GM Trucks And SUVs Have Brake And Fuel Line Rust-Out Problem

NHTSA investigating corrosion problem, and owners are stuck with no easy fix

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach, answers your questions about automotive maintenance, buying new and used vehicles, and anything related to your car.

Dear Car Coach:

Recently, I had an accident in my 2003 Chevy 1500 Pick up Truck. I was towing my boat and as I approached an intersection the brake pedal went to the floor. I pumped up just enough pressure to slow me down, but I had to blow my horn as I went through the intersection hoping to miss everyone. Unfortunately, my boat wasn't as lucky. It was hit, forcing me into a ditch. At first, I couldn't believe I had a major brake failure on my truck that was only 11 years old. To my surprise when asking the Chevy dealer for replacements, I discovered brake lines are not available. The dealer said the fix would require the part being fabricated from straight tubing. I have no clue how to do that. I'm not a mechanic. Is there any other solution?


Dear TS:

First of all, thank goodness you and others were not hurt. Unfortunately, you are one of the ten's of thousands of Chevy/GMC/Cadillac pickup truck and SUV owners that are experiencing this same problem. There is a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation going on related to the premature rusting out and failure of the brake tubing for model years 1996 - 2009. This problem has also found fuel supply lines. It is a problem found mostly in the Northeast where road salt corrodes the lines.

You are also correct that GM does not offer replacement tubing as an exact repair part. Technicians are forced to repair the vehicles by bending straight pieces of steel tubing, so you would pay for time and materials, and this can get expensive. I've heard some drivers have been quoted estimates of more than $1,000. Here is a caution, though: the tubing used is the same steel that rotted to begin with, so the problem could reoccur.

But there is a real solution, I have been able to find a company named Classic Tube, These folks not only manufacture the exact replacement tubing, but it's pre-formed and bent to the factory configuration. The real beauty is the firm makes these using stainless steel tubing for both the brake and fuel lines. This becomes a permanent repair since the stainless steel material will never rust. They are reasonably priced and will give you piece of mind.

I would go to a trusted repair shop or to your dealer either with the information about or with the actual part.


More Information