The Chevrolet Suburban is a full-size SUV, and the name “Suburban” traces back to the 1930s which makes it the longest-running single-production model in the history of the automotive world. Since the 1930s, the Suburban spawned 12 different generations, but the topic of today’s article is going to be the tenth (2007), eleventh (2015), and the newest twelfth (2021) generation.
More specifically, we will tell you all the common problems the post-2007 Suburban suffers from, but before we do, here is a quick overview.
The 2007 and later Suburban suffers from excessive oil consumption, engine ticking, EGR issues, EVAP issues, exhaust manifold issues, anti-lock brakes issues, unintended braking, brake power assistance loss, air conditioning problems, the trailer brake system warning light, the car losing all electrical power, electrical fires, door lock problems, and ignition system problems.
Moreover, the Suburban also suffers from transfer case problems, bearing problems, differential problems, transmission leaks, the car shifting out of park, differential assembly problems, the car refusing to shift, and various airbag issues.
Now it’s time to go in-depth about each of these one-by-one and tell you what you need to look out for if you are in the market for a post-2007 Suburban. This article is going to include all the more important recalls, causes, and solutions to these problems.
The most common Chevy Suburban engine issues include problems with excessive oil consumption, lifter tick issues, exhaust manifold issues, and EVAP issues.
Excessive Oil Consumption
The 5.3L V8 engine found with the 2008-2013 Suburban is known to consume oil like crazy while the 2009 Suburban seems to be affected by this issue the most. Owners are constantly reporting adding up to a quart of oil every 2,000 miles. If someone approaches owning these affected cars without any clue of high oil consumption, it could very well end up with a totaled engine.
The reason why this small-block V8 uses too much oil is due to the low-tension piston rings that can’t seem to maintain proper tension and let oil leak from the crankcase and usually enter the combustion chamber. The AFM (Active Fuel Management) system has only made this worse by using oil to spray directly onto the piston skirts.
Lastly, owners also complained about an inadequate warning system that does not take into effect the volume of oil left, which can end up with the system not realizing that the engine is desperate for oil, leading to complete engine failure.
Lifter Tick Issues
The 2007 to 2018 Chevrolet Suburban also seems to be suffering from relatively serious engine ticking problems which are most noticeable while the car is idling. One owner of a 2015 Suburban reported that the took his car to a mechanic who said that the tick is down to the lifter. To repair this, it makes more sense to replace the engine which means that repairing the tick is extremely expensive.
Moreover, this engine ticking may or may not be associated with the lack of oil, and most Chevy mechanics say that this can lead to the lifter failing and the pistons colliding with the valves which can cause complete engine death.
Exhaust Manifold Issues
Older generations of Chevrolet SUVs and trucks are known to experience various issues with the exhaust manifold, but it seems like the 10th and the 11th generation of the Suburban (2007-2015) are also affected. These include either missing bolts on the exhaust manifold, manifold rust, or manifold leaks which can cause a ticking sound that can often be mistaken for the infamous engine lifter tick.
The 2007-2014 Suburban also seems to be experiencing peculiar issues with the EVAP system which is designed to keep fuel fumes within the tank and send them into the engine to improve efficiency and emissions. However, quite a few owners reported getting the P0446 fault code which refers to the EVAP control circuit malfunctioning.
To fix it, first be sure to check if the gas cap is properly sealed, check the vapor canister purge valve, and check the solenoid that comes with it. It is usually due to one of the three, and a full-on pressure test of the fuel tank should also be done after inspecting all of these components.
Issues With The Brakes
The most common Chevrolet Suburban brake-related issues include issues with the anti-lock system, unintended braking, and issues with power brake assist. It’s also not the Chevy where it’s common to see brake problems.
Anti-Lock Brakes Problems
The 2015-2020 Chevrolet Suburban seems to be experiencing issues where the car’s anti-lock brake system makes it difficult to press down on the pedal and thus makes the car difficult to stop. It seems like these issues can be caused by a few distinct reasons. First of all, a bad wheel sensor can affect the car’s ABS system because it is incredibly close to the wheels and thus is susceptible to accelerated wear and tear.
