By on February 25, 2009

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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56 Comments on “Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Brake Failure...”

  • avatar

    To be fair, Toyota had their own problems with their hybrids, too.

  • avatar

    Does anybody know if this problem also exists on the Durango/Aspen hybrids? With the regenerative brakes it could be a Two-Mode hybrid system issue.

    I suppose Lee Iaccoca, being the only man on the planet to own one of those vehicles, is probably unavailable for comment.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “the brain drain as GM sheds staff”

    This is a very real problem. A culture like GM’s rewards/protects the political animal and not the best & brightest.

  • avatar

    “twice at drive-thrus and once in the grocery lot”

    good thing you were in your 3 ton SUV

  • avatar

    I can’t get the link,so I got two questions.
    Did the dealer fix the problem?Did he totally lose brakes?Or just brake boost?The words”brake failure”would suggest zero/no stopping ability.
    A condition that would be highly unlikely in any
    vehicle built after the late 60s.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    No one has teething problems like GM. Let’s look:

    Corvair: leaking engines, suspension problems

    Chevy Vega: bad engines and bodies (what’s left)

    Olds diesel: blown heads bad injectors,

    Cadillac Cimmaron: total embarrassment

    Pontiac Fiero mid engine two seater: engine fires

    First FWD cars in early 80’s: general problems

    Caddy Deville FWD of mid eighties early nineties: bad front struts and some engine problems

    Caddy Allante: poor execution making top difficult to use and underperformance for a sports type car.

    Corvette: best powertrain in it’s price point, econo car interior

    New Caddy Deville: small interior for it’s size and front heavy handling

    Saturn: biggest embarrassment yet, entire division sinks after a decent launch

    Pontiac: the BMW of GM also sinks before it can do battle with the Germans.

    The new cobbled together full size Chevy truck hybrids, bolted on afterthought will never compete with ground up hybrids

    Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice: concept cars rushed to production with poor fitting tops.

    etc. etc. etc.

  • avatar

    You are correct, Katie; Toyota did have a software glitch on the 2nd gen Prius (2004, 2005 cars). My 2005 was built after that, so it only included a few 2005’s.

    The major problem in the eyes of the public – for right or for wrong – is that customers don’t live in a GM vacuum.

    People read Consumer Reports, for one example, and when they see a sea of black blobs (“BAD”) on US branded vehicles, and after years or decades of having problems, do you think they’ll really want to trust their lives to GM when GM attempts to play catch-up and do high-tech hybrids? Built by new hires earning 1/2 wages?

    I just bumped into a pal of mine in the lunchroom before starting work as I was getting coffee and he is a Toyota owner. He is younger, has a very young family and is trying to get by on not much money. He has an older Toyota Echo with 200,000 miles on it and it has been essentially trouble-free. Think GM, Ford or Chrysler has ANY chance ever selling him a car now?

    The Prius is the world’s most complex automobile – literally – no exaggeration. It’s also the most trouble-free automobile. No exaggeration.

    Honda and Toyota are in the position that they are in (as Hyundai also is) for a good reason.

    GM, Chrysler (and to a lesser extent Ford) are in the positions that they are in for many reasons.

  • avatar

    @menno “the Prius is the worlds most trouble-free
    automobile”?Can you give us the source menno.

  • avatar


    This is true and as you know I’m a very happy Toyota owner myself.

    However, people are quite selective with history.

    Toyota is having a chequered time with reliability at the moment. People are quick to jump on GM and Chrysler for their (allegedly) poor reliability, but will miss certain issues with Toyota.

    It’s the same with Jaguar (the other one of my babies!) I hear a lot of people talk crud about Jaguar’s being poor in reliablity, yet, when you look at it impartially, against German makes, the Jaguar holds up well, even beating them in some areas.

    To clarify it further, look at the Germans, Ask anyone on the street, to sum up a German car, the word “reliable” will invariably spring up. Now, check any reliability survey and, tell me, what word describes German cars?

    But to be fair, Toyota DOES address their issues very quickly, as opposed to the, “What? Us?” mentality of Detroit.

    As for your work colleague, Detroit DO have a chance of selling him a vehicle. If they choose to work at it.

    Look at Hyundai…..

