These trucks are much stiffer and ride less comfortably than the standard 1500 (1/2 ton). They are designed for hard work and a 3/4 ton capacity. The ride is stiff and bouncy but the engines available are a huge 8.1-liter. Also available is an Isuzu-developed 6.6-liter diesel V8 that's relatively refined.
Alerts
There are 3 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
NA
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
NA
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
NA
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
NA
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
NA
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
NA
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
NA
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
NA
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
NA
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.
NA
Fuel Economy & Emissions
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
NA
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Greenhouse Gas Greenhouse Gas The Greenhouse Gas Rating represents the amount of carbon dioxide the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
NA
Smog Rating Smog Rating The Smog Rating represents the amount of health-damaging and smog-forming airborne pollutants the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
NA

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
NA
2011
2012
NA
2013
2014
NA
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
Transmission Minor Transmission Minor Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.
Drive System Drive System Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
NA
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS standard. ESC standard from 2011.
Model Summary
These trucks are much stiffer and ride less comfortably than the standard 1500 (1/2 ton). They are designed for hard work and a 3/4 ton capacity. The ride is stiff and bouncy but the engines available are a huge 8.1-liter. Also available is an Isuzu-developed 6.6-liter diesel V8 that's relatively refined.
Seating
3 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
4WD, Rear
Warranty
Coverage varies among versions of this vehicle

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
extended cab
regular cab
crew cab
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Manual
  • 5-speed Automatic
  • 4-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed Manual
Engines Available
  • 6-liter V8 (300 hp)
  • 6.6-liter V8 turbodiesel (300 hp)
  • 8.1-liter V8 (340 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Exterior lights (other than headlights)

"Fog light bracket cracked, made of plastic"

Anonymous, AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)
Gauges

"Amp/volt meter stuck past highest range"

William C., NJ (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"Instrument panel failed and had to be replaced Re brakes, brake lines failed and had to be replaced"

Anonymous, ON (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 8.1-L V8)

"Speedometer occasionally indicates incorrect speed .increasing to the maximum stop of gauge .runaway!"

Anonymous, BC (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

"Red indicator light on guage cluster (forgot which one)stayed on even when engine turned off, happened about 8 years ago, Dealer replaced guage cluster on warranty (I had extended warranty)"

Anonymous, BC (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

"Had to replace the stepper motors on the dash panel"

Andrew M., AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Base 6.0-L V8)

"dash has gone blank several times"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 8.1-L V8)

"Gauges blink on and off. Can tap the diplay and they start working again."

Larry T., LA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Interior lights

"poor illumination of dash lights"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Wiper motor or washer

"Wiper speed goes to maximum ,unable to control , happened several times windshield washer inoperative"

Anonymous, BC (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

"The wiper motor will make the wiper blade move in a jerking motion"

Andrew M., AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Base 6.0-L V8)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Fuel gauge/sender

"Had to replace fuel gauge /sending unit on vehicle at approximately 190000 miles due to the float deteriorating"

Anonymous, UT (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Fuel injection system

"Fuel leak around fuel filter"

Kelley M., CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"Fuel injection system was replaced"

Deb G., CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"Diesel injector failure - 2 injectors, plus corrosion of the high pressure fuel delivery lines. Known problem that is covered under a 200,000 mile or 10 year recall from GM, but will only cover it if the problem happens during that time and won't be pre-emptivley replaced until problems exist"

Bryan S., VA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"I knew going in before the purchase that the LBZ had defective issues with the Fuel Injectors. I replaced them all and the truck runs well. I hope that good oil and fuel filter products and often changes will help the injectors to last a long time"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"Fuel injectors failed"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Fuel pump

"it was hard starting."

Anonymous, WA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD 8.1-L V8)
Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

"Check Engine light kept coming on"

William F., CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 8.1-L V8)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Antilock system (ABS)

"The ABS system was disconnected years ago as it failed"

Randolph T., HI (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)
Calipers

"Freeze up and needed new brakes prematurely."

Anonymous, (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Unsure 6.0-L V8)
Normal routine brake wear

"finally replace rear brake pads at 160,000 miles. Still original front brakes"

J S., CO (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Base 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Parking brake

"parking brake wasn't holding well because rear seals were leaking. replace seals and brake now works fine"

J S., CO (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Base 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Premature brake wear

"rusted up"

Ray N., IN (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 8.1-L V8)
Rotors

"rusted up"

Ray N., IN (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 8.1-L V8)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Cylinder head

"Fuel injectors had to be replaced at a cost of $5,300.00"

Don B., ON (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"All fuel injectors required replacement, this is the second round of total replacement so I am now on my third set of injectors"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Engine rebuild or replacement

"The injectors went out and had to be replaced, cost $4500"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"Using oil, motor is worn out- haven't replaced motor, going to get a new truck- too many rough oilfield miles to invest in a new motor"

Dave H., AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

"Fuel injectors (along w/necessary parts) had to be replaced at a tune of $3876.00 on the LB7 engine - I'm told it's due to the poor fuel filtration system GMC/Isuzu installed thus allowing thick partials to pass through the filter into the microscopi"

John R., RI (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"Engine overheated and blue a head gasket while pulling my 5th wheel up a long Sierra Nevada grade. Truck is professionally maintained and has never missed a scheduled maintenance service."

