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Making an old truck like new (sort of) again

lbhsbz

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Figured maybe some of the inmates would be interested in this with the prices of new trucks being so stupid right now. This is in 5/8 scale but it scales up to real trucks too. I'lll try to document my "reconditioning" of my "new" truck. Maybe if someone doesn't wanna through down the cash on a new truck...they can learn to recondition their old one.

The patient is a 2002 Chevy S10 ZR2. kind of a cool truck. Cosmetically pretty clean except for some damage to the rear corner under the tail light...but that doesn't effect function so it's last on the list. 19 years old and 225K miles on it. I bought it for $2500. Trans was rebuilt by a reputable shop less than 3000 miles ago and the engine was rebuilt by a questionable shop less than 1000 miles ago. On the road test the steering was a bit vague and a drove and felt like a vehicle with 200K miles on it. The driver's door panel was half falling off and there were some clunks and rattles. The brakes felt surprisingly good, but the red brake light and the amber ABS light was on.


There are several specific things that make a vehicle feel old and worn out:

Loose/sloppy steering
Loose/vague/sloppy throttle pedal
Rattles/clunks
Low power
interior appearance and loose fitting interior shit
unlocking the door with the key

Tackling these issues is not difficult and will make it drive and feel like it did when it rolled off dealer lot...and it's not that expensive or difficult.

$20 for a couple new remotes on amazon or ebay....5 minutes to program and the factory alarm/keyless entry works as it should again.

The second thing I did was sort out the door panel. after removing the one loose screw near the door handle, the panel about fell off. All the clips were broken. There were also two piece of door panel plastic, along with their screws, still attached to the door. Someone didn't see the hidden screws under the armrest when they went to remove the panel. Since GM panel and body clips are junk, I have an assortment tray that covers most of them....I needed 8 new clips. I superglued the broken chunks back in place, then cut some pieces of sheet metal to reinforce things and bonded them to reinforce the superglued pieces along with epoxy and some 1708 fiberglass I had...clamped everything and let it cure and it's stronger than new. Cost less than $5 vs a new door panel at probably $300 if you could find one. While I had the door panel off, I popped the lock cylinder out, and also removed the steering column trim (2 screws) and popped out the ignition lock. $40 at the locksmith got 2 new keys cut to the VIN and new tumblers in the lock cylinders to work with the non worn-out new keys. I left the passenger door lock alone because it's like new and probably never had a key put in more than a handful of times, if that. The key thing is just a feel good thing...worn out keys make a car feel old. I like crisp and new.

Brake and ABS light....it had a code indicating a loss of power. I know from experience that the harmonics in the module from the solenoids buzzing away eventually causes some solder joints on the main power relay in the ABS module to break. I could by a "reman" ABS module for $170, but I find it less costly to pull the cover off, grab a soldering iron, and reflow about 6 connections on the circuit board, then glue the lid back on....takes 15 minutes, costs nothing, problem solved.

Didn't have much oomph and the gas pedal just felt kinda shitty. I had the wife floor it while I stared down the throttle body...throttle opens about half way. I had her put some effort into it and now it goes wide open but sticks open. Years transitioning from the brake to the gas had bent the pedal a bit towards the trans tunnel and it was dragging on the carpet and getting hung up. I bent it about a 1/4" back and it worked better....but still sloppy. The throttle cable housing had some cracks in it so I ordered a cable ($40) and some new pedal bushings ($2). Gas pedal feels and operates like it should again.

Carpet was a bit worn so $109 for some Weathertech floor mats...looks great.

Getting onto the rattles...I take a dead blow hammer and bang lightly on stuff to find 'em.

The new battery wasn't clamped tight...snugged that up.
The guys who did the engine replaced the radiator but failed to remove and reinstall the lower radiator mount bushings that stuck to the old radiator...so the radiator was rattling around...mounts were a bit excessive at $18 each, but it is what it is.
The drivers door strikes against the 3rd door...so the 3rd door upper and lower latch are basically carrying the latch load of 2 doors. The important part is overmolded in plastic, which is worn through down to the metal, leaving a bunch of slop in everything. The lower latch is available aftermarket for $40, the upper was about $100 from GM (through aftermarket vendors).
There was a dash rattle from a sun baked and broken defroster vent...which happens to be available in the aftermarket for about $20...so that got replaced too.

