GMC maintenance: cost, plans and service schedule

GMCs are average to maintain but pricey to repair

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    Many fans of American-made vehicles view GMC as a more upscale alternative to Ford or Chevrolet. Its trucks and SUVs have subjectively nicer interiors, objectively bigger engines and its overall presence is a bit more posh and opulent.

    But aside from a higher sticker price, is there a hidden cost to owning a GMC over the competition? How much does it cost to maintain and repair a GMC? Are there any models or engines to avoid? And finally, would an extended warranty be a good idea on a GMC?

    Read on to find out.

    Key insights

    GMC vehicles aren’t more expensive to maintain than your average vehicle (about $500 to $900 per year), but some models are especially costly to repair – namely those equipped with the 6.2-liter V8.

    Jump to insight

    Engine-related repairs on a GMC vehicle can range anywhere from $1,000 to replace an individual component (e.g., the water pump) all the way to over $5,000 to replace the engine itself.

    Jump to insight

    Your three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper factory warranty should cover all repairs needed due to factory defects, but after that, an extended warranty might be a good idea. We were quoted $1,088 per year of coverage on a Sierra 1500, which is reasonable given the high potential cost of repairs.

    Jump to insight

    Are GMCs expensive to maintain?

    To preface, let’s clarify the difference between maintenance and repairs:

    • Maintenance is service that all cars require on a regular basis just to keep them running and on the road. Think oil changes, new brakes, new tires, tire rotations, spark plugs, etc.
    • Repairs address unexpected issues. If your engine leaks oil, your sunroom won’t open or your infotainment screen goes blank, your car will require repairs.

    To draw an analogy, when you go to the dentist for a routine cleaning, that’s like a form of “maintenance” for your teeth. Fillings and root canals, on the other hand, are more like “repairs.”

    And just like brushing and flossing, routine maintenance on a car can help to prevent pricey repairs later. Maintenance is also an unavoidable cost of car ownership, so it’s an important consideration when choosing one brand over another.

    As for GMC itself, the routine maintenance schedule looks very typical for your average truck or SUV. GMC suggests oil changes, tire rotations and basic inspections every 7,500 miles, new filters every 22,500 miles and spark plugs every 45,000 miles.

    That means the average cost of maintaining a GMC vehicle should hover around the $500 to $900 per year average for the industry.

    If you purchase or lease a new GMC vehicle, your first-year maintenance costs will be $0 since your first scheduled maintenance visit is on the house. It only includes an oil change, tire rotation and inspection (valued around $150 to $200), but it’s still something.

    Now, while maintaining a GMC may cost the same (or even less) than your average car brand, repairing one is a different story. Data from RepairPal suggests that the average cost of maintaining and repairing a GMC vehicle is around $1,018 per year (adjusted for inflation), which is roughly 10% higher than your average car.

    Before we dive into why GMCs tend to cost a bit more in repairs, let’s see how that $1,018 figure compares to the direct competition.

    How GMC compares with other automakers

    As luxury trucks and SUVs with a checkered reputation for build quality, GMC vehicles tend to cost a bit more in average repairs than most of the competition.

    If you’re shopping for a truck, you should know that Ford F-150s and Chevy Silverados are generally considered to be a bit cheaper to own than a GMC Sierra. But if you have your heart set on a GMC truck, you should know that there’s reportedly a “sweet spot” within GMC’s truck lineup that has the more reliable engine. We’ll cover that in the next section.

    As for crossovers and SUVs like the GMC Terrain, you’ll generally find that upscale SUVs from Japanese brands like Acura, Lexus and especially Toyota tend to be much cheaper to repair and maintain in the long run. The data suggests that GMC SUVs are about as expensive to own as the equivalent Volvo, and far cheaper to own than a German rival from BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

    *According to RepairPal, figures adjusted for 2019 > 2024 inflation

    As hinted above, these are just ballpark figures to represent an entire brand. Some GMCs may be cheaper to own than others and, conversely, oftentimes brands will have a “problem child” in the lineup that breaks down more than the rest.

    Is that the case with GMC? And are there any models to steer clear of?

    GMC maintenance and repair costs by model

    As you can see from the chart, RepairPal data suggests that the Terrain crossover is roughly 32% cheaper to own than the titanic Yukon.

    It’s a similar story for the trucks – the smallest Sierra 1500 may be up to 50% cheaper to own than its big brother, the 3500HD.

    *According to RepairPal, figures adjusted for 2019 > 2024 inflation

    To gather more data, ConsumerAffairs spoke with an anonymous GMC-certified technician to ask whether there were any models that stood out to him as more reliable and, conversely, which ones we may want to avoid.

    “A lot of it comes down to the engine you choose,” he told us. “The most reliable might be that 6.6-liter V8 – we don’t have to service those very often.”

    On the flip side, if you’re shopping for a V8, you may want to steer clear of the 6.2-liter motor found on select Yukons and Sierra 1500s.

    “The least reliable GMCs may be the ones equipped with that 6.2-liter Small Block,” he said. “Those engines suffer from excessive oil consumption. Hell, I’ve seen some where the whole motor goes bad before the first oil change.”

    If something does end up going wrong on your GMC vehicle, what do typical repair costs look like?

    GMC repair costs

    To preface, all brand-new GMC vehicles come with the following factory warranty:

    Factory warranties also follow the car, not the driver, so if you buy a lightly-used GMC it may still have some factory warranty protection on it. And if you suffer a breakdown or a part failure under warranty, your cost out of pocket should be $0.

    However, if your GMC has issues out of warranty, the cost can be quite high. RepairPal data suggests that the cost to replace various engine components on a GMC Sierra 1500 (e.g., water pump, timing chain) can easily exceed $1,500 each, and if you suffer complete engine failure on any GMC vehicle, the average cost of a replacement engine can be well over $5,000.

    Your powertrain warranty may step in and help if your GMC is under five years/60,000 miles old, but even still, many GMC owners opt for an extended warranty to provide extra peace of mind.

    » LEARN: What is a manufacturer’s warranty?

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    How can an extended warranty help?

    An extended auto warranty effectively “extends” your factory warranty coverage for a longer length of time, providing extra insurance against costly repairs and plenty of peace of mind to go with it.

    In general, an extended warranty is more likely to be worth buying for vehicles with short factory warranties, high repair costs and an average (or worse) reputation for reliability. Since GMC checks all of those boxes, it might be worth considering.

    » COMPARE: Pros and cons of extended auto warranties

    To provide you with a general idea of how much an extended warranty on a used GMC might cost, we collected a few online quotes from two trustworthy warranty providers. As a sample vehicle, we used a base-level 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 with 37,000 miles (i.e., right out of factory warranty).

    Here are the results:

    • Endurance quoted us $90.68 per month or $1,088 per year for a bumper-to-bumper plan with a $100 deductible.
    • olive, meanwhile, quoted us $105.85 per month or $1,270 per year for a similar plan and deductible.

    You may be able to find an even better quote with one of the other best extended warranty companies.

    Even if you can’t, the quotes listed above are pretty reasonable. They’re hardly more than the average cost of an extended warranty for all brands (about $1,000 per year), and when you consider that they may end up covering a $1,000 to $5,000 engine repair, the upfront cost could be well worth it.

    To learn more and find the right plan, visit our feature on the cost, coverage and plans of a GMC extended warranty.

    » MORE: Car warranty vs. car insurance

    Article sources ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
    1. RepairPal, “GMC Reliability Rating.” Accessed May 28, 2024.
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