2019 GMC Acadia Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, exterior lighting, powertrain and structure issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2019 GMC Acadia continues the lineup of mid-size SUVs from GM. This model was expected to be a big hit as the automaker told customers, “just try not to stare.” However, people are staring at this model, but not for the best reasons. Instead, owners are dealing with defective electrical systems, poorly-built exterior lighting, a malfunctioning powertrain and sloppy structure.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2020   2021   2022

Problems with the Electrical System

With today’s modern electrical systems, there’s nothing that can’t be accomplished with a high-end vehicle. Unfortunately, this GMC model can’t seem to get much to work correctly.

Here is an enlightening NHTSA review. “My mother has become trapped two times due to the locks on the vehicle not working. The issue only happens when it rains. I took the vehicle to the dealership and they said they replaced some kind of mechanism and that everything was good to go. It rained again yesterday and my mother was trapped in the vehicle again. This happens anytime you try to engage the locks, i.e. in Park, putting it in Park, putting it in Drive, using OnStar to lock or unlock, using the GMC app to lock or unlock, using either key fob to lock or unlock, trying to lock or unlock it manually.”

It turns out that there are many other electrical system concerns with the Acadia. Service Bulletin #PIT5606H discusses issues with a reduction in power loss, no start situations and unwanted seat or mirror movements along with the door locking situation. It turns out that all of these complaints stem from damaged wires and an improperly routed HVAC drain hose. Owners could attempt to have the situations repaired if the dealership feels like humoring the customer. Otherwise, the Acadia might be a good vehicle to take the mother-in-law out in. What a shame if she gets locked in.

2019 GMC Acadia Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
Electrical System
Unknown Or Other
Exterior Lighting
Service Brakes
Power Train:automatic Transmission:lever And Linkage:floor Shift
Back Over Prevention: Rearview System Braking

Problems with the Exterior Lighting

There are also serious issues with the exterior lighting system, which is a must-have for on-road safety.

Just look at this NHTSA complaint. “The contact owns a 2019 GMC Acadia. While driving at night, the contact stated that the headlights were barely visible because they were blacked out. The vehicle was taken to [dealership] where it was determined that the headlights would not project too far. The contact attempted to the call the manufacturer, but the call dropped. The vehicle was not repaired.”

These aren’t the only concerns with the headlights. Service Bulletin #010842001L discusses other issues with exterior lamp condensation, which only further reduces the visibility even more. Thankfully, it won’t be hard “not to stare” at this SUV since most people can’t even see it coming.

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Problems with the Powertrain

The powertrain is composed of several components, with one of the most essential being the transmission. Sadly, this system is also receiving numerous complaints.

Here is one left on the Edmunds website. “My family has been a loyal GM customer for many years. So, without reservation and excited that we purchased a new 2019 GMC Acadia SLT1. Our feelings quickly changed. With only 645 miles, it suffered a transmission failure that left us stranded 350 miles from home.  When we were able to get it in for repairs the next day, they determined the problem was so severe that we needed to leave the car for a number of days before it was fixed. Needing to get home, we had no choice but to arrange for transportation and then come back later to pick up the car. While GM made the repairs under warranty, they have not done much to alleviate our concern that our new Acadia is unreliable and therefore unsafe. They also refused to reimburse us for the over $400 of out of pocket expenses we incurred as a result of the breakdown and return trip to pick up the car. Reimbursement would have been a fair thing to do if GM truly cared about supporting their products and customers. If we had it to do over again, we would never have purchased an Acadia.”

No transmission should fail after only 645 miles. Even the cheapest made vehicles go far longer than this without powertrain concerns. The company doesn’t seem to take many of the transmission issues seriously. Plus, Service Bulletin #990420002K discusses Driveline Clunk Noises by telling technicians how much is acceptable and what absolutely needs to be addressed. Why should any of these unusual noises be considered normal, especially on a new vehicle? This isn’t the quality people expect when purchasing a GMC model over the Chevy variant. It might be time to save money and choose the latter instead.

Problems with the Structure

The same level of quality is found when looking at the Acadia’s structure.

