The Chevrolet Tahoe is an American full-size SUV that was first introduced for the 1991 model year and has been in continuous production since. The second generation of the Tahoe came out in 2000 while the third generation followed seven years later. The fourth generation of the Tahoe came out in the mid-2010s while the newest and best 4th gen Tahoe arrived in 2021.
In this article, we are going to focus on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations of the Tahoe and tell you everything you need to know about all of their issues. This includes explaining the very nature of these problems, what causes them, and how to fix them. We will also spice things up with a few recalls here and there, but before we do anything, here is a quick overview.
The Chevrolet Tahoe suffers from structure-related issues such as cracked dashboards, rust, a leaky sunroof, or paint-related issues. The Tahoe also suffers from low engine pressure issues, engine cooling fan issues, engine misfiring, and exhaust manifold issues. We also need to include electrical issues such as faulty gauge clusters, power door issues, trailer system issues, and an abundance of recalls related to the car’s electrical systems.
Other issues include problems with the transmission cooler, the differential, the transfer case, the driveshaft assemblies, the transmission shifting out of park, and issues with the transmission shifting harshly.
Now it’s time to go in-depth about all of these issues which should give you a broad understanding of everything that is wrong with the 2007 and later Chevy Tahoe!
It seems like the Chevrolet Tahoe is no stranger to a wide variety of structural issues, some of which are more common than others. These include cracked dashboards, issues with rust, a leaking sunroof, and issues with the paint.
There are countless reports about the dashboard in the Chevy Tahoe developing serious cracks that are predominantly detrimental to the car’s resale value but can also affect safety levels if it causes the airbags to not deploy correctly. These are common for 2007-2014 models while the 2007-2010 Tahoe seems to be experiencing these issues the most.
It is said that these issues popped up when GM switched to a more affordable one-piece dashboard design. GM came out and said that this is merely a cosmetic issue and it has nothing to do with how Chevy designed the car. Be that as it may, this issue is common on many other GM products from the same era which include the 2009-2014 Escalade, the 2009-2014 GMC Yukon, and the 2009-2014 Silverado, to name a few.
This eventually led to a huge class action lawsuit which is still underway. GM refuses to do a recall to combat this issue saying that this has nothing to do with manufacturing defects and is due to normal wear and tear.
Even though frame rust was a major issue with initial Chevy Tahoe models, it kept on being a problem for the 3rd gen Tahoe (2007-2014), but not nearly as common. However, there are also reports about rust settling on comparably newer models, some of which are made in 2016 and 2017. The reason why the frame rusts so easily is that the protective coating can flake off really easily.
After that happens, the nature of oxidation is going to do its thing as bare metal can’t resist corrosion. Rust also tends to settle on other components such as the underside of the doors, the wheel wells, around the tailgate, and sometimes on the roof as well. Fixing corrosion is doable for mild rust spots, if it is more serious than that, then fixing it is almost impossible to do without spending a lot of money.
Leaky sunroofs seem to be common on literally every generation of the Tahoe that comes with a sunroof. The 2007-2014 Tahoe seems to be the most troubled generation of them all while the 2014-2020 Tahoe is barely any better. For the very newest 2021-2022 Tahoe, there are already quite a few angry customers complaining about leaking sunroofs in their brand-new SUVs.
These happen because the drains become clogged or blocked, which lets the water settle on top of the sunroof and eventually find its way through the seals. Chevrolet did come out with an interesting 20-NA-219 service bulletin which pointed out problems with excessive noise coming from the sunroof area after lots of rain and water which could give some insight into sunroof leaks.
To top off our list of the most common Chevrolet Tahoe structural problems, we also need to talk about paint quality issues. Models made between 2015 and 2019 seem to be the ones with the highest amount of reports which led to GM being slapped with yet another class action lawsuit where 2015-2019 Tahoe owners allegedly believe GM knowingly sold them cars with defective/questionable paint.
They claim that the paint tends to delaminate, swell, peel, fade, and bubble extremely quickly, way too quickly for just a few years.
Engine issues tend to be some of the worst and most frustrating issues a car can have, but all cars have engines, and literally, all engines have problems in one way or another. The most common engine-related issues with the Tahoe are low engine oil pressure, issues with the cooling fan, engine misfiring, and exhaust manifold issues.
