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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Duramax Failure

After experiencing a catastrophic engine failure a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across this forum and the many threads regarding similar 2.8l occurrences. I felt obligated to post my story here for all of the other "baby" Duramax owners. Please refrain from turning this into a ridiculous in-depth discussion about the molecular structure of oil and all of the related ramblings- that really got old in literally every other one of every related threads.

My 2017 Colorado ZR2 was one of the first produced and the first to hit the dealers in my area. As a powersport and off road junkie, I pounced on it especially being able to get it with the 2.8l. The truck was incredible and I raved about the engine constantly. I really believed I'd keep that truck for a decade or two.

Driving home from work, in the middle of the night I began to experience the melt down. Switching freeways and using manual downshifts on the trans, I noticed a faint noise that sounded like an exhaust leak (during the coast and using engine to slow vehicle). That noise went away upon acceleration and stayed quiet once my cruise was set just under 80mph. Twenty miles up the highway the engine abruptly quit. Once on the side of the road it wouldn't budge but the amperage draw on the starter was evident. It was clear that the engine had seized. The oil seemed to indicate that the block was fractured as well (coolant in oil).

After having it towed to my dealer and later torn apart, the devastation was exposed. The massive wrist pin was mangled and sheared off, the piston skirt was shattered, and the upper part of the connecting rod was broken in half. Discussing this with the reputable and knowledgeable technician, the suspicion was either a failed piston or pin resulting in the rest of the carnage. The engine is completely destroyed and GM has to install an entire crate motor (thankfully under warranty).

GM has no idea what happened and claims they have not seen this before. The dealer has not seen this either. That has me most worried, and resulted in me deciding to let go of the truck that I loved more than any other. I purchased a new '19 Silverado and cut ties (and worries) with my Dmax.

I'm a pilot for a major airline and officer in the USAFR. Before my USAF days, I was a Master ASE/ L1 technician for 7 years; eventually put myself trough college and went on to fly jets in the USAF. I'm not a troll or some backyard tinkerer. I maintained the truck meticulously and iaw the manual (yes, using Mobil 1 Dexos 2). I fought the urge to use oil that I usually would for a diesel (Rotella or Delo or such) and stayed in compliance with GM. While my only grumble with the truck was the EPA bullshit (and I was a licensed SMOG tech in CA once upon a time) and frozen DEF fluid which almost resulted in me tuning just to delete the exhaust system. I'm so happy that I did not!

The truck was 20 months old with 41,000 miles. Most of the miles were highway usage with cruise control set. I would estimate 5,000 of those miles were used to tow a load of roughly 3,500 in mountainous conditions. The truck has seen off road duty but in slower, rockcrawling type of nature (as opposed to abusive Baja or desert type adventures).

I'll miss the truck; it was incredibly hard to let go of (my favorite truck out of over 12 Chevy/ GM trucks over the past 25 years). Ultimately, with GM not recognizing a problem exists, it could easily rear its head again at 80,000 costing me $10-$15k to repair, which I am not OK with. Catastrophic engine failure at 41,000 is a major deal and indicated a potential major engineering or manufacturing defect. Others have posted here with similar stories but usually are discounted because of a tune. I don't mean to scare anyone, but I wanted to provide this data point so that everyone can make their own decisions regarding purchasing/ keeping one of these powertrains.

Thankfully, my local dealer is the best Chevrolet dealership I've ever been to. I've purchased over a dozen GM vehicles and have lived in many different states. These guys made a lifelong customer out of me and I will forever purchase my all of my vehicles from them (Davidson-Gebhardt in Loveland, CO). I don't have enough great things to say about them from service to sales to management (and owner).

I wish everyone the best and I hope GM finds the source of this problem and fixes it ASAP to alleviate everyone's well founded fear.
 

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Thanks for the report.
Like you did, I do love my little 2.8. However I would purchase the V6 if buying again. Not worth the very real risk of catastrophic failure and they just about always happen in the 30-65k mileage range (of course not many have higher than that).
I no longer have warranty and that I find to be a bit stressful.

Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk
 
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That really stinks, lucky it was under warranty , I currently have 87k on mine with my extended warranty set to expire at 100k , I am thinking to get rid of it before the warranty expires as I am not sure if these failures are isolated or true concerns, I would hate to get stuck with a 10-15k repair bill on a truck out of warranty .
 

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Sorry to hear about your issue. That completely sucks.

I did quite a bit of research before buying my truck, the older VM engines our motor is an updated version of were known to be quite reliable in the Holdens sold in Australia. They had some niggly issues, but nothing catastrophic like this, and generally seem to have a good reputation for longevity. Same story as the others in your case too, piston/wrist pin failure. GDE has been quiet on the specific results of their metallurgical analysis on similarly failed parts that they examined. It makes me wonder about GM sourcing engine parts out of Thailand, and the potential QC problems that may be causing. This is just stupid. Never before ever gave a thought to pistons and rods fragging in a modern engine. This **** simply should not ever happen.

