2021 Chevrolet Traverse Problems and Top Complaints

Powertrain and brake issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

For people looking at a three-row SUV, the 2021 Chevy Traverse continues to be a top choice. The automaker claims it is “ready for what’s next,” unless mechanical soundness is desired. This Chevy SUV seems to suffer from a faulty powertrain, a glitchy electrical system and defective service brakes.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2018     2019     2020     2022

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Service Brakes
Unknown Or Other
Power Train
Fuel System, Gasoline
Electrical System
Vehicle Speed Control

Problems with the Powertrain

A strong, reliable powertrain is required for customers that plan to transport kids and cargo. Yet, the transmission found in the Chevy Traverse is a straight disappointment.

One NHTSA complaint claims, “With just 1,085 miles on a new 2021 Chevy Traverse RS the 9 speed automatic transmission began to fail. It feels as if it skips and there is a distinct shudder as it shifts in the higher gears. The transmission also appears to labor as the vehicle ascends even the smallest change in grade. Research of these issues shows it’s a noted problem with the GM 9 speed automatic transmission.”

It turns out that there are several powertrain issues occurring, some more complicated than others. One such example is found in Service Bulletin #PIP5608G. This communication discusses a transmission shudder. However, the automaker claims it can be fixed with a transmission fluid replacement, which seems unlikely. Swapping out the fluid doesn’t usually resolve the situation, proving that Chevy isn’t “ready for what’s next” because the company can’t even get with the program today.

Problems with the Electrical System

Whether it’s starting the car engine or running the stereo, a well-functioning electrical system must be included in a vehicle. Yet, this is a source of complaint with many Traverse owners.

Here’s a review left on the Edmunds website. “Got a LT AWD with 5000 on it so far. The center radio screen went blank and they replaced the whole thing.”

The glitches go even further, according to Service Bulletin #PIE0610B. This communication discusses how there can be a loss of power, multiple warning lights and inoperative instrument panel clusters in the Traverse models. Software updates are required to get the technology working as it should, but not before the drivers are completely frustrated with the brand. It won’t be long before there’s a surge of new Ford owners as Chevy loses its fan base.

Problems with the Brakes

Stopping the vehicle is priority number one if owners want to keep family members safe. However, the Traverse appears to be having issues with the braking system.

One more Edmunds review states, “Recently purchase brand new. Have driven it for less than 1000 miles on it and brakes have an issue. Brakes have a grinding noise throughout the drive. Sound louder at first then once brakes heat up it sound less but you can hear and feel it at mid to higher speed brakes. I brought it to my local dealership who told me ‘GM is aware of the issue but have not found a solution for the problem. 2020 models have the same issue and GM has not found a solution yet.’ If I knew this before I purchased this vehicle, I wouldn’t have purchased it.”

If the brakes don’t work, it’s expected that at least the air bags will prevent injury, but that’s not the case either. According to NHTSA Campaign Number 21V472000, some vehicles are equipped with faulty air bags. It turns out that the software might not be calibrated correctly, causing the front air bags to remain in place, even during an accident. If the air bags can’t deploy, the injuries can be much more severe or life-threatening. Instead of Chevy focusing on what’s next, it might be better if the company retargeted getting the basics ironed out first

