pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
142,000 miles
Total Complaints:
1 complaints

Most common solutions:

  1. not sure (1 reports)
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problem #1

Aug 072020

Suburban Z71 5.3L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

click to see larger images

oil leak

We were just about to move onto some new acreage we had purchased in Iowa. The winters can get rather rough out here and our driveway is super steep (yes, Iowa does have hills). When I lived in Colorado, I had a 1997 Z71 pickup. I loved this truck and regretted selling it before we moved, but nothing I can do about that now. I saw this big, white, 2004 Suburban for sale and thought, “My Chevy truck was awesome, I’ll bet this will be awesome as well.”

The lady who was selling it seemed nice enough. Her husband (I shall call him Bruce Banner) was there as well, he owed a concrete company and looked like he could break through reinforced, poured concrete with his bare hands. They assured me that the Suburban was a wonderful truck with no major issues. Their pants were on fire. I took it for a test drive and noticed an air leak from the driver’s door on the highway (I’m thinking Bruce had Hulk Opened the door a few too many times). I bought the Suburban with 140,000 miles on it, thinking it would reach 200,000 with no issues (after all, my truck ran great with 230,000). I named it Moby Dick because of its size and color.

I got Moby Dick home and notice it liked to mark its territory with oil, a lot of oil. Then, about a day later, the check engine light comes on. I check the codes and am led to believe it is a mass air flow sensor. I replace the sensor and the light goes off for a couple of days. Then it comes back on, a mechanic friend of mine looks at the codes and informs me it is most likely a bad intake manifold gasket. I decide I will replace the intake manifold gasket and the valve cover gaskets at the same time to slow down the oil leaks.

I soon realize that Bruce had previously tried to stop the valve cover leaks by Hulk Tightening the bolts until they stripped out the head. Bruce had also tried to replace the turn signal lights by ripping them out of the front clip instead of using the super handy bolts that Chevy had provided, at least he used clear packing tape to reattach (how am I so dumb as to not have noticed these issues during the test drive?). After using some colorful language, an insert kit, a pound of beef jerky, and YouTube, I got it all put back together. That was the end of my check engine light, but the beginning of the rest of my woes.

It still leaked a lot of oil. I took it to two shops, one shop replaced the oil pressure sensor, the oil pan gasket, and the oil filter housing gasket. Still didn’t help. Another shop told me it was the rear main, I decided it wasn’t worth the cost to get it fixed. So now Moby Dick was renamed Exxon Valdez.

Then winter arrives. The kids are complaining that cold air is coming out of the vents. Sure enough, seems like the rear blend door actuator isn’t functioning. I get it changed out and it seems to work, until summer when it fails to pump out cold air. Turns out the Rear HVAC control module is bad. I’m driving the Exxon Valdez on the interstate, considering what it will take to get this truck to a point where I am comfortable driving it across Iowa. As I am mulling this over, I look down to see that I have no gas, no oil pressure, 200 RPMs, and am doing 30 MPH - only I’m not. I’m easily doing 70 and I had just filled up with gas the day before. So, the instrument cluster went out. Then, the rear windows decided to stop rolling up.

At this point I decided to sell it. Unlike the people I bought it from, I was upfront with the guy who was buying it. I definitely sold it for less than I wanted, but at least I had a clear conscience doing it. The issues I had with this truck were a mix of GM’s shoddy workmanship, and Bruce Banner Hulking out on every issue he could find.

- Nathaniel J., Pacific Junction, US