When it comes to buying a truck in the States, there are only a handful of contenders which are as well-rounded as the Chevy Silverado 1500. However, the Silverado 1500 has its fair share of problems as well. We will elaborate on all of these issues in this article, but let’s start with a brief answer.
The most common problems with the Chevy Silverado 1500 are its faulty transmission in the 2017 model. The excessive engine oil consumption problem affected the models produced between 2007-2011 and the low-quality suspension in the 2016 model.
Other common issues include, but are not limited to, A/C failure in the 2014 model and airbag issues in the 2016 model of Silverado. A hard brake problem has also been reported for the models produced between 2014-2018. The 2016-2020 models also witnessed ECBM Software issues, engine lifter failure, and erratic speedometer issues.
If you want to know about these common problems in depth, we have got you covered. We have explained below all these issues, why they arise and how you can get them fixed.
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1. Faulty Transmission
The faulty transmissions in Chevy Silverado 1500 have been a consistent problem and many of these transmission issues extend into the 2500 as well. A lot of people have complained that the truck jerks and the whole chassis shudders when shifting gears automatically.
Although Chevrolet is famous for smooth gear shifts in its automatic cars, the transmission in Silverado 1500 is not smooth at all. This problem is more prominent in the lower gears but users have reported similar problems even when going above 70mph. At such high speeds, a jerky transmission is not merely a nuisance because if the gears get stuck, it might result in an accident.
The technicians at Chevrolet are yet to agree upon what causes these transmissions to give up the ghost. There have been instances of dirty fuel injectors which were causing jerky gear shifts.
Other reasons responsible might include a low-quality transmission fluid as well as defective speed sensors. These sensors detect when the speed is increasing or decreasing and then shift gears accordingly. A defective torque converter can also hinder the smooth gear shifting.
Make sure the transmission isn’t slipping before you buy and this video will show you exactly what to do look for before you make a purchase:
This problem tainted a lot of 2017 model Chevy Silverado but the problem has been noticed in nearly all years of production between 2014 and 2021. A trip to the dealership will cost anywhere between $160-$4000 depending on the specific issue. That’s why it is best to ensure that the transmission system is all okay if you are in the market to buy a Chevy Silverado 1500.
2. Excessive Oil Consumption
Have you ever been to a dealership to get the oil of your vehicle changed and the worried technician breaks the bad news that your car is low on oil?
The 2007-2011 Chevy Silverado frequently had this issue. A lot of times, the truck would be 3-4 quarts of oil short. This problem might not be apparent right away, except when you go to the dealership to get the oil replaced, but this insidious problem gradually eats your engine from the inside like cancer.
On engine examination, the auto mechanic usually finds carbon build-up in the pistons, which gradually damages the cylinders over time. The real reason behind this was that Chevrolet employed a mechanism in their engines where half of the cylinders were disabled to save fuel and oil would be sprayed on them to keep them cool. However, the warm cylinders will cause this oil to burn, resulting in carbon buildup and damage to the cylinders.
Chevy rectified this issue after 2011 and the newer generations do not face this problem. However, a dealer can charge you anywhere between $150-$200 to fix the carbon buildup issue.
3. Suspension Problems
Chevy Silverado is one beast of a truck and arguably one of the best in its class. However, it was unfortunate that the 2016 Chevy Silverado 1500 was marred with suspension issues, that seemed to be never-ending.
The problem was a headache for the drivers even when they were not off-roading or going through rough terrain. The truck would be noisy and bumpy and the handling was not great. The problem was made worse if the trucks were towing medium weight. The users explain that driving over even a small bump would send ripples through the truck, making the driving experience subpar.
The suspension problem in the 2016 model Chevy Silverado is usually due to a defect in the front upper control arms and poor-quality shock absorbers. The upper control arms stabilize the chassis of the truck and they are improperly welded in the 2016 model.
If you are buying a used 2016 Silverado 1500, then chances are this issue might be already fixed. However, if that is not the case, GM motors issued a recall for this issue and you can get this problem fixed free of cost.
4. Air Conditioning Failure
Another problem Chevy Silverado has had is the failure of the air conditioning system. The 2014 model Chevy Silverado 1500 is notorious for malfunctioning cooling systems. This is especially a nuisance in those states where the outdoor temperatures can easily go beyond 100°F. The A/C usually breaks down abruptly and the passengers will find hot air blowing right in their faces.
