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Chevy Suburban

steverstever Posts: 52,462
The Granddaddy of SUVS deserves its own unique discussion!

Steve, Host


  • I'm thinking about buying a '96 Suburban with a Diesel engine. i've heard that Chevy put a low quality diesel in the 80's era suburbans and that the duramax is quite good. Do any of you know about who made the diesel they used in '96? Was it reliable? How about the transmission? I've heard that there were some problems on the transmissions used in '96- can anyone confirm that?
  • Steve: Good thinking!
    My fave hill got 14 inches the past 24 hrs... time to GO!!

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Bogus opens tomorrow with 32" at the base (so far). I may let it settle down a day :-)

    Steve, Host
  • Scheduling is the problem here... I may get to escape for a day next weekend - hopefully our discount coupons will be here by then, or we'll sneak up & take advantage of our midweek passes. I owe the kiddo a trip for his birthday too... owing him a ski day is a good problem to have!
    (obligatory on-topic: I'll take a couple of his friends too, which means the Suburban :) which means I gotta get the coffin box mounted too)

  • I know the low quality diesel of the 80's. It was the 5.7L (350ci) V8 converted diesel, as in converted from a gasoline engine. Pure junk! My family got to experience that in a 1980 Caddy. Then we got a 1983 GMC van with the 6.2L (379ci) V8 diesel, which was a diesel from the drawing board. Much better engine. However, the transmission they mated to it couldn't do the job. This 4-speed auto with O/D was meant for a gas engine in passenger cars and couldn't handle the low end torque of a diesel, nor could it withstand the low end vibration of the diesel. The 6.2L diesel lasted 220,000 miles before we sold it. The transmissions (plural) lasted 60,000 miles, 15,000 miles, and another 15,000 miles before we finally threw in an older 3-speed tranny from a 1979 1-ton pickup which was still going strong when we sold it.

    As for the '96, Duramax is the company that makes the engine. I think GM learned their lessons about crappy trasmissions and have been going with Allison trannies. Unfortunately, my diesel experience has only been with the 80s models. If I come across anyone with a 90s Duramax diesel (I assume it's 6.5L), I'll be sure to ask and relay their response here.
  • Hi folks, I'm wondering if anyone can help out with a pretty serious flaw when experienced. Our 2003 Suburban can't track straight at all unless it's riding on a perfectly flat, smooth road with absolutely no wind. If there are some winds, uneven roads or groves, or simply being passed by, or passing a large truck for example, the Suburban will veer off by itself where any steering input does little to no good.


    It's as if any "external forces", whether from uneven roads, wind or turbulence, can severly influence the steering.. feels like some unseen hands are pushing the truck around.


    We've gone to the dealer of course with receiving the usual BS and nothing solved. The closest I've come though to a possible solution is from a mechanic telling me he's experienced the same problems with his late model Silverado, on the same stretch of freeway in fact, and that simply changing from the stock Firestone tires solves it!!??


    Alignment and balancing shows no problems btw.


    thanks for any info!
  • Just thought I'd add a bit more info on the symptoms: in my non-expert opinion, it doesn't seem like bumpsteer because going over speedbumps at non-perpendicular angles for example, doesn't result in any steering action as one arm cycles relative to the other.


    But what I do notice is something almost the opposite--at high speeds, going over bumps *straight on* so that both sides of the suspension cycle together, there's always a side to side shift. The degree of sideways movement depends on the speed and sharpness of the bump.


    Lastly, none of this happened with the previous generation 98 Sub this one replaced (despite the older one having a soggier suspension, more body roll, etc).
  • beach15beach15 Posts: 1,305
    ...this does seem to be more of a design flaw in the newer trucks/SUV's than anything else. The only issue I've ever really noticed is how the front end does seem to blow around pretty bad if you're driving on a really windy day--it takes a very firm grip and correcting. But this is excusable, at least to me, because the trucks sit so high up and are pretty much like tall flat boxes getting hit with the wind.


    On the other hand, yes, the steering is kind of odd. It never really bothered me, but my father hates that one part of my mother's trucks (had an Avalanche and now a Suburban), as the front end just seems to wander around despite your there's slack somewhere in system. Really noticeable I guess, if you get on a bouncy roadway at higher speeds and are trying to keep it straight.


    As far as the tires, I'm really not sure, but the Goodyear Wrangler HP's that were on our Av did seem stiffer and made the truck handle more crisply than the Firestones on the Suburban, which, while not horrible, are clearly not the greatest when it comes to tires. They probably do make some difference though.
  • Thanks for the input. So this seems to confirm that it is as you mentioned, more inherent of the design as my mom also complained of the same characterstics in another 04 Suburban she borrowed once..


    .. I'm considering changing the tires.. and I wonder if some kind of aftermarket steering stabilizer would help..
  • rand01rand01 Posts: 75
    Jimmy, I would ditch those Firestones for starters. I didn't have this problem with either my 2000 or 2004 Suburban (both 4WD), but both the stock Firestones and Bridgestones were changed shortly after purchase for Michelins. I have monster 305/50-20s on my 2004 now, so you would think that any inherent problems with the suspension would be exaggerated with these tires, but it tracks just fine.


    Might not hurt to have a reputable, independent alignment shop double check your settings.


  • beach15beach15 Posts: 1,305
    Another thing I just remembered from what a lot of people in an Avalanche owners club did to fix the annoying steering slack was to replace the rubber bushings in the front end with new polyurethane ones.


