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yawningdog 11-04-2010 02:12 AM

83 Diesel Suburban
There is a 83 diesel suburban for sale locally. I haven't looked at it yet, but have been considering getting a diesel to replace my 96 Toyota 4 Runner.

Are the 83's any good, Is it too old. Is it easy to work on ?

any advice would be appreciated.


Proud_Poppa 11-04-2010 06:56 AM

[QUOTE=yawningdog;246669]There is a 83 diesel suburban for sale locally. I haven't looked at it yet, but have been considering getting a diesel to replace my 96 Toyota 4 Runner.

Are the 83's any good, Is it too old. Is it easy to work on ?

any advice would be appreciated.


I had a 85 Suburban with a diesel....and it was a problem child. I had purchased it new with an extended warranty (Thank GOD). After something like 10 trips to the dealership for various problems mostly related to the engine I traded it in with around 75K miles on it. It was a fantastic vehicle when it ran though. It was a 3/4 ton with could go anywhere in it.....when it ran. The fuel was very quick to gel up in it even though I used additives and the winter mix fuel. I would be scared silly in buying another one. If I could get it cheap enough that I could just call the dump if it went bad I might try it. I never tried to work on it myself since it was under warranty the whole time I had it.

cinok 11-04-2010 06:58 AM

Alot depends on the motor some were true deisels and others (the smaller) where converted gas motors and not worth the effort. They made good boat anchors LOL

DM 11-04-2010 11:39 AM

The 6.2's started production in 1982 and all of them were true diesels. Even the older 350's diesels were NOT just a 350 gas running dioesel. They were a gas "design" although had beefed up blocks ect. But, "Design" was the problem, starting with not enough head studs ect..

Back to the 6.2's. They were a good diesel "IF" it wasn't abused, and that means ragged on pulling huge loads ect., but they aren't perfect.

First ones in 82 had head gasket problems, turned out a bad gasket was supplied to GM, and they had to be replaced. First ones had weak starters, that was fixed with a beefed up starter nose. They also had some injection pump problems, (GM replaced them) and later ones were/are much better. The glow plug controlers go out, i just put a push button in and by pass the controler. They will eat a glow plug once in a while, easy to test and change, but a pain to have to deal with it.

I've had 5 of them, and all of mine were good, but i understand them, and i know how to treat them. With the exceptions of the Cummins, the 6.2 was about as reliable as the other diesels of that era, and much better on fuel.

And as for fuel: I never can understand remarks about fuel jelling, as i lived in Alaska for 25 years and we ran diesels up there. You learn to use winter fuel from a RELIABLE supplier so you don't have problems, and i don't use additives in my fuel. I have EIGHT diesels here on my place, and i don't have any fuel problems. All the farmers here (and every plase else) run diesels all winter.

Right now winter is coming, so i'm now putting winter fuel in my diesels as they need to be fueled up, that's all i do to keep them running all winter. It's NOT the cheapest diesel fuel that i can buy, but it keeps me from having problems, and i KNOW when i want to start my diesels, they will start.

So, would i buy the 83 diesel? It's an older vehicle now, so if you don't know how to tinker with keeping it running, i'd say buy something newer. As for the diesel part... I know what it takes to keep one going, what to look for with them, and how to do the simple test to see what shape they are in, if you aren't willing to deal with and learn the the small quirks, i'd say RUN away.

One thing about the 83's, they are NOT puterized, and are simple compared to todays vehicles!


BTW, i'm still running the 1982 Chev. with 6.2 diesel in it, and it has 200,000 miles on it.

dryflyshaman 11-04-2010 02:46 PM

ive got an 83 3/4 ton 4wd. its 350 gas so i cant help ya with diesal. id love to diesal mine but its so far down the priorities list i can even see it happening. the engine only has about 19 thousand on a rebuild so its good for a while.

the tranny lost over drive pretty quick but that was an error on mine and my brothers part. we made a trip from houston area to eastern oklahoma and pulled back a tractor and implements, then almost immediately we made a run from there to san antonio area and brought back a heavier tractor.

we used over drive, not knowing you are not supposed to use it with a heavy load. from what folks are telling me, we ruined it.

this might be silly, but if the one you're looking at has the AC blower in the back, expect that fan to go out sometime. mine is squealing but still blowing for now.

a brother had an 83 like mine. he put in some kind of splitter and was pulling a heavy presidentual RV for years out west in the mountains.

there is SOOOOO much room inside those suburbans, its like you can build a house in the back!

i can say they are tough designs!

heres a pic of it on a 12 degree oklahoma morning.


velojym 11-04-2010 05:05 PM

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If that truck's in decent condition, and you work to get it back to near perfect, it's the sort of truck that you could keep working well just about indefinitely. Heck, with a well tuned diesel and the right gearing (which is always a compromise), it'll compete favorably with most of the newer trucks too.

I have a 1986 Silverado with a 350. It doesn't throw a Check Engine light every time one of a gazillion sensors goes bad (which is all that's EVER been wrong on any of my vehicles... spent a fortune fixing sensors that were supposed to be monitoring the stuff that never seemed to break) and parts are all over the place. The aftermarket is VERY kind to '73-'87 GM trucks, and there's no reason that you can't take a decent used truck and make it your own.

yawningdog 11-05-2010 04:22 PM

I'll have to check it out
I'd like to get a diesel, would prefer a crew cab but a good suburban is an option.

I'll go check this diesel out.It is a 6.2 L, rust isn't a real problem here.

I don't mind working on a car/truck I just don't want to do it every week or even every month if I can avoid it.


velojym 11-05-2010 04:56 PM

Even my beat up old '74 K10, which you'd think was going to fall apart at any moment, went for years at a time with no more work than scheduled (well... shoulda been better scheduled) maintenance.
There are some issues which may hit you with a relatively large bill early on, but once it's all sorted out, you oughta be good for years. Now, when I say "relatively", I mean relative to newer vehicles. The '87 Blazer I had came with what I'd consider to be a *major* problem... a bad rear differential. I sighed as I ponied up $300 for a replacement.

Heck, it costs a third of that to get the dealership to even pop the hood on my Trailblazer... and before anything's even been done! ("diagnostic fee")

keydl 11-06-2010 01:36 AM

I ran up close to 300k on an 82 with an OD transmission. Cost 2 transmission builds, a water pump, 5 starters and a dozen glow plugs. The glow plug controller was replaced with a starter button, it ran well to about 82 mph at a little less than 15 mpg and made 19 mpg if held under 65 with or without a single axle trailer. I added an electric prime pump for changing fuel filters.

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