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PSA for all GM Truck/SUV Owners

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  • PSA for all GM Truck/SUV Owners

    Crawl under your truck and check your brakes! Apparently GM trucks and SUVs have a serious brake problem that GM is trying to pretend isn't happening. Looks like model years from about 1999-2003 are affected, may be more. The brake lines are corroding - they clearly did not use stainless steel lines or treat them in any way to prevent rust. My husband just changed the oil in my 2002 Chevy Silverado 3500 Duramax diesel. When he was under the truck, he saw that all the brake lines leading into the ABS unit were completely corroded and could fail at any time. My truck is basically only driven when towing my horse trailer during eventing season, so the oil gets changed maybe once a year, so it's been awhile since he's been under the truck. It is not a work truck by any means - it is garage kept, and my husband is a mechanic, so suffice to say, my truck is in pristine condition for a 10 year old truck. My husband's fear is that because the brake lines are rusting inside and out, the ABS unit and the entire braking system may be filled with rust. Many people are reporting what look to be clean brake lines, but they keep replacing calipers, or having problems with the ABS system, which probably means the inside of the brake lines are rusty and dumping rust other places.

    If you do a search on the internet for braking problems with GM trucks, you will find a ton of information on this. GM is not acknowledging a problem and is refusing at this point to correct the problem. There is currently an open investigation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin (NHTSA). Our dealership basically told us, "too bad, so sad, your truck is out of warranty, nothing we can do." We filed a complaint with the NHTSA and we have contacted Chevrolet directly and are awaiting a call back from their customer service department. Based on what I've seen on the internet from others, I doubt Chevy is going to do anything either. I read lots of horror stories of brakes failing, but my guess is that until someone dies, nothing is going to come of this. My husband, a diehard GM man, is furious. As he said, he has 30 and 40 year old cars at home that have unrestored brake lines in better condition than our 10 year old truck. There's no excuse for this except shoddy materials and manufacturing.

    I just hauled my horse this past weekend and the thought of the brakes failing just makes me want to vomit. The road I traveled, US1 over the Conowingo Dam in MD for those who know the area, has hellacious hills - I shudder to think what would have happened if the brakes had failed coming down one of those hills. I probably wouldn't be making this post right now...

  • #2
    I have a 2005 Chevy silverado that the rear breaks got STUCK ON, and completely ruined the entire rear braking system.

    They were going to charge me to replace the entire system, rotors, calipers, pads, lines etc, and after much arguing with them, they did the repairs at no cost to me.

    I will never buy another GM/Chevy again. This particular truck has had a lot of troubles.
    Last edited by tidy rabbit; May. 5, 2011, 03:03 PM.
    Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN


    • #3
      as a note Brake Fluid by itself is not corrosive... but if the system was low and moisture was allowed to accumulate the fluid will absorb moisture...then the inside of a line could corrode... otherwise if the system was maintained the proper levels it should have never corroded from the inside out

      As aside question have you ever replaced the vacuum pump for your diesel's braking system? If/when it fails you have nearly zero stopping power


      • #4
        Too late for us. We were bringing a sick yearling back home from Blue Ridge Equine, 100 yards from getting on to I-64 west, when the brake lines failed on our 2001 GM 3500 and we sailed through a red light.

        If we had gotten on I-64, and those brakes had failed on the back side of Afton Mountain we would all be dead. Every time I think about that I get short of breath.

        US Rider came to our rescue.
        "No matter how cynical I get its just not enough to keep up." Lily Tomlin


        • #5
          my mom has a 2003 Suburban. I will pass this on to her.


          • #6
            '99 Silverado 1500, 180k, no corroded brake lines.

            05' Silverado 2500 diesel, 78k, no corroded brake lines
            You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.


            • #7
              '99 GMC Sierra 2500 with 213k, brake lines are original and perfectly fine

              Brake lines are something that should be getting a yearly check anyway. Both at the inspection bay (had a Jeep fail for them once) and at your own garage as well.


              • #8
                We just traded in our 03 GMC Envoy. Lots of rust underneath. Was happy to be rid of it!
                "I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way."


