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How Long Does GMC Sierra Last? 300k plus, but watch out for rust!

For obvious reasons, people want to make sure that when they buy a vehicle, they are buying something that is going to last, and the best way to avoid this is to research a vehicle before you buy it. The GMC Sierra is a popular vehicle, and it is very possible that this light-duty pickup truck will make its way onto your considerations list, but how long will a GMC Sierra last?

A well maintained and cared for GMC Sierra 1500 will typically last anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 miles without the need for major mechanical repairs.

If you are thinking about buying a Sierra and want to know more about this sturdy little pickup, continue reading to find out more about how long you can expect this vehicle to last.

New GMC Sierra on car lot

The GMC Sierra

Made by General Motors Truck Company, the GMC Sierra is a line of trucks that offer dependability, comfort, and style. There are three models for customers to choose between―1500, 2500, and 3500. Each model comes with its own set of features, but the biggest difference between the vehicles is their towing abilities.

Both the 2500 and the 3500 were built to be heavier trucks, which contributes to their higher towing capacities. Unlike the 2500 and 3500, the 1500 is considered a light-duty pickup, which makes it a popular choice among drivers who want to enjoy the convenience of a pickup without the gas mileage of a heavy-duty truck.

Are GMC Sierras Reliable?

According to RepairPal, which measures their reliability ratings based on the cost, frequency, and severity of unscheduled maintenance and repairs, the GMC Sierra has a reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5.0, which is slightly better than the average industry rating of 3.0 for other full-size trucks.

Additionally, you can find reliability ratings from J.D. Power, which are based on hundreds of thousands of independent and unbiased opinions of verified car owners, by year below.

YearReliability Rating for Sierra 1500Reliability Rating for Sierra 2500HD
2022#1 in Large Light Duty Pickup 85/100#1 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 85/100
2021#1 in Large Light Duty Pickup 85/100#1 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 85/100
2020#1 in Large Light Duty Pickup 86/100#1 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 85/100
2019#3 in Large Light Duty Pickup 82/100#1 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 83/100
2018#2 in Large Light Duty Pickup 80/100#2 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 79/100
2017#4 in Large Light Duty Pickup 76/100#1 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 81/100
2016#4 in Large Light Duty Pickup 76/100#2 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 80/100
2015#3 in Large Light Duty Pickup 82/100N/A N/A
2014#4 in Large Light Duty Pickup 81/100#2 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 82/100
2013#3 in Large Light Duty Pickup 84/100#2 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 82/100
2012#2 in Large Light Duty Pickup 86/100#1 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 83/100
2011#1 in Large Light Duty Pickup 84/100#1 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 83/100
2010#2 in Large Light Duty Pickup 85/100#1 in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 87/100
Source: J.D. Power

Are GMC Sierras Expensive to Maintain?

Maintaining a vehicle is the best way to ensure that you will get the most life from it, but some vehicles cost more to keep than others. According to CAREDGE, Sierra owners can expect to spend an estimated $8,948 for maintenance and repairs during the first ten years of owning a GMC Sierra. This estimation is actually $1,117 dollars better than the industry average for other full-sized trucks on the market.

Are GMC Sierras Expensive to Repair?

In addition to their reliability rating, RepairPal estimates that the average cost to repair a GMC Sierra is around $727. This is a bit less than the industry average of $936 for other full-sized trucks, but a bit higher than the industry average of $652 for all vehicles.

Additionally, they estimate owners will have to bring their Sierra into the shop for unscheduled repairs 0.2 times a year, which is lower than the industry average of 0.3 times for other full-sized trucks and the industry average of 0.4 times for all vehicles.

The estimated probability that those repairs will be severe is around 15%. This is less than the industry average of 18% of other full-sized trucks and higher than the industry average of 12% for all vehicles. However, CAREDGE has rated this much higher, with a 26.25% chance that a Sierra will need a major repair during the first ten years of its life.

How Long Will A GMC Sierra Last?

There are many things that factor into the overall lifespan of a vehicle. However, most GMC Sierras can be expected to last anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 miles, with the average GMC lasting around 250,000 miles. If you drive an average of 20,000 miles a year, your truck may last you anywhere from 10 to 15 years, with the average being 12.5 years.

However, these are just estimated numbers and your truck may last longer or less time depending on where you live, how you drive the vehicle, and whether it is properly cared for. One of the things that can dramatically shorten the life of a truck is constantly hauling large loads, especially if those loads are oversized because it strains the engine and transmission of the vehicle.

