By on September 13, 2018

More than a million, actually. A recall of 1,015,918 Silverado and Sierra pickups, plus their full-size SUV cousins, was issued yesterday by folks at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This recall affects machines from the 2015 model year. They are being summoned to repair centers thanks to electrical and software issues that could play havoc with the power steering system.

General Motors is recalling certain 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Tahoe, and Suburban trucks. From the GMC family, the Sierra 1500 and Yukon/Yukon XL are affected. And, thanks to parts sharing, owners of Cadillac Escalade SUVs from this model year are wrapped up in the same recall.

According to the NHTSA, affected trucks may momentarily lose their electric power steering (EPS) assist, followed by a sudden return of this assist, particularly during low-speed maneuvers such as navigating through a parking lot. The loss and sudden return of EPS assist is said to typically happen within a 1 second period and is caused by an electrical/software issue.

Events that demand high current, such as low speed turns, can cause temporary low voltage conditions. When the system voltage drops below 8.8 volts for more than 1 second — e.g., during low-speed turns — EPS assist is disabled until voltage returns to 9 volts for a minimum of 40 milliseconds, at which point EPS assist returns.

If power steering assist is lost and the vehicle reverts to manual steer, a driver information center message may alert the driver to an EPS problem. Also, other electrical sub-systems may shut down at the same time or just before the event, which the NHTSA filing says could temporarily disable the radio, the A/C, or Stabilitrak.

The automaker says it is aware of 30 accidents and 2 injuries related to the problem.

GM recalled model year 2014 trucks last year for a similar issue. Apparently, stouter negative battery cables and steering system grounds – amongst a few other changes – were made to more recent models of these trucks in an effort to quash the problem. GM also ran numerous tests at GM’s Milford Proving Ground to further understand and quantify the severity of the problem.

The General rolled out its new-for-2019 Sierra and Silverado this year. At the end of Q2 2018, sales of the trucks rose 1.7 percent and 10.7 percent respectively compared to the same time last year, about 60,000 units adrift of the F-150 which sold just over 450,000 copies in the first half of this year. Thanks to the lack of monthly sales data from GM, we won’t know more recent numbers until the end of this month.

The company plans to notify owners, with dealers ordered to update the EPS module software, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners of affected rides are encouraged to contact Cadillac at 1-800-458-8006, Chevy at 1-800-222-1020, or GMC at 1-800-462-8782.

Dealers will perform a reflash of the EPS module software. GM’s number for this recall is 18289.

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35 Comments on “GM Recalls a Million Pickups and SUVs Amid Flurry of Accident Reports...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    I can see how this would be problematic. Whipping into a parking spot and suddenly the wheel won’t unwind on you. Crunch.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The automaker says it is aware of 30 accidents and 2 injuries related to the problem.”

    Wow – that’s probably the tip of the iceberg. I hope these people are also compensated for their accidents. They deserve more than an upgraded ground wire.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hydraulic power steering never had this problem…

    Just sayin’…

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      A light vehicle with proper steering geometry and no assist (Alfa 4C) doesn’t have this problem either.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My 67 Mustang has manual steering and with a cast iron small block over the front wheels it has no business having unassisted steering. That will forever bias me against manual steering.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          When you look at how people park with power steering, they switch gears, crank the wheel, then they put the car in motion. With manual steering cars, you put it in motion first, then oversteer for your next change in direction, so as the steering wheel unwinds, with one finger you’re right where you need to be.

          But it depends on if you started driving with manual steering cars first. I started driving old, medium-duty farm trucks, and no matter how strong you were, depending on the soil, you weren’t cranking the wheel much at a standstill. Today I always steer like it’s manual steering, regardless. I hate the grinding sound of cranking stationary tires on pavement. It’s gotta be unnecessarily tire wear.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          When rebuilding my V8 68 Coupe, I spent an extra $1000 to purchase and install a power steering retrofit kit from Borgeson. It works perfectly. I recommend this Borgeson kit unconditionally.

      • 0 avatar
        hpycamper

        Save manual steering, and trans!

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I liked the manual steering in my Saturn SL, Ford Festiva, etc. I converted my 1991 Ford Tempo GLS to manual steering (installed a manual rack, looped the power steering pump into itself and it became much quieter; I decided on doing this due to a leaky rack and lines), and I loved it.

          On small cars like that, its fine, if not more enjoyable than too much boost. When the steering assist failed on my 1996 Chrysler Concorde LXi (and later on a Ford Aerostar), armstrong steering was horrible.

      • 0 avatar

        My Lada Sputnik did not have this problem and steering had very natural, I would say organic non-GMO, feeling. But it had many other problems.

    • 0 avatar
      salmonmigration

      But it did cause belt squeal that wakes up the neighbors at 4AM.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      I very distinctly remember momentarily loosing PS in my 89 MX6 while quickly turning into a parking spot. Had to strong arm it in. Not sure what the cause was, it never happened again.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Conversely I’ve had more tinkering with power steering systems on my series of old beaters than just about any other accessory system

      ’96 ES300: intermittent loss of assist, had to replace the PS pump belt and a few rounds of tensioning to get it to behave

      ’97 Ranger: leak from high pressure line (replaced both lines), noisy pump (typical old Ford truck issue)

      ’03 Pilot: steering locked up on a particularly frigid day in the winter, easily fixed by sucking out old PS fluid and putting in a bottle of new stuff

      ’94 Ranger: again, a noisy pump (left it alone)

      ’01 A4: noisy pump, replaced by my bro

      Having said all of that, I vastly prefer a good hydraulic system just for the benefit of good steering feel. The ’07 Fit that replaced our beloved ’90 Civic wagon felt like driving in a video game after the old Civic’s very well tuned rack and pinion setup.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The only power steering issue I ever had was “morning sickness” with the groaning pump on my Escort station wagon – but that was a Ford issue in those days.

