Home Model Specific Issues 2011 Chevy Traverse Problems: Is This Crossover A Bad Buy?

2011 Chevy Traverse Problems: Is This Crossover A Bad Buy?

by Kelvin Yates

Mid-size crossovers are a hot favorite, across the world. Many car buyers are looking for one in the used car market. For them, 2011 Chevy Traverse problems are a point of interest, debate, and a cause of worry. Especially when the Chevy Traverse is an extremely popular offering in its segment.

The Chevy Traverse is a top player in its segment, pipped only by the Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Highlander, Jeep Cherokee, and Jeep Wrangler as well as the Honda Pilot and Subaru Outback. Not a very respectable position with the 8th position in the list. But note that this segment is fiercely competitive, and presently there are about 27 players in the segment.

Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of this segment, many buyers are looking for such SUVs in the used car market as well. Hence, the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems must bug a lot of buyers as many of them are on the lookout for a used mid-size crossover.

In this list, let us look at all the generations of the Chevy Traverse available in the market. Then we will tighten our focus on the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems and see why most sources advise you to stay away from this vehicle.

We will also have a look at what these problems are, and how to fix them if you happen to own a 2011 Traverse. Let us dig in.

Chevrolet Traverse History

The 2011 Chevy Traverse problems may be around for a while, and they may dominate a lot of discussions about crossovers. But the Chevy Traverse itself has not been around for a while. The vehicle is new, with the very first model launching in 2009. In its lifetime, it has only gone through two generations, both of which are available in the used car market.

In the current market, the Chevy Traverse is a great option for those who look for sumptuous space inside without having a globe-sized body. For those who need a large SUV, you have the Tahoe and Suburban in the Chevy lineup. Astronomically, the Traverse still is the size of a moon by length, but it is narrower and shorter, making it less intimidating to drive.

2011 Chevy Traverse Problems

In the Chevy SUV lineup, it sits above the Equinox and Blazer but right under the big guns, the Tahoe and Suburban.

Though the Traverse had two generations in its lifetime, 2011 Chevy Traverse problems belong to the first-generation of the Traverse. This is what we are going to discuss in detail.

First Generation (2009-2017)

The Chevy Traverse came into being due to the increasing popularity of mid-size crossovers around the world. When it was launched, Chevy had a sedan heavy lineup starting with the Aveo, Cobalt, Impala, and Malibu. The SUV lineup of Chevy at that point was just in its infancy. This consisted of the Equinox, Trailblazer (fun fact, go check out our overview of the Trailblazer bolt pattern), and the Tahoe/Suburban.

The addition of the Chevy Traverse plugged the gap between the Trailblazer and Tahoe. These were truck-based body-on-frame SUVs. The Chevy Traverse came with unibody construction, making it the de facto choice for someone looking for a comfortable Chevrolet crossover.

Unlike the Tahoe and the Trailblazer, the Traverse looked a bit more sophisticated and more crossover-ish than SUV-ish. It had more curves on its body that were not chiseled like that of a conventional SUV. The rear end did not drop down at a right angle, like most SUVs in the lineup. Instead, it took a more polished look, swooping into the rear with an elegant curve.

The Chevy Traverse was built on the GM Lambda platform that underpinned the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave as well as the Saturn Outlook before the entire Saturn brand was knocked on its head. The power for the first-gen Traverse came from a 3.6-liter V6 from the GM High Feature Engine family. When we talk about the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems, we will get to know this engine better.

The first generation of the Chevy Traverse went on sale in the United States in October 2008 as a 2009 model year vehicle. It was greeted with fair success, moving more than 90,000 units in its first year.

Facelift (2013)

The first-gen Chevy Traverse was considered almost stylish when it was launched. Of course, the appearance may be equated to be boring and uneventful as of now but back then, the world did not have so many crossovers running around. The sleek styling and the spacious, high-riding body were a match made in heaven for many. But everything needs a refresh, so did the Traverse.

In 2013, Chevy facelifted the Traverse a bit, giving it a new face. They updated the grill and the entire front fascia. Though it could be instantly recognizable as a Traverse, it was fresh. The rear too got a bit of change, in the form of new taillights and an updated tailgate. It also featured new wheel designs.

