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Old 03-07-2019, 01:12 PM   #1
RyanAK
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Daily Driving a Square Suburban

Hey, gang. Haven't checked in for a while. Life, ya know? But I'm considering going to a square-body Suburban as a daily driver and thought I'd solicit opinions. I've read threads on a bunch of sites, but I've always valued the thoughts that you all put forth. So...

I'm 40.
I live in Pennsylvania.
I'm married to a wonderful, understanding, supportive woman.
We got late-model kiddos. Spencer is 4. Nora is 2 1/2.
I want to make a change in my daily ride and need a sanity check.

Since turning 16, I've had a succession of used GM 4-wheel drive trucks. Started with an '86 S-10 extended cab, then a '91 S-10 Blazer, '97 2-door Tahoe with barn doors (loved that truck, but three transmissions in 18 months...), '99 Tahoe, '00 Yukon, and an '04 Z71 Suburban.

I had the '04 Z71 longer than any other vehicle. Drove it all over the country, including a 6,000 mile round-trip honeymoon to Yellowstone and the West towing a '72 Airstream Argosy with Samantha and Boomer the Wonder Dog. Mechanically that truck never let me down. Since we all like photos...



Actually, neither did the '99 Tahoe or '00 Yukon. Those two and the Z71 Suburban were all eventually traded because they had a pile of miles and the 'creature comforts' started to break. Seats got ratty, plastic cracked, electronic doodads quit working. You know. It was 'time'.

I'm now driving a 2011 Z71 Tahoe and for a number of reasons I'm not satisfied with it. For one, it's not a Suburban. As big as it is, me, two kids, wifey, and a dog fill that thing up in a hurry. Forget about a run to the lumber yard. For another, it's just too.... nice. I bought it with around 50,000 miles on it and it's really clean inside. The leather is gorgeous. I honestly cringe when giving the kids a snack in the back seat, letting the muddy dog jump in, or loading up the gear for a fishing trip. I mean, this is supposed to be a truck, right?

Plus I now have a truck payment for the first time in over 5 years. I don't like it.

Then there are all the little things that have been popping up on this thing. Nothing major, but they're seriously annoying.

For the last 10 months, basically since I made the first payment on the Tahoe, I've been trying to figure a way to get out of it. It's just not the vehicle for me.

So I'm very seriously considering a clean square-body Suburban as my everyday truck. My driving habits include a work week that currently involves a 130 mile one-way interstate drive twice a week to get to and from a project. Then maybe 20-40 miles daily the rest of the week. Most miles are small town and rural highway miles. Occasional interstate trips. I hunt-fish-camp, so we're on two-tracks a bit, but no serious 4-wheeling. And it snows in Pennsylvania. So 4x4 is necessary.

The '11 Tahoe is getting an average 16.5mpg and I get paid mileage for the 260 mile roundtrip to the project for work. So I don't think a change in fuel ecconomy is really going to impact me like it will some guys. I'm already used to thirsty trucks and getting the mileage check definitely helps.

I also own Earl. Some of you may remember Earl. He's my '71 C10 Suburban. This truck brings me a lot of joy and has been a great education in keeping up on these older trucks and what living without all the doodads is like. When I'm driving this truck, the only creature comfort I miss is a decent cupholder. And 4wd. Earl basically sits from November until May and whenever I'm going on unimproved roads.



I love Earl, but I may need to find him a new home to be able to raise funds make any transition to a older Suburban work financially.

Anyway... given the above, does making the switch to something like a '76 - '89 K10 Suburban with well maintained mechanicals and limited body rot make sense? I already know I'm good with the loss of 'features' and I'm prepared for the maintenance. My overall concerns are general reliability of a 35-year-old truck putting on something like 20,000 miles a year, and safety. Remember Spencer and Nora? But honestly, kiddos in the truck will mostly be limited to around our small town and the occasional road trip. But it's still a concern, even with their super-duper-high-end child safety seats.

Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Advice? Options? Thoughts on a non-OD truck for my situation ('76-'85 seems to be the years I'm most drawn to...)? Thanks, fellas!

