Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

News: Fullsize GM SUVs have a problem that's making owners sick

Some fullsize SUV owners are getting sick, thanks to a buffeting and vibration problem in 2015 model year examples of the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, and GMC Yukon. According to owners’ complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the issue can vary from an annoying vibration inside the cabin to an experience so severe that it leads to dizziness and headaches.

General Motors is aware of the complaints, but the fix isn’t so simple. According to spokesperson Tom Wilkinson to Autoblog, the company “has been tracking this issue for a while.” The problem has a fairly low incidence rate, but when it does occur the issue can be “uncomfortable and annoying for owners.” There’s no precise cause for the issue, Wilkinson claims, and in some cases, simply balancing the tires or changing the door seals can make it go away.

Story continues here:

I don’t doubt there is a problem but let’s pick on Ford for a while. Brand new full size Ford cargo vans over the last 15 years or so weaved and wobbled all over the road at cruising speed right out of the factory. It was so bad that we called it the “Ford dance.” The new Connect does not have that problem and now the full size Ford van is history. Good thing…in my opinion. I won’t even comment on Chrysler products. If you ever owned one…you will know what I’m talking (not talking) about.

Got to agree @MM , The resonances and harmonics in some vehicles can make you feel bad ,there are branches of science that delve into harmonics and resonances affecting the Human body,I think some of the "crowd " control devices utilize this ,more insulation and tuning various suspension and exhaust components can probably take care of the problem.
I thought the camber change weaving went away on the Fords with the demise of the "Twin I-Beam suspension " only Ford vans I have ridden in the past few years, were of the “Prison variety” and being manacled ,I couldnt tell you how they drive.
I thought maybe when this thread started,the “originator” was referring to the difficulty parking these behemoths and the gas mileage .

I agree, missileman, but would have to add Chevy vans to that description. In the late '90s I used to occasionally drive one of the Chevy (GMC maybe… I forget) vans that the college owned and IMHO it was downright dangerous above 50mph… and not great below 50mph.

Every SUV I’ve owned had that issue to some degree. My 90 Pathfinder…it happened if I opened both of the front windows less then half way. But if I also opened one of the rear windows just a little the buffering went away. Same thing on my 98 pathfinder. My 05 4runner the buffer would occur if I opened either of the front windows. As long as I opened one of the rear windows just a little the buffering went away. My 15 Highlander…if I open just one (front or back) window on the same side I get the buffering…but if I open both on the same side…no buffering.

There has never been a buffering with the windows up. It’s annoying…but at least there always was an easy way to eliminate it.

The drumming you get from having certain windows open is not limited to SUVs or vans. It happens in many cars, too. Usually opening an additional window a bit settles it down. It’s the same thing that happens when you blow across the top of a bottle. Makes me wish for a return to front door vent windows. Is that what the problem is with the GM SUV’s? I can’t think they just now decided to talk about it. Must be something else.

Twin I-beam is alive and well

Last year we got several 2015 Ford superduty trucks, and they still use it

Bet they still wander on the road then.Unlike the SLA suspension (which allows the wheels to pretty well stay plumb during road surface changes ) the Twin I -Beam with its fixed center pivot allows camber changes as the wheel moves up and down.I thought Ford had went to "straight " axles on its heavy duty rear wheel drive trucks. The old Ford pickups were notorious for wearing the edges of the front tires off. Some of my diehard Ford friends admitted Ford made a mistake with the twin I-Beam setup ,but still wouldnt switch to the other camp . My old Fords had straight axles , except for one ,I never want another like that one .


“Bet they still wander on the road then.”

I’m afraid I disagree with that

We have tons of them in our fleet, so my sample size is huge. And I’ll bet you lunch that they’re all far newer than the one you owned

As far as straight axles go . . . on class 4 trucks and above, Ford doesn’t use twin i-beam. They use “straight” axles, as you suggested. In other words, if it’s above 14000lbs GVWR, it is not twin i-beam

There may be a few exceptions, but I believe it’s generally the case

I Read GM’s Tech Bulletin Concerning Wind Buffeting Noise And/or Body Pressure Booming On Only 2015 Yukons, Suburbans, And Escalades, 4 Pages With
Color Photos, Circles, And Arrows, Describing Diagnosis And Remedy.

The bulletin focuses on roof bow detachment from the roof panel. The dealers do have this fix available for the relatively few complaints received.

Deleted by poster.

Sounds like the SUV’s are resonating at the natural frequency of the human body; About 6-9 Hz. If the roof panel, the doors or even the windshield it set to vibrating at the 6-9 Hz, the driver and passengers can experience nausea to the point of needing an airline barf-bag.

Back when the downsized 1978 Chevy Caprice was being developed, test drivers used to have to pull over and barf about once an hour or so when testing prototype cars. Chevy found the rear window was pumping like a giant sub-woofer at about 7 Hz excited over the bumpy test roads. They fixed it by using stiffer window adhesive.

Sounds like the SUV problem is a touch more complicated.

Yep,been doing research,I sorta stand corrected the newer twin I beams and on the 4WD called traction beams,are as far as I can tell are still in use(I havent been around a 2 WD Ford pickup ,for a long time.The twin I beams are apparently much refined now, with ball joints in place of king pins and other improvements and of course a separate pivot for each axle end.Apparently this setup is rugged enough to be a lower end favorite for desert racing, only lately being phased out in favor of other types with more suspension travel.
My Dodge apparently has a SLA type suspension with torsion springs.
As you said the heavier GVW Fords utilize a beam axle and have for a long time,now back in 60s GM used an A -arm suspension on some of their heavier trucks.

Lordy, I remember wind buffeting on more than one sedan with various combinations of open windows. I’ve had three or four over the years that did that.


That twin-i beam setup is still used on the F250 superduty, and F350 superduty

I used the word superduty, because in the past there have been F250 trucks that were not superduty and had upper and lower a-arm front suspension. I know one of our regulars has one

Anyways, as far as desert racing goes . . . exactly what trucks are they using

Newer superduty trucks?
older F150 with twin i-beam?

Remember the nauseating buffet effect in one car I drove, 03 trailblazer occasionally ie rarely gets a loud nose of wind buffet, sounds like someone beating on the car with a rubber mallet, my bud who owns an 09 was like something has gone wrong, I was sorry normal stuff, can’t forget putting on blue man group song, and passenger thinking car was falling apart,

From what I gather ,this suspension was a popular graft into about anything, as was the late 50s Ford SLA into “stockcars” ( the Ford 9 inch removable carrier rearend was also a good one-considered one for my Dodge when the differential failed )

A little wind buffeting is all? That’s discomforting to some of the owners? What’s the country coming to? Anybody who complains should first be required to watch that VDO about the first automobile trip across America, from San Francisco to New York . The title is “Horace’s trip” or something like that. After that, then they can complain. But they’d understand what automobile related discomfort actually is … lol .

Edit: And what about the people who had to pull hand carts from Missouri to Oregon? Who did they complain to? … lol . .

Every new car I’m aware of comes with AC as standard equipment. While I prefer to open the windows, if I had a car that exhibited wind buffeting I’d simply close the windows and use the AC. But I WOULD buy a different car next time! I wonder of GM realizes that monitoring the problem long term rather than addressing it will cost them customers.

Edit: I should perhaps add that the cars that I had that exhibited wind buffeting were back in the day when AC in cars (or homes, for that matter) was a rarity. Regular cars didn’t have AC back then. I’m not sure it was common even in most luxury cars.

Last three cars I’ve owned exhibit that buffering if I lower a window at 60 MPH. I think it’s a natural resonance of the air stream with the air volume inside the car.