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Randolph Duke

Chevy 5.3 LM7 engine rebuild.

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I am starting to collect my thoughts on a rebuild of a bone-stock 5.3 LM7 out of a bone-stock Silverado 1500. It's a daily driver. 3.73 rear end. Tow/Haul transmission switch.

I don't care about boosting the HP. The vehicle is used for in-town errands and a fair amount of highway driving between 65mph and 80 mph. I want to bump the gas mileage (currently around 17mpg). I don't want to drop below 280hp, and anything above 320hp means nothing to me if it costs gas mileage. I don't want it to be appreciably louder than it was off the showroom floor.

My mechanical engineering background is about as impressive as my ability to speak Italian. Which is pretty much zero.

What direction should I start when planning this rebuild? Not especially time sensitive, but I need to get started on this project.

I'm guessing port the heads and have a tune applied to the control module. At some point, I expect to have to go over the transmission, so changing the gears in the transmission is in theory an option.

How do I accomplish the objective of my rebuild?

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Randolph Duke said:

I am starting to collect my thoughts on a rebuild of a bone-stock 5.3 LM7 out of a bone-stock Silverado 1500. It's a daily driver. 3.73 rear end. Tow/Haul transmission switch.

I don't care about boosting the HP. The vehicle is used for in-town errands and a fair amount of highway driving between 65mph and 80 mph. I want to bump the gas mileage (currently around 17mpg). I don't want to drop below 280hp, and anything above 320hp means nothing to me if it costs gas mileage. I don't want it to be appreciably louder than it was off the showroom floor.

My mechanical engineering background is about as impressive as my ability to speak Italian. Which is pretty much zero.

What direction should I start when planning this rebuild? Not especially time sensitive, but I need to get started on this project.

I'm guessing port the heads and have a tune applied to the control module. At some point, I expect to have to go over the transmission, so changing the gears in the transmission is in theory an option.

How do I accomplish the objective of my rebuild?

Hmmm.

What's wrong with it currently?  It looks to be at least 10 years old, so some stuff is probably worn.

Usually, one "rebuilds" either to achieve HP targets or when something breaks or wears out that presents the opportunity to replace a lot of parts.

If you just need to replace a worn engine, a rebuilt or crate engine might be more economical than a "rebuild" using your own block.

The two things you mentioned, porting heads and a "tune," are not generally regarded as "rebuilding" tasks, but rather performance enhancements that are done when one is convinced that the block, heads, and rotating/reciprocating gear are in good condition.  Yes, they frequently get done when rebuilding an engine, but they are not rebuilding tasks per se.

Rebuilding usually entails boring the cylinders**, replacing piston rings and/or pistons, possibly connecting rods and caps and the associated bearings; grinding valve seats, replacing valves (this is where porting can come in) and valve gear (springs, lifters, cam), maybe even crankshaft and main bearings.

**because boring cylinders involves a small displacement bump, some consider it a performance mod, but really, it is to recondition the cylinder walls and get a good fit with new piston rings to improve compression.

Edited by TwiceHorn

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4 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

Hmmm.

What's wrong with it currently?  It looks to be at least 10 years old, so some stuff is probably worn.

Usually, one "rebuilds" either to achieve HP targets or when something breaks or wears out that presents the opportunity to replace a lot of parts.

If you just need to replace a worn engine, a rebuilt or crate engine might be more economical than a "rebuild" using your own block.

The two things you mentioned, porting heads and a "tune," are not generally regarded as "rebuilding" tasks, but rather performance enhancements that are done when one is convinced that the block, heads, and rotating/reciprocating gear are in good condition.  Yes, they frequently get done when rebuilding an engine, but they are not rebuilding tasks per se.

Rebuilding usually entails boring the cylinders, replacing piston rings and/or pistons, possibly connecting rods and caps and the associated bearings; grinding valve seats, replacing valves (this is where porting can come in) and valve gear (springs, lifters, cam), maybe even crankshaft and main bearings.

