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Best & Worst Years of GMC Sierra 1500 – Graphs & Owner Surveys

Unsurprisingly, the best year of the GMC Sierra 1500 is a newer model year, the 2021. However, we also include the 2004, 2011-2012, and 2016-2018 in the best years category. That said, you’ll want to steer clear of the worst years of the Sierra 1500: 2001-2003, 2005-2006, 2007-2010, 2013, 2014-2015, and 2019-2020

GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 - Off-Road Truck at a parking lot

Since the debut of the 1988 model, the GMC Sierra 1500 frequently takes a backseat to the better-selling Chevrolet Silverado, a near clone of GMC’s pickup. Many people prefer the Sierra to its corporate cousin, perhaps to be a bit different. And, of course, this GMC takes on the venerable Ford F-150, RAM 1500, Toyota Tundra, and Nissan Titan.

Whether you’re searching for a second-hand Sierra 1500 or already own one, it’s vital to know the good years from the bad ones. These details can help you avoid an expensive mistake or at least prepare you for what might be ahead. 

We thoroughly reviewed the data from the thousands of GMC Sierra models with the FIXD Sensor installed to separate the best and worst years. This information is used to create the FIXD Reliability Score for this vehicle.

Meanwhile, FIXD surveyed many of these Sierra owners to learn more about their experiences with these trucks. Respondents shared their perceptions, including dealings with dependability and specific trouble areas. The Owner Reliability Score is the net result of this information.

Additionally, we reviewed published sources to determine details about crash tests, fuel economy, and resale values. 

Here’s an at-a-glance look at the best and worst years of the GMC Sierra 1500. Continue reading to see how we came to these conclusions. 

Best Years Why? Worst Years Why?

Stellar engine and owner reliability scores, low maintenance costs

See 2021 GMC Sierras for sale >>


First years of the fifth  generation (2011), higher chance of engine and transmission repairs

See 2019-2020 GMC Sierras for sale >>


Strong owner reliability and crash test ratings, lower chance of engine and transmission repairs

See 2016-2018 GMC Sierras for sale >>


First years of the fourth generation, high number of recalls

See 2014-2015 GMC Sierras for sale >>


Acceptable engine reliability, strong owner reliability scores

See 2011-2012 GMC Sierras for sale >>

2007-2010, 2013

First year of 3rd generation (2007), mediocre or worse engine reliability, and likelihood of engine and transmission repairs.

See 2007-2010 GMC Sierras for sale >>


Low probability of expensive engine repairs, decent crash test result

See 2004 GMC Sierras for sale >>

2001-2003, 2005-2006

Low engine reliability scores, sub-par safety testing, and  higher chance of transmission repairs

See 2001-2003 and 2005-2006 GMC Sierras for sale >>

GMC Sierra 1500 Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings & MPG Year by Year

There’s much to consider when identifying the best GMC Sierra 1500 model years. The priority is placed on engine reliability, government crash test rating, fuel economy, and how market value and annual repair costs relate. 

If you’re in the market for a vehicle, look at our article on the USA’s most reliable and cheapest to repair cars in the U.S. Don’t get stuck with a lemon; use our data to help you shop.

GMC Sierra 1500 Reliability Score

The first thing you’ll notice in this vehicle reliability graph is the gap between the FIXD Reliability Score (green line) and the Owner Reliability Score (gray line). This is normal because the FIXD Reliability Score comes from objective engine data, while the Owner Reliability Score is more subjective and reflects perceptions rather than hard facts.  

The owner’s survey includes a question asking how reliable their Sierra is for trips of varying lengths. A basic point A to point B trip ranked lowest, with daily commutes, long-distance driving, and cross-country road trips rated higher. The longer an owner believed their truck could travel, the greater the score. A score of 1 is at the bottom of the scale, with 10 being the best possible ranking. 5 is average. 

The FIXD Reliability Score is determined by the amount of check engine lights occurring in GMC Sierra 1500s with the FIXD sensor. It also uses a 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) scale. The FIXD Reliability Score comes from the average number of check engine lights generated annually for each model year and then it is weighted by mileage. 

