There’s a class action lawsuit against General Motors for their 8-speed automatic transmission

Back in July 2018, I bought a new GMC Canyon as my first personal vehicle. I was very fortunate that I was able to get the exact vehicle that I wanted, as I perceived the GMC Canyon as essentially the best-in-class vehicle that fit my exact needs. I took my enjoyment of the vehicle to the next level and also added on a handful of modifications.

This isn’t quite the best photo, but it’s the only one I have handy that hasn’t been posted on my blog before (but you can find more pictures in other blog posts):

Making a stop at the Grewal Business Center in Baker, CA after driving through the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas in a rainstorm

Unfortunately, a few months after purchasing the truck, I started having some problems with the transmission. At the time, I didn’t really know what was wrong, but I new something was definitely abnormal, because I had driven a lot of vehicles before, especially considering that I’ve done enough car rentals for work to earn myself elite status with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. In my half-year owner’s review, I mentioned this problem; here’s an excerpt from that blog post:

The transmission is slow and lurches the vehicle when the fluids are still cold. There’s an option to display transmission fluid temperature in the gauge cluster, and whenever it’s below ~100°F, the transmission takes longer to shift to different gears. This is particularly noticeable when you’re just starting up the vehicle and making your first stop of the day. If you do not come to a complete stop then wait a few seconds (and instead just slow down and roll through a stop sign), the vehicle will hiccup and lurch when you ease your foot off the brake and begin accelerating again.

When I took it into the dealership, they did no work on it and sent it right back to me with the commentary, “Performed complete vehicle DTC scan. No codes or service bulletins found. Could not duplicate concern. Vehicle is operating as designed.” At that point, I wasn’t sure if the mechanic had someone else warm up the vehicle and transmission fluid so much that the problem went away, he was just incompetent and didn’t recognize the problem, or he was intentionally ignoring the blatantly obvious problem.

 
Yesterday when I got back from hiking, I was browsing the Internet while recovering and came across a class action lawsuit against General Motors, the manufacturer of the GMC Canyon. I got curious and looked into it, seeing as I am a General Motors customer, and got extremely intrigued when I saw that it was regarding a defect in the 8L90 and 8L45 8-speed automatic transmissions. Apparently, the vehicles affected were:

  • Chevrolet Colorado, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette
  • GMC Canyon, GMC Sierra, GMC Yukon
  • Cadillac ATS, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac CT6, Cadillac Escalade

At this point, figurative red and blue lights were flashing in my brain as I began digging through my vehicle’s purchase paperwork. Lo and behold, my 2018 GMC Canyon had an 8L45 transmission and was an affected vehicle for this class action lawsuit. According to the “GM facing class action lawsuit over transmission problem” page on ClassAction.org, the problems that others are having are the same as mine:

“When a driver accelerates or decelerates, the cars will reportedly hesitate and then shudder, jerk, clunk, or ‘hard shift’ when the automatic transmission switches gears. This may also occur when the vehicles are accelerating in a single gear and not necessarily switching gears.”

I got in touch with one of the class action lawyers, and I’m in talks with them right now providing relevant information, so hopefully this ends up doing something for me. Even though the transmission sucks, I still really like the truck, and I’ve already put in a good chunk of money modifying it to my desires, so it’s not like I want to completely bail out and get rid of the truck. Ideally, I just want to avoid a situation where I ding 60,001 miles, my powertrain warranty ends, and my transmission proceeds to immediately implode.

 

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2018 GMC Canyon & AutoNation GMC Henderson: ½-year owner’s review

Do I still adore my truck? Yes.

As much as I did before? No.

Making a stop at the Grewal Business Center in Baker, CA after driving through the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas in a rainstorm

Back at the end of July 2018, I purchased a 2018 GMC Canyon mid-size pick-up truck from AutoNation GMC Henderson. I’ve owned the truck for just over 7 months now, and here are the experiences I’ve had owning the truck.

  • The seat is incredibly uncomfortable for long-distance driving. I have the SLE model (yes, I am sure it is the SLE, it’s just that the exterior is modified to look like the all-terrain) and it does not come with lumbar adjustment. I’ve been on multiple trips across the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas to Southern California and back, and I usually have noticeable back pain if I don’t stop a few times to take a break and stretch my back.