Ryan
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Old 03-07-2019, 03:10 PM   #2
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

I did the same thing.
I'm 42 now and from the time I was 18 until I was 36, I always had expensive cars and the car notes to go with them.
In 2013 as the lease on my current car was coming up, I had a revelation.
I am and always have been pretty handy with cars. I loved fixing, and modifying just about every car I had owned.
Instead of getting another lease, or buying an expensive car, I decided to take the plunge and spend my next entire check on a Square Body Suburban.
I always wanted one, and figured It would be the ultimate car for any occasion.
As I was used to driving newer cars, I knew I would be dealing with problems and repairs on an older Suburban, but figured the money I was saving without a car note would more than cover any issues that may come up. Plus I did my research and found replacement parts were very cheap.
So in March 2013 I bought my 87 Suburban and started daily driving it.

After I bought it, I went to pick my kids up from daycare to show them the new truck, and it died on me.
Turns out the fuel gauge was broken and I ran out of gas (Lol welcome to owning an older truck!)

The gas mileage was horrible (got 9mph from the 454, 6 with the ac on).

But all things considered I was a great decision. 6 months later I bought a new house and moved everything I owned at the time with the Suburban and didn't need to rent a truck.

I daily drove it for 3 years and then decided to do the LS swap.
After all the time and money I put into the swap, it became too nice to drive everyday, and I bought a used Mini Cooper to daily drive.

But for 3 years It was great, I could move anything, I felt safe, my kids and my friends thought it was really cool. Plus I didn't have a car note which allowed me to spend $$$ on other things.

I say go for it, as long as you understand the $$$ you save on a car note, some of that $$$ will be going towards repairs here and there and you will be spending more on gas.

Sorry for the long winded post, but I chose a Square body Suburban for the same reasons you are considering and had to tell my story.
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Old 03-07-2019, 04:36 PM   #3
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

My 89' K5 has been a daily driver for my kids for the past several years (maybe 7 years). Although I do have to fix small things from time to time, it actually has been fairly reliable. But I tend to be pretty pro-active keeping it running well.

But I do have the 04' Yukon xl, so I always have a backup vehicle if needed.

I wouldn't be too worried about it as long as you understand it will take some touching from time to time.

I'd stick with the 87'+ just to get the fuel injected engine. I'm obviously more partial to the 89-91's, too.

I did also have a 91' suburban.....a great truck and could haul anything! Tons of room in there!
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Old 03-07-2019, 07:22 PM   #4
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

I have had a 1989 Suburban 4 x 4 since about 2002. Was my daily driver until about 3 years ago. I'm the 3rd owner but have put the most miles on it - around 245,000 now. Mine is (was) a 6.2 diesel. Long story there, 3 engines later, one a $5000 6.5 turbo with a lot of problem solving and $$ spent to fit the turbo in and still have AC - it gave me 14,00o miles before locking up. Needless to say, while I love diesels, especially in 4 x 4 for low end torque, will not have another Detroit Diesel engine ever.

But I could get 23 mpg out of it, which is amazing on nearly 8000 lb 4 wheel drive. With cost of gas, my 383 stroker with rv cam gets around 15mpg for the same $ per mile.

My experience is with a little attention to a vehicle that's now 30 years old, it holds up well. They're generally easy to work on, although there are a few parts that are getting hard to find. Another perspective - insurance is nothing on a truck that age. But I also no longer use it as a daily driver, just for when I need to move something or need 4w, so that simplifies the equation for me.

The ride will never be as good as a new vehicle, although new stock springs which are cheap help a lot. I also added rear air shocks for when I tow to level the vehicle and that was also well worth the money. I keep them at about 10 lbs all the time and it seems to help the ride quality too.

