Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Faulty Trailer Brake Controller

Class Action Investigation

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

Lemberg Law is investigating complaints that the 2022 and 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has a major problem with faulty trailer brake controllers. Vehicle owners with integrated trailer brakes report that when they are pulling trailers they get a malfunction message, and then the brakes are disabled.

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Is There a Problem with the Trailer Brake Controller in the Chevy Silverado 1500?

There are multiple consumer complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the faulty Chevrolet Silverado 1500 trailer braking system. There are also numerous complaints on the GM Trucks troubleshooting forum for Silverado and Sierra trucks.

General Motors (GM), the manufacturer, knows about the problem, and their engineers have been trying to fix it for months.

What Does GM Know About the Silverado’s Trailer Brake Controller Issue?

GM issued a service bulletin, 21-NA-155, in June 2022 stating that customers were complaining about Check Trailer Wiring and Service Trailer Brake messages displaying on the Driver Information Center (DIC). This, they said, affected Silverado 1500s manufactured between 2019 and 2022. Additionally, various model years of Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra and Sierra 1500, GMC Yukon models, and Cadillac Escalade Models were affected.

They alerted dealerships of the problem, which they said may be caused by a poor connection at the 7-way trailer connector. This might be at the vehicle and/or the trailer side. They also blamed poor quality aftermarket trailer plugs. The bulletin stated that many of these do not comply with the SAE standard specifications resulting in a poor connection and possible long term damage.

On September 27, 2022, GM shared another bulletin, PIT5948, with the NHTSA, which, by law they must do. This also referred to the Service Trailer Brake message, but said that the cause was unknown. They stated: “GM Engineering is aware of the issue and working on a fix. When more information is available this PI will be updated.” By the end of November 2022, there were no updates on file with the NHTSA.

The Most Recent Bulletin from GM

There is, however, a follow up bulletin circulating. PIT5948A, dated October 6, 2022, updates the condition, but not the cause. It reiterates that the Service Trailer Brake message displays and says, “When checking for DTCs, a C159C sym49 may be set for the Trailer Brake Control Switch. This condition could be intermittent, and when the fault is present the electric trailer brake functions will not be operational for that key cycle.”

Several more model years have been included in this bulletin including the 2023 Silverado 1500. This bulletin also reiterates that they are “working on a fix.”

There are now indications that the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) component they think might be causing the issue is currently unavailable. But there is no official comment about this from GM. Instead, a forum member was told by a GM rep that it is due to the standard “supply chain issues.”

What Problems are Silverado Owners Experiencing with the Trailer Brake System?

Most of the people who buy the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 buy it to tow trailers as well as recreational vehicles like campers or boats. But faulty trailer brake controllers make towing unfeasible. Owners also express fears that the malfunction will cause bad accidents.

Generally, once they have hitched up their trailer they say they get an error code: Trailer Brakes Disabled Service Required. Some state that they then get a message telling them to service the trailer brake system. Clearly, they can’t drive the truck while pulling any sort of a trailer because the trailer won’t have brakes. Apart from anything else, this will put undue strain on the truck’s brakes and will inevitably increase the risk of an accident.

An owner who wasn’t pulling a trailer got two alerts: Brake System Failure followed by Trailer Brake Failure. These were followed by a third message warning the driver not to exceed 42 mph. This was followed by a text message on the Chevrolet app stating, “Diagnostic Alert: Service the Antilock Braking System in your 2022 Silverado within 1 day.”

But GM can’t help!

Complaints to the NHTSA

Consumers only started to complain to the NHTSA about faulty trailer brakes in October 2022. So, it’s not surprising that nobody has complained about the problem with the 2023 model yet, even though GM acknowledges this model is also affected.

An owner from Pennsylvania whose braking system failure light illuminated was told that there was an integrated trailer brake system failure. This was mid-November 2022, and he was told that it could not be repaired because the manufacturer didn’t have a fix for the failure.

An owner from Indiana states that on “attaching my RV trailer, the trailer connected to the integrated systems as expected. Went through light inspections. I adjusted (the) trailer brake gain.” When the first message, Trailer Brakes Disabled Service Required, illuminated, he went straight to the dealership. They found #PIT5948A, that states GM engineers are aware of the issue for all models using this integrated trailer brake.

“This is an urgent issue and critical for those pulling trailers with brakes. This is very dangerous to have trailer brakes disabled when pulling heavy trailers (and) can result in serious accidents.”

Another owner, this time from Alabama, describes how, after hooking up his Homesteader Hercules trailer, he went through all settings and adjusted the brake gain. The brakes worked for 1 minute before the “trailer brakes disabled” and “service trailer brake system” alerts appeared. “This is an urgent issue; the trailer is a 6×12 dual axle and the electric brakes are essential. The Silverado ZR2 is a heavy truck, but depending on only the truck brakes on wet pavement could be disastrous!”

Discussions on the GM Trucks Forum

Members on the GM Trucks forum are very upset, with complaints ranging from having to cancel camping trips to major concerns that this is a “serious safety flaw.”

The 2022 Silverado faulty trailer brake controller thread was launched on September 30, 2022. This owner, who drives a Silverado LT Trail Boss, also had problems with the vehicle camera. “The brake controller randomly stops working, but the camera is consistently buggy. I contacted the dealer, they investigated the issue and concluded the brake controller is faulty. They cleared the brake controller error codes and updated the camera software, but the display is still buggy every time I connect the trailer.”

Another member responded, “Unfortunately, I am having the same problem. I have a camping trip booked this weekend as well and I guess my $60k Chevy Silverado that I purchased 2 weeks ago is going to put an end to that.”

