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Discussion Starter #1
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.
 

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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?
 

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Discussion Starter #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.

http://autos.msn.com/research/userreviews/reviewlist.aspx?modelid=3086

http://www.edmunds.com/chevrolet/suburban/1999/consumerreview.html

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."
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
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.
 

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my 89 Suburban has over 189k, engine and trans run flawlessly, I have put well over 1000 miles, and so far has used about 9 ounces of oil. only work I had to do, was replace the alternator,and the power steering gear.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
my 89 Suburban has over 189k, engine and trans run flawlessly, I have put well over 1000 miles, and so far has used about 9 ounces of oil. only work I had to do, was replace the alternator,and the power steering gear.
I've had a wonderful experience with my 91. My Burb doesn't burn any oil at all. I have 159k on the odometer.

It's the 92 -99 years that seem to have some spotty reliability issues.
 

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It all depends on a lot of things.

Day of the week it was built, never buy a car, or truck built on a Monday or a Friday or during a labor dispute.

Never buy the first new year model, or new engine, or trany.

Think about this the next time you go out to your truck and its -20 degrees Fahrenheit and you turn the key. It has been sitting there for you all night it those temps and now you want it to go from -20 to +200 in less than 5 minutes.

We really don’t give them as much credit as they disserve, lets see you sleep outside all night in those temps and wake up all at once and ready to go.

I don’t know about you but as I have gotten older,

Parts wake up slower than others.

I look at it this way,

I pay cash for our trucks, anything after that I just consider a payment. So if after a year or 2 of owning the truck if I have to put in a $1,500 part in it’s still cheaper than buying a new one.
 

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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.
 

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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!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
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.
 

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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!
 

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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!
Thanks for the reply Mitch. What was the problem with the tranny?
 

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Oh yeah I forgot the oil pan is leaking!

The oil pan gasket needs replacing too. I forgot about that until I was reading 93SUBURBAN'S reply! It is not a bad leak, but it has gotten worse. I took the slacker way out and slid a piece of ply-wood under it :biggrin: I blame this on lack of use. Heck, the Avalon needs valve cover gaskets and you would really be a glutton for punishment to tackle that one the way that V-6 is crammed in there!

Steve, the transmission started acting up as we were coming in off of vacation! We were stopped at a light (first one after getting off interstate) and when it was time to go the darned thing started slipping! No other problems until then--it was the strangest thing. It acted up the 3 miles left to go home. We were so lucky we were almost home! It turned out to be the sun shell started coming apart. The weird thing is the next day it shifted fine. I, of course, took her straight to the shop to get it checked. It did not throw any codes but there was a fair amount of metal in the pan.

I wound up getting the Chevy dealer to do the work. They put in a crate Good Wrench transmission that came with a 3 year 150,000 mile warranty. This was June of 05. I probably paid more than I should have but this same day I found out my dad had terminal cancer and he was 250 miles away and I knew I would be keeping the roads hot with him being sick. So I had little choice or preparation as I was caught completely blind-sided on both issues.

After doing some research and talking to some folks it seems that GM decided not to use heat treated metal in these transmission components. I do not know if this is for real or not, but based on them using plastic intake manifold gaskets....

Oh yeah-mine was built in Mexico. The irony--my old truck as built in Canada, the burb in Mexico, the Camry and Avalon in Kentucky! Go figure!

Something else to think about with all the attention on GM intake manifold gaskets--my brother had a 99 Ford F-150 with the 4.0 liter V-6 and he is more anal than I am about maintaining a vehicle--his intake manifold gasket went out at 53,000 miles! He raised enough caine with FoMoCo that they paid 3/4 of the bill. He has since come over to the bright side and bought a new Silverado crew cab that he loves! He swears he is getting 22 mpg around town. It has the little V-8 and he drives like a granny.
 

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Oh yeah-mine was built in Mexico. The irony--my old truck as built in Canada, the burb in Mexico, the Camry and Avalon in Kentucky! Go figure!

I went and looked on my newly found window sticker. "Final Assembly" for my truck was in Wisconsin. Was delivered to a dealership in Nebraska after coming off the assembly line. Seems like the truck has never left the midwest!
 

