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Old 07-24-2019, 09:26 PM   #1
Old65C10
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Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

So, I have been into the square bodies for years, and just sold my K30, but I have never had the Suburban that I wanted.
About 8 years ago my wife wanted to get me a Suburban and she found one and traded her mini-van for it. However it was a 90 2wd with a 454. I hated to get rid of it, but it just was not what I wanted and the mileage out of the 454 was terrible.
Well, I went in search of my dream Suburban. I wanted a 4wd, 5.7L and it had to be a 3/4 ton so I can tow my travel trailer.
I found it, but it was in another state. It was down in Salem Or, about 4 hours away.
It is a 90 GMC, 3/4 ton, 5.7, SLE with everything I wanted, tow package, 4:10's, LSD, front and rear A/C, power everything even the mirrors.
The problem was I had the cash, but no way to go look at it or go get it. My wife was out of town and I just did not have the time to take off and go see it. So, looking at the pictures only from the web, I bought it without ever going to see it. The dealer agreed to deliver it to me and collect the cash when they got here. It is a big dealer in the Salem area I have dealt with before.
It arrived today and I have now had a chance to inspect it and I am super happy with it.
Under the hood is a new GM crate engine with all the sticker and new motor mounts. They also replaced the hoses and belts, and all the ignition wires, cap and rotor along with the ign control unit. (the old ones were in the center console)
It also has a new radiator, new battery, new starter, new master cylinder, booster and new calipers. I have not pulled the rear wheels, but suspect the rear brakes were done also. A new Hayden trans cooler is behind the grill too.
I also looked at the transmission and it was also replaced, it is painted grey like from a rebuilder.
Mechanically this thing is in great shape. The interior is also in great shape, but has a minor crack in the dash and a small seam that is separating on the passenger seat. I think I can get that fixed easily. The headliner however is falling in the front and the rear half is gone.
Now the bad.
The paint is poo, pealing on the hood, missing on the roof and just bad on the rest. There is a dent in the left rear quarter, not bad, but needs fixing.
The RF windows kind of works, it goes real slow and needs help to fully close. Got to fix that soon.
The A/C does not work and the heater core is disconnected, I assume it leaks.
The exhaust is, well a mess. The stock Y pipe is there, then it goes to a piece of flex tube, then a new Cat and short pipe then a new Flowmaster dual outlet. But, that is the end of it, nothing after the muffler.
The rest of the issues are all minor, left channel of the radio does not work, door pins need replacing, window seals/wipers are dry rotted.
Oh, and the Elephant in the room, those ugly rims. 20in rims and tires. They will find a new home and be replaced with stock steelies and stock dog dish hub caps. Then the 20's with be sold to someone that likes them more than I do.
All in all, I am very happy with it. All this for $4300 delivered. Must have cost $75 in gas.



Last one is from the dealer I got it from.
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Old 07-25-2019, 08:28 AM   #2
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

First off, look at all the positives. New engine, tranny rebuilt, and a ton of new parts. All these things add up VERY quickly, so you are way ahead financially. I spent way over $4300 and still don't have what you have at that price point. So take a breath....you're good! My wife and I joke, it's my $10,000 ($3500) Blazer. I'll never get what I put into it back. Not for a LONG time!

The slow windows are to be expected. The motors get weak and the as you noted, the window seals need to be replaced. That's one to add to the list.

AC, well it would be a crap shoot if you had it working. A lot of times, they just don't work due to cracks in lines, etc. Do you have rear AC too? To do it right, you'll want to replace all the lines, new compressor, new dryer, new condenser, and then fill with R133, or whatever it is. The R12 is old and very hard to find. And when you do, it's expensive. Just convert it over.

Heater core. That's a job, but can be done. You just have to take the front dash apart.

And dashes....well they've gone up HUGE for OEM. I'd recommend Dashes Direct. Looks to be a decent reproduction.

What tranny do you have? A rebuilt TH400 (3 Speed), or did they somehow put in the 4L80e (4 Speed)? That would be a HUGE bonus!

Paint is a given and expected. Just the norm of these truck. Most important is rust. Hopefully it's minimal. I keep chasing my rust....hate it.
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Last edited by Ski-me; 07-25-2019 at 08:38 AM.
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Old 07-25-2019, 08:35 AM   #3
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Yea, those wheels.....dang! I just finally see the truck (had to open on my phone). Got to swap those things out!

