2021 Chevy Tahoe Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Air bag, engine and electrical issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Large SUVs continue to gain popularity, including the 2021 Chevy Tahoe. The automaker claims owners can “drive with added confidence” when in this model, but many owners disagree. In fact, this SUV seems to battle with defective air bags, a malfunctioning electrical system, a failing engine, a dangerous fuel system, faulty steering and a poorly-built structure.

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Problems with the Air Bags

The most important safety system in a vehicle is the air bags. However, the Tahoe is struggling to keep people safe with this system.

Here’s an NHTSA complaint. “I have taken my Chevy Tahoe to the service department numerous times – as my truck has had a stubborn service safety restraint system warning error code that continues to come on and off. I have taken it to have all recalls serviced as per recall request. The service safety restraint system warning code has not been corrected after more than 5-6 visits if not more as not all visits have been logged properly. I have had this truck for less than 12 months and have experienced too many conflicting issues. I do NOT feel safe driving my Tahoe with the SRS light on. There’s obviously a malfunction that you all have not been able to figure out. This is extremely dangerous!! What if I were to get involved in an accident or collision and my airbags do not deploy? I may have a problem with the airbags themselves, a loose wire, a faulty seat belt buckle, or a problem with the engine control unit which is causing the airbag warning to come on. There is obviously a major problem. I am putting my children and family at risk. I have not received an email or phone call from anyone at Autonation Chevrolet. The service safety restraint system warning code has come on and off 7x since I was last at the dealership (9/10/21) and I have pictures to support.”

NHTSA Campaign Number 21V421000 states that nearly 300,000 vehicles have an air bag malfunctioning indicator light that might fail to notify drivers when there is a problem because of a failing communications gateway module that needs to be replaced. Without this warning, occupants are at a higher risk of injury during an accident, so where is this “driving confidence” coming from? Apparently, GM wants customers to imagine this protection that isn’t available.

Problems with the Electrical System

In general, a defective electrical system is going to cause communication problems while driving the vehicle. That’s exactly what is seen in the Chevy Tahoe.

One Edmunds customer says, “I bought a 2021 Tahoe in November and dropped it off today (for the 5th time) for electrical work. Problems with infotainment/radio/dash, etc. upon first visit (two days after purchase) the deal said there was no issue. Second time they said a radio was needed. Third visit replaced the radio. Fourth time they replaced the amplifier. Fifth visit brake light and radio will not turn off with the car. This is my first (and last) Chevy purchase. With the cost of this vehicle there should be no issues. This should not be in the shop and unrepairable. Experts from GMC should not have to be called to diagnose problems the 5th time. How many chances does one need? Car goes in with one problem, comes out with two. Just so disappointed with this purchase and experience I highly suggest you ask/research before you buy. It’s beauty isn’t worth the inconvenience and time.”

Chevy isn’t ashamed of all the electrical system problems. In fact, there are more than 100 communications happening within the company. Service Bulletin #PIT5774C discusses how there can be multiple warnings about the sunroof, service safety restraints and other electrical problems. Engineering is working on creating fixes, but the problems seem to be overwhelming the technicians, leaving them scratching their heads.

Problems with the Engine

A well-built motor can make the drive much more enjoyable, but why would anyone think that this vehicle would have a reliable engine?

Another Edmunds review states, “Purchased 2021 Chevy Tahoe Z71 in November. In January there was a popping sound, then knocking sound, then all my service lights came on, then it started rumbling & shaking. Chevy told me to stop driving & tow it in. It was a lift valve that blew & damaged something else. Everything repaired. Well here we are in April with THE EXACT SAME ISSUE and there were no loaners. Chevy is giving me $35 a day toward a rental, but I still have to pay $11 for a full size car… I’d be paying more if I wanted to rent an SUV. My first and last Chevy. I knew I should have kept my X5!”

On the internet, it’s simple to find countless complaints about defective lifters. In fact, the pages and pages of proof are overwhelming. Yet, this isn’t the only engine problem. Service Bulletin #PIP5794B also discusses a vehicle shudder that is caused by the camshaft actuator system, even though it feels like a transmission problem. At this point, it might be best to scrap the entire engine and start over. It’s the only way to ensure the problems are resolved.

Problems with the Fuel System

The fuel system works in conjunction with the engine to ensure a smooth ride. However, GM can’t get this system built correctly either.

This Edmunds review states, “As many have stated on here about the sputtering, shaking and lights going off like crazy, today it happened to me. Third time the car has been in the shop and have had it for about 7 months.”

NHTSA Campaign Number 21V739000 talks about a power control module failure. This defect can cause the fuel pump to fail and cause the SUV to stall. If this happens, an accident can occur. Additionally, NHTSA Campaign Number 21V064000 states that affected models have an adhesive missing between two layers of the fuel tank that can lead to a leak and possible car fire. The only question now is – how many customers are actually wishing for their SUV to burn up in flames at this point? Probably a lot.

Problems with the Vehicle Structure

Why would anyone believe that the 2021 Chevy Tahoe was built the way it should be? After all, there’s not a system on this SUV that seems to operate as it should.

This Edmunds review proves the structure is sub-par. “I have had it in for service now 3 times.  There have been several recalls but the real issue is the WATER LEAK.  This is the 2nd time I have had it in for the WATER LEAK and they cannot seem to resolve the issue.  The last time I had it in for service for the leak, the dealership had it for over a week.  The dealership has it now and has had it yet another week with no date in sight to get it back.  I cannot believe I paid over $62K for a vehicle and I am having all of these issues.  On top of that, I ordered floor mats from GMC/CHEVY and they do NOT fit.  I am very disappointed and at this point getting PISSED! I’ve waited my whole life to have a vehicle this nice and it’s JUNK!”

There’s no reason to take the customers’ words on the structure issues. GM itself has issued five recalls related to problems with the seats and seat belts. These simple structures weren’t even produced correctly. What exactly is going on at the GM manufacturing plant? It doesn’t seem that these engineers could put together a LEGO car, let alone an SUV that is meant to protect families.

Problems with Steering

Keeping the Chevy Tahoe on the road seems to be creating its own set of problems. Trying to control this beast is causing accidents.

Here’s an example from the Edmunds website. “Lane changing device is supposed to allow no hands driving.   My new 2021 Chevy Tahoe Lane Changing Device overcorrects and forces the vehicle to run off of the road to the right or runs to the left onto oncoming traffic.  No matter what GMC advertises do not take your hands off of the steering wheel.  My new Tahoe already has six (6) recalls and each time the dealerships advised that the Lane Changing Device is working correctly.”

For starters, GM has been the defendant in a class action lawsuit for previous models because of “Chevy Shake.” This defect leads the SUV to shake and vibrate, especially while driving at higher speeds. However, there are also other steering issues. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V455000 states that more than 26,000 vehicles have a software issue that causes the power steering assist to fail, which requires more effort from the driver to prevent an accident. Basically, the only way to drive with “confidence” at this point is to have very big muscles capable of maneuvering the large SUV without help. Owners better start spending time at the gym to get prepared.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

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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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