The Chevy Silverado is one of the best-selling trucks in North America, even though it’s a fairly young name at just 20 years old. Its reliability, on-road comfort, and relatively cheap maintenance are all partly responsible for that. It also helps that it’s one of the easiest trucks to work on, especially when you add a Silverado service manual to the equation.
Indeed, with a good repair manual, you can cut the maintenance and repair bills significantly, and considering the Silverado’s reliability, even the oldest ones will serve you for years without costing a fortune.
That said, like all vehicles, Silverados are not immune to issues — they do have several common problems, including throttle body, knock sensor, door handles, steering shaft, etc. Luckily, most of them are fairly easy to prevent or repair.
In all cases, we’ll cover each generation separately so you can jump straight to your model year and get to work!
First Generation Silverado (1998-2007): Common Problems
If you are looking to get a first-gen Silverado, then you are in luck because none of the common problems they have are that severe or even that expensive to repair. Possibly the most complex common problem to fix are the front wheel bearings, which you can replace with a good car jack and some basic tools.
The second most challenging problem is the failing knock sensor which you will find under the intake manifold. This is an easy fix for anyone with some DIY experience; however, beginners can also do that by following the step-by-step procedure provided in the Silverado service manual.
Side note: if you don’t know where to find a repair manual for your Chevy, have a look at eManualOnline. That’s where I get mine, and their manuals are the same used by dealer mechanics — you really can’t go wrong here.
But I digress.
The other common problems are the intermediate steering shaft knock, a stuck tailgate, and a bad purge valve. Each of these is pretty simple to repair. The steering shaft is held down with a couple of bolts under the steering wheel, and the purge valve is easy to access. As for the tailgate handle, you only need to remove the plastic trim around it to replace it.
Full list of the most common problems for the first-gen Silverado:
- Stuck tailgate handle
- Front-wheel bearing failure
- Intermediate steering shaft knocking
- Faulty knock sensor
- Bad purge valve
Second Generation Silverado (2006-2013): Common Problems
The second-gen Silverado is ten years more technologically advanced, but surprisingly its most common problems are still simple. The most difficult one to fix is the steering wheel position sensor, which is why professional technicians will charge you a lot for labor.
However, the brake light switch might be the most challenging to diagnose since it causes a couple of other seemingly unrelated issues as well. Luckily, the repair manual contains a dedicated troubleshooting section, so even that won’t give you much of a headache.
Some of the most common problems for the second-gen Silverado include:
- Intermediate steering shaft knocking
- Bad steering wheel position sensor
- Broken door handles (interior and exterior)
- Brake light switch failure
- Faulty throttle position sensor
Third Generation Silverado (2013-2018): Common Problems
Common issues on a third-gen Silverado don’t get much more serious, but they can land you in some sticky situations. For example, the throttle body and the starter motor usually fail without a warning, potentially leaving you stranded. Those might be good to replace preventively in case the previous owners haven’t.
Those two issues, plus the HVAC actuator, are the most difficult to do alone, but it’s not impossible with the right tools and a good Silverado workshop manual to rely on. Also, replacing all three yourself will save you an average of $400 on labor.
Another common issue is the purge valve not functioning correctly, which can lead to starting problems. However, you can replace it easily, along with the throttle body, as it’s right next to it.
Finally, the haptic seat motor can also stop working. This is not a crucial component for most people, as it works with the lane departure system and buzzes when you cross the lane without using the turn signals.
Still, although an intermediate-level job, you can easily replace the haptic seat motor in a few hours following the manufacturer’s recommended procedure (it implies removing a lot of small parts, but all in all, it’s not that complicated).
Some of the most common problems for the third-gen Silverado include:
- Unresponsive HVAC actuator
- Broken haptic seat motor
- Purge valve failure
- Sticking starter motor
- Throttle body failure
Fourth Generation Silverado (2018-Present): Common Problems
Since the fourth-gen Silverado is still relatively new, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact problems or parts that might fail in the long run. However, there is a fairly consistent stream of owner complaints regarding the engine, transmission, and various electrical systems.
Specifically, the transmission is slipping and sometimes shifts into 4×4 on its own. Also, it might hesitate to shift, and ultimately complete transmission failure can occur.
As for the engine, most complaints revolve around being unable to start and a check engine light popping up intermittently.
Lastly, electrical issues are mainly related to the cruise control and the start/stop feature not working properly.
Some of the most common problems (until now) for the fourth-gen Silverado include:
- Transmission — 181 Complaints
- Electrical issues — 147 Complaints
- Engine — 123 Complaints
Ultimately, each Silverado generation is pretty reliable, and their common problems are nothing to be afraid of. Everything from throttle bodies to steering shafts and purge valves is relatively cheap and simple to repair. All it takes is some basic tools and a couple of hours of your time at most. That’s everything your Silverado needs to prepare for years to come, regardless of its mileage or age.
The only thing to be wary of is the last-generation Silverado, which has some complaints. But even so, hundreds of car models do much worse, and a hundred engine complaints over almost four years is virtually nothing.