Low Engine Pressure
Some call it low engine pressure, others call it excessive oil consumption. No matter what you call it, everyone agrees that the 2010-2014 Tahoe has serious engine oil-related issues. It is said that the latter is due to the oil sneaking past the piston rings and burning off in the combustion chamber while the former is due to a wide variety of potential issues.
However, the problem becomes really serious when the car fails to communicate to the driver that oil levels are low which can lead to serious engine damage. The 5.3L V8 Vortec engine seems to be the worst while all other V8 engines are in some ways prone to similar issues.
Cooling Fan Issues
Even though these issues haven’t been reported nearly as often as most issues mentioned above, the 2010-2014 Tahoe can burst into flames due to a short circuit caused by a corroded engine cooling fan. This eventually led to a nationwide recall back in December 2016 (16V868000) when GM recalled almost 50,000 Tahoe models to replace the fan and all of its associated components.
While on the topic of stressful 2007-2014 Chevy Tahoe issues, we need not forget about ignition coil issues that can lead to engine misfiring. These are also sometimes caused by spark plug issues, but it seems like faulty ignition coils are the real culprit. If your check engine light keeps illuminating and is backed by rough idling, be sure to check your ignition coils.
Exhaust Manifold Issues
The last engine issue we are going to focus on today is the one associated with the exhaust manifolds on the 2007-2014 LS-sourced 4.8L/5.3L/6.0L V8 engines, more specifically the exhaust manifold bolts that tend to break. Sometimes the bolt will fall off, and you will never see it again while at other times the bolt will break, but will still stay attached to the housing. In order to fix this, you need to replace the bolt.
Many electric issues can plague the Tahoe, but some are worse. These include problems with the gauge cluster, issues with the power doors, trailer system issues, and a whole host of recalls we are going to mention last.
Gauge Cluster Issues
Older models of the Chevrolet Tahoe seem to be experiencing peculiar issues where the gauge cluster starts going up and down erratically showing all kinds of information. This is most prevalent in the 2007 model. Sometimes the instrument cluster can portray incorrect information about the state of your fuel tank which can lead you to stall. It is not 100% certain what causes these issues, but some believe that it is due to power overload.
Power Doors Issues
The power door actuator on the Chevrolet Tahoe seems to fail multiple times during a car’s lifetime. These issues are common with 2007-2014 Tahoe models, and they start off by locking or unlocking your doors slowly. Afterward, the system tends to fail completely and leave you without power doors which is indeed an inconvenience. In order to fix this, you need to replace the actuator whenever this happens.
Trailer System Issues
The 2015-2019 Chevrolet Tahoe suffers from an electrical issue where the dashboard continuously displays a trailer system warning light which is fairly loud and annoying and can’t be turned off easily. A few 2015 Tahoe owners said that the system can cause power shortages and affect other vital systems. Two owners even said that this stopped them from starting the car up.
It seems like this issue is down to an erratic control module which costs upwards of $1,000 to replace. The sad part about this issue is that it tends to happen with both low-mileage and higher-mileage examples.
Chevrolet Tahoe Recalls Caused By Electrical Issues
These go as follows:
- 08V441000 – Chevrolet recalled certain 2007-2008 Chevrolet Tahoe models back in August 2008 due to a short circuit on the printed circuit board for the washer fluid which can overheat and thus lead to smoke or even fire.
- 10V240000 – Chevrolet recalled certain 2007-2009 Chevrolet Tahoe models back in June 2010 due to a short circuit on the printed circuit board for the washer fluid which can overheat and thus lead to smoke or even fire.
- 14V827000 – Chevrolet recalled certain 2011-2012 Chevrolet Tahoe models back in December 2014 due to the ignition lock actuator switching from Start to Accessory mode, thus causing the engine to stall and turn off the airbags.
- 14V614000 – Chevrolet recalled certain 2013-2014 Chevrolet Tahoe models back in October 2014 due to contamination of the chassis electronic module which can cause the engine to stall and increase the chances of ending up in an accident.
- 15V640000 – Chevrolet recalled certain 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe models back in October 2015 due to the ignition lock actuator switching from Start to Accessory mode and thus causing the engine to stall and turn off the airbags.
- 14V301000 – Chevrolet recalled certain 2014-2015 Chevrolet Tahoe models back in June 2014 due to the absence of warning door chimes which can lead to the driver being unaware that the doors are open while driving and that the seat belts are not properly buckled.