You’ll want to look at both scores for a complete picture of GMC Sierra reliability. For instance, truck owners tend to be loyal to their rides, and the Sierra is no different. In fact, this GMC is one of the few vehicles we’ve assessed that doesn’t rank below a 7 in the Owner Reliability Score for any model year in the 21st century. Owners of the Sierra hold it in high regard, even the older models. This is surprising as there’s a large amount of check engine lights in the older models according to the FIXD Reliability score. The owners’ love of their truck may be what is fueling their greater acceptance for the increased amount of check engine lights they experience. If you only take into account the Owner Reliability score and not the FIXD Reliability, you may buy an older car that has a much less reliable engine than a newer model year and spend just as much as you would have on the newer model due to engine repairs.

While there are differences between the two scores for most model years, you’ll see some similarities in upward and downward trends (for each year). And often, parallel trends help us identify the best and worst years. At the same time, some stark differences, like the plunging FIXD Reliability Score for the 2013 GMC, offer caution that’s incorporated into our recommendations. 

To learn more about check engine lights, read our article on GMC check engine lights. You’ll learn about the most common causes for these warnings to appear in a GMC Sierra 1500 (based on FIXD App data).

NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years

GMC Sierra 1500 Safety Rating

Don’t assume that bulk equals protection. The graph reveals that older Sierra models (2001-2006) perform poorly in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). These particular scores, as low as 3.5 (out of 5.0), put these Sierra models behind the competition (the gray line).

However, by 2007, the Sierra’s performance in government safety testing improves significantly. Safety scores don’t fall below 4.4, and this GMC pickup offers class-leading crash protection for all subsequent years except 2019. That can be a strong selling point, particularly for the 22% of surveyed Sierra owners who use their trucks to transport family members. 

Excellent crash test results are a significant part of reducing insurance costs, so considering safety testing during car buying can pay off. 

If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours.

What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:
North Carolina
New York

MPG – Over The Years

GMC Sierra 1500 Average MPG

While the GMC Sierra has many strong points, fuel economy is not one of them. People buy these trucks for many other reasons (which we cover below), so dealing with sub-par mileage is a necessary evil. GMC did offer a hybrid engine option for a few years (the gray lines), but the modest increase in fuel economy never offset the extra cost. Sierra models with the hybrid setup never sold well as a result. 

Average fuel economy gradually improved to 18 mpg starting in 2014, thanks to a new platform and improved engine technology (curiously, the average fuel economy for the 2021 and 2022 models dipped to 17 mpg). Fuel economy ratings are based on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the fueleconomy.gov website.  

Would-be and current Sierra 1500 owners can take comfort in knowing that this truck can hold its own in the MPG department against key competitors. 

  GMC Sierra 1500 Ford F-150 RAM 1500
2007 16 MPG 15 MPG 15 MPG
2014 18 MPG 17 MPG 18 MPG
2019 18 MPG 19 MPG 19 MPG

Current Market Value of All GMC Sierra 1500 Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each

GMC Sierra Current Market Value vs Cost of Repairs

The average cost to maintain and repair a 21st-century GMC Sierra is $683 annually. But, owners report some eye-popping exceptions that are significantly higher. For instance, the 2001 Sierra requires an average annual outlay of $1,083 to keep this truck running. The 2003 edition is nearly as bad, with a yearly upkeep expenditure of $1,025.

Of course, there are exceptions in the other direction. The 2007 Sierra costs $500 each year to maintain and repair, and the 2016 model is slightly more expensive to keep at $525. What’s the cheapest GMC Sierra to keep running? The 2019 model is at $250. This comes as no surprise as it’s still relatively new. Maintenance and repair costs will likely increase as brake pads, tires, and other consumable parts need replacement. 

Let’s look at the average annual maintenance and repair expenses for the GMC Sierra by generation.