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @KatiePuckrik: my brother was one of the few people who actually had their 2004 Prius stall on them, requiring the dealer to reboot his car. He’s still a fan, though.

  • avatar

    @CommanderFish: I believe Chrysler recently killed the Durango/Aspen hybrids, and also replace the few that were sold with regular vehicles. 400 vehicles comes to mind. Chrysler wisely realized the support costs for them were too high to justify, given the extremely low volume of sales. So I don’t think there are any Durango/Aspen hybrids in the wild any longer. Oddly, the Durango hybrid is no longer on Dodge’s website, but the Aspen hybrid is on Chrysler’s.

    GM has a chance to redeem themselves with this customer if they handle the problem properly. We all have had bad experiences with customer service that taint our view of the vehicle; my nightmare was with Honda.

    I’d argue that buying a Tahoe Hybrid isn’t really saving money; the price premium isn’t worth the tiny fuel savings. Hope it works out.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Let us hope, in the interest of journalistic fairness, that every significant glitch in any OEM’s product gets the same daylight shined on it as this problem has….

  • avatar

    Katie, the point is that overall, the Prius has been, on some recent years, the most reliable car sold in the US. Not just “somewhat reliable”; but, in aggregate, the most reliable of all.

  • avatar


    And as Mikey pointed out, “where is the data to support this”?

    Because in the UK, Toyota sell the same Prius, built in the same factories, yet the most reliable car on UK roads, is a Honda Jazz (Fit).

    Something doesn’t add up.

  • avatar

    Mark MacInnis :

    If you wish to discuss TTAC’s editorial policy re: recalls and technical glitches, please email me at [email protected]

    Meanwhile, here is that policy:

    TTAC will not cover stories about recalls or anecdotal mechanical failures unless…

    1. They involve a major safety issue (determine by us)

    2. They illustrate a wider point about a given vehicle (i.e. an entirely theoretical problem with the Tesla Roadster’s battery life), a given manufacturer (i.e. the Ford rollover debacle) or the industry at large (i.e. roof crush standards).

    I understand that this policy, like all editorial policies, requires a judgment call. I also fully admit that I and/or my editors will not always get it right.

    Again, this is not up for debate here. “Threadjacking” to discuss TTAC itself is not allowed, so that we can ensure our readers coherent, logical, substantive and focused debate. Or something similar.

    See? Another personal call. Can’t get away from them. And that’s the truth.

  • avatar

    “Most reliable” is a meaningless statement without knowing the criteria by which the cars were judged and how the information was collected.

  • avatar

    Honda and Toyota also have their recalls and problems but the key factor is how they stand behind their products. A lot of people jump on Honda for the transmission failures – mostly out of warranty. But Honda replaced them all and gave everyone a 100k transferable warranty and pulled engineers from production to find fixes to prevent the occurrence. In contrast the fwd v6 Mercury Cougar – it went through transmissions like they were 30k maintenance items and Ford never lifted a finger unless it was still under the 36k warranty.

    Toyota had some bad blood with the engine sludge issues b/c they turned up the temp on their engines to burn cleaner to get ULEV rating without redesigning the heads on the engine to get better oil drainage from the hotter and sludgier oil causing hot spots and headgasket and head warping failures. They blamed the owners for not getting oil change on or before the 3k interval then backed down and took care of the problem. How many GM products had regular headgasket failures and GM did nothing after warranty?

    I can’t tell you how many times that friends and family have written a letter to Honda or Toyota about a problem even post warranty and to see them actually address it. My aunt’s ’88 Accord was rusting badly (200k miles in Chicago) and she wrote a letter to them about how much she loved the car but couldn’t afford a new one. They sent a letter back to her to bring it in to the dealer – gave her a free rental car and returned her car 2 weeks later completely repaired and repainted at no charge (even replaced a worn seat cover). Now most of her friends own a Honda from that small effort of good will. Many also wrote letters to D3 only to get back a form letter saying thanks for the feedback.

    If you look back at Hyundai. They were the joke of the industry in quality right alongside Yugo. What did they do? They focused on quality and going beyond the warranty by fixing problems and mistakes they made. This created fervent and loyal customers and free marketing as they told their friends and look at Hyundai now.

