLY (RED LED OUTTER RING) STOPPED WORKING.

THE REAR PASSENGER LIGHT ASSEMBLY HAS FAILED. NO LIGHTS WITHIN THE HOUSING ARE CURRENTLY WORKING. THE UNSAFE CONDITION EXISTS WHEN THE VEHICLE IS IN MOTION, AS IT HAS NO RUNNING LIGHTS, BRAKE LIGHTS OR TURN SIGNALS. THIS APPEARS TO BE A VERY COMMON PROBLEM FOR YUKON’S OF THIS YEAR, WHICH ARE STILL FAIRLY NEW.

PULLED OVER BY POLICE FOR MALFUNCTIONING LHR BRAKE LIGHT. ENTIRE REAR LAMP ASSEMBLY MUST BE REPLACED SINCE IT IS AN INTEGRATED CIRCUIT BOARD WITH LED LAMPS. $700 PLUS INSTALLATION. SEVERAL VICTIMS ON-LINE DISCUSSION FORUMS.

Fuel / Propulsion System

The fuel system is a vital aspect of the drivability of a vehicle. With the 2017 Yukon, many owners report trouble with the engine and fuel injectors. Not only can faulty injectors cause a rough ride, but it often leads to fear, wondering if the car is going to break down on the side of the road.

One person took to Edmunds to say, “I too like the other reviewer here had purchased a 2017 Yukon Denali. With the same problems of engine noise and miss fire. After complaining to the dealer several times with their excuse that …’ It’s just the nature of the car it’s a big engine’  and after 2 rebuilds on the engine they finally replaced the engine. Although it still sounds a bit off.”

In this situation, it sounds like after two rebuilds they still weren’t willing to acknowledge there was something wrong. In Service Bulletin #18-NA-137, GM discusses the need for new fuel injectors when a customer complains of fuel odor or extended cranking. There are pages of other fuel system bulletins dealing with multiple other issues, so it’s fair to say that the automaker knows there are major complications. Still, as with many manufacturers, they try to remain as silent as they can regarding the problems in hopes you don’t notice when the car doesn’t drive right.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 GMC Yukon Fuel System Problems

I HAVE 47,078 MILES ON THIS VEHICLE. IT CURRENTLY HAS A RANDOM MISFIRE THAT IS BEING BLAMED ON BAD FUEL INJECTORS. TO REPLACE ALL OF MY FUEL INJECTORS WILL COST ME APPROXIMATELY $1783.00 AT MY LOCAL DEALERSHIP AS MY VEHICLE IS 10,000 MILES OVER WARRANTY. I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE REPLACING FUEL INJECTORS ON A 1 YEAR OLD VEHICLE. IT RUNS ON LIMITED POWER MODE WHEN I START IT. I HAVE TO START IT AND THEN SHUT IT OFF AGAIN FOR IT TO RUN IN NORMAL OPERATION BUT IT STILL SHOWS A MISFIRE CODE.

