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Refurbing a 1997 Suburban - What are the Priorities?

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Old June 14th, 2018, 6:49 PM
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Default Refurbing a 1997 Suburban - What are the Priorities?

Hi - am original owner of a 97 K1500 5.7. For last 3-4 years have basically kept it in storage, 1 or 2 winters regrettably outside due to a complicated story. Brought it to the mechanic not too long ago and he said to "shoot it" because the brakes alone would be several thousand dollars to replace and the a/c would be additional. When I looked to see what I could get for it, it was less than the new Michelins I just bought. Given I know this car and it serves a purpose, i"d like to refurbish it. So...the question becomes, what should I prioritize?

The brakes come first as, apparently my mechanic was omniscient and said the lines would blow any time and sure enough. So I'm convinced that a set from Classic Tube is in the offing. Beyond that, I haven' t had problems with my brakes so I'm a bit reluctant to r&r the drums and rotors "just because". New tires, battery, recent radiator and alternator, engine and tranny maintained. Where should I look next? My gut tells me front steering components which have never been replaced, but again, don't want to replace things for the sake of replacing them.

And is there a straightforward answer to finding a replacement driver's seat? Have given up on the junkyards and the frame keeps breaking so I have a bit of a "spongy" feel to the seat.
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Old June 15th, 2018, 6:13 AM
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Originally Posted by SeaSpade View Post
Hi - am original owner of a 97 K1500 5.7. For last 3-4 years have basically kept it in storage, 1 or 2 winters regrettably outside due to a complicated story. Brought it to the mechanic not too long ago and he said to "shoot it" because the brakes alone would be several thousand dollars to replace and the a/c would be additional. When I looked to see what I could get for it, it was less than the new Michelins I just bought. Given I know this car and it serves a purpose, i"d like to refurbish it. So...the question becomes, what should I prioritize?

The brakes come first as, apparently my mechanic was omniscient and said the lines would blow any time and sure enough. So I'm convinced that a set from Classic Tube is in the offing. Beyond that, I haven' t had problems with my brakes so I'm a bit reluctant to r&r the drums and rotors "just because". New tires, battery, recent radiator and alternator, engine and tranny maintained. Where should I look next? My gut tells me front steering components which have never been replaced, but again, don't want to replace things for the sake of replacing them.

And is there a straightforward answer to finding a replacement driver's seat? Have given up on the junkyards and the frame keeps breaking so I have a bit of a "spongy" feel to the seat.
"Several thousand dollars" to replace disks, drums, shoes and pads? You need to find a new tech or shop. Sounds like someone needs to pad their wallet to me.

Don't forget to change your rear axle lubricant. Grease all the zerk fittings. Yeah, brake fluid is hydroscopic, so it needs a full change every three to five years.
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Old June 15th, 2018, 8:27 AM
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Obviously brakes are an important thing. But what is his rationalization for thousands of dollars, or why they need to be fixed in the first place. Are all of the lines cracked and broken away? Are the drums and calipers seized? Go and price a set of replacement parts on advance auto and see what you come up with in cost for new drums and shoes, rotors and pads. Make sure you apply the 20% discount. I've never done drums, so I can't speak to that, but doing front pads and rotors is one of the easiest things to do, and probably one of the easiest ways to save money. Unless your not mechanically inclined at all. I remember the dealer charging me almost $400 for new pads and rotors on a grand am I had. The next time I did it myself for the cost of the pads and rotors, which was less than $100.

Now on a older vehicle, you may run into some pitfalls along the way. I've never had to replace a caliper, but I wouldn't shy away from doing it. I've had to replace a caliper bracket or two that was almost seized on on one side and had a seized slide bolt on the other...all of those add some cost, but thousands of dollars, no.

Brake lines, master cylinders, stuff like that, I have not had to do. So i can't speak to the cost or time and effort.

As far as your seat goes, try Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market . I would bet you can find a suitable replacement at a salvage yard under $200.

As for the AC, hopefully the system hasn't gone dry, if not you should be able to have it checked for leaks and repaired. Heck you might just try filling it back up to see if the compressor is cycling, and then check it for leaks? I'm not 100% sure how to check it for leaks, but maybe a different shop is in order. You can probably find replacement parts on car-part for that as well. Good thing is, I think anything after '94 should have r134 in it, but im sure you can verify this in the manual. Otherwise it would have to be converted, and that might be pricey.

If its 4wd, change the front axle lube as well as the rear. I might even go so far as to look at trans fluid as well, but one step at a time. I assume it runs. Get brakes fixed up. Then move on to normal lubricant stuff, AC, then maybe seat. I'd look for a new mechanic. Maybe he is right, maybe all the lines are toast, maybe all the drums pads whatever are toast, maybe the calipers are shot. Some of that stuff you can see. Some I would think would take some disassembly and inspection. How much did he do?
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Old June 16th, 2018, 4:53 PM
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Originally Posted by oilcanhenry View Post
"Several thousand dollars" to replace disks, drums, shoes and pads? You need to find a new tech or shop. Sounds like someone needs to pad their wallet to me.

Don't forget to change your rear axle lubricant. Grease all the zerk fittings. Yeah, brake fluid is hydroscopic, so it needs a full change every three to five years.
This. I just picked up a 95 Suburban myself. It didn't need much, but just to get it done I went ahead and replaced all ignition components from the plugs, wires, cap, rotor, coil and even the control module. Replaced the fuel filter, air filter, PCV valve and hose since it barely stayed on the TB, changed the oil, serviced the transmission, replaced the belt, tensioner assembly, idler pulley, brake pads on all 4 corners, new rotors and drums as well as all battery cables and grounds (they were all pretty shoddy) and all of that cost less than $500. Changed the power steering fluid, flushed the radiator, changed the oil, completely emptied, refilled and bled the brake system, replaced the differential lube, greased all the suspension zerts too. Granted I did it myself, but no WAY should brakes cost that much even if you redid every line on it. Someone is trying to rip you off.

Last edited by NerdicEclipse; June 16th, 2018 at 4:59 PM.
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