  • avatar

    Before diagnosing this as a systematic failure of all Tahoe hybrids, one needs to use more evidence than some anecdotal incidents.

  • avatar

    Did he ever bring it to the service department for diagnosis? Sounds like a software upgrade. The driver could have also simply pressed the OnStar button and have the vehicle diagnosed as to the severity of the check engine light.

  • avatar

    jerry weber :

    No one has teething problems like GM. Let’s look:

    … First FWD cars in early 80’s: general problems …

    etc. etc. etc.

    I had one of those early GM FWD cars, a 1981 Chevy Citation. In the 8 years and 145,000 miles that I owned it, it gave me very little trouble. The second and third owners ran the car up past 300,000 miles without an engine or transmission rebuild. Not bad for one of the much-maligned X-cars, eh?

  • avatar

    “Several are also losing braking on a regular basis.”

    I checked with a GMC service department. There are no known concerns/complaints with the Hybrids regarding brakes. I suspect this is heresay. Or carefully placed misinformation.

  • avatar

    Katie, there’s probably relatively little daylight between the results of the Prius and the Fit in the US, and likely the same is true in the UK; so you could either be dealing with two values within the margin of error or simple measurement differences.

    But the difference between the Tahoe and the Prius here is many standard deviations wide. That’s the key. You can find anectdotes of good Tahoes and bad Prii; but CR does a good job of getting tens of thousands of reports so we can actually learn something useful about reliability.

  • avatar

    Mikey, all you have to do to understand the Prius reliability record is to look at both Consumer Reports and also Michael Karesh’s reliability records.

    I’m not just making this up. It’s fact.

    The reason the UK stats for Prius are non-existant is because they aren’t asking Prius drivers, in my humble opinion! At least I’ve never been able to find a UK poll of reliability for Prius. I think the market there for Prius is too small for them to ask.

    Yes, I also think Toyota quality has been slipping lately, in fact. I also don’t think my 2008 Prius is as well built as my 2005 was.

    If I stay with hybrid technology, I may well end up with a 2011 Sonata Hybrid. I went to look at a 2009 Toyota Corolla as a potential purchase for our 2nd car and was totally unimpressed with the hard plastic interior, etc.

    Besides, every year I (along with all of us) get un-younger; I’m tired of crashing and banging along Michigan’s awful near-3rd-world roads and our Sonata is a lot more comfortable than my Prius (the ride is pretty much equivalent on smooth roads; alas there are very few smooth roads where I live, any more).

    We may eventually end up with one conventional 2009 Hyundai Sonata and one 2011 Sonata hybrid; we’ll see…

  • avatar

    The owner of the hybrid must first defend himself from accusations that the brake problems are his fault. This is standard dealer tactic to ensure he goes somewhere else with his highly complex and no doubt expensive problem that GM will try to ignore as well.

    Perception is everything. GM gets a bad rap because historically they cannot be counted on to cover major engineering mistakes after a arbitrary warranty has expired.

    GM gets to set the rules about what they will fix with a warranty and we get to decide whether to abide by that agreement or go elsewhere. In the past we bit the bullet and accepted their will. Now we have choices and see what is happening?

    GM should have someone monitoring these hybrid sites like they monitor TTAC and when they see this a phone call should be made. Providing this man with an engineer to determine if it is major system failure, a loose connection, neutrinos from space, or whatever would go a long way toward convincing people they can feel good about spending thousands of dollars in their showrooms.

    Failing that they get what they deserve and taxpayers (note I qualified that instead of we) will get to pay for their mistakes.

  • avatar

    Nothing to see here folks, nothing new its just another example of the reason so many of us have left GM never to return. They didn’t understand it then and they still don’t even while they are at death’s door. I don’t miss the GM ownership experience.

  • avatar

    I’ve had many new and used GM cars/trucks.I bought a 81 Chevy pick up on a private sale,with a
    paint delamination problem.GM split the cost on a new paint job when it was four years old.
    Two new Grand AMs. On the first one I smelled antifreeze one day and saw some antifreeze in the driveway,and took it to the dealer.One year and 20,000 klms out of warranty.With a little nudging{no yelling or threats or nasty language}
    they fixed it,no charge!Number 2 Grand Am went in for an oil change the dealer noticed it and fixed it under extended warranty.Its was barely leaking
    and I missed it.I’m a fanatic about my vehicles looking and running perfect.I don’t miss much.

