Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Brake Failure

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
chevrolet tahoe hybrid brake failure

TTAC reader galaxygreymx5 writes:

Mr. Farago, I stumbled on this little tidbit while reading A forum member named gltech has a problem with his Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid’s brakes (as in failing repeatedly).

“All of a sudden out of nowhere, the check engine light comes on, along with a couple of other lights, the chimes start going off, and the display under the speedometer alternates between “Service Stabilitrack Soon” and “Service Brakes Immediately”. When this happens, I lose power braking! Luckily, all 3 times I was going very slow in electric-only mode, twice at drive-thrus and once in the grocery lot. The first couple of times this happened I turned off the ignition and restarted, and everything was back to normal, except that the “Check Engine” light stayed on for a day or so and then it went off. Yesterday when this happened for the 3rd time, I had to turn of and restart the truck about 10 times to get it back to normal.”

gltech published a brief blog beginning to outline his brake issues, which he’s now expanded to include battery problems. Other posters on greenhybrid started chiming-in; they’re having the same issues with firmware updates and such. Several are also losing braking on a regular basis.

This little tidbit kind of encompasses everything GM faces now and major challenges going forward. The potential inability to compete in the hybrid game and how it relates to the Volt; the disintegrating dealer network and lack of communication between different arms of GM; and the brain drain as GM sheds staff that probably caused the minor problem of losing brakes in a brand new $50k car.

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4 of 56 comments
  • Cygnus9th Cygnus9th on Mar 09, 2009

    I own a 2008 Tahoe Hybrid (I am also on the mentioned website forum above, same user name). I have owned a Chevrolet product all my life, and can saw with very few exceptions at the dealer, have enjoyed the service I have received from GM. First new Chevy was a 1998 S-10. 3rd door handle kept breaking, dealer kept fixing, even after the warranty had run out. Yes it was a cheap part (both in price and design) but the fact the dealer sisn't give me any heartache about it was great. Traded it in 2005 for 2005 Trailblaizer. Had 98K miles on it at trade in, ran fine. 2005 Trailblazer LT. Only issue with care was Fan motor went out, was a TSB on it, replaced with no cost out of pocket. Traded it in for 2008 Tahoe Hybrid. 53K miles, again ran great. 2008 Tahoe hybrid, have had for 6 months now, No issues with it (other than me trying to figure everything out on it, but that is my fault :). I'll leave the discussion for why someone needs a hybrid Large SUV to other forums, but I can personally say that I am happy with the vehicle, it is what I want and suits my needs. Yes I get dirty looks by Prius owners (which I think is a neat car), but Jeez, don't act like I got Leprosy just because I have an American GM product, let alone a 6K lb Tahoe. Every car manufacturer and model has it's share of issues (some more than others), but saying that "GM is the evil....". Well if they are THAT bad, then why do they sell cars? Yes i know they are financially in the crapper, but I believe personally that is fault of business practices and admin, than GM's engineers and production line. Fact of the matter is, people still are buying GM products. As for me, I'll be the guy in the right lane, in the big Hybrid SUV. Feel free to wave! :)

  • Jet1 Jet1 on Mar 31, 2009

    I am a member of that forum and would like to point out that it is ONE isolated incident. the brakes are HYDRAULIC and have nothing to do with the hybrid system. The POWER assist is provided by the engine and there seems to be an issue with the ENGINE and its totally SEPARATE electrical system. in the case sited the battery was "flat" IOW out of juice this is the 12v battery under the hood and also the car was turned OFF with the key. You do not need to turn the car off, if it is in auto stop you CANNOT run the battery flat as the engine will start if it gets to a low point that requres recharge. Again this is the !@ battery under the hood not the hybrid battery or its system. I think that this one incident is being blown out of proportion as a safety. Hydraulic brakes work wit or without the engine running, they just work better with it running.

  • Lovebiscuits Lovebiscuits on May 14, 2009

    This is my first stop on a search to find out if others have had a similar problem to mine. My Tahoe Hybrid also has a brake issue. It hasn't happened yet while driving, but upon starting the car, the brakes feel stiff as if they have been "pumped". They are completely useless and yesterday, I had to use the emergency brake to stop the car as I pulled out of my parking spot. I had to restart the car completely (take the key out to make sure it was completely off) 5 or 6 times to re-engage the brakes. Tons of "check this" and "check that" messages which I can't remember now, because at the moment I was a bit frazzled out. Not a safe feeling especially with my two year old in the back. This has now happened 4 times. The first few times this happened I hoped it was a fluke. Yesterday was the final straw and I will be taking the car in today to get it checked out...

  • Brett Bernholdt Brett Bernholdt on Nov 16, 2009

    I also have a 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid. On 3 different occasions the vehicle has completely died losing all power and almost all operating systems had error codes with failures. The vehicle was at the dealership for 10 days in a row at one point with no resolution to the root cause of the problem. My delaership stated a Hybrid engineer would be out to look at the vehicle but they never followed up. Most recently on saturday Nov 14th the vehicle completely shutdown while driving on the highway. I had to have the vehicle towed and at this point all the dealership knows is the battery was completely drained but could not explain why the vehicle failed.