    I’ve resorted to sitting half cross-legged – that is, I take my left shoe off and fold my left leg under my other leg to give my lower back a stronger base of support – to ease the pain during long-distance driving. I’ve also tried a variety of different lumbar pillows, but none of them seem to fit just right.

    If you also have lower back problems, I would recommend either purchasing a different truck (I’ve driven between Las Vegas and Southern Cali­fornia in both the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier via rentals from Enterprise, and I’ve had no back problems with either of those trucks) or upgrading to a higher trim with adjustable lumbar support.

  • Right around 4,380 miles on the odometer, the vehicle just randomly shut off with no warning while I was driving. Luckily I was cruising at approximately 20 MPH (30 KPH) because I had just turned out of my cousin’s neighborhood, but I noticed that the accelerator had stopped working, and when I checked to see what was going on, I saw that the vehicle was off.

    I continued cruising to the side of the road, stopped, put the vehicle in park, removed the key normally as if I was turning off the engine, waited several seconds, then started the vehicle again, and it worked perfectly fine. I’ve driven a couple thousand more miles since then and haven’t en­coun­tered the problem again.

    I brought the vehicle to the dealership to get it checked up, but the mechanic could not find any error codes in the history, and he was unable to replicate the problem (which was expected, seeing as I had already driven about 2,000 miles since the issue without the vehicle randomly dying again).

  • The transmission is slow and lurches the vehicle when the fluids are still cold. There’s an option to display transmission fluid temperature in the gauge cluster, and whenever it’s below ~100°F, the transmission takes longer to shift to different gears. This is particularly noticeable when you’re just starting up the vehicle and making your first stop of the day. If you do not come to a complete stop then wait a few seconds (and instead just slow down and roll through a stop sign), the vehicle will hiccup and lurch when you ease your foot off the brake and begin accelerating again.

    This problem did not happen right away, but became an issue a few months into ownership. After a few months, it happened with a 100% replication rate. Unfortunately, when I took it to the dealership for warranty service, the mechanic said that he could not recreate the problem, and said that the transmission is working as intended. The worst part about it is that it literally only happens after the vehicle sits overnight and completely cools down, so because the mechanic had already driven the vehicle earlier in the day, I couldn’t just get into the truck and show him myself.

    I plan on bringing the vehicle back for warranty service, though I need to figure out a strategy to actually show the problem to the mechanic my­self (which will be difficult unless I literally drop off the truck, use rideshare service to come back home, use rideshare service to go back to the dealership the next day, then drive the truck with the mechanic in the passenger seat the next morning on a cold start).

  • The climate control was fickle and often would not fully shut off, even though the center console claimed it was off. As a result, I couldn’t just set the temperature to very cold or very hot, blast the climate control until it was a comfortable temperature, then turn it off. Instead, I had to actually select exactly what temperature of air I wanted, because even in the “off” position, it would still blow out air of that particular temperature.

    The mechanic apparently forgot to write comments about this problem after bringing it in for warranty service, but after I tried to recreate the problem, it no longer happened, so I presume that they ended up finding some problem somewhere and fixed it.

  • The dealership, AutoNation Buick GMC Henderson, was great right up until my actual warranty service began. My salesperson was awesome, and my service consultant was probably the only service consultant I’ve ever seen who seemed like they actually cared about the customer. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, I’m extremely dissatisfied with the mechanics.

    Not only did they fail to recreate a very basic transmission problem, even though I went as far as to drop off my truck and let it sit at the dealership overnight so they could drive it from a cold start, but for whatever reason, they decided to disconnect my dash cam part-way through servicing my vehicle. This was apparent far before I actually looked at the footage – I knew right away because, when they reconnected it, they didn’t even bother mounting it properly again, and instead left it dangling by the wires from the headliner (I have the dash cam hardwired).

    As far as I’m aware, the only reason to actually disconnect a dash cam then literally mention nothing about it when I went to pick up the truck (and also leave no mention about it in the service notes) is if they were up to something suspicious that they didn’t want me to know about. There’s another AutoNation GMC on the other side of the Las Vegas Valley, and I’ll likely end up taking my truck to the one on Sahara for a re-check on the transmission problem, hoping that the mechanics there know what they’re doing and opt to not disconnect my dash cam (or at least tell me if they need to).

