2018 GMC Sierra 3500 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Headlights, steering and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Few trucks compare to the towing and hauling capability of a 2018 GMC Sierra 3500. The automaker claims that the new pickups allow a user to “tow big,” which is precisely what continues to make sales for the company. However, it doesn’t take long for drivers to figure out that there are serious concerns with the engine, steering and exterior lighting on this heavy-duty model.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 GMC Sierra 3500

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Service Brakes
Exterior Lighting
Power Train
Electronic Stability Control

Problems with the Engine

When it comes to creating maximum towing capacity, a pickup must have a strong engine under the hood. Sadly, the motor is one of the biggest problems this truck deals with.

One NHTSA complaint states, “The contact owns a 2018 GMC Sierra 3500. This contact received notification of NHTSA Campaign Number 19V328000. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. [Dealer] was contacted and confirmed that the part was not available. The manufacturer was also contacted and made aware of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure. Parts distribution disconnect.”

Unfortunately, this is what many owners are dealing with as a result of this massive recall. It turns out, more than 300,000 vehicles have an engine block heater that might face an electrical short that could lead to a fire. Not only aren’t dealers replacing the necessary parts, but they are also disconnecting the heater entirely to cover their tracks. For owners that pay a premium price to own this GMC truck, this is an outrage. But that’s not all! There is also another recall related to the fuel system. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V088000 states that the front fuel tank might overfill and cause a leak that also leads to an increased chance of a fire. The moral of the story is that owners might be able to “tow big,” but there’s no guarantee they will reach the destination without bursting into flames.

Problems with the Steering

When hauling or towing heavy equipment, the steering system plays a vital role. To get the job done, everything must be working perfectly for a smooth ride, but that’s not the case with this heavy-duty truck.

One NHTSA user stated, “I was driving uphill. The truck lost power died/shutdown, so I had no power steering, no power brakes. We live on a country rural road. Had the truck towed to [dealer] where it has been since November 2 with electrical issues that they are trying to pinpoint.”

It’s a wonder that the dealer hasn’t just disconnected the steering system and claimed it was repaired. Of course, this isn’t the only steering-related issue that needs to be addressed. Service Bulletin #PIP5570A says that a ticking noise might present itself while driving. This problem might stem from an improperly seated or deformed steering shaft seal that is allowing the engine noises to enter the cabin. Again, GMC owners are looking at a premium price and certainly didn’t sign up to listen to the noises coming from their truck engines. If these consumers desired sub-par equipment, they would have opted for the lower-end Chevy models instead.

Problems with the Headlights

If someone desires to tow or haul at night, it’s helpful to have a solid set of headlights illuminating the road ahead. Yet, this is another source of complaints for users.

Check out this short and to-the-point review left on TrueCar. “I wish GMC would replace or recall the trucks due to these very bad headlights.”

What’s worse is some owners are complaining that the Daytime Running Lamps won’t shut off, even when using the daytime running lamp disable switch. According to Service Bulletin #PIT3219F, it appears that these vehicles were produced in Canada, where it’s not legal to turn off the daytime running lamps. Logic would tell the automaker, if they weren’t willing to have the headlamps disabled, that they should have first removed the switch that says it will disable the lighting. At this point, it might seem like GMC is playing a cruel joke on owners, waiting to see how long it takes them to realize that the disable switch is completely useless. The bottom line is, owners can “tow big” if the engine runs, the steering doesn’t fail and they don’t mind have switches that do absolutely nothing.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes GMC pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Complaint Data

