2021 Chevrolet Suburban Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Air bags, engine and powertrain issues among are the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The Chevrolet Suburban has been around for decades. It has the longest-running nameplate ever. First produced in 1935, it’s been in continuous production ever since.

Unsurprisingly, over time, the style of the Chevy Suburban has changed dramatically from the original first-generation vehicles that were produced until 1940. The second-generation Suburban, manufactured from 1941 until 1946, was geared towards military use during World War II. And it’s continued to evolve ever since.

But it isn’t always plain sailing. The last four models have resulted in many complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Click on the model year to view these problems.

2021 marks the launch of the “all-new” 10-speed automatic 12th generation Suburban by General Motors (GM). But, there have already been 8 recalls, and there’s an ongoing NHTSA investigation into airbag malfunction.

There are also 15 complaints on file with NHTSA that cover about 22 problem areas.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020   2022

Most Common Problems

With a total of 6 complaints, engine problems outnumber all other complaints. A total of 4 complaints name the powertrain as an issue, and 3 single out the electrical system. Forward-collision avoidance is highlighted twice along with electrical, engine, and lane departure problems.

There are also single complaints about airbags, seat belts, exterior lighting, and visibility. The latter complaint describes a sunroof spontaneously exploding. According to the complainant, the dealer maintains this was caused by a rock striking the sunroof.

We’re going to focus on the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban airbag, engine, and powertrain problems.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Fuel/propulsion System
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Service Brakes
Seat Belts
Air Bags

Airbag Problems

There is only one NHTSA complaint relating to airbags. But we are including it because of the severity of the complaint. Also, because there’s an airbag recall and an ongoing investigation into airbags.

The complaint describes an incident in May 2021 when the SUV was involved in a 40 mph frontal-impact collision with another vehicle. The initial impact was on the driver’s side and the driver was knocked unconscious. The impact bent the frame of the vehicle.

“At no time did my airbags (front or side) deploy. Nor has my vehicle even registered that I was involved in a collision. I required medical attention and was transported to the hospital.”

The investigation, launched in April 2021, precedes the recall and complaint. It was initiated after the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) received 15 consumer complaints about alleged airbag system malfunctions on GM vehicles, including 2020 and 2021 Suburban models and the 2021 Suburban 1500.

  • 9 complaints allege the illumination of an airbag malfunction indicator
  • 6 involve crash incidents with significant frontal collision damage where the drivers’ airbags failed to deploy

The recall, issued in June 2021, relates to the airbag light not indicating a malfunction warning in various GM vehicles. Potentially, as many as 285,622 vehicles may be affected by this software glitch.

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Problems with the Engine & Powertrain

Engine-related complaints are varied, but several involve faulty or collapsed lifters. A few combine engine and powertrain problems.

Engine Category Problems

An engine complaint describes how a collapsed lifter caused the car to shake. The first dealer diagnosis was “bad gas”. But, two days later, the complainant was told that the misfire was caused by the lifter and a broken pushrod. Another Suburban was with the same dealer at this time, and the dealer “was suggesting it was our fault.”

The lifter isn’t mentioned in an Arizona engine complaint, but it seems to be the issue. It describes loud engine knocking as well as multiple system failures.

“The dealership literally told me they’d seen a ton of these when I called immediately. They told me to keep driving because the damage was done and if the engine died, well, then it’s under warranty. I have 3 children under 5 and that is NOT an appropriate answer when I asked about it being safe to drive, considering it’s jerky/shaking/knocking and has multiple systems down.”

Powertrain Category Problems

One engine/powertrain complaint states their car “died” in traffic and it was impossible to start the engine. A tow truck had to drag the car onto a flatbed. A dealer examination revealed a bad starter and a bad fuse box. “But the major issue was in the engine where the lifters went out.”

According to the complaint, the dealer said this is a constant issue with 2021 Chevy SUVs. “This is a major safety issue in that there is no way to put my 2021 Suburban in neutral when this happens, to clear the vehicle from a busy highway.”

One of the powertrain complaints states that the lifter rods failed when the car had 8,000 miles on the clock. “The dealer said that this is a known issue and that there is a service bulletin for it.”

But there isn’t a recall.

What to do if your 2021 Chevy Suburban is a lemon? Your Lemon Rights

Not every NHTSA complaint indicates a lemon. But if your vehicle gives persistent problems that substantially impair its safety, use, or value, Lemberg Law can help you assess your problem.

We have negotiated many settlements for clients stuck with lemons. Let’s see if we can do the same for you. We will evaluate your complaint and then take the appropriate action. Possibilities include buybacks, trade-ins, cash settlements, and replacement vehicles.

Call our Helpline today. The law makes the manufacturer pay, so you don’t have to worry about legal bills.

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

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