really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
91,820 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 GMC Sierra 1500 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 GMC Sierra 1500 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #49

Jan 042017

Sierra 1500

  • 180,000 miles


My truck hadn't been driven for a couple of weeks, but there was no indication of anything amiss the last time I drove it. The truck is parked at the top of a approx. 40ft. Long driveway that is moderately steep. I started the truck and slowly began backing down the driveway and the brake pedal went all the way to the floor. It flew down the driveway, going between a parked car and another steep hill, winding up in my neighbors front yard, where I managed to abruptly turn it and bring it to a stop before going thru his living room. Frequently, there are as many as 6to8 kids playing there, but being a bad weather day(cold),, luckily, there was nobody there. The possibilities of a terrible disaster are frightening. As it stands, the only 'disasters' are the ruts in my neighbors yard, a destroyed recycling container and my bank account, -to a tune of just over 1700$. my mechanic says he has done over a half dozen of these repairs lately. To my way of thinking, GM is seriously negligent regarding this problem, which I have discovered is fairly common. Are they waiting to see how many horrific events occur before addressing this" at the very least, they should give reimbursement to those of us that have gone thru this. And where is NHTSA's action on this issue??"

- Kirkwood, MO, USA

problem #48

Oct 292016

Sierra 1500

  • 80,000 miles
Started my vehicle applied the brake to shift to drive and the brake pedal went to the floor. I got out of the vehicle and there was a puddle of brake fluid on the ground on the driver side under where the drivers seat is. There was brake fluid dripping from a rusted brake line. I'm lucky this happened when the vehicle was stopped and not while I needed stop because it was a complete loss of brakes.

- Manahawkin, NJ, USA

problem #47

May 282016

Sierra 1500

  • 82,000 miles
Brakes failed while on boat ramp causing boat to knock me down under trailer as I was pulling drain plug.driver was able to apply parking brake and putting truck in drive. Brake lines failed brake petal when to floor rusted lines. Then found out that is very common with GM trucks in this year. Result I am pissed, a notice from GM would have been nice. What would happen if I had to stop at a intersection or on the interstate.

- Ruther Glen, VA, USA

problem #46

Aug 222014

Sierra 1500

  • 144,917 miles


The contact owns a 2003 GMC Sierra 1500. While driving approximately 40 mph, the brake pedal was depressed and traveled to the floorboard. The contact noticed brake fluid leaking from the vehicle. In addition, the rear seat belt latch failed to function. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the brake line needed to be repaired. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 144,917.

- Owens Mill, MD, USA

problem #45

Dec 112015

Sierra 1500

  • 62,000 miles
The ABS activates at low speed braking under dry road conditions without the tires locking up. The brake pedal vibrates as if I were on ice with the tires locked up. Braking effect is reduced under these conditions. This happens randomly and when it does I cannot be sure if I can stop in time before hitting the vehicle or object in front of me.

- St. Clair Shores, MI, USA

problem #44

Nov 232015

Sierra 1500

  • 82,000 miles
82K miles, original owner, well maintained and garaged. Had to stop at a red light and the pedal went to the floor as I went into the intersection.luckily no other cars were ahead of me and nobody was hurt. Dic lights came on and brakes have not worked since limping my vehicle back home.

- Davison, MI, USA

problem #43

Nov 032015

Sierra 1500

  • 50,000 miles


Brake line failure complete loss of brakes while driving on hwy off ramp.

