2021 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system and powertrain issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

When the time comes to get a big truck for those tough jobs, many people consider the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 3500. It’s no wonder that it continues to excel when the manufacturer claims it offers “heavy-duty solutions for any situation.” However, many customers find themselves looking for solutions to defects, including those that impact the electrical system and powertrain.

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

Most Common Issues

The most common problems raised in complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) relate to the electrical system and powertrain. However, other components and systems implicated in complaints include the airbags, brakes, engine, exterior lighting, forward collision avoidance, fuel/propulsion system, and lane departure.

While problems are varied, a concern is that dealers often aren’t able to diagnose issues, aren’t able to fix them, or simply deny that there is a problem.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Power Train
Air Bags
Exterior Lighting
Forward Collision Avoidance: Sensing System: Radar
Fuel/propulsion System
Lane Departure: Sensing System: Radar
Service Brakes
Unknown Or Other

Electrical System Complications

With a solid electrical system, every ride can be enjoyable. However, the opposite can be claimed when there are malfunctions. In a way it’s fortunate that there isn’t one overriding problem that relates to the Silverado 3500’s electrical system. But it also means that dealers may not be able to fix the problems owners report.

For example, the owner of a 2021 Silverado 3500 states in an NHTSA complaint that his new GM 2021 trailer lighting module and/or system is defective. “It fails a pre-connection test with (the) tester. (It) gives a ‘Check Trailer Wiring’ warning on dash without a trailer connected, and turns off any trailer lighting connected without warning on the road, without blowing a fuse. This problem is much like the TSB Report #20-NA-198 for earlier models.” The dealer replaced the module, but the problem recurred while on the road “causing a road safety issue (no trailer lighting), sometimes without warning. The dealer doesn’t know what else to do at this point.”

Another electrical system complaint is linked to a brake problem. The owner, from Indiana, states that two months after getting the truck the battery went “completely dead without warning.” After keeping the truck for two weeks, the dealer confirmed that it was a battery problem. But the problem recurred. Roadside assistance was unable to jump start the battery. Then the parking brake wouldn’t release and there was a service light issue. At the time of the complaint, the owner was still waiting to have the vehicle towed again.

Another electrical system problem involves an automatic tailgate that opened remotely while driving and then closed by itself. As a result, the owner lost a load. And another involves the plastic of the rear sliding window “getting hot and melting.”

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Powertrain Issues

An owner from North Carolina had an issue that he reported as being a powertrain/electrical system/engine problem. While driving downhill down “a curvy mountain road” the vehicle suddenly lost power and steering,” forcing him to the shoulder of the road. The truck then “started blinking lights and telling me to restart.” Once restarted, it wouldn’t engage the transmission. It was in drive but the motor was just revving. When he turned the vehicle off and then back on again, it seemed to return to normal.

In direct contrast, an owner from Colorado, who also experienced transmission problems, was faced with failure on all sides. In his complaint dated September 9, 2023, he states he dropped the Silverado 3500 off for repair in December 2022, “but no repair was performed.”

“When I shift the vehicle to park and turn it off, about 90% of the time the instrument panel will display a message that says ‘Shift to park’, and the electrical components will not shut down. The vehicle is in park, but the computer won’t detect it.” The vehicle was under warranty, but the “dealer simply stated that it wasn’t happening. It continues to happen, and I fear that it won’t shift into park later. As it is, sometimes it takes an hour or more to detect that the vehicle is in park. I fear that it will cause a dead battery and leave me stranded. I don’t know if this is a computer issue or a transmission issue. It has been ongoing for at least 10 months.”

Airbag Problems

There is currently only one NHTSA complaint on file about the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 3500. An owner from Kansas states that he got a warning light for a safety restraint failure. When he took the truck to the dealer he was told the passenger side airbag was defective and it was a $1,700 repair! “Defective at 44,000 miles? Are airbags only supposed to last such a short time? This is a serious safety issue that should be addressed and covered by all manufacturer warranties!”

It’s a worry, especially since there was an NHTSA investigation into airbag malfunctions in a number of General Motors (GM) vehicles that ran from April 9, 2021 until August 24, 2023. Vehicles included 1500, 2500, and 3500 Sierra and Silverado trucks that have malfunction indicator lights (MIL) that illuminated and may have prevented frontal airbags from deploying.

The investigation report highlights a GM technical service bulletin issued in March 2021 that “addresses airbag MIL illumination with diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) B0001-1B or B0012-0D. It cites rust particles in the connection terminal interface of the driver airbag inflator housing as the cause of the airbag MIL illumination. Illumination of the airbag MIL under these circumstances may result in a non-deployment of the frontal driver air bag during a frontal collision and increased risk of injury to the driver.”

It’s worth noting that the incident reported in the complaint happened several weeks after the investigation was closed.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

If you have problems with your 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 that make you think it’s a lemon, Lemberg Law may be able to help. The law makes Chevrolet pay lemon law legal fees and you may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners.

Call our Helpline or fill out a contact form so that we can 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

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