Potential faults on the Chevrolet Trailblazer

Know its issues

The Chevrolet Trailblazer is a mid-sized sport utility vehicle, produced by General Motors between the periods of 2002 and 2009, and again from 2012 to the present. According to Wikipedia, there are two generations of Trailblazers, and just as insightful as it is to know where you come from, it is equally insightful to know the lineage of your Trailblazer, so let us have a quick overview of them.

The First Generation of Trailblazers (2002–2008) was produced at the Moraine plant in Ohio. These vehicles were fitted with petrol engines and were only available in the USA and Canada. In 2002 the Trailblazer won the North American Truck of the Year award, but six years later, on 16 December 2008, the last Chevrolet Trailblazer rolled off the Moraine line. A week later, General Motors closed the production plant, thereby ending the production of all Trailblazers.

In 2012, General Motors and Isuzu recalled more than 258,000 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada. The recall affected the Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 97-X, all from the 2006 and 2007 models. The reason for the recall was the risk of fires caused by short-circuits in power window and door lock switches. It was also the same year that the next generation of Trailblazers entered the automotive scene.

The Second Generation of Trailblazers (2012–present) that entered the market, was respectively fitted with a 2.5 litre (110 kW and 350 Nm) Duramax diesel engine, as well as its 2.8 litre Variable Geometry Turbocharged (132 kW and 470 Nm) diesel engine. Both of these models was fitted with a 6-speed transmissions (manual & automatic). The second generation of Trailblazers is built in Thailand and in Brazil. In Australia the Trailblazer was sold as the Holden Colorado 7 (2013 to 2016), but in 2017 it was rebadged as the Trailblazer as we know it.

Seeing that SAC Service Centres are specialist in the servicing, repair and performance enhancement of diesel vehicles, it will make sense that our discussion of the Trailblazer will focus solely on the second generation diesel categories. In our discussion, we will primarily look at any issues these vehicles posed to their owners. Our main reason for highlighting these faults, are not to place the vehicle or its brand name in a bad light, but solely to keep you vigilant of any possible faults you may encounter. The following faults can only be shared here thanks to the 4×4 community forums where Trailblazer (and other 4×4) owners share their experiences and concerns regarding their vehicles. Owner experience is first-hand experience, and as a result you may find the following faults to be noteworthy.

Possible Trailblazer Faults

According to 4x4community (2013-2018), the following issues were found to be problematic:

Park Distance Control (PDC)

It may happen that your PDC beep incessantly when reversing while you have a trailer hooked up to your Trailblazer. This should actually not happen when towing something because the system should detect that the towbar is in use and switch the PDC off while in reverse. It is possible, if this is the case with your Trailblazer, that an aftermarket towbar was fitted to your vehicle. What happens is that the original part have a harness & module for towbar fitment that will switch the PDC off when reversing with a trailer. If this is not the case, then let us have a look at this annoying fault.

Shaft bearing failure

When last did you inspect your vehicle’s shaft bearings? If you take a peek at where the drive shaft enters the front differential, and you notice any leakage, then it should be cause for concern. According to 4x4community (2017), premature failure of the front side shaft bearing is not uncommon. If your trailblazer is past its 100000 km mark, then it will be wise to have the shaft bearings inspected and replaced. Your nearest SAC Service Centre have doors standing wide open to welcome and assist you in this regard.

Gearbox damage – towing a Trailblazer

Did you know that you can damage your Trailblazer when towing it, and you neglect to put the Trailblazer in the N-setting? You may be aware of the fact that the input shaft from the engine drives the gearbox oil pump. If the engine is not turning, the oil pump will not be pumping. When you tow your Trailblazer, the drive shaft will turn the gearbox, but no pumping of the gearbox pump will take place. Think for yourself what will happen when there is gear interaction without any lubrication. The gearbox will surely be damaged. When you engage neutral in the transfer box, you disconnect the drive shaft from the gearbox. The gearbox will not be turning when towing your vehicle in this setting, so no damage can be done.

Unused windows get stuck

If you seldom use windows in your Trailblazer, do not be frightened if one day they fail to wind down fully. This may be remedied by lubricating the horizontal gutter at the bottom of the window, but the best advice is to regularly exercise the windows in your Trailblazer that you do not use often.

Engine vibrations

Are you “forced” to keep your engine’s revolutions below 3500 rpms due to excessive vibrations that can be felt in the steering wheels and pedals? This steering vibration is also apparently not an uncommon issue. Chevrolet made a counter balance available to address this issue. If you experience excessive vibrations when in high revs, then consider this option. You may also, as an alternative, have your vehicle’s shaft bearings inspected. Do not be in two minds about this, contact us today and let us remedy the issue for you.

Bonnet wobbles

This may become a major cause of irritation when driving, especially in wind and at 120 km/hr. Some fixed this by re-gluing the large piece of rubber fixed to the underside of the bonnet.

