By on November 15, 2021

2020 GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4

While this news initially surfaced late Friday, we feel it is a significant move by General Motors, one which warrants a bit of discussion even after umpteen different car blogs parroted this news over the weekend.

At issue? The current level of global supply chain disruption, of course. With the only chips in Detroit apparently being of the salt & vinegar kind, car companies have been forced to make some tough decisions – but yoinking heated seats is a very substantial change.

Until now, the types of features which have vanished from new vehicles thanks to the global chip shortage have been relatively minor – or have ironically served to bin features that weren’t all that popular to begin with (we’re lookin’ at you, infuriating start/stop on GM 5.3L V8 engines). Sticking with The General, customers have seen their in-dial temperature displays vanish, wireless charging go AWOL, and the aforementioned start/stop systems cease to be a blight on the commuting experience. Some of this decontenting has corresponded with a minor credit on the vehicle’s MSRP, such as a $50 chit for the lack of start/stop.

But biffing heated seats is a whole ‘nuther ball game. It’s one thing to remove the handy digital temperature readout which resides in the center of HVAC dials on vehicles like the Silverado and Sierra. It’s quite something else to bar the inclusion of heated seats, a feature which is anecdotally considered a deal-breaker by wide swaths of consumers. Failing to have bun warmers aboard one’s rig while driving to 5:30 am hockey practice is not popular in certain corners of the country.

Here is a list of affected vehicles, compiled by the pros at The Detroit News.

  • Chevrolet:
    • Malibu: LT, Premier
    • Trailblazer: LT, ACTIV, RS
    • Blazer: LT, RS, Premier
    • Equinox: LT, RS, Premier
    • Traverse: 1LT, 3LT, RS, Premier, High Country (rear heat only)
    • Colorado: LT, Z71, ZR2
    • Silverado 1500: LT, RST, LT Trailboss, LTZ
    • Silverado 2500/3500: LT, LTZ
  • GMC:
    • Canyon: Elevation, AT4, Denali
    • Terrain: SLE, SLT, AT4, Denali
    • Acadia: SLE, SLT, AT4, Denali (rear heat only)
    • Sierra 1500 Limited: SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4
    • Sierra 2500/3500: SLE, SLT, AT4
  • Buick:
    • Encore GX: Preferred, Select, Essence
    • Envision: Preferred, Essence, Avenir
    • Enclave: Premium, Avenir (rear heat only)
  • Cadillac:
    • XT4: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport
    • XT5: Luxury, Premium, Sport (rear heat only)
    • XT6: Luxury, Premium, Sport (rear heat only)

That’s, um, a lot of vehicles – including some of their best-sellers. Which, of course, spurs a question: will GM have the foresight to ship these vehicles to markets where heated seats are not a so-called deal breaker? It may be less of a big deal if the trucks on dealer lots in Phoenix don’t have heated seats compared to those being sold in Nebraska. Given the lack of available product, however, it is a safe assumption dealers in all corners of the country will simply take what they can get – heated seats or not.

Also, you can bet your bottom dollar GM isn’t pulling the actual buttons for this feature from dashboards – those switches are far too well integrated to be hauled from affected vehicles as it rolls down the assembly line. That’s simply (and understandably) too much work. Same goes for heated steering wheels. Here’s a list of rigs, again from The Detroit News.

  • Chevrolet:
    • Bolt EV: 1LT, 2LT
    • Bolt EUV: LT, Premier
    • Blazer: RS, Premier
    • Traverse: 3LT, RS, Premier
    • Trailblazer: LT, ACTIV, RS
    • Silverado 1500 LTD: LT, RST, LT Trailboss, LTZ
    • Silverado 2500/3500 HD: LT, LTZ
    • Suburban and Tahoe: LT, RST, Z71, Premier
  • GMC:
    • Acadia: SLE, SLT, AT4
    • Sierra 1500 Limited: SLE, Elevation, SLT, AT4
    • Sierra 2500/3500: SLE,SLT, AT4
    • Yukon and Yukon XL: SLT, AT4
  • Buick:
    • Encore GX: Essence
    • Envision: Essence, Avenir
    • Enclave: Essence, Premium
  • Cadillac:
    • CT4 and CT5: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, V-Series
    • XT4: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport
    • XT5 and XT6: Luxury, Premium without JSE Platinum Package, Sport without JSE Platinum Package

2022 Chevrolet Traverse Premier

That’s yet another significant list of popular vehicles. Like the heated seat switches, it is highly unlikely GM will swap out a steering wheel absent of the button controlling its warming function. This leads us to an interesting observation that’s sure to cause headaches for used car managers in three to five years’ time: Just because a vehicle has the controls for a particular feature doesn’t mean it is actually equipped. Flash forward to irate customers returning in the dead of winter complaining their heated seats don’t work, or the frustration of an overworked tech trying to diagnose a problem that doesn’t exist. And yes, all these vehicles will have these omissions noted on their Monroney and in the depths of GM’s computer system. Your author has toiled at dealerships for enough years to know it is highly unlikely either of those tools will be deployed while selling a four-year-old Trailblazer at a used car lot.