Fuel will be more, but considering the cost of a new truck you can buy a lot of gas before you offset the price of a new truck. Plus there is the fact that they are cool, iconic vehicles. Why drive a cookie-cutter when you can drive something distinctive? My wife might disagree with me on that last one bu the way.
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:26 AM   #5
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

the only reason I don't daily drive a squarebody, or older, here in MD is rust. I'd hate to buy a clean squarebody just to ruin it like all the rest you see all rotted up or long gone. Most who know this drive beaters in the winter. I shudder when I see all these nice, and expensive, vintage vehicles out on nice winter days, only to get tucked back away for weeks at a time with road salt dust laying up in all the crevices mixed with normal road dust. I figure these folks don't know any better. Never held onto a newer vehicle long enough to see the effects and now out buying high dollar restorations. I've considered doing it anyway myself, but with what they cost now it's just foolish, IMO, to ruin that which has survived well prior to my ownership.
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Old 03-09-2019, 12:29 PM   #6
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

I'll throw a curve in the mix. You can do it, sure, but for all the reasons you're contemplating doing this, an 88-98 Burb makes more sense. It will be much easier to find one and it'll probably cost you half as much as a square. But they're infinitely more refined in the ride and drive department. While they're still pretty crude and easy to work on, they don't feel like it on the road. As much as I love the squares, I'd go 88-98 if it's for DD purposes.
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Old 03-09-2019, 12:34 PM   #7
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

I'm getting my years mixed up, 88-98 refers to the body style of the pickups, the Suburbans of the body style were 92 to 99.

Here's one I found on CL: Nice AND cheap!
https://bham.craigslist.org/ctd/d/cu...821497392.html

Those trucks are one of the best values out there right now.
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Old 03-09-2019, 02:39 PM   #8
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

From experience it seems like a lot of the post square body Suburbans, while I agree RE daily driving comfort with 68Timber, seem to have gone to differential ratios more suited to highway driving. We had one at a museum I worked at for awhile, towed our work boat with it. When it came time to pull it out, I hit the gas expecting it to act like all the other, older Suburbans and Blazers I had driven, and then had to hit it harder to finally get it to move. But it got 20 mpg at steady cruise on the highway. Don't remember what engine it had other than V8.

Noticed in your original post pics of a trailer so thought I would throw that out there.

I will say I daily drove my 89 for over 10 years, and it got wearisome. I replaced the springs with new stock ones recently and my old back really appreciated the difference. But there's only so much you can do to a solid axle to help ride quality.
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Old 03-09-2019, 03:03 PM   #9
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

RyanAK,

Another thought RE fuel economy from your original post. After 3 Diesel engines, 2 6.2 NA and one 6.5 w/Holset turbo and none of the engines giving back reliability in proportion to the time and care and $$$ I put into them, I had enough. A friend who owns an engine shop and I built a 350 with rv cam, throttle body heads, low compression so I could run 87 octane, and rebuilt quadrajet.

I got 13 mpg, and I drive easy.

Long story short, thought I had a rod knocking, which turned out to be the transmission pump (agh!) we tore the 350 down only to discover nothing wrong with the engine. But, one thing I noticed with the 350 is on hilly terrain the 700r4 seemed like it had a hard time deciding whether to stay in overdrive or not. The 6.2 was terrible in that way - always shifting in and out at every rise. I decided = not enough torque. Plus, I primarily use the truck for 4wd purposes, so took the exact same block, heads, intake, carb, everything from the 350, dropped in a new 383 rotating assembly for less than $1000.

The truck now gets 15 mpg. Did not even adjust the carb, just bolted it back on.

I attribute this mainly to the fact that it now takes a seriously steep hill to knock it out of overdrive. There's so much torque it just doesn't notice.If I'm not heavy on the peddle as I accelerate through gears it shifts into overdrive, and locks up at 45 mph, and will cruise there all day. Mind you, I have the torque curve shifted towards low-medium range as I rarely am on the interstate, so 70 mph it might well suck gas like there's no tomorrow. But with the 700r4, 3.42 diff, and my 2" oversize tires at 55 mph in overdrive the engine turns over 1440 rpm.

But if you ended up with a truck with a 350 and have the right driving situation I highly recommend a 383 build. I would think if you wanted highway cruising leaving out the rv cam would be a good engine choice. And cheap. And you can always get aftermarket injection if you feel strongly anti-carb.
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Old 03-10-2019, 12:00 AM   #10
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

I ran a '91 till '07
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Now I run a '95. It pulls just as well as any truck with 4.10s pulls because it has 4.10s, just like the '91 did. Also has a 4L80E like the '91 did. Been running it for four years. It just goes and goes
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Old 03-10-2019, 12:02 AM   #11
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

Thanks for the thoughts, gang. I appreciate the input.