GMC Sierra Generation Years Average Annual Upkeep
Second 2001-2006* $810
Third 2007-2013 $656
Fourth 2014-2018 $760
Fifth 2019-2021^ $367

* The second generation entered production for the 1999 model year

^ The fifth generation is still in production as of May 2023

Seeing the second-generation Sierra as the most expensive to maintain won’t surprise anyone. These are two-decade-old vehicles; key systems like the catalytic converter can fail. The fourth generation also has above-average upkeep expenses, but brakes and tires don’t last forever, especially as these trucks approach a decade of use. 

GMC fans can take comfort in knowing that the average Sierra annual upkeep ($683) is similar to what it costs to own a Ford F-150 ($653). 

High annual expenses can negatively impact resale value, but that doesn’t apply to the GMC Sierra. Despite a few anomalies, Sierra resale value is predictable and increases with newness;  just as it should. 

The graph reveals an uncharacteristic uptick in the value of the 2007 Sierra. This is likely due to 125,000 miles of average reported mileage and is low compared to the adjacent model years. The 2006 Sierra comes in with 179,000 miles of typical usage, while the 2007 has 167,000 miles. For whatever reason, surveyed owners of the 2007 model year drive less.

When shopping for a used GMC Sierra, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!

Important Features Timeline

GMC Sierra Timeline of Important Features

1996: 1st generation Sierra continues with new Vortec family of engines

1997: Passenger side airbag added to most versions, improved automatic transmission debuts

1998: Diesel engines get more horsepower and torque

1999: All-new second-generation Sierra launches

2000: Fourth door added to the extended cab, towing capacity increased

2001: A sporty C3 variant with AWD and 325 HP is introduced

2002: The C3 gets renamed as the Denali and gets four-wheel steering

2003: Updates include a new front end and updated dashboard

2004: A new light-duty crew cab model is introduced.

2005: Denali trim loses four-wheel steering and is now crew cab only; a hybrid option appears

2006: Minor front-end updates, a 345 HP 6.0-liter V8 becomes available

2007: All-new third-generation Sierra debuts

2008: No major changes; satellite radio is standard equipment

2009: A new 403 HP 6.2-liter V8 is available on most trims

2010: A six-speed automatic transmission improves fuel economy

2011: No major changes other than updates to the OnStar system

2012: Heated and cooled front seats are available on high-end trims

2013: No major changes

2014: All-new fourth-generation Sierra launches

2015: The Denali gets magnetic ride control

2016: Front-end updates, including LED headlights on most trims

2017: No major changes, low-speed automatic braking becomes available

2018: A 7-inch touchscreen and rearview camera become standard

2019: New fifth-generation debuts with longer and lighter platform

2020: New six-cylinder turbodiesel is optional; adaptive cruise control is available

2021: Advanced driver aids available on all trims

Best Years of the GMC Sierra 1500

GMC logo on the grille of a Sierra 1500 truck.

Our choices for the best GMC Sierra 1500 model years are based on FIXD Reliability Scores, Owner Reliability Scores, NHTSA crash test rankings, and EPA fuel economy. The selections also consider common diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and NHTSA recall information.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500

FIXD Reliability Score: 10/10

Owner Reliability Score: 10/10

KBB Value: $30,294

Fuel Economy: 17 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $350

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 88%

Safety Rating: 4.6/5

If the wallet permits, saying no to a late-model vehicle is hard. Such is the case with the 2021 Sierra. Importantly, the earlier examples (2019-2020) from the fifth generation didn’t make the cut. We explain that later, but generally, we strongly advise skipping the first year or two of an all-new model. 

However, the 2021 edition works out the gremlins. This is evidenced by top rankings (10 out of 10) with the FIXD Reliability Score and Ownership Reliability Score. Yes, you pay a pretty penny for a 2021 Sierra. Expect to shell out $35,000 to $40,000 (or more) as the KBB pricing we reference reflects private-party transactions. 

