GMC Vortec Engine Design Flaw Causes Excessive Oil Consumption

Posted on
Scott McCracken
#engine #oil #vortec

From 2010 to 2013, GMC's 5.3L V8 Vortec 5300 engine has a higher than normal rate of complaints about excessive oil consumption. A lawsuit blames a design change that was made to improve the engine's overall performance. As part of that change, owners believe defective piston rings allow oil to seep into the engine's combustion cylinders and burn off early.

The Vortec Oil Consumption Lawsuit

In December 2016, a Minnesota lawsuit accused GM of selling an engine with multiple defects.

The lawsuit says GM 5.3L oil consumption problems are caused by defective piston rings, PVC systems and "active fuel management" (AFM) systems that cause the spark plugs to wear out prematurely and the engines to experience all kinds of malfunctions

GM made changes to their Vortec 5300 engine design in 2007 in an effort to improve performance. However, the plaintiffs believe oil is burning off in the combustion chamber due to:

  1. Defective, low-tension oil rings which allow oil to seep into the chambers
  2. A new PCV system which sucks oil through the intake and into the combustion chamber

The plaintiffs point out that GM has issued multiple TSBs regarding oil consumption complaints.

According to the complaint, GM must have known about oil consumption problems in the 5.3L engines because on September 28, 2010, the automaker issued technical service bulletin (TSB) 10-06-01-008A addressing engine oil consumption in its 2007-2008 models. Then on January 3, 2013, GM issued another bulletin (10-06-01-008G) concerning oil consumption problems in 2007-2011 models.

In addition, the system used to monitor oil levels is thought to be defective because instead of monitoring the actual levels it monitors engine conditions to calculate "expected deterioration in oil quality." Unfortunately that calculation is off and can result in the "check engine" light coming on too late.

Case Dismissed in 2017

While the original class-action originated in Minnesota, the case eventually found its way to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.

In August 2017, a judge dismissed the case while brushing aside many of the plaintiff's arguments.

  1. Regarding the oil-level monitor was defective, the judge said the owners should have received warnings about low oil pressure.
  2. Regarding the defective piston rings, the judge said the owners didn't have a proper explanation for the excessive oil consumption.
  3. Despite the TSB evidence, the judge says none of those TSBs specifically mention problems with piston rings.

The plaintiffs, who were represented by Andrus Anderson LLP, Grant & Eisenhofer P.A., and Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. were given the chance to ammend their complaints.

Case Re-Opened in 2018

The plaintiffs amended their complaints in 2018, claiming the oil pressure warning systems are defective and can lead to early engine failure.

The plaintiffs allege GM switched to a standard oil sensor in later model years, proving that the previous system based on "expected deterioration in oil quality" was faulty and dangerous.

GM says the same arguments that got the case dismissed before, should also apply here. The case is pending.

Lawsuits Regarding This Problem

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Tucker, et al., v. General Motors LLC.

    1. Case Filed

      A GM 5.3L oil consumption lawsuit includes Generation IV Vortec 5300 LC9 engines. The plaintiffs say the engine cannot receive proper lubrication, allegedly because the piston rings fail to keep oil in the crankcase.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2010-2014 Sierra
    • 2010-2014 Yukon
    • 2010-2014 Yukon XL
  • Airko, Inc., et al., v. General Motors LLC.

    1. Case Filed

      A General Motors Vortec class action lawsuit alleges oil consumption problems plague the vehicles because of defective piston rings. The GM Vortec class action lawsuit includes these vehicles equipped with Generation IV 5.3-Liter V8 Vortec 5300 LC9 engines.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2010-2014 Sierra
    • 2010-2014 Yukon
    • 2010-2014 Yukon XL
  • Martell, et al., v. General Motors LLC.

    1. Case Filed

      The class action lawsuit alleges General Motors manufactured and sold vehicles that consume abnormally high quantities of oil because of numerous problems with the engines. The plaintiff claims the primary problem is the piston rings that don't hold enough tension to keep engine oil in the crankcase, resulting in low oil levels and inadequate lubrication of engine components.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2010-2013 Sierra
    • 2010-2014 Yukon
    • 2010-2014 Yukon XL
  • Monteville Sloan Jr,, et al., v. General Motors LLC.

    1. Case Filed

      A GM 5.3L engine oil consumption lawsuit alleges numerous 2010-2013 General Motors trucks and SUVs suffer from defects that allow oil to enter the combustion chambers of the 5.3-Liter V8 Vortec 5300 engines.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2010-2013 Canyon
    • 2010-2013 Savana 1500
    • 2010-2013 Sierra 1500
    • 2010-2013 Yukon
    • 2010-2014 Yukon XL

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following GMC generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at

  1. Toss another lawsuit onto the ever-growing pile of GM Vortec oil consumption cases.

    The Missouri based class-action is the latest in a series of suits saying the 5.3L Vortec engine churns through oil because of defects in the low-tension piston rings. The problem is compounded by GM's questionably designed oil life monitoring system which doesn't warn owners when oil levels get dangerously low.

    In fact the system doesn't monitor oil levels at all, just the quality of the oil itself. So while the engine may be dry and on the verge of collapse, rest assured that last quart of oil is still in tip-top shape. 👍🏼…

    keep reading article "Missouri Vortec Oil Consumption Lawsuit Latest in a Series Against GM"
  2. Plaintiffs in the case regarding excessive oil consumption in GM's 5.3L Vortec 5300 engines have switched gears.

    The original case was tossed out by a judge last year, but the plaintiffs were given a chance to ammend their complaints. So they've switched their focus into a potentially defective oil pressure warning system that doesn't properly monitor oil levels and can lead to early engine failure.…

    keep reading article "Vortec Engine Excessive Oil Lawsuit Takes Aim At Monitoring System"
  3. The judge looking into last year's Vortec excessive oil consumption lawsuit does not seem to buying claims that the engine is defective.

    The case has been tossed out. Concerning owner-reported complaints, the judge found those owners talk about excessive oil consumption but they don't specifically say what is causing the oil consumption. As for the bulletin sent to dealerships, it doesn't say anything about the oil rings and sending the bulletin doesn't mean GM believed the Vortec engines were defective.

    So ... the judge says the plaintiffs don't specifically say what's causing the problem. But in the next breath, the judge says there's no mention of the plaintiff's claims of defective oil rings in TSBs sent by GM to dealerships.

    I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.…

    keep reading article "Vortec Engine Excessive Oil Lawsuit Shot Down by a Judge"
  4. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of certain 2010-2013 GM owners with 5.3L V8 Vortec 5300 engines.

    According to the plaintiffs, changes to the engine design allow oil to enter the combustion chamber, leading to excessive oil consumption and premature engine failure.

    The lawsuit says GM 5.3L oil consumption problems are caused by defective piston rings, PVC systems and "active fuel management" (AFM) systems that cause the spark plugs to wear out prematurely and the engines to experience all kinds of malfunctions.

    The problem may be due to low-tension oil rings and a new PVC system, both of which are allowing too much oil to enter the combustion chambers to burn off early.…

    keep reading article "Excessive Oil Consumption in the 5.3-L V8 Vortec 5300 Engine?"

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA