GMC Yukon XL Denali 12788 km: Dead Battery

We were at Lion's Park today to take advantage of the sunny autumn afternoon. It was warmer today than it had been all week. We ate a little picnic lunch in the Denali and then the older kids went outside to play. Aston was napping so I sat in the Denali listening to the XM Radio. We had canceled our Sirius subscription last week, and I was using this time to get familiar with the new XM channel line-up. When Aston woke up from her nap we took her out to join the other girls in the playground. What I didn't realize was that Aston had napped for almost two hours.

After playing at the park for another 45 min, we got the family buckled and strapped into the Denali to go home and discovered that the battery was dead. Well, it wasn't completely dead--the lights, radio, windows, memory seats, power mirrors all worked. There just wasn't enough power to start the engine. Luckily enough, the first people to walk by had jumper cables and they were kind enough to help us get on our way.

Why did I use the Stabilitrak symbol for this post? Because I learned about how the GM stability control system works on the Denali. After getting jump started, the Stabilitrak light went on indicating a problem with the traction and stability control system. At first I thought maybe the next time I restarted the engine the light would go off. But when I got home and restarted the engine right away, the light stayed on. I thought maybe a blew a fuse when I was trying to crank the starter. But I couldn't find a fuse related to the Stabilitrak system.

So after hooking up the Denali to the battery charger, I took out the owner's manual and read the following information about the Stabilitrak system:

When you first start your vehicle and begin to drive away, the system performs several diagnostic checks to ensure there are no problems. You may hear or feel the system working. This is normal and does not mean there is a problem with your vehicle. The system should initialize before the vehicle reaches 20 mph (32 km/h). In some cases, it may take approximately two miles of driving before the system initializes.

If the system fails to turn on or activate, the StabiliTrak® light along with one of the following messages will be displayed on the Driver Information Center (DIC) (TRACTION CONTROL OFF, SERVICE TRACTION CONTROL, STABILITRAK OFF, SERVICE STABILITRAK).

If these DIC messages appear, make sure the StabiliTrack® system has not been turned off, then turn the steering wheel clockwise from the nine o’clock positions to the three o'clock position. If this does not clear the messages(s), then turn the vehicle off, wait 15 seconds, and then turn it back on again to reset the system.

Sure enough, after I disconnected the battery charger and restarted the Denali, the lights were off and everything was back to normal.

I didn't expect the battery to die so easily, but I guess I hadn't driven it very far each day this past week. And maybe the XM Radio/GPS antenna system uses extra power. I know I'm uncomfortable about everything retaining power even with the key out of the ignition. From now on I'm keeping own jumper cables in the back of the Denali.


  1. This is a GM problem. Something is causing a short and rapidly discharging the battery. It has happened to me four times,once in Denver and once in Arizona after driving 1150 miles. Dealer replaced battery, but did not help. Numerous complaints to Denver Co dealer.
    Engineers at GM dragging their feet and I am not a happy camper.

  2. I think you're right that it's a bigger issue. My battery was eventually replaced (see Post 2008.01.25) but I'm not sure that the root problem has been fixed.

    I'm wary to use the Yukon as I would use every other vehicle I've owned and I find myself modifying my behavior to suit the vehicle, rather than having the vehicle suit my needs.

  3. Have had same problem with 2007 Denali. 1. Battery fails to crank engine after short period of engine-off electrical usage. 2. Battery jump creates audible "click" in engine compartment and battery seems to have regained full power. 3) After driving several hours lifting my weight off driver's seat can cause "stabilitrak" and "traction" lights to come on, ALSO, have experienced all gauges shutting off temporarily more than once! Dealer replaced battery, no help. Perhaps battery run-down protection fails to reset when needed? Too many automated electrical features for modern automotive engineers to coordinate?

  4. There is a TSB and a recall for some Yukons and Sierras. the fix is in the software. If it you problem is in the recall the dealer can look up to see if your vehicle is affected by the recall. If it is, the fix is free even if outside the warranty period. Take it to or call your dealer.