Other potential reasons include low brake fluid, contaminated brake fluid, or a faulty ABS pump. Whatever it may be, be sure to take your car to a dealership to fix this issue as it affects your ability to stop the car and thus is extremely dangerous.
The 2015-2020 Chevrolet Suburban also suffers from an issue related to the car’s wheel speed sensor which can cause the driveline-protection system to act and thus brake the opposite wheel. This leads to the car pulling to one side which can end up in an accident. Chevrolet did a recall to fix this issue in October 2019 (19V761000) when it recalled certain 2015-2020 Chevrolet Suburban models to reprogram the system and potentially replace any faulty components.
Power Brake Assist Issues
The brake vacuum pump is tasked with providing enough pressure which assists you when engaging the brakes. If this system fails, the car will not be able to stop adequately, or your braking inputs will be severely hampered. Because of this, Chevrolet also did a recall for certain 2015-2018 Suburban models back in September 2019 (19V645000).
Chevrolet said that this issue is completely due to the software side of things which means that no components will need to be changed. Either way, this recall included almost 3.5 million vehicles which makes it one of the largest recalls GM ever did.
The Chevrolet Suburban is no stranger to various electrical issues either which makes sense as most modern-day cars are equipped with all sorts of technology that is bound to cause issues eventually. These include problems with the A/C, trailer brake system issues, the car losing all electrical power, electrical fires, issues with the door locks, and issues with the ignition system.
Air Conditioning Problems
The 2007-2017 Chevrolet Suburban seems to be experiencing various issues with the air conditioning system, and the most common of them all is a leaky A/C condenser. The condenser fails due to the water inside of it freezing over winter and causing the condenser to crack. This can also crack you’re A/C hoses, and the entire system can fail due to the added pressure.
This issue is so common that GM had to backorder replacement parts just to keep up with fixing these. We also need to add that GM was hit with a huge class-action lawsuit because of this issue which included most of GM’s SUVs and trucks with the same/similar systems. In this lawsuit, owners said that GM knew about these issues before they ever began.
Trailer Brake System Issues
The 2015-2020 Chevrolet Suburban also has a thing for constantly popping up the “service trailer brake system” which can be annoying and distracting while on the road. This issue has also led to certain issues while towing a trailer as it can affect the brakes and thus make your stopping instance longer. Most owners said that Chevrolet didn’t do anything about this issue, but as these keep popping up, they are likely going to.
Car Losing All Electrical Power
One of the more dangerous electrical issues that seem to be popping up for 2015-2020 Suburban models is one where the car suddenly loses all electrical power, even while driving. This includes the car’s lights, the car’s power steering, and all of the accessories. Understandably, this is a significant threat to on-road safety which is why Chevrolet did a recall, but no 2015-2020 Suburban models were included.
The recall was issued for 2013-2014 Suburban models back in October 2014 (14V614000) when a contaminated chassis electronic module was known to short circuit and cut off all power from the car. As this recall had nothing to do with these aforementioned 2015-2020 problems, the jury is still out on this one.
Fire-related issues are always the worst ones to experience, and sadly the Suburban has a few of these in its resume. For starters, the 2007-2009 Suburban was actually recalled twice, once in August 2008 (08V441000) when GM recalled almost 900k cars due to issues with the heated wiper system that can short circuit and cause flames. The second recall took place in June 2020 (10V240000) when GM recalled 1.4 million models for the exact same issue.
However, many 2015-2020 Suburban owners are reporting problems where the car can end up in flames as well. A few owners reported electrical fires starting under the hood which seem to have been associated with burnt wires and the battery. Moreover, a few owners complained about the radio smoking and sometimes catching flames as well.
Door Locks Issues
A few 2015-2020 Chevrolet Suburban owners also complained about an issue where the car suddenly starts locking and unlocking doors while driving. It is said that this issue is due to door lock wiring which can get brittle and cause issues. Other door-lock-related issues are common mostly for 2007-2014 Suburban models where the door lock actuator fails and renders the central locking system completely useless.
