2018 GMC Acadia Top Complaints and Problems – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Transmission, electrical system, and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Owners looking for a mid-size SUV with seven-passenger seating often look at the 2018 GMC Acadia. It’s a luxury model that markets itself with the tagline, “Discover Comfort & Precision.” For the price, everyone expects that this model would go beyond comfortable and also be functional. Yet, the faulty electrical system, defective engine and malfunctioning powertrain leave customers quite disappointed.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2017

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Electrical System

The electrical system in any high-end SUV should have every amenity the driver could imagine. Even when it is fully equipped, all these technologies must work properly for maximum comfort. What Acadia owners find is that multiple aspects of the electrical system seem to fail and become a disappointment.

Just read this NHTSA review. “I purchased the wireless charger. I received the GM document stating what version of phone I needed for the charger to work. I purchased a phone and the charger does not work. The dealer researched the phone and there are only specific models manufactured in the same year that work for the charger. I have tested with five different model phones and only one worked. This option is a waste of money and not advertised appropriately nor do the GM brochures or website provide adequate information to notify the consumer of the issue.”

When looking through the long list of manufacturer communications, we see that electrical troubles seem to run rampant. While some of them deal strictly with comfort, there are some that put drivers in danger. For example, Service Bulletin #PIC6123E discusses how the adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist might not work after the information center sits in the sunlight or gets hot. The company wants owners to know that this is natural and to simply allow the unit to cool down before using it again. Hopefully, no one bought this vehicle that lives in Florida or Arizona. Otherwise, they might spend a lot of time waiting instead of driving.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 GMC Acadia Electrical Problems

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 GMC ACADIA. WHEN THE CONTACT TURNED OFF THE VEHICLE AND REMOVED THE KEY FROM THE IGNITION, THE VEHICLE’S WARNING SENSOR WENT OFF, THE RADIO REMAINED ON, AND THE AUTOMATIC DOOR LOCKS FAILED. AS A RESULT, THE CONTACT WAS UNABLE TO LOCK THE VEHICLE. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO GREAT LAKES GMC BUICK WHERE IT WAS DIAGNOSED THAT THERE WAS A SENSOR FAILURE; HOWEVER, THE REMEDY WAS NOT AVAILABLE DUE TO A SHORTAGE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOT NOTIFIED. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 21,000.

Engine – Shift To Park Error

Everyone expects the engine on a high-end SUV to work properly. It’s needed to get the kids to school and head to work every day. When the engine doesn’t operate correctly, nothing seems to go well.

Look at this NHTSA review talking specifically about trouble with the engine. “Shift to Park error 90% of the time when I attempt to shut the vehicle off. It is in park and it’s not recognized as being in Park. It can take me anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes to jiggle it the right way to get it to register. Problem is until it does register in Park I can’t secure the vehicle. And it dings nonstop draining the battery. I understand GM is aware of the issue and doesn’t have a fix. It needs a new transmission in my opinion. I’m stuck in a lease paying for a car that isn’t safe for me. It just started 6 days ago and has already occurred more than 2 dozen occasions.”

While this complaint is prevalent among all forums, there are other engine issues happening. Even GM acknowledges multiple problems including Service Bulletin #PIP5486D, which discusses a rattling, knocking or ticking noise. It might also lead to misfiring. The cause is a spongy stationary hydraulic lash adjuster or a damaged switching roller finger follower. They also state that the noises can be heard constantly or under extreme loads. It’s possible that these unusual sounds might keep the owners occupied as they spend time trying to get their SUV into Park.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 GMC Acadia Engine Problems

WHENEVER I SHIFT FROM DRIVER OR REVERSE INTO PARK MY CAR ISN?T REGISTERING THAT I SHIFTED TO PARK AND IF GIVING ME THE MESSAGE OF ? SHIFT TO PARK?. I HAD TO SHIFT FROM DRIVE TO PARK AT LEAST 4 TIMES TO BE ABLE TO GET MY CAR TO RECOGNIZE THAT MY CAR WAS IN PARK AND SO I COULD TURN OFF MY CAR.

FOR PAST MONTH…STATIONARY, EVERY SINGLE DAY & TIME I TURN MY IGNITION OFF. IT HAS LOUD BEEPING SOUND & CHECK REAR SEAT FLASHING ON SCREEN THEN SHIFT INTO PARK FLASHES. THIS OCCURS EVERY SINGLE TIME I TURN MY CAR OFF. SOMETIMES I HAVE TO JUST LET IT GO ON ALL DAY BECAUSE I CAN’T GET IT STOP. I TURN CAR ON & OFF SHIFT BACK & FORTH & IT STILL WILL NOT GO OFF. SOMETIMES IT DOES AFTER LONG PERIODS OF TIME. I DON’T HAVE TIME TO STRUGGLE WITH GETTING A CAR INTO PARK EVERY SINGLE TIME I TURN MY IGNITION OFF. I HAVE TO BEAT IT FORWARD HARD WITH MY HAND TO THE POINT MY WRIST IS BRUISED. NOW I HAVE TO USE MY FOOT TO KICK GEAR SHIFTER INTO PARK. I’M AFRAID T’S GOING TO ROLL OUT & OR DOWN AND HIT SOMETHING, SOMEONE OR EVEN ONE OF MY CHILDREN. WHICH WOULD NOT BE GOOD. I’VE SEEN SEVERAL OF SAME COMPLAINTS. THIS REALLY NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED & RECALLED ASAP. MY ELDERLY MOTHER HAD TO CALL MY BROTHER TO ANOTHER PART OF TOWN TO BEAT THE GEAR SHIFT INTO PARK. THIS CAR WAS BRAND NEW & I SHOULDN’T HAVE ANY OF THE ABOVE MENTIONED ISSUES. IT’S FRUSTRATING THINKING GMC WAS TOP OF THE LINE & IT’S NOT.

