Reader Question: GM Truck Issue?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Mark asks: About two years ago I told you that my 2014 GMC 1/2 ton P/U 4X4, 20″ wheels, would slid out on wet roads starting out or if I hit a bump and on recontacting the road would put the truck is a sideways slide. No kidding. You noted to me that you also had a P/U with 20 inch wheels and no such issues. So I got rid of the truck on a trade (under 50K miles) for a 2018 1/2 ton, 4X4 with 18″ wheels. It slides out starting off, maybe not as bad but it’s not good. I have been driving GM P/U’s for every and know how to drive them.

I really do have a background in driving that few can match, honest. Nevertheless, with the new 2018 sliding out I believe I have it figured out. The new 5.3 motor that came out in 2014 has way more torque and the anti skid can’t control it. On my 2014 I checked out the high end loaded GMC P/U that were traded in with the chrome 20″ wheels and there were many of them, just like mine. All had very low miles and all were newer P/U’s. My gut feeling is, they couldn’t get anywhere with the GMC dealer and went to a chevy dealer in this case Colvert Hutto, TX. Bottom line, there is something very wrong with these trucks. So with just under 4,000 miles I’m going to have to go and trade it in with Dodge and take another hit. This is something that GM knows about but why they haven’t or will not fix it is madding.

My reply: I don’t think this is a new problem. Powerful trucks – especially powerful 2WD trucks – tend to get loose in the tail. We have gotten somewhat blase about the power of today’s vehicles. Twenty years ago, a 350 hp vehicle was rare – and probably a high-performance vehicle. Today, 350 hp is modest output for a mass-market V8. And current 1500s offer V8s with 400-plus horsepower. The 5.3 liter V8 you refer to is the base V8 in the current GM 1500s. The optional V8 (6.2 liters) makes 420 hp!

Keep in mind that the trucks in question are not all that different in terms of their basic layout than the trucks of 30 years ago – when most trucks had less than 200 hp under the hood.

Many of these trucks have  rear suspensions similar to the set-up in my 1976 Trans-Am: Leaf springs, solid axle and a pair of shocks. My Trans-Am also likes to go sideways – and for the same reason as the new trucks do. It has a lot of power feeding through a fairly primitive and rear-wheel-drive layout.

Without any form of traction control, except my right foot!

The GM trucks you mention have traction control, of course. And you can modulate the power delivery using the same old-school system that I do (your right foot). Adding some weight to the bed will help, too!

But I don’t see them as defective; just extremely powerful.

Such vehicles require respectful treatment- even when they have all the modern safety net technologies.

. . .

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3 COMMENTS

  1. People think traction and stability control will keep the rear end of a RWD vehicle in place. It won’t in many real world conditions. When running the stock summer tires on my Mustang when it was well too cold for them I had the car get out of line a couple times. Once pretty seriously. What saved me is that I’ve been driving live axle Ford coupes since I was 15 and instinct took over. So pretty much the same situation as you. I just wouldn’t drive the car in the cold until I wore out the tires and when I put all seasons on it, it has been fine, knock on wood.

    Thus I would say look into what tires are on the truck and what people say about them in the relevant forums for that truck and on tire sites. Also they may be able to point you in the right direction for suspension modifications that mitigate the natural result of a leaf sprung live axle with power put through it.

    Since you know how to drive these vehicles we are obviously looking at something very specific to these trucks which means other people have probably figured out a solution already. It may cost you a few hundred bucks in parts but better than taking the trade in hit. I wouldn’t expect it to be a cure all but it may get it to a more traditional level in spite of the power being put through it.

    • Hi Brent,

      I thought of another option: If the questioner isn’t using the truck to tow, he could change out the ring and pinion from say the factory 3.23 (or whatever it is) to something like a 2.41 ratio. The truck won’t accelerate as quickly, of course – but it won’t be slow, either. The thing has more than enough power to pull strongly once rolling.

  2. Insane how in less than a decade stock HP in the 5.3 l went from 315 (my 13′) to nearly 355 hp in the 18’s. Nissan Titan 5.6 l has 395 HP!

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