3.0L Duramax Common Problems

The 5 Most Common 3.0L Duramax Problems

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and has been creating automotive content online since 2017. He has been the lead writer for Chevy Trucks and has transformed it from the old and outdated site it was into what it is today. Jake creates a ton of GM related content for the 8020 Media YouTube channel and specializes in Duramax and Vortec information but has a wealth of knowledge across all GM cars and engines. Jake believes the L5P is the best diesel on the market today.

General Motors designed the 3.0L Duramax for use in their full-size half-ton trucks and SUVs. It was created as an alternative to the 6.6L Duramax which is far too big for the half-ton 1500 trucks. The engine was a collaboration between GM and Opel and was introduced as an option in the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500. Although the engine is a clean-sheet design with advanced combustion and emissions technologies, it didn’t sacrifice power or efficiency. 

3.0L Duramax Common Problems

The 3.0L Duramax is an inline-six engine and has a much different configuration when compared to Ram’s 3.0L EcoDiesel or Ford’s 3.0L Powerstroke engine. It was made from cast aluminum to reduce its weight. The engine also has an Active Thermal Management system, which helps maintain optimal engine temperature for improved performance and emissions output. It is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission making it exceptionally responsive and perfect for daily drivers. GM additionally produced a smaller 2.8L Duramax that was used in the smaller Colorado and Canyon trucks.

It delivers 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque with a maximum towing capacity of 13,200 lbs in the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500, while the 2022 Silverado could tow up to 13,300 lbs. The increased towing capabilities of these trucks compared to the 9,000 lbs rating of earlier models were due to the chassis changes. With an EPA estimated 33 mpg on the highway for the 2WD and up to 30 mpg for the 4WD, the fuel economy is very impressive. The 3.0L Duramax I-6 LM2 Turbo Diesel engine is used in various vehicles, including the following.

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • GMC Yukon
  • Cadillac Escalade

Common 3.0L Duramax Engine Problems

Although the engine seems faultless upon release, the 3.0L Duramax has had its fair share of problems. However, it has remained dependable and one of GM’s most popular diesel engines. Below are some of the most common issues drivers have encountered with the 3.0L Duramax engines.

  • Crank start issues
  • Oil pump belt replacement
  • Injector failure
  • Exhaust gas recirculation failure
  • High-Pressure Fuel Pump Failure

If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our 3.0L Duramax Common Problems video below:

1) 3.0L Duramax Crank Start Issues

This is the most persistent issue that has plagued the 3.0L Duramax engine. The starter engages and cranks the engine for an extended period before starting or may fail to start. The problem has been reported in all the SUVs and trucks that GM fitted this engine, and the awful truth is that there is no specific mileage to watch out for the problem. While some drivers encountered the long crank after driving thousands of miles, some experienced it days after purchasing the truck.

It even gets worse as the actual cause of the problem is still unknown. There have been varying presumptions about the cause, and General Motors has released several TSBs. A damaged or warped camshaft position sensor wheel, faulty wiring harness, fuel pump, and actuators were all identified as the possible culprit.

In the PIP5806B TSB, the company explained that drivers might experience an intermittent extended crank or intermittent crank without starting if the trigger wheel is bent. The camshaft position sensor or trigger wheel is located close to the crankshaft and makes contact with the crankshaft during ignition to turn the engine over. Suppose the wheel is bent or damaged, it won’t make contact with the crankshaft and would need replacement. Depending on the level of damage, it could cause an extended crank or no start.

Symptoms of Crank Start Issues

  • Long crank before starting
  • Long-crank and no starts but starts on the second attempt
  • Long-crank and no-start

Replacing the trigger wheel is a strenuous and time-consuming task. It requires the total removal of the cab to access the wheel at the back of the engine, and there is still no guarantee that it would solve the problem. Some drivers have complained that the problem reoccurred or even persisted after replacing the wheel.

General Motor has also mentioned that a faulty wiring harness, actuators, or fuel pump could cause extended crank time. Recently, GM suggested that an update or software refresh of the engine’s ECU should help sort the issue, and there has been some positive feedback.