 

I've currently got 256,000 reasons to expect I'm going to have to do something within the next year or so. Sent the oil out to Blackstone about 35k ago and they said to change oil every 3k and don't touch it. That is what I am currently doing. I'm about to send another sample out to see what's going on. It should be ok, but I need to start thinking through some sort of a rebuild, and I would much rather do it planned than as a forced option.

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Posted (edited)

There are a couple of folks here that maintain fleets of trucks @G650 is one, I think @deadshank is another.

They may have some advice on what to do for longevity.

An unworn or less worn version of the same engine is going to produce better mileage and power, almost automatically, over a version with 1/4 million miles on it.

Again, I am thinking that a rebuilt engine or a crate engine is probably more economical than attempting to rebuild using your block, unless you had a specific project in mind.

These owners tend to think run it into the ground and replace with a crate engine. https://www.silveradosierra.com/vortec-5-3l-v8/high-miles-t712785.html

Plus you probably get a better warranty with a reputable rebuilt or crate engine.  "Rebuilt" and "crate" engine are probably only semantic differences.  By rebuilt, I mean a basically OEM spec remanufactured engine that you basically drop in.  Crate engines vary from that, to more performance-oriented variants.

Edited by TwiceHorn

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Keep the oil changes going on a regular schedule, put a filtermag on & keep up with whatever it attracts.

Maintain your radiator fluids & replace accessory components as needed (water pump, alternator, power steering, etc).

That kind of mileage isn't too uncommon for a "modern" vehicle.532635ca6d131d3a9fea556bc303c9f1.jpg

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1 minute ago, ROFL BOX said:

Keep the oil changes going on a regular schedule, put a filtermag on & keep up with whatever it attracts.

Maintain your radiator fluids & replace accessory components as needed (water pump, alternator, power steering, etc).

That kind of mileage isn't too uncommon for a "modern" vehicle.532635ca6d131d3a9fea556bc303c9f1.jpg

Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk
 

I log my maintenance better than some aircraft. I'm rather aggressive on the maintenance (OEM parts, K&N/Napa filters, regular fluid/ filter change on diffs, transfer case, trans). Did the intake manifold gasket a few months ago. Pretty much everything I can think of. The thing runs fine. Doesn't even go through a qt of oil between oil changes. but I know when I hit 300k the bearings are probably going to go out on me and I want to have my plan in place to deal with that so I am not stuck making a forced decision on what to do.

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1 minute ago, Randolph Duke said:

I log my maintenance better than some aircraft. I'm rather aggressive on the maintenance (OEM parts, K&N/Napa filters, regular fluid/ filter change on diffs, transfer case, trans). Did the intake manifold gasket a few months ago. Pretty much everything I can think of. The thing runs fine. Doesn't even go through a qt of oil between oil changes. but I know when I hit 300k the bearings are probably going to go out on me and I want to have my plan in place to deal with that so I am not stuck making a forced decision on what to do.

Assuming you mean the main bearings, which is probably rather unlikely, actually.  Nonetheless, for a major item that is going to involve pulling the engine, you are going to need to choose to make 1) just that repair 2) some or most of the repairs/replacements constituting a rebuild or 3) drop in a new engine.

Dropping in a new engine is probably the most cost-effective, reliable, and certainly fastest option.

As pointed out on that Silverado thread, your tranny is more likely to blow than your engine.

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12 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

Assuming you mean the main bearings, which is probably rather unlikely, actually.  Nonetheless, for a major item that is going to involve pulling the engine, you are going to need to choose to make 1) just that repair 2) some or most of the repairs/replacements constituting a rebuild or 3) drop in a new engine.

Dropping in a new engine is probably the most cost-effective, reliable, and certainly fastest option.

As pointed out on that Silverado thread, your tranny is more likely to blow than your engine.

I pinged 650 and deadshank. I will see what they have to say.

My though is to drop in a new engine (this is the first pushrod V8 I have ever owner and I like it a lot). Maybe porting and a tune after.

My one advantage is I don't have to do anything now, so I will give it some time and see what happens.