- 19V761000 – Chevrolet recalled certain 2015-2020 Chevrolet Tahoe models back in October 2019 due to a software issue with the car’s brakes which can lead to the car braking the inside wheel and thus causing an accident.
- 21V421000 – Chevrolet recalled certain 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe models back in June 2021 due to the airbag malfunction indicator failing to warn the driver that one of the airbags is not active.
- 22V827000 – Chevrolet recalled certain 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe models back in November 2022 due to the daytime running lights not deactivating when needed.
As far as powertrain issues are concerned, the Tahoe predominantly suffers from differential and transmission issues. These include problems with a failing differential, harsh transmission shifts, issues with the transfer case, issues with the transmission cooler, the transmission shifting out of park, and issues with the rear driveshaft assembly.
It seems like the Chevy Tahoe does sometimes experience various issues with predominantly the front differential. A few owners of 2007-2015 Tahoe models complained about the car making weird noises which became even more apparent in 4WD mode. Some said that the differential can become filled with water while others say they found metal shaving within their differential units.
Harsh Transmission Shifting
There are numerous reports about the automatic transmissions on the Tahoe being harsh and overly aggressive, but these issues became really common with the 2016-2017 Tahoe models. It is said that the 8L90 and the 8L45 transmissions weren’t properly calibrated from the factory which is why Chevy issues the 16-NA-019 service bulletin to solve this issue.
Transfer Case Issues
The 2014 and the 2015 Tahoe were known to have issues where the transmission transfer case can switch the transmission into neutral when the car is parked or while driving. If this happens while your car is parked on uneven ground, the car could roll. If this happens while driving, the car could lose power. This eventually led to Chevy recalling certain 2014 and 2015 Tahoe models back in June 2014 (14V374000) to replace the transfer case.
Transmission Cooler Issues
The 2014 and the 2015 Chevy Tahoe models also suffer endured issues with the transmission cooler line which can get disconnected from the transmission and leak on nearby hot components which were known to start a fire. Chevrolet recognized this issue immediately, so they recalled almost half a million cars including the 2014 and the 2015 Tahoe back in March 2014 (14V152000) to replace the faulty lines.
Transmission Shifting Out Of Park
The 2007 to 2014 Tahoe has a few reports saying that the transmission is known to sometimes shift out of park while no one is around and cause the car to roll. However, it seems like the 2013 Tahoe is the one with the vast majority of these reports which prompted Chevy to recall certain 2013 Chevy Tahoe models back in January 2013 (13V001000) due to the park lock cable or the steering column lock actuator causing the car to shift out of park.
Rear Driveshaft Assembly Issues
The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe also has a powertrain issue where some rear driveshaft assembly components haven’t been heat-treated properly which could lead to a driveshaft failure. This is why Chevrolet recalled certain 2021 Tahoe models back in January 2022 (22V036000) in order to replace the faulty driveshaft assemblies.
In conclusion, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations of the Chevrolet Tahoe, starting from 2007 onwards have several common issues.
These range from structure-related issues such as cracked dashboards, rust, leaky sunroofs, and paint-related concerns, to engine-related troubles including low pressure, cooling fan malfunctions, engine misfiring, and exhaust manifold issues.
The Tahoe also has its fair share of electrical issues, including faulty gauge clusters, power door glitches, and trailer system problems, which have led to multiple recalls associated with its electrical systems. Furthermore, this vehicle has also been reported to have issues with various transmission components such as the transmission cooler, differential, transfer case, and driveshaft assemblies. The transmission can also unexpectedly shift out of park, and sometimes, it can shift rather harshly.
The range of issues reported serves as a cautionary tale for prospective buyers and current owners alike. It’s crucial for Chevrolet to address these problems promptly to improve the overall ownership experience and enhance the vehicle’s reputation. Despite these setbacks, the Tahoe has continued to be a popular SUV, reflecting the strong brand equity of Chevrolet.
However, potential buyers are advised to be aware of these issues and should take them into consideration when deciding whether or not to purchase this full-size SUV. Ultimately, understanding these problems and their fixes is integral to making an informed buying decision and ensuring optimal maintenance for this iconic American vehicle.
Marko´s interest in cars runs in the family. His father was a car trader and regularly took him to car dealerships when he was younger.
These days, when he isn´t watching Drivetribe or Doug DeMuro videos, he´s building up quite a resume as an automotive writer since he´s also a regular contributor on Cararc.com, Tirehungry.com, and Luxurycarsa2z.com.