Funny, my 04' Yukon XL 3/4 also came with 20" wheels when I bought it. Just dang ugly and too pimp for me. I swapped them out to 17's and WAY better. Also, the PO put on "P" rated street tires for a 3/4 truck....just wrong!
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:34 AM   #4
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski-me View Post
First off, look at all the positives. New engine, tranny rebuilt, and a ton of new parts. All these things add up VERY quickly, so you are way ahead financially. I spent way over $4300 and still don't have what you have at that price point. So take a breath....you're good! My wife and I joke, it's my $10,000 ($3500) Blazer. I'll never get what I put into it back. Not for a LONG time!

The slow windows are to be expected. The motors get weak and the as you noted, the window seals need to be replaced. That's one to add to the list.

AC, well it would be a crap shoot if you had it working. A lot of times, they just don't work due to cracks in lines, etc. Do you have rear AC too? To do it right, you'll want to replace all the lines, new compressor, new dryer, new condenser, and then fill with R133, or whatever it is. The R12 is old and very hard to find. And when you do, it's expensive. Just convert it over.

Heater core. That's a job, but can be done. You just have to take the front dash apart.

And dashes....well they've gone up HUGE for OEM. I'd recommend Dashes Direct. Looks to be a decent reproduction.

What tranny do you have? A rebuilt TH400 (3 Speed), or did they somehow put in the 4L80e (4 Speed)? That would be a HUGE bonus!

Paint is a given and expected. Just the norm of these truck. Most important is rust. Hopefully it's minimal. I keep chasing my rust....hate it.
Well maybe I set the wrong tone, I am thrilled with what I got, no disappointment at all.
All the positives clearly out weigh the bad things. I know the cost of all the mechanical things that got done. A new engine and trans are far more than the $4300 I paid. I am ordering new tire today or tomorrow and will sell off the big rims.
The heater core is no big deal. Yes, a lot of work, but I am a mechanic. Have been for 30 years. I have done many many heater cores on far worse than a Chevy truck.
This is my 6th square body, I also have a 65 C10, but it is a project.
As for rust, there is none. There is some surface rust below the rear doors, but it is not cancer. The paint I knew going into this that I would never find an 80's GMC/Chevy with good original paint, it was bad a few years after it was sold.
My biggest issue is that I want to fix it all right now and I need to just look at the big picture, prioritize the the things that need work first and wait on the other stuff.
First to go is the wheels, they are causing poor handling, it is twitchy and wants t follow ruts. Stock tires will fix that.
Next is the heater core, it is summer now, but winter will be here soon and that is one of the reasons I got it, I get snow here.
The radio is a cheap and easy fix, window motor is also cheap. All the other stuff I can do in time.
As I said, overall I am thrilled with it. I know I got a good deal on it and I got more than I paid for. Rust free Suburbans are hard to find and they seem to be headed towards the $10K mark if they are any good.
Having all the major mechanical stuff done for me is huge.
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:42 AM   #5
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

It's a blast to have a new project, and prioritizing is good. I also wanted to do it all at once too! Sounds like you have a good plan moving forward.

I assume LT tires? 16" factory?

What might be cool is the stock look with a bit larger tires. I'm partial to the BFG's AT's.
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:45 AM   #6
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Rear heat or AC?
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Old 07-25-2019, 10:26 AM   #7
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

I remember on my Father's 89 Suburban, the AC lines going to the rear AC leaked. Right where they passed through the body.

I believe 31x10.5's were stock. I sold my neighbor my 89 Blazer. He put 33's on there. They filled up the wheel well really nice.

I see mention of a TH400. Would that truck not have had a 700R4? My 89 Blazer and my Father's 89 Suburban had the 700R4.
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Old 07-25-2019, 10:44 AM   #8
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rpmerf View Post
I remember on my Father's 89 Suburban, the AC lines going to the rear AC leaked. Right where they passed through the body.

I believe 31x10.5's were stock. I sold my neighbor my 89 Blazer. He put 33's on there. They filled up the wheel well really nice.

I see mention of a TH400. Would that truck not have had a 700R4? My 89 Blazer and my Father's 89 Suburban had the 700R4.
1/2 ton vs. 3/4 ton.

