2021 GMC Acadia Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, powertrain & camera issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2021 GMC Acadia is meant as a luxury-minded SUV that should impress. After all, the automaker claims it is “built for families that go.” Yet, some major malfunctions are causing it to break down. From the defective electrical system and faulty powertrain to the camera, customers are livid.

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

Most Common Problems

Customer complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that drivers are having issues with many components and systems in the 2021 GMC Acadia. Electrical system problems top the list with the powertrain and brakes coming a close second, with complaints citing various safety issues.

The rear-view camera is another important safety component that keeps malfunctioning. There is even an open investigation into this problem.

2021 GMC Acadia Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
13
Service Brakes
10
Unknown Or Other
8
Fuel/propulsion System
6
Air Bags
5
Engine
5
Back Over Prevention: Rearview System Braking
3
Back Over Prevention: Warnings
3
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
3
Power Train
3

Problems with the Electrical System

The electrical system is responsible for running just about every part of a new car, from the steering to the radio. With 2021 GMC Acadia models, the faults are causing some major concerns.

Here is one NHTSA complaint. “Car steers to left, volume does not work after a connected call while driving, screen blacks out and noise coming out of left driver door panel while car is off. Also message that SD card was removed, no apps working.”

While all of these problems are alarming, it’s important to look closer at the steering system complaint. In fact, steering issues are nothing new to GMC. It wasn’t that long ago that there were proposed class action lawsuits because of defective power steering in Acadia models. These systems were failing after just 30,000 miles. It would appear that the Acadia should actually be “built for families that can’t go.”

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Camera Problems

Most complaints to the NHTSA are listed under Electrical System and/or Back Over Prevention. The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) confirms that it has received multiple complaints about the rear-view camera. These relate not only to GMC Acadia vehicles, but to Cadillac XT5 and XT6 luxury SUVs as well.

However, a manufacturer communication from GMC on file with the NHTSA lists a total of 59 affected vehicles. These include the ones mentioned already as well as GMC Sierra 1500 and 2500s and Terrains. A whole lot of Buicks and Chevrolets are also on the list.

Preliminary information” supplied by GMC describes the problem and lists possible causes. These include the possibility of water intrusion, VPM SPS programming issues, and connection problems that might be caused by vibration.

Acadia ODI Camera Investigation

The ODI opened a preliminary investigation on July 22, 2022 to determine the scope and severity of the problem. They say they also need to fully assess the potential safety-related issues.

They say that complaints report the camera screen being black, sometimes with a red triangle and a circle with a line through it. Most complaints to them are from owners with low vehicle mileage.

Needless to say, it stands to reason that when the camera fails or malfunctions, it will reduce visibility in the area behind the vehicle. This limited view, as the ODI states, “may lead to an increased risk of incidents resulting in injury and/or property damage while the vehicle is in reverse.”

Complaints to the NHTSA range from a 2021 GMC Acadia owner simply saying “rear view camera stopped working,” to one that reports the camera causing an accident.

NHTSA Complaints

An owner from California states: “I got into an accident because my back-up crap camera did not warn me that a car had turned behind me.” The driver had other issues too. For example, when backing up and a car is coming it doesn’t indicate the presence of the car “until it’s behind me.”

“I’ve taken it to the dealer and they say there’s nothing wrong with it. Also there is no brake when you come too close to something in front of you.”

An owner from Pennsylvania states: “Vehicle purchased new (in) mid-March 2021 and in less than 30 days the rear back-up camera stopped working intermittently. This has occurred several times and the vehicle is currently at the dealer being diagnosed.”

An owner from Ohio states: Since purchase of this vehicle in Dec 2020, the rear camera vision has been intermittent. I originally thought it to be (a) driver problem, however I am now told that there is a module that needs to be replaced and it is not available and possibly not being manufactured at the present time. As a result, the entire Camera parking assist system is completely out of service with no information on when the module may be available to repair the issue. I believe this may be a Safety issue as backing up into traffic be it parking lots or roadways, this equipment is an essential addition to safety to other vehicles and pedestrians.”

This complaint was received in August 2021 even though the incident date is January 15, 2021.

Problems with the Powertrain

The powertrain takes the energy created by the motor and directs it to the wheels for motion. Yet, the Acadia can’t get this basic concept down.

One Edmunds review states, “I purchased a 2021 GMC Acadia SLT on December 30th 2020. On March 11th (70 days and 1800 miles into my ownership) the vehicle lurched forward and the check engine light came on.  I’m being told by the dealer it is a stuck valve problem that GM is aware of and put out a paper on. The transmission needs (to be) replaced.  Now nobody can answer whether I’ll get a new or remanufactured transmission.  I obviously am disgusted this would happen to a brand new vehicle.  I would expect GM to put a new transmission in not remanufactured. ”

GMC isn’t blindsided by the transmission complaints. Not only have owners been discussing a known Shift to Park issue that is causing accidents, but Service Bulletin #16NA019 also talks about harsh transmission shifting, slipping and flaring that is leading to driveability concerns. It seems this SUV wants to do anything but “go,” creating just another lemon on today’s roadway.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes GMC pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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.

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