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  1. #1

    Default First time buyer with a lot of questions

    Alright so I'm in the market for my first truck, pretty much narrowed it down to the 03-05 Silverado 1500s or the Sierra 1500 but I have a few questions first. First off let me also say I'm looking at getting an extended cab, 4WD, 5.3L engine, and probably the Z71 package. My boss has suggested that whatever I get, make sure it has the transmission cooler which I believe is only available on units with the towing package.

    1.) What's your real MPG? I see it's rated for about 15 city and 20 highway, is that accurate for most of you?

    2.) Are skid plates available for whole underside? or just the engine/transmission area?

    3.) Z71 or LT trim? I see some people selling advertise as Z71 LT trim, but I thought they were two different trims. Z71 looks to have all the same options as the LT (including leather) so I'm not sure why one would chose the LT trim?

    4.) If I get a 3-4" lift in the future, will that decrease the MPG?

    5.) What is the motor longevity? Has the Vorec 5.3L been proven to be a quality motor that can go over 200k miles?

    6.) One thing I hear people say is they feel the interior quality is kinda crappy. Would you owners say that's the case, and is the GMC Sierra interior similar?

    7.) If I don't go with the towing package, can I get an aftermarket transmission cooler to install?

    8.) What parts commonly go bad (interior and exterior) in these trucks?

    9.) What things in particular should I check for when looking at one?

    10.) Are there any parts I can add in, like a cold air intake, that will raise the MPG by 1-2?

    I'm sure I'll have more questions the longer I think about it, but I figure that should be a good start for now

  2. #2


    1.) I get mid-teens combined mileage if I'm easy on it/ not carrying a heavy load. Then again I have a lot of extra weight (toolbox, backrack, lights, lightbar, steel wheels, sub, amp etc...) so that definitely affects my mileage somewhat.

    2.) Not sure on this one, I think the Z71 came with full skid plates from the factory but idk.

    3.) Not sure about this one either, I thought Z71 was the highest trim level.

    4.) Lift kits alone won't affect mileage too much, it's the larger wheels/ tires that will have more of an effect than the lift.

    5.) Yes, the 5.3 can last for well past 200k with proper maintenance and upkeep.

    6.) I have the WT model silverado so my interior is relatively bare bones but that's ok w/ me.

    7.) Yes but the towing package is one of those things where you won't miss it until you need it most.

    8.) The blower motor resistor and gauge cluster motors are all that comes to mind right now.

    9.) Rust, overall condition, smooth running/ idling motor, check overall wear on suspension components, any fluid leaks or signs of leakage.

    10.) A K&N filter and exhaust can help w/ MPG but your best bet is to remove any unnecessary weight and use conservative driving habits.

    Good luck with your search and welcome to the GMTC!
    04 ECSB Custom silver & grey, Soft 8's, BFG KO's, ReadyLift Leveling Kit, Hellwig front sway bar, K&N filter, DeeZee EZ-Down, Rhino liner, Alpine CDE103BT, Rockford 6.5's, 12" V.A.T. Hammer Pro in a Subthump box, Alpine PowerPack amp, Hifonics amp, BackRack w/ 55w 5000k HID KC Daylighters, KC light bar with 4 KC Slimlites, UWS toolbox, Shaved Antenna mod, Black Bowtie, LED backup, license plate, dome lights & 3rd brake light

  3. #3


    check to see it the exhaust manifold bolts are broken! Most the time the heads of the bolts pop right off. It is not a cheap repair. Where are you in Michigan?

    1995 Silverado 4x4
    6" BDS Suspension Lift-3" Body Lift-Add A Leaf in rear -Trailmaster SSV Shocks-Duel Steering Stabilizer Kit -AirAid Cold air intake-
    4.56 Gears with Detroit Auburn Locker-Pro-Comp Traction Bars with duel shocks-Aluminum Skid Plate Kit-38.5" x 16.5" Mickey Thompson Baja Claws-Constant Dropping fuel gauge

    2005 Yukon XL Jet Power Programmer, Bilstein Shocks, Bilstein rear springs, Helwig Anti-sway bars, EGR Window Visors, EGR Hood Shield, Denali Headlights, Headlight harness upgrade, GE NightHawk Bulbs, White Night Rear lighting system, Russell Braided SS brake lines, PowerStop Brake pads, PowerStop cross drilled and Slotted Rotors,
    2002 Silverado ext cab 2wd (Sold)
    2003 Yukon XL (Totaled)

  4. #4


    The only thing I will comment on is the 5.3 engine. I have seen several of them go well beyond 300K with proper care and maintenance. I have had 2. I took one up to 300K and was still tight, no smoke, no leaks nothing when I sold it and the one I have now is at 145K and runs like a new one in every way. I have a friend with one that now has over 500K and is still going with no oil burn, leaks or anything. Just so you know.