Nodnarb76, the one thing that stands out is your comment that you felt safe. That’s important to me. I feel great tooling around in Earl, but had been wondering about how I’d feel with the kiddos in the back and going down the interstate at 70.

I don’t mind the idea of upkeep. I did most of the maintenance on the S-10 truck and Blazer, and the ‘97 and ‘99 Tahoes. And when I was growing up, Dad had a ‘79 and ‘86 Suburban. I have plenty of memories of lying under those trucks with Dad out in the driveway. I’m all tooled up and pretty handy and most maintenance stuff. Earl has taught me a lot.

Ski-me... I’d be interested in knowing more about why you’d chose the TBI engines over a carb one. Better general reliability, more convenient not waiting on the truck to warm up? Doesn’t seem like there would be better gas mileage just from a fuel injected engine. I like carbs and I’m learning more about them, but certainly willing to hear more about your thoughts on EFI.

Speaking of fuel economy... the ‘11 Tahoe is getting 16.5 average with a mix of highway and town. So IF I could get close to that with a square, awesome. I’m not really expecting higher, and 20s... well we can all dream right? I’d be plenty happy around 13-15mpg.

The lower insurance is something I hadn’t considered. Interesting! Lower cost of parts, easier maintenance, eliminating the car payment, sure. But I bet the insurance premium will seriously improve.

I agree that the ‘92-‘99 Suburbans are probably a more reasonable choice for a DD... and the one you posted certainly is a nice example... but they just don’t speak to me like the squares. I don’t think I’m alone, which is probably why they really are a huge value right now.

James... I appreciate your comment on the ride quality. The newer trucks really do ride nicely... but I was seriously impressed with just how nice I could get my ‘72 to ride and handle with sway bars, new stock springs, Bilstein shocks, and a good set of tires. 2wd though, but as long as I can get a solid axel 4x4 to the point that it won’t rattle the teeth out of my head, I’ll be plenty comfortable.

I’m not a diesel guy, so I won’t be going down that path. I am interested in thoughts on engine/transmission/rear combinations - available stock initially, we can talk about builds down the road... - that would make for a comfortable daily driver. You know... keeping the rpms reasonable at highway speeds, reasonable fuel economy, but enough hp and torque to make it not feel like a dog. I ain’t gonna lie... the 700r4 terrifies me. I had a serious bout of bad luck with them. And I also noticed its propensity to hunt back and forth between OD and 3rd when pulling a grade on the trucks I had. I usually just dropped the shifter to D. I’ve been looking at trucks with everything from a 400-TH400-3.73 to a TBI 350-700r4-3.42. My preferred tires are usually around 32” all-terrains. Seriously, I love hearing what guys think about this stuff.

Rust... Tim, I hear ya. It certainly has crossed my mind. I bought Earl as a pretty clean truck from the southwest, but I still had some minor areas to deal with on the quarters and rockers. I was always pretty religious about washing my trucks whenever they’re exposed to road salt and never owned one where rust showed up. It’s something to consider for sure.

This stuff is fun, eh?

R
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:19 AM   #12
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

Tim - great looking trucks. Is the '95 a 2500?

James - Just spotted your rig on another thread. That looks exactly like what I'm after. Clean, bone stock with 2" bigger tires. That truck would get me to 95% of everywhere I'd want to go in the mountains and still be comfortable on the highway and around town. The 383 sounds pretty interesting as well. Good on ya.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:24 PM   #13
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