Still, in the current climate you can bet there will be numerous sales teams happy to see vehicles being built at all – heated seats or not.

[Images: GM]

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67 Comments on “Cold Comfort: GM Binning Heated Seats & Steering Wheel in Some Models...”


  • avatar
    redapple

    Heated seats are needed;
    1 in the north.
    2 everywhere if you are north of 50 years old.
    3 everywhere if you over do it on the golf course.

    Deal breaker? Yes.

    • 0 avatar
      boowiebear

      I will add one….a woman ever sits on the seat in the car.

      We are in Florida….the heathens in my family fire them up occasionally and are not over 50 or golfers!

      This is an absurd feature to remove. Way to go GM.

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        What do you want them to do, not build cars? The article suggests it’s due to the chip shortage. No chips means no heated seats on the listed models.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Agree with the posters above. My wife has only 5
          must haves’ for our next vehicle 1) heated seats, 2) blind spot monitoring, 3) only two pedals 4) easy to get into and out of 5) height adjustable driver seat. Her ‘nice to have’ list starts with 1) heated steering wheel.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        It’s something you get used to having, and then don’t want to go without. I’m that way now with factory remote-start!

        And I can believe you on how where you live and the weather’s effects on a person. I’m sure that at 55 degrees, where I’m comfortable in shorts, flip-flops and a hoodie, you’re likely shivering in a heavier jacket or coat! This October was unusually warm across the Midwest, and it was shorts weather in Ohio until a couple weeks ago, and now that the temperature is normal, we’re freezing, since we didn’t have the gradual cooldown to become acclimated. Of course, in the spring, people around here can be seen in shorts when it hits 40 and sunny!

  • avatar
    Fred

    When I buy a new car there is always a feature that I learn to love and heated seats is one of them. It doesn’t matter that I don’t live in the Great North, but it’s a nice luxury while I wait for the heater to build temperature.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Why conventional cars can’t have a pre-warm-up electric heater, I’ll never understand. EVs have heat.

      • 0 avatar
        bradfa

        Some diesel VWs had auxiliary cabin electric heaters in them, since the engines take so long to get up to temp.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        There is a heater you can put in your radiator hose. It’s mostly used in the north to keep your engine from freezing up.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Air cooled VW’s had a small gasoline powered ‘furnace’ located in the front trunk (they were rear engined). They were a fairly expensive option. You turned it on with a large knob/dial that glowed green when it was operating. Basically it was on either full or off. And you had to remember to turn if off when you turned off the car’s engine. The same with the radios that came with VW’s (Blaupunkts), they would continue to operate unless they were turned off separately.

          Always wondered just how dangerous these heaters were in a front end collision.

  • avatar
    GoNavy99

    Lack of heated seats are a dealbreaker for me. Heck I passed on a Tundra because it didn’t have a heated steering wheel, which is more of a dealbreaker for me these days.

    As an aside, a nice set of sheepskin seat covers will do wonders in both the hot and cold. Had them on my last Sierra 1500 Denali and never had to use the heating/cooling seat function.

    PS I live in a 4 season area with hot summers and cold winters.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Wow, that’s bad news – and quite a headache down the road. Imagine driving a $60k SUV with cold seats and steering wheel; I’d shop elsewhere.

    These will become known as “Covid-era” cars, vs the “Malaise-era” cars of yore.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Glad to see in GM’s infinite wisdom, they are prioritizing the heated seats in such wintertime favorites as the Corvette and Camaro…..

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Wait, so not only are you NOT getting your feature, you’re also GETTING the button to remind you of what you SHOULD have had? Hahahaha

  • avatar
    gasser

    Unless GM can assure buyers that the heated seat function can be retrofitted in the future, I think this will cost a lot of sales. I live in L.A. and when I bought my first car with heated seats (around 1990), I thought it was idiotic to have something like that in our climate. Now, I won’t have a leather seat without a bun warmer.