There is still no definite fix as the problem reoccurred or subsisted after several of these procedures. It is an intermittent issue that General Motors has had to deal with since the engine was released. Sometimes, they may have to attempt all the solutions highlighted above until they can identify the cause of the problem.

2) Duramax 3.0 Oil Pump Belt Replacement

Although the oil pump belt replacement is part of routine maintenance required down the line, it made our list because it is a somewhat complex procedure. The engine’s oil pump is run by a wet belt always immersed in oil. The belt is driven off the crankshaft, and they are both located at the back of the engine. The engineers adopted this design primarily to make the engine compact and quiet operation. The major drawback encountered during the engine’s design was its length.

Using a chain requires a tensioner, making the engine longer than practicable. Also, the failure of a chain in that location would be catastrophic as it could shatter into the engine causing total failure. Hence, the only alternative was to use a belt, which in the worst cause its failure would only cause the engine to overheat. The company boasted that besides being sturdy, submerging the belt inside oil allows for constant lubrication, giving the belt a long lifespan.

Regardless of the belt’s lengthy life expectancy, it still requires replacement after 150,000 miles, making the engine’s design a drawback. The belt is at the back of the engine, and gaining access to it involves the removal of the transmission. Although swapping the belt once it becomes accessible is pretty straightforward, getting to it takes several hours.

Symptoms of Failed Oil Pump Belt

  • Low oil pressure warning
  • Temperature warning
  • Overheating engine
  • Noisy fuel pump

 3) GM 3.0L Duramax I-6 LM2 Injector failure

Like most direct-injection engines, the engine has the injectors at the top of each cylinder and delivers fuel directly into the cylinder. The injector is supplied with pressurized fuel by the high-pressure fuel pump attached to the lower driver side of the engine block. Unlike indirect injection engines, direct-injection engines tend to produce higher amounts of particulate matter because the fuel and air are not uniformly mixed.

Consequently, the direct exposure of the injectors to the combustion process causes carbon to accumulate on the injector nozzle, which affects its effectiveness. Although the injectors could last as long as your vehicle, you may want to consider replacing the injector if you notice the following symptoms:

Symptoms of a Failed Injector

  • Rough idle
  • Lean fuel mixture
  • Reduced fuel efficiency
  • Engine misfire
  • Reduced engine performance
  • Illuminated check engine light
  • Crank but no start

The best way of ensuring your injector longevity is by using fuel additives. Fuel additives perform two main functions — they provide lubricity to protect the fuel injectors from wearing out and prevent deposit buildup on the nozzle by flushing the injectors to get rid of the deposit.

4) 3.0 Duramax Exhaust Gas Recirculation Failure

With the increasing limitations on vehicular emissions, manufacturers have deployed several means to meet emission standards. The 3.0L Duramax uses an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and exhaust aftertreatment systems to reduce exhaust emission. The engine’s aftertreatment system combines both the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) converter and Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) into the Selective Catalytic Reduction on Filter (SCRoF).

The EGR system cuts down nitrogen oxide emissions by recirculating a portion of the exhaust gas back to the engine cylinders to dilute the oxygen in the incoming air stream. The SCRoF system further refines the exhaust gas to reduce nitrogen oxide production and eliminate particulate matter.

Although the EGR system uses a low-pressure EGR alongside a conventional high-pressure EGR system for overall engine efficiency, the system has been known to experience some issues down the line. Oftentimes, the EGR valve gets clogged up with carbon deposits, or the cooler may crack after repeated recycling of extreme temperatures. Consequently, these components would need repair or replacement.

Symptoms of Exhaust Gas Recirculation System Failure

  • Rough idle
  • Poor engine performance
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Increased emission
  • Knocking noise from the engine
  • Illuminated check engine light

While GM claims that the clean-sheet design makes the treatment of the engine exhaust gases more efficient and reliable than the traditional DPF and SCR system, the failure of the EGR is a problem that has plagued diesel engines.

5. Duramax 3.0L Turbo Engine High-Pressure Fuel Pump Failure

The demand for reduced exhaust emissions brought about direct fuel injection engines, and high fuel pressure fuel pumps were introduced to counter the engine’s compression pressure. Like all direct injection engines, the 3.0L Duramax engine has a high-pressure fuel pump that delivers pressurized fuel to the injectors for combustion.