Thanks for the advice. I owe you some beers.

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1 hour ago, Randolph Duke said:

I am starting to collect my thoughts on a rebuild of a bone-stock 5.3 LM7 out of a bone-stock Silverado 1500. It's a daily driver. 3.73 rear end. Tow/Haul transmission switch.

I don't care about boosting the HP. The vehicle is used for in-town errands and a fair amount of highway driving between 65mph and 80 mph. I want to bump the gas mileage (currently around 17mpg). I don't want to drop below 280hp, and anything above 320hp means nothing to me if it costs gas mileage. I don't want it to be appreciably louder than it was off the showroom floor.

My mechanical engineering background is about as impressive as my ability to speak Italian. Which is pretty much zero.

What direction should I start when planning this rebuild? Not especially time sensitive, but I need to get started on this project.

I'm guessing port the heads and have a tune applied to the control module. At some point, I expect to have to go over the transmission, so changing the gears in the transmission is in theory an option.

How do I accomplish the objective of my rebuild?

 

58 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

There are a couple of folks here that maintain fleets of trucks @G650 is one, I think @deadshank is another.

They may have some advice on what to do for longevity.

An unworn or less worn version of the same engine is going to produce better mileage and power, almost automatically, over a version with 1/4 million miles on it.

Again, I am thinking that a rebuilt engine or a crate engine is probably more economical than attempting to rebuild using your block, unless you had a specific project in mind.

These owners tend to think run it into the ground and replace with a crate engine. https://www.silveradosierra.com/vortec-5-3l-v8/high-miles-t712785.html

Plus you probably get a better warranty with a reputable rebuilt or crate engine.  "Rebuilt" and "crate" engine are probably only semantic differences.  By rebuilt, I mean a basically OEM spec remanufactured engine that you basically drop in.  Crate engines vary from that, to more performance-oriented variants.

Not only do I maintain a fleet, but I used to build truck motors for bogging, pulling and general mayhem. Plus mechanical engineering was my major.

 

I'll have to get back to this when I have more time to type, but generally the answer is "it depends". A crate motor is definitely the easiest and most efficient way, but it could just be a fun project to do.

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36 minutes ago, Randolph Duke said:

I pinged 650 and deadshank. I will see what they have to say.

My though is to drop in a new engine (this is the first pushrod V8 I have ever owner and I like it a lot). Maybe porting and a tune after.

My one advantage is I don't have to do anything now, so I will give it some time and see what happens.

Thanks for the advice. I owe you some beers.

Well, if you are interested in porting and a tune, you might be well off to spend a little more money on a better crate engine.

Tunes are a great way to get power and torque, but they are limited by the hardware, both in the sense that they can only do so much if the hardware is limited and often what they do is pretty stressful on the hardware.  Tunes play with various parameters of air/fuel mixture and spark timing, as well as valve lift and timing (if a variable valve engine, which I don't believe the Vortec is). 

Factory tunes are generally pretty optimal for the balance of power, mileage, and stress on engine components, maybe with a priority to mileage and stress over power.  An aftermarket tune usually goes for power while sacrificing mileage and stressing engine components, especially pistons and valves, with heat and combustion stress.

The fundamental way to make an engine more efficient/powerful is to improve it's "breathing," that is, the intake and exhaust of air and fuel and combustion products.  Porting cylinder heads aims to improve breathing, usually more on the intake end.  Headers and low-restriction exhaust are what you do on the exhaust end.  Doing one without the other is less effective.

A better crate engine is going to have ported heads a matched intake manifold (probably), better fuel injection, be built for headers, and have higher quality pistons and rods to take the stress of its higher output and will thus be more "fun" to tune than a stock engine.

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yeah, bearings don't really "go out".  They occasionally "spin" because of oil issues.  But that's rare.  Something else will likely fail before the bearings cause trouble.

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If you'd just like to replace it with an engine with less miles, I'll sell you mine.  It only has 246,000 and comes with a 2004 Suburban wrapped around it.

