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When you’re in the market for a used truck, you want to make sure your investment will be worth it. Reliability and functionality are key when it comes to big pickups, and the GMC Sierra 3500 is certainly built to get the job done. But how do used Sierra 3500s perform? Are there model years that are better than others?

Luckily there is a lot of research to help you choose the right used GMC Sierra 3500 that will last for years to come. Here’s the model year you should steer clear from.

The used Sierra 3500 model you want to avoid

GMC’s Sierra 3500 has had a tumultuous history with reliability. According to Consumer Reports, even the current 2019 Sierra 3500 only scores an unimpressive one out of five in predicted reliability. It cites a variety of potential trouble spots based on the Sierra 3500‘s history. So, are GMC Sierras of past model years any better?

The data proves that if you’re shopping for a used Sierra 3500, certain model years are worse than others. Car Complaints found minimal “complaints on file for the GMC Sierra 3500,” due to either lack in popularity or simply good reliability.

The 2015 model year did prove to garner the most overall complaints, with six major problems total. However, the model year that received the worst ratings of all is the 2004 GMC Sierra 3500.

Biggest complaints with the 2004 GMC Sierra 3500

The 2004 GMC Sierra 3500 may not have as many criticisms as the 2015 model, but Car Complaints found the 2004 Sierra to have more serious problems. The worst reported problem is a rotting driveline center bearing, which causes transfer-case failure. This can be extremely costly and gets a severity rating of 10 out of 10 from Car Complaints.

The 2004 Sierra 3500’s second biggest issue is brake-line rust. While it also receives a severity rating of 10 out of 10, this fix isn’t as costly. According to Car Complaints, you’ll find the biggest problems in the drivetrain and brake categories, though there are also cited clutch and electrical problems.

According to Repair Pal, which gathers owner grievances about used vehicles, the 2004 GMC Sierra has received multiple big and small complaints from owners. These criticisms include problems with the parking brake, daytime lights, ABS control, speedometer, and more.

There are also common issues with the 2004’s transmission, which could be related to age and use. But, according to DriveTrain Resource, many used GMC Sierras experience transmission issues related to the check engine light and first and overdrive gears as well as issues moving between gears. The transmission may also have problems not locking in its gear.

Best years for used GMC Sierra 3500s

According to Car Complaints’ GMC Sierra 3500 model-year comparison, the following years have received a rating of zero for big complaints: 1992-96, 1999, 2001-02, 2008-10, and 2012.

Other top years to avoid, aside from the 2004 model year, are the 2000, 2005-07, 2013, and 2015 model years. But the Sierra 3500 has changed a lot over the years. Its history can be seen via Consumer Reports, which found model years 2003-06 to be less comfortable, but designed for “hard work.”

It also finds that newer generations offer more refinement without the workhorse attitude. Your next used GMC Sierra 3500 should be from a reliable model year but also able to suit your needs and lifestyle.