Major temperature fluctuations

The problem reported by a few owners, revolve around the tendency of the Trailblazer to show excessive fluctuations when putting load on the engine. Yes, it is acknowledged that you sweat more the harder you work, and vehicles will get hotter the harder they have to work too. It is however not normal for a vehicle to jump from a normal ¼ and ½ heat gauge indication, to ¾. It was found that the error lay in a very sensitive temperature gauge. When the Trailblazer reach a certain temperature, a second fan must kick in, and this does not happen. If you experience excessive temperature readings on your heat gauge, then it is advisable to bring your vehicle to your nearest SAC Service Centre and have the issue looked at.

Limp mode

Without any pre-warning or other indication, your Trailblazer’s engine management system engage and the Trailblazer enters limp (or reduced engine power) mode. There are a few things that may cause this. Usually it is related to the gas pedal or throttle body sensors detecting a problem. It may also be the turbo boost/drive train not functioning correct. Someone once said that we should always remember that turbos are very simple devices, in very expensive boxes that live in extremely hot environments! Even when your transmission oil reach higher than normal operating temperatures (say above 130 °C), the engine may go into protective (limp) mode. If your vehicle enters limp mode, have the issue pinpointed and correct the problem as soon as possible.

Battery clips

Many owners complain about the battery clips, and few think of checking the clips when the vehicle cuts out. The point is that these clips come loose, and when that happens, the first thing that usually gets all the blame is the fuse box! Inspect the clips on your vehicle’s battery; if it is not the conventional one, then the choice is up to you (if the vehicle is not under warranty anymore) to change them, or secure them better.

Some other minor issues, according to 4x4community (2016a), also came to light.

Taillight lenses

This seemed to be an issue with pre-2014 models. The lenses may pull away at the edges and let dust and moisture in. Just make sure this is not the case in your Trailblazer.

Oil Cooler water leakage

This problem also seems to be 2012 & 2013 model specific. The oil cooler on the right hand side of the motor may leak water. It is oil cooled and water cooled and usually leak overnight when cooling down, due to a faulty O-ring on the cooler.

Error messages

You drive along and all of a sudden you receive error messages such as these: Service ESP; Service 4WD. According to 4x4community (2016b), there is an interesting (possible) resolve to this. Owners seldom think of checking the wires; it was in fact a damaged wire that caused the error messages. What we want to bring to your attention is that when you receive an error message, it may be due to faulty wiring somewhere. Not only that, always inspect wires and see to it that they do not touch spots where they can get too hot and melt or burn through or become chafed. One owner experienced a lot of erratic error messages and electrical issues, just to find that his Trailblazer’s cable to the alternator was chafed and as a result, made a shortcut.

Suspension noise – recall

Another issue aired in the 4x4community (2014), was regarding noise from the front suspension, especially when you go over a bump. The problem was the coil springs, and there was a recall for this issue in 2013. If you experience an irritating noise from that area of your Trailblazer, then bring your vehicle to us and let us see if there is indeed a fault with the coil springs and/or shocks. It may even be the wheel bearing, the brake caliper or a CV joint.


We do not only deal in negative issues, but also positive ones. Apart from the points highlighted above, many other owners stated it clearly that they had no complaints and were very happy and/or very impressed with their Trailblazers. According to many it performed well and is a great vehicle.

Only time will tell if the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Trailblazer LTX 4×2 A/T, recently released in the Philippines with its roguish and aggressive appearance, will withstand the test of time (and owner driver behaviour), and receive the same positive feedback as its predecessors. With its 2.8-liter DOHC 16-valve inline-4 VG Turbo Intercooler engine, supplying a good 500 Nm of torque, and its six-speed automatic (and manual gear select) transmission, it surely seems impressive enough.

It is our hope at SAC Service Centre, that the information supplied here, may be of benefit to you. As specialist in the field of automotive service, repair and performance enhancement, we are experienced, qualified, willing and ready to assist you with any of your Trailblazer diesel requirements. Contact us today for a service, a check-up or a repair.

Sources consulted during the writing of this article:

Within the above article, potential problems, causes and fixes have been identified as founded on the experience of vehicle owners and repairers, online sources such as discussion blogs, technical service bulletins and SAC experience. This information is provided solely for reference purposes. SAC strictly instruct readers that only properly qualified individuals should carry out repairs and/or modifications on your vehicles. It should also be made clear that the number of times an item is identified within this discussion should by no way be seen as an indicator of a model’s reliability or the frequency with which they may occur. Two of the exact same vehicles, owned by tow entirely different owners, driven in entirely different ways and on different terrains, and looked after in their own unique ways, will each behave differently. As mentioned, this information is provided solely for reference purposes but we hope – in the process of doing so – to empower you with relevant information which may enable you to make informative decisions whenever you experience any of the mentioned setbacks.