Certain General Motors full-size vehicles are being investigated by the NHTSA for possibly faulty brake lines after the safety agency received 890 complaints of brake failure caused by “brake pipe corrosion.”
According to an NHTSA report, an investigation was launched on March 30, 2010 after numerous complaints were received of corroding brake lines. The investigation was closed on January 5, 2011, but was reopened again the same day and remains open today. Models with potentially faulty brake lines include the Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche, Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Sierra and Yukon ranging from model years 1999-2003. In total, more than 6 million vehicles could be affected by the problem.
Of the 800 complaints the NHTSA received, 760 were from ‘Salt Belt’ states, where heavy amounts of road salt are used during winter months. In 25 percent of complaints, the brake pipe failure occurred suddenly with no warning lights displayed and resulted in reduced stopping power. In 26 complaints, the reduced braking performance was an alleged factor in a crash and in 10 others, the driver had to steer off the road to avoid a collision with another vehicle. So far, three injuries have been reported as a result of the crashes.
GM has yet to act on the alleged problem. According to the NHTSA’s investigation summary, the automaker says the subject vehicles have a brake system which is split front/rear and if a brake pipe did suddenly fail, the vehicle would be capable of stopping with the pressure supplied by the remaining pipe. Additionally, the circuits were design to meet “partial failure requirements” in place at the time. GM also added that if brake fluid did leak for any reason, the brake system malfunction light would illuminate on the dash and warn the driver before it became low enough to affect braking.
The NHTSA’s investigation into the matter is ongoing.