Ignition System Issues
Ignition system issues also seem to be the thing for both the 2007-2014 and 2015-2021 Suburban models, but the reasons seem to be a bit different. The older Suburban can experience issues where the car fails to start, mostly due to a faulty starter motor. However, a few 2014-2015 Suburban models have also had issues with the ignition lock actuator.
The problem here is that the ignition can suddenly switch from the “start” to the “accessory” position which causes the car to stall. This eventually led to a recall when GM recalled certain 2014-2015 Suburban models back in October 2015 (15V640000) and said that the ignition lock housing needed replacing.
The most common Chevrolet Suburban powertrain issues include problems with the transfer case, bearing issues with the differentials, the transmission refusing to shift gears, the car shifting out of park, transmission leaks, and issues with the rear wheel driveshaft assemblies.
Transfer Case Problems
The 2007-2011 Chevrolet Suburban is no stranger to 4WD transfer case sensor failures which lead to the car displaying the 4WD warning message on the dashboard. The exact fault of this issue can be different which is why fixing this issue requires you to scan the car’s faults. This problem can mostly be experienced by the car either shifting from 4WD to 2WD or the 4WD system failing to work at all.
The 2014-2015 Suburban also has an issue where the transfer case can switch to neutral while the car is parked and thus cause the car to roll away. This was the reason why GM recalled the 2014-2015 Suburban back in July 2014 (14V374000) to re-program the software of the transfer case module and potentially replace any other faulty parts.
Differential Bearing Issues
Many owners of the 2007-2015 Suburban reported problems where the car tends to develop strange noises coming from the front or the rear differential area. It is believed that this issue is mostly due to worn-out differential bearings which will have to be replaced to solve the issue. However, if you notice any clunking noise while accelerating, the problem can be due to a faulty U-joint which will also need replacing.
The Transmission Refusing To Shift
It seems like the 2007-2015 Suburban can sometimes fail to engage a gear at all which is mostly due to contaminated or low transmission fluid which can be a big problem as it can lead to a complete transmission failure. Granted, these issues are mostly due to bad maintenance, but the shifter cable can also sometimes brake and block you from engaging a gear at all.
Therefore, it’s best to always inspect the transmission fluid, the shifter cable, and potentially even the wheel speed sensors as all of these can lead to similar issues.
Car Shifting Out Of Park
We already mentioned one issue where the Suburban can end up rolling even while park, but that sadly is not the only one. The 2013 Chevrolet Suburban has been known to experience issues where the car’s transmission would let you shift from park even without holding your foot on the brake. Moreover, the car can also shift from park by itself even when the ignition key is removed.
Understandably, such a dangerous issue did result in a recall GM issued back in January 2013 (13V001000) when they recalled certain 2012-2013 Suburban models due to fractured park lock cable which seems to have caused this issue.
Transmission leaks are common across older (2007-2014) Suburban but are mostly known to plague high-mileage examples and those that haven’t been maintained all that well. However, the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban equipped with the MYC 6-speed automatic is familiar with transmission leaks which can both lead to transmission faults and even fire.
This is why Chevrolet recalled the 2015 Suburban back in March 2014 (14V152000). The issue was caused by an oil cooler line that hasn’t been correctly held in place which eventually led it to leak.
Rear Wheel Driveshaft Assembly Issues
The last powertrain-related issue we are going to mention today is one where the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban can experience driveshaft failures which can lead to sudden loss of power while increasing the chances of ending up in an accident. This was exactly what NHTSA stated when GM recalled the 2021 Suburban back in January 2022 (22V036000).
The problem was that some components weren’t properly heat-treated and thus could lead to driveshaft fractures.
The last group of problems we will mention today is airbag problems. For example, the 2007-2015 Suburban has been recalled five times (21V052000, 21V050000, 21V053000, 14V451000, 21V054000) due to airbag inflator explosions while issues with the airbags failing to deploy have caused two separate recalls for the 2007-2015 model (17V437000, 16V651000).
The 2021 Suburban was also recalled for the airbag light not illuminating (21V421000) while the 2018-2020 Suburban models were the only ones that were not recalled for airbag issues at all.
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.