2021 Chevrolet Traverse Problems and Top Complaints

Brake, engine, and related electrical system issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

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.” But is it? Certainly not if you find you’ve bought a lemon. Some owners are complaining that the brakes, engine, powertrain, electrical system, and other components keep letting them down. We’re going to take a closer look.

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

Common Problems Summary

Brake problems are paramount when it comes to complaints made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by 2021 Chevy Traverse owners. Other top problems relate to the engine, and the electrical system. There are also powertrain problems and issues that relate to forward collision avoidance, vehicle speed control, the fuel system, and structure of the SUV.

There are also various complaints filed as being “unknown or other.” These include the sunroof exploding spontaneously and a “rotten egg smell” coming from the aircon. The latter complaint states that the driver had to go to ER because the smell was so bad and resulted in “terrible headaches.”

While there are currently no complaints to the NHTSA or Lemberg Law about faulty airbags, there are two recalls that relate to airbags. One states that incorrect airbag calibration software may affect frontal airbag deployment, increasing the risk of injury in a crash. The other warns that the harness connector to the left or right side roof rail airbag may have incompatible electrical terminals. This could prevent the airbags from deploying in a crash, also increasing the risk of injury.

A third recall warns of a possible transmission fluid leak that can cause a loss of drive power. This can increase the risk of a crash and if there is an ignition source nearby, the risk of fire. All the vehicles implicated in this recall are wheelchair accessible and have a power in-floor ramp conversion. The problem is that the screw and clip that hold the inner wheel-well plastic shroud in place may chafe against the transmission case. This is what could cause a transmission fluid leak.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Service Brakes
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Engine And Engine Cooling:exhaust System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
Power Train
Vehicle Speed Control
Carry Handle, Shell, Base
Engine And Engine Cooling:exhaust System:manifold/header/muffler/tail Pipe

Brake Problems

The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse isn’t the only Chevy to suffer from brake problems. The 2021 Chevy Blazer has exactly the same problem as do several other GMC vehicles. And, like the Blazer, there are numerous manufacturer communications that tell dealers about the problem. The issue is that the brakes squeak, grind, squeal, and generally make what an owner in Indiana describes as a really bad noise. This complaint states that it sounds “like metal on metal.”

In this case, the dealer said “it was a noise from (the) ceramic pad and Chevy will not fix it. I paid approx $34,000 to be told they wont fix it. It sounds like a piece of junk when you hit the brakes. I have bought many new Chevys in my lifetime. This will be my last.”

An owner from Florida was told that the “grinding and squealing sound coming from the brakes” was because the brake parts were new. They said that “after continual driving the sound would go away.”

Another Florida owner whose brakes “respond erratically” said the “dealer identified a problem but can’t repair it until they receive a solution from the manufacturer.” No noise was mentioned.

Bearing in mind the first brake-related complaint was in May 2021, owners are justified in believing that the issue would’ve been resolved by October 2023. But not for an owner in California whose brakes continue to squeak. “I took it to the dealer. They said they know about this problem but there was nothing that they could do about it since the manufacturer has not given them a bulletin on this model of vehicle yet.”

Catch 22.

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Engine Problems

The most common engine problems relate to acceleration issues. But there are also issues that relate to the electrical system. For example, a complaint states that several times the Traverse shut off while driving and the steering wheel was difficult to turn. The dealer couldn’t identify a problem.

Acceleration Issues

Oddly, these issues aren’t all the same. Some complaints say the Traverse won’t accelerate while others say they can’t stop it from accelerating!

One owner states, “I was unable to stop my vehicle from accelerating. The brakes were engaging but my vehicle continued to build speed.” Unfortunately, this incident ended in a crash with two injuries. “The rotors and brakes were glowing red after collision from continuous attempts to stop the vehicle.” But there were no warning lamps, indicators, or messages presented prior to the collision.

In complete contrast, an owner from Montana tells how, when driving in windy conditions, “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!” The dealership maintained that the owner must have hit something because the bracket on the exhaust system was broken. “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 (have) seen the older model Traverses have that exact same problem.”

Problems with the Powertrain

A strong, reliable powertrain is needed for customers who plan to transport kids and cargo. Yet, the transmission in the Chevy Traverse is also a problem for some owners.

An NHTSA complaint from an owner in Florida 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.

An owner from New York states that when putting the SUV in reverse it doesn’t 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 (it) into drive and then reverse for it to go into gear.”

Next Steps for Lemon Car Concerns

There is always a chance that you could buy a lemon, even though the percentage of lemons is universally low. But if you think you are one of the unlucky ones who has ended up with a 2021 Chevy Traverse lemon you can do something about it. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners.

The fact is that the law makes the automaker, General Motors, pay the legal bills for lemon law cases. So it’s not going to cost you anything if you come to Lemberg Law for help. Call our Helpline or fill out a contact form and we’ll assess your problem free of charge.

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
  • Pete A

    I have a 2020 Traverse I bought new! At 8500 miles the transmission failed! They had to replace it with a brand new one that took two weeks to get and was without my vehicle for three weeks!

  • 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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