Here is another Edmunds review worth noting. “I bought a brand new 2019 Acadia. Three days later, after an hour drive on a hot weather, I tried getting out of the passenger door and the rocker panel bent. From the vehicle running for an hour and being in the sun it caused the metal to expand which caused the door to catch the rocker panel and bend/damage it. GMC did not leave enough room between the door and the rocker panel. I brought my vehicle to the body shop and the body shop was told by GMC to repair the panel. It is a GMC defected and they refused to replace the rocker panel. GMC brought a rep out to look at the repair and he said “it looks good”. I do not care what it looks like. I paid for a brand new vehicle. I want a new rocker panel put on, since it is a GMC defect. After a month of battling with GMC, I told them I will contact the BBB and post review like this and they told me go ahead. I will never buy another GM product. I will take my business somewhere where it is appreciated.”

While the look of the rocker panel is important, there are some more pressing matters at hand. Service Bulletin #19NA167 says that there can be a water leak that leads to various electrical issues and an inoperative liftgate. While GMC wants people to stare at this model, the reasons that people keep gawking are not admirable. After all, people are getting trapped inside, water is infiltrating the cabin and pieces are being broken just from exiting the SUV. The vehicle is literally falling apart, making it a very expensive piece of junk.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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
  • Heather

    I would like to start off saying we are a GM family and loved our GM cars but I’m starting to get a bad taste in my mouth for how poorly they’re being built. I have a 2019 GMC Acadia with 48,000 and it is currently at the dealership for repair. It was taken in on March 22, 2023 for a Transmission issue in which my car’s RPMs began to surge upon acceleration also the Shift to park warning light started. I loved my truck until all of this. I am told I would have to come out of pocket to fix the shift to park which was $570.00. As far as the Transmission still don’t know and won’t know what is going on for some time. I have a friend that works in vehicle and repair who called the dealership who knows people there and they said my car is like 20 card behind getting looked at. Meanwhile I have a friend who’s car is at the same dealership with trans problems and his car has been there since Halloween! They gave me a little Buick encore for a loaner which although I’m grateful to have a loaner it doesn’t facilitate my need which is why I HAD a car with 3rd row seating! DO BETTER GM!

  • Ivory

    Geesh I was on my way to purchase one and I really do appreciate you guys feed back because it’s a strong no go me

  • Ralph

    I have a 2019 Acadia SLE and at 89k it needed $2600 worth of work. Due to the stupid on/off at idle feature and 2019 being the only year that the owner cannot choose to shut off this feature, it needed a new flywheel and starter.
    Had to be 5 teeth worn down to the nub on the flywheel, flexplate thing!
    No vehicle should need this at 90k!

  • Jessica H

    EVERY POSSIBLE WARNING: My 2019 Acadia started with the shift to park notification, then later that evening the LCD/radio display quit working, to include a frozen screen and none of the buttons would work. While turning on the way home, my blinker would work but that “tic-tic” sound was not working.
    When we got up the next morning, my husband checked the fuses and even tried to reset the whole SUV by removing the battery cable for about 10 minutes. When he put the battery cable back on it was like every warning light and notification possible sprung up at once. The steering assist is reduced. The safety restraint system is not functioning. The ABS system has lost communication. The park brake assist is not functioning. The rear door will not open or close. The remote start has quit working, but later worked. The DIC monitors only worked while driving it to the dealership’s service department. And I really can’t remember what the other warnings and notifications were. And because my car has a little over 77K, the dealership is telling me that it is not covered by the manufacturer because it is out of warranty. But if I lived in California, it would be covered by the manufacturer, per their own warranty book. So, I am being punished because I don’t live in California?! This is absurd!

  • Myra S

    I have now 2019 GMC Acadia. Just literally brought this to a dealership to replaced fuel pump as it stopped while I was driving. Right now, it keeps telling me steering assist reduced and my thermostat not moving. It takes time to connect my phone and sometimes doesn’t connect at all. Got the vehicle last year with 36k now it has 60k miles. It’s irritating and frustrating.

  • Denise S

    My son and daughter-in-law on a 2019 Acadia and they are on their way to Texas with my three grandchildren in the car and a dog I hope they don’t have these issues. After reading this I’m kind of worried about it

  • Marco

    I currently have a 2019 GMC Acadia, my wife had a horrible experience as she was driving and all of a sudden the car went haywire crazy, the wipers came on , the Hazard lights as well , then the steering wheel went stiff as the car shut down . The car also won’t start as if computer not communicating to demands , also a new batter was installed and same issue not response , it starts with remote control , only problem is that when I step into the car it won’t shift , again no response to commands . Very frustrating, car has 40 k miles .

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