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Why do new trucks have old truck problems? Here’s why


It may seem odd how new generation trucks, like this 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500, already have recalls spanning back to prior model years, but it is actually just how the business works. (Photo courtesy Chevrolet)

One of the common complaints from new truck buyers deals with why their new pickup have old truck problems. This is a reasonable concern, and I address the why behind this happens in the video below.

The too long, didn’t watch version is due to timing, supplier changes and continual truck changes.

Old truck problems carry over?

For example, a new truck is designed and engineered years before it comes out. This means a new 2021 model, like the Ford F-150, will have its engineering done in say 2019 with a launch in 2020. Once the truck is launched, the engineering team moves on to the next project leaving the customer service team to work on any issues.

Another issue is the timing of when the problems are reported. This can be seen when we referenced a master brake cylinder recall impacting Ford trucks from before and then after the new truck launched. The master brake cylinder is a carry-over part, which had been used for years and now, seemingly all of a sudden, there were numerous complaints and issues with it. The engineering team that worked on the new model had no idea this was an issue during their work on a truck so they couldn’t really address this issue.

Next would be supplier changes. Suppliers are constantly working, like OEMs, on improving their own products as well as coming up with new technologies automakers want to buy. These constant changes mean there are times when a bad part or a problem with a part becomes apparent. This is why you will see words like “part supplier” or waiting on a replacement part in the recall notice. The customer care team contacts a different group of engineers who trace the issue and diagnose the problem, work with suppliers to fix the problem and then stock the dealers with new parts.

Suppliers may also run into an issue getting parts for … well their parts. This causes them to make revisions and changes.

Finally, trucks are continually being changed and improved for some of the above reasons like new parts or changed parts from the parts suppliers. Each year, consumers may learn a new model year might have a new color or a new trim package, however, there are dozens even hundreds of changes under the radar they don’t learn about. Many of these changes are trade secrets automakers have no interest in revealing to their competition. These changes can, most often not, cause problems with the new truck.

Now, depending on when these changes take place, the new part may not fail until it reaches a certain mileage which means a recall, like those found on NHTSA.gov/recalls, can occur spanning back several model years.

The bottom line on old truck problems

While consumers may be frustrated by a new recall on their brand new truck, the simple reality is the truck is somewhat new and mostly just a collection of carry-over parts. This carry-over of parts means a recalls can span back several model years without any regard to how “new” the truck seems to be.

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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