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Are there new problems with GM V-8 engine lifters lurking?

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General Motors V-8 engines are no stranger to lifter problems. Owners of GM V-8 engines with Active Fuel Management (AFM) have dealt with stuck and collapsed lifters for years. But it seems a new round of lifter woes are hitting GM truck engines with relatively low mileage.

The GM lifter problems affect both the 2019-2021 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups as well as their GMT T1XX platform SUV siblings, the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.

“On the older trucks, you would see issues around the 50-100k range, whereas a lot of the new trucks’ failures are in the 4-digit mileage range,” said a dealership technician who wishes to remain anonymous. “We are seeing about one every other week, and just last week had three towed in on one day.”

What is a lifter?

For those who aren’t technical, let’s back up a moment and talk about what a lifter does. In its simplest terms, it helps open the valves in the engine. Each valve in an engine has a separate lifter, and in vehicles with active fuel management (AFM) or dynamic fuel management (DFM), which deactivate cylinders when they aren’t in use, lifters will collapse when the cylinder is deactivated so the camshaft won’t open the valve.

Understanding this, it’s not difficult to see how a problem could occur. And if you want more detailed information on a what a lifter is and does, this J.D. Power article is a great resource.

Signs of GM lifter problems

The GM lifter problems seem to be most prevalent in the L84 5.3-V-8 and L87 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8 engines with build dates between September 2020 and March 2021. These engines are the newer variable displacement design, which uses DFM rather than the older AFM system. The vehicles seem to be failing with less than 10,000 miles on the odometer. For more information on defective GM 8 speed transmission problems and class action lawsuits check out toolsbible automobile blog.

Drivers report that the issue can manifest simply as a check engine light, be as dramatic as engine shuddering/rough running, or as sudden as complete engine shutdown. Unfortunately, once the “Check Engine Light” comes on, the damage has likely already been done. The engine may make a ticking or knocking noise, which may or may not vary with engine RPM.

What went wrong?

Signs so far point to a batch of bad lifters used during engine assembly.

“They shear the locking pin inside and then they either don’t lock in a fixed position or they come out in two pieces,” our anonymous dealership technician said.

If the lifter gets stuck in the wrong position, a bent pushrod can be the result.

GM’s fix

GM is advising technicians to diagnose the misfire condition first. Identifying any engine trouble codes that may be set (typically P050D, P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, P0305, P0306, P0307, or P0308) first. Once an affected cylinder is identified, the technician can disassemble the necessary portion of the engine for confirmation.

Once a collapsed lifter or bent pushrod has been identified, the current fix is to replace only the affected cylinder head bank components. Damaged lifters are to be replaced across the entire cylinder bank, while undamaged pushrods are reused. Frustratingly, some owners report having one cylinder bank of lifters replaced, only to have the other cylinder bank fail soon after.
Parts availability has been an issue though.

“Lifters have been backordered, as well as head gaskets, and the dealers that have the parts are reluctant to sell them off to other dealers,” the anonymous dealership technician said.

Parts scarcity has been a common theme in the automotive world for the past few months due to pandemic-related supply chain issues. Dealerships are in a tough spot deciding how much stock they need to keep on hand to service their own customers versus selling parts wholesale to other dealerships.

We called one local GM dealership which did not have any lifters in stock, while a different nearby GM dealer had hundreds on hand.

The bottom line on GM lifter problems

Current owners of affected vehicles have no choice but to wait and see if they will fall victim to faulty lifters problem. Unfortunately, the GM lifter problems are currently being handled on an “as-needed” basis, so owners will have to wait and see if problems manifest on their own vehicle.

So, far GM has not issued any national recalls. Luckily, it seems that the lifters problem does have a fix that is working.

“When we can get the parts, it’s a relatively quick repair and it’s a one-and-done fix,” the anonymous dealership technician said. “I have not seen any of the new trucks having the lifters replaced and then coming back 6,000 miles with lifter failure again.”

In cruising through many online forums, I found some owners are choosing to deactivate DFM with aftermarket computer tunes and physical parts replacements. Those who choose this route should research carefully, however, as such changes may void their vehicle’s warranty. And deactivating the system may not ensure stopping a failure, as only time will tell.

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Brian Medford

With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.

