Time for some room for family - looking to buy a Burb

Discussion in 'Chevy Suburban Forum (GMC Yukon XL)' started by Jeepman, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. Jeepman

    Jeepman New Member

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    As an avid Jeep Cherokee and Wrangler fan I always had a great respect and like for the Suburban. I use my 99 Xj to plow, pull my fishing boat and pop up camper and haul my family during inclement weather. Up until June it was fine for my needs. That is until my new Daughter was born. My other Daughter was 11 at the time so there was still plenty of room for all of us up until this point. I have a lift, lockers and recovery points on it as I do drive off road at least 25 times a year and live in the middle of nowhere. The Jeep will still remain my plow and off road vehicle.

    I'm just saying hi and enjoying the wealth of knowledge for the Suburban. I do not own one yet but the hospital bills should be done soon and I will be buying a Suburban. I plan on buying a 2000-2006 Suburban with the 5.3l and 4wd. Kind of wanting the middle bench seat instead of captains chairs. I figured the 1/2 ton was the way to go as I do 90% highway driving and 19-20 mpg would be nice as I hear the 6.0l gets only 17 hwy. I will use this vehicle for towing, and hauling family. Been steering away from the Yukon XL with full time AWD. Is it a more of a gas hog?

    I see brakes are a good upgrade on these. Is there a rear disk conversion? Is the programmer worth the cash? Anything to watch for as trouble areas? I do all my own work from engine swaps to mild fabrication so I'm not scared to do some wrenching if it's worth it. I look for MPG, safety, comfort, and reliability as the main goals for upgrades. Of course not in that order.
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  2. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan Administrator Staff Member

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    I'll leave the questions to others on here, short of time this morning. Hope that you enjoy the world of the Suburban! :)
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  3. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator

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    Good choice by looking at a Suburban/Yukon XL. I will try to answer some of your questions. It seems like you know about vehicles, so I will not go thru the "how to buy a used car" speech. I have had 2 yukon xl's, a 2003 4x4 with a 2nd row bench and a 5.3L and a 2005 4x4 5.3L with second row captains chairs. Both of the trucks had front diff issues at around 130,000 miles. Both had bad bearings in the diff that had to be replaced. The 1500 comes standard with rear disc brakes. As far as upgrades go, you could always put slotted and drilled rotors on them.
    A thing that I would consider when buying one is what suspension system it has. Auto ride (air ride, rpo code Z55) shocks are expensive to replace and I have also heard of many guys having issues with the compressor. A Z71 package can have the shocks replaced with almost any truck shock. The "premium smooth ride suspension" (rpo code ZW7), has Nivomat shocks in the rear, they cost around $360 a piece! You can put a regular shock on the rear, but then need to change the rear coil spring at $90 a piece.
    I would not consider a Denali. Owners of them have some inflated view of the value and always want way too much money for them. The denali only come in AWD and with a 6.0L. My cousin's gets about 2 mpg less than mine.
    Yukon Xl DO come in 4x4, not only AWD as you stated. Mine is 4x4. Many sellers do not know the difference. When I was buying my 2005 I drove 90 miles to look at a truck that the owner said was 4x4. I got there and discovered it was AWD. I did not even test drive it. The easy way to tell if it is AWD or 4x4 is to look at the switch on the dash. A 4x4 will have: Auto 4x4, 4 high, 4 low, 2wd, buttons. Here is a pic of mine.
    IMG_1499.jpg

    The Suburban and Yukon XL are the same truck. The Yukon XL offered a few more options, like 2nd row headed seats that were not available on a Suburban for that year and of course the Denali package on the Yukon XL. I did notice while looking for mine, I originally wanted a Suburban, that most of the Yukon XL's had leather seats while only a few Suburbans that I looked at did.
    Another thing that you might want to look for is electric fans instead of a mechanical clutch fan. My 03 had a mechanical clutch fan and got at least 1mpg less than my 05 that has electric fans.

    As far as a programmer or tuner goes. I believe in them. They can be great if used or tuned properly. There is a member on this forum that sells the diablo tuners and then does a custom tune for YOUR truck. So that way you get the most out of your tune, better mpg and more power. There are many members here that are very happy with his services. To be honest I have searched all over the web and can not find one person saying anything bad about his services.
    I hope this helped.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
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  4. 99'HEARTBEAT

    99'HEARTBEAT Moderator

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    :sign0016:To the Site.......:glasses:......Regarding...."Anything to watch for as trouble areas?"....the Stepper Motors, for the Gauges in the Dash Cluster's, the Blower Motor Resistor's for the HVAC, and Front Wheel Hub Bearings.....are items to keep a Eye on........Programmer worth the cash.....The Diablo Tune's....is the one most often mentioned, another to look at for a Tune is BlackBear....and Both are Sponsoring Vendor here on the Site.
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  5. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator

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    Oh yea, I forgot about the stepper motors in the instrument cluster. They are also a known issue. But, you can send the cluster out and have them all replaced and all the bulbs replaced for $125. The HVAC resistor is a cheap easy fix also.