  • avatar
    Urlik

    If you’re not going to put in seat heaters, you better be wrapping those seats in cloth.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      was about to say, i have gotten used to the heated leather seats in the BMW, though never more than the first setting (my wife likes them much hotter). however, the PT Cruiser beater i bought for our big dog didn’t have heated seats, and i never felt i needed them. importantly, the seats were a comfy fabric (this was a first gen cruiser).

      My BMW seat heaters are so nice, i thought they’re basically all the same. but my friend’s Outback seat heaters are…. so weird. hot crotch, little else especially higher back.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Decisions have consequences.

  • avatar
    ajla

    CT5-V Superleggera.

  • avatar
    bpscarguy

    Not in the market now (and if I were, very little from GM interests me) but if I were, this is a TOTAL DEAL BREAKER.

    Heated seats a must in the Northeast as is a heated steering wheel.
    Once you have them, you will NEVER, ever go back.

    Heck, my 2002 Infiniti had heated seats front AND rear and a heated steering wheel. Ever since having that car, I will NEVER buy anything that is missing either one.

    I know there is a chip shortage and all but come on GM… at the very least you should not be removing them from the upper part of the range.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Can you imagine how many of these cars are going to get sold to unsuspecting Janice’s or Allen’s that THOUGHT they had heated seats in their car because it has the button? Oh, and you know some sleezy dealers will still tell people they have heated seats, knowing full well it’s a button only feature.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    If the button is sticking around, the feature it is meant to support should also stick around. I could almost understand shipping and selling the car without the feature, but placing a notice in the contract “we owe you this when parts become available”. Maybe provide a discount for inconvenience. Just work with the extended warranty people to identify customers who are owed the thing.

    Several years ago I bought a car with a busted windshield. In the sales contract the dealer clearly spelled out that they owed me a windshield. This was a used car and I recognize there are differences, but reasonable customers would understand generally.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Just guessing here, but this might cover about 1 million cars.

      Retrofitting them with the controls sounds good, except GM would have to treat it as a major voluntary recall once they got the parts. And if they credit people during the sale for the delete option, then GM would be eating the entire cost later, not to mention the labor.

      It’s pretty terrible for GM, the dealers, and the customers.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    It seems to me there would be a simple workaround for something as simple as heated seats not requiring some high tech IC.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      If only GM’s engineers could come up with simple workarounds, evidently that is too hard.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Pretty much everything is controlled by the BCM…to be fair it is not really feasible without redesign. That’s not going to happen.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Awful design, grade “F”. Seat heating elements can easily run on a separate circuit independently as they did on every GM vehicle for years.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Not much is wired like that anymore. The harness would be enormous. I recall a story in Popular Mechanics where the driver door of a Cadillac (with traditional wiring) had something like 50 wires entering it…CANBus made all that go away…less wire, less weight, much better reliability, and lower assembly cost. Same reason all cable controlled items like gear selectors and parking brakes are now all electric – electronics are cheaper to assemble than mechanical stuff. We have to get used to it. There is a reason I don’t keep the parking brake engaged when I leave my C7 in the garage during the winter…imagine the nightmare of getting the car out if the brake failed in the engaged position.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            That answers a lot of questions, golden2. I wondered why it just couldn’t be on a separate circuit as well. Thanks.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I call BS on GM. It’s time to stop blaming decontenting on the chip shortage, especially when the body computer is apparently fully capable of running front seat heaters. I also didn’t see any mention of compensating the buyer for the removal of the feature, just a vague promise that maybe they’ll put them in at some later date.

    Back in the awful dark ages that CANBUS saved us from, 2 or 3 wires would lead from the switch to a relay and from there to the heating element. Just like we didn’t need CANBUS to regulate the fan speed.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    I think there should be heated steering wheels for the passenger too

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I would have mocked anyone who said they wanted a heated steering wheel – until I had one. I can live without heated seats and frankly don’t get the hype, and like Urlik said, non-heated seats ought to be cloth. So I’d be ok without that. But my goodness is a heated steering wheel a game changer. I’m usually bundled up enough when it’s cold that I can barely sense the heated seats, but I’ll usually take my gloves off since the heated steering wheel does a better job at keeping my hands warm. I’m definitely going to miss having it this winter.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Not all heated seats are the same. As someone else did, some are like hot plates under the crotch. BMW heats the entire seat bottom and seat back. Some models let you control great distribution between the bottom and back.

