The Chevrolet Suburban You Should Never Buy

One of the biggest SUVs on the market today is the Chevy Suburban. It seats eight passengers in the base model and even nine on the LS. And its generous amount of cargo space, nearly three tons in curb weight, and standard 5.3-liter V8 engine make the Suburban large and in charge.

Depending on the trim level, expect to pay anywhere from around $50,000 to almost $70,000 for a 2020 Chevy Suburban. If you want to save some serious cash you might want to consider buying a used one. But if you do, there’s one model year that is the worst Chevy Suburban out there, according to CarComplaints.com. And this is the one you should avoid at all costs.

Chevy Suburban problems: sheer numbers versus severity

Two of the most problematic years for the Chevy Suburban were 2007 and 2009. Both years faced different types of problems, so which one was worse?

The 2007 model year had the most complaints overall, with Suburban owners sending in 889 of them. This year also had the most problems, with a grand total of 353. The most-reported problem, which was excessive engine oil consumption, also casts a big shadow on this model year.

But the 2009 Suburban also posed massive headaches for owners. Although this year had only 211 complaints and 44 problems, it surpassed the 2007 model year in another way. The cost of the problems.

Why this model year is the worst

The engine problems in the 2009 Chevy Suburban were so severe that CarComplaints.com designated this model year as the worst overall. They occurred across all trim levels. 

These problems included not only excessive oil consumption, but also engine oil usage despite no external leaks, collapsed valve lifters, and the engine dying while driving. All of these problems were rated as pretty bad, except for the lifters problem. It was rated as really awful, which is the website’s highest severity rating.

Adding to the pain of this most terrible model year were the high repair costs of these problems and relatively low mileage when they happened.

The best example is the most-reported engine problem, which was excessive oil consumption with 18 out of 25 engine problems for that year. The typical cost for fixing it was $5,000. The average mileage for this problem’s occurrence was only 55,850 miles.

What the owners had to say

Of the 18 owner complaints listed for excessive oil consumption, 14 owners weren’t sure what the solution was for this problem. Two owners had the engine repaired and two had it replaced.

Some owners said that their 2009 Suburbans burned a quart of oil in as little as 750 or 1,000 miles. One Chevy Suburban owner said his vehicle used 2 quarts of oil after driving it 300 miles. A few said that their engines consumed all of their oil without any leaks or other indications that something was wrong.

This was also true for owners who submitted complaints about engine oil usage without external leaks. One owner blamed the problem on a fouled oil plug. Owners typically paid close to $500 to repair this problem and the average mileage was 93,950 miles.

In some cases, mechanics have told owners that they can’t do anything about the problems. In others, owners have brought their Suburbans into the dealership several times with no resolution of the problem. One dealership suggested that the owners bring his vehicle in for oil changes every 500 miles.

The owner who reported that his engine died while driving said that it happened when the vehicle warmed up to running temperature, at about 185 degrees. The engine would shut down with no warning lights or diagnostic codes. This problem, which happened at 92,250 miles, remained unsolved as well.

Both the 2007 and 2009 model years were especially bad for excessive oil consumption and engine problems in general. But other years were affected, too, since CarComplaints.com identified engine problems as the worst problem category for all years. While there are many used Suburbans out there that run well and are great rides, it’s probably smart to stay clear of the 2009¬†Chevrolet Suburban.