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Old 07-23-2018, 11:11 AM   #1
parb
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: mountain view, CA
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Scored a 95 K2500 suburban 454 on Craigslist - What should i look for?

Hi all,

i'm getting towards the end of my 72 GMC Jimmy project. Its a full frame off restoration where i am keeping the truck stock. I wont' go wheeling with the jimmy, its going to be far too nice for that. Thread can be found here: ParB's 72 Orange Jimmy

But I wanted something I can go into the back country with. And maybe tow the Jimmy with if I'm going far...

What i found
A few weeks ago a post popped up on craigslist. It was a 1995 suburban K2500 with a chevy 454 that had close to 300,000 miles on it. The picture showed a big fat diamond plate steel bumper with a heavy duty winch on it. I wanted a suburban and the price was only $700, so i figured that if i can't make it work i'l at least get a winch and a bumper out of it. The ad stated it was a diesel (which turned out to be wrong, it was a 454 engine in it).

I went there yesterday and it turned out that this was a california highway patrol vehicle. The seller was a sergeant with CHP who had owned it for a few years but really didn't use it at al. The car fired up and ran fine, took it around the block and everything seemed okay. 4 wheel drive ran fine. AC didn't work. The guy told me that the transmission was completely replaced about 100,000 miles or so ago due to another officer messing up the transmission by going too fast in first gear (CHP didn't rebuild it they just replaced it with a brand new transmission).

What i will use it for
I'm going to use this as a back country car, running on unpaved roads and on highways until i get there. I'd like for it to be strong and powerful so i can climb a mountain or ford a river, but ultimately i need it to be fairly reliable.
I don't really need the AC to work, i'm likely going to have to put in a cage later for rollovers (i don't do much rock crawling, but occasionally it can get steep and i've had a few gnarly rollovers...

I may need to drive this beast from california to oregon, and i may need to tow a car trailer with another off road vehicle behind it.

What should i look for right now?
With my use in mind, what should i look for? What should i replace just in case? I think i may need to replace the radiator and change the fan's to something better if i am going slow and puts a lot of load on the engine. Any recommendations on what to get? I also heard that the water pump is weak.

Some forums has said that the instrument cluster usually goes bad at a few hundred thousand miles (looks like dakota digital makes an affordable cluster for it). Do you think this is real or overstated?

i heard some say that the distributor is a common problem on these engines and that upgraded versions exists made with stronger gears which are more reliable. Any truth to that?

If a recharge of the AC doesnt' wake it up, i'm just going to remove it.

Some offroad upgrades i'm considering
I need to put on some bigger tires. I don't want to go overboard with this, but i think i should go 33-35" tires for the unpaved roads. Maybe add 2" spacers? Do i need to lift the truck? I don't want to lift it too much and make it challenging to drive on highways so maybe 3-4" is enough for those tires?

Thank you for any help and advice!!!
Long winded post but i am seeking your counsel and input into what i should look for first in order to make the truck reliable when out in the bush.

I sincerely thank anyone who gives me any input into what i should pay attention to as i get to learn about this truck and this engine!
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:29 PM   #2
Mr_Rich
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Re: Scored a 95 K2500 suburban 454 on Craigslist - What should i look for?

I was looking for a project vehicle like this two years ago. I found a '97 K2500 with all the HD parts; 7.4L, 4L80E trans, and full floater rear axle. What I've come to find is that BB parts are rare to unavailable. I've put a lot of work into mine and I still haven't got it running for lack of funds these days. I found out things like the one I have has an extra heavy duty radiator. The shroud was broken up in places so I thought I'd order new. Nope. Unavailable. I got some practice plastic welding to fix some of the cracks and breaks in the shroud. I have a few spare 350 parts on the shelf that do me no good in fixing up this one. That would've been an easier truck to work on; K2500 with an HD 350, that is.
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1989 K1500 Chev. EC
Original owner; some of the aftermarket parts I've installed are Borla headers, Hypertech chip, Edelbrock water pump, and a Stillen rear disc brake conversion kit.
2009 Hummer H3T 3.7L 5M.
1997 K2500 Chev. EC 7.4L/ 4L80E
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Old 07-23-2018, 01:22 PM   #3
rwdmayhem
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Re: Scored a 95 K2500 suburban 454 on Craigslist - What should i look for?

Expect trouble with the tbi 454 injectors as well. Made my old 95 gmc run lean. Didn't realize it till it started randomly stalling in the winter.

Yes the distributors do give out. Usually at every 60k miles for the last 3 454s that we've had in the family over the years.

There is also the lack of any decent upgrades for the gen v 454s.
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Old 07-23-2018, 03:16 PM   #4
parb
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Re: Scored a 95 K2500 suburban 454 on Craigslist - What should i look for?

Hmm... How do you fix the injectors if they run lean?
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Old 07-23-2018, 04:13 PM   #5
rwdmayhem
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Re: Scored a 95 K2500 suburban 454 on Craigslist - What should i look for?

Just hope to find a place that offers rebuilt or remanufactured injectors with a warranty. Really isn't a 'fix' aside from rebuilding them yourself.
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Old 07-23-2018, 06:09 PM   #6
parb
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Re: Scored a 95 K2500 suburban 454 on Craigslist - What should i look for?

There are no upgradeable injectors at better quality?
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Old 07-23-2018, 06:59 PM   #7
rwdmayhem
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Re: Scored a 95 K2500 suburban 454 on Craigslist - What should i look for?

you can try and look for some but I never found anything other then oem style.
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