Chevrolet Traverse And GMC Timing Chains Replacement

A big thing we’ve seen a lot of over the past year or so, has been timing chain problems on the Chevy Traverse, Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave. All of these SUV’s have the 3.6 liter V6 engine with dual overhead cams. What is happening on these vehicles is that the timing chains are stretching which leads to correlation errors with the cam sensors and actuators.

Usually we see this only on 2007-2009 model year vehicles. After 2010, General Motors has seemed to correct the problem with updated chains and ECM calibrations.

This was first thought to be caused by lack of oil changes, and there was a recall to update the vehicle’s computer to shorten the oil life monitor. This was supposed to get customers in sooner to change their oil, thus hopefully eliminating sludge build up, heat, and excess wear and tear that leads to the chains actually stretching some.

On the older models, this didn’t seem to matter. They would still be coming in with the check engine light on and usually running rough. There would most times be trouble codes for cam sensor/actuator correlation, usually on bank 1. Something like a p0017 and a P0008 would definitely mean the engine has stretched chains. Now, this is no small job!! The entire engine and transmission has to come out on a lift table. This requires much work, just even disconnecting all the wiring harnesses and sensors. The air conditioning system has to be recovered and lines removed from the compressor. The trans cooler lines and power steering cooler lines have to be disconnected. The shift linkage, complete engine harness, upper and lower radiator hoses, and fuse box just all come out just to name a few.

Then, once the engine is out and accessible, the real work begins! After removal of the valve covers, intake manifold, power steering pump, belt, tensioner, water pump pulley, alternator and crank pulley, the aluminum front cover can come off. There are quite a few bolts that hold it on and they all have a small rubber seal that goes on each bolt. Now, finally, you can access the actual timing chains where the problem lies.

Once you can get your hands on the chains, you can easily feel the excessive play in the chain from being too far stretched out. This leads to the timing being off, setting the check engine light on, and usually a rough idle. There are three different chains that will require replacement with the updated parts. There is also some special tools needed, such as camshaft holding tools, etc, that are needed to do this job.

The chains, guides, hydraulic tensioners can all be taken off and the chains removed. Now the engine can be placed at top dead center and the holding fixtures installed on the cams once the timing marks are lined up on the crank gear and oil pump cover. The left chain goes in first, following the timing procedure, then the primary chain, then finally the right side cam chain. Once all the chains have been installed, and their guides and tensioners, the process of putting it all back together can begin. Let’s just say this is NOT a job for the backyard mechanic. It will take even the most experienced technicians the better part of a whole day to do this job, sometimes longer.

Luckily for most customers, the powertrain warranty covers this repair up to 100,000 miles. Otherwise it would be very expensive to repair. So, if you’re having these symptoms, don’t wait another minute to go in to your dealership and get this checked out!

Below are two pictures so you can see just how involved this job is. The first pic is of the entire engine/trans assembly out of the Traverse and ready to  disassemble. The second pic is a close up of the three timing chains that will be replaced. You can see there are quite a few sprockets, and things to go around!

Chevy Traverse Engine removed

Replacing timing chains


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46 comments to Chevrolet Traverse And GMC Timing Chains Replacement

  • jaber

    i want to watch how to chang timeing balt

  • Scott

    Mine is at the shop now to get this done. <3 yr, <36K mile. Not too impressed. Symptom was the check engine light. Had noticed the oil change interval has shortened quite a bit recently on the monitor. Found out today that last time in <1 yr ago they reprogrammed the ECM. Went from 10K oil change interval to 3K. Hmmm.

    • Frank

      Yes. There is a new program for the computer. GM found that the calculations for the oil change monitor system were incorrect causing the interval to be too large. They suspect that may have had something to do with the timing chains wearing out.

  • Harry

    My 2009 traverse is now in for the timing chains. 86,000, but had this vehical new with all kinds of electrical probelms. Car would look you out, all the guages went nuts, the cruise control would not disingage.

  • dee

    do you have to line all the dots up on this engine before you remove chains? If not then why

    • Charles

      No, you do not have to line up the marks, since during the repair they will all be out of time anyway. You could do that thou, just to have everything close to the correct position. That may make it a little easier to line everything up.

  • Alan LaRue

    My ’09 is in now for this repair. Had a check engine code last summer that was something about a delayed response from some sensor (can’t remember exactly). Took it in for the oil change interval recall, and the code never recurred.

    The two codes now are from the crank position sensor and one camshaft position sensor. Had it not been for the check engine light, I would not have known anything was wrong.

    The service writer told me that the mechanic who does this work has gotten really proficient at it!

    All in all, we’ve been very happy with the vehicle.