    @menno I hear you about the roads ours are not much better.On a foggy night 2 weeks ago I hit a pothole hard with my new Impala, I could’a cried.

    I brought into the Chev dealer closest to my home
    Not the dealer that sold it to me.They checked the alignment,they checked the wheel,all was well.
    No charge!

    I find if you stay calm and you present your case in a civil manner you would be suprised at how accomodating service departments can be.

  • avatar

    ‘good thing you were in your 3 ton SUV’

    Well, that’s why you buy the hybrid; to negate the inefficiencies inherent in putting the brakes on the extra mass. I’ve always maintained that hybrid technology makes more sense the larger the vehicle, given the combination of more opportunity for savings due to greater mass, and less loss of efficiency from the extra mass of the hybrid system, again due to the greater mass. In fact, for city driving (like “twice at drive-thrus and once in the grocery lot”) the hybrid Tahoe has the same rated mpg as a 4 cylinder Camry.

  • avatar

    Mikey, here’s the problem if someone tells you they went to restaurant A and were treated like shit and they went to restaurant B and they were treated good then how can you assume the reason they were not treated good at restaurant A was because they the customer were an asshole?

    If a customer is a jerk at a GM dealership then that same customer will likely be a jerk at a Toyota dealership.

    Just like I can’t stand it when people claim its the UAW’s fault for all that ails the auto industry, I likewise find it appalling that employees of both manufacturers and dealers don’t believe their customers or seem to try to pin the blame on customers. I am a union member like yourself. In person I am the most mild mannered man you will find. When people tell you about their bad experiences with cars and dealers most are not lying and most are not assholes.

  • avatar

    “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.”

    I looked at this forum and saw that 2 other people chimed in with a similar problem. Does 2 equate to “several?”

    Am I missing something or does a “let’s dig for more reasons to hate GM” witch hunt this way come?

    If this truly is a major issue and there are more data points out there that we’re not seeing, then the issue must lie in the application of the 2 Mode System to the Tahoe and not in the design of the system itself. The system on which this is based (Allison Ep40/50)has worked impeccably for 6 years in numerous transit buses. Obviously a transit bus and Tahoe are two different animals, but the engineering is much the same.

    I wonder if the issue could be with the electric brake assist module from some “low cost” supplier?

    Could GM’s famous purchasing bean counters have trumped their engineers again?

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    To be fair, if it was a Fiat hybrid he was driving and the brakes went out all he would have to do is kick out the rusty floorboards and drag his feet on the ground Fred Flintstone style.

  • avatar

    Its not just GM that can’t get the brakes right.

    My 2005 Ford Focus’s break booster would lose vacuum in high altitudes resulting in brakes distances doubling and tripling. I rear ended someone because of it. Ford replaced the defective 2005 model with a 2006. It had the same problem. And so did the 2007. They had a TSB for it in 2005…never bothered to fix it though. They just re-released the TSB for each year until the new 2008 Focus came out. TSB did not fix it BTW.
    My Mother’s 1997 Ford Explorer had the bad habit of randomly engaging the ABS. She had it in 6 times. Ford never could fix it. ABS kicked in when she was on the highway, almost caused her to crash. She got rid of it the next day.
    1990 Aerostar, well, everything failed on that.

    I was cautioned by a friend that Audi’s reliability is not too good and I should avoid buying my 2004 A6 S-Line. Maybe thats true…the radio might stop working, may have to replace the turbos around 130,000k, but at least the brakes will never fail.

  • avatar

    @Sherman Lin : Yeah I’m painfully aware that the dealer service depts have been responsible for many lost forever customers.I’d just like to think
    /hope that things might have changed.

  • avatar

    mikey: “I find if you stay calm and you present your case in a civil manner you would be suprised at how accomodating service departments can be.”

    And I found it was quicker/simpler/more reliable/more cost-effective to just go elsewhere.

    I had an ’82 Cavalier that I liked and I was pleasantly surprised with the general reliability (for its day) of a first-year car (I was just lucky).

