Traversing Familiar Ground: After 50 Dealer Trips, One Chevy Owner Wishes for a Final Fix

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The Chevrolet Traverse represents the pinnacle of the brand’s crossover range, offering buyers voluminous cargo and passenger space, and maybe a hidden gremlin.

After purchasing the three-row crossover new in 2018, one owner has had to return to his dealership 50 times to diagnose and fix a range of unusual problems, and his journey isn’t at an end. He’ll be reassured to know that he’s not alone.

As detailed in a report by Canada’s Global News, Toronto’s Elias Mitoulas didn’t have to wait long after buying the freshly revamped crossover before problems arose. Within 7,000 km of ownership, electric faults began cropping up. Window would intermittently roll up or down, but not reverse course when the owner flicked the necessary buttons. Even odder, the retractable side mirrors would sometimes go into scared-turtle mode when he shifted into reverse.

Placing the vehicle into drive, Mitoulas said, is was no guarantee that it would stay there. Sometimes it would shift into reverse while moving forward.

“You put it in gear, it gives a hard kick,” he said.

Now, 50 dealer visits later, he’d like to see the Traverse take a hike. While General Motors covered the serving and parts, the owner doesn’t trust his vehicle, not is he satisfied that the bugs have left the ship. Last winter, the Traverse died on a crowded, snowy highway after the “vehicle’s electrical system went down,” requiring the summoning of a tow truck.

“They go, ‘Elias, welcome, how are you?” Mitoulas said of the friendly folks at his local dealership. Folks he sees too often. Within the past month, he’s been back for another visit; this time, he was told his nine-speed transmission requires a swap.

While Mitoulas says he’d like GM to buy the vehicle from him and replace it, the automaker says this isn’t in the cards.

“We’ve had multiple touchpoints with Mr. Mitoulas on the concerns he has raised,” GM spokesperson Jacqueline Thomson told Global. “We’ve engaged one of our field engineers to work with the dealer to validate the sufficiency of all repairs and confirm normal operating condition of the vehicle.”

The Traverse remains one of GM’s top-selling vehicles and one owner’s experience could come down to a bad moment at the assembly plant. However, lemons grow on trees, and there’s often neighbors on that branch.

Sure enough, complaints are rolling in to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On October 3rd, an owner in Desoto, Texas filed a complaint saying the vehicle issues a “shift to park” warning when they attempt to turn off the vehicle, despite the vehicle already being in park. As a result of the warning, the Traverse won’t turn off.

On September 28th, an identical, all-caps complaint rolled in from New York:

WHEN I ATTEMPT TO TURN MY VEHICLE OFF, I GET A MESSAGE ON THE SCREEN THAT SAYS TO PUT THE CAR IN PARK. I VERIFIED THAT THE CAR IS IN PARK AND THE SCREEN READS THAT IT IS. THE MESSAGE CONTINUES, AND THE VEHICLE WILL NOT ALLOW ME TO SHUT ANYTHING OFF OR LOCK THE VEHICLE. THE VEHICLE JUST CONTINUES TO CHIME. THE ONLY RECOURSE IS TO DISCONNECT THE BATTERY. BUT THEN, I CANNOT LOCK THE VEHICLE.

Three days earlier, an owner in Greencastle, Pennsylvania wrote to complain of a Traverse that wouldn’t go after the auto stop feature shut down at a stoplight. When the light went green, the engine fired up, but the vehicle would only lurch forward aggressively. The check engine light soon came on, and a tow truck was soon called.

On September 18th, an owner in Souderton, PA had this to say:

THE CAR DOES NOT REGISTER WHEN THE CAR IS IN PARK AFTER I TURN IT OFF. IT READS “SHIFT TO PARK” AND I HAVE TO SPEND SEVERAL MINUTES JIGGLING THE SHIFTER OR RESTARTING THE CAR AND GOING THROUGH DIFFERENT GEARS.

