Z71 Adventure Wagon

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BlackBrud

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Greetings to my fellow enthusiasts :headbang:

I'm a bit of a car nerd, and I use forums all the time, so I figure it was high time to start helping others by putting my info and experiences out there.

Hopefully it will help someone down the line like other's posts have helped me.

Also hopefully you like to read, because I like to talk about cars.

I bought a Z71 suburban just last week, and I have many plans. Finding it wasn't crazy hard, but I feel like finding a low-ish mileage post-2017-pre-2020 Z71 was a challenge for sure. I wanted to get the most reliable version of the newest Suburban Z71 I could find, so that's why I narrowed it down to 2017-2020. I figured that most of the worst bugs would be sorted in the generation by then, not perfect, but just as reliable as I can get. This will be my daily driver, the road trip vehicle, the camping/off-roading vehicle, etc -- THE ADVENTURE WAGON. Comfortable on road, and capable off road.

I found the burb on a monday, and drove down to get it two days later. It was listed as a 2019 LT (not z71), but in the photos and the details in the carfax, it was clearly a Z71 midnight edition. I suspect that's why it sat for a few days before I found it, since the ford dealer I bought it from probably didn't care about listing it correctly. Either way, I swiped it up. It had two owners, was clean inside and out, and had lots of service records. I paid $34K, and felt good about the deal, as my paid off subaru that I traded allowed me to avoid needing a car payment.

Specs:
2019 Chevrolet Suburban
Z71 midnight package
LT1 luxury package
88K miles
5.3L

Now, onto mods. I've had many vehicles over the years, and I've come to learn that my sweet spot for long term ownership is to modify a vehicle to be "stock plus". Basically some light, tasteful mods, but no intense modification. This allows me to enjoy customizing some things, while also keeping the vehicle as reliable and easily serviceable as I can. One day I might go crazy with a project car, but I just don't have the time or resources to be constantly babying a heavily modified vehicle. Been there, done that, not fun for a daily-ish. I'm not mocking heavily modified vehicles, they're just not for me right now.

I started off with getting some new tires, as the current Goodyears are worn. I went with 275/70/18 Nokian Outpost nAT E-rated tires. I wanted a larger tire, but not so large that I'll need re-gearing or cutting wheel wells. I will take this burb off road in the Colorado mountains and through snow storms - but also on road trips, so I wanted something durable, snow-rated, and not loud (for an AT). The nokians are made with aramid fibers, which should help prevent punctures and cuts from sharp rock - the burb ain't light so I'll take all the help I can get. They also have a triple-pitch design to make them quieter - basically small variations in tread shape to cancel noise. Since I'm upsizing, they're going to be heavier than the stock tires for sure (by 10+ lbs I think), but I'd really like to avoid getting a flat far away from paved roads or cell signal. I feel like an E-rated 275/70/18 will be goldilocks - not too big, not too small, just right. I'll be upgrading my spare to match as well.

The tires should arrive this week. I'll get them installed, and then I'll move on to getting the burb up to date on all of its maintenance. It has good maintenance records, but by the looks of it, it has been quite reliable with mostly only routine maintenance needed. The only things that fell outside of routine is a starter replacement a few thousand miles ago. I figured I would start out by getting the transmission, diffs, and brakes all serviced, then I'll have them check the rest of the vehicle out to see what else it needs. I'd wager that I'm probably due for plugs and wires soon as well. I'll try to keep this up to date with my maintenance.

For near-future mods, I'd really like to get some beefier suspension. I would like to preserve some rake, but I'm okay with being leveled as well. My top contenders are a set of adjustable rancho shocks and struts, or a full fox 2.0 setup. Those both seem like the most straightforward upgrade for me - I'm able to install them on my own and they don't cost an arm and a leg (though the fox setup isn't exactly cheap). With the new suspension I'll probably have a mechanic refresh the ball joints and any bushings or links too.

I do love a good v8 exhaust note, so I'll probably spice up the exhaust with a corsa. They're the few manufacturer that make exhausts for the 5.3 that I've seen address drone. If someone knows of others who use special resonators for drone, please let me know. This one isn't necessary or urgent, so we'll see when I get to it.

Lastly, I'd like to tune the burb at some point, but I'm a bit iffy on it since I still live close to a bit city and need to be able to pass emissions for the next 5 or so years until I ideally move to a non-emissions-controlled county. I think it would probably be fine, but I just need to do more research, and this one is also not urgent.

Here's the TLDR section:

RECENT MAINTENANCE:
-starter replaced @ 87K


CURRENT MODS:
-nada really
-275/70/18 (in a few days or so)


FUTURE MODS:
-Rancho or Fox suspension (1-3" lift up front, maybe 1" in the back) - light lift for light off roading.
-corsa sport catback - this one I can wait on a bit. I'd love to hear some growl, but I'm in no rush.
-tune from superchips or black bear - disable AFM and get better shifts.
-tons of little things like cargo organizing and hitch carriers and such.