Many new features sneaked into the cabin, including a touchscreen, Chevy’s MyLink radios, and wood finish on the dashboard. There were front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models available, just like before.

This was a comprehensive facelift and the 2013 Chevy Traverse looked fresher than ever. Though it is known to be a routine refresh, many suspect that the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems triggered the facelift.

Second Generation (2018 – Present)

Of course, there is no need to talk about the current generation of the Chevy Traverse when we talk about the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems. Yet, it is good to know where the crossover has reached since its slightly shaky inception years. Especially after the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems.

2017 was the year when Chevy completely revamped the Traverse. Debuted in the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it hit the showrooms from 2017 July, as a 2018 model.

The new generation chose to skip the crossover bandwagon and wore an SUV cloak. Though it was still a unibody, it flaunted a more muscular design, something we associate with big macho SUVs. This route may be familiar to many, as the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder recently chose to tread on it as well.

The platform it used is a Chevy C1XX unit. It also underpins the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Chevy Blazer, Cadillac XT5, and XT6. It grew 2-inches more of the wheelbase as well as 0.7-inches of length over the first-gen model.

The power came from two engines at launch, a 3.6-liter V6 petrol unit as well as a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder unit. The Traverse came with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive options. In fact, there were two AWD systems on offer.

The first one was a standard all-wheel-drive system that transfers power to the rear wheels when needed. Then there was a twin-clutch Twinster AWD system that used two rear clutches to separately channel torque to the two rear wheels. Though none of this made it an off-roader, it is good to have something better than a regular AWD in hand.


The second generation of the Chevy Traverse was offered in several trims, starting from a base L. This was a front-wheel-drive-only model and was topped by LS that adds in optional AWD. There was an LS Cloth model that added more features to the base while an LS LS Leather added, well, leather and many other luxury features.

On top of the LS Leather came the Premier version which added even more opulence to the range. For the customers who needed something even more luxurious, there was the High Country variant. This was exclusively available with AWD and offered even more luxury inside.

Facelift (2022)

For the most recent year change, Chevy facelifted the Traverse. The design change brings it in line with that of the latest Tahoe and Suburban. It gets LEDs almost everywhere and the latest connectivity features. It also listens to customer feedback and adds in a bunch of safety tech as well.

The 3.6-liter V6 engine churns out 310 hp. With the contemporary design change, the Traverse is closer to its big brothers. Hence the tagline on its website came along, “A midsize SUV with full-size flex”

That is the history of the Traverse done and dusted before we stick our noses into the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems. Now you have a clear idea about the offerings you can expect to run into on the classifieds. Else, you can look at sources like Carvana to look for a used car as well.

But no matter where you look for a car, it is essential that you find the right vehicle at the right price. So, it is necessary to understand what you get for the price you pay for these vehicles.

So, why are the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems debated so much on forums? Is the 2011 model year of the crossover catastrophically unreliable that you should stay away from it? No matter at what cost you get it for? You should be able to answer these questions yourself once you have a clear idea about all the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems that can crop up on your crossover.

What Are 2011 Chevy Traverse Problems?

Most vehicle models come with some sort of issues. Some may be less affected, but some may be massive money pits. This can be brand-specific but only to a certain extent. Subaru for instance is known for making some reliable cars but their first-gen Crosstrek had a lot of problems that left their owners scratching their heads.

Chevy does make some good cars that are fairly reliable. But unlike Honda or Toyota, they have not morphed into a byword for reliability. Their litter has always had runts. 2011 Chevy Traverse problems made the specific model year of the Traverse one among them.

The modern-day Traverse is a reliable family carrier, but this reputation was not easy to build. 2011 was a year that they had to sacrifice in the process.

If you think that 2011 Chevy Traverse problems are small niggles that you can live with, they are not. If you think that they may be inexpensive to fix, they are not. Here is the list of all that can go wrong, a list of 2011 Chevy Traverse problems.

