Key Takeaways

  • The most common and expensive issue with Traverses is from the 2009 to 2011 years, with potential engine failure issues.
  • Steering issues within 2009 to 2011 Traverses can suddenly make them very difficult to turn.
  • Newer Traverses built after 2017 have fewer issues, though many are not far out of warranty.

This post may include affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we'll receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This support helps us maintain and grow our site. Thank you for your support!

There are many options on the car market for sport utility vehicles. What are some problems with the Chevrolet Traverse that you might want to know about?

While issues with the Traverse vary greatly by the year, a couple of larger and more consistent problems are with Traverse engines and steering modules in model years 2009 to 2011. More recent models have minor and lesser reported problems with their transmissions.

Our experience comes from working in service and marketing within a car dealership. We also use sources like CarComplaints as well as government information like the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, or NHTSA.

Table of Contents

What problems to Traverses have?

We want to be clear here: Every make an model of vehicle has some problems. Vehicles are very complicated and they do break. Also, indicating that something is a problem doesn't mean that it breaks down for every driver, or even 10% of drivers – it more means that people have reported issues that required fixing with a vehicle on occasion.

Traverse Problems: 2009 to 2011 engine problems

Engine problems can be ugly, in part because the engine is often the most expensive mechanical item on the vehicle to fix. Unfortunately, multiple people on CarComplaints reported sudden engine failure, despite claiming to have maintained their Traverse on a regular basis. For these owners, issues with the engine popped up with just over 100,000 miles, which is also well outside of the Chevrolet warranty period.

You might also like to know that these complaints are not especially common, as only 16 made the complaint on the website – though its easily possible for this number to be significantly higher. Still not a fun repair since a engine replacement can cost several thousand dollars.

The root cause tends to be either an issue with the timing chain coming off, causing total failure of the engine. Simply replacing the timing chain doesn't fix this issue as the damage will have been done to the pistons.

Traverse Problems: 2009 to 2011 steering problems

Steering issues aren't as common as engine problems for the Traverse, and are actually relatively rare for any car. The 2009 to 2011 Chevrolet Traverse has a potential issue in which the power steering can stop working a few thousand miles after the warranty is up near 80,000 miles. These issues are not as costly as the engine at about $1,500, but can be scary and dangerous as they can come on suddenly and cause you to have less control of the Traverse than normal.

The steering problems stem from leaks and failure of the power steering pump. The worst part of power steering problems is that they can happen suddenly – though they also often make a consistent moaning and grinding noise that some drivers just don't hear. Cornering and having your power steering stop working doesn't sound fun, as the result is needing to use lots of strength and muscle to turn a moving vehicle.

Traverse Problems: 2018 and newer: Shift to park message

This is an odd one, especially for a relatively new vehicle – and a hard one for the driver to diagnose. A 2018 or newer Traverse can shift into the wrong gear, more specifically shifting into park when the user has the shifter in drive. When the driver attempts to push the gas pedal, the vehicle revs as though it is in drive, but doesn't move, because the brakes are still applied.

Some users reported this randomly and being able to fix it on their own, mostly through the trial and error of turning the vehicle off and back on again. Thankfully for most, this tends to happen in the first 30,000 miles and is usually under warranty.

The vehicle will actually display a message that says “Shift to Park” when the vehicle is already in park, and not remove the message even after shifting into other gears and back into park.

Traverse Problems: 2014 models have sudden loss of power

While the exact cause of this problem tends to vary, it is commonly believed the issue is a loss of power to the fuse box in the vehicle. The symptoms are that a engine light, like service stabilitrak comes on, followed by a loss of power to the vehicle – both electrical and engine power. This can happen rather suddenly unfortunately, and even at speed in traffic, with no real warning.

The issue has popped up on a handful of younger Traverses with only about 60,000 miles, but also isn't overly expensive to fix at about $700. Still, the prospect of suddenly losing power is scary, though its good that the issue isn't engine related – its electrical.

Traverse Problems: 2015 and newer air conditioner compressors can melt

The air conditioner compressor is meant to mix an air intake and coolant to provide you with cool air in the vehicle. With some newer Traverses, the air conditioner compressor can get too hot instead, and start to melt. Their is also a General Motors and government notice about what to do in the event that an odor comes from the air conditioner – which is definitely a symptom of a blown compressor that has overheated. The air conditioner compressor is also a bit pricey to fix at $1000 or more, in part because a mechanic has the disassemble most of the dashboard to get to the park and diagnose.

Traverse Problems: 2014 issues with airbags

This issue is not consistent – to the point where mechanics had a hard time diagnosing the problem. While many drivers don't think about airbags, they are still quite important, and when your airbag light turns on to indicate a potential issue – that is concerning. GM did issue a recall for airbag issues, and did so again for 2020 to 2022 model years.

Traverse Problems: 2012 minor electrical issues

The 2012 Chevrolet Traverse has a problem that pops up rarely – but it sounds annoying. The dashboard will say to “Check Charging System.” In addition, the radio can change to auxillary without being prompted to by a user. To accompany these problems, the dashboard lights can suddenly fail, leaving you unable to see the speedometer and other gauges. Finally, the fuel gauge has been reported as inaccurate once or twice. Most of these might be a relatively small issues with a sensor, button, or fuse.

Upcoming Traverse problems for 2020 and 2021 model years

Thankfully there aren't many reports out of the 2021 and 2020 Traverse model years, which suggests that come changes may have been made to improve the safety and performance of the vehicle. One word of caution though, as vehicle issues tend to pop up after 60,000 miles or more as a year or two Traverse is just getting “broken in.”

The Traverse has been earning higher marks in initial quality by JD Power, which agrees with data from CarComplaints, that fewer people are having issues immediately. The overall rating for the first couple years of ownership has been 'great' so far.

Thoughts on Traverse years and models

The Traverses problems effectively peaked shortly after it was launched in 2009. Complaints went down significantly after 2013, with a slight bump in 2014 and 2015. The Traverse was redesigned in 2018, and pending a couple more years of tests, have been significantly better than the initial years right after the vehicle started production.

Problems early in the years of a new vehicle are very common, and also tend to happen in the years following a redesign. Redesigns tend to occur with a new engine, transmission, and electronics that don't quite have real world bugs worked out yet.

Is a Traverse worth buying?

I would say the Chevrolet Traverse is worth buying. While we were discussing the problems from the Traverse, we didn’t say much about the sharp look of the new redesign, and how the Traverse is competitively priced. The Traverse is mostly a family vehicle with seating for 7 or 8, so if you are looking to haul around stuff, kids, or the pets, it is definitely worth considering.

Chevrolet Traverse Problems & Complaints: Are The Issues Worth Buying?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

Read More About Charles Redding