2003 vs 2005 Suburban (or Yukon XL)

Discussion in 'Chevy Suburban Forum (GMC Yukon XL)' started by jbeall, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. jbeall

    jbeall Rockstar 100 Posts

    Hi All,

    We're looking at a 2003 Yukon XL at the moment. I had one friend tell me that "he thinks he remembers hearing" that the 2003 and/or 2004 powertrain had some problems that was corrected in either the 2005 model year.

    I've been searching on this and haven't come up with anything conclusive that would indicate this rumor he heard is true. I've seen a handful of people complaining of various issues, but they don't seem to be isolated to just the 2003 or 2004 model years. Generally speaking it seems like people are happy with their Suburbans/Yukon XLs, so long as they maintain them... but now that my friend has given me this red flag I'm second guessing my decision to buy this Yukon XL. This is going to be a family vehicle (for a big family), and we *don't* want to have to be putting major bucks into the powertrain in just a few years. We can't afford it! We want to get a dependable vehicle that we can take good care of and get many, many years of use out of.

    I thought I'd get some feedback from the good folks here. Any issues with the 2003 model year I need to be aware of? The particular Yukon XL we're looking at has 47,000 miles on it. We test drove it and it ran fine for us; we tried it on the highway up to 65mph, although just for 5 minutes or so.

  2. laffman

    laffman New Member

    I've owned my '03 Suburban since August and have put 14,000 miles on it. It currently has 103,000+ miles on it. Not one issue with it. I love the truck.
  3. jbeall

    jbeall Rockstar 100 Posts

    Great to hear

    That's great to hear, and makes me feel a little more confident buying this 2003 Yukon XL. Still curious to hear other people's thoughts/experiences.
  4. retired2001

    retired2001 Epic Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts

    I have a '04 Chevy Pickup with 117,000 miles and the drive trains should be the same as the Suburban/Yukon XL. No problems and running strong!
  5. jbeall

    jbeall Rockstar 100 Posts


    It's sounding like whatever rumors I heard were unfounded! :)
  6. MOJ06

    MOJ06 Rockstar

    I have a 03 Suburban LT w/62k..no issues with the transmission. I tow a 27ft travel trailer 5 times a year too.
  7. jbeall

    jbeall Rockstar 100 Posts

    We went with the 2003 Yukon XL. Thanks for all the feedback we got here!
  8. jbeall

    jbeall Rockstar 100 Posts

    So I was looking through my old posts looking for something in particular. I thought I would update this thread: we've put about 65,000 miles on this vehicle since we bought it in 2009, and I couldn't be happier. Well, that's not true: I wish it were a diesel ;-) but other than that, I'm quite happy. No major drive train failures, and the transmission isn't showing any signs of nearing the end of it's life. I recently spoke to an associate of mine who has a 2003 Yukon with 200,000 miles on it, and it's the original transmission. He reports no grinding or other transmission issues. So that's what I'm hoping for! :)
  9. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    I had an 03 yukon xl with 150,000 when it was totaled. The previous owner had put a new trans in at 110,000. But, that was because he did not do any maintenance at all and towed a heavy trailer every weekend. Only issues I had with it was the rear shocks. The previous owner changed out the rear shocks with a set of monroe gas matics. I always wondered why the rear felt spongy and all over the place. I discovered after research that the rear shocks
    (without auto ride) were nivomat shocks (about $300 each). Unlike most shocks they help support the weight of the truck. Putting on different shocks without changing the rear coil springs can give it a spongy ride and be dangerous in situations. I now have an 05 xl. I have found a few things different. First, it does not have a clutch fan on the water pump like my 03 did. It has dual electric fans. I get about 1 mpg more in the 05. Second, The brake system in the 05 does not have a vacuum booster like the 03 had, it has a hydroboost system. The 05 does stop much nicer than the 03 did. Other than that I have not founds much different. I put alternators, tensioners, and idler pullys on both. I also had to have the front diff rebuilt on both. Both at 135,000 miles. Oh, and I too wish mine was a diesel! :great:

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