The most common reason for the A/C failure is a production error in the compressor which causes the compressor to malfunction and fail. The condenser pipes have also been reportedly involved in many cases.
This video does a great job showing you how to diagnose that issue and it’s worth checking out if you’re considering a purchase:
However, this problem is reported more frequently in trucks which are driven over 50,000 miles. So, if your truck has clocked in fewer miles, a small refrigerant leak or some other minor issue can be the culprit as well.
The A/C compressors cost a hefty amount and dealerships can charge anywhere between $1000-$1500 for a replacement as these compressors are notoriously difficult to repair.
5. No Crank/Long Crank Problem
The Chevy Silverado 1500 Diesel model comes with a 3.0L Duramax Turbo engine. This time-tested engine also comes in Sierra 1500 and is considered a reliable one. It’s also obviously larger than the 2.8L Duramax you’ll find in similarly sized trucks like Colorado’s diesel variant.
However, in Chevy Silverado, this engine has been linked with the long crank/no crank issues.
When trying to turn the engine on, either the engine does not crank at all or takes awfully long to fire the engine up.
The most notable reason behind this issue seems to be the camshaft wheel which can easily buckle under stress or get warped.
The camshaft is also not an easy part to replace since the technician will have to remove the truck cab. The part itself is relatively cheaper but the 40–50-hour labor required to replace it is enough to take up the total cost north of $2500.
6. Airbags Deployment Issues
When it comes to safety issues, there should be no compromises. The frontal airbags in the Chevrolet Silverado have been reportedly not deploying in case of a crash. This problem was most prominent in the 2016 model and consequently, General Motors had to issue a recall for the trucks which had this problem.
In addition to this, there have been instances where the roof rail airbag inflator is defective, leading to improper airbag deployment. In simpler words, the airbag would deploy even when it should not, startling the driver and potentially causing an accident.
Due to this problem, numerous trucks were recalled. If you are looking for a 2016 Silverado 1500, make sure that the airbags and their inflators are in proper shape. If they are not, you can easily get them fixed for free from Chevy dealerships.
7. Hard Brakes
The Chevy Silverado 1500 has also struggled with brake issues. In these situations, the brakes become hard, which are difficult to press and might be responsible for an accident as the driver is unable to stop the truck when required.
A recall was also issued for this problem in 2019 as numerous cars produced between 2014 and 2018 struggled with this problem.
The real reason behind a hard brake seems to be the buildup of sludge and debris in the vacuum pump. This vacuum pump is essential for the braking mechanism to work properly and recalibrating the electronic brake control module is usually required to recognize the issue.
According to GM, activation of hydraulic assist usually resolves the issue.
Since the trucks were recalled for this issue, you should be able to get it fixed for free. However, a vacuum pump is easier to replace and usually costs about $300 if you are getting it fixed on your own.
8. Engine Lifter Failure
The Chevy Silverado 1500’s latest model is equipped with the infamous GM V-8 engine. These engines with Active Fuel Management (AFM) are notorious for their stuck and collapsed engine lifters.
This problem is particularly precarious since it reportedly affects Chevy Silverado with low mileage. Silverado trucks with 50-100k mileage are more prone to these engine lifter failures. The main symptoms of this problem include the onset of “Check Engine Light”, rough running, engine shuddering, or in a worst-case scenario – a complete engine shutdown.
The problem arises when the locking pin inside the lifter breaks – this restricts the lifter from locking in position, or it breaks when it tries to lock in. A lifter locked in the wrong position can result in a bent pushrod.
This problem has a time-taking solution. GM has instructed the technicians to identify the engine cylinder where this issue is present, and replace only the affected cylinder head back component(s). Depending upon the extent of this problem, it will likely cost you around $1,000-$2,000.
9. EBCM Software Error
New and improved braking systems are constantly being developed in order to facilitate the most crucial (yet simple) dynamic element in vehicle propulsion, i.e. coming to a halt. Numerous stability control systems have been invented to make rides safer for passengers.
As per several reports, around 332,560 Chevrolet Silverado belonging to the 2019 model year have been recalled due to a fault in the EBCM Software. The Electronic Brake Control Module (EBCM) is used to control different brake-related functions in the truck. Due to a software error in this module, safety features such as the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) can be disabled.
On top of that, the ABS and ESC failure lights will also not illuminate when things go wrong. As a result, the unsuspecting driver could keep on driving as per normal routine. This increases the risk of causing an accident manifold since the vehicle would become prone to losing grip and skidding.