        For my old Celebrity that I owned when it was very elderly the power steering was likely the most reliable part of the car.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I’ll take power steering issues over any number of much more expensive and serious other issues. Not sure if it’s luck or me doing a decent job of scouting things out, but in the grand scheme of things my sub-$2000 vehicles have all been amazingly reliable and perfectly serviceable as daily drivers.

        • 0 avatar
          road_pizza

          Remember that issue well, we had a TSB fix for customers that complained. Just dump a bottle of Ford limited slip additive XL-1 into the p/s reservoir and the noise went away :) .

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Fascinating, I wonder whether that fix would have quieted down the pumps on my Ranger. A few picky buyers commented on it when viewing the ’94.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            That sounds like a plan. The pump in my Taurus is original at 243k, and its quite noisy. I think it has a very slight leak from the rack, but not enough to noticeably decrease the level thus far.

    • 0 avatar

      You may have hit upon an interesting point, Dan. Electrical/software – hmmmmm? Is this an example of employing tech that could be accomplished more reliably some other way? Is it purely a cost issue that determines use?

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      PrincipalDan: Well, no it didn’t…because it wasn’t electronic. It would leak and bust hoses. Squeaky belts. Squalling worn-out pumps, etc.

    • 0 avatar

      Sure it did. My wife’s car had the pulley go bad on her PS pump. It worked just fine and then all of a sudden she had no PS then it caught and gave a little pressure. Luckily it was very close to home… but all systems have failures. I had a pitman arm break on me once during normal driving. Turned out just to be a defective part.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I’ve driven a bunch of the affected models, and actually liked the feel of the steering (admittedly, I did not experience the issue described in the recall). The only thing I always hated was what I think GM would call a “feature” – the fact that they load up the GMC vehicles with heavier steering feel than their Chevy counterparts, across the vehicle lineup. As if “more truck-like” is a good thing. I always preferred the GMC trims, but wanted the feel of a Chevy steering rack. Perhaps it was just programmed in, and theoretically the assist can be adjusted via aftermarket tuning?

  • avatar
    vehic1

    NoID: Or possibly – making a left or right turn at a 4-way intersection, after a stop?

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    my 2010 mks is once again in a ford dealer in MO.

    again its power steering locked up.
    the dash reads out warnings of abs, door ajar, brake on.

    last time it cost me 2000 to replace all the wiring because they told me rodents had eaten the main harness.

    this time, they THINK it might be a module.

    this locking up is dangerous. not if driving full speed cause you can still muscle it…but turning at slower speeds requires a great deal ofpower.

    stay tuned….

  • avatar
    multicam

    The past few weeks my buddy’s 2016 Sierra with “all the options” has been having electrical issues. First, his wipers only operate at slow speed- the intermittent speeds work, but when you crank them up all the way they don’t go fast. Second, his headlights stayed on all day- nothing could get them to turn off. When he got home I suggested disconnecting the negative battery terminal and did so. The lights finally stayed off. Third, after sitting for about five days it turned on and ran just fine (except the wipers still) but after an hour drive to the airport I noticed the brakes locking up, like the feeling of losing your power brakes.

    It’s all very disturbing. I told him to take it in while he’s still under warranty. I wonder if any of it is related to this.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    My cousin’s 2014 Silverado 1500 has had this exact issue, subject to recall already as mentioned in the article. Apparently, it was quite unnerving when it happened.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more people taking the opportunity to speak poorly of EPS in general. I for one think EPS is just fine and having dealt with enough leaky pumps, hoses, and other hydraulic headaches, I have little love for the old style.
    The only time I ever noticed the difference with EPS was when I had rented an Elantra to drive from Virgina Beach to Columbus when my flight was canceled. It was a long drive and I was driving far too fast at night; as I was headed through the mountains there were plenty of sweeping bends on the freeway and it was then I realized what all those articles were talking about when they said “no feedback at the limit.” First off, I shouldn’t have been going that fast but when you push to the point when the front tires lose grip, you do not get the feedback from the steering wheel in your hands until AFTER you’ve lost grip. It is a very arse-puckering moment as you are made aware of your mistake in an instant. Thankfully, with EPS comes stability/traction control to keep morons like myself from becoming a stain on the center divider. As with anything else, I’m sure there are better systems out there that offer better engagement, but just don’t expect to find them in a rental-spec Hyundai.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    A GM causing accidents and hurting and/or killing people? I’m shocked I tell you, SHOCKED. Okay its not a laughing matter, we all know how GM loves to crap on its buyers and try or succeed at killing them. Another reason why this junk pile of a car company should have been left for dead instead of BAILED OUT. I know people around here who have had this and several other problems not only with the stated model year, but other years as well. SMH They never learn.

    GM-JUNK

  • avatar
    raph

    Exciting stuff for the internet recall crowd and their “my marque is better than your marque since they have “.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Oh My Lordy; this must mean that DeadWeight was banned for good.

  • avatar

    Ford has nothing to do with it but I start worrying about DW – he should be all over this news by now, but 20 comments passed by and there still no word from DW. And many of us prepared popcorn in anticipation – very disappointing.

    I blame steering failure on Climate Change. With increasing temperatures we will see more and more issues like that. It is time to take Global Warming seriously!


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