Noob here looking for help deciding wether to purchase a new crate motor or do an engine re-fresh

Craig 85

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A couple years ago I had to replace the 454 in my truck. You know the smog rules here, so I had to keep it stock. I checked with a local rebuilder and they could have rebuild the non original engine for a reasonable price. The problem was they were backed up 3 months before they could get me in.

I thought about a company like Blueprint or other crate type rebuilders, my only issue was if I had a problem, you had to send the engine back to them. I went with a GM rebuilt engine. It was a little more at $3800, but I got a 3 yr/100K warranty. If I had an issue I could just go to the local Chevy dealer to have it warrantied.

My other issue was I had a hand injury and could not pull the engine myself. I had a local shop remove the old one and install the new for about $2k.
 

DoubleDingo

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If it were me and my money, I would get a crate engine from GM Performance or the Chevy Dealership. I went that route in '98 and was happy I did. Solid engine, warranty, and then when the warranty expires, put in a better cam and heads, and be done with it. It'll run a good long time with proper preventative maintenance.

Getting a crate engine is by far the easiest of the options and also has the shortest down time. Get the engine, pull the old engine, swap over the accessories, stab the new engine, break it in, change the oil, and drive it.
 

sirweesarunch

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If you ‘re going to do the work I would buy a stock Chevrolet crate engine built specifically for the 1990 Suburban. If you are new at this you do not want major frustration adapting a big block or getting a stroker motor that wont run correctly with your TBI injection or that might not pass Californias ever more stringent smog laws. I’m in CA and I know what I’m talking about. You want a worry free long distance vehicle then take my advice. If you want to build a hot rod truck then get a 1974 or older vehicle thats smog excempt. Chevrolet goodwrench engines are built years specific. They’re about $2500. And you should / need to change hoses , belts , plugs , oil , water pump , cracked or worn wiring , transmission input shaft seal etc etc etc. you’re going to spend close to $3000 but you’ll have their warranty as well. Good luck.


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Rusty Nail

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I would try to spend as little as possible on the engine now, it seems to ME, more of a finishing touch - after you have built the truck. Only then will you be able to answer your own question. If you want lift, big tires or what have you, worry about those types of things while you fix the interior or play stereo, and after you get it sorted out and repaired, which type of engine to build or install will come more naturally instead of appearing so foreign. I forward the motion to become more intimately familiar with the truck before you rip its' heart out.

The truck has been there - YOU ARE the new guy- just ask your truck. She knows your kind.
:nono: you're all the same!

Does it even have a name?

Did you even ask her what her name is?

Help you decide?
Ask the truck! o_O
 
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scenic760

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Hey Rock,

A California smog legal vehicle requiring bi-annual smog checks is a completely different beast than any other situation this forum will advise you on. Hopefully you can troubleshoot and it's something simple but if it's time to perform transplant surgery let me give you a very recent experience I had, a neighbor's experience and say right up front that sirweesarunch's and Craig85's advice is spot on.

I recently took a standard bore 350 4 bolt main (hard to find as it is) to a local "reputable shop" for a long block rebuild for my 1981 Burb. After being quoted $2200 for the work which I could have dealt with, I got stung with a $3400 bill and a line of BS about them needing to bore it .060 over, 2 cylinder sleeves and a pile of used (RTV stuck on them) gaskets to "finish it up"...

Needless to say you can go get a GM crate, from the factory, 4 bolt main, BRAND NEW 265hp engine, 24k mile warranty shipped to your door with no core charge for $2800 + tax. It doesn't take Elon Musk and a room full of his people to figure out which door to pick.

My neighbor has a 1984 Mustang GT with sentimental value that he cannot get to pass smog. It's BARELY out of range for smog, he has gone to referee, pleaded his case with zero sympathy and left with about zero options other than rebuilding the engine. He has been quoted between $6k-$9k to do that.

I'm lucky I have some resources, a small amount of space and another car I can drive that I was able go to Harbor Freight and buy a cherry picker, engine stand for $300 or so. I set up a folding table in the garage and methodically pulled the engine in about a week. With the loaner tool programs the auto parts store have in place you can do just about anything if you have time.

If it's worth $2k or so to do the work, get a GM crate and install it yourself. If you don't have time or space, find someone else to install a new GM crate. Or the other option would be to find another running engine and swap it out....at that point your mileage may vary..in the literal sense of the words!

Best of luck!
 
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mcarlo86

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If you ‘re going to do the work I would buy a stock Chevrolet crate engine built specifically for the 1990 Suburban. If you are new at this you do not want major frustration adapting a big block or getting a stroker motor that wont run correctly with your TBI injection or that might not pass Californias ever more stringent smog laws. I’m in CA and I know what I’m talking about. You want a worry free long distance vehicle then take my advice. If you want to build a hot rod truck then get a 1974 or older vehicle thats smog excempt. Chevrolet goodwrench engines are built years specific. They’re about $2500. And you should / need to change hoses , belts , plugs , oil , water pump , cracked or worn wiring , transmission input shaft seal etc etc etc. you’re going to spend close to $3000 but you’ll have their warranty as well. Good luck.


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Man, I’m glad I don’t live in CA! I know the climate is nice there, but why do you all put up with the rest of the B.S. to live there?!?
 

Capt Wayne

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I bought a Crate Engine from the Chevrolet dealership , it has been a GREAT motor. If you install a new engine , be sure to make an oil pump primer outta an old distributor, install , hook a drill to it and pump up the oil pressure a couple times before you crank the engine. Then install your distributor and crank your engine. I did this with Mobil 1 oil, had trouble free use for 25 years. This was an easy install & I saved a lot of $$$ on labor...Good luck. Capt Wayne 1983 GMC Sierra 1500
 

RCSB73

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I just went through the whole mess of throwing parts at a problem when mine decided to die randomly... If yours always fires back up, first thing is swap out the ignition switch on the column under the dash.... Even if it is wiring or ignition related, it's good insurance, but I bet it'll stop the random dieing issue....2¢
 

Grit dog

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If you want to build a hot rod truck then get a 1974 or older vehicle thats smog excempt. .


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If I got sentenced to Californya and was in this perdicament, AND if it was a round eye truck, I'd buy a 1973-74 title and vin tag from some rusted out shitbox back east (they're fairly plentiful.) and have me a pre smog truck!
 

calredneck

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Have a compression test done it will tell you if your enigne is good or not
 

FireTruck1984

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Buy a fully dressed Turn key Crate Engine.. Best decision I’ve made.
Why nickel and dime yourself to the poorhouse ? My Hi-Po small block
Has lots of power and torque and it sho is Purdy…
You must be registered for see images attach
 
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OldFatBald

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First thing that you need to do is figure out what smog laws you are under as different counties in CA have different rules. If you are subject to biannual inspections, don't even think about an LS/LT swap. Huge PITA in CA. My local ref told me that yes an LS/LT would run cleaner, better blah blah blah, but the rules are ridiculous. So when time comes, just get a CA compliant crate motor and swap it in there.

And why do we live in California? As long as it isn't on fire, it is just perfect weather here. During winter, two hours and I can be skiing down Squaw, or in summertime head the other way and I am at the ocean. We don't have six months of 100 degree plus heat (Arizona) where you have to hide inside the AC, no 100 degree days when it is raining (North Carolina) and we drive to the snow then leave it there during our brutal sub-fifty degree winters. We don't shovel the snow or replace our two year old trucks due to rust.
 

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