But, for that amount, you’ll likely come across examples with some remaining powertrain warranty (5 years or 60,000 miles) if not covered under the original bumper-to-bumper warranty (3 years or 36,000 miles). GMC also offers a certified pre-owned (CPO) program, which adds an extra six months or 6,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection to any remaining factory warranty

The 88% likelihood of needing expensive repairs ($500 or more) isn’t appealing, but the typical 2021 Sierra has 35,000 miles of use (according to owner surveys). That means upkeep primarily involves tires and brake pads, something to remember while truck shopping.

Given the newness of the 2021 Sierra, there aren’t many problems that can be tracked by check engine light incidents (DTC trouble codes). Of these, we’re looking at a few dozen reports of the DTC P2C7A and P25A2 (out of thousands of Sierra 1500s with the FIXD sensor). 

Code P2C7A is associated with the emissions systems and can arise if there’s a leak detected in the exhaust system. If not covered by a warranty, leak detection repair usually costs $150-$200.  Code P25A2 indicates a problem with the brake system control module. Basic diagnostic services to trace the issue might run $150, but repairs could be as simple as securing a loose wire or reprogramming the module. GMC did issue a dealer advisor (called a Technical Service Bulletin) for this problem, so it’s possible repairs related to code P25A2 may be covered by the manufacturer.

The 2021’s reported $500+ repairs have a somewhat elevated chance (about 12%) of being related to the engine or transmission, so it’s a good idea to have any truck under consideration inspected by a mechanic.

Based on owner surveys, 29% of those with a 2021 Sierra are confident their truck will make it 200,000 miles. Another 24% appreciate the Sierra’s excellent driver visibility. Dislikes are few, but every responding owner thought the Sierra needed more interior storage. 

Interestingly, 40% of owners use their 2021 Sierras for sport or fast driving. Another 20% rely on their GMC for family hauling duties. Outdoor-off-road usage also came in at 20%. 10% reported using their 2021 Sierra for either travel/commuting or as an office on wheels. 

A 4.6 (out of 5) in NHTSA crash testing gives the 2021 Sierra an edge over the competition and offers an appealing point for this truck. Owners can feel confident getting behind the wheel of this GMC. The level of recalls for the 2021 Sierra are modest, too, with the issues involving tires and seatbelts. Be sure to use the NHTSA recall checker website to determine if there’s an active recall for any vehicle you’re thinking about buying. 

Data is minimal for the 2022 and 2023 model years, so we’ll hold off on judging (good or bad) these examples.

2016-2018 GMC Sierra 1500

The front end of a white 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT 4WD

FIXD Reliability Score: 6-9/10

Owner Reliability Score: 9-10/10

KBB Value: $15,849-$20,790

Fuel Economy: 18 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $525-$821

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 83%-93%

Safety Rating: 4.8/5

Let’s be upfront; no used truck is perfect. But, 2016-2018 GMC Sierra 1500s strike a good balance between price (under $30,000) and dependability. Sure, a FIXD Reliability Score of 6 (out of 10) for the 2016 and 2017 editions isn’t great, but the trade-off is finding a decent truck for less than $25,000. 

At the same time, those that already own these pickups have high confidence in being able to travel far distances with their Sierras. The Owner Reliability Score of 9-10 (out of 10) is notable. 

Significantly, recalls for this grouping are way down (nine for the 2016 edition) from the first years (2014-2015) of the fourth-generation Sierras. For instance, the 2015 model year incurred 20 manufacturer recalls

Like with the 2021 Sierra, there’s a somewhat elevated chance of expensive engine repairs with the 2016-2018 model years. For example, owner surveys uncovered a 16.7% chance of pricey engine work for the 2017 and a 9% probability of the transmission needing repairs in the 2018 edition. These Sierras average about 72,000 miles of use, so issues can be expected. 

Looking at common DTC codes for the 2016-2018 Sierra reveals that P0300 is known to appear. This signals an engine misfire, which can be a severe problem. A fix can be as basic as a spark plug change (cost: $58-$167) or something more elaborate, like a new catalytic converter (cost: $1,538-$2,041).