1. Engine-Related 2011 Chevy Traverse Problems

Let us start with the biggest of them all. The 2010 and 2011 Chevy Traverse was prone to engine failure, a catastrophic issue that can eat into almost all fat wallets. These engine issues occurred around 70,000 miles, a fairly early mileage figure for our roads.

The main indications a customer can get from these vehicles are timing chain issues, a check engine light, losing power, and finally engine failure. None of these issues are minor and all of them can cost a bomb to repair.

Customers who have faced these issues have been left confused as to what broke under their hood. Some found that the timing chain broke. Some others have received the sad news that a clogged catalytic converter killed their engine. Nobody has heard any happy news. The users replaced the engines in almost all these vehicles. There is no way around it.

For an 11-year-old car, 70,000 miles is easy to reach. There may be several 2010 and 2011 Chevy Traverse problems, but this is the most severe. So even if you find one on the marketplace with a lucrative price tag, do not budge. Especially if the odometer reads more than 70,000 miles. These can be money pits and you may end up spending way more than what the car is worth.

If the engine needs replacement, you will have to shell out an average of more than $6,000 for a new mill. If you are the ‘lucky’ ones and your garage can fix the timing chain issue, it can set you back by $2,600. The engine light issue can leave a $1,800 sized hole in your wallet. None of these are small bills. Considering the amount that these vehicles are worth, paying for the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems is an awfully bad investment.

2. Steering-Related 2011 Chevy Traverse Problems

If the repair bill amount for the engine issue has scared you, prepare for another one. On top of the engine failure, the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems included steering issues as well. The power steering system in these vehicles can cease to work. In other cases, it is also known to make some weird noises while on full lock, or the steering rack seal can leak.

If the power steering fails, the drivers may find it exceedingly difficult to drive at low city speeds. For such a decently sized vehicle like the Traverse, it will be hard to steer with purely manual steering.

2011 Chevy Traverse Problems

The power steering pump failing is mainly the reason for the power steering to fail. If this happens, a replacement pump can set you back by $1,500. To get rid of the funny noises while steering, you will have to replace the rack and pinion. This can cost an additional $1,000.

The steering issues may not sound that uncommon for a car of that age. But in the case of the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems, it is quite critical and can end up disrupting your budget.

3. Air Conditioner-Related 2011 Chevy Traverse Problems

Among the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems, this may be slightly a smaller one. In these vehicles, the air conditioning system may fail, ending up not cooling or heating the cabin at all. The pressure hose of the air conditioning system can also fail.

But thankfully, instead of repair bills that can read thousands under the bottom line, this reads hundreds. The cooling or heating issue can be repaired by a skilled mechanic at an average cost of $350. If the pressure hose has failed, it can set you back by more. But even this, at $800, may not be a huge amount compared to the other 2011 Chevy Traverse problems.

The severity of this issue also depends on the area you live in. Some inconsistency in the temperature may not affect users living in cities with pleasant climate all-around. But in areas where the temperatures can swing to either side heavily, this can be a severe headache to live with.

4. Electrical-Related 2011 Chevy Traverse Problems

According to carcomplaints.com, this is one of the most complained issues with the Traverse. But, instead of being a single issue that can be pinpointed, it spans a bunch of problems.

Multiple users have complained about battery drains in their 2011 vehicles. Some report dead battery even after stopping just for 15 minutes, and some others report the battery going flat even after getting a new one. If you are worried about a draining battery, maybe this nifty voltmeter that plugs into your cigarette lighter socket can help you keep track of its health.

Another electrical issue that the users complain about is the vehicle losing power while driving. Owners report that the vehicle may die mid-drive and sometimes start back up, and sometimes it will not. The vehicle does not go on limp-home mode though. Many users say that they get a traction control-related message on the dash when this happens.

2011 Chevy Traverse Problems

Another small electrical problem reported frequently includes dashboard lights turning off mid-drive. It stays off for anytime between 5 minutes to an hour. This happens regularly, as per complaints posted by customers.

These electrical issues may not be as critical as other 2011 Chevy Traverse problems, but they are still issues. And these small issues can crop up anytime, making them hard to avoid. Instead of a large repair that costs a lot of money in one go, these may need a visit to the garage every now and then, making them an inconvenience.

