What should I replace-5.7-to help reliability-

Discussion in 'GM Powertrain' started by phoebeisis, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I would love to buy a 2003 Suburban -locally one with 90,000 miles $8500, but that isn't in the cards- broke, in debt etc.
    I'm thinking about swapping in an entire new Goodwrench 5.7 in-cost maybe $3000 delivered installed.

    My buddy/mechanic suggests I just change out the stuff that will break me down on the side of the road, and let it go at that.

    1) Cam chain and sprockets- he says this is the"motor" thing most likely to strand me.No to not much warning, it just breaks, or the nylon coated sproket breaks. Might hear so prebreak noise or poor running, but probably not.
    2)Fuel pump-he suggests at least carrying one to speed up replacement on a trip.He says I will probably get a warning-stall, then restart after 10 minutes or so.
    3) Cam- I should have plenty warning-noise ,so not so important.
    4) Crank and piston rod bearings-my warn idle oil pressure is down to 20 psi with 5w30 syn oil-45 psi at 60 mph 1750 rpms.He says 20 psi is low,some wear, but not too bad. They can be changed with the motor still in the vehicle-off oil pan, dc caps, pull crank down a bit-1/4" or so-should be enough play to allow 1/4".

    If we didn't drive across Texas 2-4 times a year,I wouldn't do anything but change the oil etc.
    If the motor croaked in Texas it would cost maybe $6000+ 10 days in a motel to fix it.This would be a catastrophe, since I won't have $6000 or motel money.

    208,000 miles 1998 Suburban 2wd-
    What should I replace to decrease the likelyhood of getting stuck on the side of the road 1000 miles from home?
    Trans, AC stuff, radiator, brake booster, water pump, belt tensioner, intake manifold gasket have recently been replaced

    The vehicle runs great-good mpg-not much oil use.
    I can hear lifer tap for 10 seconds on cold days-that is it.

    What should I replace? In maybe 2 years my finances will be better, so I can upgrade to a 2004 Suburban-which would be nice.
  2. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Fuel pump is a definite winner for replacement. It's a pain in the rear to get to, especially when full of fuel, and will strand you without thinking twice. If you carry basic tools with you while traveling, a couple of old spark plugs and wires wouldn't be a bad thing to have. Of course, the normal fluids and such. Of course, I'm sure you already know/do this stuff, so I digress. Drivetrain-wise...the things your mechanic mentioned are all good candidates. Timing chain kit would be nice, but it can be a b*tch to get to while still in the truck because you have to pull the water pump off and drop the front of the oil pan a bit to get the front cover out. Tranny fluid and filter is a definite plus, but get it done a while before heading out because of the dreaded "I changed my tranny fluid and my tranny doesn't work anymore" bit.
  3. k.daddy1

    k.daddy1 Rockstar 100 Posts

    First of all, the 5.7 don't have the plastic timing chain gear. Anyway 208k miles is nothing. If the vehicle isn't giving signs of problems, why go into it. I have a 97 with 337k miles, the engine completely stock and original. Service is key to a long lasting engine. I replaced the tranny because of what I pull burnt up the tranny around 250k. If your going to spend the money, do it right and pull the motor out of the vehicle. Get a basic overhaul kit and do it right the first time, that way you'll never have to do it again. Send the heads off to have NDI'd and milled if needed. They check all the valves, seats and replace the valve seals around 250.00, Send the crank and block off also. Have the thrust radi checked on the crank and while they have the block, have it dipped and new cam bearings installed. Block dip and bearings around 110.00. You'll have a perfectly clean engine to assemble. The basic overhaul kit runs around 560.00-600.00. This includes all gaskets, rod/main bearings, rings, timing set, lifters, oil pump. all new oem parts (CarQuest/NAPA). Stay away from the autozone or advance auto parts stores. You get what you pay for from them. Clean the injection system and you'll be ready to go for another 200k miles.
  4. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Thanks for the info guys.

    Kdaddy-my buddy thinks it has an aluminum sprocket coated with nylon-I have no idea what it is-I see that the Croyer Timing Chain and sprockets are maybe $60 delivered-a good deal if the Croyer items are good-are they?

    So a rebuild would be maybe $650 for parts and maybe about $400 for machine labor etc.-say about $1300 with fluids/gaskets etc.

    The downside to doing the complete rebuild is the cost, but more importantly the fact that an inexpert mechanic-me- has a HUGE chance to screw it up. Something will get put together wrong in all those operations. I can do simple stuff fairly reliably, but on a multi step process like that the chances that I will screw up one step are pretty high.I have my limitations.I have to get this right the first time, so a full rebuild done by me is out.Paying someone to do a full rebuild-pointless when I can get a new goodwrench motor on my doorstep for $2250- a great price for a new OEM motor.

