Owners of General Motors trucks and SUVs in 30 states not covered by the GM regional recall continue to struggle with malfunctioning anti-lock brakes. Owners in the 20 states and the District of Columbia covered by the recall are struggling with GM dealers reluctant to fix the brakes as part of the recall.
Because of the well-documented problem, the anti-lock brake system in some of GM pickups and SUVs sometimes does not work properly causing increased stopping distances during low-speed braking.
GM, in December, expanded its recall of sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks to include another 553,000 vehicles because of potential problems with the anti-lock braking system and raising the number of states covered by the regional recall to 20.
The automaker had recalled 804,000 full-size pickup trucks and SUVs in August in 14 states because of the brake problem.
In all, 1,357,000 pickups and SUVs are now part of the massive GM recall and things are not going well for truck owners or the automaker.
GM continues to insist that the problem with its anti-lock system is regionally based, stemming from road salt in cold-weather states. Corrosion from salt gets in between the surface of the wheel hub and the anti-lock brake sensor, pushing the sensor farther away from the bearings, according to the GM explanation.
The vehicle computer then receives a false reading of speed, causing the anti-lock brakes to engage at the wrong time.
Danny in Greenville, North Carolina, disagrees that it is a regional problem. He told ConsumerAffairs.com: "I've had many close calls due to ABS engaging and pedal going to floor. It happens when hitting road bumps while depressing the brake pedal to slow vehicle."
The anti-lock brake malfunctions have nothing to do with weather conditions or geography Danny insists.
"I've seen the recalls on northern trucks allegedly relating to snow and salt but this is a more serious issue relating to all of their 1999 trucks," Danny writes. "I have learned how to compensate for its faulty brakes but it's only a matter of time before the right situation arises and I'll be at the auto body shop like many others who've encountered the same situation."
For those covered by the recall, Chevrolet and GMC dealers remove the anti-lock brake sensors and clean the wheel-bearing casings. The casings are then coated with a rust-proofing compound.
Despite new GM promises to fix the brake problem regardless of where a vehicle is registered, some owners say they face dealer roadblocks when they bring their trucks in for repair.
Sandy in Midland, Virginia, paid for new brakes in her 2001 Silverado herself, not withstanding the GM promise to fix the problem. "I had to have all 4 rotors and brakes replaced. I don't think this is acceptable."
Kevin, who also lives in Virginia, faced a similar situation when his truck became too difficult to drive because he needed extra distance to stop.
The bill from GM to repair his brakes that would be covered by the recall in 20 other states reached almost $900.
"I'm beside myself," he said "If I was two miles away in Maryland, I'd be covered by the recall."
Silverado owners in states included in the recall are reporting dealership problems and unwilling service managers to ConsumerAffairs.com.
Joe in Howell, New Jersey owns a 2002 Silverado with 11,560 miles on the truck. "I took the truck into the dealer on January 10 for a brake issue recall. Some hours later the dealer called me and informed me that I needed 4 brake rotors. He stated that it wasn't covered under the warranty or the recall," Joe wrote.
A number of truck owners have removed a fuse to deactivate their anti-lock brakes, preferring conventional brakes to a system that was unreliable.
Donnie in Troy, Alabama has owned five Silverado trucks.
"The 2003 that I have now has the least response when the brake pedal is engaged than any I have owned. I must leave several car lengths between me and the vehicle in front of me in order to avoid accidents," Donnie wrote.
"The dealer assured there is nothing 'wrong' with my brakes," Donnie told us.
Federal regulators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)) are uncertain that problems generated by the GM recall are a result of regional nature of the recall. NHTSA insists, however that the agency is listening to consumers.
"We encourage people to call our hotline and make us aware of their problems. We also encourage them to call their dealers," a NHTSA spokesman said.
Joan Claybrook, a former head of NHTSA and president of Public Citizen was more pointed in her criticism of regional recalls. "It's a financial issue. Recalls are expensive, and automakers don't want to do them."
Silverado owners say the real issue is simply the stopping distance of their trucks: the brakes don't work properly and GM has not taken adequate steps to fix the problem.
GM Regional Truck Recall Stops Short...