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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
120,283 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Chevrolet Avalanche brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Chevrolet Avalanche Owner Comments (Page 1 of 4)

problem #78

Aug 172016


  • 125,623 miles


Lost total braking at red light at busy intersection,45 mph with the grace of god avoided a broadside hit, just missed a child on a bike, this was caused by a rusted brake line. What happen to the safety back-up in this design ? this is wrong. In so many ways. In the usa we need to hold our safety to its highest. How many will die before this problem is resolved.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #77

Jun 272016


  • 179,000 miles
I lost the complete hydraulic braking system due to a line(s) burst due to rust. Thankfully I was just coming out of a parking lot so I was not going fast. My foot immediately went to the floor, the warning sound and indicator came on, but I had absolutely no brakes other than the emergency brake, which I used to pull over. It goes to the shop on Tuesday so I will know then the extent of the damage. Had I been going 30 or 40 and coming to a crowed intersection, someone surely would have been hurt, there would have been absolutely no way for me to stop in time. I had no pre-warning of an issue, no low fluid indications, no brake warning lights, just my foot going to the floor. Pretty scary.

- Amity Harbor, NY, USA

problem #76

Apr 162016


  • 222,000 miles
Sitting at a stop light the brakes failed. Holding the brake while waiting for the light to change, the pedal all of a sudden went to the floor. When I began moving I had to keep the truck below 30 mph to allow the brakes to work with increased stopping distance factored in. After about a 5 mile drive home, checked the brakes and noticed a leak from rusted brake lines near the driver's door. Truck cannot be safely driven until rusted lines are replaced. No ability to make a regular stop much less an emergency stop in the present condition.

- Bel Air, MD, USA

problem #75

Mar 262016


  • 170,000 miles


My 17 year old son was on the freeway and the brake pedal travelled all the way to the floor while attempting to stop. The service brake system light came on at the same time. Stopping distance was increased dramatically, by at least double. If there would have been a curve or car in front of him there would have been an accident. Parked the truck until it could be inspected and found a leak under driver side front door. All of the main brake pipes were rusted and fragile. Taking truck to dealership to have all brake pipes replaced with kit mentioned in (tsb) 13-05-22-001. I am very disappointed that GM is fighting a recall by sighting the fact that there are two different brake systems and it is not a safety issue. What if the rusted brake lines for both systems failed. At the very least it seems that having your stopping distance increase by almost double with out warning is a safety issue.

- Westerville, OH, USA

problem #74

Nov 212015


  • 130,000 miles
Driving 50mph coming up to a red light with cross traffic attempted to stop and peddle went down to the floor. Narrowly missed a possibly deadly accident. Found that the front brake line had rusted through. Very surprised since there is very little rust on the underside of this truck. It would have been nice to have known about this potential issue.

- Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #73

Sep 172015


  • 144,937 miles
While driving my 2003 Chevy Avalanche to work during rush hour traffic, another driver hit their brakes abruptly in front of me. This happens often during rush hour traffic in the morning in columbus, oh. I hit my brakes and they went to the floor! after I pumped them a few quick time, I ran the truck off the road while looking for any additional safe exit strategies. I down shifted, and had a very small amount of brake approximately 1/2" of usable pedal just above the floor board. I have read about the brake line problems, and have been fixing things on the truck since I got it. My wife's Toyota rav4 is 1 year newer (2004) and the underside of her car glistens compared to our Chevy Avalanche. The kicker: She drives her rav4 every weekday even during snowy weather, and I drive the Avalanche only once a week! I own another vehicle (1997 Buick) I usually drive. The under side of the Avalanche is the epitome of rust - not just the brake lines but everywhere! when did brake lines become a wear part" I am pleading to your humane treatment of people over profit. This is exactly what this is; GM took extreme shortcuts, all parts under the truck are rusting badly more than any vehicle I have seen in my life. This isn't a northeast or snow belt problem, this is a GM problem. Will you please prevent this travesty from continuing before more people die unnecessarily? split braking systems were made a requirement, and GM is hiding behind that requirement. Was that the NHTSA intent to permit higher profits with the split braking systems? that is what GM is using it for and at the expense of peoples lives. Which is more important profit or lives" have a nice day!

- Circleville, OH, USA

problem #72

Aug 292015


  • 55,000 miles


Primary master cylinder brake line burst lost brakes.

- Brookston, IN, USA

problem #71

Jul 292015


  • 179,000 miles
Brake line failure: I had a ruptured steel break line failure while applying normal breaking pressure on the pedal. After further inspection of break lines, I found all break lines were rusted and in danger of also rupture.

- Cape Carteret, NC, USA

problem #70

Jun 032013


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche. While driving at an unknown speed, the brake pedal extended to the floor when it was depressed. The contact discovered that the brake lines near the driver side door were rusted and corroded, and brake fluid had leaked from the vehicle. The contact indicated that the brake lines had been previously replaced on the vehicle due to rusting and corrosion. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 150,000.

- Greene, NY, USA

problem #69

May 172015


  • 186,034 miles
Towing a small landscape trailer, pushed brakes, pedal goes low. Got home, entire frame on drivers side soaked with brake fluid. Had my 2 girls in the car. Not happy. I have never had a car have the brake line rust out before.