      If I’m driving for more than 15 minutes I don’t like having my coat on in the car. I would rather use the seat heaters. They are nice even in more temperature climates. CA still see temps in the 40s during “winter” evenings. Skip the coat and use seat heaters. Feels great on the back.

      Heated wheel is awesome as well. I agree it might be better than the seats.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    If you’re buying a top-trim vehicle, they’d better be able to retrofit the things later without having to tear the interior apart to install it!

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Oh Lordy, this is just too easy. Trying to sell a 100K sports car w/o heated seats? Big hints; it snows in Germany and airscraves for high-end convertibles. The “Standard of the World”? Sub-30K Kias have heated seats. Professional Grade? Well, if you’re wearing gloves and Carharts; you’re tough and scoff at those desiring heated seats and steering wheels.

    Meanwhile back at the RENCEN, in a deeply hidden and highly secured VP-only and up lounge, they’re laughing. Vegas! Citations! Cimarrons! Cobalts! They keep coming back. One of the VP’s raised his index finger and circled it, another round for everyone! Delete options and it doesn’t matter! Make new models like the Blazer that are a mockery of the original and it doesn’t matter. Make a Corvette that costs as much as Porsche and Roscoe Jones the Konkrete King of Joplin, MO will brag he finally paid cash for a ‘Vette.

    They’re immune! claimed one VP. One VP was beset with fits of laughter; “Oh, they’re not immune; they think the third-best car in its class is a GREAT DEAL because it’s a GM product! Another VP, wiping tears from her eyes between chuckles said, “product issues we’ve had for decades, decades I tell you; refusing to spend another 27 cents for headliner glue ? Oh, our loyal customers will just explain it away”

    By then the after-work drinking had really started. Another VP gleefully said, “When they sit in one of our vehicles and see lines that don’t obviously line up; they don’t care, in their mind, the cheaper designed by committee vehicle is a value in the long run.

    Then one stood up, he was a CPA and a runner, his tummy hadn’t swelled to an oversize perimeter. Ladies and Gents, I’ve had too many Manhattans to speak in iambic pentameter. This is what really matters most: hitting market share and cutting the costs; if do that we don’t have a care. Do we have to make the best, the middling, or even give two care? It matters not as long as the price rises on our shares.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      el scotto
      Great piece last week. Great piece here. Keep it up. I suggest 2 or 3 x a month.
      More frequent would lessen the value.
      Less frequent would lead to starvation.

      Funny. I think both were about crappy GM products.
      Remember – GM is crap. They are never the answer.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Don’t forget about the disaster that was the Vega.

      ‘Yoinking’, by the way, is obscure but too nice of a description of what GM has done here. ‘Biffing’, however, is less than cromulent when used for anything other than “to strike”.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Or is it “yeeting” as the young-‘uns say? (At least my iPhone‘a spell-check in Safari still flagged that word!)

        I wonder if the person who named the Apple Web browser had a Pontiac station wagon, or had one in the family? Or similar with the GMC variant of the Astro? ;-)

  • avatar
    Mad Machine

    Oh, the humanity! What did people ever do before heated seats?!

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Tough crowd.

    Did the Jamestown settlers have heated seats in the winter of 1609-1610?

    Could von Steuben flip a switch to keep his buns warm in the winter of 1777-1778?

    Did we hear the Seventh Army pining for a heated steering wheel in December of ’44?

    Cars are awesome. Carmakers are awesome. Dealers are awesome. Customers are whiny babies.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Breaking News….GM hires Howie Long to ridicule competitors with heated seats and steering wheels.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Nope. Wife would tell me to take back a car without heated seats.

    This also eliminates any possibility that I’d accept a trade deal for a new Bolt in lieu of battery replacement on my existing Bolt, which is something I’ve heard is being offered.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Seriously – GM would be better off stopping production of cars like the Malibu and using all those chips in vehicles that sell at a big profit. A GMC Delano without seat or wheel heat? Sounds like a lot of lost sales!

  • avatar

    they apparently have enough chips to maintain the self destruct button.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Read this if you want to feel better:
    https://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Biden-has-underestimated-problems-facing-the-16620270.php

    Example quotes:
    • “I don’t think Democrats brag enough. I don’t think that we celebrate enough. I don’t think that we tell people why we are bragging and why we are celebrating.”
    • “By next year’s elections, top Democrats say, the national environment will look dramatically different.”
    • “Folks need to calm down… Stop bloviating over the sky is falling. It’s not falling.”