    I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. The smart play would be to just replace the motor for $2700 or so with gaskets/fluids etc.I don't have the almost $3000. A DIY rebuild like yours would be maybe $1200-which I could scrape up-but I would probably make a mistake and end up pulling the motor again.I've rebuilt single cylinder motorcycle motors, and the 1st time, I screwed up something-left out a seal or something-and I had to do it over(repull motor) With a 95 lb thumper it added maybe 10 hours to the job-with a 600 lbs SBC- with all its accessories-and with no compressor air tools-it would be a problem.

    I'm not an experienced enough mechanic to trust myself doing rebuild. If I was a more experience mechanic,that would be the way to go, but I'm not.

    The "just leave it alone" changing just the timing chain/gears and the fuel pump might be the way to go.It runs great with great mpg, so there probably isn't much ring/bore wear, and the valves must seat pretty well. It uses a little oil-maybe 1 qt 2500 miles-but not too bad.


    BBC4EVER Member

    I agree. If you're not an experienced mechanic that's done rebuild's before, then your truck would be less reliable than it is now. No offense of course. If it runs good, then leave it. It will give you warning signs. Your buddy is right, timing chain and gears are a good item to change. Definitely the fuel pump, no doubt about it. I'd be more worried about the trans than the motor. The GM motor would be the way to go if you don't have someone that can do the rebuild for you that has experience. Also, the GM goodwrench motor would come with a warranty..maybe 1 year or 12k miles. She'd start to smoke, burn oil and make noises before anything major would happen as long as you know the warning signs and keep up the maintenance, you're fine.:great:
  6. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    No offense taken.I have learned many,many things the hard way-by doing them wrong- and there is a reason it is called the "hard way"-too expensive and it wears you out!

    I'll go the timing chain and fuel pump route.

    I'm lucky on the transmission.I bought it 2 years ago at 195,000 miles-it has 208,000 miles now. The PO had the transmission rebuilt by Cotteman at 186,000 miles(cost him $2000-I have the receipt). He also put another $2000 into the AC and intake manifold gasket at 156,000 miles.

    The rebuilt transmission is a large part of why I bought a 195,000 mile vehicle (that and needing a big,cheap vehicle).

    It has been a good vehicle-very reliable- I replaced the radiator,water pump, brake booster and belt tensioner, fuel filter-but they didn't stop me on the road.I could still brake with a dead booster(not very well of course).


    BBC4EVER Member

    Sounds like you've got it covered. It'll stay cool, stop, shift and pump fuel it'll keep on going. Don't want to scare you away from a rebuild, just would start with something that isn't so critical. It's a great experience, that's for sure.
  8. Dr_Zero

    Dr_Zero Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    Out of curiosity I got looking up the cost a rebuilt engine and found these and they are not too hard on the pocket book


    Engine Description Size VIN Price/Core

    GMC 350 Roller cam, 2-bolt main, block #880, head #906, valve cover bolts thru center of cover, plastic timing cover with crank sensor. Vortec
    350/5.7L R $1,599/$375
  9. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Dr Zero,
    One of the great things about GMs-cheap parts!
    Heck a NEW 5.7 Goodwrench- L31 I think is what they call it for my truck- is just $2300 delivered to my door(well curb) with a liftgate.If it was going to a business it would be $100 less.
    If I went "new' motor I guess I would get a new Goodwrench for the few hundred more.

    I have noticed that the 2001 and later 5.3's are over $1500 more for some reason(almost $4000 new $3200 rebuilt by GM). It also states that the 99 and 2000 5.3's are somehow different than the 2001 and later-??

    BBC4EVER-Yeah,I have bitten off more than I could chew too many times-breaking a motor in the middle of NOWHERE TX is not the time to discover that I screwed up my rebuild!-The Suburban actually has to be reliable, so I have to limit myself to what I'm sure I can do right-the 1st time.

  10. k.daddy1

    k.daddy1 Rockstar 100 Posts

    Only you know your limitations and if your not comfortable with the task-Ok. You can get crate motors a little cheaper that are built to OEM spec's. Watch out for the Jasper rebuilds, not very pleased with the quality or warranty. Fuel pump, complete tune up, and fluids- would be the best place to start. I wouldn't be afraid to drive the truck coast to coast. GM's are pretty reliable and will give warning signs of impending problems. As far as the timing chain and gear goes, if your not noticing any valve noise, missing, power problems/hesitation I'd leave them alone, but thats me. You know your vehicle best! Good luck hope some of this helps from everyone.

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