P0700, an issue with the transmission control module, can also occur with these Sierra model years. Outside of warranty coverage, repairs can be expensive, ranging from $2,528 to $3,045. Another frequent DTC code that can surface is P0446, which indicates a problem with the evaporative emission control (EVAP) system vent control circuit. A new gas cap (cost: $20-$60) could correct the problem, or a new valve may be necessary (cost: $150-$200).

Compared to the 2021 model year, fewer owners (21%) of these Sierras expect their trucks to last to 200,000. However, this can be expected given these pickups are older. There’s also an appreciation for the Sierra’s good driver visibility (20%) and the easy-to-use entertainment system (14%). 15% of owners from this group believed their Sierra wouldn’t make it to 200,000, which is interesting because, on average, these trucks have accumulated only 72,000 miles. Meanwhile, 69% of respondents thought the pickup could use more storage space in the cabin.

The most likely use for these Sierras are family transportation (25%), sport/fast driving (24%), and travel/commuting (23%).

In terms of safety, the 2016-2018 Sierras deserve bonus points for scoring an impressive 4.8 (out of 5) during NHTSA crash tests. 

2011-2012 GMC Sierra 1500

FIXD Reliability Score: 6-7/10

Owner Reliability Score: 8-10/10

KBB Value: $7,400-$9,605

Fuel Economy: 16 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $607-$855

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 83%-86%

Safety Rating: 4.4-4.6/5

Having less than $15,000 to spend on pickup may require resetting expectations, but you could do worse than the 2011-2012 Sierra 1500. FIXD Reliability Scores (6-7 out of 10) are better than average, and owners give a thumbs up (Owner Reliability Score of 8-10 out of 10). 

There’s an elevated chance of pricey engine repairs (16.7% for the 2011 model year) and transmission work (10% for the 2012 edition), but that comes with the territory. After all, these trucks are more than a decade old and have an average of 145,000 miles.

Like with newer Sierra 1500s, DTC codes P0300 and P0446 can surface. In addition, there are other error messages that owners of 2011-2012 Sierras may encounter. P0171, a mass airflow (MAF) sensor malfunction, could require a cleaning (cost: $20-$100) or repairing a vacuum leak (cost: $100-$200). Replacing the MAF sensor runs $230-$300. 

P0442 indicates a leak in the EVAP system. So, things could get fixed just by tightening or replacing the gas cap. Otherwise, a valve or the EVAP line might need replacement (cost: $50-$100). In more severe situations, you’ll need a new EVAP canister at a cost of $200-$600.

Likewise, another EVAP-related problem can arise (P0455) and require similar repairs. 

Despite high mileage and age, 20% of owners from this grouping of Sierras believe their rides will make it to 200,000 miles. That’s almost identical to the 21% of owners of the 2016-2018 Sierra who felt the same way. That’s encouraging. 

Like with the new Sierras on our best list, most owners drive their 2011-2012 model years for travel/commuting (28%) or family purposes (28%). Yet, 24% report they use their Sierra for sport/fast driving. 

Those behind the wheel of a 2011-2012 Sierra can feel confident about safety as these trucks scored well in government testing (2011 = 4.4, 2012 = 4.6). 

And give the 2012 model year kudos for having fewer recalls (2 to 5, depending on the trim) than any other 21st-century Sierra. 

2004 GMC Sierra 1500

FIXD Reliability Score: 3/10

Owner Reliability Score: 7/10

KBB Value: $3,219

Fuel Economy: 15 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $714

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 100%

Safety Rating: 4.0/5

Let’s be upfront. The 2004 is far from flawless, but there’s no better choice if you’ve got less than $10,000 and want to buy a full-sized GMC pickup. Sure, a FIXD Reliability Score of 3 can be worrisome, but there’s that pesky budget thing. At least it’s a better ranking than most other second-generation model years. To put this into perspective, we’ll call the 2004 Sierra 1500 the least-best example to buy. 

However, an Owner Reliability Score of 7 is encouraging. Keep in mind, these trucks (from the 2004 model year) have an average mileage of 225,000 miles. And there’s something else that stands out. According to owner surveys, there’s a 0% chance of the 2004 Sierra needing expensive engine work. That’s remarkable for something that’s been used for two decades. And a 10% probability of this GMC requiring transmission work is still relatively low given the truck’s age.

