The World’s Highest Mileage Chevy Truck


Summary

  • Chevy Silverado 3500: A true workhorse with the durability and power to travel one million miles in just six years.
  • Chevrolet: Known for building trucks that just keep running, the Silverado’s reputation for longevity is evident in the Million Mile Club.
  • Preventive Maintenance is key: Regular oil changes and quality care helped Hugh and Tammy Pennington’s Silverado 3500 reach seven figures on the odometer.



Chevrolet is renowned for building trucks that just keep running, and when it comes to traveling long distances, Chevrolet is up there with the big guns like Toyota and Honda. Chevy has had so many trucks cruise through to six figures that they established a club just for drivers who have gone more than 100,000 miles; the Chevy Truck Legends community.

Currently sitting at 18,500 members in the private Facebook group, it is a testament to the durability of Chevy trucks that so many have gone so far. For some drivers, 100,000 miles is just warming up, and several have even cruised past their odometer limit to hit the most impressive milestone of one million miles driven. Whether you’re transporting heavy trailers or heading on long road trips, the Silverado is the perfect vehicle to get you from A to B.


The ultimate mileage machine in Chevrolet’s range is, surprisingly, the heavy-duty Silverado 3500, a true workhorse renowned for its towing capacity, powerful engine options, and ability to tackle anything you throw at it. One couple managed to get their 2006 Silverado 3500 HD not only to the million-mile mark, but in an incredibly short six years with no major repairs or problems with the truck.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from Chevrolet, and other authoritative sources, including MLive, DieselTech, Pickup Truck Talk, NPR, and Fuelly.


The Chevrolet Silverado, A Million Miles Of Machine


It’s no surprise that the Silverado has multiple million-mile models; the Duramax turbo diesel found in most models is an engine that is legendary for a reason; it’s powerful, it’s durable (if the name wasn’t enough of a hint) and the LBZ engine in the 2006 Silverado in particular is about as bulletproof as it gets. One couple from Michigan managed to not only breeze past the one million miles in their Silverado 3500, but they did so in just 6 short years, far quicker than other record holders like Irv Gordon’s Volvo P1800S which took 52 years to get past 3 million miles.

Long distances are to be expected in the Silverado, so much so that Chevrolet included an industry-exclusive engine hour meter to track maintenance better, and while drivers have reported the fuel economy to be around 12 MPG, this does climb to nearly 18 MPG if you’re spending your time on the highway, which Hugh and Tammy Pennington certainly did.


Hugh and Tammy Pennington’s 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD

One million miles is an impressive enough feat. For Hugh and Tammy, the distance was just a case of business as usual. In June 2006, they purchased a brand new Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD crew cab with a Duramax diesel engine and Allison transmission while in Georgia. Tammy had been driving Hugh’s Silverado and after putting down 150,000 miles in less than a year, they decided to buy a new one. Six short years later, the odometer hit its limit and one million miles was achieved, with Tammy (who did 90 percent of the driving) driving between 600 and 700 miles a day behind the wheel to reach the number.


Chevrolet Silverado 3500 In Detail

The Chevrolet Silverado 3500 heavy-duty spec model is built for hard work and towing large loads and is far from the average pickup truck, something that is true even with the newest electric Silverado. Rated to tow an enormous 16,700 pounds and carry a payload of 5,511 pounds in its 8-foot-long bed, this is a truck for people who need to move a lot of weight around. The 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 provides plenty of power to get the job done, so you aren’t slowed to a crawl when towing large trailers or RV’s, which is exactly what Hugh and Tammy did during their incredible six-year stretch.

The LBZ engine, which was first introduced in early 2006, has since become a legendary engine for its durability and power; it was released right before emission regulations required DPF (diesel particulate filters) installation which reduces performance and gas mileage. Chevy also resolved the injector issues that plagued the previous LLY engine and paired it with an Allison six-speed automatic transmission to ensure you get the most mileage out of your Silverado.


Performance Specifications

Engine

6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel V-8

Horsepower

360 @ 3,200 RPM

Torque

650 Pound-feet @ 1,600 RPM

Transmission

Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic

Driveline

Four-wheel-drive

Towing Capacity

16,700 Pounds

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Six Years To Hit Seven Figures, How?

2006 Chevy Silverado with Duramax 360 Horsepower 6.6-Liter Diesel V-8


Hitting one million miles is an incredible achievement, but to do so in just six years beggars belief, especially in anything shy of a semi-trailer. For Hugh and Tammy, this was just part of the job and the miles added up with consistent long-distance driving, and proper maintenance of their truck. The question becomes, how does one truck manage so many miles in such a short time, and what’s involved in such an impressive achievement?

