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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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19 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. David Gonzalez January 20, 2022

      Hello, I have the some no start long crack problem, after two visits ( 2021 Sierra Elevation) GM came out with a Intermittent Extended Crank No Start on Oct 4 2021. #PIP5823B . The Beeville Tx dealer updated the software again mid November. As of today 1/20/22 I’ve had no issues with the no crank . It does crank a little longer than when the truck was brand new, thanks

      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
  4. Devin Macintyre December 10, 2021

    Hey there,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your videos on the 3.0 duramax. I think you should do another video and dig into oil consumption, I’m just a prospective buyer but there seems to be a lot of info on forums. Some people are covered in a service bulletin for a faulty cam baffle. Others aren’t and still use lots of oil. Apparently GM claims a qt every 2k miles or so is ok, which is BS in my mind. It seems that not using there extremely thing 0-20 might be the answer and that mobile one and amsoil 0-20 has a slightly higher viscosity. Anyways the fact thAt peoples new trucks are going into limp mode because they have barely any oil left is not cool and really seems like a recall should come out at some point to cover all of the customers. Anyways let me know what you think I would love to hear what the lead engineer has to say.

    Reply
  5. Matt December 30, 2021

    I haven’t run into the long crank issue, but now addressing a rear main seal failure at 23k miles, 2020 Silverado I6. This might be one to look into as well. I feel for the dealerships amongst all the setbacks and supply issues.

    Reply
  6. Russell Ferguson, DoM January 5, 2022

    “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.”

    Please help me understand what this ” Camshaft Wheel” is. I know of no rotational sensor (speed or position) that makes contact in any computer-controlled engine. What engine part or sensor takes 50 hours to replace? Could you explain further? What is the flatrate for engine R&R? If the engine is sitting on the ground, what are the next steps taken? If the cab is lifted off the frame to gain access, what steps are taken once you have that access?

    Reply
  7. Mike Gatzow February 7, 2022

    Hi there! I am new to this so please bear with me…
    I own a 2021 3.0 LM2 Sierra that has now 19,000 miles on it. Purchased it new in Dec. 21 and within 2 weeks it did a crank no start issue. I thought it was me having left something on with all the tech stuff because my On Star also sent me a Critically Low Battery message at the same time but the truck was turning over great! I put my charger on it over nite and the truck started the next morning. This happened again about 8 weeks later but the dealer could not find anything wrong in the codes. About 7 weeks later it happened again and I was pissed. Dealer did a reflash of the ECU. About 7 weeks later it happened againj. Dealer shimmed the gear. Few weeks later did it again. was having truck tow so dealer could try to see the issue while it was occuring put had to have the truck running to get it in neutral for trucking. Had to start the unit when it would. Tried a new battery because On Star sends me a monthly update and it ALWAYS says the battery needs charging. Now a new ECU has been installed after a GM engineer came and was able to recreate the no start issue. We will see but thank God for a lemon law in Wisconsin!!!
    On another note about DEF usage: I get about 1000 miles to the gallon of DEF under my normal driving. Towed my 4200 pound pontoon boat to Florida at about 70 MPH and used 1 gallon to 100 miles. YES!!! 10 times the amount. I u8sed 13 gallons on a 1375 mile trip to Florida from Wisconsin to Florida in October. As of today the DEF warning light came on. The dealer thinks there is a problem in the DEF tank. I love my truck with a passion! Thank you GMC! I am done with the diesel…. Hello 5.3.

    Reply
  8. Matt February 11, 2022

    My 2021 GMC Sierra Elevation 3.0 also has this long crank/no start issue. It has happened about 8 times. Each time except for once was after already driving around during the day w/multiple stops. The other was a time I used the remote start and it was cold out, and it did the long crank no start. Always after it does this it starts right up. But what about the time it doesn’t? And with the auto stop feature what if it does this then? I haven’t had it happen that way yet.

    Reply
  9. Car Nut Tacoma March 1, 2022

    I’d like to see more Duramax 3.0 litre diesels offered here in the USA. Emissions be damned. We’re going to have to deal with pollution whatever engine powers your truck. But I’d like to see more Duramax 2.8 litre and 3.0 litre Diesel engines offered. I’d also like to see them produced in North America, preferably the USA, but also in Canada.

    Reply
  10. Patrick March 25, 2022

    I’m having the same issue and have brought my Chevy Silverado 3.0 Duramax to my local Chevy dealer on two different occasions and a third scheduled for next week. I am starting to get frustrated because they seem to be clueless of this issue and according to them, “they haven’t heard of such a problem.” After reading this article and several others, as well as Youtube videos, it is quite clear that I’m not the only one having this problem. Does anyone know if there are any updates or recalls for this crank problem?

    Reply
    1. Tim Esterdahl April 4, 2022

      People tell me there is a software reflash. I’ve tried to find it, but haven’t found it yet.

      Reply
  11. Jay Stang April 17, 2022

    Are the 2022 models seeing this same issue? I really, really, really want the diesel for my wife’s new Suburban, but I don’t have time to deal with a defective truck.

    Reply
    1. Tim Esterdahl April 18, 2022

      My understanding is this has been fixed with a software update although I have nothing official to go on except for what I’m reading in the forums.

      Reply
      1. Jay Stang April 19, 2022

        Awesome thanks

        Reply
  12. Zane Fees April 30, 2022

    I have a 2021 GMC Sierra with the 3.0 Duramax. I had the crank issue within 100 miles on the brand new pickup. It would do it randomly between 200 to a thousand miles. My dealership did a ECM software update that has fixed it kinda. It cranks longer now on start……so maybe they are kicking the can down the road

    Reply

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