So, do I regret the purchase of a GMC Canyon? Absolutely not. But would I do it again? … Absolutely not.

My decision was a toss-up between the Toyota Tacoma and the GMC Canyon; the Canyon won because it had substantially better styling for the price (both on the exterior and interior) as well as interior luxuries and conveniences. With the mid-size pick-up truck segment evolving with vehicle redesigns in the coming few years, I’m hoping that Toyota can up the quality of the Tacoma enough that it becomes the leader in the segment in both looks and reliability.

As for my Canyon, I was originally planning on keeping it for about a decade – and if I had gotten a Tacoma, I almost definitely would’ve kept it for a decade, as those things tend to run buttery smooth for a long, long time. However, at this point, with electric vehicles poising to take over the market, I’m almost glad that I have a semi-unreliable vehicle, as it will likely encourage me in the next 4-5 years to just trade it in and upgrade to an electric pick-up truck (while if I had a Tacoma, I would likely hold onto it forever).

 

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Visiting my aunt and uncle in the mountains

With BlizzCon Opening Week and BlizzCon 2018 coming up, I’m back in California to do press and media coverage of the convention. I drove from Las Vegas to Southern California a little bit earlier than originally anticipated because I had some tasks to take care of, but that extra time in California meant I got to do some other stuff as well.

One of my aunts and uncles from my dad’s side of the family live in Southern California up in the mountains. I’m usually not a huge fan of driving to their home there because there are a lot of winding unpaved roads on the climb up, but since I got a pick-up truck a few months ago, I decided to try out the drive again. In the past, my drives up and down were moderately intimidating because I was in tiny, short rental vehicles with poor engine power, but the drive up this time felt like a breeze.

GMC Canyon pick-up truck in the Santa Ana Mountains

Full album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamparkzer/sets/72157674963463678

 

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My truck’s first full foam bath and auto detail

The drive through the Mojave Desert between Southern California and Las Vegas is surprisingly taxing… to the exterior of my truck. My truck has actually managed to stay pretty clean in general, but one trip to and from California usually results in massive amounts of dirt and mud sprayed and caked onto the side near the wheel wells.

Because these trips have been for work purposes, I have been getting reimbursed for mileage, and the mileage reimbursement is technically supposed to cover all different aspects of operating the vehicle – fuel, depreciation, maintenance, insurance, and more. Although maintenance usually refers to repairing issues that may arise with the vehicle, I figured that maintenance could also mean maintaining the exterior appearance of the vehicle. So, I took my truck to get its first full foam bath and auto detail today.

And of course, like how a proud parent would film their baby’s very first bath, I filmed my truck’s very first bath as well (courtesy of On the Spot Mobile Detail):

First full foam bath and auto detail

The detailing session was finished up with some tire polish and interior cleaning:

Auto detailing by On the Spot Mobile Detail

After foam bath and auto detailing

It’s obviously far more cost-effective to get my own little portable vacuum and a stack of microfiber rags to do the interior cleaning portion of this myself (which I will definitely be doing from now on), but seeing as this was my truck’s first bath, I decided to spoil it a little bit.

 

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My truck now has a grille guard

Before I left to take a quick trip to Illinois, I was working on getting various modifications done to my new 2018 GMC Canyon pick-up truck. Now that I’m back, I scheduled an appointment to get my next modification installed – the Dee Zee DZ502775 grille guard.

Although I was able to install my own bed liner and tonneau cover, this grille guard wasn’t really a quick project that I could do at home, as it involved disassembling the entire front of the vehicle, cutting portions of the front where the recovery winch hook receivers would have been, and using various power tools to attach an incredibly heavy metal object to the frame of the truck. Luckily, this process was pretty easy for the experts, and the installation turned out great.

However, there is one thing to be cautious about if you also own a GMC Canyon and you want to get a grille guard. Because the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado are essentially twin trucks, parts that fit for one model will generally fit for the other model. However, the two trucks are two different makes and models for a reason – there are indeed some differences between the two, and the main differences are in the exterior appearance.

If you look at the GMC Canyon, the front fascia is a lot more “blocky” and has a more traditional truck look. On the other hand, the Chevrolet Colorado is more on the sleeker, angular side with fewer straight lines and much narrower headlights. So, for example, if you order something like these Husky Liners mud flaps, they’re interchangeable between the two models, but if you order something specifically designed for the front fascia of the truck, they’re not so interchangeable.

