The ground wire or ground strap is a vital component in any vehicle, including the Chevy Silverado. It is a network of connections between all the eletcrical and electronic parts of the vehicle, with the main one going from the engine block and chassis to the battery, completing a full electrical circuit of these interconnected parts.
Even though a definition many not be your interest in reading this article, I feel that it is important to explain what ground wire actually is, as well as highlight its importance.
I have found in our experience, that Chevy owners usually ask about the location of the ground wire so as to make changes to them. I advise caution in this.
Therefore, before going into details about the ground wire location in your Chevy Silverado, let’s have an in-depth look at what the ground wire is, and what it does.
What is Ground Wire in Chevy Silverado?
You are already aware that the battery in your Chevy Silverado has a positive and a negative terminal. What you may not know, is that current does not flow directly from the positive terminal to the negative terminal.
Instead, current starts at the positive terminal, then flows to all the systems or parts that make use of that current/power, and finally flows back to the negative terminal.
The engine block and the vehicle chassis make this current that flows from positive terminal to electrical and electronic parts back to negative terminal, to be safely available to all the vehicle parts that need this current.
Finally, the ground strap or ground wire is that part that transmits current from the vehicle chassis, engine block, and all the other parts, back to the negative terminal.
Therefore, the primary purpose of a ground wire is to ensure that current from the electrical parts and the engine block flow safely back to the negative terminal on the battery.
So if, for example, there is a short-circuit or even a surge within the entire circuit, the ground wire provides a safe outlet for the current to flow so that no damage is done to other parts of the car, and no harm comes to people in or on the car.
This does not mean that the ground wire has a single location on the Chevy Silverado. I have merely described its main function. Read on to find out the actual locations of ground wire on your truck.
Chevy Silverado Ground Wire Location
Contrary to common belief, the ground wire in your Chevy Silverado does not have a single location. Because of its vital and diverse applications, it is located in several parts of your Chevy. And you would need to locate them based on function. Let’s get right to it:
1. On the Battery
This is probably the most obvious location of a ground wire in your Chevy Silverado. As I explained earlier, the ground wire completes the circuit from the chassis and engine block to the negative terminal on the battery.
Therefore, this ground wire is the cable that comes from the Chevy chassis to the negative terminal.
Current to this ground wire:
Current to this ground wire comes from the chassis/engine block.
Current from this ground wire:
Current from this ground wire goes directly to the negative terminal of the Chevy battery to complete the circuit. This current is regulated to ensure that it is of just the right voltage for the battery terminal. When this ground wire is faulty, you will experience low voltage readings in your Chevy Silverado battery.
2. At the Engine Block
The ground wire at the engine block is the most important and delicate of all the ground wire locations. It carries the highest amount of current and then regulates it to travel safely to other parts of the truck.
Current to this ground wire:
Current to this ground wire comes chiefly from the alternator and the starter. This is why, when this ground wire is faulty, you will experience some issues like battery that won’t charge and hard starting.
Current from this ground wire:
Here are the main electrical and electronic components that are supplied by this ground wire:
- Lights (internal and external)
3. On the Powertrain Control Module
The Powertrain Control Module (PCM) is essentially the central processing unit of your Chevy’s computer system. It controls all the compterized processes mainly through the Transmission Control Unit (TCU) and the Engine Control Unit (ECU).
The PCM uses input from all the sensors attached to it, and controls over 120 processes and factors in your truck.
One of the sensors attached to the PCM is a ground wire. This ground wire supplies current from the battery and engine to the PCM.
This ground wire is usually located either at the front or rear of the right cylinder engine block.
Normally, this ground wire is responsible for signaling hundreds of errors that occur in the car. But these errors could also come up if the ground wire malfunctions or rusts. One of such errors is the Check Engine indicator.
- Driver and Passenger Seat
If your Chevy Silverado comes with button or switch-enabled adjustable driver and passenger seats, then there are bound to be ground wires beneath both seats.
These ground wires are connected directly to the Engine Control Unit, which in turn is part of the PCM described above.
To access this ground wire, you would need to move the seats all the way up. A telltale sign of when this ground wire malfunctions, is if the seats do not respond properly to adjustment commands.
4. On the A-pillar
The A-pillar is either one of the two supports posts that are positioned either side of the windshield of your Chevy Silverado. These connect the roof of the car to the body.
The A-pillar has a ground wire on each side. These ground wires are part of the electronic circuits that make up the sensor system of the vehicle.
To access the A-pillar ground wires, use the right tools (probablly a screw) to remove the vent duct.
5. Wiring Harness
The wiring harness is a bundle of highly-organized set of wires, connectors, and terminals that connect all the electrical components of the car. The wiring harness is responsible for transmitting electrical current and feedback across the car.
The main wiring harness comprises of the ignition, start, EFI, A/C, power generation, and other electrical devices. This main wiring harness is then divided into sub wiring harness units that are grouped by function.
In your Chevy Silverado, each of these wiring harness sub units connects to a ground wire which in turn connects out to the frame of the car to complete the circuit.
6. Knee Bolster Instrument Panel
If your Chevy was built after the August 14, 2014 upgrades, then it is almost certain to have ground wires on the instrument panel.
The instrument panel is located right under the knee bolster below the steering wheel.
This ground wire supplies the power used by the instrument panel to update you on your vehicle status using lights and gauges.
If this ground wire is faulty, the instrument panel will not function properly or at all.
7. Transmission Housing
The transmission is a vital part of your truck. It transfers the power generated by the car engine to the shaft and rear wheels. It governs the speed and navigation of the truck.
This transmission unit is located in a transmission housing. Attached to this transmission housing is a ground wire whose function is to supply power to the transmission.
So, if the ground wire is faulty, your Chevy will not respond properly to gear shift, acceleration, steering, and so on.
There may indeed be a few other ground wires in your Chevy, depending on the model you own. But, given the importance of these wires, it is best to leave any maintenance or upgrades on them to your dealership or mechanic.
Chevy Silverado Ground Wire Significance
If you do not practice good maintenance for your Chevy Silverado ground wire, you are likely to experience issues such as:
- Dead battery or battery that will not charge or constant need to change battery after a short period of use
- Car that won’t start easily or won’t start at all
- Flickering lights or low lights
- Bad transmission
- Malfunctioning instrument panel
- Low voltage battery reading
- Indicator lights such as the Check Engine Light flashing
- Practice periodic maintenance where you check for rust, loose connections, cuts, and so on.
- Make sure that the car is turned off before you touch any ground wires
- If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, take your Chevy to the dealership and have them examine the ground wires for you
- Ensure that the right kind of ground wires are installed during any upgrades. Some ground wires such as the one on the engine block carry high electric currents and so need heavy cables.