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If you are losing oil pressure and there are no visible oil leaks on the side of the engine, the main bearings have probably lost some tolerance.   Those Gen III LS units are hard to beat.

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If you are losing oil pressure and there are no visible oil leaks on the side of the engine, the main bearings have probably lost some tolerance.   Those Gen III LS units are hard to beat.

Yup yup. You will be better off just getting a crate engine. Put a small turbo on it for shiggles. In reality, a tune will probably help. If that truck still has the factory transmission, it’s on borrowed time.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Gil Bang said:

yeah, bearings don't really "go out".  They occasionally "spin" because of oil issues.  But that's rare.  Something else will likely fail before the bearings cause trouble.

I'd say roughly 90% of bearing failure I've seen are from oil pump failure causing spun bearings.

 

Edit:Actually, I have to qualify this. 99.9999% of bearing failure I see is from idiots not checking the oil.

Edited by G650

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Posted (edited)

I absolutely appreciate all the feedback.

I somewhat had the truck forced on me a few years back. A 2000 Silverado 1500 LS with 185k for $3k. Perfectly fine interior. The previous owner was a lady who used it as a second vehicle, mostly to tow her fishing boat. She spent silly on replacing engine mounts, trans mounts, trans seals, u-joints, alternator, power steering pump, a/c compressor, water pump, parking light sockets (seriously-$150), all within in the previous 18 months, all done by the same local Firestone. Even though she replaced the a/c compressor and clutch, the a/c never really worked, and that matters in Texas. So she decided it was time to trade it in. The dealer offered $3k, she was offended, went away in a huff, and sold it to me that afternoon. For $3k.

The problem with the a/c was easy to diagnose, once I started changing all the filters. In spite of advising the client to spend for such bullshit things as replace parking light socket(s), in the almost 17 years she had the vehicle, no one ever mentioned she needed to occasionally change the cabin air filter. The worst clogged filter I have ever seen of any type in my life. So now I'm $3,015 into this.

New front brake pads (always do if I get a used car, just so I know how much wear I have on my front brakes). While I'm down there, might as well also do new front shocks. No one ever advised her she might want new shocks. Ever. In almost 200,000 miles. They were worthless. The vehicle had no front shocks, for all intents and purposes. So now I'm $3,200 into a truck that is getting into even better shape quite easily. I bought a random orbital polisher from Harbor Freight, spent a little extra for decent pads and good polishes. The polisher, along with an assortment pack of wet/dry sandpaper from Walmart wonderfully cleaned up the oxidation off the plastic lenses. Colinite 845 on the paint. I swear by that stuff. Now the truck runs well and looks pretty good.

Long story short, since spring I've gone over the truck from bumper to bumper doing a HEAVY 250,000 maintenance. Only EOM parts. I learned the OEM parts lesson the hard way. But even that was maybe $1,000 in parts (I now swear by Rockauto. The price differentials between dealer, local auto parts stores and Rockauto stunned me).

The thing runs like a champ (17mpg hwy). But at some point, I need to plan what to do with the engine and trans when they go. Nothing urgent. Until then, oil change every 3,000. Costco for the oil. I'm a believer on spending a few extra for decent filters, so I grab a K&N or NAPA Gold for the engine oil filter. I send an oil sample to Blackstone for $25 every 35k or so (every two years). The info from Blackstone is giving me a better idea how much longer the engine will last.

When I first got my drivers license, my dad gave me a used vehicle and a set a wrenches and laughed as he said "good luck, have fun, and if I were you, I'd buy a Chilton's manual." My curiosity with this truck project is a) is it still possible to give a new driver a used vehicle and a set of wrenches and tell them "good luck, have fun, the videos you're going to need are on youtube" toss them a few dollars, and let them learn the old fashioned way, and b) How much money and how much sweat equity would it take to make it happen? So far, my belief is at least if you get a decent Silverado, it absolutely is possible. I'm about $5k into this ($3k purchase, $2k filters, parts, etc, outside of tires) over the four years I've had it. 65k miles. We're talking $100/mo, and I could probably still dump this truck for my original $3k. Now I have to start factoring in the engine and tranny.

