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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2003 4WD 2500 series Chevy Suburban. I really like the truck, it's mostly reliable, does everything I want it to do - etc.

The problem is: I bought it used about 6 years ago, and in that time I've had to replace brake lines, repair the AC twice, it's had airbag problems 3 times, the rear bumper is rusted out - etc. I think the previous owner either always parked it on the grass - or towed a boat or something like that - which lead to a lot of rust.

Right now it's got an airbag problem (again), the gas tank has a leak if I fill it more than halfway, the power steering cooler is peeing out fluid - and there's a few other small problems.

The wife is starting to suggest that maybe we just bite the bullet and get a new truck to replace this one. I know that the current generation Suburbans - don't have a 2500 series available - so it looks like the best I'm going to be able to do - is get a GMT900.

I want 4WD, I want trailer towing capability, I want the 2500 series - etc.

My goal is - I want a truck I can keep going for maybe a good 15 years. I don't put a huge amount of mileage on it - maybe 10k miles a year at most. It's family vacation (haul a bunch of people) - and haul stuff around truck.

I'm looking at it like this - I have two options:

1) fix this truck even up to and including doing a full restoration to it - maybe even pull the body off the frame, clean it up paint it , rustproof it - etc. In other words try to fix all the stuff that has decayed and will likely cause problems. With the goal being to extend the life of the truck another 15 years or so and not have it die from rust out issues.

2) Ditch the 2003 - and look for a GMT900 generation 2500 series truck. Get one that's in good shape - and head off decay and rust issues at the pass while the truck is still in decent shape.

Questions: are there any things I should worry about in going to a GMT900 truck vs. staying with the 2003? Do I get all the same functionality?

I've been looking at some ads for GMT900 Suburbans - and from the pics - it sort of looks like the 2nd row seats don't fold flat to make a big flat cargo area ? Is that true?

I use this thing often to haul wood (plywood etc) for projects - having the ability to have a flat cargo area is a definite nice to have.

All info / suggestions are appreciated.
 

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meow
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I'm a big fan of GMT800 K2500 suburbans and while The GMT900 variants have their +/-'s, I would still have a GMT800 at the end of the day. That being said, I'm a big believer in 'low mantenance' vehicles. If yours is giving you that much grief, and is rusted, I would be looking at a new vehicle. A low milage, or pristine GMT800 or GMT900 would be a better bet than chasing bugs. I've had good luck with very good condition vehicles with higher milage. I would pick a good GMT900 over an okay GMT800.

Currently own a GMT800 truck (160k) and a GMT900 (tahoe). Our family owned a K2500 GMT800 6.0/4L80e for around ten years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response. I've started doing a little research - and I'm seeing a few things that are making me think staying with the 2003 might be a better choice. First thing I found while doing some research - is that the GMT900 Suburbans apparently won't let you fold the 2nd row seats flat. That's definitely something I like about the 2003. I can put 8ft pieces of plywood or lumber in there without a problem.

While searching I also found a number of mentions that the GMT900 trailer hitch is non-replaceable. It's a part of the frame.

My 2003 only has about 63,000 miles on it. While searching I found a local salvage yard that has a brand new 2006 frame listed. I've restored a couple of cars in my past - and one thing I have learned is that up here in New England if the undercarriage of a vehicle is not carefully prepped, painted - and then protected - it's going to rust out sooner or later. For some reason most of the trucks I see - come out of the factories with basically a skim coat of paint on their undercarriages and frames.

I'm thinking that if I started with nice clean frame - prepped and painted and rustproofed the thing - then redid all the brake and fuel lines in stainless - and fixed all the other rustable areas on the underside - swapped the body over - and fixed a few of the other problems I've had (which I think may be due to rust) - then I might end up with a truck that would last me a good long time.
 

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jewish misanthropist
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The problem is: I bought it used about 6 years ago, and in that time I've had to replace brake lines, repair the AC twice, it's had airbag problems 3 times, the rear bumper is rusted out - etc. I think the previous owner either always parked it on the grass - or towed a boat or something like that - which lead to a lot of rust.
My 05 Sierra had the same rear bumper rust issue. Whole truck had almost no rust, undercarriage had some tinges of orange here and there but the rockers and wheel wells were clean as a whistle, yet the rear bumper was rusting from every which way and I eventually had to replace it (luckily I sniped a nice condition one off my local classifieds for $100 and then sold the old rusted one for $10). If your bumper was a paint matched instead of chrome, I think that was the issue. Crappy paint that let moisture in easily.

1) fix this truck even up to and including doing a full restoration to it - maybe even pull the body off the frame, clean it up paint it , rustproof it - etc. In other words try to fix all the stuff that has decayed and will likely cause problems. With the goal being to extend the life of the truck another 15 years or so and not have it die from rust out issues..
I vote this, but I'm a way bigger fan of GMT800's and not really a huge fan of GMT900's.

