Left rear wheel locking at low speeds

Discussion in 'Chevy Suburban Forum (GMC Yukon XL)' started by daz, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. daz

    daz New Member


    My wife and I love our '94 Chevy Suburban (1500 4x4). We bought it when we moved from Australia to Canada last year, and it's been great - I can even sleep in the back, and I'm 6'3!

    But now in the snow/ice we're having some problems. Today I was rolling (in Drive, 4x4) down a sloping driveway that was very icy, and the left rear wheel wouldn't turn at all. No acceleration, no brake, just trying to roll down the hill. Brakes stopped me, but when I released them I was going slowly sideways, until a snowbank stopped me, and I could coast down. Once I got down to the pavement it was fine.

    Now I've been watching more carefully, I've noticed 2 things.
    1) The left rear wheel can lock up when I coast to a stop in a snowy carpark. So I'll be coasting and it seems like there is some extra drag on the left rear wheel - when I reach a low enough speed (or a slippery section) the left rear wheel locks up.
    2) When I try to take off on a slippery surface, the right rear wheel will spin, but the left will not.

    Any ideas? I need to drive 120km on Monday (highway driving). Is this a really bad idea?

    Any advice and tips would be helpful.
  2. Snifford

    Snifford New Member

    Could be something to do with the anti lock system. I had a 90 k3500 that did the same thing when I plowed snow. It turned out to be an anti lock problem. I don't remember what the exact problem was.
  3. Snifford

    Snifford New Member

    And the one wheel spinning is more that likely no limited slip. Dont know for sure.
  4. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Sounds like an ABS or brake problem.
    I'd start by removing the brake drum and inspecting everything inside, look for an obvious defect.
    If you dont find an obvious problem scan the codes for the computer to see if its flashing something for the ABS system. You may not have an ABS light on the gauge panel but that wont mean it doesnt have a code.
    Is there any way you could park the truck in a heated garage long enough for things to thaw out and see if somethings iced up? Maybe a parking brake cable or something?

    With a dragging brake I wouldnt drive it on a 120k trip, this could heat the brake drum up and cause a lot of problems. The least of which could be a burnt out brake drum and shoes, ruined axle seal, or possible a brake fire.
  5. dasaroth

    dasaroth New Member

    i worked on a suburban with the exact problem you are having. rear wheel will lock up will coasting slowly. the problem in my case was the rear speed sensor. quick way to tell if it is the problem is to pull the fuse for the abs and take it for a spin. think they go for 30-40 bucks pretty cheap fix.
  6. Snifford

    Snifford New Member

    Good idea to pull the fuse, I didn't think of that.
  7. daz

    daz New Member

    Thanks for all of the advice.

    I tried disabling the ABS by removing the fuse. It seemed to work at first, but things stayed fixed when I plugged it back in. It seems that the wheel-locking problem only occurs when I first start up the burb; once it's warm everything works fine.

    So I drove up to the ski hill, and getting out of the carpark was a bit scary with my left rear wheel locking, even in 4wd. I realized that the wheel never locks when I'm in reverse, so I reversed out of the carpark until I got to the pavement. Once I got home the wheel seemed to have loosened up and didn't lock up, even at low speeds on ice.

    So I think I'll take it into the shop tomorrow, and let them take a look to see what suburban parts need replaced

    Thanks again - I'll let you know what the diagnosis is.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 15, 2009

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