This is the first pushrod V8 I have ever owned, and I know because it is such a popular vehicle there are a ton of options for my engine and transmission situation. I'm just trying to get a handle on future expenditures and if I have to choose any options, tend toward the ones that will allow me to bump fuel economy and stay away from the bells and whistles I would have wasted money on back when I first got my license.

Eventually I am going to tire of this project and some lucky kid willing to forego the glitz of a new truck and who is willing to drive a 25+ yr old one is going to get gifted a rather bulletproof vehicle, but between now and then I'm curious to see just how possible it is to keep the thing on the road and properly maintained.

Edited by Randolph Duke

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1 hour ago, G650 said:

I'd say roughly 90% of bearing failure I've seen are from oil pump failure causing spun bearings.

 

Edit:Actually, I have to qualify this. 99.9999% of bearing failure I see is from idiots not checking the oil.

Pffffft....  Oil.... soooooo over rated.....

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1 hour ago, G650 said:

I'd say roughly 90% of bearing failure I've seen are from oil pump failure causing spun bearings.

 

Edit:Actually, I have to qualify this. 99.9999% of bearing failure I see is from idiots not checking the oil.

What is the first sign of an oil pump failure? Will the pump give me warning by noticeably lower output over time (similar to an alternator slowly wearing out and giving warning because the lights are all dimmer) or will it be an "oh shit, I have a problem" situation like when a water pump seal starts leaking all over the ground?

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What is the first sign of an oil pump failure? Will the pump give me warning by noticeably lower output over time (similar to an alternator slowly wearing out and giving warning because the lights are all dimmer) or will it be an "oh shit, I have a problem" situation like when a water pump seal starts leaking all over the ground?

I’ve seen both. You’ll notice less pressure most of the time. Don’t get caught up trying to get great mileage on that thing. It only got 17 or 18 from the factory I think.

Anyone else actually surprised that OP works on vehicles? I’m not gonna lie, I figured you spent all of your time looking stuff up to piss off aggy.

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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, Randolph Duke said:

I absolutely appreciate all the feedback.

I somewhat had the truck forced on me a few years back. A 2000 Silverado 1500 LS with 185k for $3k. Perfectly fine interior. The previous owner was a lady who used it as a second vehicle, mostly to tow her fishing boat. She spent silly on replacing engine mounts, trans mounts, trans seals, u-joints, alternator, power steering pump, a/c compressor, water pump, parking light sockets (seriously-$150), all within in the previous 18 months, all done by the same local Firestone. Even though she replaced the a/c compressor and clutch, the a/c never really worked, and that matters in Texas. So she decided it was time to trade it in. The dealer offered $3k, she was offended, went away in a huff, and sold it to me that afternoon. For $3k.

The problem with the a/c was easy to diagnose, once I started changing all the filters. In spite of advising the client to spend for such bullshit things as replace parking light socket(s), in the almost 17 years she had the vehicle, no one ever mentioned she needed to occasionally change the cabin air filter. The worst clogged filter I have ever seen of any type in my life. So now I'm $3,015 into this.

New front brake pads (always do if I get a used car, just so I know how much wear I have on my front brakes). While I'm down there, might as well also do new front shocks. No one ever advised her she might want new shocks. Ever. In almost 200,000 miles. They were worthless. The vehicle had no front shocks, for all intents and purposes. So now I'm $3,200 into a truck that is getting into even better shape quite easily. I bought a random orbital polisher from Harbor Freight, spent a little extra for decent pads and good polishes. The polisher, along with an assortment pack of wet/dry sandpaper from Walmart wonderfully cleaned up the oxidation off the plastic lenses. Colinite 845 on the paint. I swear by that stuff. Now the truck runs well and looks pretty good.

