Them's the Brakes: GM Recalling 3.46 Million Vehicles in U.S.
General Motors is recalling 3.46 million examples of its largest models over brake degradation. The culprit is a wheezing vacuum pump that gradually loses its ability to function over time, resulting in underperforming brakes. Affected vehicles include all of GM’s big boys, including the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra, and GMC Yukon from the 2014-18 model years.
The recall was preceded by a preliminary investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which launched in 2018 after reports of crashes and a couple of injuries surfaced. In December, GM followed up by extending warranty coverage for vacuum pump replacements for the suspect vehicles. The NHTSA sent its findings off to General Motors last July, but not before the automaker had recalled 310,000 vehicles in Canada over the same issue. A safety bulletin was issued in the United States this month.
The good news is that the worst most drivers will have to endure is a super firm brake pedal, something easily managed if you’ve any experience driving high-milage trash. However, GM has said stopping distances could be impacted — making this a safety issue. Either way, it’s not something you’d want to live with for any length of time and will only get worse. Be on the look out for a “Service Brake Assist” warning and rippling leg muscles.
GM indicated that the pump filters were occasionally getting clogged by engine debris, specifically burnt-up oil that was original intended to lubricate the component. As the filter gets increasingly gummed up by sludge, the pump loses its ability to create an effective vacuum. Models built after the 2018 model year do not use the same system and are therefore in the clear.
Documents stated that GM will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the brake control module to fix how the system uses the hydraulic brake boost assist function when there’s no more “vacuum pressure.” Gratis, of course. It does not appear the pump itself will be replaced, however.
The manufacturer does not yet have a timeline settled for those notifications yet, but you can keep tabs on the situation by following NHSTA’s or GM’s recall campaign (No. 19V-645 and N192268490, respectively).
[Image: General Motors]
A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.
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