These vehicles are causing a breach of two standards of the federal motor vehicle safety standards. Thankfully enough, a remedy is available in the recall. General Motors is willing to reflash the EBCM software in the affected vehicles.
NHTSA campaign ID for this recall is 19V889000.
10. Engine Misfiring – Code P0303
Another problem that plagues the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 is the frequent misfiring of its engine. This problem is often accompanied by the code P0303. This code means that ‘Cylinder 3 is misfiring. It is an urgent code that should be dealt with as soon as possible.
You can learn more about this code in this video:
Like other engine-related problems, this problem will first announce itself via the onset of “Check Engine Light”. Other symptoms of this problem include rough running, lack of power, fuel smell from the exhaust, and jerking while acceleration.
The misfiring of a cylinder can be caused by a plethora of causes. The most commonly known causes include ignition failure, fuel system failure, or internal engine troubles. If your Silverado is troubled by this problem, take it to any nearby dealership to correctly identify the cause.
Depending upon the cause and extent of the problem, the fixing cost varies. In any case, expect a repair bill of $300-$600.
11. Poor Alternator Connection May Cause Fire
Alternators are fixed on vehicle batteries to regulate the amount of charge. In case of poor electrical connections, these devices can fail to perform their required function. In worst-case scenarios, poor connections can also lead to short-circuiting.
Due to an intermittent connection between the battery and alternator, around 350,371 Chevrolet vehicles pose the risk of an electrical fire. These include Silverado 1500 models too from the years 2019-2020. In addition to being a fire hazard, this poor connection can also lead the engine to stall; thereby increasing the probability of a crash.
It all comes down to faulty manufacturing of cable rings originating from the B+ terminal of a vehicle battery. Electrical arcing can occur that would generate sufficient heat to cause a fire in the surrounding vehicle parts.
Fortunately, General Motors has taken the responsibility for the fault and have recalled the affected trucks. If you happen to own a Silverado 1500 or intend on owning one from the victim model years, we’d recommend that you tend to the recall and get your trucks inspected at the earliest.
GM intends to check the vehicles for possible damages caused by glue and contamination. In case no damage is found, they will clean up the necessary components. If damage by electrical arcing is discovered, they will replace the damaged parts free of cost.
The NHTSA campaign ID for this recall is 19V888000.
12. Steering Problems
Facing steering problems in the middle of a drive can not only be irritating, but it can also make you more susceptible to road accidents. Therefore, it is better to know how to deal with steering problems – especially if your car is more prone to having them.
Chevy Silverado 1500’s 2016-2018 model years suffer from frequent steering problems. These problems range from squealing and squeaking noises while turning the steering wheel, power steering failure, and abrupt seizing of the steering wheel.
All problems arise from different causes. The squealing noise can be traced down to a lack of lubrication in the shaft, that links the gearbox and the steering wheel. To solve this issue, technicians apply lithium-based grease where the shaft touches the rubber boot. This fix won’t cost you a lot – and you can get it done in $50-90.
The next most common steering problem is power steering failure. This problem is usually accompanied by “Power Steering Malfunction – See Operator Manual”. After this message, the steering can be turned, but it will require additional force.
This problem can be immediately solved by turning off your car and waiting for around 20-30 minutes. According to the manual “Normal use of the power steering assist should return when the system cools down”.
This problem is caused by power steering control module failure. Taking your car to your nearby dealership will solve this problem. Although, according to the majority consensus, this problem takes a lot of time to solve. It will likely cost you upwards of $1,500.
13. Service 4WD Message / Selector Switch Failure
Several Chevy Silverado owners have reported another problem that you should look out for while buying an old Silverado 1500, especially one of the earlier models. This problem is selector switch failure which is accompanied by Service 4WD message.
Apart from the onset of this message, you will also see that the transmission will start acting weird. It might not switch at all or randomly switch from high gears to low gears. The electronic system might also start malfunctioning.
The “Service 4WD System” message means there is a problem with the 4WD system of your Silverado 1500. This problem typically occurs at 150k mileage. There can be several causes of this problem. One of the major ones is the failure of the position sensor or selector switch.
The position sensor or selector switch can fail due to dirt and debris, which affects conductivity between two ground wires that go under the car driver’s door. This dirt and debris can damage the sensors, causing this problem.
