Bought a used truck…

Aug 5, 2004
Back in Arizona. Finally
Well, I’m back in Arizona but this time I’m in a newer house - 1928 vs 1905! There‘s lots of catch up maintenance to do so I need a pickup truck, nothing fancy, just runs to the dump or for supplies. The prices for used cars, much less trucks, is crazy these days but I got lucky. Got news of a elderly man looking to sell a 1996 chevy half ton extended cab so I went for a look…..

The test drive revealed 242,625 miles on the clock but it ran well enough. 2 Michelin tires up front, 2 destination LE’s on the rear. Brakes were ok and the steering has just a touch of slop but she tracks straight as an arrow. Trans shifts great, no vibrations, rolled it 70 mph and it feels pretty good for a 25 y/o truck. Heater works, A/C doesn’t. Outside pretty beat up, but then I’m going to work it too….$2000 and I drove it home, where it promptly quit running.
An ignition module fixed that.
Flushed PS fluid and set it to the proper level - it had been overfilled.
Changed oil and filter and gave it Maxlife 5w30 and a Fram filter.
It had intermittent codes for mass air flow sensor; the harness plug into it lacked the weather pack gasket so I jerry rigged one and tie wrapped the plug to the sensor - code hasn’t returned in over 200 miles.
Water temp gauge wasn’t working, repaired the wiring in that weather pack plug and now it works.
With the temp gauge now working found out the engine is running cold. I drained the cooling system ( straight water!) and pulled the thermostat neck to find it had no thermostat at all! The neck had silicone sealer as a gasket! Figured out how that came to be, there some pitting on the sealing surface and it probably leaked. Took a triangle file to it and trued the sealing surface up, then put in a 195 t’stat. Filled it with Prestone all vehicle antifreeze and a new radiator cap. She makes hot water now.
Pulled the rear brake drums off to find linings in very good shape; cleaned everything up, adjusted the brakes and good to go. Front disc brakes were good too and while in there found why the anti-lock brake light was on - a severed wire going to the driver side sensor. Mending that put the light out.
Somewhere along the line the battery hold down got lost, autozone had a kit for that.
An under truck inspection revealed a TCI transmission (with clean fluid!) and flowmaster exhaust sans catalytic converter. My county doesn’t require inspections and at 25 years the point may be moot - it’s on the cusp of being a classic car!
A round of tail light bulbs and socket cleaning got the lighting legal; the low beams are xenon’s.
A strong round of Techron in a half filled tank fixed an intermittent miss at idle, idles smooth as silk now. Engine likes the maxlife too, it very quiet, no crazy noises.
The speedo is roughly 7% higher than actual speed according to my GPS. Most of these trucks came with 3:42 gears and if you apply that 7% difference to the diff that just about works out to a 3:73 axle ratio - that’s just me guessing though…
So now that the truck has had some of the important things squared away, how does it drive? Fantastic actually. It pulls strong through the rev range and exhibits no crazy traits at all. It holds 25 psi oil pressure at hot idle. Very pleased with this purchase.
Next up: driver door hinge repair, brake flush and finding all the stuff for the spare tire - the wind up mechanism is there but I lack a spare tire, jack and lug wrench. Lots of wrecking yards here, should be able to fix that. For now a harbor freight scissor jack , 4 way lug wrench and the spare in the bed.
So whatcha y’all think?


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Those trucks are timeless and one of my favorite designs. I'd rock one as a DD if I ever fell into a clean one and needed a truck, but most of them are looking pretty rough in the rust belt (that's been the case for a decade or so now, and they're getting fewer in number). I'm not in the market, but I've toyed around with flying to a salt-free city and driving one home at some point - the clean ones still catch my eye up here.
It appears this truck has been in Az all it’s life, not a scrap of rust. I’m thinking it has had some time across the Mexican border too; not having a t’ stat and using silicone to for a gasket points to that kind of make do repair.
Wow you purchased a great truck for the price. No rust is really a plus. I bet it would really look good if you buffed and waxed the paint and put dressing on the tires and maybe some caps for those wheels or chrome lug nuts. Nice find and I admire your mechanical abilities to sort out those little things in need of repair.
The truck has the 5.7, sorry for missing that. When I dumped the coolant it wasn’t rusty at all, just had a ”gray water” look to it. I’m in Bisbee now AZjeff. I love it here!
The truck has the 5.7, sorry for missing that. When I dumped the coolant it wasn’t rusty at all, just had a ”gray water” look to it. I’m in Bisbee now AZjeff. I love it here!
We stayed at the copper queen motel there last year. The town was not for us. Too many people with different ideas than we have.

We did go see the border wall and went to a Walmart right on the border. Cleanest Walmart I have ever seen lol.
Scored gallons of mobil1 for $3 too.
The 95 in my sig is a twin to the OP`s truck. Been through most of what the OP`s truck has. Rust has been kept at bay with yearly oiling and waxing in late October. It`s our DD and has been very reliable and drives very well. Good luck to the OP for his.
How are the headlights? I just landed a '97 C2500 Suburban that spent much of it's life in AZ. Drove it for the first time in the dark this evening and the headlights are terrible.
Those were extremely reliable from what I recall of the vintage, some of the best models gm has turned out, according to a friend of mine who used to work for gm as a transmission guy.