Less than $200 in parts and ALL the rattles you can hear from the driver's seat are gone, and so is the wind noise through the door seal since now the door closes right.

Steering and suspension: Original ball joints were still in place (OE are riveted to the control arms, replacements use bolts) so I sourced some NOS oem ball joints on ebay, along with a full set of OEM control arm bushings, and OEM steering damper, and a new set of bilsteins. The idler arm was sloppy too, so I did some digging and found a good design replacement that I like. It's getting tie rod ends, sway bar end links, and all other suspension rubber replaced as well...along with bump stops.

There is some road noise...bearings or tires. Tires are 11 year old BFGs, but it could probably use hubs too, so I sourced some premium hubs (Iljin, made in Korea...OEM supplier to GM, Mopar, and others)...none of that chinese shit. New GM spindle nuts up front as well for another $8. Even though the brakes work fine, they're getting gone through. To save money, I bought caliper rebuild kits for a few bucks each rather than some production line rebuilt calipers that have more harm done to them than good. Rebuilding a caliper is incredibly simple, I have no idea why people pay for a rebuilt unit rather than taking an extra 10 minutes and doing it themselves. And new brake hoses. Brake hoses are very often overlooked, they're cheap, and new ones always improve brake performance over 10+ year old hoses.

The little inner fender splash curtains were all torn up and mostly missing, and I was able to find some on ebay for $30, so that makes it more "factory".

The 3rd brake light lens was melted from the bulb heat...$8 for a new one.

As with any GM product I acquire with more than 50K miles on it...it's a fuel pump for no reason other than it's gonna fail. OEM parts only on these.

On occasion, it doesn't fire with authority like a good chevy should, so I grabbed a new idle speed control valve for $75

The hardest part is finding good parts. Most of the "fast moving" stuff available from the dealer now is simply reboxed aftermarket garbage. I dig through OE parts data to find the current numbers, then google them and look at various sites to find old part numbers that have been superseded and then search for them to find what I believe to be better quality top shelf NOS oem parts. There's a lot of them out there, you just have to find them.

About 1/2 the work is done so far, and most of the rest will be done this weekend. I'm waiting on a few more parts. Total investment after the purchase of the truck is less than $1000. Total labor will be less than 10 hours. If we figure $100/hr for shop rate...this is now a $4500 truck. Is it worth that? Can anyone find another truck under 10K that will handle and drive like new with no clunks or rattles and good reliability? No. Every used car I buy gets at least $1000 worth of work and parts before I'm comfortable going more than 100 miles from the house in it. i'm not sure yet whether I bought this to drive or to fix and flip...but I always try to drive a vehicle for at least 3 months before I sell it to make sure everything is addressed.

The rear fender will be handled at some point....If I can ever get to the junk yard without a line of 100 people to get in, I'll go chop the back bed corner off of a junk truck and weld it onto mine. I've had one quote from body shop of $1000 to fix it....nope, I don't like the truck that much. Paint work is pricy these days...but duplicolor makes this color and if I change up the ZR2 bed decals for some later model or even custom ones, I should be able to use the decal as a paint separation on top and then the fender flare as a the rest of the pain separation so I don't have to do and\y blending

There has been a huge improvement in perception from the driver's seat so far, and it will get a lot better.

I'll through up some pictures tomorrow.
 

hallett21

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Very cool. Can’t wait to see the pics


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HNL2LHC

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You have a regular cab or ext cab? The 3rd door has always been an issue with my father’s S-10. I am looking for solutions to keep it running.
 

lbhsbz

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You have a regular cab or ext cab? The 3rd door has always been an issue with my father’s S-10. I am looking for solutions to keep it running.

3rd door...Ext. cab

I still have it up on the rack, but I think these did the trick...as soon as I heard the door close. Nice and solid now.

