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PSA for all GM Truck/SUV Owners

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  • Original Poster

    For those you implying that the corrosion and brake failure is a fault of poor vehicle maintenance, my husband is a mechanic and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the maintenance on our truck far exceeds that of most normal owners. Yes, brake fluid has been changed, as well as transmission fluid, amongst other things. He was doing his inspection (part of which was the oil change that was needed) to make sure the truck was ready for my show season when he saw this. I don't know much about cars, but I crawled underneath the truck and just wanted to cry. The entire underside is a rust bucket, which my husband said pretty much started from the day we bought it. They put a rubberized kind of coating on things and almost from day 1, he said it was peeling off. And yes, we live in the salt belt, but this is a garage-kept tow vehicle - I do not tow in the winter. Not to say that it's never seen salt, but not like an everyday driver or plow truck would. Like I said, we have unrestored 40 year old muscle cars at home that have better brake lines/underbodies than our 10 year old truck. So you can try and place the blame on the owner, but I know we have done everything right in taking care of this truck, and it didn't make any difference. And really, does anyone really think it's acceptable for brake lines to be failing in vehicles 10 years old and younger?

    And as far as the brake lines rusting from the inside out, I can't comment on that. Based on the condition of our truck, I would assume ours is rusting from the outside in.

    An engineer from the NHTSA is coming out to take a look at our truck. Chevrolet had us take our truck to the local dealership for inspection - basically we have a piece of paper now that says the brake system has no leaks, so I guess they consider it safe. Not in our book.

    For those of you looking, the brake lines in question are on the driver's side, going into the ABS unit. They are a little hard to see around the frame, which is probably why they are going unnoticed until they are severely corroded. The rest of the brake lines on our truck look good.

    I really didn't start this thread to get into a little p*ssing contest about who does vehicle maintenance and who doesn't. Not everyone is married to a mechanic, and not everyone who takes their truck in for service uses a qualified and honest mechanic, so you can try and do everything right and still get burned. I posted it to protect people, maybe prevent someone from being seriously hurt or killed.


    • #22
      Thank you! My 2000 chevy 3500 had sudden brake loss last summer. Had moved hay in the am, two horses on the trailer. Started down the road on a 200 mi trip and no brakes. Thank god for the trailer brakes. Brake lines had rotted thru. Truck bought new, regular maintenance, brakes and lines checked a few months prior.


      • #23
        I was not getting into a pissing contest. I also was posting the information I did for the benefit of anyone who wanted to read it. I doubt many did. If you have a truck or car with ABS, you need to check the brake fluid or the system will deteriorate. Anyone concerned about their tow vehicle needs to read the links I posted.

        I'm sorry the OP is having trouble with the truck and do hope you can get some kind of adjustment.

        Having said that, my 2001 brake system is just fine. The first time I tested it, I had someone else do it that had a boiling point machine. After that showed that it needed changing after the first 4 years of ownership, I bought the copper test strips to test it myself. This past weekend was the third time the fluid has been changed. It wasn't even showing very high on the color comparison scale, but it was up a bit, so I changed it.

        Maybe they shortcut some of the building of these trucks, but mine is #28 off the Duramax/Allison assembly line, and there is no rust problem. It's not even garage kept, but it has never seen salt on the road.

        Every plumber I know says they have buckets under their sinks.

        Here's another link for the person who does read:

        Yes, GM doesn't think it needs changing either, but I have different plans for longevity than they do.
        Last edited by Tom King; May. 9, 2011, 09:18 PM.


        • #24
          But, Tom, if GM doesn't think it needs changing, where does that leave those of us who are "regular" drivers? Not Tom King. Not a mechanic. Just regular drivers. Who take their trucks in to either a Chevy dealer or a good independent mechanic like clockwork, and ask them to do all required maintenance at that mileage?

          Count me as one more in this pile. I have a 2003 Chevy Silverado 1500 HD. It is parked on grass a lot of the time, but it has less than 30k miles on it, and I do NOT haul on salted roads (it's a tow vehicle, and while it lives in Maryland, I will not haul around here in ice/snow unless there's a vet emergency).

          Last summer we were moving my stepson down to college. I had had the truck serviced 2 months earlier (so less than 500 miles). Felt fine on Fri PM. Sat AM my husband gets behind the wheel and tells me the brakes feel spongy. I dismiss this, tell him brakes felt fine the night before.

          We drive a few miles to a friend's apartment, where we load a bunch of furniture. My husband notices that there is fluid leaking from under the rear axle of the truck while we are parked.

          We turn on the truck, and the brake malfunction light comes on.

          We drive the truck, very, very slowly, to the nearest brake place.

          The line was corroded completely through and by the time they got it on the lift there was NO BRAKE FLUID LEFT.

          I am sorry, this is unacceptable. If I follow the manufacturer's specs for maintenance, go to the dealer for the first 20k (truck had had one service at local mechanic after dealer went belly up in GM retraction...but local mechanic is beloved and trusted by 6 different people I know who have trucks of all descriptions), the brake line should not corrode completely through at 25k.