    During its first year of life, though, it developed something akin to the Prius stalling problem. The Chevy dealer NEVER found and fixed the problem but they did charge the mothership for about 4 O2 sensors that were all perfectly good. The real problem was loose bolts on the exhaust header. Shortly after the warranty expired, a brake-and-muffler shop, working on the brakes, noticed this and fixed it, free.

    Eventually it developed another significant problem (probably 6 years down the road, no big deal back in those days). The dealer mechanic (different dealer), however, was a parts-swapper. He’d make some guess about what was wrong, swap the part he thought was guilty and push it out the door with a bill attached. I’d drive the car away, find I still had the original problem and take it back for re-repair.

    Do you think, for all my calmly and civilly presenting my case that I ever got any credit for the original non-repair? No.

    I eventually learned that people trusted a local independent shop and he got the remainder of my business while I owned that car and most of my business with off-warranty cars since. They’ve had to re-repair one of my cars, once. It happens. No charge and an effusive apology for the inconvenience. They stand by their work. They have to because they don’t have involuntary customers held captive to GM warranty work.

    Yes, that Cavalier was an ’82 and I sold it off in ’92 or so but I keep in touch with the Chevy dealer because it’s on my way home, my work colleagues with Chevys know this and they know that I am perfectly willing to give them a lift to pick up their cars.

    So, I got to hear their stories for the next decade and some. None were good. Calmly presenting the case didn’t work for them, either and I have now fallen out of touch with the Chevy dealer because I no longer get requests for rides because my friends no longer drive Chevys.

    And I’ve been treated worse by the local Ford dealer.

    The cars had problems, sure, that impacted customer satisfaction, but the dealers participated, enthusiastically, in driving me to imported cars.

  • avatar

    gzuckier: “Well, that’s why you buy the hybrid; to negate the inefficiencies inherent in putting the brakes on the extra mass. I’ve always maintained that hybrid technology makes more sense the larger the vehicle, given the combination of more opportunity for savings due to greater mass, and less loss of efficiency from the extra mass of the hybrid system, again due to the greater mass. In fact, for city driving (like “twice at drive-thrus and once in the grocery lot”) the hybrid Tahoe has the same rated mpg as a 4 cylinder Camry.”

    Or, they could have just bought that Camry, saved an additional $28K up front and never experienced the brake failure.

    Unless, of course, they had ordered 8,000 Big Macs or were buying a half ton of groceries. OK, then I guess a Camry would be so totally inadequate.

  • avatar

    I’m the guy that notified RF of this situation and I’d like to make a couple points in regards to the responses:

    1. If you read the GM 2mode Hybrid section of the greenhybrid website, you’ll see several people have had this same issue and are trying to resolve it. There appears to be a bulletin related to the matter if the posters are telling the truth, and it seems to vary in its effectiveness. One poster has GM buying back the vehicle because the issue can’t be properly resolved.

    2. The brakes don’t completely fail, only power assist, but full hybrids have a very different sort of power assist than conventional cars. Given that the brakes are blended with regeneration there’s a potential to have much less manual braking power than if you lost power assist in a conventional Tahoe. I’ve lost “assist” in an EV1 on more than one occasion, and if that sensation is at all related to how the Tahoe Hybrid feels, it’s rather terrifying. Very different from losing vacuum boost in a Cobalt.

    3. The reason I brought this up wasn’t to take GM to task for a vehicle defect, even though this is about as serious as a defect can get aside from a fire. I’m sure in due time GM will correct the problem and repair any affected vehicles.

    Instead I mentioned this to point out the convergence of issues facing GM customers. Brain drain probably caused the issue in the first place (software engineer 1 was laid off, replace by SE2, replaced by SE3, and somewhere in there a bug was missed). The disintegrating dealer network caused the buyback customer to barely get his trade-in check from Bill Heard before the lights went out, and even long after Heard closed OnStar tried to send his vehicle to their shuttered facility.

    And finally, if GM is potentially having major teething problems on a relatively “conventional” hybrid setup, what does that say about the supposed savior of GM, the Volt? New, unproven batteries in a new chassis with a new engine with new software, all glued together in a very rushed fashion to avoid financial and media catastrophe. The GMT900 hybrids were very basic developments compared to what’s going on with this thing, so if these problems are real that’s not good news.

