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Old 01-04-2010, 07:56 AM
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Default Chevy 2500 - best years for reliability

I am considering the purchase of a 2500 Suburban as a tow vehicle, either from the late 90s (specifically '97 - '99) or early '00s (most likely '03), both with the big engines. I have read a number of message boards about general issues associated with these vehicles but are there any views as to which years, if any, are considered more reliable or more problematic?

Thanks

Gordon


It would be great if responses focused on the question about best years for reliability for 2500 Chevys, rather than a debate about Chevy vs. Ford vs. Dodge vs Toyota - thanks in advance.
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:18 AM
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All I can speak to is the 6.5L diesel, I've got a 1995 K2500 Sub. I'm partial to my diesel, gobs of torque, great vehicle, pretty inexpensive to maintain, pulls all my trailers with ease. They did have problems with the blocks in 1997 when they weakened the main brg supports to drill for piston cooling oil jets. GM fixed the tooling after that. The chassis, well, how can you go wrong with a 3/4 ton chevy? Thousands out there hauling everything from kids to hay bales. Look for one with the 8600# GVW rating w/ the JD7 brakes and 14 bolt rear end (3.73 or 4.10 available). Indestructible (almost).

If I were looking, I'd be focusing on last year diesels were available, 1999. Look for one owned by a 6.5L enthusiast, they would have made all the mods for improved performance and reliability. See the 6.5L forums at www.thetruckstop.com, www.thedieselpage.com and www.thedieselplace.com for hours of discussions on best years for blocks and mods to improve an excellent tow truck.

Google "diesel suburban site:craigslist.org" for a sitewide search. I found mine in Virginia about 3 yrs ago, from the 2nd owner with a fresh (70k mile) engine for a price so low I'm embarrassed to tell you! Good luck whichever engine you go with.
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:59 PM
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Thanks for the response and I should have further qualified my question. Given that this vehicle will only have limited use with long periods of inactivity, I am going to purchase one with a gas engine. I would prefer diesel but worry about fuel problems from it sitting around.

Thanks again

Gordon
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:47 PM
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I have a 2000 2500 crew cab, and up until 2001 on the 2500 truck they only offered 350 5.7, and then of course the 454 for non diesel. I am not sure if the suburban followed the same trend, but I would look for where it came with at least the 6.0 gasser. My truck is our dedicated tow vehicle and it adequately does what it needs to do. On the 5.7 350, rear main seal leaks, and head gasket / cooling system leaks are problematic as well as the fuel pumps / sending unit. Other these known issues it has been good to us.

EDIT - Fuel economy with the on the fly 4wd is horrible.
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:07 PM
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Default diesel biocides

Yeah, mine only sits during the week. They do have good fuel treatments on the market that prevent those sulfur eating bugs! Thart's a good question to ask the guys who let their diesel sit for long. The only ones I know that have probs are sailors. they don't use their boats enough.


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Originally Posted by ghargraves View Post
Thanks for the response and I should have further qualified my question. Given that this vehicle will only have limited use with long periods of inactivity, I am going to purchase one with a gas engine. I would prefer diesel but worry about fuel problems from it sitting around.

Thanks again

Gordon
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gulfsurfer View Post
All I can speak to is the 6.5L diesel, I've got a 1995 K2500 Sub. I'm partial to my diesel, gobs of torque, great vehicle, pretty inexpensive to maintain, pulls all my trailers with ease. They did have problems with the blocks in 1997 when they weakened the main brg supports to drill for piston cooling oil jets. GM fixed the tooling after that. The chassis, well, how can you go wrong with a 3/4 ton chevy? Thousands out there hauling everything from kids to hay bales. Look for one with the 8600# GVW rating w/ the JD7 brakes and 14 bolt rear end (3.73 or 4.10 available). Indestructible (almost).

If I were looking, I'd be focusing on last year diesels were available, 1999. Look for one owned by a 6.5L enthusiast, they would have made all the mods for improved performance and reliability. See the 6.5L forums at www.thetruckstop.com, www.thedieselpage.com and www.thedieselplace.com for hours of discussions on best years for blocks and mods to improve an excellent tow truck.

Google "diesel suburban site:craigslist.org" for a sitewide search. I found mine in Virginia about 3 yrs ago, from the 2nd owner with a fresh (70k mile) engine for a price so low I'm embarrassed to tell you! Good luck whichever engine you go with.

amen to the 14 bolt i have one in my 2500 pu
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:08 AM
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Had a 2005 2500 Sub was a great set-up 6.0 eng. 3:73 gears LT trim - 16 mph highway 12 mph towing, If i was going to tow heavy and often above 8,000 get the 8.1 with 4:10 gearing, gas mph 12 highway 9 towing. Good luck
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:32 AM
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5.7 vortec's have intake manifold gasket problems. There are also problems with the mechanical injector system. If that crappy Dexcool goes bad, you're in for all kinds of cooling system problems.
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:54 AM
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You might have more trouble with ethanol gas sitting around a long time than diesel.

Look up Chevys in consumers report. Although suburban doesn't indicate it is the 2500 you could get an idea from what is listed for the Suburban. For example 98 and 99 weren't very good years. 2001, 2, and 3 were better years.

Last edited by raymonds; 01-05-2010 at 06:00 AM. Reason: add more information.
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billinstuart View Post
5.7 vortec's have intake manifold gasket problems. There are also problems with the mechanical injector system. If that crappy Dexcool goes bad, you're in for all kinds of cooling system problems.
Fuel pumps, intake manifold and injectors are the big 3 problems on the late 90's 5.7. I had a 97 1500 chevy with a 5.7 and an injector clogged, forced fuel up the wiring harness and shorted it out. I got it fixed by a shade tree mechanic for 900 bucks back 3 years ago and my son in law is still driving it has 160K+. The intake manifold problem can be caught by keeping an eye on your water or coolant resevior when you start using fluid they need to be checked cause they are leaking... I loved that truck Good Luck
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:38 PM
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I dont follow you on watching coolent to see if intake manifold gasket has gone bad? Head gasket, yes; intake gasket, ?
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Old 01-05-2010, 04:48 PM
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I owned a 1998 3/4 ton (K2500) Silverado 4X4, regular cab with the 7.4L (454 cid) gas engine from new in 1997 until Feb 2009.

