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  1. #1

    Default reliability with the generations

    It appears the 1981-1991 Suburbans are pretty reliable. I have a friend that used to have a 1989, and now owns a 1997 or 1998. He's had multiple problems costing thousands of dollars to repair.

    I thought perhaps he just had bad luck. Today I searched on MSN, and lots of people have reported just terrible luck. Transmissions, electrical bits, fuel pumps, electronic door locks etc. While on the other hand, looking at older reviews, mostly people just complain about gas mileage.

    What's your experience, I'd like to hear it.

    The 2000-2006 trucks have hardly any complaints, but I figure that is because they are so new.

  2. #2
    Jr. Mechanic
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Wesley Chapel, Fl


    no complaints with my 89'

  3. #3
    TrailLeadr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Coventry, Rhode Island


    Can't say that I have any complaints.

    I'd say things like the fuel pump would be relative to the fact that the typical burb owner never had problems with running their rig's fuel tank on the low side, since a refuel can be expensive. The pumps require the constant wetting to keep them cool, and if the tanks are usually run low, the pump is more likely to fail. Maybe a design flaw, but not really a problem provided owners keep their tank levels higher.

    When you say older reviews how old are we talking? Carbed engines with non-electric transmissions?
    Rhode Island

  4. #4


    I like to buy the last generation of a truck, so it has the bugs worked out, so I was looking at 99 Burbs.

    Check out this link.

    Just a little scrolling and you see some people with some serious problems. A lot of them mirror the issues my friend has had with his 97.

    "Purchased three years ago at 70,000 from individual with all receipts, maintained exclusively by Chevy dealer. ALL scheduled maintenance is faithfully done, and we keep it looking clean & new. BUT, since reaching 90,000 miles, something breaks about every week. In last two years, we have replaced the transmission, all 8 fuel injectors, head gasket, radiator, water pump, alternator, fuel pump, and A/C compressor. Pass-side rear window doesn't work. Power locks quit working last week. A truly sad example of poor quality & reliability throughout. It's comfortable & great for interior capacity & towing, but we've bought the car twice due to the repair expense. Definitely don't recommend "

    "I purchased vehicle in 2001 with 50,000 miles. I have replaced the following: Brakes twice, water pump, alternator, windshield wiper motor, u-joints in drive shaft, driver side interior door handle, rear end(differential), one fuel injector in throttle body,fuel pump and front shocks. The car still has the following problems: Rear doors leak, ghost in the dash cuts ac on/off at will, check engine light comes on when climbing long steep grades, engine spark knocks, steering is erratic, leaking anti-freeze (probably intake gasket) steering wheel vibration above 60 mph. I have driven and owned Chevrolet or GM products all my life , this will be the last one ever."

  5. #5


    With the sheer volume of Suburbans that were sold, you're always going to have a certain percentage of lemons. All vehicles have them. I know a guy with a Toyota who's engine tore itself apart after 60k of light-duty use.

    10 Chevy Traverse LT AWD
    02 Chevy Trailblazer LS (110K+ miles - loaded except for 4WD - WRECKED!)
    99 Chevy Cavalier LS (105K+ miles - commuter car)
    78 Chevy Suburban Silverado (454, 3/4 ton)
    62 GMC 3/4 ton Pickup (350 police interceptor)

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  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    With the sheer volume of Suburbans that were sold, you're always going to have a certain percentage of lemons. All vehicles have them. I know a guy with a Toyota who's engine tore itself apart after 60k of light-duty use.
    You have to look far and between to find those though.

    For example, I searched for reviews on my 91 Suburban year. The only major complaint seemed to be gas mileage. My '91 has 159k on it and I've only replaced minor stuff on it so far. Mostly wear items (seats both broke), updated the A/C to r134a, new shocks.

    My friend says, when the term comes up, "They don't make them like they used to", it really applies to Suburbans.

    I'd like the power and gas mileage of the newer burbs, but these reviews frighten me a bit. Maybe I should skip to the 2000-2005 trucks if I buy a new one.

  7. #7


    Where was it built, Canada, USA, Mexico.

    Just so we know when you have problems with it where it was built a lot of people don’t take that into account when they say they have had problems. It does make a difference.