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Complaint Data

DateFeb 10, 2023
The contact owns a 2021 chevrolet traverse. The contact stated that upon depression of the accelerator pedal, there was an abnormal, clicking sound and a fuel exhaust odor coming from the vehicle. There was no warning light illuminated. The contact had taken the vehicle to the dealer on several occasions to have the exhaust pipe under the hood replaced; however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 36,000.
CategoryService Brakes
DateJan 09, 2023
At only 15,000 miles the brakes are squeaking as if they would on extended mileage brakes that require replacement. These are practically brand new and should not be making this sound.
CategoryFuel System, Gasoline
DateNov 28, 2022
The contact owns a 2021 chevrolet traverse. The contact stated that while driving at an undisclosed speed, she heard a rattling sound coming from the hood of the vehicle. An unknown warning light was illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that a hole was in the exhaust and the exhaust needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, the failure recurred. There was no warning light illuminated. The contact stated that while driving at an undisclosed speed, she smelled a fuel odor throughout the vehicle. The dealer was not notified. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and the contact was advised to have the vehicle diagnosed and to call the nhtsa hotline. The failure mileage was approximately 70,000.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateOct 15, 2022
On thursday october 13, 2022, I was driving in to work. I travel approximately 25 miles one way, 4 days a week. The wind up here in montana was blowing extremely hard for 2 days then and I was driving into the wind going west. I noticed my car felt like it wouldn't accelerate like normal so I just figured the wind was that strong. By the time I got to poplar where I work my car sounded like a lawnmower! I ended up calling the chevrolet dealer in wolf point to tell them and see when they could get me in to look at it. They gave me an appointment for the next day, october 14th. On october 14 I take it to the dealership and they take it in. About an hour later one of the main guys came out and asked my if I hit anything. I told him no, I was just driving it and that noise and lack of power started. He said they looked it over and it was a bracket thats on my exhaust system that is broke. I asked him if it would be fixed and he said no they would have to order parts. He said the part that broke was a weld and so he don't know how that could have happened if I didn't hit anything. My car is a highway car, I don't go baha-ing around in it. I bought the car brand new and I am the only one that drives it. I am scared to drive it now thinking my whole exhaust system might fall and cause me to wreck. The dealership said it is still safe to drive and just the noise would be annoying, but I don't trust it. I seen the older model traverses have that exact same problem. I am thinking this problem extends to the 21s too because like I said, my car is a highway car. I seen a bulletin that gm put out on this same problem, it is bulletin #pip5681 publish date of 9/26/19.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateJun 02, 2022
Driving down the road and the sunroof exploded outward spontaneously. No other cars on the road, nothing hit the glass. Safety at risk because it was very loud and some of the broken glass fell inside the vehicle.
CategoryElectrical System, Service Brakes, Unknown Or Other
DateJan 31, 2022
I have a 2021 chevy traverse lt. The stereo touch screen keeps completely freezing. We've brought it to the dealer who told us it was working fine. Its frozen twice. Once we had to pull the fuse out to reset it for it to work. Vehicle has a rattle at startup and suspension squeaks. Captain seats almost seem loose, they rattle at times. The brakes are horrible, they squeak all the time. Pads are not worn, but it appears from my mechanical knowledge that the pads are slightly oversized to the rotor or not set on straight and they're rubbing the unmachined part of the rotor which could contribute to the brake issue. Dealers have claimed before its just ceramic rub, however; I have done tons of brake jobs and always use ceramics. Never had a problem with that. Vehicles need a major recall for all these systems as they can all be a major safety concern. Brakes not set on right or pads to big can cause the pads to break off causing loss of braking power and an accident. Seats not tightened properly can cause death or serious injury to passengers in an accident. Failing suspension can cause loss of control of the vehicle and an accident, freezing touch screen can cause an accident if the driver is using the nav system and it stops.
CategoryEngine, Power Train, Vehicle Speed Control
DateNov 22, 2021
Occasionally when putting the suv in reverse, the car does not go into gear. I'll hit the gas and nothing and then all of the sudden it goes into gear. It's almost like it's in a delay sometimes I'll have to put into drive and then reverse for it to go into gear.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateNov 14, 2021
A few days after purchasing vehicle a rotten egg smell started coming out of ac. Took to dealership twice and they cant find the problem and since the smell comes and goes we were informed that this happens because is a brand new vehicle. But I'm d one getting terrible headaches when that smell comes out of no where. Last time it happened I was ready to go to emergency room it was so bad I had to open up d windows to get some air.
CategoryService Brakes
DateNov 05, 2021
Right front break pad makes a real bad noise, sounds like metal on metal. Took it to dealer I bought it from and they said it was a noise from ceramic pad and chevy will not fix it. I paid approx 34000 to be told they wont fix it. It sounds like a piece of junk when you hit the breaks. I have bought many new chevys in my life time. This will be my last. They said it wont hurt anything. I have never bought anything but big three but will buy toyota from now on. They back their cars. I know nothing will be done about this problem but I will tell everyone I see.
CategoryService Brakes
DateJul 10, 2021
From day one the brakes respond erratically. The braking is uneven regardless or road conditions. The dealer identified a problem but can't repair it until they receive a solution from the manufacturer.
CategoryPower Train
DateJun 06, 2021
With just 1,085 miles on a new 2021 chevrolet traverse rs the 9 speed automatic transmission began to fail. It feels as if it skips and there is a distinct shudder as it shifts in the higher gears. The transmission also appears to labor as the vehicle ascends even the smallest change in grade. Research of these issues shows its a noted prblem with the gm 9 speed automatic transmission.
CategoryService Brakes
DateMay 12, 2021
We bought a 2021 chevy traverse and the day after purchase the brakes began making a grinding noise off and on. Three weeks to the day after purchase, may 11, behind the driver side back tire was a puddle of darker fluid. The brakes began grinding worse. I left for work and when I returned home under the carport where the traverse was parked was fluid where each tire has sat. I drove 15 miles to my next duty spot for the day and brakes were grinding horribly.. When I got to my destination I popped the hood to find the reservoir where the brake fluid goes completely empty. It looked as if it never had fluid in it to begin with. The dealership sent a tow truck to my location and picked the vehicle up.
CategoryService Brakes
DateMay 10, 2021
Tl* the contact owns a 2021 chevrolet traverse. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, there was an grinding and squealing sound coming from the brakes. The vehicle was taken to tropical chevrolet (8880 biscayne blvd, miami shores, fl 33138) where they informed the contact that the brake parts were new and that after continual driving, the sound would go away. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The approximate failure mileage was 1,247.

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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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  • Denise

    I bought my 2021 Chevy Traverse in May. I had it for three months when the camera system went out. It’s August 2022 and I have had 5 new camera and I still don’t have all the cameras working. They keep trying to get me to trade it in and loss money.

  • Tim

    My exhaust system bracket has literally broken twice in 11 months, radio has been replaced, back up camera is glitching, extremely disappointed. Seems the engineers are over paid for the product they are putting out it is bad when your oem exhaust can’t last a full year

  • Nena

    My I bought my 2021 Chevy Traverse in Jan 2021. I’ve had it for 15 months. Last week as I was leaving the dealership after having a tired repaired I realized my a/c was blowing very hot air instead of cold. I turned around and went back to the dealer. The person at the service desk said she would take it back to be checked so I went inside to wait. She came back a few minutes later and said that when she turned the car off and back on, the a/c started blowing cold again, and it can’t be diagnosed unless it’s currently not working. So I left. A few days later the same thing happened again, and this time I had to turn it off several times before it worked right. Another problem happened this week. I filled the tank up to full and drove about 6 miles back home. The next time I got in the car, the guage had almost the same reading it had before I filled the tank. Nobody had driven the car. Could this be an instrument cluster problem? I’m wondering if I should speak to a lawyer now about it.

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