    2002 Chevrolet Silverado Extended Cab SportSide: See Mods in My Garage

  5. #5


    1) mid teens.
    2) no. There are no skid plates that cover the entire underside. It would be extremely heavy and it would have to come off for every single bit of work or maintenance underneath.
    3) Z71 is an off road package that is comprised of Bilstein shocks and steel skid plates instead of aluminum ones, not a trim level.
    4) Yes, unless you keep the factory tire size.
    5) it's a machine. Machines break. There is no way to predict how long an engine will last. There are so many determining factors. They have proven to be reliable.
    6) I think the interiors are as nice as any other year models.
    7) Yes.
    8) instrument cluster stepper motors, drive by wire system, automatic transmission
    9) everything. Take it to a shop and have a pre sale inspection done if you aren't savvy with cars.
    10) there is a whole catalog of aftermarket goodies. No, you will not get a 2mpg increase in mileage with a cold air intake alone.

    Show us some pictures if you get it. Good luck!
    "It went together didn't it? Well then there has to be a way to take it apart!" - Me.

    Check out my image gallery HERE.

    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

  6. #6


    I've found one, an 05 4x4 ext cab with the Z71 package, guy wants $8800. Has 144k on it. He says "a lot of new parts.15k on new trany,NEW: front rotors,pads and calippers,rear shoes,shocks 4x ,front wheel bearngs L+R ,tires 4x,alternator and battery,back cover same color as truck,full sintetic engine oil ONLY .........".

    Does having all those new parts at 144k throw up a red flag at all?

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by ghost_recon88 View Post
    I've found one, an 05 4x4 ext cab with the Z71 package, guy wants $8800. Has 144k on it. He says "a lot of new parts.15k on new trany,NEW: front rotors,pads and calippers,rear shoes,shocks 4x ,front wheel bearngs L+R ,tires 4x,alternator and battery,back cover same color as truck,full sintetic engine oil ONLY .........".

    Does having all those new parts at 144k throw up a red flag at all?
    Not to me. My 02 I just sold had new upper and lower ball joints, inner and outer tie rod ends, wheel hubs, shocks and brakes all the way around. I had 140,000 on it also. I put new tires on it at 120,000 and replaced all those parts because I did not want to eat thru my $800 worth of tire.

  8. #8


    I tested a Silverado and a Sierra and I have to say that I preferred the Sierra. I've always thought of the Sierra as the "luxury" model of the Silverado
    Pete "Cujo" Clark
    2000 GMC Sierra 1500 Z71 5.3L

  9. #9
    Master Mechanic
    383man's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Chehalis, WA


    As moogvo stated above, Z71 is the off road package, the lowest trim level is LT and the highest is LTZ, with a few in between (LT1, LT2) good luck on the truck, post up when ya get it!

    2009 silverado Crew Cab LTZ Z71 4X4
    6in FabTech suspension lift
    35x13R18 nitto terra grapplers
    6k and risin

    Previously owned vehicles-
    2007 silverado ext cab LT 4x4
    2001 silverado std cab 2wd
    1990 toyota pickup
    1989 Trans Am GTA
    1957 Chevy Pickup stepside

  10. #10


    1. My mothers Yukon gets about 17 to 20 mpg and it is a 1500 with the 5.3
    2. Skid plates are just for the ehgine and trany.
    3. LT & Z71 are two diffrent pakeages. Z71 is GM's offroad pakeage and LT is the luxury pakege right behind The LTZ or from GM's the SLT
    4. The lift want decrease MPG to much as long as you have the right tires.
    5. My grandpas 5.3 has 320k
    6. I wouldnt say so
    7. Yes
    8. Motors for the power windows and sometimes lock on the inteor. The exterrior all depends on how you
    treat it and what you put it through. How much you tune it and stuff of that nature.
    9. Common sense stuff like heat and air working. You know just use common sense.
    10. Yes there are many things you can do to increase your MPG like a programer, air intake, aftermarket exhaust
    LB7|2" lift|20" rockstar xd's|wrangler mud tires|Leer cap|4in turboback|volant CIA|boost increase valve|EFI by DTS|phantom gauges|6 speed ZF-6|solid mass flywheel|ceramic Kevlar clutch|High idle switch|55 gallon in bed fueltank|Edge insight|4 rigid dually|app radio 2|250watt kicker amp an 10" sub

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