This problem can be fixed by installing a new position sensor. At the very least, it will cost you $30-$50 to replace the switch. However, depending upon the extent of the failure, the repair bill may add up to be $200.
14. Speedometer Working Erratically
The 2010-2016 models of Chevy Silverado also suffer from another problem: erratic speedometers. This problem is further exacerbated when all of the cluster panels stop working. This problem can be difficult to navigate through (pun intended) since it is often difficult to replicate.
This problem cannot go unnoticed. If this problem is in its initial phase, the speedometer will bounce between 0-50 mph, even when the truck is stationary. Soon, the needle will stop registering any speed at all.
There are several causes of this problem. The main one is the faulty stepper motor in the clusters. This is a recurring problem in earlier engines manufactured by GM. Replacing the stepper motor with a new one should alleviate this problem.
Depending upon the cause of this issue, the solution varies. First of all, disconnect the battery and check all of the fuses. Faulty fuses can make your speedometer or odometer go berzerk as well. Once this has been done, reboot your car. If the problem still doesn’t go away, the culprit is likely a failed stepper motor.
Fixing this issue is likely to cost you around $400-$700 – if you go to a GM dealership. Buying these motors online and having a go at this problem all by yourself will cost you around $100-$150 – but there is no guarantee whether it will work or not.
15. Over-Cured Tires That Are Prone to Breaking
Curing of tires isn’t a new practice. It is done under heat and pressure to ensure that the tires reach their required level of strength and quality. Unfortunately, since excess of everything is bad, over-curing of tires is a thing – and our very own Chevy Silverado 1500 isn’t prone to this condition. This issue has been identified for factory-fitted Continental Tires that come standard on the Silverado.
According to reports, General Motors has recalled around 7500 vehicles that have been identified to carry this issue. What basically happens as a consequence of over-curing is that the side walls of tires become weak. As a result, they can break and cause a rapid loss of pressure. If this happens while driving at highway speeds, your life may very well be in terrible danger.
Belt edge separation also poses itself as a possibility when dealing with over-cured tires, and this can quickly cause a huge loss of control over the vehicle. To avert catastrophic outcomes, GM has rightly announced a recall of Chevy Silverado trucks with ongoing tire issues.
The NHTSA campaign ID for this recall is 20V684000. If you happen to own one of these trucks, you can now get your over-cured tires replaced free of cost.
What’s the Worst Year of the Chevy Silverado 1500?
Chevy Silverado is a reliable name in the truck market. Minor issues aside, which can pop up in any vehicle, Silverado is a solid choice for a truck.
If you are looking to buy a Chevy Silverado 1500, you might want to steer clear of the 2014 and 2017 models. These 2 years reported the most problems with the 2017 model Silverado being notorious for its shoddy transmission. 2014 was also not a great year for the Chevy Silverado as A/C issues and recalls for airbags make the 2014 Silverado a difficult truck to suggest to anyone looking for a reliable option.
Other problems in the 2018-2020 engine steering woes, engine misfiring, and engine lifter failures. Although these problems are not as common as the ones mentioned above, we still urge you to keep an eye out for these problems when you’re planning on buying a new Chevy Silverado.
Several problems such as ECBM Software error, poor alternator connection causing fire, and overcured tires were rectified via recalls. Apart from these problems and minor recalls, the recent models of Chevy Silverado 1500 have received solid ratings from automobile owners.
All the other years have been relatively unproblematic for the Chevy Silverado except for occasional faults here and there. The recent 2020-2021 models have been exceptional as numerous recurring issues have been fixed.
We’ve covered a lot of ground discussing the various issues that may pop up with your Silverado 1500. From minor inconveniences to substantial mechanical concerns, we’ve explored the what, why, and how of it all.
By now, you should feel more confident about understanding and managing these issues.
Let’s not forget, the Silverado 1500, despite its quirks, is a solid vehicle that can serve you faithfully for many years, given the right care. The key lies in spotting and addressing potential problems early on.
This guide is a starting point, a roadmap if you will, but every vehicle is unique. So, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice for more complex problems.
I hope you found this information helpful. Safe driving and remember, knowledge is power when it comes to your Silverado 1500’s health. Keep on driving!
His interests in cars, motorcycles, and machines led him to the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore where he is currently a mechanical engineering sophomore.
His future aims include the development of an energy-efficient prototype vehicle for the Shell Eco-Marathon competition and getting a Master’s Degree in Automotive Engineering from Germany.