This is my personal 2002 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD Duramax 4×4. It has 165,000 miles on the clock, and I have owned is for nearly eight years. What is this truck like to live with on a regular basis? Here is the good and the bad on this truck.
This original 6.6L Duramax V8 turbo-diesel came to the market in a GM heavy duty pickup in 2001. Its codename was the “LB7”, and the 2002 version of the engine is rated at 300 hp and 520 lb-ft of torque. This torque rating may seem small in comparison to the 900+ lb-ft in current 2017 truck, but it was very competitive for the time. This engine is mated to a 5-speed Allison automatic transmission. This engine/tranny is a good pairing and I have averaged around 17.5 MPG in day-to-day driving (when not towing or hauling heavy loads). This is drastically more efficient than a comparable HD truck of the same vintage with a gasoline V8.
The truck is used primarily for recreation: towing a 22-foot ski boat and carrying a slide-in camper. The 5-speed Allison transmission has very helpful grade shifting feature to help on the downhill, and the truck always feels confident pulling a trailer or hauling a heavy load. We travel to various lakes in the Rocky Mountain region, so the truck sees its fair share of heavy work.
Here are my top 5 issues/complaints about my truck.
5. Maintenance Costs
Heavy duty trucks, especially turbo-diesels, are costly to maintain. Yes, you can do most of the maintenance yourself: oil changes, fuel filter changes, air filter, tire rotations, etc. The Duramax V8 holds 10 quarts of oil. The extra oil and the fuel filter add cost to the equation. Getting the oil change done at a dealership or a shop will run $100 at a minimum.
I got the truck from a Colorado farmer when it was six years old, and the lower doors and the frame/chassis had a lot of surface rust. You could see the rust stains underneath the truck after a rain storm. The truck spent most of its time outside (not garaged), and the dirt road took a toll on the paint and coating. I painted the sections of the frame/chassis that I could reach without removing the bed or the cab. I also used a coating and bed liner on the lower door sections and door sills to stop the surface rust and provide extra protection.
3. Cost of Brakes
Heavy duty trucks that haul big loads go through brakes, and I performed one big brake job (resurface front rotors, replace rear rotors, and get new pads) that cost a little over $1,000 at a dealership. Yes, brakes are a consumable item on any vehicle, but heavy duty truck brake components cost more.
2. Transmission Issue
The 5-speed Allison is a great workhorse, but it did have a leak literally the day after I bought the truck. The problem had to do with the front pump and the torque converter. Both needed to be replaced to fix the problem, and this was costly. Thankfully, the previous owner helped to offset the cost.
1. Fuel Injectors Issue
You have likely heard about the LB7 Duramax injector problem before. The problem happened to my truck as well. I noticed grey smoke coming out of the tail pipe one morning, and it was a sign of injector failure. The computer scan confirmed the problem: two of the eight injectors were starting to fail. If the problem is left unattended, it will get worse and it may cause damage to the pistons and the engine itself. I made the difficult and costly decision to replace all eight injectors. The dealership estimates this job between 11-12 hours of labour. The injectors are underneath the engine’s valve covers. If two injectors failed, then it’s likely others will fail as well. It’s better to bite the bullet and replace all eight at once, and save of more labour costs. The entire job cost me nearly $3,500, which was a huge investment into a used truck.
The truck is running great now, and I am not in a hurry to sell it.
Check out all the details in this Very Long Term Update video.