Long story short, since spring I've gone over the truck from bumper to bumper doing a HEAVY 250,000 maintenance. Only EOM parts. I learned the OEM parts lesson the hard way. But even that was maybe $1,000 in parts (I now swear by Rockauto. The price differentials between dealer, local auto parts stores and Rockauto stunned me).

The thing runs like a champ (17mpg hwy). But at some point, I need to plan what to do with the engine and trans when they go. Nothing urgent. Until then, oil change every 3,000. Costco for the oil. I'm a believer on spending a few extra for decent filters, so I grab a K&N or NAPA Gold for the engine oil filter. I send an oil sample to Blackstone for $25 every 35k or so (every two years). The info from Blackstone is giving me a better idea how much longer the engine will last.

When I first got my drivers license, my dad gave me a used vehicle and a set a wrenches and laughed as he said "good luck, have fun, and if I were you, I'd buy a Chilton's manual." My curiosity with this truck project is a) is it still possible to give a new driver a used vehicle and a set of wrenches and tell them "good luck, have fun, the videos you're going to need are on youtube" toss them a few dollars, and let them learn the old fashioned way, and b) How much money and how much sweat equity would it take to make it happen? So far, my belief is at least if you get a decent Silverado, it absolutely is possible. I'm about $5k into this ($3k purchase, $2k filters, parts, etc, outside of tires) over the four years I've had it. 65k miles. We're talking $100/mo, and I could probably still dump this truck for my original $3k. Now I have to start factoring in the engine and tranny.

This is the first pushrod V8 I have ever owned, and I know because it is such a popular vehicle there are a ton of options for my engine and transmission situation. I'm just trying to get a handle on future expenditures and if I have to choose any options, tend toward the ones that will allow me to bump fuel economy and stay away from the bells and whistles I would have wasted money on back when I first got my license.

Eventually I am going to tire of this project and some lucky kid willing to forego the glitz of a new truck and who is willing to drive a 25+ yr old one is going to get gifted a rather bulletproof vehicle, but between now and then I'm curious to see just how possible it is to keep the thing on the road and properly maintained.

That's awesome about the cabin air filter inasmuch as dealers and every quiklube place under the sun wants to sell you one any time you come in.

Also, pro tip.  The term "pushrod V8" describes probably 99% of V8s ever sold.  It is used to distinguish V8s using pushrods and a single cam in the block from overhead cam (OHC) V8s, which are comparatively rare.

The term is currently used in a mildly derogatory fashion, as in "the Corvette still uses a pushrod V8."

Gearheads know from context whether a V8 is a pushrod (almost all trucks, most American cars) or OHC (racecars, European luxobarges, and supercars ).  Ford has sold an OHC V8 for quite some time, but it is an oddball.

So you can just say "V8."  Pushrod is redundant.

Edited by TwiceHorn

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

That's awesome about the cabin air filter inasmuch as dealers and every quiklube place under the sun wants to sell you one any time you come in.

Also, pro tip.  The term "pushrod V8" describes probably 99% of V8s ever sold.  It is used to distinguish V8s using pushrods and a single cam in the block from overhead cam (OHC) V8s, which are comparatively rare.

The term is currently used in a mildly derogatory fashion, as in "the Corvette still uses a pushrod V8."

Gearheads know from context whether a V8 is a pushrod (almost all trucks, most American cars) or OHC (racecars, European luxobarges, and supercars ).  Ford has sold an OHC V8 for quite some time, but it is an oddball.

So you can just say "V8."  Pushrod is redundant.

I specified a pushrod, because I once heard the story of when in the early 90s, GM built two prototypes for their next gen big block engine - a pushrod and a DOHC. GM evidently tested the hell out of both engines and decided the pushrod was just more fun to drive than the DOHC. That basic pushrod design became the LS series. (They were right. My LM7 is a really fun ride. And with ceramic pads, the front brakes on that beast are actually not bad.)

I grew up on SOHC and DOHC cam engines. To me, a pushrod and a DOHC are as different as a manual and an automatic transmission. I'm used to matching trans gears and the final drive with the engine to get the car dialed in for what type of driving one wants to do. I'm trying to apply that approach to this vehicle with the objective to stay within the same performance I'm getting now at +/- 290hp, but by optimizing available options for gas mileage.