          Does anyone know who I should contact to include this info in whatever database/lawsuit/study is being conducted?
          The big man -- my lost prince

          The little brother, now my main man


          • Original Poster

            complaint filing

            Thanks for your post, Asterix, you said a bit more elegantly what I was trying to get across. Your truck sounds even worse than ours, I can't believe you had brake failure like that at only 30K miles.

            Anyway, go to safecar.gov and under the tab "vehicle owners," there is an option to file a complaint. That's what I did, and after completing the form and submitting, I heard back from a DC-based engineer in less than a day. I bet he'll want to speak to you, too, and come see your truck.


            • #26
              I'm usually pretty hard to freak out but when it comes to hauling I don't take any chances. I have a 2000 Suburban with 190,000 miles that I use to haul until our Yukon comes in. After reading this thread, I decided to take it to our mechanic and have it checked out. We're going to a show this weekend - why take a chance? Sure enough, brake lines are corroded. We've had this vehicle since 2000, well maintained etc. Our mechanic did not know about this issue.

              Big big big thanks for starting this thread. I may have never had a problem or I could have had a really big problem. Thankfully I'll never know and that's a good thing in this case.

              THANK YOU!!!!!


              • #27
                This really isn't limited to hauling vehicles. I am not by any means a car/truck guru. I follow the manufacturer guidelines, I rely on the manufacturer shop to check things out. How safe am I? Or my passengers (mostly kids and pets!)???

                My fiance made fun of me for my 300 dollar oil change a few months ago--they told me I needed x, y, and z replaced--so I did. But what is the average (idiot?) consumer to do if they don't check these things?

                THank you for the heads up.
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                • #28
                  I want to say THANKS for posting this thread!

                  I have a 2001 (bought new in 2000) Chevy Silverado 2500HD and have had it regularly maintained.

                  Thanks to this thread, I had a quick check done by my mechanic. Although there are currently no leaks, the lines are rusted so they are being replaced Thursday (and the brake fluid replaced as well).

                  Appreciate this PSA!


                  • #29
                    I am bumping this up because it is important. My mechanic told me that I have a lot of rust in the break lines. I am selling my 1999 Suburban but telling all perspective buyers that even though the car runs fine and brakes are working fine, this is a potentially serious problem. From what I have read, the problems exist in mostly 2003 and back??? I believe that the newer model Suburban, 2007 and later, have the brake lines wrapped in something.


                    • #30
                      PSA like these ARE important for those of us that don't have the facilities, tools, or mechanical abilities to work on our own vehicles. I would rather pay a professional to do it correctly than risk doing a poor job due to my stupidity and having problems because of it. So thank you for starting this thread, and for bringing it up again!

                      I have a 1995 Chevy Silverado; brakes were replaced and maintained regularly. One day (about 6 years ago) it was at the mechanic for something else and on his way back from a test drive, the brakes totally failed on him due to corrosion. It could have easily had happened while I was towing horses. So please take this seriously if you have an older vehicle!


                      • #31
                        2002 chevy silverado...multiple brake failures
                        multiple issues with corrosion under the truck(emergency brake, transmission shifter), etc

                        I had the lines all replaced recently. I also bring it to the service department of the chevy dealer(Grappone in Concord, NH) and they service my vehicle. They know I haul, and I always request a check on the underneath.

                        Thankfully, whenever the brakes have failed I have been in my own driveway going under 10mph.

                        I don't go out on snow...I and the horses live here, but I do live in NH.

                        I am disappointed in the failure, but more so that a mechanic can't see corrosion and recommend fixing it...I am a proactive type person rather than reactive.
                        I will not buy another chevy again.
                        PS, I also own a 1995 ford explorer...that car just keeps on keeping on, with no problems. Body rust, but no break downs.
                        Soooo, you can bet my next truck will be FORD.
                        save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                        • #32
                          Just want to add to the PSA ... I had a 1998 Silverado, and the brake lines were corroded and failed under the hood. Please be sure to check the entire brake line, from start to finish. Our started as a hairline crack and spongy brakes, then went into full failure in a split second parking in the driveway. This truck had less than 100K at the time, I was the 4th owner.

                          Sort of like people who never have changed transmission fluid, the tranny fails, and they blame the manufacturer even though the truck has 90,000 miles on it, or the rear end breaks and they blame the vehicle manufacturer even though the big three all use the same supplier for rear ends.
                          I am disagreeing with this argument. Check the statistics, Dodge pick ups did have a significant tranny problem with certain years and models. I worked for a towing company in the early '00's, and we hauled these trucks back to the repairs shops left and right. We had 3 of our top tow drivers that kept their brand new Dodge trucks in pristine condition, all newer with under 50K and all 3 trucks blew the transmission. Yes - some problems are lack of maintenance. But, there are some problems that are with the manufacturer.

                          In my world, if a tranny needs fluid changed under 100K, then it is a bad buy. But, I have vehicles that come with 100K transmission warranty - can't change the fluid, voids the warranty.


