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2000 GMC Sierra 3500

Losing the Lid

Classic Velocity

The need to move a tall piece of kit required the cap to come off. This was combined with a craigslist find on a soft tonneau cover, which fit behind the toolbox, which was now needed again for storage. The positive surprise was that this new combo was much better on gas mileage than the cap. It will probably stay this way until spring. 

 

Heart Transplant

Classic Velocity

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I have never actually had a complete engine failure. Until now. They never blow when sitting idling in your driveway, they blow under load ! In this case, towing a loaded trailer up a hill. The sudden loss of power came with no warning, and the truck crawled to the next exit which was just over the crest and fortunately only a few tenths of a mile. It felt like the motor, but there was no smoke, no big mechanical noise, just a whine and a periodic screech.

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Turns out it spun a main bearing. Unusual at just 130K, but there it is. I contemplated getting something else, but the value would be zero as a trade. The only good news is that a motor is relatively inexpensive. The bad news is that the labor is not. It took 2 weeks to get the job done, and a marathon run to get it back home. Well, it should be good for a while and it has a warranty !

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Brake Bias

Classic Velocity

I finally discovered what that vibration was in the left front. I thought it was cured since it went away with the change of wheels and tires, but it returned. I thought it was the left front caliper sticking or perhaps the ABS acting up. That wheel did not spin freely....all the time. Applying the brakes revealed that the caliper was sticking badly, and had been destroying the wheel bearing. The rotor was not so great either. These were all the original parts from what I could tell, so 130K miles was not bad. The whole job took almost 7 hours due to the inadequacy of my paltry tools for this behemoth. 

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Towing the Tow Vehicle

Classic Velocity

Now here is a picture that you don't see everyday. The Sierra coughed and then died 5 seconds later while travellinng at 70 mph in the left lane! Fortunately, it was at a time and place where there were very few people on the road. I quickly coasted to the side of the road and stopped on the shoulder. It acted like I was out of fuel, but the guage showed more than half. I suspected fuel or electronics. The trouble with being alone is that you cant do much in the way of diagnostics. No cranking and checking spark or fuel....I reluctantly called for towing, and it took a while....thank goodness it was not as frigid cold as the prior week! It turned out to be the fuel pump, which is an expensive repair for an old vehicle. The good news is that it is guaranteed for life.

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Tunes

Classic Velocity

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This was yet another instance in recent times, where time and technology have brought about great improvement, making a simple replacement into a significant upgrade. The stock speakers in the 2000 GMC were leftovers from the 90s if not the 80s. Cardboard cones and lousy tweeters by today's standards were probably pretty good for a truck in 2000. And now for the best part of the whole deal. I got a set of replacements at Best Buy that were far superior in range, wattage, and quality, for $40. Incredibly cheap for a vast improvement in sound.

Brand New Second Hand

Classic Velocity

A Black Friday special at Maaco made it worthwhile to throw a cheap coat of paint on the truck and cap. Since this was not going to be a thorough job with door jambs, etc, I opted for a color as close to white as possible. A light silver was the winner, and the truck looks 100% better despite the many flaws of a typical Maaco job. The cap was delayed so I will get it in a few days. Was it worth painting a 15 year old truck? Yes for a few hundred dollars and having it look a little less of a junkyard special. I swear it runs better now too....;-)

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Passing Inspection

Classic Velocity

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I was not concerned at all. The truck was running perfectly, and I had no issues. I would be in and out in 30 minutes. Or not. The driver's side rear turn signal worked fine until the headlights were on. Then it produced a fast flash, similar to when a bulb was out. Except the bulbs were fine, and it was just the one side. The mechanic said he could not pass the vehicle! 2 hours later, it was determined to be the tail light assembly socket/ circuit board. Apparently these are a known problem part, as the local NAPA store sold kits of them as a pair. $40 and 3 hours after I arrived, I left with new inspection stickers. What a way to waste half of a beautiful day....

 

Towing Through Turmoil

Classic Velocity

Picture the towing journey that you would most hate to undertake. Good. Now imagine that you are required to do it on short notice. Good. That was the scenario today. My worst towing scenario is any trip that involves the George Washington bridge and the Cross Bronx Expressway (see Seven Miles of Misery http://classicvelocity.com/broadcast-central/2012/1/15/7-miles-of-misery.html). Then you can add a destination in Queens NY.  The roads to get there are ALL bad once you get to the GWB. Tons of traffic, tight quarters, stressed drivers, post-apocalyptic roads, high tolls, low mileage, a bridge jumper, hours of wasted time, this trip had it all. I have never been so glad to get back over the bridge and see New Jersey! Thank goodness the truck and the trailer were flawless.

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The Disconnect

Classic Velocity

This can't be good. Coolant was obviously leaking back by the transmission. I was relieved to discover that it was coming from topside, but angry at the thought that this could be the manifold gasket recently replaced. It was not. It was a $5 piece of plastic. I learned that the connection at the manifold for one of the heater hoses, had a quick disconnect. It turns out that piece of plastic had broken, and under high RPM like I was using while towing a full trailer, coolant came spewing out. Why ? Why do you need or want a quick disconnect there ? The coolant has an overflow tank and a drain. The radiator has a pressure relief valve. So why ? Anyway, the plastic was replaced and coolant contained.