                • #9
                  I found this:

                  Report Date : January 26, 2011 at 10:34 AM
                  NHTSA Action Number : EA11001

                  NHTSA Action Number : EA11001 NHTSA Recall Campaign Number : N/A
                  Vehicle Make / Model: Model Year(s):
                  CADILLAC / ESCALADE 2002-2003
                  CHEVROLET / 1500 2003
                  CHEVROLET / AVALANCHE 1500 2002-2003
                  CHEVROLET / AVALANCHE 2500 2002-2003
                  CHEVROLET / SIERRA 1999-2003
                  CHEVROLET / SILVERADO 1999-2003
                  CHEVROLET / SUBURBAN 1999-2003
                  CHEVROLET / TAHOE 2000-2003
                  CHEVROLET / YUKON 2000-2003
                  CHEVROLET / YUKON XL 2000
                  Manufacturer : GENERAL MOTORS CORP.
                  Component(s) :
                  Date Investigation Opened : January 5, 2011
                  Date Investigation Closed : Open
                  The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) received Defect Petition DP10-003 on March 2, 2010, requesting the investigation of model year (MY) 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 4WD pickup trucks for corrosion failures of the vehicle brake lines. DP10-003 was granted and on March 30, 2010, Preliminary Evaluation PE10-010 was opened on more than six million model year 1999 through 2003 light trucks and sport utility vehicles manufactured and sold by General Motors Corporation (GM). On July 2, 2010, ODI received GM's response to an information request, which included GM's assessment of the frequency and safety consequences of the alleged defect. GM stated that: (1) the brake system of the subject vehicles is split front/rear and should a brake pipe suddenly fail for any reason, the affected vehicle would be capable of stopping with the pressure supplied by the remaining circuit; (2) the subject vehicles were designed to meet the hydraulic circuit partial failure requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 105 and 135, Light Vehicle Brake Systems; and (3) should a brake fluid leak occur for any reason, the brake system malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) would illuminate and warn the driver before the brake fluid level was low enough to cause a loss of line pressure. Of the 890 total complaints for brake pipe corrosion identified, 761 were located in Salt Belt states (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin). The complaint rate per 100,000 vehicles sold is significantly higher in the Salt Belt, 43.0, compared with 3.0 for the remaining states. In approximately 25 percent of the complaints, the brake pipe failure has allegedly occurred suddenly, with no warning to the driver (i.e., no brake warning light), and resulted in extended stopping distances. In 26 of these incidents, the increase in stopping distance that resulted was alleged as a factor in a crash and in 10 others the vehicle was intentionally steered off the road or into another lane of travel in order to avoid a crash. An Engineering Analysis has been opened for subject vehicles sold or currently registered in Salt Belt states to further assess the scope, frequency and safety risks associated with sudden failures of corroded brake pipes that can result in decreased brake effectiveness. ODI will continue to gather information on subject vehicles outside the Salt Belt as well.
                  Check to Request Research. Submit below.

                  My addition:

                  My truck doesn't go on the road when there is salt on the road, so I'm not worried about the outside of the lines getting rusted, but I still check around when I'm under there changing fluids. I run it up on four HD plastic ramps and slide around the shop floor on a creeper to change fluids and such. I don't like surprises.

                  Brake fluid likes to accumulate water. It always has. It's probably the main reason for brakes fading on older vehicles, as when the water boils in the fluid, steam doesn't have the same hydraulic pressure as fluid water-why you don't notice it until severe braking when the water boils.

                  I'm driving a 2001 3500 Duramax/Allison for over 10 years now.

                  I've changed the brake fluid twice over this time period. Thanks for the warning. I think I'll change it again this weekend since there already is a planned change for the transfer case this weekend. I'll check the lines on the outside, but they looked fine at the last oil change when I was under there. Still running the original brake pads with 180,000 miles and they are fine, but I rarely heat them up much.

                  So far the only "breakdown" I've had was one of the plastic snap in place holders inside the tailgate for the latch operation on one of the handle to latch rods. The plastic things are evidently just like that so they can snap them in quickly at assembly. It probably took me thirty seconds to get a 7 cent push nut on the rod.

                  I'm not brand loyal in many things, but in another 5 or 10 years, I'll probably buy another GM truck.

                  I also did a bit of checking on suppliers, and it looks like all the American manufacturers use the same parts contractors for a lot of common parts like brake lines.

