Pickup trucks, both new and used, are extremely popular in America, with Forbes reporting that trucks are outselling cars three to one. The Chevy Silverado has been at the top of pickup popularity rankings since its release in 1999. This benchmark American truck is currently on its fourth generation redesign, but which generations are most reliable? Make a smart pickup purchase by taking into account Chevy Silverado reliability.

How Is Chevy Silverado Reliability Overall?

The Chevy Silverado has transformed multiple times over its lifespan. Many pickup buyers hear conflicting Silverado reliability reports because different model years can be very hot and cold.

The best Chevy Silverado model years have high reliability scores, such as a 4.4 out of 5 from Cars.com for the 2012 Chevy Silverado. On the other side of the coin, less successful redesigns have major recurring mechanical problems and safety issues — Chevrolet issued 23 recalls for the 2015 Silverado alone.

Is the Chevy Silverado More Reliable Than Ford?

The Chevy Silverado and Ford F150 rivalry has no clear answer and mostly comes down to brand preference. The best Silverado model years have some of the highest reliability scores for American pickups even compared to Ford trucks.

How Reliable Is a Silverado Long-Term?

A well-maintained Chevy Silverado from a successful design year is a great pick for long-term reliability. Many Chevy Silverados reach 300,000 miles without major issues.

What Is the Most Reliable Chevy Silverado Year?

Different Chevy Silverado years.

Understand each Chevy Silverado redesign to make the best choice when shopping for a used truck.

First Generation: 1999-2006

The first generation of the Silverado may not be the most reliable choice, as the vehicle underwent significant growing pains as a new full-sized truck on the market. The most common complaints from early model years are loud knocking and clanking sounds from the steering system.

Standard electrical features that are important to driver safety also commonly malfunction, including the fuel gauge and speedometer. Automotive safety blog Chevrolet Problems ranks the first-generation Silverado 72nd out of 80 for reliability out of all of the brand’s vehicles.

Second Generation: 2007-2013

In contrast, second-generation Silverado trucks are known for their reliability. Chevy ironed out many steering column issues and electrical issues with the truck’s first design overhaul. Both the high-performance V8 engine trims and everyday V6 engine trims are consistently reliable.

Some owners report transmission issues with the later model years of this generation, and the 2014 Chevy Silverado has a troublesome HVAC system. Overall, however, the second generation represents a “golden age” of Chevy Silverado reliability.

Third Generation: 2014-2018 

The third generation of the Chevy Silverado was a step backward design-wise. The most common problems with these trucks are costly transmission failures due to a poorly designed gearbox. This is especially prevalent in 8-speed transmission models.

A recent class-action lawsuit alleges that GM knowingly sold 800,000 defective 8-speed transmissions across its vehicles in the latter half of the 2010s. Replacing a Chevy Silverado gearbox can cost between $3,000 and $5,000.

Electrical components in the truck’s power steering system also fail at relatively low mileage. Some reports detail the power steering fighting the driver or turning the car the wrong way while driving, presenting a safety hazard. Even after 23 recalls, owners still report major problems with 2015 Chevy Silverados.

Fourth Generation: 2019-2024

Chevrolet recovered with the fourth-generation Silverado redesign in mid-2019. These trucks have smooth and functional transmissions, and all varieties of engine trim have high reliability ratings. Many 2019 Chevy Silverado owners reach 250,000 miles with no major issues, and trucks from this generation depreciate in value more slowly than similar trucks.

Silverado EV

The 2024 electric Chevy Silverado is a new direction for the brand, and time will tell if this innovative truck will fall on the good or bad side of Chevy Silverado reliability. Early reviews praise the Chevy Silverado EV’s 450-mile driving range and surprisingly powerful dual electric motors. The Silverado EV is a good choice for those who want a pickup truck with improved gas mileage, as previous Chevy Silverados only averaged between 12 and 18 miles per gallon.

What Are Common Problems With the Chevy Silverado?

A mechanic prepares to address Chevy Silverado reliability issues.

Chevy Silverado engines are generally reliable, whether V6 or V8, but the truck’s electrical components and transmission systems can still cause a breakdown. Look for an even-numbered Silverado generation when buying used to avoid costly design issues.

Power Steering Malfunctions

The power steering systems on many Chevy Silverados, especially from the problem generations, are prone to failure. GM recalled more than 1 million vehicles in 2018 for power steering problems that directly caused 30 crashes. Many Chevy Silverados require power steering pump replacements, which cost about $500 for parts and labor.

Electrical System Issues

Electrical issues across systems are common Chevy Silverado reliability problems. Climate control, heated seats, door locks and dashboard features can all malfunction across the Chevy Silverado’s model years.

Owners describe loose battery cable clamps and confusing wiring schemes when trying to DIY fix their Silverado electrical systems. Electrical issues can be difficult and time-consuming for mechanics because they can involve software bugs instead of tangible, visible hardware issues. Power steering complaints may also relate to the electrical problems with Chevy Silverados.

Third-Generation Transmission Issues

Third-generation Chevy Silverados may noticeably jerk when shifting gears due to poorly designed gearboxes. Any friction or stress on transmission gears increases the chances of the truck’s transmission breaking, which is a costly repair.

Always test-drive a used Chevy Silverado before buying and pay special attention to how the truck feels when it changes gears. Jerky, uncomfortable or uneven gear shifts are not normal and will cause repair headaches in the future.

How Can You Protect Yourself From Chevy Silverado Reliability Issues and Repair Bills?

A Chevy Silverado can be an ironclad full-sized pickup or a problematic vehicle depending on the model year. For the best Chevy Silverado reliability, stick to the second and fourth generations and pay close attention to ongoing recalls.A vehicle protection plan from autopom! can help you avoid expensive transmission or electrical system repair bills for a Chevy Silverado. While these plans don’t cover routine maintenance such as oil changes or brake pad replacement, they do cover costly mechanical and electrical breakdowns to give you peace of mind while driving. Contact us to learn more about our vehicle protection plan options.

By Mike Jones, President & CEO of autopom! Insurance Services, llc