    I hope that we don't scare you away from your purchase. You asked for known issues and are getting them all! All in all most of the issues are not super expensive to fix. The most expensive of mine to date (knock on wood) was the front diff. The rebuild cost about $700. I have friends that have over 250,000 on theirs and never replaced a front hub, I have other friends that have 120,000 and have replaced them multiple times. They also used cheap replacement hubs. Same with the front diff. It is the same as the trucks diff. There are plenty of people that have tons of miles on their trucks and never had an issue. As with any used vehicle it is just the luck of the draw.
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  6. mfleetwood

    mfleetwood Moderator

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    Welcome to the Club!!!

    I moved your thread to the Suburban section of our forum and changed your title slightly to more match your topic.

    Good luck with your search!!
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  7. Jeepman

    Jeepman New Member

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    Thank you guys for all the info.

    Hub bearings I'm more than familiar with. I learned to do those in a foot and a half of water on my Jeep in 40 minutes. lol

    Is it just bad solder joints on instrument clusters?

    Front axle bearings on the differential I usually just swap axles on my Heap I mean Jeep when they go out. Setting the pre-load on the crush sleeve of the pinion bearing and getting the proper mesh on the gears I've failed at before and let someone else deal with now.

    Electric fans I could easily add my own. I built a solid state setup with an emergency switch to run the electric fans when I wanted along with being thermostatically controlled. Just would need a way of getting rid of the engine fan. Is it bolted to the water pump pulley?

    So the third row seat does not have headrests? Only the Yukon had the headrests? Hmmm will need to look for that.
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  8. dsfloyd

    dsfloyd New Member

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    Welcome to the club
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  9. unsub

    unsub New Member

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    My 2001 Suburban LT's third seat has adjustable headrests, have mine for sale on craigslist MN as my cargo area including third seat area will have custom subbox, gun rack and tool cabinets soon.
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  10. 99'HEARTBEAT

    99'HEARTBEAT Moderator

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    @Jeepman, Regarding....Is it just bad solder joints on instrument clusters?.....Its not bad soldering, The Issue is due to Faulty Stepper Motor's.

    The Common Symptoms, causes by bad Stepper Motors include:
    ....Speedometer Displays Incorrectly

    ....Speedometer Stops Working

    ....Tachometer Needle Sticks, Jumps, or Pegs
    ....Fuel Gauge Flutters
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  11. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator

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    I have also seen oil pressure gauges stop working. You can buy the motors for around $12 each. Yes, the fan is bolted to the water pump.
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  12. unsub

    unsub New Member

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    Rear disc conversion? All Suburbans in your year range have 4 wheel disc brakes as far as I know. The only drum type thing you have is the pads for the parking brakes.

    Programmer is always worth the cash.

    I don't have the instrument cluster issue talked about here. 4x4 system is rock solid and only repair to that was a simple swap of a new 4x4 selector switch box on dash which cost $40 and took 2 minutes and solved my 4x4 service light issue.

    You will have some form of piston slap. If you grab a 5.3 with low enough miles it may still be heard but isn't much of an issue until maybe you get over 100k, a simple overhaul with polished and ported heads with cam job ends that, or a new crate engine. I guess I don't even know if 5.3 piston slap is even an issue at all other than the noise.

    Fuel pump is an issue, mine was replaced at 75k by original owner and every single person I know with a gen2 Burb has replaced theirs.

    All AWDs are gashogs.

    Are you talking middle bench seat for very front seats? I know many that want to replace the second row bench for captains. I have to imagine their is an option to put a bench in place of the center console area of the captains without having to remove the entire thing.

    2000-2006 Burbs are pretty solid, if you do most your labor and anything needs to be done you are golden as parts for the most part are cheap and plentiful. Only real trouble area I'm having is sticking too much money into things I don't need for it ie-lift, paint, wheels and tires. I have a new exhaust system waiting to go on after overhaul but I've had my Burb on my friend's lift numerous times and for having 135k in midwest environment the entire exhaust system looks great.

    Good luck Jeepman. Beautiful area over there in northeastern WI.

