The Chevrolet Tahoe is Chevy’s full-size SUV much like its GMC counterpart, the Yukon. The model does have an interesting history.
In the 1980s, Chevrolet’s full-size SUV was called the Blazer. In 1983, the automaker created a smaller version and dubbed it the S-10 Blazer. It was only in 1994 when the Tahoe badge was slapped on the full-size SUV as a 1995 model year. The smaller SUV endured simply as the Blazer.
The Chevy Tahoe was initially marketed as a rugged full-size SUV. In 2000, the Chevy Tahoe started to transition into a more full-size, luxury performance role. It featured a body-on-frame construction and a more luxurious interior, after which today’s models are fashioned.
Unfortunately, it seems that ditching the ruggedized image coincided with the model years that had some pretty bad faults. The badge has endured over the years, but so did many of the problems that Tahoe owners have reported and complained about.
1 – Dashboard Cracking
The cracked dashboards plaguing the Chevy Tahoe models from 2007-2014 have been one of the most enduring problems with these Chevy models overall. Owners also argue these Chevy Tahoe problems would cause damage to the airbags and passenger airbag cover, leading to a complete failure or fragmented plastic, causing facial injuries from shards of the cracked dashboard. A class action lawsuit was filed in 2018, which, at the time of this writing, is still unresolved.
How to Fix: Many owners have taken their model years into automotive and body shops to rectify these problems, only to be told the damage would be somewhere around $1,800. Besides a full replacement, the only other option is purchasing a dashboard cover, which only provides a solution to the visual aspect of the issue.
2 – Excessive Oil Consumption
Another problem that led to a class-action lawsuit is the oil consumption issue on the Chevy Tahoe. Excessive oil consumption seems to have been a common General Motors problem. GM vehicles from 2011 through 2014 suffered from over-consumption of oil. Many complaints regarding this issue were submitted around the 50,000 to 80,000-mile mark, and it’s one of the most common problems – not just for the Tahoe but other Chevrolet and GMC models .
Symptoms included the check engine light coming on and noticeable oil loss when habitually checking the oil level through the dipstick. Mechanics point toward a piston or gasket seal problem causing these leaks, which could ultimately lead to engine failure or other engine issues.
How to Fix: These Chevy Tahoe problems cost owners somewhere around the tune of $3,000 – $4,000 and often required replacing the piston rings or the cylinder gasket.
3 – Cracked Cylinder
The 2005 model had many engine complaints, mostly with cracked cylinder heads. This component houses the intake and exhaust valves and can lead to warm air issues, leading to overheating, but no recall was issued.
How to Fix: Cracked cylinder heads can be repaired or reconditioned but it may not be cheap. Chevy Tahoe issues cost owners of this GM model anywhere between $2,400 and $2,600 to repair. Failure to address this problem leads to valve damage, which substantially increases the cost of repairs. Replacing the engine block part or even the whole engine from a donor can even be a more cost-effective option.
4 – 4WD Engaging Issues
The four wheel drive engaging issues mostly happened with the 2000 model. Most drivers reported the 4WD either not engaging at all or refusing to come out of 4WD mode after engaging. This problem is attributed to one of two areas: transmission issues or the transfer case.
How to Fix: The repair often involves fixing the faulty transmission part. If it’s a major transmission problem, the total cost of repairs can total into the thousands. However, if it’s just the transfer case or its parts (like the solenoid, actuator, or hoses), the bill is between $500 and $600.
5 – Sensor Faults
Two types of sensor faults plagued the 2005 through 2011 Tahoe models. The first is a temperature sensor, which leads to a lack of cold air that helps cool the engine, leading to overheating. These replacements are only about $40 and are easy to install.
Alternatively, the ABS speed sensors showing up on the instrument cluster signaled issues with the brakes when there were none present. This was actually a problem from 1995 all the way to 2012. In some models, however, problems with the entire ABS system and brake pedal were present, which led to multiple recalls on the sensors and the entire brake system.
How to Fix: Sensors are often diagnosed through error scanning. A faulty one should bring up an error code in the on-board diagnostics. However, because many automakers’ systems are proprietary, it’s best to see your local dealer and receive a proper diagnosis.
6 – Air-Conditioning Failure
The AC systems had issues in the 2005 models, which seemed to resurface with the 2016 edition as well. These were actually electrical system problems that led to the actuator door switch not opening properly, which led to a variety of symptoms, including:
- Hot air blowing that should be cool
- Cool air blowing that should be hot
- Inconsistent airflow
- A banging noise from the AC vents
The Tahoe’s AC system had multiple recalls between 1995 and 2017.
How to Fix: This is another issue left best diagnosed through the dealer or a qualified technician or mechanic because of the wide range of potential sources of the problem.
7 – Brake Failure
Aside from the ABS sensor issues mentioned above, the 2021 Tahoe had ABS system control module calibration problems. This led to a reduction in brake performance, a shaking of the steering wheel when attempting to stop, and other issues with these SUVs.
How to Fix: Since this involves Chevy’s proprietary system, a simple visit to the dealership should take care of this issue. Recall updates were issued for the problem. The model years affected should be well within warranty at the time of writing.
Runner Up Problems
These aren’t the only issues you have to be aware of.
- Busted interior lights
- Gas tank cap issues
- Faulty airbags and frontal airbags not deploying
- Sketchy door handles
- Malfunctioning seat belts/Seat belts sensor
- Additional electrical problems
The Tahoe: Newer Models May Be Your Best Bet
If you’ve been browsing the Tahoe or other SUVs, your best bet may be with the more recent generation of Tahoes. Early drivers didn’t experience as many problems with the Chevy Tahoe, but these years are much harder to come by.
Sticking with anything post-2017 should keep you in the clear from any major complaints regarding the engine, brakes, or other significant areas of the vehicle.