    Technology is great, when it Works,
    And one Big Pain in the Ass When it Doesn’t.
    Detroit Iron Rules, All the Rest are Just Toys.
    94 GMC Burban, 5.7L (350), 4X4, Auto
    86 GMC Burban, 350, 2 WD, Auto
    79 GMC pickup plow truck, 400, Full time 4X4, Auto
    86 Pontiac Fiero SE, 2.8L, Auto, only mid engine American car
    See a Pattern yet?

    15 year GM assembly line worker.

  8. #8

    Default My own experience

    Hey guys--new member here. I have a 99 Suburban LT 1500 that I bought used 3 years ago this month. It is completely loaded and has the 5.7 liter engine. It had 39,000 well maintained miles on it when I got it. I found it on the internet at a Chevy store in Alabama where it was a local trade in on a new Suburban. This is the nicest vehicle I have ever owned! It has heated, leather seats, the "Home Link" system, and the self-dimming rear view mirrors all around and all the other creature comforts. Not to mention enough room and comfort to satisfy most folks (even the wife!)

    I did the research on this rig before pulling the trigger. I just laughed when I read the gripes about fuel economy! Of course it likes fuel--it is a friggin huge beast of burden with a V-8 engine. Personally I think mine does pretty darned good. I get 19.5 on the highway with the cruise set at 73 and a/c going. Around town it gets about 13.5-14 mpg. I had a V-6 Explorer that got a tad better--not much better though! I work with people that have Expeditions and Durangos and they are not doing any better--ones with Fords get worse.

    Repairs-yep the not so good:

    --I had to replace the transmission at 60,000 miles! That sucked--especially considering all maintenance followed and never pulled a trailer; heck the receiver hitch is still factory black--no scratches.
    --Intake manifold gaskets at 65,000 miles -I knew this was a problem on the GM's going in and was expecting it. As I understand it -it is not a matter of if, but when.
    --I am at 77,000 miles and the a/c compressor is leaking. From what I can tell researching on the net this seems to be fairly common on these compressors.

    I had an 88 Silverado 2500 5.7 litre that had 225,000 hard miles that still had the original motor and transmission. The a/c still worked with the original compressor! That was a darned fine truck! I had to get rid of it due to space and a cranky wife. The truck was big and driveway short--ext cab and LWB! 4 cars and 2 licensed drivers—as my wife kept pointing out.

    Do your research and know potential pitfalls and decide if you can live with it. The transmission was a surprise for me. However you see tons of Suburbans of my generation with tons of miles. The fuel pump remains to be seen. I do not let mine get below ½ tank –we pretend like a ½ tank is empty!

    I have owned Fords, GMs, Nissans, Toyotas, & VW’s and I have had good and bad experiences. I hate to say it but the Asian cars were less of a headache—of course “throw your Toyota in the back of my Suburban and we’ll take it for a ride”

    Just my .02 cents worth—and that’s not much 

    Good luck!
    1997 GMC Sierra
    2005 Cadillac DHS
    2004 Toyota Camry
    1996 Toyota Avalon

  9. #9


    Hey Mitch, Thanks for the reply!

    It looks like you are not alone. The things you have had failed, seem to be a common theme.

    My friend says the repairs are just the "costs" of owning his 97 Burban. He likes the reliability of the older generation like mine, but no doubt the newer style Burban has better creature comforts and ride.

    I still like my Burban to be a "truck" though if you know what I mean. The newer Burbans seem more focused on people hauling. The 92-99 year Burbs seem like a good compromise. Still truck like, but better refinement. I just wish there was something better to say about the reliability.

  10. #10
    Sr. Apprentice
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Lenexa, KS


    Very well put Mitch!

    As for my experiences...please keep in mind I've had My burb for less than a Month.

    AC Condenser replaced and the AC system upgraded
    Radiator hoses replaced

    Next on the list is a full tune up (plugs, wires, cap, rotor), oil pan gasket, rear diff gasket (front gasket), power steering pump seal, and new full dual exhaust.

    Keep in mind though that everything I'm doing is pretty much normal for the age of the vehicle (my burb is now 14 years old). Besides age, I've recently found out that my truck has been driven approximately 10K miles in the last 2 years (given what's wrong with most of the seals and gaskets, I'm guessing that it sat for a long period of time during those two years).

    given the few headaches I've had with this truck, I still don't regret purchasing it one bit!
    1993 Chevrolet Suburban
    K2500 4X4 w/ 7.4 L 454

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