What About the Body?

Frame rust is a common complaint among Sierra owners, who report the frame rusting much more quickly than the body. Several owners reported severe rust issues as early as three years after purchase, but most reported the damage around 100,000 miles. Interestingly, many of these problems start to occur just after the warranty runs out.

How to Prevent Frame Rust?

Although frame rust is a widespread problem with GMC Sierras, it does not have to be a reason to remove the vehicle from your shopping list completely. There are a few things that you can do to prevent your truck from rusting prematurely.

  1. Keep it clean: Wash your truck regularly to remove all the dirt and grime that can contribute to frame rust. This is especially important if you live in an area where salt is common (such as winter roads or coastal areas).
  2. Keep it covered whenever possible: While garages often turn into extra storage space, they are made for vehicles for a reason. Keeping your truck indoors can help prevent frame rust by protecting it from harsh weather elements such as hail and water. Additionally, it will help to protect the protective layer of paint on the vehicle.
  3. Watch for rust and repair it at once: Keep an eye out for problem areas and if you see rust starting to form, have it repaired as soon as possible. This will prevent it from becoming a much bigger problem. This will also alert you to the areas that may become problems later and allow you to take further preventative measures.
  4. Protect problem areas: If you notice that there are certain areas that seem most prone to rust, research ways that you can add extra protection to those areas. Things like undercoating and protective paint could help prevent big problems in the future. Additionally, make sure to protect known problem areas, such as drain plugs and the truck bed, by keeping the area free from moisture and debris whenever possible.
  5. Watch inside the vehicle as well: Make sure to keep the floors clean and dry to prevent rust from occurring under the carpeting. It might be a good idea to invest in a floor liner if you often track mud and snow into the vehicle.
  6. Undercoating: This could help prevent rust issues in the future. However, make sure that you employ someone who knows what they are doing to prevent any problems that might arise from undercoating. Many old timers swear that coating your undercarriage in oil is the best way to protect your truck from winter damage, and many of them are still driving their old trucks today.

Most Common Problems with GMC Sierras

It would be impossible to predict exactly what might go wrong with a car but knowing what the most reported complications are for your specific vehicle can help you prepare for, or avoid, issues that might arise. Below you will find the most common repairs that GMC Sierra owners face, along with the average cost to fix each problem.

Common Complaint/RepairModels and MileageAverage Price to Fix
A/C Stops WorkingThis commonly occurs around 60,200 miles and is most common in 2015 models.The most common fix is to replace the condenser, but the entire A/C unit might need to be replaced in some cases. Price: $500 – $1,200
Headlight ProblemsThe factory headlights do not work well causing many drivers to avoid driving their vehicle at night. In fact, there was a recall issued regarding the problem.Price: $400 If it was not covered under a recall for certain years.
4WD Transfer Case Position Sensor/Selector Switch FailureThis occurs most commonly around 147,000 miles and affected 17 model years from 1999-2016.Price: $161 – $196  
Fuel Level Sensor FailureThis occurs most commonly around 127,000 miles and affects 16 model years from 1999 – 2015.Fuel Pump Replacement Cost: $957 – $1,140Problems with the Intermediate Steering ShaftThis occurs most commonly around 81,000 miles and affects 16 model years from 1999 – 2015.Owners are urged to check with the dealership to find out about repairs needed to fix the issue. However, the average price to replace an intermediate steering shaft is between $200 – $400 dollars.
Daytime Running Light BurnoutThis commonly occurs around 120,000 miles and affects 10 model years from 1999 – 2009.Headlight Bulb Replacement: $84 – $100
Problems with the Throttle Position SensorThis can occur at any time and affect 6 model years from 2008 – 2014.Throttle Position Sensor Replacement: $169 – $227
ABS Light Due to Poor Electrical GroundThis commonly occurs around 144,000 miles and affects 9 model years from 1999 – 2008.Anti-lock Brake System Diagnosis: $84 – $106
Worn Value BodyThis commonly occurs around 153,000 miles and affects 4model years from 1999 – 2006.This can cost up to $1000 to fix in some cases, but the actual cost will depend on the vehicle.
Source: RepairPal

The problems listed above are the most commonly reported problems for a GMC Sierra.

If you’re considering buying a used GMC Sierra it’s worth investing a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.

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