2016 GMC Yukon Denali Suspension Issues Explained(+3 Troubleshooting Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the issues that occur in the 2016 GMC Yukon Denali Suspension, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

Top 5 Suspension problems in the 2016 GMC Yukon Denali

  • Front upper control arm separation: Safety Recall
  • Front Creak, Click, Pop or Crack Noises
  • Front Tire Contacts Control Arm 
  • Front Squeak, Rumble, Rattle, Clunk, Thump, Tick, Knock Noise
  • Harsh Ride

What Suspension does the GMC Yukon Have?

The Air Ride Adaptive Suspension available on the reworked 2021 Yukon AT4 and Denali trims. It is a suspension with automatic level control and a variable rate Air spring design.

The components of this system are :

  • Air Suspension Compressor
  • Air Dryer Assembly
  • Automatic Level Control Module
  • Pneumatic Control Unit
  • Air Intake Muffler
  • Air Intake Port
  • Air Intake Particulate Filter
  • Exhaust Air Vent

Driver Ride-Height Controls

The driver control system allows the selection of 4 different ride heights. The Driver Information Center displays the selected modes:

Entry/Exit Ground ClearanceLowers the vehicle to ease entry and exit
Normal Ground Clearance Default vehicle height for normal driving
Increased Ground Clearance (4WD HI)Raises the Ride height 1 inch (25 mm) above Normal 
Maximum Ground Clearance (4WD LO)Raises the vehicle 2 inches (51 mm) above Normal 
Service ModeAll air suspension raising and lowering the vehicle and air compressor operation are disabled
Alignment ModeEnable this mode when the vehicle is about to drive onto an alignment rack.

Magnetic Ride Control 

This feature is standard on Denali and AT4 trims of the Yukon. The RPO code for this feature is Z95. The system uses sensors to continuously sense suspension movement and acceleration and alter the damping rate of the shocks. The Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, paired with Magnetic Ride Control, helps provide a tight handling and at the same time a smooth ride, with very little compromise on the two.

Front upper control arm separation: Safety Recall

Root Cause

GM decided to Recall of SUVs in May of 2016 when it was discovered by the Engineering division that the front upper control arms could have had less than the required welds-strength near the bushing location, which could cause the arms to buckle or fracture, potentially compromising the car’s steering and handling.

The affected vehicle models were:

2016 model year Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe, GMC Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL and 

2017 model year Chevrolet Silverado vehicles. 

Troubleshooting Front upper control arm separation

As part of the Recall, under warranty, 

  • The LH and RH Upper Control arms were to be replaced in all affected vehicles.
  • Front Suspension Alignment to be done as well

Front Creak, Click, Pop or Crack Noises

  • Noise originates from the front suspension or front frame area
  • Usually happens while making tight turns. 
  • In Some instances, noise can be felt in the foot well area.
  • Common in Yukon 2015 – 2020 model years

Root Causes:

From past experience, it was noted that this type of noise could be caused by insufficient torque in front suspension at one of the following locations:

  • Frame crossmember Bolts
  • Lower control arm Bolts

Troubleshooting Creak, Click, Pop or Crack Noises

Frame crossmember Bolts

  • To rectify this concern it is not possible to check residual torque using a calibrated Torque-measuring wrench. The reason being that the Build-spec is “Torque + Angle”, where final torque varies widely. 
  • Therefore the best way would be to loosen and then re-torque the four front frame crossmember bolts/nuts to the following spec:
    • First Pass: 70 Nm (52 lb. ft.)
    • Final Pass: 110 degrees

Lower control arm Bolts

To correct this concern you could use one of 2 ways

  • Measure the current residual Torque using a calibrated Torque-measuring wrench
  • First loosen and then re-torque the four front lower control arm mounting bolts/nuts to 175 Nm (129 lb. ft.) of Torque

Front Tire Contacts Control Arm 

  • On Full Turn at Low Speed 
  • Especially happens on Vehicles Equipped with 20” Tire/Wheels option

Root Case:

  • Design issue with the suspension packaging.
  • For some reason, while designing this suspension, the packaging clearances for the 20” wheel option was overlooked

Troubleshooting Front Tire Control Arm contact

  • As per the “Technical Service Bulletin # 18-NA-316”, there is no correction part provided by GM
  • The best solution is to try out ‘narrower’ wheels and tires available in the aftermarket, which might try to alleviate the problem
  • The more reliable solution would be to switch over to the 18” or 20” wheels, where the Front tire is most unlikely to come into contact with the Control arm

Front Suspension Squeak, Rumble, Rattle, Clunk, Thump, Tick, Knock Noises

  • While going Over Bumps, the Front Suspension makes Squeak, Rumble, Rattle, Clunk, Thump, Tick, Knock Type of Noises
  • Usually occurs in 2015-2016 GMC Yukon Denali Models With Magnetic Ride Control Suspension (RPO Z95)

Root Cause:

  • For Vehicles Built After 6/27/2016, there was a suspension part update in the Jounce Bumper
  • The older Jounce Bumper used to contact the Damper Piston Rod and create noise issues. This part was later updated to address this issue
  • If your vehicle’s manufacturing date happens to be before that date, the Jounce Bumper could very well be the issue

Troubleshooting Front Suspension Squeak, Rumble, Rattle, Clunk, Thump, Tick, Knock

  • Using Chassis Ears, verify that the noise is most noticeable at the upper strut mount area. 
  • It is possible that the concern may be on either one or both sides of the vehicle.
  • While Manually jouncing the vehicle, the noise or vibration can be isolated using a stethoscope, and could possibly be felt by touching the front strut area
  • If the issue is verified to originate from the front strut, install updated jounce bumpers, PN 84157475 which has a redesigned enlarged ID in order to eliminate contact with the Damper piston rod.
  • Remove both the Left side and Right side Struts from the vehicle.
  • Carefully Release the terminals from the electrical connector body without damaging either the wires or connectors. You could also refer to the Service Bulletin # PIT5287.
  • Disassemble the coil spring and top mount assembly from each strut. Refer to Shock Absorber, Shock Absorber Component, or Spring Replacement in Service Instruction. 
  • Dismantle the jounce bumper (1) from the Strut top mount assembly (2) and replace with the new updated part #84157475

Harsh Ride

  • All other elements remaining the same, the shock absorber plays a major role in ride quality of any one corner suspension
  • In this case, it is clearly the shock absorber that is at fault. A leaking shock absorber is the reason for a vast majority of Ride problems
  • The problem more commonly occurs in 2014+ model Yukon trucks that have the Z95 Magnetic Ride Control Suspension option

Troubleshooting Yukon Z95 Harsh Ride

  • As a DIY Magnetic Ride Control Shocks are not as simple as a conventional shock in terms of installation. The MagneRide Shocks have connections to the Ride control system that need to be carefully removed from the old shock and properly connected to the new shock
  • Top connector of the strut not available in the replacement part. So you would need to reuse the connector from the old strut. Refer to Bulletin No.: PIT5287 for detailed information on the special tool to be used for this purpose
  • Use a hydraulic or wall mounted Spring compressor to remove the spring because the Yukon springs are High-rate springs of ~ 600 pounds preload. Normal car coil spring compressors may not work

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the issues that occur in the 2016 General Motors Yukon Denali Suspension, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

References

https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/rcl/2016/RCSB-16V256-7747.pdf
https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2020/MC-10178382-9999.pdf
https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2019/MC-10168189-9999.pdf
https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2017/MC-10113293-9999.pdf

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