2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Brake, fuel, and electrical system issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 is a heavy-duty truck that continues to be among the top choices. The automaker maintains it provides “towing that pulls rank,” but many customers are faced with problems that make driving the truck a major challenge. These range faulty brakes and electrical system malfunctions to fuel issues dealers can’t fix.  

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020   2022   2024

Most Common Problems

The most common problems raised in complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) relate to brakes that squeak and/or fail, faulty electrical systems, and fuel system issues. There are also complaints that highlight problems with the powertrain, backover prevention, forward collision avoidance, steering, and trailer hitches.

There are also four recalls for the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500. One of these is an urgent recall that warns the brake pressure modulator valve (BPMV) may short if water gets into it. This can cause an electrical short circuit that increases the risk of fire. The concern is that bolts attaching the BPMV assembly may not be properly tightened. This could fail to seal the two sub-assemblies and allow water intrusion. A total of 3,241 General Motors (GM) vehicles are implicated, including the 2021-2022 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500. Owners are advised to park outside and away from other structures until dealers replace the BPMV assembly, free of charge.

There are also two recalls that relate to seat belt issues. Alarmingly, 624,216 GM vehicles have front seat belts that may not be properly secured. A small number (470) reportedly have been assembled using the wrong bolts. Here the danger is that the seat belts may not restrain occupants if the truck crashes, increasing the risk of injury.

Airbag Investigation

Even though there are currently no complaints on record about the airbags, there was an investigation into an airbag malfunction. Between April 2021 and August 2023, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) studied several 2020 and 2021 vehicles manufactured by GM. The issue was that the airbag malfunction indicator light (MIL) was thought to be the potential cause of frontal airbags not deploying. The theory is that rust particles in the connection terminal interface of the driver airbag inflator housing causes airbag MIL illumination. However, because of the very low rate of occurrence and the fact that no fires, crashes, injuries, or fatalities had been reported, the ODI closed the investigation.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Service Brakes
Power Train
Back Over Prevention: Warnings
Fuel/propulsion System
Exterior Lighting
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking

Fuel-Related Issues

There are not many NHTSA complaints that relate to the fuel system, but they are extremely serious. For example, an owner from Tennessee tells how he “noticed flames coming from the cab and the bed of the vehicle.” As the flames grew bigger, he “pulled over to the side of the road and exited the vehicle before the vehicle became fully engulfed in flames.” The truck, which had a gasoline fuel system, was deemed a total loss. Even though there were no physical injuries, the driver sought medical attention for “mental and emotional purposes related to the incident.”

Several other complaints report leaking gas or fumes.

Gas Smell, Leak Concern

An owner from Minnesota took his truck to the dealer when the diesel particulate filter (DPF) was triggering the check engine light. The dealer replaced the DPF, but the owner started getting headaches while driving the truck. He experienced “symptoms of losing consciousness, worst headache I’ve ever had, nausea for 5 hours, loss of feeling in body and seizing of body.” He ended up in hospital and was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. The dealer inspected the truck twice but could find nothing wrong. A month later, he went on a road trip and started experiencing similar symptoms, but with more chest pain. He went back to the hospital — but again, the dealer said it was “fine.” It happened again about a week later.

Within 20 minutes of driving, he had another horrible headache. “Pulled over and needed to get air, and ended up driving (the) truck 4 hours home with windows and sunroof open to avoid getting carbon monoxide poisoning again. I have been ill since August and that is due to diesel and carbon monoxide poisoning every single time I drive the vehicle, which is daily. The truck has now been at the dealership for 70 days without any update or improvement in the case. “

An owner from California reports smelling gas inside the cab. When the smell persisted he looked under the engine and discovered a pool of leaking gas. He “took it in to the dealership (thinking it was a simple loose filter line) but they now say that it is more than that. Not sure if this has been a reoccurring issue with these new trucks, but it could have been a very dangerous situation.”