                          • #33
                            I had my brakes fail because of a corroded brake line. Was fine while stopped at friends house unloading her horse after a trail ride. Turned a corner and I don't know why to this day but I had a urge to stop right there, about 300 feet from the stop sign. Didn't stop! Squeezed the trailer brakes and that stopped us.

                            My other friend that was riding with me kept asking why I stopped there rather than the stop sign. Angels or God I don't know but I was glad as I looked ahead at the intersection at the cars flying by, back and forth at 50 to 60 miles an hour. That would have been very bad.

                            We limped all the way home going about 4 miles an hour, backroads, me sqeezing the trailer brakes, her squeezing the door handle. But we made it, it was luckily only about 5 miles, but took us well over an hour!

                            Turns out one of the brake lines busted in Jackie's driveway. Hubby replaced the line.

                            I've been in auto business for the first half of my life, first as a automotive dismantler in a junk yard (I was a business draw for him, LOL! Out there in a bikini top and shorts...whatever, not anymore.) to working in a service shop and I've never heard about changing brake fluid unless you had some work done (like replacing calipers or something) for the most part just topped it off, I was always told it's an airtight system.

                            I have never had a brake line corrode and fail, and I've owned a lot of cars and trucks and some with over 300k miles. This is a first.

                            2000 Ford F350, and we live in NC, right on the SC boarder (SC is 10 minutes from us).
                            Last edited by Chardavej; Sep. 14, 2011, 01:30 PM.
                            I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                            Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


                            • #34
                              If you live in a state where they use salt for the roads, you are going to have to deal with rust. That's life. Anyone living in the "salt belt" should be cleaning the underside of their vehicles as often as possible and checking things like brake lines, gas lines, clamps and fittings to be sure they are not corroded. I have had to change the brake lines in every vehicle I have owned about every 4-5 years. Fact of life when you have winter and salt. Once they start going they go very quickly.
                              RIP Duff - aka The Big Fat Pony


                              • #35
                                Taking my 2003 Avalanche into my mechanic today. Finally, a justification to my DH for reading these boards! =)


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by chance2jump View Post

                                  I am disagreeing with this argument. Check the statistics, Dodge pick ups did have a significant tranny problem with certain years and models. I worked for a towing company in the early '00's, and we hauled these trucks back to the repairs shops left and right. We had 3 of our top tow drivers that kept their brand new Dodge trucks in pristine condition, all newer with under 50K and all 3 trucks blew the transmission. Yes - some problems are lack of maintenance. But, there are some problems that are with the manufacturer.

                                  In my world, if a tranny needs fluid changed under 100K, then it is a bad buy. But, I have vehicles that come with 100K transmission warranty - can't change the fluid, voids the warranty.

                                  I don't care that the manufacturers of transmission fluid or transmissions say that Dextron III "should" last 100,000 miles. I have different plans for longevity than the manufacturer does. I'll change tranny fluid at the first hint of a change in color or in the case of the Allison, 50,000 whether it needs it or not. I've worn out probably a dozen trucks over the years, but have never had to do anything to a transmission. It might cost me an extra 20 or 30 bucks instead of changing it at 100, but it's worth it to me. '01 with 180,000 miles and no issues other than it needed a 7 cent push nut on a tailgate handle lock rod.

                                  I looked for info specifically for trucks, but this tells the same story.



                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by bigfatpony View Post
                                    If you live in a state where they use salt for the roads...

                                    I have had to change the brake lines in every vehicle I have owned about every 4-5 years.
                                    I live in an area with heavy road salt usage and this has not been my experience at all. In fact, I'm sitting on a 4 year old car right now with basically NO corrosion (just had it up). I shudder at the thought of just accepting that things always need to be replaced every 4-5 years!


                                    • #38
                                      IIRC Click and Clack did a segment on brake fluid a few months back. They said the it should be changed periodically. I don't remember the specifics on time or frequency. I don't normally follow their website so I didn't try and find it.

                                      I think Tom is correct in his interpretation. The brake fluid needs to be changed periodically as do most fluids in a working vehicle.

                                      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                        The brake fluid needs to be changed periodically as do most fluids in a working vehicle.
                                        Brake fluid, you bet! Having to deal with replacing PARTS that early bc of salt on the roads... I guess if that's acceptable to you...


                                        • #40
                                          Well, this wasn't a brake problem, but this happened today- this afternoon and it did involve a GMC SUV so here goes.

                                          I was driving down the road in my 1999 GMC half ton truck (which I have not had any problems with so far) when I began to smell gasoline. There was a GMC SUV about a hundred yards ahead of me. As I got closer, I realized I could seen something splashing out on the road from under their truck, so I sped up to get an even closer look.

                                          There was gasoline spilling out from under the truck as it wet down the road and once I got close the fumes were almost overpowering.
                                          I signaled to the driver who did pull over. I told him what I had seen and suggested he turn his truck off, which he did. Gas was dripping profusely from under the bottom of the SUV.

                                          I asked if I could do anything for him and his wife like call someone, but they had their own cell phone. The guy said the truck had been "losing power" and acting like it was trying to "stall out" on him. Has anyone ever seen or heard of this happening? Just curious.