GMC Sierra 3500 Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the GMC Sierra 3500 as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

The 4WD transfer case encoder motor position sensor or the selector switch may fail causing the service 4WD message to be displayed. Fault code(s) stored in the transfer case control module will be of assistance in determining the exact fault causing the message to be displayed.

The 2004-2007 GMC Sierra 3500 HD is known to have issues with the EVAP system, a part of your emission control system.

The EVAP canister vent valve or valve solenoid wiring may fail causing illumination of the check engine light, setting code P0446, and problems filling the tank with fuel.

To correct the issue, the EVAP canister vent valve, solenoid, and wiring must be inspected. The most common fix is replacement of the wiring connector or replacement of the vent valve assembly.

The 2001-2002 GMC Sierra 3500 has a known issue with the air pump check valve which causes illumination of the check engine light. There are no notable symptoms, but the vehicle will not pass state inspection or smog testing. 

When the valve fails, it sticks closed, and the computer sets the code P1416. Replacement of the check valve is the only fix, as the valve is not serviceable. 

This page can provide more information about the air pump check valve. 

The headlight switch used on the GMC Sierra 3500 is known to fail through normal operation. Since the headlight switch is also integrated into the interior lights, a malfunctioning switch can cause issues with interior lights as well.

  • Symptoms of a failed headlight switch include:
  • Headlights and taillights failing to turn on or off
  • Interior lights flicker, or fail to turn on or off
  • Gauge cluster lighting off or flickering with headlights on
  • Parking light malfunctions  

This issue is well known with General Motors Trucks and SUVs, and is solved by testing and, if needed, replacing the headlight/dimmer switch. Bad grounding wires at the tail-lights, and dirty/corroded tow package wires can also lead to some of these issues. 

Illumination of the Check Engine Light can be caused by a loose or worn gas cap.

The spark plugs should be replaced every 100,000 miles. Our technicians recommend replacing the spark plug wires also at this time.

For the 2.3L 4 Cylinder and 5.0L V8 engine, the electrical ignition switch poses a fire hazard. An updated switch is available.

If you experience difficulty starting the engine when cold, stalling at idle, or hesitations during acceleration, it may be the idle air bypass valve. This valve helps the vehicle idle steady when the accelerator pedal is not pressed.

While steering, if you hear a clunk or a rattle, or if you experience premature tire wear, this could indicate the inner tie rod ends are loose or worn and will require replacement.

The battery light may illuminate on the instrument panel because the alternator wire harness connector is damaged. A new connector kit is available and should be installed to correct this concern.

The fuel pump may fail causing the engine to stall and not restart.

It is common for the fuel level sensor in the fuel tank read the fuel level incorrectly. The sensor must be replaced to correct the condition. Our technicians recommend having the complete fuel pump module replaced on high mileage vehicles.

A dirty throttle body may cause a lower than normal idle and possible stalling condition. Performing a throttle body service will commonly correct this concern.

The battery may leak acid at the battery cable connections. As a result corrosion may form on the battery cable ends. Leaking batteries should be replaced and the cables need to be thoroughly cleaned or replaced if necessary.

The muffler heat shield may become loose on the muffler causing a rattle or popping noise. Our technicians tell us there is a kit available from GM to correct this problem.