Yes, asking about Chevrolet Silverado reliability is a generic question. But we’re asking it anyway, and we’ll come at it from a few directions to (hopefully) give you a clear answer.
Since Chevrolet introduced a next-gen Silverado 1500 for the 2019 model year, it’s probably too soon to say whether or not this current generation is reliable.
Though we would like to point out at the time of publishing this article, the 2019 Silverado has five recalls and the 2020 model has four, according to the NHTSA.gov website. But that isn’t necessarily unusual for the first couple years when an automaker is still ironing out kinks — which, as a side note, is why I always recommend people skip the first model year when buying a new vehicle.
So, in terms of long-term Silverado reliability, we’re going to look at the third generation, which spans the years of 2014 to 2018. Similar to the “Are Ram 1500 Pickup Reliable?” article we did last year, we’ll be looking at data from CarComplaints.com, Consumer Reports and J.D. Power.
Using data from CarComplaints.com, you can see that the biggest reliability issue reported by owners revolves around the 8-speed transmission on the 2017 model. Owners report “surges and jerks” as well as hard shifts (among other complaints). CarComplaints.com gives this a severity rating of “Pretty Bad” since the average cost to repair is $3,000 and usually pops up at an average mileage of 10,650.
Transmission problems in the 2017 model are corroborated by data from J.D. Power, as “transmission smoothness” is one of the top three problems experienced by owners within the first 90 days of ownership.
To round out the trifecta, Consumer Reports also points to the transmission on the 2017 model as being a potential trouble spot. It’s also worth noting that CR gave the 2017 model an overall reliability rating of 1/5.
Air conditioning not working
Back to the CarComplaints.com overview, you can see the most complaints logged for a model year is 2014, with most of those revolving around the air conditioning not working. Though there are more complaints about the HVAC in the 2014 model than the transmission in the 2017 model, the good news here is: The average cost to repair is about $995 – or one third of the cost to repair the transmission.
Consumer Reports data also indicates the climate system in the 2014 model as a potential trouble spot.
It’s interesting to note there are 19 recalls on the 2014 model, and not one of them pertains to the HVAC system. So, if you have a problem and need a repair, it’s all on you.
The best of years: 2018
Just by looking at the model year overview on CarComplaints.com, you can see that the 2018 model has the fewest complaints – by a lot. As the last model year of the generation, this isn’t unusual because if the manufacturer is paying attention, they’ve dealt with the worst of the issues and complaints owners have.
The 2018 also has the highest J.D. Power rating among Silverado 1500s for this generation: 85/100. In fact, this particular Silverado tops the J.D. Power overall rankings, besting the Toyota Tundra by one point.
Looking at Consumer Reports data, the company doesn’t seem to give any model year of Silverado in the third generation high marks. Except for 2014, Silverado consistently ranks 8 out of 12 in reliability among pickup trucks. So, the fact the overall reliability for 2018 doesn’t end up worse is kind of good. I guess.
The worst of years: 2017
CarComplaints.com flat out says 2017 is the worst model year because of the pricey transmission issues, which occur at relatively low mileage.
The Consumer Reports data supports this designation, as 2017 is the only model year that receives an overall reliability score of 1/5.
Interestingly, J.D. Power data skews this result a tad, as it gives the 2017 model a score of 84 out of 100, which ties it for first with the Toyota Tundra 2WD and Toyota Tundra 4WD. The thing to remember about J.D. Power, however, is these scores are based on owner feedback within the first 90 days, and most big problems will crop up some time after that.
But, as we noted above, even the J.D. Power study shows owners were already complaining about the transmission within the first three months of owning it.
The bottom line
Every vehicle has recalls. And every vehicle will have its share of complaints and quality issues. So, you really need to look at the big picture before making any big decisions.
Though initial quality of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 tends to be high among owners, the predictive reliability put out by Consumer Reports tells another story: There are seven other pickup trucks with better reliability ratings than this truck. And if you want a peek at the current generation’s ratings: It doesn’t get better. It gets worse, as both 2019 and 2020 models score a 1/5 in overall reliability.
But if you’re a die-hard Chevy guy and you’re going to buy a Silverado regardless of recalls and reliability ratings, maybe look at the 2018 model and steer clear of 2017 and 2014.