    Whatever you read this week, do NOT read this:
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/inflation-emerges-as-defining-economic-challenge-of-biden-presidency-with-no-obvious-solution-at-hand/ar-AAQGIoE

    Example quote:
    • “Supply chain backlogs also show little sign of easing before early 2023, said Phil Levy, chief economist at freight company Flexport.”

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      The Man from Plains would know what to do – someone should ask him.

      Best Surprise Stocking Stuffers for 2021:
      – Steel cut oats (for my favorite kid)
      – Rolled oats (for the other kid)
      – Long grain white rice (for everyone)
      – Dried beans (your choice of color!)

      Pretty sure I remember buying a steak back in August (in hindsight, that was probably a mistake).

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Toolguy: if that was the true source of this issue, then why is it only GM that is making this decision? Don’t other automobile companies assemble/manufacture vehicles in North America?

  • avatar
    redapple

    Calif ports back log:
    The reason why you have fewer truckers>

    1- CARB outlaws ALL TRACTORS older than 5 years. A clean air push. You see 95% clean is not good enough. Carb demands 96.5% clean. (PS trucks have a 10-20 year life )
    2- Cal Ports switched from using independent trucks to all must be employees of certain anointed companies.

    Why cant we move containers? Where are the truck drivers??? Ummmmm. I dont know.

    FIX? Potato head Brandon says “run the port 24 hours.”

    yeah. OK. What ever Brandon.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      From a website looking to sell you a new truck:

      All Commercial Trucks Must Meet New Emissions Standards by 2023

      As early as this year, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Fremont, and Mountain View area business owners operating diesel-fueled trucks may discover their older trucks are illegal to drive on California roadways. If you own a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,001-26,000 pounds and it doesn’t meet new emissions standards, you will no longer be able to renew your registration. Commercial diesel trucks are being phased out by model year. The older your vehicle, the sooner you’ll need to purchase a new commercial truck, as of:

      January 1, 2020:
      Vehicle model years 2004 and older.
      January 1, 2021:
      Vehicle model years 2005-2007.
      January 1, 2023:
      Vehicle model years 2008-2010

      Looks like trucks older than 5 years are still allowed…I’m assuming that the weight class for a tractor is in this class…so unless they have a special class that specifically says no, I don’t see why this ruling has any impact on the shortages…maybe offering higher pay might entice someone to the trucking industry…

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    Brandon is too busy to deal with supply chain shortages. Sure, he could sign an executive order allowing non union truckers to haul from the ports and allow trucks of any age that are road legal to be used. But nooooo. He is too busy calling a white guy a white nationalist for shooting white guys who were trying to kill him.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    This is crazy. We wouldn’t consider a car unless it had heated seats.

  • avatar
    Good ole dayz

    EVERY GM executive in Detroit should be REQUIRED to drive the de-contented versions of these vehicles as their company cars so long as the de-contenting continues.

    These are the BONEHEADED BEANCOUNTERS who have made the decision to outsource production to Asia over the past several decades and institute “just in time” inventory alongside it.

    Let them experience what the consumer is experiencing due to their penny-pinching (and ultimately harmful to the U.S.) short-sightedness and greed.

  • avatar
    IH_Fever

    First world problems. Some folks would literally die if you got rid of their gizmos. Maybe if the chip shortage gets bad enough we’ll go back to having trucks instead of luxobarges with beds. :) Taking out the feature and leaving the button is typical GM phoning it in though.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So I assume the button stays and the feature gets switched on once the chip is installed? I guess the dealer has to show this as a “we owe” item at point of sale or something like that.

    And on that subject…where IS the chip installed?

    By the way, I’m feeling awfully smart for buying my car in the spring, before these supply issues got really stupid.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    pretty sure i know whats gonna happen to killer kylee… eventually :)

  • avatar
    Socrates77

    Hilarious, specially when their crap is overpriced, some of this junk is over $50k and they can’t fix a problem, which every other manufacturers don’t seem to be cutting options. Can’t wait until they file for bankruptcy again.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    GM could of gone full “woke” and claimed they stopped offering heated steering wheels and seats due to it causing global warming.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    This is why Tesla uses touchscreens instead of separate physical controls. Just sayin.

  • avatar
    zipper69

    If the switches cannot be removed or replaced with blanking inserts the low cost answer would be a self adhesive blank overlay put over them.

    Or is that “rocket science” in G.M. ?

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