Edited by Randolph Duke

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If your oil pressure is low because of wallered out bearings, you can probably switch oil grades and help yourself some.  Other than that, run'er til she pukes, and know that we in the salt belt are envious of folks who own pickups that can go that long.

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What did it cost to have that done?
He mentioned $ 25.00 in a prior post.

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6 hours ago, Randolph Duke said:

I absolutely appreciate all the feedback.

I somewhat had the truck forced on me a few years back. A 2000 Silverado 1500 LS with 185k for $3k. Perfectly fine interior. The previous owner was a lady who used it as a second vehicle, mostly to tow her fishing boat. She spent silly on replacing engine mounts, trans mounts, trans seals, u-joints, alternator, power steering pump, a/c compressor, water pump, parking light sockets (seriously-$150), all within in the previous 18 months, all done by the same local Firestone. Even though she replaced the a/c compressor and clutch, the a/c never really worked, and that matters in Texas. So she decided it was time to trade it in. The dealer offered $3k, she was offended, went away in a huff, and sold it to me that afternoon. For $3k.

The problem with the a/c was easy to diagnose, once I started changing all the filters. In spite of advising the client to spend for such bullshit things as replace parking light socket(s), in the almost 17 years she had the vehicle, no one ever mentioned she needed to occasionally change the cabin air filter. The worst clogged filter I have ever seen of any type in my life. So now I'm $3,015 into this.

New front brake pads (always do if I get a used car, just so I know how much wear I have on my front brakes). While I'm down there, might as well also do new front shocks. No one ever advised her she might want new shocks. Ever. In almost 200,000 miles. They were worthless. The vehicle had no front shocks, for all intents and purposes. So now I'm $3,200 into a truck that is getting into even better shape quite easily. I bought a random orbital polisher from Harbor Freight, spent a little extra for decent pads and good polishes. The polisher, along with an assortment pack of wet/dry sandpaper from Walmart wonderfully cleaned up the oxidation off the plastic lenses. Colinite 845 on the paint. I swear by that stuff. Now the truck runs well and looks pretty good.

Long story short, since spring I've gone over the truck from bumper to bumper doing a HEAVY 250,000 maintenance. Only EOM parts. I learned the OEM parts lesson the hard way. But even that was maybe $1,000 in parts (I now swear by Rockauto. The price differentials between dealer, local auto parts stores and Rockauto stunned me).

The thing runs like a champ (17mpg hwy). But at some point, I need to plan what to do with the engine and trans when they go. Nothing urgent. Until then, oil change every 3,000. Costco for the oil. I'm a believer on spending a few extra for decent filters, so I grab a K&N or NAPA Gold for the engine oil filter. I send an oil sample to Blackstone for $25 every 35k or so (every two years). The info from Blackstone is giving me a better idea how much longer the engine will last.

When I first got my drivers license, my dad gave me a used vehicle and a set a wrenches and laughed as he said "good luck, have fun, and if I were you, I'd buy a Chilton's manual." My curiosity with this truck project is a) is it still possible to give a new driver a used vehicle and a set of wrenches and tell them "good luck, have fun, the videos you're going to need are on youtube" toss them a few dollars, and let them learn the old fashioned way, and b) How much money and how much sweat equity would it take to make it happen? So far, my belief is at least if you get a decent Silverado, it absolutely is possible. I'm about $5k into this ($3k purchase, $2k filters, parts, etc, outside of tires) over the four years I've had it. 65k miles. We're talking $100/mo, and I could probably still dump this truck for my original $3k. Now I have to start factoring in the engine and tranny.

This is the first pushrod V8 I have ever owned, and I know because it is such a popular vehicle there are a ton of options for my engine and transmission situation. I'm just trying to get a handle on future expenditures and if I have to choose any options, tend toward the ones that will allow me to bump fuel economy and stay away from the bells and whistles I would have wasted money on back when I first got my license.

