So you want to buy an old Tahoe/Yukon?

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03yukXL

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Hey guys,

About 3 months ago, I bought a 2003 Yukon XL to use as a 3rd vehicle. Over the course of those couple months, I have driven it regularly to work the bugs out. I thought I would post my list of findings so the next guys could have an idea what to look out for.

One note: this truck had about 200k miles, 5.3 4x4 SLE (basic, few options) and no real rust except for some bubbling near the passenger rear rocker. Frame, interior, under hood initial inspections were all relatively clean, so that's the baseline I started from.

Here are 3 categories of things I fixed or changed. The first is the category that I would think you should look into or may expect to have to repair on a truck to keep it running. If you're short on cash, this is the list I would focus on. The second list are those things you probably should take care of to improve safety, drivability, ease of use and reliability. The last list is a short group of things I improved on the truck but were in no way needed. By the way I'm not a mechanic, just my personal opinion from my experience with exactly one, old truck that seemed to be cared for in a pretty average way. Maybe it will help the next guy:

Things the truck needed to have fixed/maintained:
  • Rotted Steel brake line
  • Transfer case encoder ring – failed giving “Service 4wd” signal
  • Intake manifold gasket failed – p0300 code
  • Transmission filter and service
  • Rear end service, replaced corroded bolts and cover
  • Transfer case service
  • Front differential service
  • Engine oil service
  • Alternator whining, replaced
  • Replaced all 4 tires
  • Serpentine belt, pulleys and tensioner
  • Flushed coolant
  • Upper and lower radiator hoses, thermostat
  • Flushed brake fluid
  • Spark plugs, wires
  • PCV valve
  • Windshield washer pump – leaking – replaced
  • EVAP valve – broken with CEL - replaced


Things I could have lived with but addressed proactively:
  • Replaced all calipers and rubber brake line hoses to calipers. They looked ok but figured I would get in front of any failures.
  • Inner and outer tie rod ends – too easy not to replace preventatively
  • End links had failed, replaced
  • All 4 speakers inside the cab blow, replaced them
  • Oil pressure sending unit leaking, replaced
  • Oil cooler block off plate gasket leaking, replaced
  • Exhaust manifold bolts broken, installed clamps and new bolts before any more broke off
  • Transmission lines seeping at crimps, repaired and installed transmission cooler
  • Power steering lines seeping, replaced
  • Rear tire hoist rusted and steel wheel deteriorated, replaced assembly and wheel
  • Front axle seals seeping, replaced
  • Brake backing plates – rear – deteriorated. Replaced with 2 piece from Dorman
  • Steering intermediate shaft and bearing collar clunking – probably could have lived with it but needed replacing and enhanced drivability and steering
  • Center console lid – broken off at hinge, replaced
  • Fog lights – broken and destroyed, replaced
  • Daytime running lights and plugs – burnt and destroyed, replaced with LED
  • Rear defrost non-functional, needed repair kit
  • Rear lift gate and rear window pistons, failed and replaced
  • Rear view mirror circuitry – solder joints failed and caused temp and compass to fail intermittently – replaced
  • Hood ground strap
  • Head lamp restoration/polish
  • Lifter Valley Gasket


Things I upgraded for functionality

  • Head unit and back up camera
  • Internal LED replacements for courtesy lights
  • Floor mats and cargo mats
 
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03yukXL

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Sounds expensive AF!
You're not wrong there. I think if you're getting into some guy's average daily driver that probably needs a maintenance work up, you can expect to budget 5-600 bucks in getting things tightened up and solid. Will be more to get it where I have gotten it, but now I have a really solid truck to show for it that I find pretty reliable.

The biggest outlay will be for new tires, so a clean truck with no major obvious issues and a decent set of tires is a really good start, and easy to identify.
 

Gmg0547

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I am in the same boat as you. Bought an 05 about 6 months ago. Had it checked by a mechanic and had it cleared but am in the process of changing all the fluids. My philosophy was to make sure it safe, then mechanically sound, then update looks. I've been side tracked a little recently but happy with the purchase of a 20 year old vehicle.
 

Scott in AZ

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  • Inner and outer tie rod ends – too easy not to replace preventatively
  • End links had failed, replaced

How do you do this? I’m pretty mechanically inclined. I was able to replace the HVAC door vent actuator, installed back-up camera / audio system w amp and speakers. Can change the oil. Replace tail lights. I got good tools but don’t have a lift. Is this something I can do Myself on my 2001 Yukon SLT? At 170,000 miles I’m sure it’s time to replace the suspension but I don’t know where to start.


I’ll YouTube it but would appreciate your insight.
 

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Marky Dissod

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Can't think of one!
Besides missing some modern technology, which I don't really care for or need, I think it's a great vehicle even today.
'Great' is a strong word for me, because it's an impressive vehicle that does everything I could
NEED.

The only things I really WANT from it are:
a 6.0L or 6.2L V8 - maybe someday ...
A cargo area where nothing slides around, gottdamnt
more driver interior space - the center console and cassette player are on their way out
better on-road handling - how much PPV-like handling can I gain without losing too much 'Z71ness'
3.90 or 4.10 AXLES - since this ALSO involves removing and replacing a front transfer case, I'll likely never afford it

WANTS aside, my hope is that this will be the last vehicle I'll ever need to own.
To that end, I'll maintain the ever-lovin schidt out of it; aiming for 600,000 miles.
 

S33k3r

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3.90 or 4.10 AXLES - since this ALSO involves removing and replacing a front transfer case, I'll likely never afford it
You know, that is way easier than you think. Find yourself a part out on FB Market place, Craigslist, Offer Up, Etc., and get both front and rear differentials. I'm sure there's a little more work involved, but the parts are really interchangeable.
 

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