    The remarkable thing is that the buyback customer wants ANOTHER one, because he likes the car so much. I think that’s very important to take note of, so that readers understand that even if GM makes world-class cars that please customers with their performance, the peripheral issues facing the company may be enough to erode market share (and tax dollars) even faster.


  • avatar

    So, having already taken time out of my busy day to rub mikey the wrong way and make snarky comments about hybrids that are equally well described as gas guzzlers… I decided I might as well waste a little more time and surf over to the blog entries in question and see what our luckless Tahoe owner had to say. This is the current first line from the blog:

    “This is my most recent repair. I’m not sure if it is finally fixed. Time will tell but I’m hesitant to put any more miles on this vehicle since the usage charges are about 0.50/mile and losing $50.00 for every 100 miles of test drive is steep.”

    Oh, ya gotta love that. The repair is free but it costs you an extra $50. What is this, a lease vehicle?

    Anyway, that sure takes me back… the original stalling problem on my ’82… the dealer had the car, off and on, for days and put hundreds of miles on it “without reproducing the problem.” When they finally did reproduce the problem, they didn’t actually fix it.

    “Could not reproduce the problem” was another particular specialty of Ford.

    “What’s wrong with it?”

    “When you go uphill, or accelerate or put any significant extra load on the engine at highway speed, the A/C shuts off and the heat comes on.”

    “OK, we’ll take a look at it.”

    When I came back at the end of the day, I was greeted by a the “completed” repair order: “Could not reproduce the problem.”

    Which I then proceeded to reproduce as soon as I got on the freeway, headed home, uphill.

  • avatar

    Hi Menno-I recently graphed out the the last 4 years of CR results for GM, Ford, CryCo, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Hyundia.

    If Toyota is losing any ground it is very slightly. If the trend continues you can start worrying in 10-15 years.

    GM shows more of a downtrend, they seem to have peaked in the early ’00s and are level or dropping.

    Ford, Hyundia and Nissan have all improved greatly but are short of Toy and Honda (which are too close to call). Based on my graphs I can see Hyundia with a small lead over Ford and Nissan.

    Cryco was about level with GM until this last year, they seem to have given up.


  • avatar

    So how much of the hybrid drivetrain does GM farm out? Is their hybrid expertise in house or hired-out?

    Just curious… This GM problem might be a GM problem in the sense that they have to support the warranties but the bad design might be the fault of XYZ Corporation.

    I still don’t get the point of a large SUV that gets a couple more MPGs with all that hybrid hardware. If it go an extra 10 mpg then I could see the point. You know, like if GM hired VW to build a proper turbo diesel for the GM SUV… Not just smoke, clatter and torque but a real economy improvement. Yeah I know – the current round of TDI VWs aren’t getting as good mileage as they were before the low-sulphur diesel arrived…

  • avatar

    KixStart, I got the Ford “Could not reproduce problem” 5 times before I went on google and found the TSB that was released to fix my brake problem. The ford Dealer had no idea it existed. Unfortunately I found it AFTER the brake defect caused me to rear-end someone. I was leasing the car, so it belonged to ford. I asked them to let me out of my lease, to compensate me for the 4 grand I paid to fix damage on their car caused by their acknowledged defect and I would be on my way.

    Ford would only let me out of the lease if I agreed to lease a 2006 model. They refused to compensate me for the money I paid to fix the body damage, even though the accident was caused by an acknowledged defect (I pushed the issue, Ford sent me a legal letter basically promising to tie it up in court)

    On top of all this, the 2006 Focus they tried to force me to take was yellow (previous one was black) and it had paint damage.

    I will never, ever, buy a Ford again. No matter how good Ford cars get. That’s something the Big 3 could learn to understand…an experience like mine will always negate any improvements to build quality or design.

