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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
80,642 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Chevrolet Suburban electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Chevrolet Suburban Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #53

Jan 022015


  • 225,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban. At various times, the ignition switch failed and all the warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 225,000.

- Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #52

Oct 152016

Suburban 8-cyl

  • 178,000 miles
Saturday, I was driving approximately 45 to 50 mph on a split two lane road to pick up my grandchildren and all of a sudden my instrument panel stopped working. All gauges went to 0. there was no digital readings either. It just went dead. Pulled over and turned the vehicle off and back on, nothing changed. Plugged my garmin gps in for my speed guide and filled my gas tank so I knew that it was full. Called mechanic to bring vehicle in for him to check out on Tuesday. Tuesday, (today) on my way to work, driving on 4 lane interstate, 60 to 70 mph, all of a sudden, all of the gauges and digital readings came on and began working correctly. I still took my vehicle to the mechanic, he stated that he will look at it and call me later. I depend on my car, just like everyone else. I can not just go out and buy a new one every time something goes wrong. I pray that this does not cause an accident. I Transport my grandchildren and worry about their safety. I am a safety director and safety is very passionate to me. There must be something that can be done about this issue. I love my Suburban and plan on purchasing another one some day. It has always been a very dependable vehicle but this issue has me spooked.

- Bartow, FL, USA

problem #51

Aug 102016


  • 190,000 miles
The anti theft system caused the engine to quit going down the hi way several times and was very dangerous some of the times and left us stranded sometimes. GM acts like they do not know what is wrong but there is ample info on the internet and even a fix but it disable the ats, it turns off the fuel to the injectors killing the engine. This happened many times. We had to be towed twice because it would not restart.

- Stillwater, OK, USA

problem #50

Jul 082016


  • 149,000 miles


Vehicle suddenly started going into reduced power mode and providing an error code indicating a problem with the throttle control sensor. From the hundreds of online posts (some by GM mechanics) this is an ongoing problem with many 2003-2008 trucks and SUVS made by GM. When I began trying to repair this problem myself, I found out from my local Chevy parts department that "they can not keep these throttle control assemblies in stock because we are replacing so many of them..." there seems to be a know problem that GM is not adequately being proactive about. This happens while driving highway, local streets and at startup. This becomes a serious safety issue when the vehicle goes into reduced power mode while the vehicle is in traffic.

- Batesville, AR, USA

problem #49

Feb 202016


  • 100,000 miles
When driving vehicle kept falling dead on highway and city streets

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #48

Jul 082015


  • 76,731 miles
All gauges in instrument cluster went low or no reading, including speedometer, fuel, tachometer, temp. The repair was done at willie's auto repair 901 S. cliff ave. In sioux falls, sd. The GM remanufactured instrument cluster part was $453 and labor was $126, with tax the total cost of the repair was $613 which GM should be paying for !! I know several people at work that have had to have this done to their GM trucks and Tahoe, Suburban. This is so widespread there should be a class action suit !! you know the component they replace can't be much on a board in these "remanufactured clusters" GM needs to replace these at their expense !!!

- Norfolk, NE, USA

problem #47

Jul 222015


  • 75,000 miles


The rear lift tailgate and window will not unlock when using the remote key button, or when using the unlock button on the drivers door arm rest. There is no manual key lock for the rear lift tailgate or window, nor any inside button to manually unlock the tailgate. When sleeping in the rear of the Suburban you have do way to exit the car except by climbing over seats and exiting using the front doors. Driving the car and stopping to try to unlock the rear lift gate will eventually allow you to unlock the tailgate, some times after many tries. Also it some times will unlock when alternating between the driver door unlock button and the remote unlock button. This could be a dangerous problem. This failure of the rear tailgate is a common problem with Suburban. This link provides more information on this problem: " "

- Lacey, WA, USA

problem #46

May 282015


  • 99,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban 1500. While driving 65 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the vehicle was operating as designed. The failure recurred multiple times. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 99,000.

- Sherman Oaks, CA, USA

problem #45

Sep 032009

Suburban 4WD 8-cyl

  • 93,300 miles
My '03 Chevrolet Suburban has developed what appears to be a very common condition where the entire instrument cluster becomes inoperable. For example, while traveling at low, in town speeds, the speedometer will have readings in the 60S, 70S' and 80S. While in the park position, the speedometer will read 55mph. This is absolutely a safety issue and I am really shocked that the NHTSA hasn't forced a recall. There are literally thousands of reports online of this exact problem. General Motors is aware that this is a wide spread problem, as they even extended. General Motors even provided owners with a special coverage that extends the warranty on the instrument panel cluster for the condition described above, as long as the vehicles age and mileage falls within certain parameters. Those parameters are the main reason for my complaint. Those parameters are 1) 7 years of the in service date, and 2) 70,000 miles, which ever occurs first. My claim to have the instrument cluster in my vehicle repaired under the special coverage was denied on 9/4/09 because the mileage of my vehicle was 93,000 miles at the time of my request. I believe that this is a large scale safety problem that warrants a recall by General Motors rather than an extension of warranty with unreasonable mileage parameters. Extending the warranty alone is a clear admission of a known widespread issue. Is NHTSA in bed with GM too? I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

- Celina, TX, USA

problem #44

Feb 212015


  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban. While driving at 50 mph, the gauges on the instrument panel failed. A month later, the failure recurred and all the meters, gauges, and warning lights on the instrument cluster panel failed. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 125,000.