When I sold the truck it had 117,500 miles on it. I am in the Navy and the truck would set for the most part while I was at sea - the wife didn't like driving it.

The truck was never modified, lifted or hotrodded. Stock rims the entire time I owned it.

In the time that I owned it I had repaired/replaced:
Transmission cooler lines (leaking) (~$300)
Intake manifold gasket (common to the late 90's 454's) ($1000)
Windshied wiper motor (~$200)

Coolant standing ON TOP of the intake manifold was the indication of a failing intake manifold. I called BS and took if for a second & third opinion and both dealerships and the independent mechanic all said it was the intake manifold and all three said they were suprised I made it to 90K before it let go. Evidently it was a faulty gasket from the factory. It was replaced with an improved/redesigned gasket and I never had another problem.

I averaged 13-16 MPG and had gobs of torque. It towed as well as the 2008 Ford 6.4L Diesel I bought to replace it and the gas milage is nearly identical. The only reason I got rid of it was I wanted/needed a backseat.

I only hope this new Ford turns out to be as good of a truck as the Chevrolet was.

BTW - the guy I sold it to emails me every now & then and thanks me for selling him the truck and tells me how much he loves it (I SHOULD HAVE KEPT IT!!)
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:35 PM
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I have a 2002 2500 HD with a 6.0 gasser. It has been a great truck, with very few problems. I have 4:10 gears (unfortunately) which is great at the ramp, you can almost idle out with an 8000# boat trailer combo, but it is also very very thirsty. Thankfully my commute to work is only 8 miles round trip so its not such a big deal.

One of the known problems in those years with the 6.0 is the clanking in the engine on startup (when cold)....its nothing. Lots of research has been done, cant remember what the explanation for the noise is but it sounds like a diesel when it starts. After a few moments it goes away and will not harm the engine at all....trust me.

The other known problem in those years is in the steering shaft.....it will make noise. There was never a recall, though there should have been and if you took it to the dealer they would just grease the shaft which would only last a short while. Wont hurt anything but if it bothers you you will need to add some kit to it (dont exactly know what it is since it doesn't bother me that bad and I didn't mess with it)

Normal Chevy AC compressor stuff, those have always been a problem but basically I have not done much to my truck except for tune ups, I replaced a hub and an AC compressor.

You may be able to find one with 4:10 gears really cheap since they are gas hogs and not many people like them for that reason....would be better re-sale with 3:73's-I think.

my 2 pennies.
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:02 PM
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[quote=freedbaby;2705288]One of the known problems in those years with the 6.0 is the clanking in the engine on startup (when cold)....its nothing. Lots of research has been done, cant remember what the explanation for the noise is but it sounds like a diesel when it starts. After a few moments it goes away and will not harm the engine at all....trust me.
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:06 PM
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I appreciate all this great feedback - thanks!
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raymonds View Post
You might have more trouble with ethanol gas sitting around a long time than diesel.

Look up Chevys in consumers report. Although suburban doesn't indicate it is the 2500 you could get an idea from what is listed for the Suburban. For example 98 and 99 weren't very good years. 2001, 2, and 3 were better years.
I checked on Consumer Reports and they reported the following for the 2500 Suburban: '00, '01, '02, and '04 have average expected reliability, '03, '05, '06 have below average expected reliability, and '07, '08 have lowest expected reliability; there was no rating for '09 but they expect reliability of new models to be 46% below average.

I also took a look at the 2500 Silverado 4WD, with the following ratings: '02 has better than average expected reliability, '00, '01, '03, '06 and '07 have average expected reliability, '04, '05, '08 have below average expected reliability, and '09 has lowest expected reliability (25% below average). Notably, the 2WD version all did a notch better in terms of expected reliability.
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:19 PM
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That is interesting, I certainly can say that my '02 has been surprisingly a great truck, not as good as my previous Toyota Tacoma but it also wouldn't tow 8000#'s

I am glad to know about the later years, I was thinking about selling mine and buying a slightly newer Diesel.
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:13 PM
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8.1 engines will burn oil - about 1qt / 1000 miles
a pain in the ass but a buddy of mine has over 200K on this engine
I've got an 03', burns 1qt/ 1300 miles 52K, no problems, tows like a monster, mpg towing 10#+ is 8-10, around town 10-12, 15 hwy
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Old 01-07-2010, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
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Fuel pumps, intake manifold and injectors are the big 3 problems on the late 90's 5.7. I had a 97 1500 chevy with a 5.7 and an injector clogged, forced fuel up the wiring harness and shorted it out. I got it fixed by a shade tree mechanic for 900 bucks back 3 years ago and my son in law is still driving it has 160K+. The intake manifold problem can be caught by keeping an eye on your water or coolant resevior when you start using fluid they need to be checked cause they are leaking... I loved that truck Good Luck

I had a '99 1500 and I couldn't get past the fuel injection issues. 2 new 'spiders', 2 new fuel pumps. 4 radiators, 2 water pumps, 4 door lock solenoids, all in 110k miles. And the brakes were off a Yugo, the truck couldn't stop for anything.. All GM OE parts...

Stick with the 2500- it is marketedly better, but consider an Excursion if towing is a criteria.. Also, stay above 2000 if your budget allows...
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