Yes, there’s a 100% likelihood of this truck needing expensive work at some point, but that could apply to tires, brakes, or something substantial (besides the engine).

Reading the earlier Sierra recommendations, you’ll recognize familiar DTC codes for the 2004 model year. These include P0171 (MAF sensor), P0300 (engine misfire), and P0446 and P0455 (EVAP system). 

Other codes can appear, including P0101, which signals a MAF circuit issue. This can often be corrected by replacing the air filter, but repairs can also require a new MAF sensor or catalytic converter. Code P0174 is also shared with the 2004 Sierra. It indicates that Bank 2 of the engine is getting too much air or insufficient fuel. There can be multiple causes for this situation, including a vacuum leak or a malfunctioning MAF sensor. Sometimes, this problem is corrected with a new fuel pressure regulator (cost: $200-$400) or a replacement fuel pump (cost: $1,300-$1,700). 

The 2004 Sierra gets a split decision from owners regarding longevity. 14% say their truck will make it 200,000 miles (or already has), while 17% believe their Sierra will never make it that far. Curious about the most frequent use for a 2004 Sierra? According to owners, 29% get behind the wheel for sport/fast driving, while 21% use their pickup for either travel/commuting or family transportation. 

A 4.0 (out of 5) in NHTSA crash testing isn’t great compared to the newer Sierra 1500s, but it’s the best among the second-generation—another reason we give this Sierra the least-best status among our buy recommendations. 

The Worst Years of the GMC Sierra 1500

Old pickup truck GMC Sierra 1500 in a city street.

Now that we’ve covered the best years of the GMC Sierra 1500, it’s time to look at the worst examples. This determination comes from a review of the FIXD Reliability Score, Owner Reliability Score, and other vital measures. In simple terms, stay away from these GMC Sierra model years. And study this information if you already own a Sierra on this side of the list. 

2019-2020 GMC Sierra 1500

FIXD Reliability Score: 8/10

Owner Reliability Score: 9/10

KBB Value: $24,937-$28,743

Fuel Economy: 18 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250-$500

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 71%-100%

Safety Rating: 4.4-4.6/5

Why would we recommend not buying a practically-new GMC Sierra from the 2019 and 2020 model years? Because purchasing the first year or two of an all-new vehicle is usually a bad idea. Manufacturers are more interested in getting a new design to market than massaging it into perfection. 

The data also backs up these assumptions with the initial model years of the fifth-generation Sierra. To begin with, a practically new truck should not be generating check engine lights. The Fixed Reliability Score shows these GMCs have a score of 8. By itself, this is a respectable number. But that’s not the case for vehicles probably still under factory warranty.

Likewise, owners give these Sierras a score of 9. Again, these are almost-new trucks that should be flawless in the mind of their owners. The 2021 Sierra (which made our best list) shows a perfect 10 out of 10 for both rankings. 

There are other troubling indicators. There’s a 28.6% chance of a 2020 Sierra needing expensive engine repairs, while the 2019 version has an almost 15% likelihood of getting transmission work. That’s a high occurrence for something so new. 

While there aren’t many DTC codes for these Sierras, P25A2 (like with the 2021 model year) can occur, which warns of a problem with the brake system control module. 

In addition, these Sierras are prone to communication issues with the engine and powertrain control modules (U0100) and the transmission control module (U0101). This can involve replacing the battery at a cost of up to $496 (although this could be a warranty repair, if applicable).

On the plus side, the 2019-2020 gets reasonable gas mileage (18 MPG). But fewer trips to the pump hardly make up for potential problems. 

2014-2015 GMC Sierra 1500

FIXD Reliability Score: 6-7/10

Owner Reliability Score: 8-10/10

KBB Value: $11,145-$11,639

Fuel Economy: 16 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $797-956

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 78%-85%

Safety Rating: 4.6-4.8/5

Remember what we said about avoiding the initial model years of a new vehicle? Well, that’s what’s happening with the 2014-2015 Sierra 1500s. They are among the most recalled Sierras ever built. 

