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While the newest model years of the Chevy TrailBlazer are pretty decent SUVs, the same can’t be said for its older model years. And like many other makes and models, the TrailBlazer’s worst year was its first year on the market, 2002. Here’s why you should never buy a 2002 Chevy TrailBlazer.

The Chevy TrailBlazer’s accessory problems

If a car is supposed to be a home away from home, then the 2002 TrailBlazer was a home that didn’t have a working A/C, lights, and other electronic features. These were annoying problems, but they were very common problems as well, according to Car Complaints

The A/C and heater of the 2002 TrailBlazer was one of the more common complaint areas. Many owners of the SUV reported that either the A/C didn’t work or the heater didn’t work. That said, most of the TrailBlazers that suffered from these issues were pretty old. Their average mileage, according to Car Complaints, was about 90,000 miles. Furthermore, these issues cost owners an average of $500 to fix. 

Another common problem, as reported by Car Complaints, had to do with the 2002 TrailBlazer’s control gauges, Many owners of the SUV simply reported that the gauges stopped working. Once again, the average mileage on these TrailBlazers was pretty high and it cost about $400 to fix on average. 

The TrailBlazer’s engine and transmission issues

While the 2002 TrailBlazer’s accessory problems were annoying and relatively cheap to fix, the same can’t be said for the TrailBlazer’s engine and transmission issues. These issues weren’t as frequent as the accessory problems were, but they were still very common.

For example, many owners reported that their TrailBlazer’s transmission failed. Once again, the average TrailBlazer that had this issue had a lot of miles on it, as the average was about 100,000 miles. However, unlike the accessory problems, it cost on average $2,200 to fix the TrailBlazer’s transmission problem. 

Furthermore, as Car Complaints said, this transmission issue has even led to some injuries. About 11 people reported that they were injured in part due to the 2002 TrailBlazer’s transmission failing. 

The TrailBlazer’s engine issues were less common than the transmission issues were, but they were also more costly to fix. Several owners reported that their 2002 TrailBlazer’s engine simply died. The average mileage on these TrailBlazers, at about 72,000 miles, wasn’t as high as usual. However, because it was an engine failure, it cost on average about $4,600 to fix. 

Consumer Reports had similar findings. The 2002 TrailBlazer’s transmission and electronics issues were the most common and least reliable areas of the SUV. Both of these areas scored 1 out of 5 for reliability. 

The TrailBlazer’s most severe problem

While all of these problems are bad enough, there are even worse areas of the 2002 TrailBlazer. Many owners of the 2002 TrailBlazer reported issues with the SUV’s airbags simply not deploying in an accident. Obviously, this is extremely dangerous, and Car Complaints said that about 34 people were injured by this problem and unfortunately, two people died as a result of it. 

That said, the 2002 TrailBlazer’s airbags, along with several other problematic areas, were the subject of multiple recalls. Millions of cars were affected by these recalls overall. When all of these problems are added together, the 2002 TrailBlazer earns its award as being the worst model year of the TrailBlazer, according to Car Complaints.

But, it could be worse. While the 2002 TrailBlazer is a problematic car, Car Complaints only gave it a “Beware of the Clunker” badge. There is a badge that’s worse than that, and that’s the “Avoid like the Plague” badge. Notably, the 2002 Ford Explorer is a recipient of that award.