    My Burb was built rigth in Janesville. I wonder if most were?
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  13. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator

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    I have had three 5.3L trucks, an 2002 silverado (bought new), an 2003 yukon xl, and an 2005 yukon xl. Only one developed a piston slap at 120,000 miles.It only happened on extremely cold days when I did not let the motor warm up at all. It was the 2002 that I only ran synthetic in. So saying ALL of them have it is not true. I know plenty of people that have a 5.3L with no slap. I preferred the bench seat i the second row over the captains chairs I now have. The bench made it easy for my wife to climb in he back and sit between the kids to feed our infant. With the captains chairs she has no place to sit and just kneels on the floor. I have the seat behind my drivers seat folded flat. This makes it easy for my two older boys to crawl into their seats in the third row. My 19 week old goes in the carrier in the second row passenger seat. I liked the bench because it added another seat to the truck and if I needed the cargo room I could take the third row out, then put all three of my boys in their car seats in the second row. With the captains chairs that is not an option
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  14. unsub

    unsub New Member

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    Ya "all" is a strong word so I will say some instead. I don't know what main design flaw is that causes slap, some are more pronounced than others and some have no slap at all like you say, but the 5.3's I have heard run mostly all have slap in any weather but particularly like you said in colder weather. I've heard the slap in all models from Silverados to Burbs/Yukons. Mine is noticeable at start for a good 30 seconds on warm days to a minute or two on colder days. Being I have yet to see a winter with mine I'm almost fearful of how loud and long slap will be this year. Overhaul and mods soon so not a big concern I guess.
    I love the bench seat in my second row, I have seen many forums of people talking about how they loved their burb more when they installed captains in second row but I see no need for them. As for the front I never liked the idea of three up there under any circumstances but I understand infants if they have to sit up front. That middle console isn't that great but I definitely use it. All depends on family size, although the guy I bought mine from was a big family guy and they managed.

    I have no kids so I'm clueless on the plight of you family guys.
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  15. Jeepman

    Jeepman New Member

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    The bench seat I'm referring to would be the middle row. Sorry for the confusion.

    The cluster issue with stepper motors sounds like an easy fix, other than removing a needle from a motor.

    Piston slap? Nice! Every Jeep I owned with the 4.0L other than one has had piston slap. Main reason it happens is the engine has load on it at too low of an RPM causing the skirting of the piston to slap the piston wall and wear a bit. On the Jeeps it was always #6 cylinder. I've had them do the slap for 165K and not skip a beat. My recent Jeep has 265K plows part time as my buddies business needs, plows for my family, used to pull broke down or damaged ATV's off of the ATV trail till last year when I built a tow trailer with winch for my the Polaris Ranger 800HD.

    I'll be sure to get a programmer when I finally buy our Suburban.

    Any particular brand of fuel pump that you guys suggest? If I drop the tank I will replace the tank supports regardless as I had a Ford drop a 3/4 full tank on the highway. Talk about lucky, I think my guardian angels were working overtime when that tank hit the pavement and only leaked. Fire department had to do a clean up but luckily that was it. Tank straps rotted through and the rest of the truck had no rust.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
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  16. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator

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    Only the AC Delco! I have seen many reports from members saying that any aftermarket brand last one year maybe two at best.
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  17. dsfloyd

    dsfloyd New Member

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    In regards to the piston slap in chevys (I had it in my 5.3 and some in my 6.0). If I remember correctly, they said when its cold the piston was a little smaller than the cylinder and after about 30 seconds or so it heated and expanded enough to go away. Dont think I have ever had or heard of any real issue with it damaging anything.
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  18. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis New Member

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    The 2004 on had a bump up in EPA mpg
    wondering if that had something to do with those electrical fans-and other stuff-
    Pikey mentions his 2005 has the electrical fans-
    so maybe 2004 has them also-
    in any case I would look 2004-2006-they are very favorably priced
    And the Denali-yeah they want too much-and only come with the thirstier 6.0 liter motor-the 5.3 makes plenty of hp-so why bother with the thirstier one
    Heck my 1998- older 5.7-makes plenty of power despite being just 255hp

    Oh-Texas is Suburban central-and they aren't rust buckets like many from the Mid West and NE are.
    Might be worth it to check out what is available in TX
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  19. Jeepman

    Jeepman New Member

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    Does the better fuel mileage have something to do with the flex fuel? I can see gaining some from an electric fan but 1 mpg seems a bit high for going to an e-fan.

    The flex fuel how long was that an option?
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  20. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis New Member

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    You are right-there must have been more to it than just the fans
    The 2wd 2002 Suburban rated 17/13 2004 18/14
    2000 was just 17/12 just like my 5.7 1998

    In any case must have been more to it than just the fans-maybe trickier programing-and quicker drop to just idling fuel consumption when you lift off throttle
    And pretty sure there is some sort of deal where they drop fuel flow consumption to BELOW idle consumption=forget what it is called-has nothing to do with the 2007 AFM cylinder shutdown

    In any case better FE as you get slightly new truck-worth it to pay a little more and got a 2004 2005 2006 I think-and you get fold flat seats-which I think 2007 did away with???
    that sucks-we sleep in the back of our suburban-and sometime carry 4x8 building material-
    so folding completely flat is a nice feature-no idea why that feature was lost???

    Yeah you can buy $50,000 new vehicle-for $10,000-granted it will have 100,000+ miles but suburbans are relatively cheap to fix easy enough to DIY- great parts availability -and pretty reliable in respect to essential components
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