Yes, it's an 8-lug K2500 350 TBI/4L80E with hydroboost brakes. The '91 was a 6.2. I am just as safe in the '95 as the '91. Squarebodies and older speak to me more but that's what I don't want to take one and rot it up. I actually really like the GMT400s, they proved themselves quite worthy of the classic GM truck label being very very reliable and tough. They are not all that different compared to looking at what came after. Not so complicated and they still had real one piece chrome all steel bumpers. I love the solid axles but as time has proven the IFS holds up to what you throw at it. Lifting is a weak point. I learned to accept them with just 2" of lift from cranking the torsion bars and no bigger than 285/75s or 255/85s. The lifts for the IFS are just spaced up BS that leaves you with the same stock suspension... lift the body or drop suspension from frame. If I wanted a 4" lift I'd do a sold axle swap. The GMT400 Suburbans look like a Squarebody at a glance when lifted. The 4wds just don't look like 4wds when stock...although the 8-luggers do sit up a bit more. Solid axle is what I had planned with mine, but have since decided to just run it. I'm wanting to get something older for three seasons and keep the '95 for my winter driver. I bought it out of northern GA with a totally clean body and underneath.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:56 PM   #14
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

Ryan I wouldn't worry too much about transmissions and gearing. Honestly your biggest hurdle is finding a truck in good shape inside and out, in colors you like, that meets your standards. It's cheaper to buy a nice one than fix a rough one, nice original parts for these have become somewhat rare and expensive in the last five or six years. I'd rather change a transmission or swap gears than rebuild a truck. Best bet is probably do what Brandon did and swap in a late model drivetrain, but you can buy the truck and drive it and enjoy it while you decide if that's worth the trouble for you.

Tim, that's a great candidate for a forever truck. I had a 99 C2500 like that once. It was white even. Grey vinyl benches front and rear with a floor mat. I did swap in the factory chrome grille but kept the steelies. I've missed that truck a lot over the years. Mine was a crew cab short box but I like the K2500 Burb version better.
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:38 AM   #15
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

My Suburban is a crew cab shortbed, too! . Most of the time it's a regular cab longbed, though. I like that I carry the same carpentry tools that I did in the '92 K3500 regular cab SRW the 'Burb replaced, but who would think? I feel a lot better leaving it parked in more places. Also, DOT is getting crappy on contractors in light trucks when they used to only bother over 5t... basically anything dual rear wheel. I fly under that radar.

About the rust. I always washed the '92 K3500 out, and I bought that new. It had one bad cab corner in about 15 years and when I got out of it after 22 years the rockers were getting bad. Sometimes the weather does not allow washing out for long periods. Especially with these polar vortex events we have been getting. Also, that God forsaken pre-treatment with brine is way more corrosive. I want to march on the state capital over that state sponsored destruction of property. My windshield wipers are rusty! Never seen that. They'll be calling for snow on Friday and Wednesday morning they'll be out drizzling that crap. Then it won't even snow! I never thought I'd ever say this, but "I'd rather have salt"
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Old 03-11-2019, 08:25 AM   #16
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

Well, Tim... now I'm more terrified of salt and brine than I've ever been. Ha. I wonder if there's any effective preventative maintenance short of parking the truck Nov. thru April to keep rust from taking hold...

I've been watching CL, eBay, and Autotrader for a few months and I'm getting a feel for prices, options, powertrains, etc. on these square bodies. I'd consider a '92-'99 if the right truck came along, but it isn't really what I want. I'd hate to have a square body rot out from beneath me, but I think I'd enjoy it and be able to keep the paranoia about rust at arms length. At least for a while. It just isn't in the finances at the moment to own a winter beater on top of a clean Suburban... but I am motivated to break the payment-trade-payment-trade cycle.

I need to get cash on hand to be able to make a move when a good truck comes along, which probably means cleaning up Earl to find a new home. I'll miss that truck, but with a young family, my 'toy' really needs to be my daily also. Shame, since he was on the bubble for a possible engine upgrade in the next year or two...

Any significant drawbacks to the earlier years of these trucks? They seem to have gotten more 'refined' as the series progressed through the years. I've come across a few clean examples of late-'70s Suburbans that are really appealing to me. I even prefer the lack of features on these... manual locks and windows, etc... as well as the styling. There's a '76 that has been listed for a while that is pretty much my 'forever' truck, just priced too high for a cash deal. '84-'87 seems to have a good number of clean trucks come to market and they still feel like a truck, with a nice mix of available options. Dad owned an '85 GMC K2500 when I was a kid, so there's a nostalgia factor for me for this era of the series. '88-'91 TBI models seem fairly common, but some certainly can lean more toward soccer-mom SUV than truck.