- Pfafftown, NC, USA

problem #42

Sep 272015

Sierra 1500

  • 150,000 miles
Pulling to a stop in my driveway my brakes slowed the truck and then completely gave way with the pedal hitting the floor. I stomped on the emergency brake pedal to keep from hitting the porch. I am so lucky to have that happen at low speed off the road. That could have been a tragedy on the highway. Turns out that my brake lines are severely rusted and one of the 2 lines coming off the master cylinder now has a pinhole leak immediately above the frame where it bends 90 degrees to go back to the ABS manifold. Applying the brakes just squirts fluid out of the line. I thought a single failure was supposed to result in reduced braking power, not complete loss of brakes. Note that my truck is in otherwise great shape and I simply had no idea. It is clear that the NHTSA has been bamboozled by GM. Brake lines are a critical life safety system, installed on and in some places in the chassis before the vehicle body and bed are attached. It is not routine maintenance to rinse the brake lines let alone replace them. GM pushing this back on the customer is complete bs. You can buy nylon coated or stainless steel brake lines for less than 100 $. the incremental cost to go from steel to something that would last the operational life of the vehicle is less than 50 $. I'm waiting on an estimate from my non-dealer shop, but a dealer charging 3600 $ is not surprising considering the amount of labor that must be involved. The NHTSA decision on the issue is unconscionable. Guess it might have been different if they had run over a child at a crosswalk or if their child was mowed down by corporate greed. Hopefully that never happens, but with so many rotting GM trucks on the road, we will have to keep our fingers crossed.

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #41

Sep 252015

Sierra 1500

  • 96,000 miles
I was on my way home running 45 mph in light traffic. When I went to make a left hand turn and my brake pedal went to the floor. Scared the hell out of me. I was able to pump them enough to make the turn and luckily I was only three blocks from my home. I was able to coast it home. I raised the hood and all the brake lines are so rusty. I had my wife step on the brake and you can see one line busted. I checked with dealer and they don't offer replacement parts. You have pay someone to make the lines for you.

- Blue Springs, MO, USA

problem #40

Sep 212015

Sierra 1500

  • 41,765 miles
Turning into an auto parts store, from the highway, when I applied the brakes the pedal went clear to the floor. My truck slowed but not enough if anyone walking or a car had been there I would have hit them. I was very lucky. Of the four brake lines one burst, two were seeping, but not dripping and the rear line was almost as bad as the other lines and its a wonder it didn't break at the same time. Going home I would have gone down a very steep hill with a stoplight and a very busy intersection. It could have been a disaster. This is a low mileage truck, seldom driven in snow.

- Independence, MO, USA

problem #39

Aug 122015

Sierra 1500

  • 104,816 miles


I was towing my 33' travel trailer with my very well maintained 2003 GMC Sierra 1500 pick up truck. After a four and a half hour trip on the interstate highway doing 65 mph, I arrived at my campground. As I was backing my trailer into my camp site, my brake pedal went to the floor and my dashboard lit up with warning lights. I had complete brake failure. I put the truck in park and got out to look under the truck. Right below the driver seat, brake fluid was pouring out of the brake line which had burst open. I had no brakes. Thank god this happened while I was backing the trailer in at 2 mph. Minutes prior to this I was going 65 mph on the highway, towing a 33' trailer. I shutter to think what could have happened if this line burst while at highway speeds. My wife and I were freaked out for days thinking about what could have happened. We had to have the truck towed to a repair shop and endure a very expensive replacement of all the brake lines, which were completely corroded. While the truck was being fixed I did some research on this problem and found that there were many, many, complaints about this exact same problem concerning 1999 - 2003 GMC and Chevy pick up trucks and other models. GM claims that you would still have some brakes because there are separate brake lines to the front and rear brakes. This is true, but I lost so much fluid, so fast, I had no brakes. Does someone always have to die before they force a recall? there are so many complaints on this matter and I know there is an on going investigation by the NHTSA. Enough investigating, force the recall before someone dies if they haven't already.

- Manhattan, IL, USA

problem #38

Aug 092015

Sierra 1500

  • 42,000 miles
On 8/9/15 at approximately 3:25pm an individual pull out in front of me. When I applied the brakes to keep from hitting him, the brake pedal went all the way to the floor board. I noticed at the time the "service brake system" indication was showing on the driver cid. I was able to drive the truck to a safe location and park it. I looked under the vehicle and noticed brake fluid on the ground under the right front wheel. The tow truck driver also checked and noticed brake fluid shooting up when the hood was up. At that time, he noticed the right front brake line had rusted through. The truck was then towed to cunningham GMC in springfield, tn.

- Springfield, TN, USA

problem #37

Apr 032015

Sierra 1500 4WD 8-cyl

  • 112,187 miles
Complete brake failure. All brake lines rusted out. Had to use the emergency brake to stop. Brake pedal went all the way to the floor. All the brake fluid was gone. Spent $1008 to fix the vehicle. No previous warning, no message until there was the complete brake failure.

