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Old 02-25-2010, 12:27 PM   #1
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Older 3/4 ton suburbans - engine history diesel/big block

Thinking of getting an alternate TV since my current truck doesn't have room for the family. I'm looking at a couple of Suburbans, one a late 90s with the 6.5 diesel and the other a 2001 with the 8.1 gas, among other similar rigs. Towing 30' classic.

I do not anticipate using the Suburban as anything other than a tow vehicle as I much prefer the road manners and fuel economy of my Charger when the mission does not involve hauling ~9000 pounds of trailer and contents.

Wondering what you all think of the total cost of ownership and drivability of the various engines Chevrolet put in the suburban in those years. Choices include the 6.5 Duramax diesel, the last of the 5.7 small block gassers, the first of the 6.0 small block gassers, and the 7.4 and 8.1 liter big block gassers.

In the 3/4 ton burbs of those years any of those engines would be bolted to the 4L80E trans, and the other driveline components would also be constant except for slight variations in axle ratios, so this is really just a powerplant question.

I know there were some early quality problems, but what was the history of these engines following that? Any meaningful difference in reliability?
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:57 PM   #2
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LOTs of sub threads and most of the reliablity/issues stuff has been really well covered by the enthusiasts here....

search using the 'sub word as a TITLE only and 60 threads show up to read....

here's 3...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...cle-15695.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...ccd-31526.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...ban-20834.html

while those threads don't have the info u seek,

notice kevin and silvertwink's posts....

now search using the 'sub word in all posts but limit the POSTER to either one of these guys...

this approach will get a payload of useful threads...

MOST of the info on your issues was posted in 2004-2006.

cheers
2air'
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:13 PM   #3
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The Duramax was never offered in a Sub.

For your trailer you can't beat the 350 small block. Even if there is a problem replacing that engine is cheap.

The 454 block is known for burning out exhaust manifolds on a regular basis.

The 6.5 diesel is a great engine if the original shortcoming were corrected. Oil pressure switch relayed. Exhaust upgraded to 3 in. Timing set beyond factory settings. The FSD relocated off the injection pump. My history is noted in the signature below
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:38 PM   #4
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I have a 2001 Chevy regular cab long bed truck with the 8.1 gas engine. It came with an Allison transmission, I think Suburbans of that year did also. I get 12 mpg normally and 9 mpg towing. My only problem has been a faulty camshaft position sensor.
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Old 02-25-2010, 02:06 PM   #5
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I have a 2001 Chevy regular cab long bed truck with the 8.1 gas engine. It came with an Allison transmission, I think Suburbans of that year did also. I get 12 mpg normally and 9 mpg towing. My only problem has been a faulty camshaft position sensor.
The Allison has never been offered in the Sub because of floor pan clearance.

Had GM revised the floor pan of the Sub and installed the Durmax/Allison combination they may not have gone into bankruptcy. It was that level of stupidity that sent them there.
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Old 02-25-2010, 02:24 PM   #6
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The old deezul, while noisy, is bullet proof. Can’t go wrong with the BB gassers as well. The GM small block is my all-time fav…to cruise around with, not for towing. There are no small block gassers suitable for towing heavy loads, IMO.
4L80E is a great tranny to, the best GM offered prior to the Alli! (Which has never been offered in a Burb).
You will love a Burb, great vehicles, we have owned 2…I am sure Brian MT will chime in here soon!
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Old 02-25-2010, 02:34 PM   #7
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Can only speak to the BB gasser's.

Both the 95 454 and 06 8.1 Burb's are tow beasts.

168k on the 454 with no major repairs, 4wd module, water pump, alternator, power seat frame + normal maint items. It did have a Banks Powerpak, Engine was bullet proof.
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:37 PM   #8
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I have owned several 3/4 ton subs from the 70`s to 2005 with 454`s , 6.0. and the 6.5 td. For best overall fuel ecocnomy the 6.5td was the best . I still have a 94 dually with the 6.5 td and would go anywhere in it and have had very little trouble with the engine but as stated by HowieE the diesels from 94-99 had a few issues but if you correct them from the get go you will have a very reliable vehicle. I have owned my 94 p/u the longest and have put approx. 60,000 miles on it and the truck has 148,000 on it now. When I bought it I replaced the exhaust with a banks system 3 in to muffler and then 3 1/2 after muffler, I replaced the FSD module and installed a FSD cooler, I replaced the glow plugs with AC 60G, I replced the oil pressure switch and have serviced it regularly with no other engine problems.

The last big block I had was a 1989 Suburban and did have to replce the exhaust manifolds and it only got 11mpg and 7.5 towing.And it was not as stable as the 98 diesel Sub that I had. The diesel Sub I had was a nice vehicle and got great fuel mileage 19 solo and 12 towing and towed very well but I did not keep it long due to job situation at that time.

The 2005 Sub with the 6.0 is a great tow vehicle , comfy with all the gadgets. Fuel mpg was 16 solo and 10 towing. Have not had any problems with it.
If you can find a Sub with a 6.5td that is not ragged / wore out I would go that route if you want fuel economy.
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:48 PM   #9
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Our slightly older Burb with the 7.4 is great for towing, though I think if I had it to do over again, I might have gone with a slightly newer model, with a 4L80E. Ours has the turbo 400 (aka 3L80), and the fuel mileage is not very good (8 towing, 10 MT)
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Old 02-25-2010, 05:50 PM   #10
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Don't even think about the 5 liter. I have a 99 Tahoe and a 01 Tundra 4.7. I've pulled with both and the Toyota is much, much stronger. Towing your trailer, I'd get the big gasser. Watch out for anything with a 4L60E tranny, lots of problems. Older 'burbs with 454's are out there and cheap. Also, the 1/2 ton vehicles from about 97 thru 01 were notorious for bad brakes. Might send TomW a note if he doesn't pick up on this thread. He has an older 3/4 ton burb with a 454 and loves it.
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Old 02-25-2010, 08:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davis View Post
I have owned several 3/4 ton subs from the 70`s to 2005 with 454`s , 6.0. and the 6.5 td. For best overall fuel ecocnomy the 6.5td was the best . I still have a 94 dually with the 6.5 td and would go anywhere in it and have had very little trouble with the engine but as stated by HowieE the diesels from 94-99 had a few issues but if you correct them from the get go you will have a very reliable vehicle. I have owned my 94 p/u the longest and have put approx. 60,000 miles on it and the truck has 148,000 on it now. When I bought it I replaced the exhaust with a banks system 3 in to muffler and then 3 1/2 after muffler, I replaced the FSD module and installed a FSD cooler, I replaced the glow plugs with AC 60G, I replced the oil pressure switch and have serviced it regularly with no other engine problems.

The last big block I had was a 1989 Suburban and did have to replce the exhaust manifolds and it only got 11mpg and 7.5 towing.And it was not as stable as the 98 diesel Sub that I had. The diesel Sub I had was a nice vehicle and got great fuel mileage 19 solo and 12 towing and towed very well but I did not keep it long due to job situation at that time.

The 2005 Sub with the 6.0 is a great tow vehicle , comfy with all the gadgets. Fuel mpg was 16 solo and 10 towing. Have not had any problems with it.
If you can find a Sub with a 6.5td that is not ragged / wore out I would go that route if you want fuel economy.

I forgot we also have a 1998 GMC Savana van 3500 with the 454 vortech and it has been very reliable with only the intake gaskets and water pump , and an alternator to be replaced on the engine and it currently has 160,000 miles on it. The transmission has only been serviced and that is all other than regular maintenace.And it averages about 14mpg solo and 11 city not sure for towing since we don`t use it for towing.
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