2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

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

Among full-size trucks, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 stands out as a more luxury-minded model. However, the automaker claims it still offers “capability at its boldest.” Yet, customers have been spending all of their time complaining about the air bags, engine, electrical system and structural defects.

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

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Problems with the Air Bags

One of the most important safety features of any vehicle is the air bags. Without properly working air bags, occupants can become severely injured during an impact. That’s what is shown with the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 trucks.

One NHTSA complaint states, “Airbag light and ‘Service Safety Restraint System’ keep flashing on and off intermittently. Sometimes every 5 seconds. Sometimes once or twice a day. This is a known issue with 2021 GM trucks and SUVs. Trying to get vehicle in for service but dealer said they are booked 2 weeks out and won’t give loaner vehicles at all anymore. The vehicle has less than 2000 miles on it.”

It turns out that the NHTSA is currently performing an investigation into the air bag defects (Action Number PE21010). With so many complaints present, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is looking into what’s happening with select GM vehicles. In many cases, the air bags aren’t even deploying during an accident. Apparently, GM doesn’t believe that air bags are an essential component of “capability.”

Problems with the Electrical System

When it comes to having a faulty electrical system, sometimes the issues go beyond not being able to get a favorite device connected. In the case of the 2021 GMC Sierra trucks, it could actually mean a fire.

Read this Edmunds review. “Bought a 2021 GMC Sierra sky. All the bells and whistles. Had it 5 months with 3400 miles.  Came back from store and parked it in driveway. Went in the house and my wife said your truck is smoking. Ran out and flames under hood. Five minutes later entire front end of truck engulfed in flames. Total loss. I was just lucky I was out of it. No indication of problems while driving.”

Aside from car fires, GM has been known for creating faulty electrical systems. In fact, the 2019 and 2020 models faced class-action lawsuits because of the defective seven-inch infotainment systems that the company continued to install in vehicles after the malfunctions were revealed. If a company is willing to use faulty equipment on purpose, it can’t be trusted to manufacture a truck with any integrity. Such is the case with the pickups that are spontaneously combusting.

Problems with the Engine

It has become clear that GM doesn’t put much time into manufacturing a decent pickup. Even more problems can be seen with the engine design.

One Edmunds review states, “My 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 had to have new lifters and push rods put in at 3600 miles then again at 5200 miles had the same problem waiting on dealership and General Motors to get back with me. I think they should buy back this truck in my opinion nobody should have this problem with a brand new truck purchased in January 2021.”

Surprisingly, the company isn’t hiding these issues from the general public. Service Bulletin #PIP5776C says that vehicles are suffering from misfires because the lifter is coming apart. To repair the issue, the four lifters and the lifter guide must all be replaced. The question is – does GM continue to put these same faulty lifters in engines as a replacement? History tells us that is probably what is going to happen, which is in itself one of the “boldest” moves this company could do at this point.

Problems with the Structure

A final look at the GMC Sierra 1500 structure reveals the same level of defects everyone anticipated. It’s clear that this luxury-focused truck is nothing more than a piece of crap.

Another NHTSA complaint reads, “Sun glare reflects off center console cup holder with such intensity it’s hard to focus on the road even with sunglasses on.”

This is just one minor problem of many. For example, NHTSA Campaign Number 20V811000 states that the wrong bolts were used to attach some of the seat belts. Without these bolts in place, the seat belts fail to restrain occupants during a collision. Additionally, NHTSA Campaign Number 20V684000 says that some tires were overcured, which can lead to a break in the sidewall creating sudden air loss and a blowout. From tires that blow out to seat belts that don’t work and air bags that won’t deploy, occupants are merely asking for trouble every time they get into this truck. However, the structural issues aren’t just related to the safety of the vehicle, but also its appearance. Service Bulletin #19NA255 talks about metal corrosion and rusting along with the frame peeling on these newer trucks. Hey, at least the appearance matches the insides – it’s defective whichever way you look at it.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work aid your lemon 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.

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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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • joe

    2022 gmc less 500 miles hard shifting both upshifting and downshfting first complaint

  • Mike &

    What’s the noise in rear-end when going over a bump?

  • Craig

    I have a gmc 2021 , when am stopped at a light the engine will shutter like it’s going to stop , anyone know or have this kind of a problem? 5.8 v8 , Sierra , Denali pick-up

  • Trevor R

    hello i have a 2021 sierra slt 1500 harley davidson gmc truck. i purchased it 3-4 months ago. first issue was multi tailgate was working they fixed it. At 1800 miles my battery went dead had to jump start the the truck. Truck has been driving the same since had an appointment to do audio upgrades . Truck now is currently smokin and sparks are comin from under the hood . Had it towed to the nearest dealership they went to the glove box and seen 5k in audio receipts. The first thing that came out the the dealer mouth was it’s not goin to be covered over warranty. Are we allowed to upgrade our audio system can the dealership blame a 3 rd party . Can i sue the dealership he said they would take.a another look . but i don’t like that not under warranty talk

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