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The 4.3 is a solid motor as long as the oil is changed regularly. That could be said for any engine. But the 4.3L is based off the Chevy small block, old school technology.
The vehicle you are describing is close to the end of it's useful life. 14 years old with that many miles and regardless of how well it has been maintained, things are going to be wearing out.
Heater Core: Check for moisture/mildew in the passengers side floor board. Check to see if the heater works, and doesn't make a lot of gurgling sounds.
Intake Manifold Gasket: Check antifreeze level, and look for coolant on the intake manifold.
If 4WD: Check ball joints. 4WD uses smaller ball joints than the 2WD and are more prone to failure. Listen for noises/creaks/groans from the front when going over bumps.
ON A '96 MODEL: CHECK THE ELECTRICS! The '96 model was particularly prone to electrical issues. If you can find a '99 or later you would be better off in this area. GM did some wiring harness revisions on the later models to improve reliability.
On the bright side, parts are cheap and plentiful. There is even an outfit in Florida that deals exclusively with S series used parts. Great source, cheap prices, very reliable. No, I am not a part owner, but I restored two Blazers and these guys were my top supplier for OEM parts.
I bought a beautiful 99 S10 Blazer 4x4 w/125,000 miles (5) months ago. All was well until last week! It spun a rod bearing without any warning!!! It was running excellant Oil Pressure before (and after) that as well.
Unless you have the Oil Change and Maintainence records (HARD COPIES) to verify if was maintain properly and the oil changed regularly RUN FROM IT NOW!
At 145,000 miles I changed the fluid in the transmission and transfer case as well as the rear end lubricant. Those should be done every 30,000 miles. I replaced the original ACDelco ignition coil, coil lead, and Ignition Control Module. When changing the ICM, be sure and replace the two mountianng screws and use special grease on the heat sink under the ICM. DO NOT use silicone dielectric grease! Di-electric mean it is a non-conductor. Use conductive heat sink thermal paste that is available a any electronic supply store. . The ICM mounting screws serve as a ground and is essential foer proper operation. Replace the original ACDelco rotor and the ACDelco distributor cap using a ACDelco distributor cap with brass electrodes. It is a little more expensive but brass will maintain the electrical conductivity longer by not creating aluminum oxide dust in the cap which scatters the spark of high-energy ignition systems. I also installed ACDelco platinum #2 spark plugs which is a stage hotter than the original equipment. spark plugs. That tune up made a lot of difference in performance.
I also use Chevron Premium 97 octane gasoline with Techron to lube the fuel pump and keep the injectors clean. . Techron really works and is not just a gymick! The cheap fuels will fould injectors within 50,000 miles. Premimum 97 octane gasoline is required for best performance because engines with more than 100,000 miles require higher octane fuel because engine oil contamination raises the octane requirement of the fuel/air intake mixture.
Fortunately the engine is running excellent but I cannot predict when a rod bearing will spin out. That problem is usually caused by over revving the engine and it is usually the front bearings. . The oil in my 1991 S10 Blazer has been changed every 3000 miles using Valvoline 10W-30 All Season motor oil. When I took over ownership of the S10 Blazer, I switched to Valvoline 10W-30 Max Life motor oil.
The engine purrs like a kitten and has good power to 5,000 RPM.