Additionally, for the money it'd cost you to upgrade to a GMT900, you could probably put a solid down payment on a Duramax swap if you're into that kind of thing. I believe Duraburb will swap in drivetrain from an LBZ and make everything look 100% stock, including the gauge cluster and the glowplug light, for around ~$15,000. It would sure make one badass weekend people/stuff hauler. And then you'll never have to worry about buying a boat that's too heavy for your vehicle. Unless you buy a yacht.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My 05 Sierra had the same rear bumper rust issue. Whole truck had almost no rust, undercarriage had some tinges of orange here and there but the rockers and wheel wells were clean as a whistle, yet the rear bumper was rusting from every which way and I eventually had to replace it (luckily I sniped a nice condition one off my local classifieds for $100 and then sold the old rusted one for $10). If your bumper was a paint matched instead of chrome, I think that was the issue. Crappy paint that let moisture in easily.



I vote this, but I'm a way bigger fan of GMT800's and not really a huge fan of GMT900's.

Additionally, for the money it'd cost you to upgrade to a GMT900, you could probably put a solid down payment on a Duramax swap if you're into that kind of thing. I believe Duraburb will swap in drivetrain from an LBZ and make everything look 100% stock, including the gauge cluster and the glowplug light, for around ~$15,000. It would sure make one badass weekend people/stuff hauler. And then you'll never have to worry about buying a boat that's too heavy for your vehicle. Unless you buy a yacht.
Thanks for the response. I've seen that bumper issue on a lot of the GMT800 trucks in this area. I've actually got a fix for the bumper: I bought a new bumper from LMC, pulled the thing apart - had all the pieces sandblasted - including the chrome outer shell ( I only blasted the inside). Then I repainted all the pieces with a zinc rich primer - and coated that with 2-3 coats of spray chassis epoxy.

I've restored a couple of cars and found doing this paint method to the undercarriage can hold up really well. My father has a 1997 Ford Expedition - and the receiver hitch assembly started rusting all to hell about 2 years after he got the truck. We pulled it off - I sandblasted and painted it using this method - and it's one of the only things on the undercarriage now that isn't all rusted to hell.

It's that experience that put the idea in my head of maybe doing a resto on my existing truck. I found a place that makes stainless brake and fuel lines - and I think if the undercarriage and frame rust problems were taken care of by properly and carefully painting and prepping to prevent any further rust - that one of these trucks might be a 20 year vehicle, even up here in New England

I don't drive this more than 4 or 5000 miles a year, and I see some of these selling with more than 210,000 miles on them.

The wife and I have been talking - and I think we've decided to stay with a GMT800. What we're thinking we might do though - is unload this one - and find a later year one that is in better shape and with lower mileage. What I'll do if we go that route is to work on the thing with the intent of trying to rustproof it to prevent it from going to crap. I found a place locally that has a brand new replacement frame that will fit my truck - they want $2k for it. But my truck has other problems - it has crap stuck to the paint that I just can't seem to get off. There's a patch that looks like somebody buffed the clearcoat away. There's a rust bubble on the rear door. So to really make it look nice - it would need a repaint.

I'm leaning towards going for getting a newer - nicer condition with less miles - GMT800 , for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh yeah, RE: the Duramax thing. That sort of conversion sounds appealing - but I don't know if I could justify it. When I was originally hunting for a Suburban - I really wanted to get an 8.1 for the towing capacity. The thing that made me get a 6.0 is just that there were so many more of them available on the used market - and the gas mileage.

I think if I went the route of getting a newer GMT800 and doing some work on it to make it last longer - I might also get one with a 4.10 axle - and throw a Gear Vendors overdrive in it to keep the gas mileage up.
 

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In my opinion, the 03-06 trucks and suv's are hard to beat. I have a 04 avalanche that i am going to keep going until something catastrophic happens. I live in the northeast so rust is a big issue too. The rear bumper is starting to rot out so i think i am going to build an iron cross type clone.

-Jason
 

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I am a fan of the 800's also but the 900's do offer some nice comfort items. If I were you I would look for a 2500 800 or 900 in Texas or somewhere south where rust is not an issue. I think getting a different truck will be more cost effective. When do you a restoration most folks think about then big ticket items and work that into their budget. Them during the process of restoration you get the "while I am here" bug and start replacing things that may not may not need to be replaced (brake lines, fuel pump, misc hardware, accessories, etc) which add up really quick. You spend a hundred bucks or so and you tell yourself it isn't a big deal but when you look back at the end of the day and you did that 15 or 20 times you have spent some real money. Not saying that you haven't thought of these things but whatever number you come up with for the cost of the restoration I suggest adding 3-5k in cost and then see what you can get for that sort of money on a different truck so you can make a decision. Good luck.


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jewish misanthropist
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Oh yeah, RE: the Duramax thing. That sort of conversion sounds appealing - but I don't know if I could justify it. When I was originally hunting for a Suburban - I really wanted to get an 8.1 for the towing capacity. The thing that made me get a 6.0 is just that there were so many more of them available on the used market - and the gas mileage.

I think if I went the route of getting a newer GMT800 and doing some work on it to make it last longer - I might also get one with a 4.10 axle - and throw a Gear Vendors overdrive in it to keep the gas mileage up.
Yeah it absolutely is a lot of money and unless you really need a diesel AND the seating capacity, it's definitely tough to justify. And even then for that $15,000 you could find a diesel Excursion (though it's hard to find low mile 7.3L Excursions nowadays without shelling out $20k+).

Good luck with whatever you plan on doing.
 
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