Eventually I am going to tire of this project and some lucky kid willing to forego the glitz of a new truck and who is willing to drive a 25+ yr old one is going to get gifted a rather bulletproof vehicle, but between now and then I'm curious to see just how possible it is to keep the thing on the road and properly maintained.

11,000 miles per year is a shitload for a "second vehicle", and it's REALLY a shitload of boat towing.   Unless she lived in Texas and liked to fish the Pacific Ocean every weekend.

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6 hours ago, Randolph Duke said:

What is the first sign of an oil pump failure? Will the pump give me warning by noticeably lower output over time (similar to an alternator slowly wearing out and giving warning because the lights are all dimmer) or will it be an "oh shit, I have a problem" situation like when a water pump seal starts leaking all over the ground?

https://www.cargurus.com/Cars/Discussion-t11114_ds628022

 

Solid advice in the thread.    

 

I retired your same vehicle (2000 Silv, 5.3) with 316K miles. (second vehicle).    Engine and transmission were fairly solid till the end.  Did develop seal leaks and the low oil pressure at idle described in link above which I chose not to repair.   No oil pump or bearing failure.    Just monitor the oil pressure gauge.

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The other thing worth mentioning is that bearings get oil-starved from clogged galleys and passages.  So high pressure, or a change in pressure can signal oiling problems, as well.

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Posted (edited)

Here is the report from two years ago (~30k miles). I'm sending a sample out today for analysis.

"Unfortunately, this engine has a coolant leak. Coolant shows up as potassium and sodium, and maybe silicon. Silicon could be dirt getting past the air filter or from a harmless sealer or lube too. Make sure the air filter/intake is okay. Iron tracks with oil use and it's fine on a per-mile basis, but lead (and other wear metals) should stay closer to average regardless, so lead shows some extra bearing wear. Universal averages are based on ~5,600 miles of oil use. The thick viscosity is due to Lucas (harmless). Use just 3,000 miles or less and watch for coolant loss."

 

 

oil analysis.jpeg

Edited by Randolph Duke

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Jkwellborn said:

What did it cost to have that done?

$30. If you are trying to decide to nurse an older car or bite the bullet and replace, I HIGHLY suggest getting an analysis done.

https://www.blackstone-labs.com/about-us/?session-id=5cagui55dromyoyrgovxcr45&timeout=20&bslauth=&urlbase=https%3a%2f%2fwww.blackstone-labs.net%2fBstone%2f(S(5cagui55dromyoyrgovxcr45))%2f

Edited by Randolph Duke

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19 hours ago, torre said:

https://www.cargurus.com/Cars/Discussion-t11114_ds628022

 

Solid advice in the thread.    

 

I retired your same vehicle (2000 Silv, 5.3) with 316K miles. (second vehicle).    Engine and transmission were fairly solid till the end.  Did develop seal leaks and the low oil pressure at idle described in link above which I chose not to repair.   No oil pump or bearing failure.    Just monitor the oil pressure gauge.

No seal leaks. I've replaced the rear diff gasket and the transmission pan gasket relying on a HF torque wrench and no leaks from there, either. I've had the wild oil pressure gauge at idle for 50k mil, but no noise from the engine and nothing in the analysis tells me I have some sore of an oil supply problem (we will see what the new analysis says). I'm loath to replace the oil pressure sensor/ screen because of how much access to the damned thing seems to be, but I may just do it some afternoon in the fall, considering I may have some extra time on my hands this fall. I'm pretty sure its a sludge issue that I can get to when I decide to get to it.

My next project will probably be proactive total brake system maintenance. At 250,000 miles, I might as well just go over everything in the brake system so I know I probably won't have to do it again any time in the foreseeable future (probably never again).

To me, doing proactive work on various components that may not quite yet need it, but probably will soon (the aircraft maintenance approach), is far more preferable than dealing with a 20-yr old vehicle that always has at least three things wrong with it and can leave me stranded at a very inconvenient time.

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