Old top latch:
82333BCF-5DDB-4EA6-BEE2-B80160628AD0.jpeg


That’s supposed to be a straight slot.

The good news is the upper latch is held on with a couple of T-40 head torx screws....so you’ll probably have a good driver in your set because only your t-45 is worn out. The bad news is they’re hammered in place by Thor himself and you’ll probably fuck up at least one getting it out. I turned one into a slotted screw to put it back in...I’ll put a new one on my next order.
 
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lbhsbz

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Ok, back to parts quality and availability...which is really the limiting factor in keeping older stuff on the road...

Good rule of thumb...if the actual part has laser etched part numbers/production data in it rather than stampings, it’s probably a piece of shit.

The first set of aftermarket upper ball joints I got (uppers are “idlers”...not much load on ‘em...so I didn’t feel OE was necessary)...the damn holes didn’t even line up. I grabbed another set (same brand, different supplier) and they are fine. I placed an order through my company (I have an acct) on Monday, asked to have shit UPS’d to the house, even though our warehouse is only 20 miles away. Friday I called to ask where my order was...they hadn’t pulled it yet. I lost my shit and was assured it would be pulled within 15 minutes and on WillCall...so sent the wife out to pick it up 5 hours later...and it still wasn’t pulled. After 30 minutes they filled everything but one tie rod end, which they “couldn’t find”, even though we show inventory and just shut down about a month ago to do inventory.

Then once it’s here, I discover that the assholes threw in an extra caliper rebuild kit instead of my hardware kit for the front brakes. They’ll hear from me on Monday.

O’Reilly could have a kit by 5pm yesterday if I ordered online, so I did and when I picked that up, box is thrashed, bag has been opened and a couple components are missing. I can reuse what I have, but fuck...why can’t anyone do anything right?

So...front calipers are rebuilt ( whenever replacing brake hydraulics, suck as much old fluid outta the master as you can, I use a syringe, and the refill with new and bleed the brakes until the fluid runs clear...then replace what you need to replace. New hydraulics last longer without shitty contaminated fluid being pumped through them), lower ball joints, upper ball joints, upper control arm bushings, front hubs (didn’t really need hubs, but probably would have if I hadn’t had them on hand, so I changed them anyway), sway bar endlinks are done. Lower ball joints were fucked...so that will make a significant improvement.

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And the cheapest/easiest thing to do that will help is to clean and lube up the steering stops...this will address the noises at full lock pulling into driveways and such. I use 3M brake lube...the older the better. I got my can 20 years ago when I was working for Toyota...it’s pretty dried out now and you’ve damn near gotta scoop it out with a screwdriver, but that makes it stick and stay put.

I didn’t do the lower arm bushings yet for several reasons.
1: I’m lazy
2: the torsion bar hangers and bushings didn’t show up yet
3: I’m kinda curious to see what noises go away and what noises remain after the lower ball joints.
4: the lower arm bushings don’t appear to have anything wrong with them


Pro-tip: I don’t like buying complete control arms because
A: the aftermarket ones are all made in China and the bushings don’t last, and you never know what quality ball joint they come with
B: the OE ones are expensive, and probably made in China too if they’re available.

Replacing bushings in stamped steel arms is sometimes a challenge because the arm just crushes/collapses as soon as you apply any pressure. I don’t use a press for these, I use a vise and an air hammer. A sharp chisel and a dull rounded off one.

To remove, get the sharp chisel under the bushing flange and work your way around and they come out pretty quick. To install new, use the vise as your “press” and tighten until the arm starts to squeeze...then burp the backside of the arm with your dull chisel, tighten another turn, repeat until seated. Each bushing is less than 3 minutes to remove and install this way. Plus, neighbors love air hammers at 8 in the morning on a Saturday.
 
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lbhsbz

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The fender flares and grill look like shit... and I haven’t had any luck finding the correct satin metallic charcoal/graphite whatever paint for it in spray cans. Then it dawned on me...the flares and grill are the only things painted this color...so it doesn’t need to be correct. Picked up some duplicolor metallic graphite wheel paint (pretty close) and some matte clear to get the finish halfway right.