Two additional “shift to park” complaints hit the NHTSA inbox on Sept. 17th and 18th, plus this gripe on Sept. 16th:

MULTIPLE INSTANCES HAVE OCCURRED WHERE ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM AND OTHER AREAS OF DASH RANDOMLY SHUTDOWN WHILE DRIVING. MUSIC CAN NOT BE PLAYED, TURN SIGNAL SOUNDS ARE NO LONGER HEARD, AND VOICE OPERATIONS DO NOT WORK. TURNING CAR ON AND OFF DOES NOT SOLVE PROBLEM

Another stop-start/tranny/engine light issue and yet another “shift to park” complain was documented in early September. In total, there are 76 complaints on file for the 2018 Traverse, with zero recalls or investigations issued. To date, the NHTSA has 384 manufacturer communications on file for the model, 85 of them pertaining to the electrical system.

However, a scan of recent manufacturer bulletins does not reveal documents dealing with the full range of problems described here. Last November, a bulletin issued by GM addressed the “shift to park” issue, if only to bring it to light. The cause at the time was unknown, with GM claiming engineers were “investigating the root cause.”

[H/T to Nicholas!]

[Images: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • TomLU86 TomLU86 on Oct 11, 2019

    akear-- I would not be surprised if that is the UAW's ulterior motive--to remove Barra. It won't happen. Heck, the board will probably give her a raise. Remember, American boardrooms are interconnected. They take care of each other I've from this strike, both GM's CEO and the UAW leadership are delusional. I won't be surprised to see it ending with things essentially unchanged from before, but with the poisoned atmosphere, many of the salaried people and hourly people will have to work that much harder. GM is oblivious to the fact that many Americans have crossed GM off the list, not because of the merits of its' products (or lack thereof), but because the government bailed out GM. This incident will remind them, and those who had forgotten... As for this Traverse, this particular sample is a POS. Mr. Mitoulas got shafted. But I'd still take a Traverse over a Ford/Lincoln Explorer. And I loved duke-is-duke comment...stupefying amount of corporate doublespeak. Welcome to America and the West in 2019!

  • DweezilSFV DweezilSFV on Oct 11, 2019

    After living with one of GM's vehicles afflicted with that POS ignition switch/Passlock garbage, there is no way in Hades I would buy another GM vehicle with extra super advanced mo modern electronic gadgetry. FOAD GM.

  • Rando [h2]Coincidentally, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is more than $41k as well -.-[/h2]
  • Ajla "Gee, wonder why car (as well as home) insurance rates are much higher in places like Florida..." Severe weather is on the list but even if a benevolent genie reverted the climate to circa 1724 I think FL would still have high cost. Our home insurance rates have increased 102% since 2021 and I don't think weather models account for that much of a change in that period. Florida's insurance assignment of benefit regulation meant that it had ~80% of the country's of the insurance lawsuits on ~12% of the nation's claims and litigated claims can be expensive to insurance companies. The state altered some regulations and is having some success on getting more companies back, even with the severe weather risks, through relatively bipartisan efforts. With car insurance just beyond the basic "Florida" stuff, the population increase of the past few years is overwhelming the roads. But, I think the biggest thing is we have very low mandated car insurance levels. Only $10K personal injury and $10K property damage. No injury liability needed. And 20% of the state has no insurance. So people that actually want insurance pay out the nose. Like I commented above my under/uninsured coverage alone is 2.5x my comprehensive & collision.
  • Juan Let's do an 1000 mile drive and see who gets there first.
  • Eliyahu CVT needed for MPG. Outback is indeed the legacy of, err, the Legacy.
  • Gayneu I can comment on these. My wife always thought the Minis were "cute" so I bought her a used 2005 (non-S, 5 speed) for one of her "special" birthdays. She loved it and I kinda did too. Somehow a hole developed in the transmission case and the fluid drained out, ruining the car (too expensive to fix). A local mechanic bought it for $800.We then bought a used 2015 S (6 speed) which we still have today (80k miles). Her sister just bought a used S as well (also manual). It has been a dependable car but BMW-priced maintenance and premium gas hurts for sure. I think the earlier generation (like in the article) were better looking with cleaner lines. The 2015 S rides too stiff for me (Chicago roads) but is a hoot on smooth ones. It does seem to shift weird - its hard to describe but it shifts differently from every other manual I have driven. No matter how hard I try, so won't let go of her Mini.
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