  • avatar

    Oh, this is good, too. “Defender” had this to say, on greenhybrid, as he pointed people to his Tahoe Problems Blog:

    “My Tahoe is now being repurchased by GM per Lemon Law. They believe they have found a fix as a firmware update was released this week that necessitated a free battery change. I have not been able to test this last repair as we are not in legal process and they have sort of limited my use to 7500 miles or else I have to pay about 0.50 per mile when they buy it back. You’d think that after they sell you a car that turned out to be bad, they would bend over backwards to accomodate you. Nooooo. They only provide what the law requires. So in my case, if they buy back my Tahoe, it is as if I leased the vehicle for $800 a month. They want you to put me on another Tahoe Hybrid but I have to pay about 2500.00 in usage also.”

    Now I understand the $.50/mile issue. Use a Lemon Law proceeding to ream the customer. Brilliant.

  • avatar

    mikey, you did work for gm.

    Didn’t that help get those issues resolved?

  • avatar

    Sherman Lin: “if someone tells you they went to restaurant A and were treated like shit and they went to restaurant B and they were treated good then how can you assume the reason they were not treated good at restaurant A was because they the customer were an asshole?”

    On a related note, some people also ascribe poor vehicle reliability to improper maintenance. Which leads me to wonder why the same people who can’t be bothered to maintain a GM car can suddenly figure out how to properly maintain a Honda or Toyota?

  • avatar

    mikey :
    February 25th, 2009 at 9:16 am

    @menno “the Prius is the worlds most trouble-free
    automobile”?Can you give us the source menno.

    Tracking closely with the reliability survey results it released last fall, said owners of the Toyota Prius hybrid still reported the fewest unscheduled dealer visits of any new car.

    The 2008 Prius averaged four dealer trips per 100 vehicles last year. In contrast, the worst-performing new vehicle in the survey — the 2009 Jaguar XF — required 141 dealer trips per 100 vehicles.

    The owner of TrueDelta posts here; he probably can go into more detail. Consumer Reports also agrees that the Prius is exceptionally reliabile.

    This makes sense. An electronic motor is much more reliabile than a mechanical, gas powered engine. Also, hybrids, by using regenerative braking, reduce wear and tear on the traditional brakes.

    As for the Tahoe Hybrid brake problem, this is almost certainly a software problem. The good news is once they figure out what the specific bug is and reflash the hybrid computer, the problem should go away completely.

  • avatar
    70 Chevelle SS454

    You know, if I was a GM lawyer, I’d be printing out this discussion and keeping it, just in case. After all, repeating unsubstantiated allegations about GM products of such a serious nature doesn’t exactly give you truth as a defense. Given the generally anti-GM nature of this blog, it wouldn’t be too hard to show actual malice. A compnay that has been getting such a raw deal from you, anyways, may not feel the need to hold back.

    Heck, Farago’s comment above even shows: (1) actual knowledge by the author of the defamatory statement as to the contents of the comments and ratification of the contents of said comments (Farago implicitly endorses the comments he chooses to leave up), and (2) actual knowledge that the blog and comments were republishing libelous statements.

    Get angry with me and delete this if it makes you feel better…but deleting a note pointing out the legal mess you’ve stepped into shows even more intent! This is probably why you don’t see many well-established new sources repeating rumors like the above without some pretty serious fact-checking in advance. And they certainly don’t invite a bunch of commenters to talk smack about a company with an army of lawyers.

    Good luck.

  • avatar

    nick r To answer you ,no, working for GM
    sometimes is a negative,they kind’a know your not going to walk out and buy a Honda.

  • avatar

    70 Chevelle 454 – are you pointing to the people who had problems with their vehicles or someone repeating a rumor? Trust me – I’d know if my GM car had a problem… VBG!

  • avatar

    70 Chevelle SS454,

    One wonders what axe it is that you have to grind. Such allegations are all over the internet; you can’t throw a metaphorical rock on any car site without hitting a contributor who’s v-e-r-y angry with the Detroit 3. Heck, check FastLane. But you seem to think TTAC is unusuallly hostile. Why?

    In any event, you prompt me to consider a question…

    GM has been in decline for quite some time. Now, it appears to be accelerating. At the same time, we see increased internet access. Is wider and faster dissemination via the internet of unsubstantiated rumors and allegations accelerating GM’s decline? Is wider and faster dissemination of useful information via the internet accelerating GM’s decline? Or is the internet uninvolved and GM’s decline is written in the stars?


    Well, my wife and I swore a blood oath we’d never buy a Ford again but I have been tempted to break that oath. My wife, however, is holding fast.