    • shrrmlls

      I am not sure how long ago you posted to this forum. Today is 10.5.2012 and the dealership has my 09 Traverse and is attempting to fix the camshaft. They called me yesterday asking if I had service records for all my oil changes because of excessive oil build up in the engine caused from lack of oil changes ( so they say). I always change my oil. wondering if you had any issues about oil build up on your 2009 when you had it repaired? I also see that oil build up is a known problem with this make and model. I am afraid of them voiding my warranty because of something that is a known issues. I am also worried about having more probs down the road, since replacing the camshaft effects so much of the car… let me know :) thanks

      • Robert

        If you have your receipts, then you are in the clear. Yes, oil buildup is a problem. GM even came up with a reprogramming of the oil life monitor so the light will come on sooner.

  • Mtruck

    Hi there, I found your web site on Google while searching for a similar matter and your web site came up, it looks good. I’ve added it to favorites | added to my bookmarks.

  • RockinRhonda

    I found your web site on Google while searching for a similar issue and your web site came up. I LOVE IT!I’ve also added it to favorites!

    I was about to swallow my heart when I got the codes from Auto Zone. – All the same ones mentioned in the article. I have a 2009 Acadia. I baby it with freqent, quality oil changes, but have a 120 mile commute daily to work. It now has 98,500 miles on it and it JUST started running funny yesterday so I went to Auto Zone for codes.

    A bit petrified right now….FINGERS CROSSED that I am one of the “most customers” covered in the 100K powertrain warrenty. A little confused because the warrenty states timing belts covered up to the first maintence interval – but I can’t find what that interval is in any of my documentation. Anyone have any ideas?

  • oh no

    We just purchased a 2012 traverse on 12/31/12. It has 500 miles on it. It is at the dealership for the 2 nd time in 8 days. The check engine light is on. 1st time they said they reset something that it should go off after cranking it 7 times- Not. So, now they are saying the acuactor sensesor is bad. Will this require taking the engine out? Do u know if I can get my $ back? We can’t afford these problems on a brand new car.

    • DanO

      Well, the repair depends on what part is bad. With such low miles I would not think it serious. We would need the actual code number to be sure.
      No i don’t think it would be easy to try to get your money back. That is always a difficult process. A check engine light is not grounds for a buy-back.

  • XZ550

    Thanks so much for posting this info. I’m having this done to our ’07 Outlook under warranty. Our dealer is recommending that they replace the actuators at the same time since they will already have the engine apart. The additional charge to replacing the actuators is $1200. Have you seen issues with the actuators as well or is it just the timing chain? Should I get this done?

    Thanks again.

  • Denise

    I have another question about 2012 Chevy Traverses (not timing chains related, I hope!). We have noticed that when initially driving the car after a night’s rest, about a block from the house there are two noises maybe 3-5 seconds apart coming from under the hood….maybe somewhere in the engine, like something engaging. There is also a definite slight, feel to engaging (similar to shifting but more noticeable). Our son has a 2012 Traverse and experiences the same “happening”. Do you know what this might be? Thank you!

  • Rebecca

    I have an 08 Acadia (not under warranty) whose check engine light came on recently and it had same codes mentioned for timing chain. Before I could get appointment to take it in, it started making horrible sound and died after coming to a stop. It will start up just makes loud clattering noise. Been in garage since waiting on tax return to have fixed. Does it sound like timing chain broke? If so what kind of damage am I looking at? I really love my car and have had no other problems so I hope a new motor isn’t necessary :(

    • ProTech

      Yes, it does sound like either the timing chain or a chain tensioner broke. If this happened, the engine needs to come out and taken apart. There is a possibility that the valves may have hit the pistons. That would require new cylinder heads. At the least, the chain and tensioners need to be replaced.

  • Linda

    I had my timing chain replaced yesterday on my 2007 Acadia. It doesn’t seem to be driving as smoothly as before. It almost feels as if it is jumping up and down as I am driving. It feels as if there is a problem now with the shocks, if there are any on this car. What could it be?

    • Josh

      To replace the timing chains, the engine and frame were removed. It is possible they left something loose or the front end alignment is off. Take it back ton them right away.

  • tom

    I just paid over $200 to have 2 cam sensors replaced in my 2009 Saturn, unaware of this timing belt issue. needless to say the problem was not corrected and now have an appointment with a dealer to correct it. Do they replace the cam sensors when doing this repair? I wuold like to get my money back at least for the parts.

    • ProTech

      No, the sensors are not replaced during the timing chain repairs. The codes in the computer pointed to the cam sensors, but that is never the problem. They mis-diagnosed the problem and it did not fix it, so you should get a full refund.

      • tom

        It was not the dealer but a garage mechanic that initially said it was the sensors (diagnosed by computer) and did the work. I think someone should be sending a letter letting us know that if the engine light comes on we should take it directly to a dealer since this is an issue. I want to be reimbursed for the work by the company. I plan on talking to the dealer directly regarding this…What a waste of time and money!

  • CMH

    Just had the check engine light come on for the Camshaft correlation (Thanks OnStar)in my 2009 Traverse. Hoping whatever the problem is, it will be covered under warranty. The dealership just told me Chevy extended the timing chain warranty to 120,000 or June 2019. Obviously they know there is a problem. I just hope it’s my problem so it’s covered!

