Looking at two Suburbans to buy, need opinion

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Oct 16, 2003
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need common-sense opinion:

First - 2009 Chevrolet Suburban with 193,000 miles. LT2 w/ Z71 off road package.
With the towing package, one gets the 3.73 rear. I didn't test the 4x4 functionality.

When I asked who rebuild the engine, which shop, he said he did it himself. He does appear to be a knowledgeable mechanic but apparently not a pro.

Black on black leather, captains chairs, power everything, navigation, DVD, sun roof, power lift gate, 4WD, factory tow package with factory brake controller, and ice cold AC. Tires have 95% tread. Runs good. Engine was rebuilt this spring and the DOD/AFM was deleted from this motor when it was rebuilt.

It's a 5.3 motor. I rebuilt it. It was a complete teardown and the block was cleaned. It has new of the following I can provide receipts for:
Cam bearings
Main bearings
Rod bearings
Rings
Timing kit w/ LS2 style chain guide
All Gaskets, including head gaskets, intake gaskets, Oil pan gasket, and exhaust manifold gaskets
New head bolts (they are Torque to Yield)
New Crank Pulley Bolt (Also cannot be reused)
New expansion plugs and oil gallery bar-bell
Front and Rear main seals
Also
The cylinders were honed.
New oil pressure sending unit.
Pistons and ring lands were cleaned
Leakdown test was done on the heads
Replaced the torque converter since they are a problem point on these 6L80 transmissions.
The Transmission has fresh fluid and filter and the cooler was flushed.
The AFM delete was purchased from Texas Speed, and the ECU was reprogrammed by AMS Racing

On top of this: " The torque converter is brand new - which addresses catastrophic failures of the transmission. With the cruise control fixed it is now 100%.
and:
I pulled the drivers side head and had it rebuilt by a machine shop. They replaced the valves in cylinders 1 and 7, and ground fresh seats. They also milled it flat. It's back on now with a fresh head gasket and head bolts. It also has a new melling oil pump to resolve the low oil pressure issue.
"

The pics look nice but do not show that the paint is fairly banged up, lots of scratches all over. No obvious rust including underneath. Just the usual surface rust.

Here are the pics:
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Good deal or run away? I offered 10K and he is firm at $11,500 Had it listed for a month, apparently no bites.
Suburbans of that vintage do seem to go for about 10-12K.
How do all the repairs increase the value of the 2009 Burb? I don't think he can document most of them aside from maybe showing parts receipts, if that.
Again, the big concern is, paint looks terrible up close but not from 20' away.


SECOND consideration: 2007 Suburban LS, 2500, 150K miles. Also 4x4 (or off-road)
Looks fairly plain jane, except it is a former government vehicle, obviously bought at an auction. The motor is 6.0L which is nice, not sure if the transmission is a heavy duty one or not. Towing package. Paint looks nicer except for holes in the fenders on both sides from some equipment they had and a bit of rust right under the door and in a few other spots but looks presentable over all. Surface rust underneath. Did not test drive it yet, asking price is 12K, want to get some common sense feedback. I want the one above, the black Burb, choice #1 but have reservations about it.


Are both of of these prices in the normal range? 11.5K for black, 12K for white?

I want to tow occasionally and I had the 6.0L before, I get it that it doesn't get great MPG, maybe 11-13 max and less towing but it can tow more than the 5.3L Burb above. I could tow with 5.3L too but it will have to be smaller, lighter. Depending on what I get, it will dictate the length of the trailer. I think I can do 30' with the 6.0L and with 5.3L likely less, even with 3.73 gears.
Looked under the hood, the 6.0L engine looked very clean. Tried to pull the engine hours from the console, that option was missing, weird.


Is this a better deal and what kind of an offer can I make?



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1628553131652.png
 

pacem

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In my area, these are to be seen in the context of items such as these:

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and 2007 with only 281,000 miles:

1628555220943.jpg
 

pacem

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My 2008 Tahoe is falling apart with too many things too fix and too high miles, not viable. I don't need right *now* but need something before it breaks down definitively, and I want to get a TT to pull with a Suburban.

Waiting does not mean the prices will come down, they seem to go up and up.. inflation maybe.
 