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Oh yeah another thing

One thing I need to say is that I know it sounds like I am bashing my Suburban, but honestly after all is said and done, I still grin like a fool when I get in behind the wheel of her. She certainly makes travel a joy and pleasure! I would probably get another one when it is time.

I wish you could get a Dura Max in a new one--that would take the sting out of the 3.00 a gallon gas! Of course you could probably finance a small country for what a diesel Suburban would sticker in at--if they made one :)
 

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My1997 Chevy Z71 4x4 silverado had the tranny, fuel pump, and intake gaskets all go at 72-74k and cost me around $3500 to fix, At 120k my whole break system failed and needed the powerbooster and normal break job done and I had seals leaking on the oil filter adaptor plate which the tech says was a bitch to do, oil cooler lines also. I bought it with 60k miles and sold it with 125,000. I kept the body up very well and the motor stayed strong. Just watch the tranny's and Intake gaskets. I also heard about running the gas tanks too low causes the pumps to fail early. I loved the overall feel for the truck and think the engines are tough. dual exaust and K&N intakes together make the 350 engine wake up!
 

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I bought my 1998 Suburban 3 years ago with 195,000 miles on it for $2950. We ran into financial problems and had to dump our Honda Pilot for $16000.We still needed something big to get the 3 adults, 2 dogs and 4 cats out of town in case of a hurricane-we live 4 miles West Of New Orleans.

The 1998 looked ok, but never in 1,000,000 years would I have ever considered buy a 10 year old 195,000 vehicle if we weren't broke in debt.

Well 3 year later 213,000 miles,I'm happy. We planned to use it in town,and to use it to get us 100 miles North in case of evacuation.
Turned out to be so reliable we drove it twice to Flagstaff AZ(3000 mile roundtrip-even let it idle for 6 hours at rest stops so we could sleep with the AC -save motel money and we fit a double mattress in the back).
Got 21 mpg on those trips(I put the CC about 65 mph and obey road work 45 and 55 mph zones).

The PO rebuilt/replace the trans at 185,000 miles and the AC at 155,000 miles.
I had to replace
1)Radiator $160 ebay
2)Brake booster-autozone $135
3)Water pump $160 autozone
4)Shocks-Bilsteins ebay-$210
5)Belt tensioner-$35 Chevy dealer
6) intake manifold gaskets $100+ $325 to shade tree mechanic-big mistake-had to redo his screwups stripped harmonic balancer bolt and hole and a couple of others(power tools in guy rushing not giving a darn)
7) anti sway bar clamp in front $20 GM
8) Stuff I forget

Maybe $1100 in parts-I did work.
Runs great-does have a rain leak in front, but doesn't rust despite wet floor.

I kinda doubt the 88-95 are more reliable than the 96-99 or 2000-2006. The old ones that are still left are ones that were really well taken care of and were the really reliable ones of their group to begin with.No one would bother to keep/repair an old POS that constantly broke down-they would be traded or junked., so it just seems like older ones are more reliable.
In medical studies it is called survivor bias.Folks who live to get really old are healthier to begin with(better genes), but researchers sometimes make the mistake of thinking Grandad is old because he drank a pint of whiskey a day, and maybe those folks who died early should have done the same.

I'm pleased with my Mexico built 1998-never expected much from a $2900 truck with 195,000 miles-but it has been really reliable.It is one of the few breaks we have gotten during our money problems.

I'm happy-great truck-do anything with it(well it is 2wd, but all we need is 2wd)
Charlie
PS Phoebe-recycled greyhound-also loves it-she can stretch waaaaay out and doesn't sleep on us like she did in the Pilot.
 

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My 89 1500 suburban has 315k on the body I had no problems with it until about 2001 when the tranny went after 250k of heavy trailer towing and in February 2010 I had the ol 350 re-built after the cam bearings finally went at 310k the body is still great on it and over the 21 years its been around ive maybe put about 6,000 $ into it. My Brother has a 98 k2500 burb with 160k and its gone through a transmission at 150k, head gaskets at 100k alternator, power steering pump, countless other parts. in that 10 years he put almost as much money into his in 10 years than mine in 20 years.
 
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