  • randy singleton

    the timing chain can be replaced without removing the engine and trans on outlook. I did

  • DryBritches.com

    Just got my 2009 out of the repair shop with timing belt failure. Supposedly, some pin from some pump was missing. Can someone share more about their experience with the powertrain warranty? What is the process?

    By the way, now the Travey is shaking as if it does not have a suspension. I’ve got to take it back to the shop.

  • Jada

    I have a 2009 Traverse and this morning is seemed to jump like jumping into gear and made a winding noise then soon after the tracking light came on and stayed on?

  • disappointed chevy customer

    My 2010 Chevy Traverse with 61k miles on it is throwing the p0008 code. The thing that is confusing is that the light will only be on at certain times. In the morning when I first start up the car there is no check engine light on. After driving it some miles the light comes on again and then if it sits over night the light will be back off in the morning – a friend who is a mechanic is telling me this is unusual.
    At any rate I am blown away that a car that has had regular oil changes and been taken care of may need a timing belt at 61k miles. I need to dig out warrantly paperwork but I know I bought the car with about 20k miles on it so I am not sure what the hell my warranty is. I am really scared after reading how big of a job this is and quite disappointed with Chevy that they have not done a recall of cars if this is a persistent problem. This is my first and LAST chevy if I end up paying for this.

    • 2007 Outlook Engine blown

      There is a GM recall on the timing chain

    • Used to my trucks

      My wife’s 2010 traverse has 62,000 on it and she just told me check engine light came on yesterday, and oil life at 10%. I change the oil in my vehicles religiously no more than 5k, always using synthetic. She commutes to and from work with it and I rarely ever get in the car. That being said, I looked at the mileage this morning and almost fell out! Just changed the oil in February at 52,000 and the oil indicator let it go 10k to 10% ? I had her take one of my trucks to work, when I drained the oil it appeared to have about 2qrts in it, sickening! Took it up to AutoZone this evening, have the p0008 & p0017 codes. Not surprised timing belt stretch when a car is over half empty in oil and indicator lets it go 10k. Taking to dealer tomorrow, they replaced water pump under warranty 3 months ago ( was overheating on her ) and performed all recalls supposedly. Just got new recall letter for seatbelts anyway, will see how they treat this issue.

  • Keith

    I had problems with codes pointing to stretched timing chains. I removed the engine and valve covers. I used a socket to rotate the engine clockwise by hand. One of the intake cam shafts would stop turning for a moment while I was still rotating the engine, then it would speed up again to the place it should be if it didn’t stop turning. I am at this point now and I am going to change out the actuator on the front of the cam shaft as I suspect it is causing the codes and not the chains.

  • Roderick

    My wife and I purchased a 2009 Chevy Traverse which roughly
    had 58,000 miles. We now have 81,000 miles which is giving
    codes P0008 and P0017. We are the second owners. Wondering if issue will be covered under 100,000 mile warranty.

  • Roderick

    We dropped off vehicle at a local dealer on 3/28/14 for the issue mentioned in article above for timing change issue. They looked up our vehicle using VIN #. We found out that it was covered under the 100,000 mile warranty along with water pump. We picked up vehicle today 4/1/14
    repaired.

  • Eric

    Just dropped our 2007 Acadia off at the dealership today. They have replaced the timing chain 3 times already with the last time being exactly 3 months ago. Vehicle only has 65,000 miles on it. For the last install the cam sensors had to be replaced also. Dealership charged us $500 and GM picked up the rest. I am waiting to hear what they are going to do this time since it’s only been 3 months.

  • Casey

    Anyone have any issues with the 2013 Chevy Traverse? Timing Chain issues?

  • Tim

    I have a 2009 Traverse that we bought in June 2013 with 96000 miles on it. Had the timing chain and wave plates repaired at about 97000 miles (so just a month after we bought it). Jan 2014 take it in to local dealership for oil change, three months 3500 miles later took back for another oil change and 3q low. Oil consumption test and now burning close to 3q in 3000 miles. Took it back to dealership and found out that need pistons replaced. Looking at the vehicle repair history found that both the wave plates and the timing chain replaced once before. I am now at 113000 miles and GM is willing to cover half of the $3000 repair. So frustrated with this traverse. Any recommendations.

  • Dwayne F

    Where is the camshaft position sensor located on the 2009 traverse 3.6l engine. I can not find it anywhere on the web?

  • Watson

    I want to know the cost to replace timing chain on 2010 Traverse

  • bmcc

    Just had timing chains replaced on Saturn Outlook at 86K. Just one question. Does the dealership repair what is causing pre-mature wear or will I be footing the bill for next repair at 190k?

  • Mario

    Would you happen to have any faimly photo’s that were taken in Sterling that you would be willing to share? I live in Sterling and am interested in the history. Any photo’s that also include buildings are of interest.I remember your Aunt Francis and Uncle Dugan and Butch, they lived down the road from me when I was growing up.

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