Powertrain

Hand in hand with the engine is the powertrain. These two systems are the heart of all the mechanics happening under the hood. Sadly, the Acadia can’t seem to get this right either.

Just look at this Edmunds review from an owner. “My transmission has been having issues when shifting from 2nd to 3rd. I took it to the dealership immediately after noticing. They say it’s not throwing codes so they have no idea what is wrong with it. The vehicle has been to the dealership six times so far and it will be going back again tomorrow. They can’t seem to fix the problem. They say they don’t know what is wrong with it. The last time they had it they said they replaced the transmission module and found a bad motor mount. They said the transmission fluid was dark so they realized they did have a problem, just as I have been saying for a month now. Well I got the car back yesterday and noticed it is doing the same exact thing but a little worse now. A lot worse. I called GMC and opened up a case with them a couple of weeks ago when the dealership was unable to fix my car. Well GMC will NOT return my calls.”

GMC went beyond just discussing drivetrain problems and went ahead with a recall. While it’s not directly related to the transmission, NHTSA Campaign Number 17V516000 talks about the right front intermediate driveshaft fracturing and separating while owners are driving. When this happens, the SUV loses propulsion and might lead to a crash. If it happens while parked, the vehicle might roll away. After hearing about all the problems this vehicle has, it’s possible that some owners wish it would just roll away.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 GMC Acadia Transmission Problems

WHILE STATIONARY, INSTRUMENTS SHOW A SHIFT TO PARK MESSAGE, EVEN THOUGH THE CAR WAS IN PARK. ACADIA WOULD NOT FULLY TURN OFF UNTIL THIS MESSAGE IS NOT PRESENT. THE ONLY WAY FOUND TO HAVE THE MESSAGE CLEAR IS TO CONTINUALLY SHIFT FROM DRIVE TO PARK UNTIL IT RECOGNIZES THAT THE CAR IS INDEED IN PARK. THIS HAPPENS REPEATEDLY – 8 OUT OF 10 TIMES I DRIVE MY CAR.

Service Brakes

While discussing rolling away SUVs, it makes sense to move onto the service brakes. This system must operate correctly to keep the vehicle where it belongs.

Check out this NHTSA statement which illustrates how defective the brakes are on the Acadia. “The contact rented a 2018 GMC Acadia. While the contact’s friend was driving 40 mph, the engine revved and the vehicle accelerated on its own. The brakes failed to stop the vehicle. As a result, the vehicle drove through a partition and crashed into a brick wall. The air bags deployed. All four occupants in the vehicle were injured and received medical attention. The contact suffered chest pain, another occupant sustained a cut on the head and the other two occupants suffered fractures. A police report was filed. The dealer and manufacturer were not contacted. The cause of the failure was not determined.”

This situation has gone ignored by the automaker. Instead, they use their communication to discuss things trivial, such as Service Bulletin #17NA217. It talks about applying grease to the shims of the front brake pads to reduce squealing noise. If only they could come up with a solution to get the vehicle to stop, owners would be much happier. It doesn’t help to have quiet brakes if they don’t work.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 GMC Acadia Brake Problems

IN MOTION ON THE HIGHWAY 401 NORTH ONTARIO CANADA, THE VEHICLE ERRATICALLY INCREASED SPEED AND BRAKES WERE NOIR EFFECTIVE, LOST CONTROL OF THE STEERING WHEEL WHICH CAUSED A MASSIVE ACCIDENT INVOLVING MULTIPLE CARS AND RESULTED IN MULTIPLE INJURIES. 

Electronic Stability Control – Stabilitrak System

Modern vehicles use sophisticated stability control systems to keep the ride comfortable. When this malfunctions, it creates numerous safety concerns that must be dealt with.

One NHTSA user discusses this problem in detail. “The Service Stabiltrak notification keeps coming on and shutting off on its own while in motion on a street and it has also happened while on the highway. It has occurred at different speeds and several times with different people driving. The dealership can’t figure out why and it doesn’t show it even came on at all. When in motion on a street going 46 mph, the car tried to auto correct pulling me out of my lane by itself. It was a straight street with no curves where this occurred.”

Unfortunately, the company hasn’t addressed any problems with their Stabilitrak System. They decided it was time to ignore the complaints and pretend that nothing is wrong. Clearly, they don’t want to draw attention to one more problem in their premium SUV. Otherwise, customers might just opt for the lower cost Chevrolet Traverse and keep some additional money in their pockets.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 GMC Acadia Stabilitrak Problems

ON SEPARATE OCCASIONS, BOTH PARKED TURNED OFF AND RUNNING DOWN HIGHWAY, THE DASH LIGHTS LIT UP AND ALARMS CHIMED. CAR WOULDN’T START, NO COLD A/C. THE “SERVICE POWER STEERING” MESSAGE DISPLAYED. CAR DIDN’T TURN AS WELL. COULDN’T SHIFT. AFTER DOING SO FOR A ABOUT 2-3 MINUTES IT WOULD GO BACK TO NORMAL. THE ATTACHED PHOTO WAS WHILE DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD YOU’LL NOTICE IT DOESN’T MEASURE ANY RPM’S HOWEVER THE CAR IS MOVING ABOUT 40MPH

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