General Motors has announced that NHTSA is mandating a safety recall for the following vehicles:
- 2014-2018 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Pickups (1500 / 2500 / 3500)
- 2015-2018 Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe, GMC Yukon vehicles
- 2015-2017 Cadillac Escalade
NHTSA reports that the amount of vacuum created by the vacuum pump may decrease over time. The group says that as the vacuum level drops, the brake assist decreases, and that this increasing braking effort, extending the distance required to stop the vehicle, thereby increasing the risk of a crash. This new recall covers 3.4 million vehicles.
The Problem: The brake pump uses engine oil to lubricate itself. If the pump becomes clogged with engine oil sludge the units ability to create vaccum is diminished over time. As a result, braking force and ability also drops. The issue is usually accompanied by a “Service Brake Assist” warning message in the dash.
The Fix: GM will reprogram the computer that controls the secondary brake assist pump. The secondary pump will now activate at lower speeds and different situations quicker to compensate for any lost output from the main pump. Since the pumps are not failing, GM has decided not to replace them.
GM’s number for this recall is N192268490. In compliance with federal law, GM will notify owners, typically by snail mail. GM says that its dealers will reprogram the Electronic Brake Control Module. However, GM has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-630-2438, Cadillac customer service at 1-800-458-8006 or GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782.
As with every safety recall, customers will not be charged by GM for the needed repairs or modifications.
NHTSA’s public information on this issue indicates that many accidents have been reported to NHTSA including some with injuries. This recall is the result of a NHTSA investigation that lasted nearly a year. In its investigation report, NHTSA noted the following details about the problem:
These conditions are attributed to deterioration of the engine-driven brake assist vacuum pump. Nine of these incidents included vehicles incurring damage as a result colliding with another vehicle or fixed object at low speeds. The brake assist vacuum pump is driven by an accessory belt on the engine and serves as the source of power brake vacuum in the subject vehicles. Over time, the pump’s capacity to generate vacuum may deteriorate. The subject vehicles receive supplemental hydraulic brake assist from the ABS system, albeit at lower levels than the vacuum-powered primary system. If the brake assist vacuum pump fails to operate as intended, the amount of brake power assist supplied to the driver can be significantly reduced, extending the subject vehicle stopping distance.