Guages Are Good

Classic Velocity

Somehow, I noticed that the temperature guage was climbing. I am not sure why I noticed it, because it was creeping rather slowly past the normal range. It was probably some subconscious knowledge of where the guages are under normal conditions. Not that conditions had been normal. This has been a brutal winter so far with record low temps for days on end, and record snowfall. The truck had become the vehicle of choice for a few weeks and was subject to the worst of it. The guage got up to about 220 degrees before sinking back to normal. Over several days, I noticed this to be rather consistent behavior. 

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I topped up the coolant, and found that it did not climb quite as high, but the movement was still taking place. I decided to eliminate the thermostat as the culprit and purchased one along with some coolant. I did notice that the cooling system is filled with regular anti-freeze rather than the more expensive DexCool. I replaced the thermostat and returned everything to spec. I did notice that when turned off, the guages (all of them) stayed in position rather than returning to rest on the far left.  On the test drive, the behavior was still there, but it climbed no higher than 190 degrees which is the thermostat rating. Could this guage behavior and movement have been there all along ? According to a couple of forums, no. This may be a faulty temp sensor....

The Iceman Cometh

Classic Velocity

Nature has a wonderful way of matching danger and destruction with beauty. In this case we were right on the cusp between getting a foot of snow to our north and rain and freezing rain to our south. In between was ice. The worst case scenario for drivers who had to get out the next day. Tree limbs  were down, power outages in spots, and traffic accidents peppering the region. But oh, the beauty of the aftermath ! Then we got snow, which eventually became freezing rain, creating a pie with a crunchy crust everywhere. Ground clearance, deep tire treads, and salt hauling capacity were at a premium, and hence the GMC...

ps: The heat in this vehicle is scalding hot once it gets going ! No worries staying warm. 

 

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Frosty Parts

Classic Velocity

With the bed of the truck now equipped with a liner, it holds water. This is good in that the water is not sitting and corroding the bed. However, it makes for an interesting start after rain as the truck dumps gallons onto the road behind it. On this most recent 400 mile round trip to get a parts bike, the problem was solved by cold temperatures and wind. This created a layer of ice in the bed, which also trapped the last of the fall leaves. A nice picture, but a reminder that I have already put 3000 miles on the truck, and it moves into its first winter.

 

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Tranny Whammy

Classic Velocity

There are many updates since the last post, which are partially cosmetic, and partially mechanical. Cosmetic include turn signal lenses, finding an ashtray, and a generic seat cover. I also ended up removing the seat and ripping out the flooring. It needed cleaning, and probably replacement down the road. Mechanicals include tires, alignment, coolant flush, and oh yeah, a transmission !

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It turns out that these trannies are known for having valve body issues around 80K miles, and this one would jump out of overdrive on the highway !  It was fine around town, and even on short highway stints, so this was not quickly discovered until I decided to try commuting with it. Long story made short, it has a new GM tranny with warranty. There were plenty of used ones around, but with 70K to 100K miles on them, I was not about to roll the dice. It got a good workout with a trip to Upstate NY and a visit with a Porsche buddy.

A Flurry of Cosmetic Repairs

Classic Velocity

The truck had no shortage of areas needing improvement. They included a damaged grill, a pretty beat up bed, grimy door panels, etc. Well, in the course of a single day, most of these were changed. First was a visit to a huge pickup recycling yard in the area. This place is phenomenal. Acres and acres of trucks  and parts (no cars or car parts). After planning to buy and apply a duraliner coating, I found a bedliner, a grill, AND a toolbox. A few hours later, the truck was transformed. 

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Normalizing Access

Classic Velocity

The driver side door mechanism was shot. You needed to open the door from the outside, but lock it from the inside. The inner and outer door handles were found at a local recycler. They were a bit of a pain to get replaced, and it included the need to drill out a rivet. However, once sorted, you can now open and lock the drivers door from outside or inside.  The tailgate handle trim was missing as well. The good thing about this truck is that the parts interchange with the Chevy Silverado of which several bazillion were made, so they are cheap and readily available. 

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The Makeover Begins

Classic Velocity

First of all, the basic operational and safety issues needed to be addressed. The passenger side mirror was an easy fix using replacement glass from Pep Boys. The lights were tackled with Turtle Wax Refinisher, and it resulted in a significant improvement. The headlights now cast a decent amount of light down the road.  The front grill came from a local recycler. It is the correct GMC version, but it comes painted black. The turn signal and reflector on the passenger side were also acquired. It will not win any beauty contests, but is now a running/driving truck that does not invite the local constabulary to pull me over for a chat.

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Enhancing Towing Capacity

Classic Velocity

Well I guess I am a GM kind of a guy when it comes to heavy duty workhorse vehicles. The Chevy "Shagwagon" van was great, but had a few flaws. It had no A/C and not so good highway mileage. The main issue though was not enough towing capacity. It was a half-ton van, and liked loads somewhere well south of that weight. Lastly, it was limited in height inside, so some bikes would have to be partially disassembled in order to fit.

I reluctantly started trolling craigslist, and found the Sierra. After going to see it, I discovered a great truck in my price range with relatively low mileage. The bed is kind of beat up, but that matters not. The drive train was in great shape. The great price, did come at a price (pun intended), however. It needs a passenger mirror, drivers side door mechanism inside and out, a front grill, possibly headlight glass (it is the old classic body style), 4 tires, A/C present, but not working, no hitch/wiring, etc.  All fixable, but a ton of stuff (pun intended).......

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