Much like other million-mile drivers like Victor Sheppard who is almost up to his second million miles, or Irv Gordon, whose other 2 cars had 600,000 miles on top of his Volvo’s 3.2 million, the Penningtons also had another Silverado with amazing mileage; Hugh’s 2001 had 725,000 miles (although with one engine replacement) at the time, so driving is a big part of the lifestyle of a million miler.


The less glamorous answer to how to get to one million miles is fairly straightforward; a lot of highway driving. Of all the cars that have hit the milestone, only a few have managed it from purely personal miles, the majority have done the hard yards either transporting interstate or with consistent long-distance trips over many years. The Penningtons did both, with consistent 600-700 mile days across the US and Canada, hence why they were able to race to the million so quickly.

500 Miles A Day, Every Day

It all started when Tammy set out to offer help after Hurricane Katrina, transporting RVs into Georgia to provide shelter for those affected by the disaster. After putting 150,000 miles on Hugh’s 2001 Silverado, she decided it was time for a new one, and they purchased the 2006 Silverado 3500 HD crew cab while in Georgia. By the end of 2006, they were transporting fifth-wheel RVs and trailers across the country from the factories to the dealerships as well as some much-needed vacations across North America. They were moving RVs up to 39 feet long across the country, typically putting 600-700 miles on the truck every day and sleeping on a mattress in the back seat while on the road.


If you’ve ever wondered just how much a Silverado 3500 can tow (sometimes raw numbers don’t quite paint the picture), Hugh and Tammy would holiday by towing their own 35-foot fifth wheeler and their 16-foot Sportscraft boat behind it. For a truck with an eight-foot-long bed, towing an extra 51 feet behind it is about as impressive as it gets for a pickup truck.

What It Takes To Get To One Million So Fast

“Keep up on the maintenance. Change the oil religiously, and change the filters at the same time.”
Hugh Pennington, 2015

The key to all the cars that have managed to reach one million miles is preventive maintenance; it may not be the most exciting thing, but it is vital. The most important of all the maintenance you can do is to change your oil regularly, if not frequently. Hugh and Tammy made a point of changing their filters at the same time to make sure they weren’t running dirty oil through their Duramax, but just keeping on top of your manufacturer-recommended oil changes is going to get you a long way.


This means you’re looking at changing oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and for drivers like the Penningtons, you’ll be looking at up to 50 oil changes a year – so getting familiar with the process or becoming friendly with your mechanic is a good tip. The Penningtons’ Silverado 3500 managed to hit the million without any major issues, only a replaced transmission and transfer case at 850,000 miles which ended up being mostly unnecessary; after the work was done it turned out only the transfer case needed to be replaced.

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Chevrolet, Home Of Million Mile Trucks

A parked 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
Mecum


As a testament to the strength of Chevrolet’s trucks, there have actually been multiple to reach the million-mile mark, and the Duramax Silverado in particular has managed the feat at least five times over the years, with a few making it seem very straightforward a task. Frank Oresnik was interviewed back in 2008 by Robert Siegel of All Things Considered as he ticked over the million miles, and Brook Smith is up to 1.5 million miles across his two Duramax trucks, a Silverado and a GMC Sierra. Both of these drivers have had similar experiences; no break-downs, stock engine and transmission, and a smooth-running truck no matter how many miles they put on it.

Frank Oresnik’s 1991 Silverado


400 oil changes, five radiators, 1,219,000 miles; these are the numbers Frank Oresnik managed in his 1991 Silverado, partly out of stubbornness, partly out of interest in seeing how far it would go. After purchasing his 1991 Silverado in 1996 with 41,000 miles on it when the original owner passed away, Frank paid off the three-year loan with 300,000 miles on the dial and a strong desire to never deal with car payments again, so he kept driving ‘Old Girl’ until the odometer rolled over to seven figures.

Frank spent his career delivering steaks and seafood between Wisconsin and Chicago and managed to reach a million miles in just 12 years, and the 1.2 million mile mark by the 15th year. Impressive numbers for any driver, especially one whose truck was in the hands of another driver for the first 41,000 miles of its life.


Two Duramax Trucks, 1.5 Million Miles

Brook Smith is a man of many miles, 1.5 million of them to be precise; in his 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 DRW crew cab he managed one million miles and, after ‘retiring’ the truck, he put more than 500,000 on his 2015 GMC Sierra as he was keen for a ‘new office’. Just like the Penningtons, Brook reached his million miles transporting RVs across North America, while taking his Silverado to 49 states, all 10 Canadian provinces, and even drove it on an ice road.

His Silverado managed all this without a problem, and other than replacing one set of injectors at 616,000 miles (because it’s a business truck, and he figured why not), the engine and transmission were untouched and never had an issue. Amazingly, he managed to get anywhere between 170,000 and 190,000 miles out of his tires (Michelin LTX A/T2), by ensuring he never overworked them; not being too heavy on the foot was key to this.



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