2021 Chevrolet Traverse Problems and Top Complaints

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

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

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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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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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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