    Not sure of the exact brand and part #'s right now, but I know of a lot of people who did this mod and noticed significantly sharper tracking and steering response over the old rubber parts.
  • Does anyone know a place that can repair/correct my odometer on a yukon xl in the atlanta/ se tennessee area?


  • rand01rand01 Posts: 75
    Do you need it corrected because of a tire size change? Of course, your GMC dealer can adjust it for you or you can pick up one of the aftermarket computer programmers (Hypertech, Superchips, etc.) and do it yourself, plus tune in some more horsepower, adjust shift points, etc.
  • I think I had a short which messed up the reading on the odometer. It is showing I have about one million miles on it when I really have 100,000 miles on it. So I need that corrected
  • I need input please. I have a 04 LT 1500 2WD with autoride currently 27,000. At 10,000 miles dealer replaced front tires due to abnormal wear - inside tread cupped and worn almost to nothing. Alignement checks within specks. At 15000 sends me to firestone dealer who replaces the other two tires now on the front for same wear and confirms alignment is dead on specs. Problem continues even rotating at 7500 or so. Dealer says Chevy techline fix is to rotate at 3000. I say bull. anyone out there with the same issue or any ideas please send me a post. Thanks a ton
  • rand01rand01 Posts: 75
    I wonder if somebody is making some money off those Firestones? You are not paying for the replacements, are you?


    I think I would go to another reputable alignment shop and double check your settings. After I lowered my 2004 (4WD with autoride and stabiltrac), I had to have the front end aligned. The shop gave me a certificate that showed the allowable range, and my before and after settings. I have had no problems with excessive tire wear with either my 2000 or 2004 Suburban, both 4WD though, which, if anything, should be worse as far as tire wear goes.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 13,556
    could be the 'autoride' causing this. do you notice anything unusual? it wouldn't show up in a static situation.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2017 Ford F-150 Limited
  • Thanks to all for the posts. I've been to three separate shops - all agree with dealer that alignment is in spec and the tire wear is classic toe misalignment in appearance. Dealer and Firestone paid for the replacements so far. I have about 12000 miles on the replacements now and at present wear rate I'll be lucky to get 20,000. Not acceptable in my opinion. I've asked the dealer( as well as two others)about the autoride and none indicate it could be the problem. Any ideas/info appreciated. I will replace the firestones with Michelins when the time comes though.
  • I didn't get a reply about the mirror. For now, I have a zip tie holding it on. If I ever get a chance to leave it at the dealer, I'm going to try to get them to replace it under the bumper-to-bumper extended warranty. It shouldn't have broke, it is supposed to fold in, not snap off. When I called the parts department just to see, they quoted me over the phone $183 for the mirror and $105 to put it on. I didn't mention a warranty or anything.. Please post if you get a way to fix it. It is a pain - can't go through the car wash and the pollen is killing me.
  • there is a place in richmond virgina that does radio and speedo repair

  • My 82 suburban is starting to vibrate and has oil on the differential and the underside of the body above the diffential. I am pretty handy with a wrench, but have never worked on a rear-end. Does this sound like something major or is it a routine problem?


    454cid, 2wd, 3/4 ton, 3.73 ratio.


  • I just bought a 2005 suburban, and the tailgate seems to be askew. It looks like the right side, as you are looking at the back of the truck, is about 1/2 inch lower than the left side. Has anyone else seen something like this? I try to checkout other Suburbans on the road and many of them appear to have the same thing....
  • rand01rand01 Posts: 75
    I had a 2000 and currently have a 2004, both with lift gates and neither had/have such variances with the alignment of the rear hatch. In fact, all my panels all over the truck have nice alignment.


    I'd take it to the dealer when possible and have them align that thing.
  • I own a 2002 LT w/Autoride. My digital odometer display suddenly disappeared. All other functions are working properly including the speedometer. Is there a fuse I can check? Has anyone ever experienced this problem?
  • LS 4wd, leather, 52K miles, great shape in and out - normal wear only. Has most of the bells and whistles, liftgate.


    What real world price might I get for it?




    Or, anyone in No. VA interested? ;-)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Check the True Market Value and then cross-check that number over in Real-World Trade-In Values.


    And please, no buying and selling on the boards. Try the Sell Your Car link on the main page.


    Steve, Host
  • That comment was just a joke.

    Thanks for the links.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Sorry. Ads are like spyware around here. If you turn your back for a day, the boards fill up with them.

    Used Suburban are a lot like used pickups. There always seems to be a market for them.

    Steve, Host
  • msl1msl1 Posts: 2
    Any thoughts or other complaints on the maintenance record of 03 and nearby years Suburban? I have an 03 with 44k miles and have had significant repairs in and out of warranty - Any other experience out there? Appreciate and info.
  • msl1msl1 Posts: 2
    I would be very interested in anything you have learned about this. I have an 03 and the steering pops and makes noise at low speeds/moderately bumpy situations. Handling at full speed is very loosy goosy and bouncy in the front it - very affected by winds, etc... Not very happy for a $45k vehicle - Certainly did NOT have these problems with 99 land cruiser. Overall repair record and costs of 03 Suburban have been disappointing and predictably chevy - I can't believe I fell for it again. We LOVE the form and function of the vehicle but the nickel and dime - and $DOLLARs of the repair and maintenance should embarrass Chevy. Let me know what you find/found out.
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