So, with that being said, here is a head-on view and a slightly angled view of the grille guard installed on my GMC Canyon:

View from front after installation of Dee Zee grille guard

View from front-left after installation of Dee Zee grille guard

From those angles, it’s a little bit difficult to tell that this grille guard was the “wrong part” for the GMC Canyon, apart from the fact that the upper vertical half of the grille guard slants outwards (though that could potentially just be interpreted as an intentional design choice). However, when looking directly from the side, the misalignment with the headlights is substantially more obvious:

View from side after installation of Dee Zee grille guard

This discrepancy happens because the Dee Zee DZ502775 grille guard I purchased, even though it’s marked as compatible with both the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, is actually only molded to fit the Chevrolet Colorado. If you’re familiar with the Chevy version of the truck, you know that the sides of the front grille slant outwards, and the headlights are narrow and taper off towards the end.

I’m not too disappointed about this because the grille guard still serves its purpose, even though it’s not a perfectly-styled fit. It’s still going to protect the front of my vehicle from low-speed hits by transferring the force of the impact to the frame of the vehicle, and it’s still going to prevent the front crumple zone of my vehicle from taking any damage in a situation where I may need to push something out of the way.

But, if you’re familiar with how detail-oriented I am, you may be wondering how I let this “mistake” slip through. The answer here is… that I didn’t.

The reason I went with this grille guard originally designed for the Chevrolet Colorado is because there actually weren’t really any other options of the “brush guard” variant available for the GMC Canyon. There were other listings that claimed that the grille guard was intended for the GMC Canyon, but when looking at the specific part number, it was clear that the angled design was so it would fit the Chevy counterpart, and it was just cross-listed with the GMC Canyon by default. All other grille guards that were available were either steel front bumpers or bull bars, neither of which I was interested in getting.

As a small word of warning, the guy who installed my grille guard on for me let me know that he had to do a bit of extra cutting beyond what appeared to be needed for a “normal” installation, and he had to dig through his screw and bolt collection to find some that ended up fitting better with the GMC Canyon, but as you can see from the photos above, he was ultimately able to figure it out and attach it securely to the frame of my truck.

 

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My truck now has a bed liner and cover

My next truck mods aren’t exactly mods, but add-ons – I got myself a bed liner and a tonneau cover.

For my bed liner, I opted to go with a BedRug.

People buy pick-up trucks for various reasons, some of which include off-roading and rock crawling. Realistically, my truck is mainly going to be used as a suburb crawler about 98% of the time, with the bed being used to move basic oversized household items, if not just groceries. I actually did already use my own truck to haul all my stuff to my new residence, but that’s not something that happens too often, and none of my stuff was really so rugged that it would damage the inside of my bed.

As a result, I picked a bed liner that fit my needs a bit better. Compared to a spray-in bed liner, the BedRug is a lot softer – as the name suggests, it feels almost exactly like a rug, so there’s a nearly non-existent chance that the surface would damage anything I put into it, while the rough surface of a traditional spray-in bed liner might. Compared to a drop-in bed liner, the BedRug has a lot better traction and grip, while most drop-in bed liners I’ve seen just look like heavy duty plastic on which your cargo may slip and slide around.

I installed it myself to save on installation costs, and because I did some in-depth research on YouTube and saw that installation didn’t require any specialized tools beyond isopropyl alcohol to clean the surfaces receiving adhesive. It wasn’t a very difficult process, though it was pretty tedious and time-consuming (and the fact that my garage was pretty hot didn’t really help).

In my opinion, some of the instructions in the manual in regards to where to attach the Velcro adhesive strips were suboptimal. If you end up getting this same BedRug, I would recommend using the long, straight strips all the way in the back top (near the rear window) and on the top side of the tailgate – this is a very small thing, but if you look carefully enough, you can see some of the adhesive showing between the truck and the BedRug due to the thickness of the adhesive, and it looks cleaner to have the visible areas be a long single strip instead of smaller squares.

After installation of BedRug

For my tonneau cover, I opted to go with a BAKFlip G2 hard folding truck bed cover.

