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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 1
Average Mileage:
25,925 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Chevrolet Suburban Owner Comments

problem #14

Mar 012011


  • 45,000 miles


2003 chevorlet Suburban - transmission failed at 45, 000 miles. Since it wasn't under warranty any longer, purchased a new transmission from GM with a 3 yr 100, 000 mile warranty. After 3yrs, 4months, the vehicle now has 91,000 miles and the transmission has failed again. Each time the cost is over $2500.

- Chino, CA, USA

problem #13

Dec 102006


  • 55,000 miles
I got a 2003 Chevrolet surb. The rear door keep coming open on it own, the speedometer does not work, oil gauge, and the temperature gauge not work. It had start now when start to cranked it the brake booster light come the battery light come saying not charging.

- Clarksdale, MS, USA

problem #12

May 292010


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban. The contact stated the vehicle was parked in the driveway with the key in the ignition while she and her two small children, ages 2 and 4, were watching a movie. The battery died during the movie and the contact momentarily left both children in the vehicle while she went to retrieve jumper cables. The youngest child was able to move the shifter out of gear and the vehicle proceeded to move, knocking the youngest child out of the vehicle. The child became lodged between the rear of the vehicle and a grill. The contact heard the crash and discovered the child pinned beneath the vehicle. She attempted to remove the child but to no avail. She shifted the vehicle into neutral and attempted to move the vehicle but she was unable to move the vehicle. The police arrived and the child was transported to the hospital via ambulance. The child suffered blunt force trauma, smoke inhalation, cardiac arrest and severe 2nd and 3rd degree burns to the lower half of his body. The child did not survive. The police stated they too were able to move the shifter out of place without engaging the brakes. A police report was available. The police stated they were doing a supplemental report to show the vehicle failure. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileages were unknown. Lawyer wrote in on behalf of client stating that all future correspondence regarding the incident should be direct toward the law firm. Updated 12/03/10 updated 12/22/10

- Decatur , GA, USA

problem #11

Dec 012008


  • 88,000 miles


Revving of engine to point of screeching tires. Sometimes feeling of being in neutral for a second then clunk in tranny/rear end? acts as engagement of cruise control increasing speed, not able to disengage by hitting brake. Computer did not show anything. Next time putter "locked out" tech's. puter replaced. Worked good for two weeks. Engine revved, hit patch of ice, totaled out Z-71. Thank god, no injuries. Fighting it for appx 16000 miles. 72000 to 88000.

- Battle Creek, MI, USA

problem #10

Jan 172007

Suburban 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,173 miles
No event leading to failure. Heard clunk - tranmission went out 48,000 miles. Vehicle has never towed anything. Replaced transmission - shop now says rear differntial also bad.

- Chino, CA, USA

problem #9

Aug 292003

Suburban 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,000 miles
Check engine light illuminated after 300 miles travel. Hard shift from first to second (felt like transmission dropped from vehicle. This first occurred six months after purchase of 2003 Chevrolet Suburban (new). Dealer re-programmed transmission control module. Same problem on return trip four days later, and six more times in the past 2 1/2 years. Four separate GM dealers, in two states, have attempted fix via: 1. re-program tcm, 2. replace transmission solenoid, 3. replace transmission valve body and re-program tcm. Still not fixed.

- Chesterfield, MI, USA

problem #8

May 132005

Suburban 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,095 miles


I purchased a new 2003 Chevrolet Suburban in December of 2003. On May 13, 2005, the transmission began to fail rapidly. The automatic transmission will not easily shift into second gear and reverse gear does not function at all. The car came with a 3 year 36,000 mile power train warranty and I have put 48,000 miles on it in the eighteen months that I've owned it. 98% of the miles on the odometer are highway miles. I have towed a boat exactly 4 times. I took the car to a Chevrolet dealer who indicated that the transmission needed to be replaced at a cost of $2452 Chevrolet has offered to pay for the parts & wants me to pay for the labor-$900 there are two technical safety bulletins relating to this problem- #030730028 "drivetrain "clunks" when stopping" and 00822B, "no second & fouth gears and no reverse"

- Montclair, NJ, USA

problem #7

Sep 212003

Suburban 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
Regular harsh engagement on my 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe transmission. 1) had a huge clunk when having to suddently stop on one occasion - sounded like the transmission was going to drop/bam. 2) on an unpredictable basis the transmission harshly engages when going shifting at the slower spds. 3) brought to service dealor and they acknowledge problem during a test drive "that needs to be ck'd out". they said they fixed. 4) problem was worse when car was received back (have no idea if car will ever bam/clunk/wham/drop again as I normally don't suddenly stop but whatever that was it certainly wasn't good for the transmission). I reported the frequency of the harsh engagements actually were more often and they then changed there tune citing a service bulletin saying it's normal ". 5) now 15,000 miles later of harsh engagements I'm sensing some slippage and those harsh engagements are now harsher. I'm very disappointed in the performance of my Tahoe and am very concerned of the future of the transmission in that GM & belzers acknowledge the problem then said GM says not to do anything. Car still runs but it very annoying when driving in the cities stop and go traffice...a clunk clunk here and a clunk clunk there here a clunk there a clunk. This is absolutely ridiculous!

- Savage, MN, USA

problem #6

May 042004

Suburban 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,750 miles
Consumer stated that his 2 yr old son was able to pull his vehicle out of park without stepping on the brakes. He stated that the child was in the vehicle and was apparently playing with the gear shifter. He then moved the shift level causing the vehicle to roll backward hitting a pole and bending his front passenger side door. He stated he does not think this vehicle has a shift interlock, which will not allow the gear shifter to be moved without stepping on the brakes first. He stated he took the vehicle to the dealer and they did not know this either. The consumer stated the interlock only works when the key is in the ignition to drive.

- Arleta, CA, USA

problem #5

May 142004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
Gear is easily moved from drive to neutral without depressing the button on gear shift. Dealership and manufacturer were called about the problem.

- Mount Sterling, KY, USA

problem #4

Oct 042003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 330 miles


While driving at highway speeds automatic transmission stopped shifting. Vehicle was towed to a dealer, who found a split in a transmission gasket which caused the clutch and piston not to function.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #3

Sep 282003


  • 8,000 miles
While driving approximately 45 mph and would start to shift between 2nd and 3rd gears vehicle would give a strong jerking motion. Have taken to dealership, and mechanic could not locate cause of problem.

- Monterey Park, CA, USA

problem #2

Jun 012003

Suburban 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,600 miles
While driving at highway speeds, the overdrive gear would not hold and constantly shifted in and out of high gear. Problem has happened occassionally since the first time. In addition, transmission continues to shift at higher RPM than previously.

- Missouri City, TX, USA

problem #1

Dec 042002


  • miles
While shifting the vehicle into another gear, the vehicle will not move at all. The gear shift will get stuck. Please fill in additional information. Dealer is aware of the problem.

- West Brookfield, MA, USA

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