There are a number of different GMC Sierra 1500 model years that are worth buying in 2021. Plenty of models from the past are plagued with issues that label them “avoid at all costs”. However, there is an even larger number of less problematic model years we highly recommend as used trucks. There’s a brand new 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 on the horizon, but these cheaper used options might be better.
2018 to present: unproblematic
According to CarComplaints as well as the NHTSA, from the 2018 model year through to 2021, the Sierra 1500 has been mostly unproblematic. The issues that have been reported or found are few and far between. Most of them aren’t major either, as the 2022 reports of interior accessory problems. Those are something everyone wishes to avoid, but are nothing compared to frequent engine or transmission issues.
2018 and 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 models bother received some reports of electrical, brakes, and transmission problems. These are extremely infrequent, with each being reported fewer than 10 times total. Since some issues are bound to happen with every vehicle at some point, it’s not really anything to cause avoidance. The 2020 and 2021 model years are the most highly recommended, as GMC seems to have cleaned up tons of issues.
The worst GMC Sierra 1500 model years
The worst model years, at least in the last ten years, are 2014 and 2015. Between those two years, CarComplaints received 326 and 214 reports of issues from owners. That’s hundreds more than any other model year, dating all the way back to 1991. Even after those two years, the problems basically disappear.
The problems plaguing these model years are dangerous as well as expensive to repair. Lights, AC/heater, electrical, engine, transmission, brakes, and drivetrain problems have all been frequently reported. Owners and the NHTSA’s findings have consistently backed one another up. For example, the NHTSA reported 189 problems with the brakes on the 2015 Sierra 1500.
Should you buy older model years of used GMC Sierra 1500s?
Historically, the GMC Sierra 1500 is mostly pretty clean of frequent problems. 2004 and 2011 have the most reported issues, but even they aren’t frequent enough to gain the “avoid” label. Other model years dating back to the Sierra 1500’s inception are mostly pretty clean.
Though owners have not experienced and reported a lot of problems in older models, the NHTSA has. For instance, the NHTSA reported 129 instances of braking problems with the 2002 Sierra 1500, but owners reported only six. For the vast majority, these older models are free of frequent problems. Though as these models get older and older, owners are bound to run into more issues needing repairs.
Used GMC Sierra 1500 models can be a great pickup truck for a great price. There are only two model years that need to be avoided at all costs. The rest are pretty reliable, but of course, we’d recommend mostly later model years. The 2018 GMC Sierra through to 2021, if found used for a good price, are great pickup truck options. The only thing that might be better is the brand new 2022 GMC Sierra.