Brake Problems

Most of the brake problems relate to bad squeaks and squeals. But there are also complaints about truck brakes failing or not working properly.

Squeaking Brakes

A complaint from an owner in West Virginia states that “the brakes squeal very badly.” After noticing “complaints all over the internet for this,” he contacted the automaker and was told “there isn’t anything they can do.”

An owner from Alabama states that the brakes make a loud, squeaking noise. It doesn’t “matter what you do, what is or isn’t added, how clean they are,” the noise is constant. “Dealers won’t help. (They) tell you to get on the brakes hard. That helps for a few minutes!” And the estimate to fix the brakes, the complaint states, is more than $50k.

A New York owner states that there is a “Very bad brake squeal while applying brakes at 10pm or less, coming to a stop. This started to happen when the vehicle had approximately 5,500 miles.”

A Colorado owner also experienced the brakes squealing, usually at low speed, under 10 mph. But this problem was evident from the day of purchase. “The dealer has told me that they could replace the pads but I would have to cover the cost.”

Another owner describes “an abnormal squeaking sound coming from the rear of the vehicle” while driving at different speeds and depressing the brake pedal. The dealer said the brakes needed to be replaced. However, the owner took the truck to an independent mechanic for a second opinion. This second diagnosis was that there was “brake pulsation, and a rear brake bolt was loose. The mechanic tightened the bolt.” No more problems!

Brakes that Fail or Malfunction

An owner from Illinois states that his truck “lost all braking ability” while driving through a McDonalds drive-through. He describes how the pedal went right to the floor and he had to put the truck in Park to stop and shut down. “After re-starting (the) engine, (the) brakes started functioning again. Very scary incident.”

A Michigan owner’s fiance had driven the truck about two miles when the check engine light came on. Then the traction control light came on and “it felt like all braking power was lost.” The complaint states that it “Could have killed or badly injured someone.” The truck was towed to the dealership.

An owner from Georgia states that “the brakes do not stop the vehicle without excessive pressure to the pedal.” It’s especially difficult when “carrying a trailer with the exhaust brake and trailer brakes in effect.” The complaint states that the brakes will only start to apply if the pedal is pressed 3/4 to the floor. This makes it extremely difficult to stop the truck at any speed over 45 mph. It also “takes excessive distance for (the) vehicle to stop.”

Problems with the Electrical System

With a solid electrical system, driving a truck can be extremely enjoyable. But there are a variety of problems with the 2021 Silverado 2500, many of which appear to be common. One NHTSA complaint states, “After two weeks of ownership, the rear camera has stopped working. Instead, I receive an error message. There is no shortage of complaints like this on various model Chevrolet forums. Most 2020/2021 customers indicate there has not been resolution of specific issues identified.”

Another complaint highlights “a malfunction in the tailgate where it automatically opens while driving, opening the driver-side door, or even locking and unlocking the vehicle.” The owner, from Idaho, states that “It’s a known issue that 2020 and 2021 Chevy Silverados.”

There are also several complaints that raise issues with a “Service Trailer Brake System” error message. One owner states that this warning “will not stop popping up and beeping.” An owner from Vermont states that “this should be a safety concern for GM, and not up to the customer to pay for this repair.”

GM hasn’t been shy about dealing with electrical system problems. Service Bulletin #PIT5387J discusses the instrument panel display blanking out, connections dropped and volume changes occurring on their own. To resolve these situations, GM advises technicians to simply tell customers that they are working on figuring out what is wrong.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

If you are experiencing problems with your 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and you think it might be a lemon, you don’t have to live with it.

Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners. But it’s a good idea to get legal help. The law makes GM pay the legal bills for lemon law cases, so it’s not going to cost you anything. All you have to do is call the Lemberg Law Helpline or fill out a contact form and we’ll assess your problems free of charge.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Ray

    Poorly cast Ujoints on the fwd front end.
    With a shaft of machined steel, what could go wrong???🤔😂 i got photos

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