Why Won’t My GMC Terrain Start?

TaxiHack is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.

Debuting in 2010, the GMC Terrain was the new replacement for the Pontiac Torrent. This new lineup was off to a rocky start with a lot of issues and problems.

While it would be able to get on top of the issues later in the life of the lineup, many models would still have many issues.

These issues would be so severe that many people would have to ask, why won’t my GMC Terrain Start?

There may be a lot of issues to discuss, but in this article, I will talk about the more major and common ones.

I have gone ahead and listed them down below:

  1. Dead/Low Charged Battery
  2. Alternator Issues
  3. Engine Damage
  4. Starter Problems
  5. Fuel Issues

You should have a firm idea of how these issues are caused and what you need to do if you ever face them.

This is why reading this article is paramount to anyone who owns a GMC Terrain.

What Would Cause A GMC Terrain To Not Start?

What kind of starting issues do GM Terrains have? Let's find out

The major reason why many GMC Terrains won’t turn on is due to manufacturing faults.

The lineup had issues right from the first model, and these were mostly due to bad manufacturing.

While this would go away in future models, you still have to deal with these faults in the older models, which I will discuss in this article section.

1: Dead/Low Charged Battery

The first issue that I will be discussing is a very common one. It is so common that you should not be surprised about why I am talking about it.

Battery issues frequently occur in many cars, and the GMC Terrain is no exception.

Many people have had their GMC Terrain’s battery die or get low on charge because of electrical issues or their own negligence.

The battery is used to power all of the car’s components, and without it, you cannot hope to start the car.

It is very high maintenance as there are many factors that you have to take into account if you want your battery to stay at optimal charge levels.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Inspect the battery and look for any corrosion on the terminals. Also, look for any loose or frayed wires as well.
  • You should have these fixed as soon as possible if you spot them.
  • Move on and carry out a voltage test on the battery. If your battery is outputting anything less than 12 volts, you must get it back to full charge.
  • You can do this by getting the battery jumpstarted. This will be much more preferable if your battery has been recently purchased.
  • If you have an older battery, you are better off getting it replaced with a new one.

2: Alternator Issues

The next issue you will likely face when owning a GMC Terrain is trouble with the alternator.

The alternator is a crucial piece of tech for any car, as it is required to maintain the battery charging.

As I have discussed, the battery needs a good amount of charge for the GMC Terrain to turn on.

The alternator helps the battery achieve this. It converts the mechanical energy generated by the engine and then sends it to the battery, helping it gain charge.

Identifying issues with the alternator can be difficult as you need to find a trend with your battery and how low-charged it is.

Typically, a battery with a faulty alternator will frequently lose its charge and not be able to retain it for long.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Check for any visible damage, loose wires, or leaks near the alternator. Getting them fixed if they are present should be step one.
  • This can also fix the issue with the alternator entirely.
  • If you have noticed that your battery is not lasting more than a day between jumps, you should take your GMC Terrain to the mechanic and have the alternator checked out.
  • The mechanic should likely be able to identify the issue and have it fixed. This may cost you a lot.
  • Sometimes, it may be more economical and efficient if you simply get the alternator replaced. This will avoid further problems in the future.

3: Engine Damage

The most common issue in older models of the GMC Terrain was engine damage.

The engine is considered by many as the heart of the car, and as such, you need to make sure that it stays healthy.

Furthermore, the main issue in the older models was excessive oil consumption.

The GMC Terrains would burn through oil like it was nothing, preventing the engine from being properly lubricated.

Since the engine has a lot of moving parts, this made it easy for the engine to wear out and take damage.

You would have to keep the engine well lubricated, which meant spending a lot of money; otherwise, you would risk the engine failing.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Check which model of the GMC Terrain you have. If it is one of the early models, you will likely deal with excess oil consumption.
  • Getting the engine constantly topped up with oil can be very expensive, so you need to resolve this issue.
  • Have a mechanic look at the GMC Terrain and see if they can prevent the oil from being burned up quickly.
  • Worst case scenario; you should just get a new engine.
  • This may also cost you a lot, but it is a one-time purchase instead of a series of smaller purchases that you must constantly make.

4: Starter Problems

Another major issue that many GMC Terrains suffer from is related to the starter motor, specifically the starter motor.

As you can probably tell from the name, the starter is responsible for engaging the engine. The motor provides the initial rotation needed to get the parts of the engine moving.

This is what it means to “start” the engine. As you can imagine, if anything were to happen to the motor, turning the GMC Terrain on would be impossible.