Now for the good stuff - some pics! I'll be sure to follow up once I get the new tires on - can't wait to see how the look and drive.

burb1.jpg

burb2.jpg

e3312a566953442ca87e136370cc9538.jpg
 
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BlackBrud

BlackBrud

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My first update is that I'm starting to collect the necessary parts and fluids to do a transmission service on my own.

I plan to replace my transmission thermostat with this one:
It's bolt-on, and solves the issue of the original thermostat not opening up until the temperature is too high.

Aside from that, I'll get a new transmission pan gasket, and then I'll replace the fluid that I drain with new fluid.

Has anyone on here used this new PPE thermostat? I haven't seen anyone mention it, I've only seen mention of pill flips/deletes and the updated 70C gm thermostat (86774933 https://www.ebay.com/itm/203791429988). The PPE costs nearly the same, so I'm going to try it out.


I won't have time to do it until next weekend, but I'll be sure to follow up here once I do.
 

blackelky

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For tires falken wildpeaks at3ws or sumitumo encounter ats. I don't think you'll like the ride of e rated tires unless you tow heavy. E series ride pretty rough. Simple tire or walmart.com typically have the best tire prices
 
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BlackBrud

BlackBrud

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For tires falken wildpeaks at3ws or sumitumo encounter ats. I don't think you'll like the ride of e rated tires unless you tow heavy. E series ride pretty rough. Simple tire or walmart.com typically have the best tire prices
I appreciate the info/advice! I've already bought the tires though - they just arrived today.

I haven't ran either of those tires before, but my previous favorite all-conditions all terrain was the Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT - some of the quietest all terrains I've ever had.

I'm not too worried about the ride of E-rated tires. They'll be harsher than the stock tires for sure, but they'll also be more robust. If we were talking about a smaller SUV like a 4runner, I'd agree with you. I had a Ford Ranger a while back, and ran C-rated tires on that. The roads and trails in Colorado can be tough on tires - especially in a heavy vehicle - so I'm eager to see how these hold up compared to some of the all terrains I've ran on other SUVs in the past.

Here's some pics of the new tires - they're a little too big to fit under the tree haha

tiresss.jpg
 
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BlackBrud

BlackBrud

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welcome nice looking truck, it has a existing mod already -tow mirrors, I am not a fan of them myself but at least you can see! lol
Thanks! Ah you're right haha - they're by far the biggest mirrors I've ever had. I may switch them out for smaller ones, but I do like the visibility the provide on such a huge vehicle.
 
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BlackBrud

BlackBrud

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I got the new tires installed yesterday, and they’re great! I think 275/70/18 is a great size on the stock suspension, and I really like the .8” lift they provide.

I’ll report back once I get more miles on them, but so far so good!

Next up is som transmission maintenance..

IMG_0312.jpegIMG_0253 Copy.jpeg
 
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BlackBrud

BlackBrud

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I had a warm afternoon and a spare hour, so I swapped in the new transmission thermostat bypass.

I wanted to get it done before I service the transmission because I’ll be doing some mountain driving soon, and don’t want to strain the old transmission fluid any more than I have to.

The swap was fairly easy, just a little tight with the front driveshaft in the way. Also I hadn’t seen it mentioned before, but the small plate that holds the transmission lines on the thermostat is not symmetrical. Meaning you’ll need to be sure to double check the orientation otherwise your bolt won’t line up.

Other than that, the install was a breeze, and I only lost a few oz of fluid. I added half a bottle of lubeguard to help the aging fluid until I can do a drain and fill or a pan drop.

Took it for a test drive up the westbound side of i70 where it climbs out of Golden, CO (65-70mph up a significant grade). The hottest temp I saw on the climb was 140F. Driving around town on the way home, I reached a peak temp of 153F.

This was all at ~40F outside temp, so I feel like it shouldn’t have an issue warming up to proper viscosity levels even on super cold days.

IMG_0401.jpeg

One thing I am curious about though, is where the transmission cooler is housed - is it connected to the radiator or the ac condenser?

I searched around and got my answer in a 6L80 thread - my 2019 has two transmission oil coolers. One is built into the radiator, and the other is built into the ac condenser.

Happy Friday, y’all!
 
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BlackBrud

BlackBrud

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Nice looking burb! I like the tow mirrors on it a lot! Looks good on a black on black Z71. I wish these had fender flares on the Z71 package like the two previous generations did out of the factory. Trie upgrade looks great!
Thanks! I thought they were too big at first, but I’m enjoying all of the visibility they provide.

I totally agree - I liked those flares too. I will say though that I like the sleek newer body style of the 2015-2020 gen, and the black accentuates it.
 

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