3/4 ton was TH400. 700R4 was in 1/2 tons. For 1991 only, the 3/4 ton used the 4L80e.

31's will look too small and that's for 1/2 tons, too. I'd definitely go larger...

Stock rim for 3/4 ton, 16" x 6.5".
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Old 07-25-2019, 10:59 AM   #9
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Right now I want to get a set of stock steel wheels and I am not sure if I will go stock size, or go up 1 or 2 sizes. To start I may just go stock size, that way I can keep the stock wheels. I also need it to pull a 30ft travel trailer. If I go up in size, it will negate the 4:10 gears and make it work harder.
It does have front and rear A/C, but I am not sure if it has rear heat, I don't think so.
It does have the THM400. I know the 4 speed would net better mileage, but I do know that this trans is a rock solid trans that will take the abuse of trailer towing. I also work at home, so while it is my "daily driver" it may only leave the house once a week. The K30 I just sold saw 2000 miles in just under 2 years. I hope to put more on this.
As for the A/C, I am going to try one or two of those fix it cans for this year. If it works, great, if not I will have it fixed the right way next year. We don't have that much hot weather left to spend the money this year.

Today projects are new door striker pins, painting the headlight surrounds, lubing some squeaks, and ordering a new heater core.
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:06 AM   #10
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Good Start!! Many here have bought less for more $$$.

Yours is a running driving truck!!
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:13 AM   #11
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Looks like the stock tire size was LT235/85R-16E
equivalent size = 31.7" x 9.3"

I'd probably try 33's of some sort:

285/75R16 - 32.8" x 11.2"

255/85R16 - 33.1" x 10"

295/75R16
33x10.5R16
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:53 AM   #12
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

I'm running 285s on my 'Burb
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Old 07-25-2019, 06:22 PM   #13
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warrens69GMC View Post
Good Start!! Many here have bought less for more $$$.

Yours is a running driving truck!!
That is why I am so excited about it. There is more money in new part, no to mention labor than I paid for it.
I have the peace of mind that I can take it anywhere without having to do major work to it.
This is good, my budget to do much more is very small, it will be a slow go.
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Old 08-07-2019, 07:46 PM   #14
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Well it took me a little bit to get the wheels, but I have them now. I had a hard time finding them local. I did not want to ship 300lbs of wheels across the state, or drive 250+ miles over the mountains to get them.
I got them painted white for now. However, when I get the hub caps on I will decide if I like the white or want to go to the factory silver. Then I will have them powered coated.
As of now I think it looks a lot better than those BLING rims. More the look I am after. Tires are 235/85-16 Load E EcoPath ATs.

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Old 08-07-2019, 11:13 PM   #15
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

i think those rims were white from the factory.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:04 AM   #16
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Cool Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Those wheels and tires look great to me!

Your Suburban looks ready to either roll down the highway or climb a mountain.

Lots of folks don't seem to realize that a taller narrower tire gives you lots more ground clearance without needing a lift to keep them from rubbing the fenders when you turn.

I just wish to heck mine was an 8-hole so I could run 16" wheels.
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:33 AM   #17
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

I just had to post this picture. I went outside last night at sunset and this is what I saw. It was too good to pass up.
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:40 AM   #18
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

I am also working towards making this an Overland vehicle. I need to sort out a roof rack and some kind of platform for the rear. The rear most seat will be stored in the shed for now and I will install an elevated platform to allow storage under it. I need to make it so that the front section will lift up and allow me to still use the middle seat.
The roof rack will get my solar panels, awning, high lift jack, shovel, and storage boxes. I may also install a water storage system also.

For where I plan to be going, the tire and wheel combo will be all I need. They will also save on gas (a little).

The plan also includes a new winch for the front. I plan to hide it behind the stock front bumper.
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:27 PM   #19
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

For your power windows. Pick up a can of silicone spray lube and lube up the channels. Use lots. You might be surprised.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:09 AM   #20
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

I have made a little progress on the Sub. I mounted a home made rack on the roof to allow me to put my spare tire, solar panel, high-lift jack and shovel.
I was able to get out a few days on the trail and do some camping in it. I have another trip planned for the 2nd weekend in October.
This thing work quite well off road. I took it down some really rough trails, deep ruts, deep holes and over mounds. Nothing too crazy, but I was impressed. It is going to work for my needs.
Future upgrades include a front lunchbox locker, a winch and a rebuild of the LSD in the rear. With these 3 things I will be able to take it even further and know I can get out if things get a little crazy.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:24 AM   #21
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Get the winch first

And skid plates if you don't already have them. The Suburban TC is really vulnerable.