The starter motors are very fragile and often get worn out as the years go by. Sometimes it can be other issues that cause the starter to go bad. Such issues include oil leaks and loose wiring.

What Should You Do About It?

  • As mentioned above, you should look for loose wires and oil leaks near the starter.
  • If you find any, you must fix them as soon as possible.
  • This also means that your starter may have been damaged as well.
  • Take the starter out of the car and try to turn it on. If it fails to spin, then it needs to get fixed.
  • Have a mechanic look at the GMC Terrain and get the starter fixed.
  • If the starter is beyond repair, your only course of action is to get it replaced with a new one.

5: Fuel Issues

Using good quality fuel is the key to avoiding many of the fuel-related issues you could face with the GMC Terrain.

Poor-quality fuel often contains contaminants or debris. This can accumulate in the fuel filters of the vehicle.

Over time, they can gather to the point that the filters are completely clogged. This prevents the future from reaching the engine in sufficient amounts.

Without a good amount of fuel reaching the engine, the GMC Terrain’s engine will not be to turn.

Alternatively, you could also be dealing with leaks or faulty components. It is not uncommon for GMC Terrains to suffer from faulty fuel pumps.

This also prevents an adequate amount of fuel from getting to the engine.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Check the fuel filters of the GMC Terrain and have them cleaned out. Alternatively, you can also get them replaced entirely.
  • Inspect the fuel pipes for any leaks and get them patched up quickly.
  • If the issue persists, take your SUV to the mechanic and have them check out all the fuel components; the fuel pumps and the fuel injectors.
  • If the mechanic finds an issue, have it fixed as soon as possible. If the component is badly damaged or has a major defect, it might be better to get the component replaced entirely.
  • From here on out, you should use quality fuel to avoid blockages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why Won’t My GMC Terrain Start With New Battery?

Check if the new battery has been installed correctly while ensuring all the wires are properly connected.

If your GMC Terrain is still not turned on, you likely have issues in other parts of the car.

They could likely be found in the ignition or the fuel system, so have those checked out by a mechanic.

Q2. Why Won’t My GMC Terrain Start Even With A Jump?

Any battery problems that your GMC Terrain had should be gone with a simple jump. If this is not the case, then it is likely that your battery has expired and is well past its age.

Your only option if this is the case is to get the battery replaced. You can safely dispose of the old one and attach the new one.

Q3. Why Won’t My GMC Terrain Start But Lights Work?

If you are in this situation, your battery is low on charge. You should try a jump to see if that fixes the issue.

Replacing the battery with a new one can also easily fix the problem. If it does not, you may have issues with the ignition system.

Q4. Why Won’t My GMC Terrain Start But Cranks?

As long as the GMC Terrain is cranking, most likely, you are dealing with an issue in the fuel system.

But chances are there could also be an issue in the ignition system, so have both of these checked out.

Q5. Why Won’t My GMC Terrain Start Just Clicks?

If you hear clicking when trying to turn on your GMC Terrain engine, you likely have an electrical fault in the car that you need to fix.

It could be as simple as a dead battery, but it could also be as drastic as a bad starter or another faulty component you need to fix.

Q6. Why Won’t My GMC Terrain Start In The Cold Weather?

The cold weather causes a lot of problems for the GMC Terrain. It starts by preventing the battery from working at maximum capacity and also prevents the spark plugs from working.

All of this culminates with a series of other minor issues which do not allow the vehicle to turn on, making it difficult to start.

Q7. Why Won’t My GMC Terrain Start After I Get Gas?

If the fuel is not reaching the engine of the GMC Terrain in adequate amounts, you will struggle to get it started.

Check the fuel filters and ensure they are cleaned and there are no blocks. Also, inspect the fuel system for any leaks as that could also be limiting the fuel.

Q8. Why Won’t My GMC Terrain Start But Radio Works?

The issue could be similar to the one with the lights of the GMC Terrain.

You need a well-charged battery to start the engine, but a low-charged one can be sufficient for smaller gadgets.

Jumpstarting or changing the battery of your SUV should fix the issue. If this is not the case, then you may have ignition problems.

Related: What Are The Worst Years For The GMC Terrain?


If you heard about the GMC Terrain’s bad launch and were put off by the lineup, then you should give this nameplate another look.

Not only has the SUV been able to make a comeback, but many of its newer models simply lack the issues they were once filled with.

This means that you should never be in a position to ask, “Why won’t my GMC Terrain start?” if you own a newer model.

That being said, if you do find yourself with a car that cannot start easily, you should be able to locate and fix the issue since you have successfully read through the article!