John L., CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"ac leak"

Gary M., CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"The compressor stopped working after it would randomly cool and then turn to heat"

Randolph T., HI (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

"A/C system is not working. I've recharged the system which only gave a temporary fix."

Roderick N., CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

"Complete air conditioning failure. Had to replace compressor and also the control unit in the dash."

Kelly F., UT (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD 6.0-L V8)
Blower (fan) motor

"blower motor control module failed; blower motor had derbies in bushings"

Anonymous, OR (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Torque converter

"2500.00 to remove transmission and repair front pump leak"

Anonymous, MB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Transmission rebuild or replacement

"Allison transmission had problems shifting into reverse because of damaged internal piston seal. Trans was rebuilt"

Anonymous, OR (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"Rebuilt transfer case to fix factory "pump rub" problem as a preventative measure. Pump rub can wear a hole in the case and cause a loss of fluid"

John G., OR (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"I needed to replace the Transfer Case in November of 2014. It had been making noise since I bought the truck. My father owned it from new and had rarely used 4WD so I am certain it was never abused. I had a mechanic locate a piece of broken gear"

Bryan J., AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"Second time transmission was not shifting correctly. First time transmission was rebuilt because reverse and 5th gear seal was damaged. Second time transmission was replaced because fluid showed signs of abnormal wear. Truck is diesel with a allison 5 speed transmission"

Anonymous, OR (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Accessory belts or pulleys

"Idler pulley failed"

Dave K., AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Engine computer

"Check engine light re engine misfire .cleared after engine came to operating temperature."

John G., BC (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)
Engine knock or ping

"This issue is directly correlated to the fuel injectors"

John R., RI (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Oil leaks

"Three major leaks were discovered, costing $3000 to repair"

Anonymous, MN (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 8.1-L V8)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Locks and latches

"Body Control module in the door failed. Cost of repair, $300"

Michael B., NY (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

"Sliding locks on door interior are put in backwards. when locked, should show red. Instead one door shows red the other doesn't indicating its not locked. Even though it is, Passenger side door inside unlock function doesn't always work"

Anonymous, WA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

"Door locks engage when truck not in use"

Anonymous, NY (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD 6.0-L V8)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Alternator

"The alternator quit working and had to be replaced. The cost of a new one was rediculus"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"After 159000 miles it stopped working. I had it replaced"

J W., CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Battery (not hybrid or electric)

"battery not holding charge- replaced"

Dave H., AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Rough shifting

"Was caused by the bad piston seal"

Anonymous, OR (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Transmission leaks

"Transfer case has two holes through the casting"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 8.1-L V8)

"all of these problems were explained in the description about the drive line vibrations."

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose exterior trim or moldings

"Door moulding made of cheap plastic and is cracking and peeling. GM parts are so expensive!"

Anonymous, AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)
Loose interior trim or moldings

"Seat upholstery was worn through at only 50,000 miles. Also the plastic trim below the seat has broken 2 times getting in or out of seat"

Anonymous, WA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)
Rust

"rocker panels rotting"

Anonymous, MA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Exhaust manifold

"Broken rear bolts on exhaust manifolds. Common problem on 6.0 liter GM engines of this era. Replaced manifolds and bolts been fine since."

Anonymous, (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)
Muffler

"Rusted out"

Andrew M., AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Base 6.0-L V8)
Pipes

"Rusted out tail pipe"

Andrew M., AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Base 6.0-L V8)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Differential

"Front axle differential internal gears failed. Cost of repair, $3700"

Michael B., NY (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)
Driveline vibration

"the rear universal joint went out causing drive line vibration which caused the transfer case to leak into the transmission which then overflowed and was leaking on the ground. After they fixed the transfer case leak problem the vibration was still there and caused the rear seal to go out on the transmission. This is when they found that the universal joint was bad and causing the problem. They then fixed those problems with a total cost of the repairs to exceed $3000.00"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Transfer case

"It leaks probably also due to a design flaw where the pump wears through the case"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Ball joints

"Rusted out and unsafe to drive until repaired."

Anonymous, (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Unsure 6.0-L V8)

"Wore out quickly"

Anonymous, CA (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)
Power steering pumps and hoses

"Hydro boost failure, leak"

Zita W., NV (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Display screen difficult to see

"Misc dash lights have burnt out, compass and temp gauge on rearview doesn't work, remotes for door locks don't work and one of the power windows doesn't roll up"

Raymond R., MT (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.0-L V8)
Display screen goes blank

"Couldn't tell which gear it was in & had to replace instrument cluster & replace lamps"

Anonymous, (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD Unsure 6.6-L V8 diesel)

"It doesn't display what gear I'm in."

Anonymous, CO (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD 6.6-L V8 diesel)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

Water pump

"Changed on spec"

Dave K., AB (2003 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLE 6.6-L V8 diesel)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

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