Owning a Hummer sparks a debate: some swear by its unwavering reliability, while others label it as the planet’s most overrated ride on four wheels. At the heart of this automotive paradox lies the original juggernaut – the Humvee, born for the battlegrounds and sculpted by AM General for the United States military.
The civilian counterpart, the H1 Hummer, made its roaring debut in 1992, marking the inception of the iconic Hummer lineage. In the automotive saga that unfolded between 1992 and 2009 for the H2 and 2005-2010 for the H3, opinions about the Hummer’s dependability took divergent paths. Today, we embark on a journey to unravel the hidden truths behind the legendary Humvee and its civilian counterparts. Is it a wheel-bound fortress of reliability, or is the Hummer hype overrated? Let’s dig in.
Unique Features of the Hummer
1. Can go Anywhere
The Hummer can perform maneuvers that other SUVs won’t 99% of the time. The large width and low center of gravity give it superior performance in ground clearance. They can navigate anything from steep climbs to snowdrifts, mud, and even rivers. Military hummers can go on the road if they have been modified to be road legal.
2. Can Drive on A flat Tire
No worries if you get a flat in a Hummer. It can drive for an impressive 30 miles at a speed of 20mph.
3. Central Tire Inflation System.
The CTIS allows you to inflate or deflate the tires while inside the car’s cabin.
4. Unique Gear Assembly
The gear assembly provides gear reduction of close to 2 to 1 directly at the wheel. That’s why it can get over mud and rocks.
5. Unique Traction
The Hummer’s traction system varies from Torsen I, Torsen II, and TorqueTrac4. When caught in a situation where one of the wheels prevents the other three from gaining traction, it automatically applies brakes directly to the spinning wheel.
6. Individualized Temp Settings
The driver and front passenger can set personalized temp with a difference of up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Noise Cancelling Technology
The stock radio uses noise-canceling technology to cut road wind and outside distractions that interfere with audio quality in the cabin.
- Foldable 2nd row for cargo
- Adequate head and legroom for tall persons
Typical Problems with the Hummer
As unique as it is, the Hummer is not without its problems. It’s not an economy car, thanks to its reputation for guzzling gas. It requires regular maintenance but spare parts are hard to find, especially for the original Hummer.
Depending on the car model and year, you are going to face different problems with the Hummer.
Common Hummer H1 Problems
Hummers have not been in production for a decade. They are expensive to repair, so it’s best if you know to perform some of the repairs.
The best places to find information include online enthusiast forums where Hummer owners post problems and fixes for their vehicles.
1. Hard-to-Find Wheels
The Hummer H1 runs on 16.5-inch wheels, which are hard to find. Aftermarket wheels don’t work well with Hummer’s internal inflation/deflation system. They can mess with the steering geometry.
2. Central Tire Inflation System is Problematic in Most Hummers
This system was designed to make it easy to inflate tires on the move. The wires, hoses, and lines that go from the compressor to the tires have tiny leaks because of the general wear and tear. Most people have found it impossible not to have a single leak at any given time. It’s best to have the system disconnected.
3. Number 8 Cylinder Issue
All hummers from 1996-2000 experience engine failure because of a crack that develops in the number-eight cylinder. The problem being a casting flaw by the manufacturer. The long-term fix is to have the engine replaced, which is quite costly.
4. HVAC Issues
Hummers built between 1992-1996 had HVAC systems that didn’t stand up to the job. The system had to get an upgrade which will cost you over $3000. It’s best to go for models built after 1997.
5. TorqueTrac4 Issues
Hummer H1 built-in 1999 uses an electric traction system, the TorqueTrac4. It is excellent for on-road use, but no so much for rugged terrain.
Common Hummer H2 Problems
The Hummer H2 is a favorable car for many because it does not have as many issues as the H1.
1. Power Mirrors not Folding in 2003-2005 Models.
The mirrors may not power fold when reversing. 2006 H2 does not have this problem, and its power mirrors are used as replacements for 2003-2005 models.
2. Defective Oil Pump
This problem is common in the 2006 H2, and it results in low oil pressure. Although uncommon among other H2 models, it can cost you over $1500 to fix if it’s not covered under warranty.
3. Windshield Wiper Module Short Circuit Board
Moisture can get into the windshield wiper module and cause its failure by a short circuit. This problem can happen to any H2, so be on the lookout if your windshield wiper is not working correctly. Luckily, you can get the car fixed for free since it’s a manufacturer’s defect.
4. Door Knobs and Front Door Jamming
Again, moisture can get into the doorknobs and front door, which can cause jamming by a short circuit or the water freezing up.
- Other parts prone to failure include the water pump, speedometer, tachometer, and hydro-boost.
Common Hummer H3 Problems
The Hummer H3 is the civilized model of the three, representing class and elegance. The lighting system offers excellent vision at night, while the double fuel tanks will give you more miles. Not to mention the information hub that sends warning signals when there are road problems.
Unfortunately, the Hummer H3 has about every manufacturing defect you can get in one car.
Apart from the minimal cargo space, you will encounter some major problems with the Hummer H3.
1. Engine Issues
Owners of the Hummer H3 began reporting engine issues after hitting 80,000 miles. Problems range from the engine running rough, failure in the cylinder heads, and leaky valves. You can fix the issue by replacing valves and head gaskets, costing you around $3100. But in some vehicles, the problem may not go away even after parts replacement.
2. Electrical Problems
The pass lock that is designed to keep away thieves can randomly prevent you from using the car for up to 10 minutes. The only fix is to have a GM dealership replace the ignition switch.
Other electrical problems include noisy car speakers, the trailer wiring harness can melt when in contact with the muffler, and the video feed cable may come loose, requiring the use of cable clamps.
3. Check-Engine Light
Owners of the 2007 Hummer H3 have reported the check engine light can come on and will not go off even after performing diagnostics. This problem is usually followed by an engine that runs excessively loud.
This issue is usually due to damaged cylinder heads and valves that you need to replace for around $3000. It’s not an easy fix if you are out of warranty.
4. Leaky Valve Seats
The H3’s engine tends to experience leaky valve seats that cause engine misfire. The only fix is replacing the cylinder head.
- Other issues include a cracked radiator, HVAC not working correctly, airbag light not going off, coolant leaks, and window washer pump failure.
The Hummer may be desert-storm tough, but it has a long list of manufacturing defects that may affect its reliability. If you are planning on buying a Hummer check the maintenance history or have a mechanic help you understand what the future awaits. Otherwise, you may end up having some else’s problems as your own.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.