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First, I'd probably wait 6 months if you can until this market recovers. Yes, there's inflation but the driving forces are lack of supply chains and inventory. If you can wait until next spring, you'll probably save 20%. Or more.

Last year, these were $5-8k vehicles. I was looking at them, considering one.

If you must get it now, for $10k+ I would demand that I have my own mechanic put it on a lift and go over it bumper to bumper. You can generally do that for a few hundos. That will rule in, or out, either of these.

Between the two, I'd opt for the white government vehicle if the interior isn't trashed. I'm not sure about these two motors, so you'd want to do your homework on the inside ball on each, to see if either had serious design flaws or issues. All things equal, I'd go for the 6.0L motor, as I like displacement for your needs of hauling and towing.

All things equal, 150k miles is still quite young for a 6.0L but pushing 200k on a 5.3L is getting up there in age on a Suburban IMO. Still have a lot of life in both, but that's a 25% difference. 45,000 miles difference between the two vehicles at similar price points is substantial. That means it is 3-5 years "younger." All things equal. Maybe the black truck's new motor is correctly built but the rest of the truck has 45k more miles on all parts of it - trans, axles, body, frame, all electronics, etc. It's getting old.

What was the role of the government white? Given the white color and the holes, I'd suggest some sort of escort or chaueffer type duty with flags mounted at the holes. Like a dignitary, driving around town, etc. Probably a very easy life.

The positive about government vehicles is that you know it's been maintained on a schedule in a government mechanic bay. The danger with police cruisers is that they idle long periods. I doubt the Suburban was subjected to extended idling, it's not the nature of that type of vehicle generally. Probably a crime lab transport or armed police response transport, or diplomat duties, etc. Probably a very easy life for a suburban.
Biggest issue mentioned is the rust. I'd ensure it's not cancerous and can be fixed, sanded out, and coated.

I'd be reluctant to pay similar money for a higher miles 5.3L that "some guy" rebuilt the engine and did a "bunch of work" to. We all know this clown. And I'm not giving this clown $10k for a $5k vehicle. The paint means you live with a vehicle with cosmetic issues, or repaint it and that's expensive.

Take the white to your mechanic and have a inspection and plug into OBD scan tool, then if it checks out, make a reasonable offer or walk.
 
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If you can get the past paint issues of the first one, perhaps someone knowledgeable can inspect the truck and advise if the repairs were completed in a semi-decent manner?
 
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white one, if you have to have a ‘burb.

5.3 is prone to AFM issues which start happening now-ish? And he’s done some pretty big work, but only done the bare minimal by the sounds of it. If I pull a head, I’m going to have the head completely rebuilt, so that I don’t have to get in there again. No way I’m going through that labor and not finish the rest of it for $100 more. For that reason, I think there’s more life left in the white one. If you wanna tow big, the extra suspension of the 2500 will be your friend, though as a DD it won’t be as comfortable; and a 6.0 2500 will not be cheap if it’s a DD.

granted, the black one has a nicer interior and trim package, and that matters for time spent in it. you could go with it and keep some $ set aside for maintenance items.

towing a large TT is work on a vehicle, let’s just say that. Brakes, wheel bearings, 4K rpm hill climbs and shifts do work a vehicle, and the ‘burbs are not small in their own rite. Hauling firewood with bugs in it and things like a portable p00p tank can lean towards a pickup, when doing camping duty.

m
 
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"Last year, these were $5-8k vehicles."

That's where I think you should be on this era, but looking at local prices here it's hard to find something under 200k miles for under $15k, I'd look for investing in something either older $4k-ish if mint, or something that'll be good enough to tide you over in the $2k range, consider a pick-up and skip the 4wd altogether if possible. My buddy and his kid drive these older Suburbans and do a little work on them too, they seem to get their money's worth, but to qualify myself I have no experience in the Suburban. There also has been a posting of someone here that also gets the older ones at a cheaper price and is very happy with the deals.

Transmission thing is something I am suspicious of too, a fella told me that about ever 150k you can expect it needs a new transmission, he was looking for a used one too, he pulled trailers long distances. Get the model number of the transmission and look up YouTube video's from folks that rebuild them to get more insight. You should do that with the motor series too.
 