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Complaint Data

CategoryVisibility:sun/moon Roof Assembly
DateNov 18, 2021
StateOH
Description
The contact owns a 2017 gmc yukon denali. The contact stated while driving 25 mph, the sunroof glass exploded without impact. The contact took the vehicle to the local dealer, where it was diagnosed with needing the sunroof glass to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired but was pending repairs. The manufacturer had not been informed of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 65,000.
CategoryExterior Lighting:tail Lights, Power Train
DateSep 24, 2021
StateCO
Description
The contact owns a 2017 gmc yukon denali xl. The contact stated that while driving at an undisclosed speed, the contact was alerted by other drivers that the taillights were inoperable. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and diagnosed as a power train failure. The driver's and passenger's side taillights were replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and opened a case. The contact was referred to nhtsa to file a complaint. The failure mileage was approximately 131,000.
CategorySuspension
DateJun 03, 2021
StateVA
Description
The contact owns a 2017 gmc yukon denali. The contact stated that while driving over a bump in the road at various speeds, the vehicle became airborne. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer who diagnosed the vehicle and informed him that the struts failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired due to the parts being on backorder. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 100,000.
CategoryExterior Lighting
DateApr 15, 2019
StateCA
Description
Had this vehicle for nineteen months, 50,000 miles, brought new, right brake works intermittently or not at all. These lights are completely sealed and lights are not replaceable, except reverse bulb. Gone over 30,000 miles so warrantee not covered. Dealership wants ridiculous price for replacement. Why would you do this? Lights need to be changed sooner or later? Isn't it easier to change a bulb rather then an entire expensive unit?
CategoryService Brakes
DateApr 06, 2019
StateWI
Description
Vehicle was in motion pulling into driveway to park in garage and vehicle would not stop correctly, almost resulting in me hitting my garage door pillar. As I backed up, started to pull forward into my garage stall, vehicle break pedal was hard and car would not stop, again almost hitting my front wall. Same thing happens going in reverse. Brake power would come and go. Feels as though front right break would lock but not stop, and eventually all stopping power would go away.
CategoryFuel/propulsion System
DateMar 04, 2019
StateWI
Description
Purchased a used 2017 gmc yukon denali with almost 36,000 miles. 4 days after the purchase my engine light came on. Next morning the vehicle was not driving right, very slow moving (couldn't go faster than 45 miles per hour), very shaky, loud, felt like it was either going to die on me or blow up. Had onstar check it out with several issues reported, took to dealership right away. 3 fuel injectors were failing and were replaced still under warranty. Fuel injector #3 was replaced prior to my purchase of this vehicle and now again replaced along with injector #5 & #8. 2 weeks later engine light came on again. Drove ok, took to dealership, fuel injector #1 now going out. Parts on back order.... Got a call this morning that parts are in (had to wait over a week). I am now over the 36,000 miles and will therefore be paying to replace this injector. Opted to have all the other injectors replaced as well. Very disappointed in this vehicle as it is only 2 years old. I am a single mom and need a reliable vehicle, which this vehicle is less than reliable. Had this vehicle a month and its been nothing but a headache and in the shop 3 times. These issues must be common since the fuel injectors were on backorder and this problem should have a recall.
CategoryElectrical System
DateFeb 27, 2019
StateNY
Description
Takata recall - the vehicle is constantly stating that the side detection is temporarily unavailable. When discussing with the dealership they stated that they are aware of the problem and it is happening with all the models that have side detection sensors. The sensors are failing and will lead to the vehicle not starting at all if it is not repaired in a timely manner after seeing the notification on the dash. They are requiring the customers to pay for the repair even though it is something that is a known problem across models and not specific to one model vehicle.
CategoryPower Train
DateSep 22, 2018
StateCA
Description
Shudder under light, constant acceleration at 35mph to 55mph, rpm under 1,500. Uphill grade it is accentuated. Shudder occurs for 1 second across whole vehicle, reoccurs every few seconds at a constant interval. Seems to be same issue with all 8l90 transmissions from gm/chevy/cadi.
CategoryStructure, Visibility
DateAug 23, 2018
StateMO
Description
Tl* the contact owned a 2017 gmc yukon denali xl. While driving at highway speeds, the vehicle exhibited a buffeting effect. Bommarito buick gmc west county (15736 manchester rd, ellisville, mo 63011, (636) 391-7200) test drove the vehicle and performed a picoscope diagnostic test, but was unable to provide a specific diagnosis and repair. The failure caused headaches and dizziness and medical attention was not sought. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and stated that the condition was normal and there was no repair. The manufacturer provided a 2018 gmc yukon denali xl as a trade-in. The vehicle was not repaired. The vin and failure mileage were not available.
CategoryEngine
DateAug 21, 2018
StatePA
Description
Tl* the contact owns a 2017 gmc yukon denali. While driving approximately 70 mph and attempting to accelerate, the vehicle suddenly stalled. The message "check trailer braking system" was displayed on the instrument panel. The vehicle was towed to the local dealer (kelly buick/gmc, 585 state rd., emmaus, pa) where it was diagnosed that the engine was faulty and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 9,980.
CategoryStructure:body
DateAug 11, 2017
StateWI
Description
Rear tail gate comes down on you when putting in or taking out items. In garage and parking lot at the times. Happened several times in last month. Occurances are varialbe. Repalcing lift gate support and actuator did not help. In for service, unable to solve so far. Stated, working as designed.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateJun 27, 2017
StateAR
Description
Wind buffeting in cabin when driving causing ears to pop, headache. Occurs at all speeds with windows up. No vibration in steering. It sounds like one rear window is down, causing a wind buffeting sound, almost like a boom in cabin area. Occurs only when vehicle is in motion, all streets/highways, any gear, hot or cold, and with proper tire inflation. Vehicle is oem, no modifications.
CategorySeats, Service Brakes
DateMar 13, 2017
StateCA
Description
The brake pedal is severely closer than the accelerator from the driver. When trying to stop quickly, the driver has to lift foot substantially to shift over to apply pressure to the brake. This is extremely dangerous and terribly uncomfortable. The foot pedals, even with the adjustments, are too close to the driver.
Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
3 COMMENTS
  • Melanie

    2017 GMC Yukon, about 87000 miles, this past year have had the break pump issue mentioned in the article, the taillights needing to be replaced, the a/c compressor going bad and needing to be replaced. (The first two were covered by warranty) And now is having transmission issues. Conveniently about a month after power train ended. When is this car considered a lemon?! I have been without a vehicle for close to a month combined this year, not to mention have had to drive around with my children in a car that lost braking power, had taillights go out while driving, and most recently could barely make it through an icy intersection due to loss of power.

  • Clint N

    We have a 2017 Denali with 97,000 miles. It all started with it running rough so after figuring out it had a bent injector and replacing it didn’t help. Now there saying it’s a egged camshaft. Since there is known problem with these vehicles my warranty co Endurance isn’t wanting to cover it. Who should I complain to?

  • James j

    Gm has my car going on 3weeks. I had to pay for a rental. They only approved 3days. Miss fire needs injectors but gm day there backed up don’t no when your suv will be done. I’m stuck without a car and making payment on something that I don’t have.

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