However, the pump can only last so long — it has an estimated lifespan of 100,000 miles and depending on the driving habits, it could wear down earlier than expected. Unlike the oil pump belt service or trigger wheel replacement, the high-pressure pump replacement does not require dropping the transmission — it is easily accessible by removing the oil pan.

Symptoms of a Failed High-Pressure Pump

  • Reduced fuel efficiency
  • Delayed start
  • Hesitant acceleration
  • Low fuel pressure
  • Power loss
  • Rough idle

Replacing the high-pressure pump is inevitable. However, you can prolong the pump’s lifespan with good maintenance culture and avoid running on low fuel.

3.0L Duramax Reliability

The crank no start issue is the major problem that has ravaged the 3.0L Duramax. Sometimes, the dealership may have to attempt several possible causes before detecting the problem, meaning your truck may stay longer at the dealership. Besides this issue, the other issues discussed, including oil pump belt replacement, high-pressure fuel pump failure, clogged injectors, and EGR failure, are all problems you will have to deal with as part of your maintenance service.

While the crank no start issue and the service requirement of the oil pump belt after 150,000 miles has brought the engine’s reliability into question, it has performed exceptionally since its release. It has proven itself to be a great workhorse, providing the daily drivers with an excellent alternative and just the right amount of power they need to get through their day-to-day activities. 

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  1. I bought a 2020 gmc 1500 Duramax. The check engine light keep coming on and going off. I cared it to dealership couple times. They couldn’t find anything wrong with. When it had 40 some thousand miles it stayed coming on more and more. And got to where when it came on it wouldn’t go into over drive. Dealership ended up putting new transmission in it

    1. Have a 2022 redesigned sierra crew cab elevation 3.0 duramax .at 1322 mileage threw engine code for P2C7A . Aside that truck runs really good, at dealer in pasadena they made it a horrible experience aside denting and scratching the truck..that dealer added 117 miles and kept it 10 day and from what I saw on ny dash cam the work they did in 10 days was maybe 1 hour and they drove 117 miles in one day. A day later At 1478 i had check engine again for same issue brought it to cerritos gmc and the experience was very pleasant. So far it seems alot some diesel have that emmision issue . Hope they come out with an update to fix that issue. Truck is awesome aside that issue.

  2. I purchased 2020 In January the engine light was on when I got it dealership said it was not a problem took it in several times they put over 500 miles on it I finally got it back at the end of April with the light off it comes on every one e in a while but turn back off issues of oil and gas mileage gets about 20 mpg not 30 very disappointed about Chevy product…….

  3. Glow plugs were an issue during turbo diesel in vertical cast iron block, when engine turn over
    were hard first thing from long cool down periods. Gas engines combust fuel, diesel compress.
    Could COLD block temperature be another reason LM2 diesel are so hard to start?
    Glow plugs warm diesel to 488 degrees, unlike Spark plugs to 108 degrees in gasoline.

      1. I’ve never seen one without one but my experience with all diesels I’ve driven or worked on, they all had a glow plug light that came on when you turned the ignition on until right before the engine cranks. You leave the ignition on in this position until the light has gone off then turn the engine over to crank it.

    1. Bought a 22 gmc 3.0 diesel any start up under 40 degrees will shake and rough idle for a minute then smooth out and operate fine

  4. I bought a 2020 1500 sierra 3.0l Turbo diesel. Fuel Economy and power is second to none. Just amazing. But Check engine light came on at 200 km lol. The truck has been to the dealership about 25 times in just 2 years
    (no exaggeration).
    I don’t tow with it or do anything heavy all, Just light city and highway driving.
    In conclusion, American vehicles, no matter what the brand is, are all pile of problems. Toyota NEVER fails.
    I’m trading mine for a Tundra. In vehicles the most important thing is their reliability everything else is gimmicks.

