10 Most Common 2.8 Duramax Problems [+Solutions]

Duramax has 6.6L, 3.0L, 2.8L, and 2.5L engine variants.

Duramax 2.8L four-cylinder diesel engine is one of the smallest diesel engines of Duramax used in pickup trucks and SUVs.

GM vehicles with 6.6L or 3.0L are heavy-duty long pickup trucks that are not made for a daily driven purposes.

On the other hand, 2.8 Duramax is used on mid-size pickup trucks and SUVs, which are excellent daily drivers.

If you want to buy a good daily driver pickup truck, then 2.8 Duramax is the best option for you.

Which Vehicles Use the 2.8 Duramax Engine?

There are 2 variants of the 2.8 Duramax engine, including 2.8L LWN and 2.8L XLD28.

These 2 types of 2.8 Duramax engines are used in mid-size pickup trucks and SUVs, including-

  1. Chevrolet Colorado
  2. GMC Canyon
  3. Chevrolet Express
  4. Chevrolet Trailblazer
  5. GMC Savana
  6. Isuzu KB
  7. Holden Colorado

2.8 Duramax Problems [10 Problems and Solutions]

2.8 Duramax engine has 10 most common problems.

The first 2 problems are major, and the rest 8 are minor problems.

I will walk you through the 10 most common 2.8 Duramax problems with solutions.

1. Transmission Failure

2.8 l duramax problems

2.8L Duramax has a 6L50 transmission system.

The same transmission system is used in Camaro V6, Holden Chevrolet Lumina, Chevrolet Caprice, Cadillac SLS, SRX, STS, and CTS engines.

It means GM has used a car transmission system in mid-size pickup trucks, including Chevrolet Colorado and Canyon.

I am not saying 6L50 is a bad transmission system; it’s excellent for cars but not pickup trucks.

That’s why you will feel a lack of power when towing.

I don’t understand why they used a car transmission system instead of a truck one.

They could have used an 8L50 transmission system instead of a 6L50.

GM claims the 2.8 Duramax engine is specially made for trucks, not for the car.

But I don’t think so. I guess GM used the 6L50 transmission for cost-cutting.


There is nothing you can do.

Don’t tow more than 7700 lbs.

If you do so, you may damage your engine.

2. Torque Converter Failure

2.8 duramax issues

The torque converter transmits torque from the engine to the wheels.

2.8 Duramax has a bad reputation for the torque converter.

Many Chevy Canyon and Colorado owners reported torque converter failure within 80000 miles.

Slow acceleration, bad or no gear-shifting, and transmission overheating are the common signs of torque converter failure.

If you notice these signs, be sure your torque converter is failing.

You can do nothing but change the torque converter.

The irony is that you will face the same problem again soon after changing it.

It will fail again within another 80000 miles.


My personal advice is to change the torque converter by GM dealer within the first 70000 miles within the warranty period.

Or, you have to pay around 1500 bucks with labor costs to replace the torque converter.

3. Low Towing Capacity

Low Towing Capacity

Properly equipped 2.8L Duramax engine can tow up to 7700 pounds.

With 7700 towing capacities, you can tow a small-size boat or trailer.

The Chevrolet Camaro car weighs 3339 pounds or 1515 kilograms.

But a Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD weighs 14000 pounds or 6350.29 kilograms.

It means you can tow a small car or mid-size pickup, but you can’t pull a heavy-duty truck with a 2.8 Duramax engine.

If you try to tow something over 8000 lbs, it will damage your engine.


Installing a cold air intake may help you increase the towing capacity a little as it increases the HP and torque of the engine.

Don’t try to pull more than 800 lbs after installing a cold air intake.

As a mid-size truck, 7700 lbs is not that bad for towing capacity.

4. Low Horsepower and Torque

Low Horsepower and Torque

2.8 Duramax has 181 HP @ 369 lb-ft of torque while 3.0 Duramax has 277 HP @ 460 lb-ft of torque.

You will have less HP and torque in comparison to 3.0 Duramax.

It’s not a very big issue, but it would enhance the driving experience and comfortability if the hp and torque were a little more.


You can install a cold air intake.

It will increase the HP and torque a little bit.

5. No Timing Gear System

No Timing Gear System

There is no timing gear system in the 2.8 Duramax engine.

GM didn’t use the timing gear system to save cost.

The performance of 2.8 Duramax would be much better if GM used a timing gear system.

Besides the negativity, there is a bright side to not using a timing gear system.

The timing gear system produces more vibration and harshness to the engine.


There is nothing you can do.

6. DEF Quality Low 100 Miles Until 65 MPH Warning

DEF Quality Low 100 Miles Until 65 MPH Warning

Another common issue of 2.8 Duramax is poor quality DEF issues.

Be sure you will face this issue within the first 60000 miles.

Many reports platinum DEF is liable for this issue, but there is no proof to be sure.