I appreciate the advice. Especially the advice to just find a clean truck in colors I like with the options that are important. Engine/transmission/gearing can always be sorted out down the road. Thanks for that, John.
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Old 03-11-2019, 10:11 AM   #17
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

I just like the FI trucks because of a little better reliability. And I am also not very good at tuning/fiddling with carbs. Finally, driving up and down a lot of elevations, FI rigs tend to handle those changes better than carbs. Everyone has their opinion I guess.

If you do go with the later era trucks. 94' has the more strange dash layout. 95' they changed it and also added Vortec engine (I think). 95' and 96' dashes are much better in my opinion, but do have only one driver's airbag. 97' they added the passenger airbag.

You can see in the 99' passenger side, airbag. 95 and 96, you'll see a few cup holders there.
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Old 03-11-2019, 10:40 AM   #18
RyanAK
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

I like carbs and don't mind waiting on them to warm up for a few minutes... though that might get old driving one daily. I'm certainly not against FI, just curious about opinions.

IF I go to a later GMT400, it will certainly be later in the series. '95-'99 certainly, and most likely '97-'99 for dual airbags. I'm with you on the '94 and earlier dash. I never got used to that layout on my grandfather's 1500 pickup.
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Old 03-11-2019, 11:03 AM   #19
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

Ryan

We don't have much salt to worry about down here in AL. Heck we hardly even have winter anymore. But, since I have been driving 4 wheel drives for over 30 years now I do worry about rust inside the fenders from mud. So I always pressure wash the inside of the fenders and then coat all my trucks with a good rubberized undercoating. Would that work as an anti-salt solution for you guys who live where it actually snows ?

FYI, despite many objections to running bigger tires you will see on forums aka it will wear out wheel bearings, I have not had any issues running 2" bigger tires. The original tires were tiny. They looked weird on the truck. It's a free lift, the engine turns over a couple hundred rpms slower at speed, which can help with mpg. Although I'm sure there's a tradeoff somewhere with increased aerodynamic drag by lifting one. Considering these things are as aerodynamic as a brick on wheels, I figured the increased ride height and lowered engine rpms outweighed aerodynamics.

I agree with other opinions about finding a clean truck, with a good interior not missing pieces and worrying about the mechanicals after. Much easier to fix engines and transmissions than restore a ragged out interior.

383 - it would be interesting to see what sort of fuel economy one designed more for highway running could do - i.e. one without an rv cam in it. I have little personal experience and just about all the internet postings are people building street rods, not building a reasonable daily driver. FYI, I only have about 300 miles on my new engine, so I'm hoping fuel economy improves once the engine is fully worn in.
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Old 03-11-2019, 02:46 PM   #20
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

Hey, man. Not sure the undercoat would help with rust, but it's worth looking into.

I'm with ya on the stock tires and almost always run something slightly larger as long as there are no rub issues. 2" larger only lifts the truck 1", so probably no impact to drag, but it does make a bit of a difference in engine rpms.

Hopefully whatever I track down won't need an engine immediately so that I'll have time to fully consider the options. You're right... most of the internet builds are more performance based rather than a mix of performance and economy. I'll bet you see a bit of improvement once that 383 is broke in.
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Old 03-12-2019, 09:59 AM   #21
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanAK View Post
Thanks for the thoughts, gang. I appreciate the input.

Nodnarb76, the one thing that stands out is your comment that you felt safe. Thatís important to me. I feel great tooling around in Earl, but had been wondering about how Iíd feel with the kiddos in the back and going down the interstate at 70.


R
I can recall one time me and my two kids were driving around in a bad thunderstorm. It was raining so hard we couldn't see past the end of the hood.
My kids asked if we were safe. I explained it to them like this: if you were to take a brick and an empty Coke can and smash them into each other, which one would be in better shape afterwards, the brick or the Coke can?
The Suburban is the brick in this scenario and all of the other cars are empty Coke cans.
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Old 03-13-2019, 08:23 AM   #22
special-K
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

I don't like undercoat. For one thing, the places most vulnerable to rust are places they can't spray it. Another is, one it lifts an edge you have a place for the corrosives to get in and not get back out. It can actually cause rust. My '91 was Zeibarted from day-1 by previous owner. It was just starting to rust in '06 when I parked it.

