Best and worst Chevrolet Traverse years — which to avoid
This quick guide shines a light on which years stand out for their dependability and those known for landing in the repair shop. With an eye on thorough data and genuine owner insights, we've mapped out the best and worst Chevy Traverse years.
Chevy Traverse is a bargain as a used three-row SUV, but only if you move past the model years affected by severe issues. Regardless of the model’s reliability, there have been numerous reports of badly rated models, so you can’t have the best possible experience if you go for one of those.
Luckily, our team investigated Chevy Traverse reviews, ratings, and complaints to bring you a full guide on the best years to buy and worst Chevy Traverse years to avoid. We’ll give you an update on which years you should avoid based on ratings provided by industry experts, as well as submissions of previous and current owners.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
How we rated the best and worst Chevy Traverse years
To ensure that you get double-checked and factual information on the SUV’s reliability, our team of automotive experts only considers verified and trustworthy reports. We’ve scoured through NHTSA records on complaints and recalls, as well as reliability scores on IIHS.
We also took into consideration the reviews submitted by other drivers and previous owners as we explored Traverse ratings on platforms like Edmunds, KBB, and Car Complaints. Finally, we wanted to hear some more about what real Traverse owners have to say, which is why we counted in some verified information from Traverse forums, and here’s what we uncovered:
|Chevy Traverse Generations
|Best Chevy Traverse Years
|Worst Chevy Traverse Years
|2013, 2016, 2017
|2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
|2020, 2021, 2022
Most common Chevy Traverse problems
The Chevy Traverse comes with its fair share of flaws, either technical or non-technical. Some of these problems are not so awful, while others could result in catastrophic situations. The worst issues are by far engine and transmission troubles, so let’s see what these mean for you as a potential buyer.
1. Engine Troubles
Nobody wants a car with a faulty engine, but sadly, that’s one of the major problems with a Chevy Traverse. Its traction control could turn off at will, or the entire engine could lose power in the middle of a journey. The result is a collision or severe damage to lives and properties.
Drivers have also experienced other engine troubles such as reduced engine power, the check engine light on, and stalling engines while driving. To worsen it, fixing this engine problem doesn’t come cheap. Customers spend a lot of money to get their engines running or replaced.
Although Chevy tries to update its engines and minimize these issues to the barest minimum, engine troubles remain a thing for many Chevy Traverse models.
2. Faulty brakes
As though the faulty engine is not enough trouble, some Chevy Traverse models come with every driver’s nightmare, faulty brakes. Its drivers have their hearts in their mouths as to when the brakes will suddenly fail because it eventually will.
Other reports related to brake failure include unintentional accelerating, failing during use, pulses while braking, hydraulic issues, and faulty or damaged rotors. It is advisable to avoid models with extreme brake issues or get a brake line flaring tool to optimize your brake performance if you must drive a Traverse.
3. Steering problems
Some models of the Traverse tend to develop multiple steering problems once they attain about 110,000 miles. They could start gradually or suddenly pop up out of nowhere. The major complaints in this category were difficulty in turning and a sudden halt in the power steering.
Other complaints included noisy steering, a loose steering pump, and a power steering fluid leak. Avoiding models with these steering issues could save you the stress of dealing with a defective steering system that could cost you an arm and foot to fix.
4. AC/heater issues
Chevy never got it right with the AC/heater system starting from Traverse’s first model. From blowing the wrong temperature to failing components, there have been complaints about Chevy Traverse’s AC/heater system.
Among these, signs of a bad A/C compressor, blower motors, evaporators, and condensers are defects to look out for in a Traverse. Thankfully, these are the easiest and most affordable issues to resolve. The big issue, however, arises when there is a failure in the pressure line, which will require a full replacement of the pressure line. That will surely cost you a lot of money.
5. Transmission issues
Transmission problems are common with most vehicles, and the Traverse is not an exception. The early models had several complaints of transmission failure and engine problems at around 80k+ miles. Drivers also encountered other symptoms such as low fluid levels, lack of response, dragging clutch, grinding or shaking, hard shifting, slipping gears, burning smell, etc.
The 2009 model had loads of complaints in this direction. Also, the 2016 model year had multiple reports of broken 35R clutch wave plates inside the transmission. Thankfully, with the introduction of the second-generation models, transmission issues are a thing of the past for Chevy Traverse.
Worst Chevy traverse years to avoid
Chevy has had several reports in the two generations of Traverse’s existence. The trick of a successful purchase is to avoid those two, so the main question is – what are the worst Chevy Traverse years? The worst Chevy Traverse years are 2009, 2010, and 2018, but here’s a full list:
We’ll discuss their main issues through Chevy Traverse generations and explain further why you should avoid some of these at all costs.
First-generation Traverse (2009-2011 model years)
Chevy’s first production of the Traverse wasn’t an impressive one. Its first generation had lots of complaints and is, by far, the most troublesome model of the Traverse.