DateFeb 03, 2023
17jan2023. 2018 gmc sierra 3500hd denali. Northbound on i37 near three rivers, tx. Speed approx 75 mph. Temp approx 55f. Wx conditions, 1/2 mile vis in fog. Traffic, zero vehicles ahead, one vehicle approx 100 yards behind. Time approx 0815. No overpasses encountered. Cruise control engaged. My son and I were talking when we both heard a sound us above resembling ripping cloth lasting approx 1/2 second immediately followed by a loud explosion followed by the sound of fragmented clinking. The rush of wind noise followed as we could hear pieces of glass continue be taken by the slipstream. I was able to immediately deduce that the sunroof had catastrophically failed. I never use the sunroof or even open the slider so luckily it was closed as usual and no glass fell into the cab and no injuries were sustained. My son and I began to look around us while continuing down the highway to see if an object could've caused this. With no vehicles in a position to have flung a rock or other material and no overpasses in the area, we concluded it must've been a defect. I took the next exit and stopped in a gas station parking lot. We exited the truck and visually inspected the roof. The glass was indeed shattered. Further, the glass had appeared to failed outward as the remaining glass was directed away from the cab. There had been no prior indications of impending failure. There were no warning lights and the police were not called. Had a vehicle been close behind the outcome may have been worse as it would've been showered with debris. The vehicle is under warranty but gm has declined coverage, claiming it must've been a rock or something, even though that would've been impossible given the circumstances.
CategoryService Brakes
DateJul 05, 2022
A persistent, very distracting alert saying "service trailer brakes"
CategoryService Brakes
DateMar 28, 2022
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 contact stated that the vehicle was rated at 22,000-23,000 while the trailer was 14,300 pounds loaded maximum. The contact stated that the trailer currently weighed 11,000 pounds. There were no warning lights illuminated. The contact stated that the failure had been reoccurring while driving. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who informed the contact that the braking system was operating properly. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.
CategoryService Brakes
DateApr 15, 2020
April 9th 2020 I was operating my vehicle a 2018 gmc sierra 3500 denali equipped with the diesel package. I was towing a bobcat skid steer on a trailer with a total weight of approximately 4300lbs. I was traveling at about 45 mph when I encountered a red light. With plenty of room to stop I applied the brakes as normal. They initaillay grabbed and slow my travel to about 40 mph. Then out of what seemed nowhere the brake pedal rapidly went to the floor and the vehicle freewheeled through the light. I attempted multiple times to ease off the pedal and reapply to no avail. Upon entering the intersection I nearly crashed into a vehicle. When I nearly I mean with inches. I immediately slammed the e-brake bringing the truck to a skiddding halt. After dropping the trailer off in an empty parking lot my vehicle went to my local dealer. The service adviser who 1st encountered the vehicle experienced the issue 1st hand. After having it for nearly a week they called today to say 'they can't find the any issues'. That makes this situation even more dangerous. You're unaware when this can happen. These vehicles need to have a new recall immediately
CategoryPower Train, Service Brakes, Steering
DateNov 20, 2019
I was driving up hill the truck lost power died/shutdown so I had no power steering no power brakes we live on a country rural road. Had the truck towed to kendall chevrolet in eugene oregon where it has been since november 2 with electrical issues that they are trying to pinpoint.
CategoryElectronic Stability Control, Service Brakes, Steering
DateNov 08, 2019
Tl* the contact owns a 2018 gmc sierra 3500. While driving approximately 60 mph and hauling a trailer, the abs, service trailer brake, service power steering, and service stabilitrak warning indicators illuminated. Also, the vehicle lost braking functionality. The contact also stated that the failure occurred while not towing a trailer. The vehicle was taken to buster miles chevrolet (1884 almon st, heflin, al 36264, (256) 781-4536) to be diagnosed, but the mechanic was unable to retrieve a fault code. The contact was informed that the failure may be due to a wheel speed sensor. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was informed of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 16,068.
DateOct 02, 2019
Tl* the contact owns a 2018 gmc sierra 3500. The contact received notification of nhtsa campaign number: 19v328000 (engine). The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. Royal moore buick gmc (1380 se river rd, hillsboro, or 97123, (503) 648-1153) was contacted and confirmed that the part was not available. The manufacturer was also contacted and made aware of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure. Parts distribution disconnect.
CategoryExterior Lighting
DateFeb 06, 2019
Shaking or flickering, headlights when driven on rough road surfaces flicker or shake like blinking you're eyes real fast very distracting for myself and other drivers w. S. P. Said it is a defective equipment issue send complaint to a. G. Wa. A. G. Ida. Idaho also send complaint to b. B. B. And n. H. T. S. A. Had truck in 4 times for repair found problem bulletin number 18 -na-001 doc. Id. 4924668 complaint to gmc talked with 5 times closed my complaint 02-06-2019 there is no fix for these headlights. Bought this truck new 10-17-18 problem was noticed driving it home from kellogg ida. To spokane wa. Took truck in at 536 miles found problem took truck home it didn't fix the problem took it in again 659 it didn't fix the took it in again the third time in at 822 miles hand me document no. 4924668 and information no. 18-na-001 headlamp shakes or flickers do not fix. Took truck to dave smith gmc dealer in kellogg ida. Found same problem had truck 4 days same bulletin . Cmc closes the case will let me know when and if it can be fixed in the future said it could take years. Thank you [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the freedom of information act (foia), 5 u. S. C. 552(b)(6).' *pm
CategoryExterior Lighting
DateMar 26, 2018
Hid headlights on my truck flicker significantly, and dim and brighten, while driving vehicle on bumpy surfaces. This is brand new truck with 2500 miles on it. I paid extra for the all terrain version. Gmc's official response to me is that it is normal for hid headlights to flicker on/off, and they are refusing to do anything about the issue.
DateMar 01, 2018
Steering wheel shaking from 70mph to 78 mph highway driving

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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.

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