  5. I bought a 2021 Chevy 1500 Silverado with a 3.0 l Duramax. I have just under 19,000 miles and last Thursday 20 Oct 2022 I had a message come across my dash saying there is water in the fuel. I took it to the dealership the next day and they show me a sample of the fuel they drained out of the fuel tank, and it had what looked like oil in the bottom of the glass they took the sample with. Now the dealership is telling me that it was vandalism cause they could not make out what the substance is.
    Am I crazy to think that this should be covered under warranty? Asking for a friend.

    1. Brian – sounds like a warranty issue to me…vandalism seems like an aggressive thing for them to point to. That would require someone to intentionally open your gas tank and pour something into it…

    2. The dealership is saying “vandalism” because most insurance companies will cover the fuel system replacement if claimed under vandalism. The dealership just doesn’t want to pay.

  6. I bought a 2021 Silverado Duramax 3.0l it has 12k miles on it. it has been at the shop for over a month now, had it towed in for a lifter failure, they replaced it and now the second one has failed. at this point I would like a buyback, but the dealership is saying that that’s between GMC and me. Curious if anyone else has had this issue?

  7. Sierra duramax 3.0 L 2020. I have a light that comes on occasionally. I use my truck without a load from November to April .. on my first annual trip with a load (camper) There is a light that comes on .. oil pressure ok .. temperature ok .. I continue to drive but before stopping I leave the engine running for 1 minute …. 2 stops and the light is not there anymore .. so I think the detector is somewhere too similar or you have to let the exase line purify itself. No other problem 48,000 km

  8. I have a 2021 gmc Sierra 1500 with the 3.0 diesel. The P2C7A code has come up 8 times since I bought the truck. 6 times since June. It’s been in the shop for the 5th time to day 4 times for p2 code and once for a bad oil sensor 28 days in the shop as of now. Told GMC I want it fixed right or bought back. Most expensive vehicle I have ever bought and so far the most headaches.

  9. Bought 2022 Silverado w/3.0 Duramax in June. Everything has been great till today. Just turned 4K miles. Started up, let it warm up and drove 100ft and it shut down. Message on dash said shift to neutral and start again. Drove another 100ft and shut down again. Happened 4 times. After the 4th time, new message said Engine is in reduced power mode. Luckily I made it to a gas station. Next I see ESC on dash. Then I get a text from Onstar and it says Service Engine and Transmission within 1 day. I checked the def and it’s at 1/2 full and fuel is also at 1/2 full. Called dealer and they sent a flatbed to pick it up. Walked home since I only made it 1/4 mile. What a bummer. No truck and no rentals/loaner available. Merry Christmas!

    1. Realistically I wouldn’t buy any half-ton diesel but that’s just me personally, for me it’s the 6.6L or probably stick with the gasser. If you aren’t towing heavy the new 2.7L Turbo could be a good choice. If I were to buy one it would be a 2023 with the LZ0 engine.

      Diesel fuel is also still a solid $2 more expensive than low-grade so do the mileage benefits really help?

  10. I bought a 2020 GMC Sierra 3.0 Liter Turbo Diesel back in late November, and I’ve had it back to the dealer multiple times in less than 3 months. I really like the truck and wanted this specific engine because I have a relatively short commute (20 mins) but also wanted to the towing capability for towing a travel trailer camper. The power is there but I’ve had several issues in the 2 1/2 months since I’ve owned it. The truck has just over 60,000 miles on it but is under a Lifetime Powertrain Warranty. The first issue I had (3 weeks after I bought it) was a P2635 code pop up, Fuel Pump Flow Performance. Dealer looked at it and said nothing was wrong with it after they tested the fuel and all, and told me to put in some diesel fuel additive. Check engine light stayed off until about another 3 weeks later. I stalled out at a stop sign…no power at all…had to get it towed back home (long story short…it was a nightmare). Anyway, dealer towed it back up by them and found that the ground straps melted through. They still don’t know what caused it but they fixed that issue. 3 days after I picked my truck up the check engine light came on again!! The same code P2635, Fuel Pump Flow Performance, popped up again. The truck seems to run fine, however, I have noticed a dip in MPG recently. Anyone have any suggestions? Bad fuel pump? Fuel Pump Relay? ECM? Need some help here, thanks.

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