2009, 2010, and 2011 models had issues with excessive oil consumption, engine failure, and severe transmission failure, which cost about $3,200 to fix and, sometimes, blown engines. There have also been numerous reports of the timing chain code appearing or the chain going bad which led to some pretty expensive repairs.
The 2010 model garnered the highest complaints, while the 2011 model was deemed the worst model year, considering its exorbitant repair costs, power-steering issues at 80k+ miles, and low mileage problems. Along with engine issues, drivers also frequently reported electrical issues, power steering fluid leaks, and A/C issues from the 2009 to 2012 model years.
Second-generation Traverse (2018 model years)
The second-generation Chevy Traverse, with its new and rugged truck-like design, is a step forward in the right direction. Not only did the trim levels increase from four to eight, but there has also been a tremendous improvement and noteworthy facelifts on the SUV.
The model year to avoid in this class would be the 2018 version which brought in the redefined era and saw an uptick in complaints. Owners of the 2018 model complained of shudders and vibrations, loss of power, and a ‘shift to park’ message popping up in the instrument cluster. Other models in this category may have issues, but they are not enough to put them on the avoid list.
What are the best Chevy Traverse years to buy?
Chevy Traverse has made mistakes in the past, but do not be quick to conclude that they aren’t good. Its shortcomings do not immediately put it in the class of vehicles you should never purchase, as some model years will make you cherish your experience with the Traverse for a very long time.
If you want to buy a Chevy Traverse, here are some of the best model years worth every penny.
The first generation of Chevy Traverse came with too many troubles, but Chevy got their acts together after the 2012 model. These model years have the least complaints except the 2018 model, so we’ll take a look at a few of the best-rated Traverse model years.
2016 Chevy Traverse
The 2016 Chevy Traverse marked the end of an era of unreliable models plagued by engine issues and problems with transmission. It proved to be the most reliable option out of all the first-gen Traverse renderings with excellent reliability scores and less than 300 complaints submitted to NHTSA.
The only few problems with this model include A/C issues and some electrical problems, but there were no engine-related reports which is vital for choosing a decent and reliable model.
2020 Chevy Traverse
Other than the 2018 model, the 2019 Chevy Traverse also received some negative feedback from previous owners. However, the next 2020 model proved the critics wrong with great dependability and slim to no reports of any serious reliability issues, especially regarding the engine.
In fact, it mostly received positive reviews and submissions from current owners thanks to its low number of reported issues and less than 100 complaints made to NHTSA. There were some slight brake issues and problems with soy-based wiring which led to suspension-related issues, but as of the moment of writing this article, those reports are still pretty low in numbers.
Is the Chevy Traverse worth buying?
Yes, the Chevy Traverse is absolutely worth buying, as long as you avoid those with the most problems, especially those in the first generation, and look out for models in the best category or, at least, stick to the newer generation.
You are probably careful about spending your hard-earned money on an imperfect vehicle. For the most part, the Chevy Traverse is a luxurious, family-friendly, and capable vehicle for both highway and off-road conditions. In addition, Chevy does good work with its service history. They update their systems and resolve previous issues, which means that with good maintenance, the new generation models should be worth every penny.
You can get a good driving experience, a spacious cabin, premium tech, and infotainment. However, some models have many problems that can ruin your day. When buying a Chevy Traverse, be wary of the kind of model you get and avoid model years with the most concerns.
Nonetheless, with proper maintenance also, any vehicle can serve its course, and that includes the Chevy Traverse.
Wondering about those model years that might not be worth your time and money? Our detailed critiques of specific models, such as the GMC Acadia years to avoid, Buick Enclave years to avoid, and Volkswagen Atlas years to avoid, identify the years that could spell trouble. With our robust reviews at your side, you’re ready for car buying process, securing a vehicle that brings satisfaction and peace of mind.
What are the worst years for the Chevy Traverse?
The Chevy Traverse definitely had a hard start. Model years in the first generation have tons of cringe-worthy reports and low CR ratings. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eUnless you have lots of money to spend on car repairs or aspire to be a roadside technician, you should probably stay away from the Traverse’s first-generation models. But if you must, at least ensure it isn’t anything before the 2013 model year.
What’s the best year for a Chevy Traverse?
For a decent experience with the Chevy Traverse, anything before the 2013 model year shouldn’t get your attention. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eBesides the 2015 model year, which had a lot of drawbacks, and the 2018 models, which saw a redesign and launch into a new generation, every other model year following the 2012 model wouldn’t be a bad idea. If you do not want to take chances with the first-generation models, the second-generation model years will do just fine.
What year Traverse has transmission problems?
The early models had a series of complaints relating to transmission failures and engine issues, particularly the 2009 and 2016 model years. This issue has been worked on in newer Traverse models, and transmission issues remain a thing of the past.
Is the Chevy Traverse a reliable car?
The Chevy Traverse is one of the most reliable SUVs in its class. Although Chevy missed it with the early models, it still did not stop them from earning a good history in terms of reliability. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eModern Traverses are enhanced with plenty of tech and outstanding comfort features to help improve performance and functionality.