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28 Comments

  1. DAY December 27, 2021

    The Custom silverado model has problems with the back up camera and the dealers won’t acknowledge the problem. It gets stuck in a Fisheye mode making it almost worthless. I’m done with Chevrolet.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous January 1, 2022

      My ram did this to I took it apart and clean connections inside tailgate problem fixed

      Reply
  2. Bill January 1, 2022

    I just had my 2021 Silverado come out of the dealer service department for this issue. I have a truck that was built 11/20 and upon my purchase I knew this problem existed. With that being said I bought a DFM disabler and still did not help my lifter failure at 4400 miles,
    My truck was dropped off on Monday had it back on Friday with no issues no scratches no dents and In the same condition it was when I gave it to them. Let’s just hope I get another 60k of trouble free miles before I trade up as I usually do.

    Reply
    1. Ken January 3, 2022

      Do you know of any owners being successful at getting both banks of lifters replaced even if the failure so far was found only on one side? My 2021 Yukon XL is in the shop now with the lifter problem, but the service team says they can only replace the one side. I have 11,000 miles on it, so it is past the 8000 mile cut off where they could have replaced both banks of lifters (according to what I read here). But I was wondering if there is a way I could push to have both banks replaced.

      Also, does anyone know about how much it would cost for me to pay for the other bank of lifters to be replaced if I wanted to do that? If the dealer is not allowed to do it yet under warranty, I am curious what it might cost if I offered to pay for it so they can do it at the same time they replace the faulty bank. Thanks

      Reply
      1. Brandon January 9, 2022

        They have to pull apart the top of engine and remove the intake manifold. Have them quote you parts and labor while the head is exposed for the other bank. Lifter bank, gaskets + labor for tear down and assembly of that one side. Without the other teardown labor.

        Reply
      2. Kenny January 27, 2022

        My truck is in the shop as I type this for the same issue. My truck made it 80k miles before the lifters failed. I had one side fail on me but I was told that the warranty company I had was paying for both sides to be replaced along with a new cam shaft. I am using an extended warranty which is outside of Chevy but I bought it from Chevy when I purchased the truck. I’m hoping this will not happen again as my warranty will expire at 100k miles and I drive a lot for work so I am now considering trading the truck in on something else. I love my truck and would rather keep it for a couple more years but I afraid of being stuck on the side of the road in another state from where I live.

        Reply
      3. John G March 2, 2022

        I offered the same to my dealer. Their estimate to do the other side was $1350. They would reduce that by $150 on their part. GMC wouldn’t help at all. Disappointed.

        Reply
      4. Gordon E Pettersen March 23, 2022

        Had the same problem. They are going by GM guidelines. Left side failed at 13,000 and they only fixed the left side stating that failure is usually in vehicles under 10k. Month later right side went pulling into a heavy traffic circle and loss of power, had to steer out of an accident. Trying to trade out of the Z71 sub into a newer year but can’t get the same options due to chip shortage.

        Reply
      5. Anonymous May 5, 2022

        GM Authority says both banks are to be replaced on these vehicles, if they are enroute to the dealership or if the vehicle is already at the dealership.

        Reply
      6. Anonymous May 5, 2022

        https://gmauthority.com

        How GM Dealers Handle Engine Valve Lifter Issues

        Reply
      7. Darren May 13, 2022

        Hi, I just am having mine done now. Bought the truck last June and has 15,000 miles on it and had the issue. They are replacing all the lifters as recommended by the certified technician.

        Reply
  3. curtis guyer January 5, 2022

    Brian, I think you may find lifter problems for other vehicles also if you research -I’m looking for an older set for a small block chevy I’m putting together- some guys are sayin you have a 50/50 chance of the new lifters (coming from China?) failing for the sbc-its either the metal they’re using or their QC sucks -And I’m finding more and more I have to modify a NEW part to make it work on a repair -not being able to find quality parts is getting real old

    Reply
  4. Anonymous January 9, 2022

    Good read on poor Chevrolet design. Great research.

