Owners of old BMWs are no strangers to getting stranded and having to wait for a tow, but drift car driver Andrew May was caught off-guard when the Chevy Silverado 3500 HD that tows his BMW E36 mysteriously broke down. The pickup refused to start when Andrew and his family were at a drift competition in Englishtown, New Jersey, and their truck troubles only got worse from there.
You won’t believe what turned out to be the problem in the relatively new Chevy, which was repaired months later and after a great deal of trouble. First, we’re inviting readers to guess what was actually wrong with the dually, which baffled Andrew, his drift support crew and Chevrolet’s dealership techs alike.
But the May family’s 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD is the beating heart of the operation, ferrying the family and drift car to competitions and exhibitions from the East to West Coast on a regular basis. The Chevy has a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 and 10-speed Allison transmission. It has 84,000 miles on the odometer, so it’s barely broken in. And it’s a Silverado High Country, meaning it has all the niceties on top of its mechanical bona fides.
One day, after putting the BMW into a concrete wall while drifting, Andrew’s wife went to fetch the Silverado but the truck wouldn’t start. Andrew was stuck performing a bit of triage, juggling a track-side repair using two other duallys to pull out his BMW’s collapsed shock tower while dealing with the dead truck. He figured it was an electrical issue, maybe related to the battery or starter.
After the mayhem of the race and the BMW repair, Andrew got the truck to a dealer in New Jersey where it spent the next ten days. The folks at E-Town were nice enough to move the family’s RV to a lot where they could stay while the truck was undergoing repairs. Temperatures would reach 100 degrees, and the Mays were down on power and water. Not ideal.
The (first) dealership confirmed there was no power going to the starter, and the culprit seemed to be a solid-state 550 amp fuse that went out. But replacing it would require swapping out the whole fuse block, and, no, it wasn’t covered under warranty as it wasn’t powertrain-related. The dealer put in a new starter and fuse block and the Mays made it to their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
About a week later, disaster struck again. The Silverado started having the same issues, as Andrew tells me:
And it kept doing the same thing. It kept blowing this fuse, the solid state fuse, and no one could figure out why. They swapped out the fuse block again. There was a few times where they think, ‘O.K., it’s fixed.’ I go get it, and then the same day I have to bring it back or it just doesn’t start.
The second dealer told Andrew the starter seemed to be OK but they swapped it out anyway. Ditto the fuse block. Andrew was heading to the West Coast soon, so he played it safe, and asked for a spare fuse block in case the truck broke down. God forbid in the middle of nowhere — in stupid big Texas or the Southwest.
Andrew went on, telling me:
So, I leave. I drive two or three stops, just running little errands and...it doesn’t start again. Same thing, have to get it towed. So they redo the whole thing, replace the fuse block. All this kind of stuff — they replaced some module on it. They thought that was it. Now this repair has been another five weeks after the first breakdown.
I go get it. I drive it, but same day, the check engine light comes on. And it starts, but it’s not happy about it. I drove it straight back to the dealer. They were closed so I left it in the parking lot and put the keys in the dropbox.
Another week later, Andrew got a phone call and the Chevy tech on the other line said, “Hey, we swapped out the fuse block again. And we went to test drive it...and something blew up.”
Andrew replied, “Describe “blew up.”
The tech said, “Well, there was a loud sound and now we can’t get it to turn over.”
Andrew asked if they were trying to turn the crank manually and the tech confirmed they were, which didn’t bode well. In fact, somewhere in all this — through many weeks of replacing modules and fuse block after fuse block — the dealer even dropped the transmission and pulled the flywheel. Just in case.
That wasn’t it either, and the dealer kept troubleshooting. Eventually, techs ran into another issue that pointed to the real cause of the problem, which we will reveal in a follow up post. It only took Chevy techs about four months to solve the mystery, and it cost Andrew about $3,000 out of pocket.
This all started in the summer, and now that we’re nearing winter, “the Devil’s Truck,” has been fully repaired. Andrew gave it that nickname while it was in the shop because no one could figure out why it kept blowing fuse blocks. Andrew and the girls are now headed to SEMA, but he’s wary of the truck.
Before we tell you what was wrong with it, we want readers to write in with your diagnoses. What do you think was causing all the issues in Andrew’s Silverado 3500 HD?
More from Jalopnik