- Westminster, MA, USA

problem #68

Apr 262015

Avalanche 4WD 8-cyl

  • 100,000 miles


2003 2500 Avalanche brake lines heavily rusted deep pits below driver seat and along left frame rail will replace.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #67

Jan 092015

Avalanche 4WD 8-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Vehicle experienced complete brake failure upon slowing for a traffic light. This was compounded by the downhill orientation of the road surface. Left roadway to avoid collision with tractor-trailer. There was no warning or indication of an impending brake failure. No indication that any part of the braking system was still functioning. It was discovered upon inspection that the brake lines were excessively corroded compared with other body and engine components. Metal composition of brake tubing seems very prone to corrosion. Complete brake line replacement of the entire system is now necessary.

- Inman, SC, USA

problem #66

Feb 242015

Avalanche 4WD 8-cyl

  • 96,522 miles
The rear brake line burst catastrophically and my brake pedal went to the floor. I was coming up to stopped cars at an intersection and had to swerve into the oncoming lane to avoid rear ending another truck. Luckily there were no cars in the lane at the time. I then had to make a sharp turn into a shopping center parking lot to avoid running through the intersection (which did have traffic). I had zero braking power whatsoever. I tried pushing down the emergency brake and it had no effect ( I later found that the emergency brake lines were frozen in a large chunk of ice near the drivers side rear wheel and would not move). The pickup bed drains down onto the lower frame in this area and that accounted for the ice buildup. I continued through the shopping center parking lot and all I could to was downshift to slow myself down. Lucky again...the parking lot was nearly empty and very long. After about 4-500 ft I was going slow enough that I was able to jam the transmission into park. There was no warning of this failure. The lines were not leaking. I have now read online that GM has had many complaints of rusted lines on their pickups suddenly failing. This could have been a life threatening situation. Brake lines should not suddenly fail. They should last the life of the vehicle. Non-corrosive nickle copper brake lines exist that do not rust. These should be mandatory on all vehicles.

- North Royalton, OH, USA

problem #65

Oct 152014


  • 119,400 miles
It started with the airbag light, but nobody will own up to fixing it, as we moved from pa to fl. Then the brake lines went, all of them, now with the airbag issue the PCM is sending all kinds of stupid codes like the airbag issue is affecting the whole electrical system in the truck.

- Cape Coral, FL, USA

problem #64

Oct 152014


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche 1500. The contact stated while driving approximately 40 mph attempting to applied the brakes, the front drivers side brake line fractured. The contact repaired the brake line independently. However, the failure recurred on the rear drivers side brake line. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000.

- Tuiahcui, OH, USA

problem #63

Jan 142015

Avalanche 4WD

  • 99,000 miles
My son was driving home from ice fishing, on a hilly and curvy road when the brakes failed. He had no brakes at all, he avoid a few tree before smashing into a smaller tree just missing were his friend was seated.the truck has been very well taken care of and was in great condition. I had the truck towed to a Chevy dealer were it has about $5000 dollars in damage. I just glad my son and his didn't get hurt.

- East Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #62

Jul 102013


  • 99,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche. While driving 10 mph and attempting to stop the vehicle, the ABS warning light illuminated. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the brake lines needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 99,000.

- Hobart, IN, USA

problem #61

Dec 312014


  • 105,000 miles
Driving home the brakes went to floor when stopping. Break fluid was everywhere. Front brake line broke. All brake lines extremely rusty and need replaced. Live in North Carolina very little salt on roads.

- Jamestown, NC, USA

problem #60

Dec 202014


  • 120,000 miles
I have a 2003 truck that is regularly serviced at GM dealerships and another professional shop. I alternate shops to make sure I am getting the best service and making sure any problems are caught before they are serious. I wash my truck on a regular basis always getting the underbody/chassis washed off. So, the vehicle is taken care of and kept up.the incident above luckily happened when I was backing up my truck to connect to a trailer. The brake lines burst under the driver side leaking oil all over when the brakes were applied lightly.. glad it didn't happen fully loaded driving through a school zone on a weekday. Since there are several schools and bus stops near me. When attempting to repair professionally the lines kept developing leaks affecting several lines and different areas. Not once did either of the shops including GM dealership ever tell me there was a problem with my brake lines. If you are supposed to check this as a regular maintenance issue than why don't GM shops do it. There is no excuse why these lines are failing this soon, other than inferior materials being used. It seems GM used inferior steel material in the early 2000S as can be seen by the corrosion that is seen on trucks of this era. I have never seen so much corrosion on vehicles of similar age from other years. The scary part is these trucks usually have several tons of weight behind them, let alone the trucks own weight of over 3 tons. Everyday these vehicles are on our highways and streets driving through residential and school zones. When you lose brakes you are not going to regain control until something stops it and the tons on back of it.

- Dubuque, IA, USA

problem #59

Dec 122014


  • 223,000 miles
While driving in normal traffic my son brake the vehicle and the peddle went to the floor. He pulled it home and into our driveway and brake fluid was leaking all over the drive. Turns out the right rear brake line burst.

- Fort Wayne, IN, USA

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