GM monitors this forum and several times they have commented, stating they are “more than happy to take a closer look into the concerns.” But many of those who have the problem know that GM doesn’t have a fix!

Another member says, “I have called GM, and they took my information, but they couldn’t even find the PIT5948A bulletin. The only resolution GM would give me was to send me to the Better Business Bureau.”

A member from Illinois says, “I too recently bought a 22 Silverado RST to haul my camper and I (have) been having the same trailer issue. But the huge problem I’m having is that the dealership does not want anything to do with my car.”

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

On a positive note, one of the members posted on November 7, 2022 that he’d been told by a GM rep that “the Brand Quality Team is working on a fix and hope to have it rolled out between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

But this is not a message that GM has publicized. They’ve been working on this for so long, Silverado owners are now fed up.

What Should You Do if Your Silverado has Trailer Brake Problems?

Lemberg Law is investigating complaints about the Silverado 1500s faulty trailer brake system. If you have experienced problems, we’d like to hear about them. You might qualify for our class action investigation.

If you’d like to join the investigation, call us at 844-928-4443 or complete our case evaluation form. We will evaluate your case and see if you qualify. It won’t cost you a cent because the law says that GM must pay all legal bills for lemon law cases.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 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
9 COMMENTS
  • Timothy B

    I have this same fault, and got the standard reply from GM that they are working the problem, that was 6 months ago. I have not been able to do many of my normal pulling jobs because of this. This is now more than just an inconvenience. This was a big investment to be stopped by the ongoing supply problem.

  • Glendon F

    Same problem with the brakes on my 2022 LTZ Silverado. I paid the dealer for a trailering camera that I have yet to see. My 2018 Silverado pulled the 30 foot camper fine. It only had 30k miles on it. The only reason, I purchased the new truck, was for all the safety features for towing with trailer camera. I feel robbed. I am paying notes on a truck and travel trailer, plus full coverage insurance and can’t use them. I have missed several planed camping trips. I want to be compensated. They didn’t cut me no slack on the purchase price. I read they are giving $3000 rebate to people that ordered trucks and didn’t get them yet. Well they owe me at least that, because I can’t use mine yet and it is not fully built until it works correctly for towing. Plus, they seats is not cooled yet because of missing chips. The first dealer sold me a truck that had extensive body work done, without disclosure, I noticed it the next day. I was a lot more damage than the law allows, without disclosure. They cause me and my family a lot of unnecessary stress. I did get my trade back. But someone owes me for that miserable weekend, that should have been a fun weekend. The new truck has been one long nightmare from the beginning.

  • Mike A

    I purchased a new 2022 Chev Silverado LTZ in October with all the bells and whistles to tow my new 31-foot 2023 travel trailer. Trailer is about 7000 pounds. The dealership never told me about the known issue with the trailer brakes.
    Today, January 12, 2023 the dealership replaced the brake controller. I will find out this weekend if it fixed the issue.

  • Jeff O

    I have a brand new 2023 Cadillac Escalade and a new flatbed car trailer. Just got the trailer and upon hooking up everything, I keep getting a service trailer brake message. I took it to a reputable trailer shop and they said they tested everything and the brakes on the trailer worked perfectly. They looked at the fuse on my escalade for the trailer brakes and said it looked fine but replaced it with a new one. Upon starting the vehicle each time the vehicle says, “trailer connected” and “electric brakes connected” until about 15 seconds later and then it comes up with the “service trailer brakes” message. Very frustrating because I don’t want to trailer a car until this is fixed.

  • My N

    *Insight to the trailer brake controller malfunction!* I made a video showing that I can cause the trailer brakes to error out using the squeeze switch only that results in the controller immediately resetting it and continuing to work ‘normal’ again after a moment until the next error. When I make it error out using the brake pedal, it triggers a full disable for that key cycle until I restart the truck. An interesting hot-fix/code change would be awesome to allow a pedal error to reset like the squeeze switch does. Nerds, where you at?
    youtube. com/watch?v=a3OaaJ9NXzA

  • Rob W

    Brand new 2022 Chevy Silverado LTZ. Two trailers with electric brakes both gave the same message. I realized it was not my brand new travel trailer but the new truck. I just want the switch in my dash replaced. I hope that fixes the issue. Not having trailer brakes is scary.

  • Ips

    My truck is a 2021 GMC Sierra Duramax 2500 HD, from the first time I plugged a trailer into it if it’s a little wet outside I get a check reverse light code, and get this……. It happens in drive going forward doing 60 miles an hour down the expressway! Furthermore I don’t even have effing reverse lights on my trailer! There’s not even a wire hooked up to the center pin on the seven-way plug! Now I’m getting check right turn signal check brake light faults, I leave the truck in gear put the parking brake on get out walk to the back of the trailer and the right turn signals working just fine. I have someone come out and stand behind me when I get home The brake lights work just fine. Needless to say this is beyond annoying.

  • Dustin J

    I have a 2022 Chevy Trail boss refresh. I am having the same trailer brake issues. Bought a 65k truck with the 6.2 to pull my camper. I almost ran in the back of someone’s car because the trailer brakes disabled. My wife was freaking out and now she’s doesn’t feel safe riding in the truck pulling our camper. We have had to cancel multiple camping trips planned. WTH GM.

  • Steve J

    Just turned in my 2022 Silverado High Country back to the dealer. I was towing my boat and when I was backing the truck/trailer into the water, the brakes did not function. The warning lights came on and said I needed to service the brake system. I pushed the brakes with all the might I had and luckily was able to hold the trailer with the boat. The light went away after the second startup and didn’t have issue again. Chevy dealer said the part affected is:
    Brake Cylinder
    85543472

    Let’s see what happens. This is terrifying.

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