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The 2500 will have a 6L90E which is just a beefed up version of a 6L80E, Most notably is the beefier Planetary gearsets.

The biggest weakness in these units besides the Converter coming apart is 456 Clutch burn up, 1234-35R Clutch Drum cracking, And the 1234 Piston cracking.
The last 2 are fairly common on '06-'09 models specifically & I believe intermittent runaway Line Pressure is a contributor.

Unfortunately.....The unit needs to be removed to fix the Pressure Regulator Valve issues that causes spikes in line pressure.
 
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The one with the rebuilt engine could be a dream come true (in that it works reliably for a long time), or a hornet's nest of problems. So it's a bit of a gamble. That's why unless he has all parts & labor receipts and you can be certain the work was done correctly and thoroughly, I don't think the drivetrain work adds any real value-- in fact, it would be a negative if I was vehicle shopping.

I can't believe how horribly overpriced vehicles are these days. $10K+ for a 200k truck that has had major work done to it and 14 year old base model 2500? Ouch.
 
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I want to tow occasionally and I had the 6.0L before, I get it that it doesn't get great MPG, maybe 11-13 max and less towing but it can tow more than the 5.3L Burb above. I could tow with 5.3L too but it will have to be smaller, lighter. Depending on what I get, it will dictate the length of the trailer. I think I can do 30' with the 6.0L and with 5.3L likely less, even with 3.73 gears.

Hopefully you'll look at the payload, tongue weight, and tow capacity before you buy something. A quick search shows the 2009 1500 with 3.42 gears has a 5400 lb tow rating and the 2007 2500 has a 9500 lb tow rating. The 2009 with 3.73s will probably be a bit better but not near the 2500. A loaded up Z71 could have a lower number. The door jam sticker will have the exact numbers. Maybe have the owners send you a pic of the sticker?

Since towing a travel trailer is in your plans I'd lean toward the 2500. For reference, our 2017 27' trailer (21' box) is 5400lbs dry.
 

pacem

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Hopefully you'll look at the payload, tongue weight, and tow capacity before you buy something. A quick search shows the 2009 1500 with 3.42 gears has a 5400 lb tow rating and the 2007 2500 has a 9500 lb tow rating. The 2009 with 3.73s will probably be a bit better but not near the 2500. A loaded up Z71 could have a lower number. The door jam sticker will have the exact numbers. Maybe have the owners send you a pic of the sticker?

Since towing a travel trailer is in your plans I'd lean toward the 2500. For reference, our 2017 27' trailer (21' box) is 5400lbs dry.

I get it there is a drastic difference in towing ability. 6.0L is real nice. I had it before. It's a bit thirsty but pulls like the old 460 7.5L. And it's not just the motor but also the suspension. I don't plan to tow very much. Maybe twice a year but what I get will dictate what TT I will get. I think with 2500 I can pull a 30-32' TT and a 5.3L 1500 series limits me to probably 22' and around 5000 lbs. Just to be safe. 5.3L is just not the best choice for towing but it might be the better overall choice as 99% of the time I won't be towing.
 

pacem

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The one with the rebuilt engine could be a dream come true (in that it works reliably for a long time), or a hornet's nest of problems. So it's a bit of a gamble. That's why unless he has all parts & labor receipts and you can be certain the work was done correctly and thoroughly, I don't think the drivetrain work adds any real value-- in fact, it would be a negative if I was vehicle shopping.

I can't believe how horribly overpriced vehicles are these days. $10K+ for a 200k truck that has had major work done to it and 14 year old base model 2500? Ouch.

He said he did it by himself, hence there is no labor receipt. I can ask for parts receipts.
 

pacem

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white one, if you have to have a ‘burb.

5.3 is prone to AFM issues which start happening now-ish?
I have a Tahoe with 5.3L, it was drinking oil to the tune of 1 quart per 1000 miles. That bad, and I just tuned it out with a Diablo Tuner. Pretty simple. Added HP to it as well, running on 93 Octane. Really change the motor.

But he said he removed the AFM so it's no longer an issue.
 
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