General Motors is recalling about 638,000 SUVs and pickups for a defective sensor that could cause braking problems.

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2018 Chevrolet Suburban (Photo: The Chevrolet Suburban is the vehicle likeliest to reach 200,000 in Metro Detroit, according to iseecars.com)

General Motors is recalling about 638,000 SUVs and pickups for a defective sensor that could cause braking problems.

The recall covers 2015-2020 Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs. It also applies to 2014-2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups equipped with a 5.3-liter engine, a 3.08-ratio rear axle and four-wheel drive, GM said.

Here's the problem: If a wheel-speed sensor fails, a software error in the vehicle’s electronic-brake control module can cause the driveline-protection system to activate. This happens when the vehicle’s electronic transfer case is set to four-wheel drive or automatic mode, and being driven between 41 and 60 mph.

If the driveline-protection system activates, there could be unintended braking on the wheel on the opposite side of the failed sensor, said GM. As a result, the vehicle could pull to one side, possibly crashing.

GM said drivers can eliminate this risk by driving in two-wheel-drive mode until the recall repair is performed. 

If a wheel-speed sensor fails, the vehicle’s Electronic Stability Control and ABS malfunction indicator warning lamps will illuminate and the vehicle’s driver information center will display a “Service Stabilitrak” message, said GM.

Applicable to Subaru

But Reuters reported that GM found 150 field claims alleging the condition caused unintended braking or lateral vehicle motion.

In May, a GM dealer submitted a warranty report relating to the problem in a 2018 GMC Yukon, Reuters said. Two days later, a GM brand quality manager reported it to GM’s Speak Up For Safety program. That program tracks potential safety issues and it prompted a GM investigation and testing.

Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or jlareau@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @jlareauan. Read more on General Motors and sign up for our autos newsletter.

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