1996 Chevrolet Tahoe Sport Z-71 5.8 from North America
An awesome performer on or off road, high in comfort, good looking truck, but painfully unreliable!
Let's start with the little things first: The window wiper motor stopped working when it was basically new (1996.) I repaired myself - found bad solder joints on the circuit board and re-soldered. This was just recalled (2003) It was recalled way too late.
Both window washer motors failed within first year, including front and back. The plastic that the motors were made from completely decomposed, an apparent incompatibility with standard window washing solution from Auto-Zone.
The check engine light comes on intermittently, and has since it was new. It will stay on for weeks at a time, then go off for weeks, or months at a time. GM finally tried replacing computer, after all else failed. It was never resolved. I have not noticed it in a while. I think the bulb burned out!
The starter failed 3 times in 5 years. Each time it was the same problem, the case was cracked at a stress point near the bolt holes. This was an obvious factory defect. The last starter I purchased seems to be holding up better.
Both Rear axle seals began heavy leaking at 40,000 miles. Dealer refused to honor warranty (as usual) saying that I was at fault for not spraying out brake shoe dust. This is absurd! I have never in my life had a vehicle that leaked at the axles because of brake dust!
At approximately 50,000 miles the intake manifold had a major leak where the heater hose connected. The same defective plastic was used in the connector, and decomposed from contact with the radiator fluid.
The rear-locking differential failed at 71,000 miles due to bearing failure. It completely destroyed the unit. Because I had complained about a loud whining noise since it was new (They refused to repair again) the repair cost was partially refunded, but I still paid for the parts. After the repair, the whining was back again. I complained and was told it would loosen up in time. Further complaints had no result.
At approximately 80,000 miles the transmission failed catastrophically. My repair cost was $2500. The transmission shop told me it was due to a bearing failure in a low-stress part of the transmission. According to him, this is the typical max life of this "Heavy duty" transmission.
Today I am writing this because the rear differential is now obviously failing again. It is squealing very loudly, and clunking when I try to accelerate. The mileage is 121,000, almost exactly 50,000 miles since the dealership rebuild the first one!! It is fairly obvious that they did not correct the original defect, but merely replaced the broken parts. (Typical GM service; that is when you can get them to service it!)
Overall, I love my Tahoe. The overall design is a perfect combination of luxury car, off-road truck, and sports car! No rattles even after 120,000 miles. The cloth seats held up very well, even now.
Doing much of my own maintenance, I have found that it is very serviceable, with plenty of room to get to all engine components. This is a good thing, since you will need to keep a mechanic on-call 24 hours per day! I am extremely (very extremely!) unhappy with the reliability of the major drive-train components, and the outrageous costs for these repairs. The defective starter issues should have been resolved years before they were. The rear differential problems are inexcusable, and will probably result in a lawsuit!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 20th October, 2003
27th Nov 2005, 23:51
Thanks for the info: I plan on buying a 1996 Tahoe 2dr, in the next week. Once again, thanks for your information!
17th Dec 2007, 16:47
I'm gonna be buying a 1996 Chevy Tahoe with a lot of miles on it... should I get it?
And I'm paying $800, so what's not to like?
5th Feb 2010, 13:02
Had my 96 Tahoe for 8 years now... I got it with 58,000 miles on it, with all service records, previous owners used nothing but synthetic oils for everything... In the 8 years I have had it, I have replaced the fuel pump (wiring harness corroded and shorted it out), the battery, the starter once, the alternator twice, the wiper motor circuit board for $20... All pretty standard fixes, great truck!!
My rear differential however just gave out, I need a new axle assembly, it started with a clunk on taking off from a start. Bummer, but the truck does have 180,000 miles on it, so what can you expect? I love my truck overall...