  5. That's good to know. Thanks for the info!

    Luckily, I haven't had any more problems with my battery, but at the same time, I'm a lot more careful about sitting in the Yukon and using the stereo and navigation. That video screen I'm sure would take up a lot of power.

    Which reminds me that one time I was just sitting in the Yukon (with everything off) waiting while my wife shopped and after about 40-50 min. I heard the disc start spinning on its own. I wonder what causes that?

  6. We have a 2007 Yukon Denali too and are experiencing the same problems. The battery is dead when we go to start it. This has happened about 6 times in the 8 months that we've owned this car. We've had it into the dealer several times and the battery always tests good. They have not been able to give us any answers. Glad to hear about a possible recall, I'll check into that. Thanks for the information.

  7. Hi there, i have also installed the battery in my car and face the same problem, that's why i have decided to sell my car.

  8. After I had the battery replaced under warranty, I have not had any further problems.

  9. Well, I now take that back. In November, the kids were sitting in the vehicle watching a DVD and they killed the battery. I got a jump start but ever since then it's been nothing but troubles.

    Took it to the dealership and they said the battery checked out fine. Said there was a drain from my radar detector and charged me $150 for that piece of information.

    The next morning, the battery was dead as usual. Arrgh. I haven't been able to make to back the dealership yet, but the problem is getting worse and if I'm parked for a couple of hours, the battery dies.

  10. Seems pretty obvious that you have a short somewhere.

    Heres's my issue. Pulling a trailer using the tow setting - trans was shifting irregularly. Then stop at the roadside park and it wouldn't start again. Battery not the issue. Called onstar to have them diagnose and they told me the car has to be running for them to run a dagnostic chaeck - big help! Ended up being towed 70 miles to dealership. Two days later the dealer throws up their hands and says it starts every time and has lots of power and they can not find anything wrong -SORRY:(
    Now what? Anyone have a similart experience and some advice.

  11. I also have had similar issues with our 07 XL Denali. We pull a travel trailer occasionally and the first time this incident happened we were stranded in the middle of the highway with a 25ft trailer, dead as a doornail. It has happened 4 more times since, what I have discovered is that the vehicle will eventually start again after about 30 minutes. My question is this...If there was a recall related to this issue, why can my dealer not figure out how to repair this?

  12. I feel for you being stranded on the highway. We could have been in the same situation in our Denali many times.

    I apologize for not posting any updates. In December 2010, after returning to the dealer they could not find a problem and were going to send me home, except after they told me it was OK, they couldn't drive the Denali out of the service bay! They kept it over night and then diagnosed it as a faulty starter. They replaced it under warranty.

    In May 2011, the dead battery problem returned and the Denali was dead in the garage. No prior symptoms or indications at all. I had to flatbed it down to another dealer. Unfortunately, when the car was dropped off, it started right away and they could not find a problem! I thought maybe there was a loose connection somewhere, but they could not find it.

    A week later, it again was dead and I sent it back to the dealer on a flatbed. Luckily, this time it did not start when it was down there and they diagnosed it as a defective starter. AGAIN! I showed them all the paper work from the first time, and they replaced the starter again under warranty. So far no more problems, but I'm not confident.

    I don't know if there are any recalls or TSBs but I think that two faulty starters are very unusual.

  13. I have had the same problem with my Denali, I have been into the dealership and they say there is nothing wrong with the battery. I was told last week I need to replace the battery and was on my way to get a new battery when I ran across these posts. Now I am confused as to what I should do. This will be the last Denali I will ever buy.

  14. Get them to check the starter for sure. I was told that I needed a new battery and in the end that didn't solve my problem.

  15. I've got the same problem. The truck sits with the radio on for 10 minutes or maybe a dome light on and the battery is dead. I am thinking it may be the connectors because I could not jump the car without connecting the negative jumper directly to the battery.


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