2011 Chevy Traverse Problems And Recalls

The 2011 Chevy Traverse problems not only created issues for the customers but also have triggered recalls. If you check the NHTSA page for the 2011 Traverse, you can see five separate recalls.

1. Unsecured Side Airbag

According to the NHTSA recall number 21V246000, the side airbags of the 2011 Chevy Traverse may not work properly. This problem stems from improperly secured bolts of the side airbag module. These can end up altering the working of the airbag unfavorably. This can reduce the amount of protection provided at the time of a crash.

This is not just one of the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems. It also affects some other vehicles from the same family. The GMC Acadia and the Buick Enclave find a seat in the same recall.

The owners of these vehicles got their notifications last year in May. So, if you are picking up a 2011 Traverse, ensure that it has gone through the recall process.

2. Powered Liftgate Strut Failure

This issue affects some models that came with the powered liftgate option in the GM lineup. These include the 2009-2012 Traverse, 2007-2012 GMC Acadia, and 2007-2010 Saturn Outlook crossovers.

In these vehicles, gas-filled struts keep the powered liftgate open. But these can fail and drop the gate. If a user or her/his child or pet is using the boot at the time, this can be quite dangerous.

The recall repair procedure was to replace the power liftgate actuation motor. GM initiated the recall in Nov 2016. So most affected vehicles must have had the procedure done by now. But it is good to be cautious while you look for any of these models.

3. Seat Belt Cable Failure

This is yet another issue that plagues the Traverse, Acadia, and Outlook vehicles of that era. In these vehicles, a steel cable that connects the seatbelt to the vehicle can deteriorate and crack over time. Front outboard seating positions have this issue in these vehicles. If a crash happens, the seat belts may not be able to restrain the occupants properly.

SUV crossover Chevrolet reliability troubleshooting repairs recalls

4. Airbag And Seat Belt Wiring Issue

Yet another of the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems that affect the airbag and seat belt. The side-impact airbags and seat belt pretensioners may fail to function in the event of an accident. Increased resistance in the wiring harness is found to be the cause of this failure.

5. Windshield Wiper Arm Nut failure

Possibly the smallest of all recalls, the buildup of snow can loosen up the wiper nut. This can reduce the movement of the wiper arm and loosen it over time.

Facts about the 2011 Chevrolet Traverse:

  1. The 2011 Chevy Traverse has five recalls, one investigation, and nearly 600 complaints on file with the NHTSA.
  2. Recalls cover airbag malfunctions, improperly secured seatbelts, and faulty liftgate struts.
  3. The 2011 Chevy Traverse’s 3.6L V6 is known for timing chain issues, faulty piston rods, bearing failures, and excessive oil consumption.
  4. HVAC issues and power steering failure are not uncommon, as are malfunctioning window controls and water ingress.
  5. The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse is not a very reassuring prospect.
  6. The most common consumer complaint about the 2011 Chevy Traverse is engine failure.
  7. Another complaint about the 2011 Traverse is the air conditioner blowing warm air.
  8. Power steering failure is another common concern with the 2011 Chevy Traverse.
  9. Electrical problems are another concern, with the most common being faulty power windows.
  10. The 2011 Chevy Traverse is not recommended and newer models, such as 2018 and newer, have better reliability and fewer complaints.

Should 2011 Chevy Traverse Problems Worry You?

Short answer, Yes! Chevy Traverse is a smart choice for all families looking for a comfortable large crossover. But the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems can scare you away from it, and rightly so.

If you are looking for a Traverse, it is better you stay away from 2011 as well as the 2010 model years. These model years are known to be riddled with issues and are best avoided.

But beyond the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems, Chevrolet updated the crossover to completely rectify the issues. The 2012 model year was a massive improvement from a dreaded couple of years before it. And since then, Chevy has been in the process of updating the vehicle to improve its reliability.

So, if you are picking up a Traverse, let the 2011 Chevy Traverse problems worry you. Look for anything beyond 2012 and you should end up with quite a reliable vehicle.

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