If 21 recalls for 2014 and 20 for 2015 don’t hint at more significant problems, then a high probability of expensive engine repairs will. That means a 15% chase of the 2014 Sierra and a 22% likelihood of the 2015 Sierra heading to the shop for engine work. These numbers drop substantially with newer fourth-generation examples (which is why the 2016-2018 versions get a thumbs up).

Equally as worrying are the high costs of maintenance and repairs. That results in an annual outlay of $797 for the 2014 Sierra and $956 for the 2015 model year. You’re much better off spending more upfront for a newer truck to gain improved reliability. 

Predictably, there’s no escape from the trouble codes we’ve already covered, including P0171, P0174, P0300, P0446, and P0455. However, what’s worse is the high frequency of DTC P0420 in analyzed Sierras via the FIXD sensor. This code indicates a problem with the catalytic converter, which usually requires replacement. 

Catalytic converters don’t last forever, but they should do better than go bad after less than a decade. And these are vehicles with an average of 125,000 miles. That’s moderately high but not unusual. 

2007-2010, 2013 GMC Sierra 1500

FIXD Reliability Score: 1-5/10

Owner Reliability Score: 8-10/10

KBB Value: $5,615-$11,048

Fuel Economy: 16 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $450-$833

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 75%-100%

Safety Rating: 4.5-4.6/5

Not all examples of the third-generation GMC Sierra are bad (the 2011-2012 model years are on our best list). But there are ones (2007-2010 and 2013) to avoid. While they enjoy noteworthy Owner Reliability Scores, other factors push these rankings aside. Let’s start with terrible FIXD Reliability Scores for the 2007 Sierra (1 out 10) and 2013 Sierra (2). Plus, a strong chance of expensive repairs should scare away prospective buyers. 

There’s a 33% likelihood of the 2007 Sierra needing expensive ($500+) transmission work. Equally as troubling is the one-in-four chance that a 2008 or 2009 Sierra will require costly ($500+) engine work. These are unacceptable odds, except for those with an unlimited bank account.

This grouping of Sierra 1500s has its share of DTC codes, including many of the ones already covered. But, others appear, including P0430, which signals catalytic converter problems and an expensive replacement ahead. 

These owners may also notice code P0305 and the engine misfires accompanying this warning. Repairs could involve new spark plugs or a vacuum leak. However, corrections could also require a new fuel pump or replacement fuel injectors (cost: $1,500-$1,900).

2001-2003, 2005-2006 GMC Sierra 1500

FIXD Reliability Score: 1-4/10

Owner Reliability Score: 7-8/10

KBB Value: $3,169-$3,987

Fuel Economy: 15 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $583-$1,083

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 71%-100%

Safety Rating: 3.5-3.8/5

Finding a good apple in a barrel of rotten ones is possible. That’s why we put the 2004 Sierra on our OK-to-buy list, but all the other model years of the second generation (2001-2003, 2005-2006) should be avoided unless you’re getting one for free. And then be ready to junk it when the first expensive repair hits. 

If a FIXD Reliability Score of 1 for the 2003, 2005, and 2006 Sierras doesn’t cause you to look for other truck options, then high annual upkeep costs should do the trick. Owners of the 2001 and 2003 model years can expect to pay more than $1,000 yearly for maintenance and repairs. 

Let’s highlight other areas of concern, like the 20% chance that the 2002 Sierra will need ($500+) engine repairs and the 20% chance of expensive transmission repairs. Headaches could also be in store for the owner of a 2001 Sierra, as these trucks have a 20% probability of transmission troubles that require a $500 or greater repair. 

And to put the final nail in the coffin of this Sierra grouping, we’ll mention the worst crash test scores among all 21st-century Sierras. During NHTSA testing, the 2001-2003 editions rated a 3.5 (out of 5), while the 2005 eked out a measly 3.8. 