    The last time we were in the market for a car, I was interested in the hybrid Escape and when I broached the possibility of a cease-fire in the War Against Ford, she asked, “Have you lost your mind?”

  • avatar

    Kixstart agreed I see that same argument used about maintenance in numerous forums concerning foreign versus domestic. Bottom line I grew up on domestics. I use to own domestics now I own foreign. My friends and family have been the same.

    Domestics use to have a 90 percent share not too long ago. One of my union steward’s has two Hyundai’s and her husband use to be a Chrysler mechanic. My other union steward drives a Honda accord with 200,000 miles. I was a union steward for five years and I drive a Scion.

    My pet peeve is that when you try to explain what is wrong with customer service or a product to the people working in the industry they try to turn it around that the problem is with the customer. I know what I want and I spend money to get what I want but somehow the problem is with me a paying customer and not with what I see as the deficiency.

    I don’t give a rats ass about 0-60, I care about durability and longevity of product. I don’t care about 3 year quality ratings I care about quality at 5 7 and 10 years. I base my opinions on what I actually see and experience and not what magazines or JD powers say. I maintain my Scion just like I did my Cavalier which is by the book. The Scion is at a trouble free 75.000 miles now. My goal is 200 to 250 thousand miles.

  • avatar

    I think “brake failure” is a bit hyperbolic and evokes images of not being able to stop a vehicle.

    What happened was a loss of power braking not a loss of brakes.

    I’ve driven cars with no brakes and cars with bad power boosters and there’s a big, big difference.

    I’m a little disappointed that RF, whose brand is truth, promoted this comment. I’m not saying that GM’s hybrids aren’t having teething problems it’s just that a failure of a power boosting unit, braking or steering, is not the same as losing brakes or steering. Losing a power boost can be a safety issue but it’s not nearly as dangerous as losing brakes.

    RF, apropos to the Firesign Theater reference the other day, maybe the guy should take his Tahoe into Ernie’s House of Bad Brakes.

  • avatar

    Sherman Lin:
    My pet peeve is that when you try to explain what is wrong with customer service or a product to the people working in the industry they try to turn it around that the problem is with the customer. I know what I want and I spend money to get what I want but somehow the problem is with me a paying customer and not with what I see as the deficiency.

    Here’s the thing. Who cares if the problem is with the customer. IMHO, most people are a******s. Nevertheless, some businesses do well and some do not. No matter how crazy or nasty the customer is, if you don’t make a sale, it is YOUR fault.

    GM fails to realize that when you raise your hand to point a finger at someone, you point three fingers at yourself.

  • avatar

    “Defender” has updated his blog:

    Defender – Tahoe Hybrid

    It’s a sad read. For Defender, this isn’t going to have a happy ending. He takes a minute to reply to some TTAC posts.

    I hope things work out better for GLTech (the other individual with braking issues from greenhybrid) but the Lemon Law is, as Defender points out, a mixed blessing for owners of expensive cars.

  • avatar

    I own a 2008 Tahoe Hybrid and just came home to the airport from a business trip. The truck was completely dead. After a jump start (following the manual’s instructions), I let the truck run for a bit in place and then as I put it in gear, I too got the Stabilitrack, Brakes, ABS, and check engine lights all illuminated. I was traveling at less than 5 mph, but went to brake to pull into a parking spot. No brakes, no vacuum assist, no nothing. I sat in the spot wondering what to do next. I let the truck run for a bit, turned it off, waited, then re-started it (it had enough juice to restart at this point) and all lights were now off, but the check engine light was on. Pushed OnStar and they indicated while it may be OK to drive as long as I had braking, that they were showing Stabilitrack, ABS, and a general fault code and to get to a dealer as soon as convenient. I took the truck in yesterday morning and after 8 hours on the phone with GM Engineering, they do not know what is wrong. They have a video conference with GM techs on Monday where they will hook up the truck to the dealership service systems and be able to transmit data to GM Engineering. Not good and I am not sure if I feel safe, now knowing that brakes could fail at any time…I will keep everyone posted…

  • avatar

    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! :)

  • avatar

    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 [email protected] 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.

  • avatar

    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…

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    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.

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