Looks like yours still has the factory auto locking front hubs. I would trash them and put on a set of Warn manual hubs. Actually, do that before the winch. My factory hubs failed to engage way up in the mountains when I was trying to back our camper trailer up a little hill into a spot, using low range. I pulled forward and backed up several times and finally got them to work long enough, but the next week I had the Warn hubs installed.
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Old 09-23-2019, 11:53 AM   #22
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1976gmc20 View Post
Get the winch first

And skid plates if you don't already have them. The Suburban TC is really vulnerable.

Looks like yours still has the factory auto locking front hubs. I would trash them and put on a set of Warn manual hubs. Actually, do that before the winch. My factory hubs failed to engage way up in the mountains when I was trying to back our camper trailer up a little hill into a spot, using low range. I pulled forward and backed up several times and finally got them to work long enough, but the next week I had the Warn hubs installed.
Mine has the full skid plates including the one for the T/C. New Hubs are on the list as well as a winch.
For now I want this to stay stock, but do things to add reliability and strength as opposed to putting lift and big tires on for show.
As of right now my budget is very low, so I may have to request some things for Birthday/Christmas.
I will get it there, but it may be slow. For now I am just getting out there and figuring out what I want to do with it to make it better.
I spent about 2 hours under the hood yesturday adding a second battery and replacing vacuum hoses that were old and way too soft.
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Old 09-23-2019, 12:31 PM   #23
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old65C10 View Post
Well it took me a little bit to get the wheels, but I have them now. I had a hard time finding them local. I did not want to ship 300lbs of wheels across the state, or drive 250+ miles over the mountains to get them.
I got them painted white for now. However, when I get the hub caps on I will decide if I like the white or want to go to the factory silver. Then I will have them powered coated.
As of now I think it looks a lot better than those BLING rims. More the look I am after. Tires are 235/85-16 Load E EcoPath ATs.

Muuuch better!

Quote:
Originally Posted by buffydores View Post
i think those rims were white from the factory.
Correct.

White is factory correct.


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Old 09-23-2019, 07:13 PM   #24
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old65C10 View Post
Mine has the full skid plates including the one for the T/C. New Hubs are on the list as well as a winch.
For now I want this to stay stock, but do things to add reliability and strength as opposed to putting lift and big tires on for show.
As of right now my budget is very low, so I may have to request some things for Birthday/Christmas.
I will get it there, but it may be slow. For now I am just getting out there and figuring out what I want to do with it to make it better.
I spent about 2 hours under the hood yesturday adding a second battery and replacing vacuum hoses that were old and way too soft.
Those 235/85-16's are almost a lift by themselves

I guess it depends on what you want to do: just go find a remote place to camp and enjoy nature and peace and quiet, or prove what sort of obstacles you can conquer.

It seems to me that these days the really rough places are mostly popularized and filled with lots of people trying to prove what they can do with their rig, and break things on their rig.
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Old 09-27-2019, 01:34 PM   #25
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Re: Bought a new to me 90 Sub, came with a few surprises.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1976gmc20 View Post
Those 235/85-16's are almost a lift by themselves

I guess it depends on what you want to do: just go find a remote place to camp and enjoy nature and peace and quiet, or prove what sort of obstacles you can conquer.

It seems to me that these days the really rough places are mostly popularized and filled with lots of people trying to prove what they can do with their rig, and break things on their rig.
I am not looking to build a "wheeler", but more of a Overlanding rig to go camping and explore. I will be doing mostly Forest Service road, BLM land, Fish and Wildlife areas, etc. The roads can get tough, but very little rock crawling or deep mud. If things get to radical, I will find another way. Biggest issue with this Suburban is breakover angle and departure angle. Both are hard to fix without massive lift or a bob, both would defeat my purposes and make it useless to me. So, I will live with it as is. I still need to be able to tow my 30ft travel trailer with it.
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