What years of the GMC Sierra 1500 have engine and/or transmission problems?

2002, 2008, 2009, 2017, and 2020 mark the Sierra model years with the most likely probability of having engine problems that cost $500 or more to repair. Meanwhile, the 2001, 2002, and 2007 editions have the greatest chance of expensive-to-fix transmission troubles. 

What is considered high mileage for a GMC Sierra?

Pickup trucks serve many functions, and with these different uses comes varying degrees of mileage. So, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact threshold for when a Sierra is considered a high-mileage vehicle. 

Owner surveys show that many Sierras have 200,000 or more miles. This achievement usually occurs thanks to regular maintenance and thoughtful driving. There are also Sierras out there with 100,000 miles that are on their last legs. The data shows that the typical Sierra among all the model years we analyzed (2001-2021) has an average of 150,000 miles. 

That’s where we’d set an informal line that crosses into a high-mileage classification. However, this is best determined by a professional mechanic who can inspect a truck for condition and hopes of longevity. 

Naturally, many older Sierras have more mileage. For instance, the models from 2001-2006 have accumulated an average of 206,000 miles, with some individual years exceeding this (2001 = 275,000 miles, 2004 = 225,000 miles). Owning a Sierra beyond 200,000 miles is possible, though this likely involves a more than ideal amount of check engine lights, breakdowns, and repairs. 

So, if you’re goal is to buy a Sierra, keep it for a long time, and drive it to 200,000 miles (or more), focus on the 2011 or new models (that are on our best list: 2011-2012, 2016-2018, and 2021). These vehicles have an average of 43,000 miles. 

What other vehicles should I consider?

The other pickup in the GMC family is the midsized Canyon. However, going with the Chevrolet Silverado stays with General Motors’ brand and a vehicle virtually identical to the GMC Sierra. Of course, if you need something more capable than the Sierra, both GMC and Chevy offer HD (Heavy Duty) versions of their full-sized pickups.

Moving on to other brands, the equivalents to the Sierra include the Ford F-150, RAM 1500, Toyota Tundra, and Nissan Titan.

What owners of the GMC Sierra like to use their trucks for:

Frequent Use Categories: How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)
Sport/Fast Driving ***
Lots of Driving (travel/long commute) ***
Family Vehicle ***
Outdoor/Off-Road **
Luxurious Driving *
Office on Wheels *
Hauling/Towing *

A Note About Data and Information Sources

This article has many details about GMC Sierra 1500 reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.

  • FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App

The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing. 

This is an objective score.

  • Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data is the result of surveying GMC Sierra 1500 owners who use FIXD. 

The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from owners of the GMC Sierra 1500.  

This is a subjective score.

To determine the Owner Reliability Score, we ask each car owner:

How reliable would you say your GMC Sierra 1500 is?

a. Just point A to point B driving

b. A Daily Commuter

c. Good for a 100-mile road trip

d. Good for a 500-mile road trip

e. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem

From here, we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:

a. = 2

b. = 4

c. = 6

d. = 8

e. = 10

Keep in mind, owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is. 

One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.

Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.

Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others. 

It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars. 

Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores; people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data. 

We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.

  • KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Chevrolet Equinox with typical mileage for that respective model year.
  • Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
  • Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Chevrolet Equinox owners
  • Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.


  1. GMC Sierra 1500 model-specific information, edmunds.com (various dates). Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/
  2. Model-specific recall information as per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls
David Goldberg

Dave Goldberg is an automotive journalist and lifelong car fanatic. He writes for numerous enthusiast and business outlets and is an ongoing contributor to HotCars.com, one of the most popular car culture websites. When he’s not writing or driving, Dave is either under a hood or asleep. His credentials include a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

David Goldberg

David Goldberg

Dave Goldberg is an automotive journalist and lifelong car fanatic. He writes for numerous enthusiast and business outlets and is an ongoing contributor to HotCars.com, one of the most popular car culture websites. When he’s not writing or driving, Dave is either under a hood or asleep. His credentials include a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University.

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