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What would you do?

Meathead

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I've been looking for an Avalanche since January and have had a rather difficult time finding the right one at the right price point. A few days ago I found one listed for sale that really caught my eye and got me excited. It's a 2003 Black North Face Edition with 222,000 miles on it. Asking price was $5500, we're down to $4000. Don't worry, I'm not asking if this truck is a good deal or not, or if I should buy it or not. Rather, I'd really like to know the perspective of those who have owned an Avalanche for awhile, knows the truck and has already been through the cost-benefit analysis and ultimate result of going through with it.

Thing is is that this Avalanche is in rough shape. Current owner purchased when he was 19, has had it for 7 years, and it's pretty clear that during that time only the bare minimum was done in terms of maintenance and upkeep. New alternator, "something" with the suspension, and a belt was all he said he's really done to it. The engine runs and drives beautifully. However...
  • Decent sized engine oil leak
  • Differential leaking oil, although it appeared to be a seeping type of leak that had been going on for a while
  • Shocks, ball joints, basically entire suspension needs replacing
  • Steering squeaks and squawks, bushings are shot throughout
  • Axle boot is torn, and for who knows how long, probably need to replace
  • No radio (apparently sold to friend)
  • All windows but driver side needs regulators/motors
  • Blower motor needs replacing as well as the air delivery actuator, only the floor and defroster vents blow air
  • Keyless entry remote stopped working apparently and has since been lost
  • I checked the tranny fluid and while it was red and didn't smell burnt at all, there appeared to be some very small specs of material. I couldn't tell if it was metal or what but it had a very fine grit to it, maybe about 4 or 5 sand-sized specs.
  • Needs new hood latch
  • OBD2 connector doesn't work (hoping it is the fuse as mentioned on here)
  • Lot's of cosmetic issues
My question is, for all those who have had their Avalanche for awhile and know the truck, if you were looking for an Avalanche, knowing what you know now, would you purchase this truck or pass? Is everything that it needs a reason to walk away or do you think it'd be worth it to fix her up? Basically, at the end of the day, after taking care of everything am I going to have a solid truck, or has the domino affect already started and I'll be dealing with this or that no matter what I do. I'm familiar with GM cars in general, but I got the impression that their trucks are a completely different animal.

I really like the truck, it has pretty much everything I've been looking for, and the North Face Edition is a pretty big cherry on top, only a couple options shy of fully loaded. I just don't want to get stuck with a truck that's going to nickle and dime me while I'm chasing a result that realistically isn't going to happen. I don't have any experience with these trucks though so I'm wondering if I have any good reason to be nervous about buying. I get it's a 2003, I'm not expecting anything new, and I expect issues... it's just that, again.. bare minimum done to keep it road worthy has been done. Hard pressed to find anything around $4000 too... but $4k is still $4k. I'm a handyman and mainly need to truck for work, so having something that I know I can rely is important. I know you guys can't predict the future or anything, but any insights anyone is able to provide is greatly appreciated!

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EXT4ME

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I am generally not someone to rain on anyone's parade, but if it were me, I'd pass on this one.

I bought my 2003 Z-66 with 240K miles on it back in March of 2020 for $4000 and that truck was in exceptionally good shape.

Years and mileage do not scare me if a vehicle has obviously been well maintained.

As I look at the list of items you will need to address, none of those items by themselves would I consider to be a deal breaker.

But, the combination of everything is going to cost you a pretty penny to correct.

I hate to toss any pricing out there for a vehicle as I tend to pay a little more than most for something I really want, but in this case, the only way I would take this truck would be if I could get it for a couple of grand, or less.

I could be wrong, but I think if you are patient and broaden your search area out to include a larger geographic area, I am certain you could find a truck in much better shape and with a lot fewer miles on it.

Make your budget what you are willing to pay for this truck and add what the cost of all of those repairs are going to be.

Looking at your list of repairs, I can see where you would be paying close to or more than the cost of the truck itself just to fix everything you listed.

And I bet there are more items that are going to be needing attention.

I always go into buying a well used vehicle understanding there is going to be some repair money needing to be spent, but that is a pretty good list you have going there.

Regardless, I wish you the best in your search for your dream truck.
 

frito

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I agree with @EXT4ME you're probably looking at a minimum of $5k in parts to address the issues you mention. And that is if you do all the work yourself. Double that if you have a shop do it. So now this $4k truck becomes a $9 - $15k truck when all is said and done.
 

ohiobellboy

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Sorry but with a list like that, you could end up with more than what you paid in repairs. I'd pass on that one.
 

2SmokinBarrels

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Hard to pass on a black north face. Thats rare i believe? And just about any '03 or first Gen is going to require $5000+ to fix up if it hasn't been done already. Motor, trans, suspension,etc...
My '04 was $8000 but had a new trans and front end. Lots of work from last owner. I'll end up putting a load of cash in it myself, maybe even a new engine at some point.
I say if you like it, buy it, fix it up yourself, your way and love it. You can still get parts for these OE or aftermarket.
 