    Reply
  5. David M March 4, 2022

    My 2019 GMC Sierra ate both lifters at no 8 cylinder at 71k miles. They replaced all of the lifters and cam. It just ate the same two lifters at 73k miles. Worried that this issue is here to stay as GM appears to not be willing to actually resolve the issue👺

    Reply
  6. John March 20, 2022

    My 2021 GMC AT4 is in the shop now with 15k on it. I am now trying to get all the lifters replaced because one side is bad, but GM will only replace one side, as the article says. Makes no sense, all were drawn out of same batch at manufacturing time so the odds are good there are other bad ones. Its already torn down, why would they not replace all of them. I have a 5.3. Terrible business decision….

    Reply
    1. Randy March 22, 2022

      I agree with John. It’s foolish to repair one side of the engine and not the other. I just put 21’ GMC in last week and it has 9,100 miles!! GM should warranty all the engines for this issue up to at least 50,000 miles. This could be my last GM product and I’ve owned them for over 40 years.

      Reply
  7. Michel March 23, 2022

    My 2021 Yukon AT4 has been out of service 3 times now before hitting 14,000 miles. One bank has failed twice, having to be replaced two times. The other side has been replaced once and is just a ticking time bomb to go out again. I will be filing a lemon law lawsuit.

    Reply
    1. JOHNNY May 20, 2022

      wish you lock my 2016 chevy silverado same problem at 53k #4 cyl.
      Looking for people how willing to file a
      Law sue GM shouth be respoble for the problem they now they fuck up.

      Reply
  8. Greg April 13, 2022

    I was in my way to our Chevy dealership to pick up my 2020 Yukon that just had one bank of lifters replaced when I got a call from the Tech. He said they test drove the SUV to make sure everything was ok when they heard the ticking noise which was caused by the other bank of lifters going bad. Another week of repairs.

    Reply
  9. Larry June 14, 2022

    Had the lifter problem in my 2021 Yukon SLT with 7400 miles, sent my vehicle to the dealership on June 8, 2022, they called today June 14th and said it was ready for pickup. The service manager informed me they replaced ALL 16 lifters, he informed me that GM gave authorization 3 weeks ago to fix ALL lifters even if only one side fails. That was a relief. Ran great after repair, hopefully it lasts…..

    Reply
  10. Joe Kingan June 27, 2022

    91k miles, Chirping sound lead to engine check out at dealer on 2017 6.2L.

    Scorn piston, chewed cam, lifters. New reman engine required.

    Truck in shop over a month, now waiting for back ordered engine.

    Ridiculous, No future GM vehicles for me.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous August 2, 2022

      Did they charge you for that engine or cover it as defective ?

      Reply
  11. George July 7, 2022

    2021 GMC Sierra 1500 5.3L V8 with 6k miles – lifters went on one side and dealership is changing out both sides.

    Reply
  12. Dave H August 23, 2022

    I had this issue 2 months ago on my 2020 GMC Sierra 6.2L. Cylinder 8 had the issue which they replaced the pushrod as well and that bank of lifters. Now it’s back in the shop with the same issue! Pretty disappointed in GM. I’ve been buying GM vehicles for 30 years and never had any real issue. Guest all good things come to an end.

    Reply
  13. Gmc unreliable November 9, 2022

    2021 gmc At4

    Lifter failure twice in less than 12 months.
    Failed at 14000 and 32000 miles. I will never buy another gmc or chev vehicle.

    Reply
  14. Tony R. November 11, 2022

    My 2021 GMC AT4 with the 5.3 was put in the shop last week with the Lifter Problem. It had only 9300 miles. They’re waiting for parts and I’m not sure if they’re going to replace them all, or just one side. There should be a recall to replace all lifters on both sides immediately for these trucks like mine, built in 2020 and 2021. I’m waiting for mine to be repaired so I can trade it for anther brand.

    Reply
  15. Steve Simmons November 18, 2022

    2021 Just went in with 21,000 miles on it yesterday 11/17/2022. I will call to see if I can get both sides replaced. This is my 3rd Sierra since 2004, and likely my last. My last was a 2014 SLT Pearl white, paint started peeling on it, but mechanically is was very solid, should have kept it, sold for $28k with 102k miles on it last October.

    Reply
  16. Jimmy Day November 18, 2022

    My 2021 GMC Sierra SLT had lifters replace at 7100 miles and again at 31440 miles. Luckily my dealer had parts for quick repair. My only worry is will this happen again and is the motor considered brand new now

    Reply

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