The best thing to do is spray used motor oil up under it in every nook and crannie and let it drip. Messy? Yes, EPA approved? Take a wild guess . A good wash out when you can and spray some more is good during the season, too.

Anyone claiming larger tires have any noticeable negative effect are old wives telling tales. My experience is living proof that is garbage talk not worth the breath used. I'd say it's safe up to 35" anyway. So maybe you'll get !20k out of a bearing rather that 30k. Does that really matter? It matters more how you upkeep your vehicle. Cleaning and lubing annually, which very few do, will yield longer service life with large tires than stock tires on a truck that isn't done on. And this is coming from someone who makes a living out of trucks that are carrying loads throughout their lives. My '92 K3500 had 335k on it when I parked it. I ran 285/75s or 255/85s on it the whole 22 years... and that one I never serviced the front bearings on. I never touched a thing on that front end other than idler arm about every 80k, which I understand is a common.

I've run Squarebodies way up near 200k with 33-35s their whole life and that was on 10" wheels. 8" like they do these days would certainly be easier on things... not that it seems to matter in any noticeable way
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:58 AM   #23
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

I have been daily driving my 1990 V2500 Suburban for the past few years. It has 192,000 miles and I have put 40,000 miles on it since I bought it. It has not left me stranded on any trips. I don't think twice about taking it on long trips either. I just make sure I have the toolbox in the back and a cell phone like I do with any of my cars. My truck does not have any rust spots anywhere and I will be stripping down the paint in the next year or so and powder coating the front fender wells. The truck also has a 4L80E transmission and a 4" lift with 33" tires. I have rebuilt the front and rear axles and put in Eaton True Tracs front and rear with 4.10 gears. I am still runing the TBI 350 but I am putting in the LS3 EROD engine in a couple months.
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Old 03-13-2019, 10:14 AM   #24
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

^^^^ Love this truck!!

I assume you put in the 4L80e?
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Old 03-13-2019, 10:45 AM   #25
RyanAK
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Re: Daily Driving a Square Suburban

That's a great looking rig, Ryan. Great testament to the longevity if these trucks are well maintained. What kind of mpg are you getting with that setup? I always carry a basic took kit too, though on modern trucks I often feel like I need to throw a laptop in for good measure.

I like the pop can/brick analogy. I feel pretty secure in the '71, but the disc/drums on Earl do make you plan your stops a little ahead of time compared to the modern trucks. If I keep him, I'm gonna upgrade.

Used motor oil, eh? Neat trick, Tim. Just spray it in there, huh? The '71 has an undercoating that's starting to pull away in big sheets and I'm paranoid about stuff collecting between it and the sheet metal. Earl doesn't see any salt now that I have the small bit of rust fixed.

Larger tires don't worry me on this era truck. Replacing wheel bearings every 20K is cheap and easy compared to some of the front end work I've had to do with newer IFS trucks running stock wheels/tires. What's the largest tire you can go on a 1/2 ton squarebody before clearance becomes an issue and things rub? On a 2500?

There's a clean '76 1/2 ton I have located with a 400 sbc that's overpriced. (er... it's out of MY budget... maybe not overpriced, but it seems high...) It keeps calling my name... bench front seat, manual windows, A/C, tailgate, third row. Wonder what our tax refund is gonna be...? Ha.

Same guy has a nice, low miles '85 1500 too for reasonable money... but no A/C. That's sorta the one option that my beautiful and understanding wife requires. It does have an A/C dash... but I don't think that's a path I want to go down.

And a no-rust-but-some-dents-and-amateur-paint '87 GMC K20 priced right and well maintained mechanically that I was keen on until the seller told me "this is a 55mph truck. You drive 75 at your own peril..."

But man that '76 has a hold on me...

Fun stuff, great discussion.
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