- Lutz, FL, USA

problem #36

Apr 032015

Sierra 1500 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 GMC Sierra 1500. While driving at 65 mph, the brake pedal was depressed but the vehicle failed to stop. The contact had to engage the emergency brake in order to stop the vehicle. In addition, the contact stated that brake failure was displayed across the message board and a chime was heard. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The mechanic diagnosed that the brake lines were corroded and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 112,000...updated 05-26-15 the consumer stated both brake lines failed. Updated 11/20/2015

- Lutz, FL, USA

problem #35

Jan 162015

Sierra 1500

  • 110,000 miles
While driving to the store I applied the brake and it went straight to floor without any pre-warning of a brake issue. I was able to stop without crashing and found that the brake line routed over the gas tank rusted through spilling out brake fluid which caused the brake reservoir to empty. After doing some research NHTSA is well aware of the rusted brake lines on GM models, so I am not telling you anything new. I expect alternators, starter motors, and other mechanical components to fail and need replaced but brake lines should be manufactured using stainless steel. How can this be any different than a car ignition turning off causing potential crashes and loss of life. NHTSA should have GM recall vehicles and/or reimburse owners for this highly potential safety issue.

- Anderson, IN, USA

problem #34

Dec 202014

Sierra 1500 4WD 8-cyl

  • 56,455 miles
Truck was being driven in traffic and as approaching stop light and brakes were applied petal went all the way to floor and had to swerve to miss stopped traffic. Upon inspection brake line on drivers front side of truck and laying on top of the frame was rusted almost completely in half! quick thinking avoided accident.this truck has only been driven on city streets and never off road four wheeling and feel this is manufacturing defect as stainless steels lines should not rust in half if in fact they are stainless steel to begin with.truck is at GMC now to be repaired.

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #33

Sep 262014

Sierra 1500

  • 70,000 miles
Entered 1st lane of traffic, accelerated and entered second lane. At that time traffic slowed abruptly. Applied pressure to brake, brake pedal went to the floor--pumped brake, total failure causing me to hit vehicle in front of me. Applied emergency brake to stop vehicle, however tractor trailer was behind honking horn, came within inches of hitting me. With emergency brake applied, forced truck to breakdown lane. Luckily no injuries--just car damage including a new front bumper that had just been replaced due to chronic GM rusting. Tow truck arrived--driver notices severe brake fluid drainage on ground and on truck bed when raised up. Truck brought to repair shop, where mechanic reported all brake lines burst due to severe corrosion. Mechanic stated--no wonder you didn't have any brakes because all lines failed--not surprised due to GMC having brake line issues. Needless to say--traumatic experience that could have been a lot worse under different traffic conditions. Think about child running across road--tractor trailer not being able to stop in time....higher speed on the highway-- think about it--I certainly am!!!

- Charlton, MA, USA

problem #32

Aug 272014

Sierra 1500

  • 120,000 miles
Attempted to stop at red light. Brake pedal went to floor. Swerved to not rear-end car in front. Ran red light because unable to stop. Pulled into residential side street and slammed into park. Brakes would not stop the truck. Not towing any load. No load in truck bed. Upon investigation after stopping, brake fluid spraying out left rear brake line near axle when pedal depressed.

- Tipp City, OH, USA

problem #31

Aug 142014

Sierra 1500 8-cyl

  • 199,000 miles
When attempting to use brakes at highway speeds (70-75 mph), pedal went immediately to floor with very little effort. Pedal had held firm moments before. No reduction in speed from pumping pedal. No warning of malfunction until danger was imminent. A certain crash was avoided if evasive driving was not implemented with a combination of shifting to neutral, kicking on the emergency brake, and shifting to the berm. Stopping distance estimated to be at least a half mile to 3/4. vehicle suffered minor front end damage from using the berm to avoid other vehicles. Upon further investigation, a hard steel rear brake line above frame had fully rusted through. It had come apart with a large window, rather than a small perforation which would have allowed some brake modulation.

- Northville, MI, USA

problem #30

Jun 012014

Sierra 1500 8-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Brake lines rusting out. Vehicle not drivable.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

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