                  If you are worried about it and don't keep check on those sort of things, replacement aftermarket lines are even available in stainless steel. They still won't keep the brakes from fading in an emergency if you haven't changed the fluid in ten years.
                  Last edited by Tom King; May. 6, 2011, 07:23 PM.


                  • #10
                    BTDT, replaced them a couple of years back.
                    Fortunately, not a catastrophic failure.
                    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                    • #11
                      in my close circle of friends, we had brake failure due to corroded lines in an early 2000 dodge, a late 1990's ford, and a late 1990's chevy.

                      and i remember a thread here on coth where people with all different make trucks were sharing their horror stories on brake failure, several due to corrosion, and again, involving all three big us mfr.

                      based on that, i'd be checking my truck brake lines regularly regardless of the make.
                      TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                      • #12
                        1999 GMC Sierra 3500. Complete brake failure. IN MY DRIVEWAY! I got lucky.
                        Kendra -- Runningwater Warmbloods
                        Home of EM Raleska (Rascalino/ Warkant) and Donatella M (Furstenball/ Jazz Time)
                        'Like' us on Facebook


                        • #13





                          • #14
                            damn, I think we have a 03 Silverado....


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
                              damn, I think we have a 03 Silverado....

                              And how many times has the brake fluid been changed? Mine is an '01 and the braking system is probably still close to new condition.


                              • #16
                                I would venture never...


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by supaflyskye View Post
                                  my mom has a 2003 Suburban. I will pass this on to her.
                                  Suburbans around that time also have faulty electrical with their power steering. My family's (I believe a little earlier model) went down cruising over a bridge in Montreal... fun!

                                  We bought Ford & LOVE it.
                                  "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
                                  Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
                                  Need You Now Equine


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
                                    I would venture never...

                                    So it looks like this is a GM problem as others have said?

                                    I guess no one bothered to read the stuff I posted.

                                    I do think that GM made a big mistake by saying the fluid they use does not need changing (or what amounts to that-I'm not quoting exactly), but my brake fluid tested 2% moisture at 4 years, which was the first time I changed it. We live in a very humid location. I don't blame GM. I felt dumb for letting it get that bad.

                                    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.

                                    If anyone's truck is 10 years old, something like this becomes a problem, and there has never been good service on the vehicle, it's not the truck's fault. Changing fluids like transmission fluid and brake fluid is simple good maintenance.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Tom King View Post

                                      If anyone's truck is 10 years old, something like this becomes a problem, and there has never been good service on the vehicle, it's not the truck's fault. Changing fluids like transmission fluid and brake fluid is simple good maintenance.
                                      Yup. I do not feel bad for any of the people who have failures on 10+ year old equipment and when asked "Well, have you ever checked it? Had it checked?" Go "Uh nope!".

                                      Metal rusts/oxodizes/degrades. There is NOTHING that any of the motor companies can do to prevent this. As Tom King's data mentioned, almost all of the people with complaints were in the "Salt Belt," where the trucks take a pretty severe beating with all the salt on the roads.

                                      Check your equipment, people. Learn how to do your own oil changes (it's easy, promise! I'm a 100lb girl and I've been doing it since 16 years old) and while you're under there poke around at anything suspicious looking. Be proactive.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Tom King View Post
                                        So it looks like this is a GM problem as others have said?

                                        I guess no one bothered to read the stuff I posted.

                                        I do think that GM made a big mistake by saying the fluid they use does not need changing (or what amounts to that-I'm not quoting exactly), but my brake fluid tested 2% moisture at 4 years, which was the first time I changed it. We live in a very humid location. I don't blame GM. I felt dumb for letting it get that bad.

                                        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.

                                        If anyone's truck is 10 years old, something like this becomes a problem, and there has never been good service on the vehicle, it's not the truck's fault. Changing fluids like transmission fluid and brake fluid is simple good maintenance.

                                        back that pickup up for a sec.

                                        I just noticed I have a vehicle build in that time bracket. I did not say I had a problem.

                                        Also, rust has never been a problem with any of my old cars, hurray for not having a winter - most of the times anyhow.

                                        But you are right, the truck is overdue for a tuneup (and yes, I know how to do an oil change, I simply prefer to pay somebody to do it, I stay clean and don't have to worry about the old oil disposal.)

                                        Oh, we are also not the original owners...