The NOx sensor is liable for DEF quality low 100 miles until 65 MPH warning message.

Code P20EE and P249E pop up on the instrument cluster when DDP or NOx sensor fails.

On the other hand, Reduced engine power or Limp Mode may turn on automatically if DEF is low.


Change NOx and DPF sensors to get rid of this false warning code.

7. Noisy Engine

Noisy Engine

2.8L I-4 Duramax is a four-cylinder engine.

Four-cylinder engines are not very smooth compared to the six-cylinder engine.

That’s why the 2.8 Duramax is a buzzy engine, even for a diesel engine.


Always use SAE 5W30 grade synthetic engine oil.

Change the engine oil every 6500 miles.

It will lubricate the engine components properly and greatly reduce buzzy noise.

8. Timing Belt

Timing Belt

2.8 Duramax used a timing belt system rather than a gear-driven system.

The timing belt needs to be replaced every 150000 miles.

The annoying thing is it is mounted at the front of the engine, where you literally have to pull the transmission off to service the timing belt.


You can do nothing but wait when Duramax to include a gear-driven system instead of the timing belt.

9. Cheap Gray Cast Iron Cylinder Block

Cheap Gray Cast Iron Cylinder Block

GM uses gray cast iron cylinder block in the 2.8 Duramax engine.

Because cast iron is cheaper than Aluminum.

It would be better if they used an Aluminum cylinder block in the engine.


You can change the gray cast iron block by paying some extra bucks.

But you don’t need to do so cause it’s not a big deal.

Converting iron cylinder into Aluminum won’t change the performance of your truck.

So, don’t change it.

10. Sensor Failure

Sensor Failure

2.8 Duramax has many major sensors, including MAF, MAP, and Oxygen.

Each sensor serves different purposes.

Sensors are made for lifetime performance.

But many 2.8 Duramax owners reported sensor failure after completing 10000 miles or less.

When the sensor fails, different codes pop up on the dashboard.


The pop-up code on your dashboard will tell you which sensor is not functioning properly.

Replace the sensor with a new one.

It cost around 50 bucks.

Many suggest cleaning the sensor with cleaner instead of replacing it in different forums and websites.

As a mechanic, I strongly disagree.

GM forbade cleaning sensors as the sensors are very sensitive things.

It will damage and send a warning sign on your dashboard.

Reliability of 2.8 Duramax

Reliability of 2.8 Duramax

Except for the 6L50 transmission failure and torque converter issue, the 2.8 Duramax is a good engine.

Only these two issues are major issues.

Other issues are minor.

2.8 Duramax will last around 350000 miles with proper maintenance.

You may need to replace the transmission system, torque converter, NOx, and DPF sensor within 400000 miles.

A properly maintained 2.8 Duramax is capable of lasting more than 500000 miles.

So, you can rely on the engine performance.


Is the 2.8 Duramax made by Isuzu?

The 2.8L Duramax diesel engine is manufactured by General Motors.

Isuzu manufactured diesel engines for GM in the past.

The Isuzu manufactured diesel engine is 6H which was rebranded as Duramax, but they never manufactured 2.8L engine for GM.

The 2.8L I-4 is a separate design and manufactured by General Motors.

What kind of fuel mileage does a 2.8 Duramax get?

2.8L Duramax diesel engine estimated fuel mileage is 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The engine is popular for its fuel efficiency.

To get better fuel economy from 2.8L Duramax diesel, always follow the tips given below:

  1. Shut down your vehicle if you stay somewhere for a long time.
  2. Avoid carrying heavy loads.
  3. Make sure that the tire pressures are at the recommended level.
  4. Take your vehicle for regular maintenance.

Is GM discontinuing the 2.8 L Duramax?

Yes, from July 2022 GM discontinued the 2.8 Duramax.

Low demand and sales compared to gasoline engines are some of the major reasons for 2.8L Duramax being discontinued.

However, General Motors still provides service and parts support to the existing models.

How much HP can you get out of a 2.8 Duramax?

The 2.8L Duramax turbo diesel engine produces 180 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque.

Its towing capacity is approximately 7500 lbs. The 2.8L Duramax diesel is one of the most competitive engine during its time.

But after releasing newer and more advanced engines, its demand has decreased.

What kind of oil does a 2.8 Duramax take?

SAE 5w30 is the suitable oil for 2.8L Duramax diesel engine.

This is a full synthetic light duty diesel engine oil, that helps in the smooth operation of the 2.8L Duramax engine.

However, in extremely cold weather, the 0w40 engine oil is a more stable option for 2.8L Duramax diesel engine.

Final Thoughts

Every engine has some major and minor issues.

Except for transmission and torque converter failure, 2.8 Duramax has no major issues.

So, don’t worry if you own a 2.8 Duramax; it won’t disappoint you.

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