I definitely wanted to go with a hard-surface locking cover, as I’m pretty big on preventative safety and didn’t even want to give people the opportunity to cut through my cover and get into the bed of my truck. The price difference is usually negligible – no more than a couple hundred dollars – and I thought it was a good investment to do that instead of trying to save a little bit of money now and potentially having to go through the hassle of potentially being victimized by a thief.

From there, I narrowed down my options and picked the BAKFlip G2 because it allowed installation with no drilling, it locked via the railings and falling flat on the tailgate instead of having to worry about an extra key, and it was a quad-panel folding system that made it easy to flip back and gain full access to the entire truck bed. It also had a very flat profile that didn’t create a large, thick panel that laid on top of the bed top, and it was relatively light compared to other hard and heavy duty tonneau covers.

I personally did the installation here again for the same cost-saving purposes, and it again wasn’t very difficult, but tedious. It involved a lot of patient measuring and adjusting to make sure everything was clamped and folded down in the proper position.

After installation of BAKFlip G2 tonneau cover, folded up

After installation of BAKFlip G2 hard folding truck bed cover

 

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My first batch of truck mods

After some intensive research on where I wanted to get my auto customization done, I decided to go with Dipped Auto Works. If you missed it from last week, I opted to purchase a lower trim on my new pick-up truck of choice because I felt like going with a higher trim was a waste of money – I could get everything I wanted on the truck aftermarket for a fraction of the price, and I didn’t even want a lot of the features of the highest trim model anyway.

I had a general idea of what I wanted, and the guys at Dipped Auto Works helped me finalize my plans. This was a two-day project; this photo is of the end of the first day:

Dipped Auto Works doing a body color match on the chrome grille

I essentially got my truck looking a lot sleeker without having to add on a sport/all-terrain package or getting upgraded wheels. Overall, this is what I ended up getting done so far:

  • Front chrome grille painted red quartz tintcoat (body color) around the edge and black on the inside – it now resembles the grille of the all-terrain trims. I personally think chrome only looks nice on black luxury vehicles and only as trim pieces and accents; I wasn’t a fan of the entire grille being chrome.
  • Side chrome trim pieces and rear chrome bumper painted red quartz tintcoat. Again, I think the shine of the chrome fits well with all-black luxury vehicles, but it seemed a little out-of-place on a deep red mid-size pick-up truck.
  • Wheels painted glossy black. I’m not a fan of sacrificing functionality for appearance, so I had no interest in actually upgrading my wheels from 17″ to something larger, as shrinking the amount of actual tire you have compromises ride quality. I also think having massive rims on a pick-up truck looks a bit silly. So, I stuck with my stock wheels, but just got them painted black.
  • Brake calipers painted red quartz tintcoat. This is something that the guys recommended, and they offered me a huge discount on it because the wheels on my truck would already be off anyway for painting, so it would be a lot easier to get it done. My wheels have relatively thick spokes so it’s not as easy to see the calipers compared to a sports car, but they’re still noticeable.
  • “Canyon,” “SLE,” and “V6” badges removed. Red quartz tintcoat is a premium color, so I see no reason to cover up more of it with random chrome pieces on the side and rear of the truck. I think that lack of chrome also makes the overall body of the vehicle look sleeker and cleaner.
  • 20% VLT ceramic tint on all side windows, clear ceramic coating on windshield. 20% is the legal limit in Nevada on the front windows for those with a medical exemption; there’s no limit for the darkness of rear windows, but I did 20% all-around because I already had privacy glass on the rear, so it ends up being far darker than 20%. I don’t want to sacrifice visibility out my front windshield, so I got a clear coating over it just for the ultraviolet and infrared protection.

I snapped some photos after I brought it back to our garage. The first photo is a full-profile shot from the front, the second photo shows a close-up of the recolored grille (I couldn’t get a better angle because of the garage door), the third photo shows a close-up of the recolored wheels and calipers, and the fourth photo shows the truck from a rear angle.

After initial batch of modifications

Close-up of grille with color-matched border and black inside (originally chrome)

Close-up of painted black wheels and red quartz tintcoat brake calipers

View from rear-left after first batch of modifications

If you’re not too familiar with what the stock 2018 GMC Canyon SLE looks like, I have a dealership-provided photo in one of my previous blog posts, “I bought a truck.”

The modified tail lights is something that I did myself earlier – I bought a pair of Razer Auto glossy black tail light covers and applied them myself using the included adhesive.

 

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