Meathead

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Hard to pass on a black north face. Thats rare i believe? And just about any '03 or first Gen is going to require $5000+ to fix up if it hasn't been done already. Motor, trans, suspension,etc...
In my searches this is the first '03 North Face I've come across, I've only ever seen '02's. I think that's a bigger debate point for me than I initially realized. I don't want to pass up on something that could be a hidden gem, diamond in the rough (although a rough diamond) type of thing, where I passed on what would turn out to be a rare opportunity.
 

EXT4ME

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If it's really what you want, I say go for it.

Be sure to start a build thread here so we can enjoy your progress.

I do like seeing these trucks rescued.

Best of luck!

:) (y)
 

ygmn

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North Face was an option and not a lot sold but does not add to value of AVY unless you are someone who likes that thing.

I have had my 20002 for 20 years now and original engine tranny heck everything but the oil as I changed that.
Few sets of tires and brake pads/rotors & shocks

But nothing huge out of pocket. I have 177K miles now...
Still great truck in great conditions.


So you do not have to have a new engine or tranny or whatever with older truck.

All depends on who drove and how they drove it and maintained it.

So if this truck needs a bunch of things you can see... what about the things you cannot see?
Rust behind cladding?

Offer him $500 otherwise I would run away as you are basically restoring this avy.
 
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I bought my 2008 that had $8,000 in receipts in the previous 12 months including an extended warranty engine replacement from GM for $10,000. Over my first year of ownership I've put $4,000 into different repairs / maintenance and my truck was extremely well cared for / always dealer serviced.

That 2003 is heading to the junkyard one way or the other unfortunately unless you're willing to dump thousands into just mechanical repairs. Even if you fix the oil leaks, redo the suspension and service the transmission you'll be driving a 2003 truck that is cosmetically in shambles.
 

Vaeagleav

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I agree with the above posts in that an abused and run to death vehicle was not looked after and could have many hidden problems.
NFE AVs are rare and it will only get harder to find replacement things such as badging,seats and all the NFE bags that should come with the AV originally. To a collector they would want a near mint condition vehicle with all the accessories and even then to get the resell price you would want to get may take longer to find the right buyer down the road.
You stated you plan to use your AV for work daily and that will just add to the mileage and wear and tear. Then the run down condition could lead to problems with dependability.
Good luck with your decision.
This thread may help some:
 

2SmokinBarrels

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Well said V.
This Avalanche we speak of is a hobby. Not a daily work truck.
Lots of down time doing repairs.
She looks fun but expensive and unreliable as a daily.
 

Meathead

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Thank you all for your replies and inputs, I truly appreciate it. I can't tell you how helpful it is to be able to voice what I'm thinking and get some honest feedback in return. At the end of the day I agree that this is not the Avalanche for me.
Interestingly enough, I found the exact same truck, except actually taken care of, about 12 hours away in Cali for $7500

:D:D

Does it make me crazy that I'm seriously considering driving 12 hours one way just for a test drive? 🤪
 

Raekal

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Eh, to be honest, if you have the patience, you're likely to find a good condition model closer to home at some point.

That said, if you really want the special trim package, it looks to be in decent shape.

However, the combination of the cold air intake and murky looking coolant are red flags to me. It may have had a heavy footed owner, and the coolant looks like it hasn't been maintained. Coolant is one of those things you do a handful of times over a trucks life. . If they didn't have that done in California, what else did they skimp?


Being in California, you don't have to worry about the rust, and you do have the smog emissions to hopefully limit the problems. That said, I would absolutely get a car fax or otherwise get the history on the car before you make the trip.

If it can be proven that it's been maintained, you can put the effort to take a look
If there's nothing in the books, then I'd personally look elsewhere.


Similarly to your original post, it's alright if there's something wrong here or there. But you want it to be maintained throughout it's life. That original truck was an example of someone running it into the ground, and you'll wind up with on repair after another as you try and catch it up with 150k miles worth of maintenence. .


You don't want to make a trip unless you're positive you want to buy it. You're talking a significant travel expense ontop of the price of the truck. And hen you'll have to pay the gas to get it home too.
 

Bluonyx

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Shoot I'll sell you my 06', it has 156K and is in way better condition than the 03'. I picked an 06' because it's the year with the least amount of problems. I'm actually getting it smogged this weekend and it's going up for sale Monday. But I'm keeping the rims though. Switching them with the new AV I just purchased yesterday.

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Durwin

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Unless you want to invest a lot of money in the 2003, I would pass on it. For the primary reason that it does not seem to be very well maintained and there is a history of a lack of maintenance being done.
 
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