The earlier VM engines were manufactured in Italy. The design is mostly the same, but the parts sourcing is different. Rod and piston kit anyone? I wonder of the OE VM parts for the older engines would fit in our trucks.

https://shop.sasquatchparts.com/vehicle/liberty-crd/liberty-crd-cylinder-block/

Can't help but be nervous as my truck is tuned and GM hide behind that and deny the warranty, even though the parts themselves appear to be the issue. Don't want to sell my truck as I really like it, and chances are it is fine. All the blown engines look 75% perfect (3 good cylinders) and then the one disaster area. I guess it is a game of piston and/or wrist pin Russian Roulette then. Always was a bit of a risk taker, but only comfortable with that when my hands are on the stick, so to speak. In this case we are all just along for the ride.
 

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Surprised to hear that GM supposedly doesnt know about this. Since this is not the first failure of that part and apparently they are the ones that spec'd a different alloy for the wrist pin from what the VM Motori (original designer) version of the motor specified.

While in the below case a tuned truck failed, it's undetermined if the tune was a factor as other non tuned trucks have also failed, I think you'll find the info useful.

https://www.coloradofans.com/forums/457-green-diesel-engineering/403987-engine-failure-report.html
 

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The way the wrist pin failures are showing up on the 2.8L, does not seem to be an upgrade from the VM Motori engine in the Holden, since they seemed to be pretty reliable over the years.
 

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I did quite a bit of research before buying my truck, the older VM engines our motor is an updated version of were known to be quite reliable in the Holdens sold in Australia. They had some niggly issues, but nothing catastrophic like this, and generally seem to have a good reputation for longevity. Same story as the others in your case too, piston/wrist pin failure. GDE has been quiet on the specific results of their metallurgical analysis on similarly failed parts that they examined. It makes me wonder about GM sourcing engine parts out of Thailand, and the potential QC problems that may be causing. This is just stupid. Never before ever gave a thought to pistons and rods fragging in a modern engine. This **** simply should not ever happen.

The earlier VM engines were manufactured in Italy. The design is mostly the same, but the parts sourcing is different. Rod and piston kit anyone? I wonder of the OE VM parts for the older engines would fit in our trucks.

The way the wrist pin failures are showing up on the 2.8L, does not seem to an upgrade from the VM Motori engine in the Holden, since they seemed to be pretty reliable over the years.

GM has been building the 2.8L XLD in Thailand since ~2011, that is the engine used in the Holden starting with MY2012. The LWN is an "updated" version of that for the North American market, it's also built in Thailand like the XLD. The XLD wasn't/isn't built by VMM in Italy.


So, there's no reason to think this has anything to do with parts or the engine being from Thailand.
 

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Thanks for that DieselDrax, makes me feel a little better. Hopefully this problem is simply a random bad batch, just a few of many parts rolling off the line.

I am more than a little troubled by GDE saying this in their thread following the metallurgical analysis, which verifies that the current GM updated parts, which have proven to be problematic, are metallurgically different from the VM parts in earlier engines:

So far we know the piston and wrist pin are different from the VM engine and that seems to be where the failures have originated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The dealer tore the engine down that far that quickly? Single post mentioning every trigger topic...
this is going to be fun to follow...
Indeed. Don’t be so quick to question the credibility of a new member and a first post. Many people lurk without posting just to get info. I wanted to share this with everyone because it is a very powerful data point and will help people make expensive decisions.

Within a couple of days they had the oil pan off of the bottom, exposing the carnage. I’m sure that only took a few hours really. GM needed that done to identify how bad it was. Then they pulled the ECM calibration to make sure it hadn’t been tuned. They then informed me that an entire crate engine was being shipped. I’ll try to add pics. I was blown away with how stout the wrist pin and rod are in these engines- and it was a twisted broken mess.
 

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Sorry to hear about this Vp.

Dam these things worry me... with the emissions issues I've had, DEF pump, oil usage, and blown turbo.

I was all happy just yesterday when I achieved my best 50 mile rating of 31.6 MPG. I said to myself what else out there can top this, in this size and towing ability, NOTHING!

But I certainly have the concerns in the back of my mind. 36,700 miles and counting.
 

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Damn, those are some ugly photos.

A thought crossed my mind, the pistons are cooled by oil jets from underneath, a common practice. If the jet of oil was not spraying properly for some reason, that could cause this, but GDE would have seen that was amiss in the engine they looked at if that was the case. It really does just seem like bad metal.

Damn, is it possible to drop the pan, pull the head and change piston and pin sets? If so, and if something suitably cool to replace them with was available, I might consider doing it for peace of mind. My street bike has a stator that is known to grenade and take the engine with it. I paid $380 for an updated one from a later year and put it in. Peace of mind...
 

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@Duken4evr , you have a point about oil cooling jets, possibly why OP heard a faint noise 20 miles prior to failure. As far as metal failure, could have been a bad batch, I remember when I had my LMM, and was fearing crank shearing at front that a few had reported, thankfully after 200k I never had one of the bad cranks.
I suspect at 144,XXX kms I have on my 2.8L I may not be blessed with poor metal or whatever has caused some to take out a cylinder, I think by now it would have crapped out if I had a faulty one. Especially with the amount of towing I do.
 

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What's kind of crazy, and very interesting, is how the wrist pin broke. The one section looks as though it cut vs snapped. Smooth, no jagged edges as if it had been machined while the rest of it looks as you'd expect from a wrist pin failure. Perhaps it's not as clean as it looks in the pictures.
 

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OP, thank you for sharing. Sucks that you went through this...

I hate reading stuff like this happening to our trucks. I was expecting to have it for a long long time....
 
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