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If you own a GM truck or SUV with a 3.0-liter Duramax Diesel engine, you may follow some forums or YouTube channels where owners are talking about the Duramax diesel long crank start or no-start issues experienced on some of these engines.

Publisher Tim Esterdahl gets messages about this a lot, and he decided it was time to sit down, do some research and put together a video about it.

Which GM vehicles are affected?

At first glance it seems that any vehicle with a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel — including the Silverado, Sierra, Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade — can have issues with long crank start times or no start. And that means light-duty trucks and SUVs GM has made in the last three years — specifically 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The 3.0L Duramax diesel long-crank culprit

If this is a known issue (and it is), people want to know why there hasn’t been a recall. Well, that’s because even though the long crank or no-crank has been documented by many owners and dealership mechanics, the cause is not always the same. When you have a long list of possible culprits you can’t just say, “oh, this is the problem,” and then fix it for everyone.

According to forums, message boards and YouTube, it seems the No. 1 culprit can be a bent or warped camshaft wheel. If the wheel isn’t making contact in all the right places, you may wait a while for the wheel to spin and make enough contact to turn over. Or the engine may not start at all. If this is the issue, you’re looking at a 40- to 50-hour job to lift and completely remove the truck cab to replace this part.

If the part is bad, why hasn’t it been replaced? Because there haven’t been enough issues to nail down a specific part (see below) or the batch number for the part. It could be a bad supply batch, but it’s hard to nail down when it’s such an intermittent issue, and the cause isn’t always the same.

Replacing the wheel isn’t alway the fix

Truck owners are reporting multiple culprits that when addressed have fixed the long crank issues on their 3.0-liter Duramax diesel engines. These include, but aren’t limited to, a faulty wiring harness, updated ECU, camshaft position exciter wheel, fuse boxes needing to be torqued, faulty actuators and faulty fuel pumps. Of course, a lot of dealer mechanics are going to start with the simple things and move down the line, meaning your truck could be in and out of the dealership multiple times to troubleshoot and hopefully correct the problem.

This only adds to the frustration owners are experiencing.

What do you think? Is this something that would worry you or keep you from purchasing a vehicle with a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel?

Editor’s note: Since posting this article, GM has halted not discontinued the production of this engine. They’re saying it’s due to supply chain issues, but we also have to wonder if the long-crank start isn’t also playing a role. When production resumes, will this issue be fixed? 

 

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Erica Mueller

Erica Mueller is a Texan, which means she believes that trucks are family vehicles and giant SUVs make good second cars. As part-time auto journalist for almost a decade, Erica enjoys driving all kinds of vehicles and sharing her experiences with others. Erica is the secretary of the board for the Texas Auto Writers Association as well as a contributor at A Girls Guide to Cars.

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6 Comments

  1. Alain Lavoje November 1, 2021

    Hi guys GM annonce last October 28 the has been fix by software update call your dealer
    Alain

    Reply
    1. Jimmy Dinsmore November 11, 2021

      Alain, please email me: jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com with more details on this. I haven’t heard of a software update and want to know as a follow up.

      Reply
  2. James Sword November 26, 2021

    I’ve owned two iterations of Chevy Duramax engines. 1. 8 cyl. and 1. 4 cyl.. Would this, or any, problem keep me from buying? Yes, definitely. Then factor in G.M. and their customer satisfaction? Wow! Paying near 10G extra for diesel and the necessary upkeep with debilitating emissions (clogged emissions)? No wonder some choose foreign. Get your act together GM ! Would you rather have loyal customers or continue paying out to non production managers, wrong headed engineer’s and bloated C.E.O.’s budgets. All the while taking bail outs from the American people! Not all Americans are stupid!

    Reply
    1. Chadc November 29, 2021

      Your $10,000 estimate is way off for this 3.0 duramax. That price bump is in the HD trucks for the 6.6 liter duramax which also includes a much more expensive transmission. The bump up in price on the 3.0 duramax actually went down last year. It’s only about $1,000 more than the 5.3 liter engine ($1,045 to be exact). Upkeep isn’t any more than my current V8 gas. The 3.0 Duramax actually holds less oil than my current pickup but the change intervals are longer. Even if I changed it as often as my gas, since it holds less oil, it’s cheaper. I’d be more worried about the turbo for durability, but then, most pickups/SUV are V6 turbos so have the same issue. Emission equipment is also a risk, but if you drive a diesel correctly (longer trips not short, work them hard, don’t idle them) the emissions equipment is lasting pretty good. All about trade offs, but initial cost isn’t one of them (at least for the 3.0 Duramax).

      Reply
    2. Chadc November 29, 2021

      @James Sword Your $10,000 estimate is way off for this 3.0 Duramax. That $10,000 price difference between gas and diesel is in the HD trucks for the 6.6 liter Duramax and that price includes a much more expensive transmission. The bump up in price on the 3.0 duramax actually went down last year. It’s only about $1,000 more than the 5.3 liter engine ($1,045 to be exact). Maintenance isn’t any more than my current V8 gas. The 3.0 Duramax actually holds less oil than my current pickup and the change intervals are longer. Even if I changed oil as often as my gas V8, since it holds less oil it’s cheaper. I’d be more worried about the turbo for durability, but then, most pickups/SUV are V6 turbos so same risk there. Emission equipment is also a risk, but if you drive a diesel correctly (avoid short trips, don’t let them sit unused, work them hard (which also means there will be less regens), don’t idle them, etc.) the emissions equipment is lasting pretty good. All about trade offs, but initial cost isn’t one of them (at least for the 3.0 Duramax).

      Reply
  3. Chadc November 29, 2021

    Your $10,000 estimate is way off for this 3.0 duramax. That price bump is in the HD trucks for the 6.6 liter duramax which also includes a much more expensive transmission. The bump up in price on the 3.0 duramax actually went down last year. It’s only about $1,000 more than the 5.3 liter engine ($1,045 to be exact). Upkeep isn’t any more than my current V8 gas. The 3.0 Duramax actually holds less oil than my current pickup but the change intervals are longer. Even if I changed it as often as my gas, since it holds less oil, it’s cheaper. I’d be more worried about the turbo for durability, but then, most pickups/SUV are V6 turbos so have the same issue. Emission equipment is also a risk, but if you drive a diesel correctly (longer trips not short, work them hard, don’t idle them) the emissions equipment is lasting pretty good. All about trade offs, but initial cost isn’t one of them (at least for the 3.0 Duramax).

    Reply

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