I’ll get on that at some point in the next few weeks. That should make it a good 5 foot truck (minus the damage to the rear corner)

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lbhsbz

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Another note on ball joints/tie rod ends. Most new stuff has gone to a sealed design, non greasable, that uses a polished ball in a POM (delrin) liner. These are great and usually last a long time. MOOG has taken a lot of shit lately because “they don’t last like they used to”...which is bullshit. The problem is, with modern car service intervals at 5-10K miles instead of 2500 or 3K miles, they don’t get lubed as often as they should...or ever.

Take a Toyota for example...not a single grease fitting on any Toyota made after ‘95 or so...so nobody servicing the car even thinks to look for one. I doubt anyone at a Toyota dealer even has a grease gun. If a set of MOOG joints were installed on a Toyota, there’s a good chance they’ll be worn out in 20K miles, because nobody ever lubes them to flush out the initial wear particles that contaminate the grease. I bring metal on metal type joints back in at 1000 miles or less for the first service...use a good moly lube and have someone turn the steering wheel back and forth while you’re pumping grease into the joint. After that, every 3-5000K miles is fine and they should live along time.

Most automotive greases don’t have enough moly disulphide in them to act right, which is disappointing...but it works if you do it a few times. MoS2 sort of “plates” the surfaces and provides a great almost permanently lubed wear surface...if they’d use something like Jetlube MP50 at the factory when the joints are assembled, I doubt they’d ever need service at all.

Boot design plays a huge roll too...probably the biggest roll. Keep in mind, the stud rotates independently of the body when in use. A boot with a ring securing it to the body and the stud is stupid and will tear in short order. Avoid these. Lois for a boot secured only to the body of the joint, that allows the stud to rotate freely in it. For sealed joints, put some silicone dielectric grease (freindly to all rubber) where the boot will be hard up against the knuckle or control arm around the stud. Greasable joints will lube this area on their own...creating a barrier seal to better keep contaminants from entering the boot and lowering boot wear.
 
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pronstar

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Make sure yore brake pads aren’t installed backward [emoji24]

Great thread Pat [emoji106]


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lbhsbz

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Success is in the details...

New hubs (timken, made by Iljin in Korea) have insulation on the Wheel speed sensors harness smaller than the OE hub, and as such, does not fit tight like it should in the OE harness brackets.

Add a couple zip ties after measuring the locations on the old wire to locate the new wire out harms way. This would have torn after getting hung up on the tie rod if I left it alone.

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lbhsbz

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Road test complete...I drove down Orange in Long Beach through Cal Heights. No rattles or clunks at all. Needs an alignment and another 100hp.
 

evantwheeler

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Good on ya for bringing some life back into this old truck. I drove a ZR2 for 5 years. It was a very good looking truck in metallic tan with a 5” BDS on 33’s, but I really I wish I had just bought a Tacoma....
 

mash on it

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Road test complete...I drove down Orange in Long Beach through Cal Heights. No rattles or clunks at all. Needs an alignment and another 100hp.

4.3?
Throw 1.6 rockers on. Not a hundred hp, but a noticeable difference. Same as an sbc.

Dan'l
 

lbhsbz

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4.3?
Throw 1.6 rockers on. Not a hundred hp, but a noticeable difference. Same as an sbc.

Dan'l

Supposedly comp has a cam that with a little extra work is worth 40HP and still makes good vacuum for a smooth idle and it'll pass emissions. I'm exploring this.

I'm also exploring a 6.0 LS swap
 

lbhsbz

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Good on ya for bringing some life back into this old truck. I drove a ZR2 for 5 years. It was a very good looking truck in metallic tan with a 5” BDS on 33’s, but I really I wish I had just bought a Tacoma....
Me too....but there ain't a tacoma for sale for $2500 in decent shape. I found a '96 4x4 tacoma that looks pretty good with either a blown headgasket or a cracked head for $3000....I emailed the guy an hour after he posted it but haven't heard back yet. The 3.4L is a great engine. I've owned 6 tacomas and 4runners with the 3.4L
 
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