- Morganville, NJ, USA

problem #43

Nov 052014

Suburban 4WD 8-cyl

  • 152,000 miles


I am a teacher and got a call in my classroom that my Suburban was on fire parked in the parking lot. The fire department was called and when I got outside, sure enough there was smoke all in the Suburban and smoke coming from the roof of the vehicle (not the hood). When the fire department arrived, they entered the vehicle, disconnected the battery, and proceeded to tear out my rear headliner to extinguish the electrical fire that was occurring. My insurance company had the vehicle towed and it was deemed reparable, which I was not too happy about seeing as we don't really know the cause of the fire beyond electrical. The fire originated near the rear dome light and burned the headliner and melted the paint off the roof the vehicle. The location of the fire was not a in a place where any mechanic could check to have prevented this from occurring and I am concerned about the safety of the vehicle moving forward. I am not in a financial position to afford a new Suburban and do love mine, but am now just concerned. I am thankful no one was in the vehicle and that no one was hurt.. but had a parent dropping a kid off to school not noticed the smoke coming off the roof of my car in the parking lot, things could have been much worse. I had also just filled my tank up the day before so the car was sitting with 30 gallons of gasoline in it. I am also thankful that I was not trying to scramble to get my 4 kids out of the car (and yes we do use the 3rd row seat daily). I think this incident needs to be looked at to prevent any other owner of a 2003 Suburban from having a similar experience. There were no recalls on my vehicle that would have lead to this issue.

- Stevensville, MD, USA

problem #42

Dec 012012


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban. The contact stated that the interior lighting, onstar device power in the rearview mirror, fan motor, and door locks lost power intermittently. The failures recurred on numerous occasions. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that an electrical short in the dashboard needed to be repaired. The failure was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 100,000.

- Evington, VA, USA

problem #41

Oct 132014

Suburban 4WD 8-cyl

  • 255,000 miles
I can unlock truck with key or remote put key in start and dash lights come on but no start. After being told it was the fuel pump, the started, and key I know it has something to do with the anti-lock. I have reprogrammed it several time but each time a different way. I have research it on line and it is a on going problem with GM cars and trucks. However I am not sure if it is a recall. I am recently the second car owner of this truck and experiencing this major problem. I am a single mother with children and grandchildren and this is not good for me at night or during the day if at a shopping center. I have had to have it towed to my home then the next day it started. If any one can help me please email [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Ft Washington, MD, USA

problem #40

Nov 132002


  • 348 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban. The contact stated that while driving 50 mph, the instrument panel failed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection where they stated that the instrument cluster needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the contact stated that every electrical component failed in due to poor grounding. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 348.

- Barinerd, MN, USA

problem #39

Oct 022013

Suburban 8-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
Ever since we purchased this huge pile of junk, it has been every problem to changing fuel pump several times, catalytic converters, batteries, major electrical problems, every gauge in the vehicle is off from gas gauge to speedometer to coolant! there is not anything that is not wrong with it. After thousands of dollars and so many times of being stranded on the side of the road with 4 little kids in the dead of winter with no heat. I would like a lifetime warranty from Chevrolet to cover any expense incurred while owning such a piece of crap and for the humiliation I have incurred by being seen in a Chevy because they are junk!!!!!or would like book value of vehicle so I can go buy a Ford because they run for 250,000 miles plus!!! not 125,000.

- Weedsport, NY, USA

problem #38

Jul 142011


  • 103,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban 1500. The contact stated that while idling at a stop sign, the speedometer provided an erroneous reading of 60 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection where they stated that the speedometer cluster needed to be replaced. The vehicle not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 103,000.

- Grand Ledge , MI, USA

problem #37

Jun 132013

Suburban 4WD 8-cyl

  • 110,500 miles
I was driving my Suburban back from work one day and my front A/C blower stopped working. I turned A/C off and reached home. When I took the plastic cover over the blower motor apart to see what is going on I figured that the electrical connector to the blower motor resister has heated up and melted. I replaced the blower motor resister thinking something was wrong with that only to find out it happened again 15 days later. I searched the problem online and found that yet another engineering disaster by GM. It appears to be a known problem in GM trucks. For some reason the blower motor resister is overheating and melting the plastic connector and wires connecting to it. This is a fire hazard. I called up a Chevy dealership near me to find out if there was any recall on this they said no. Hence reporting this to you.

- Bensalem, PA, USA

problem #36

Mar 232013

Suburban 8-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
I was driving my 2003 Chevrolet Suburban down the road and my speedometer stopped working. I looked online and I found over 40 incidents on alone. Whats the problem with getting this safety problem fixed. I can go to the dealer and get it fixed for $500 or more. Do people need to get hurt or die before this problem is noticed by Chevrolet or GMC?

- Fort Hood, TX, USA

problem #35

Nov 022012


  • 195,000 miles
Just finished driving vehicle for 1 hour at highway speeds without incident. Parked car for 5 minutes, upon trying to restart, the car displayed "reduced engine power" on the driver information console. Approximately 8 restarts and the message did not display. Drove car 5 minutes and parked it for 1 hour, upon restart displayed same message, car was virtually undriveable. 3 restarts later message no longer displayed. This message has now intermittently occurred ever since seemingly without any pattern. The message is related to a failure in the "drive by wire" system that allows for the elimination of a physical cable from the gas pedal. It causes the car to be completely undriveable until seemingly randomly fixing itself.

- Randolph, NJ, USA

problem #34

May 112011


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban. The contact stated that the instrument panel failed and was providing inaccurate readings. As a result, the contact was not able to determine the speed in which he was traveling. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection where they stated that the instrument cluster needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified and stated that there were no recalls for the vehicle. The failure mileage was 90,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Absecon, NJ, USA

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