What can you tell me about the Chevy Avalanche?

zoomad75

Observer
I think it was 04-06 they made the 1500 Avalanche available without cladding. They used a standard truck front clip and smooth doors/quarters. The 2500's never got that option though as they all had the cladding.

Like the rest have said, because they are based on the Suburban they carry the same type of reliability/durability. Provided the previous owners took care of them.
 

billiebob

My Uncle drove a government issued Jeep in Europe
Obviously, fold down rear seats with the pass through to bed is super cool.
yeah, I have loved these trucks. Hardly a practical camper but incredibly capable and a sure fire camp fire conversation piece. I'd sooner camp next to a guy in a 20 year old avalanche than a new Transit van. And since it is not a daily driver..... how "practical" does it need to be.

I love 'em and they might be the best buy out there for a simple camper, exploring vehicle. I'd strip all the plastic.
 

zachammer85

New member
Personally, I think they look too much like an oversized Honda ridgeline, although slightly less ugly. Just my opinion. The drivetrain and aftermarket support should be great though considering they're a suburban with a short bed. I'd go for the 2500 with the big block if I had to. Fuel mileage isn't a huge concern for me typically in a dedicated rig.


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bknudtsen

Expedition Leader
I’ve owned two GMT 800 Avalanches. One cladded one without. Great all around rigs for someone not needing a huge bed or enclosed suv cargo area. Will haul full sheets of drywall or plywood with the tailgate up when you drop the midgate. Don’t expect to drop 2 yards of gravel in the back though.

When looking for used GM’s of that era, be advised that the interior plastics, especially in the door handles, are very brittle. Little stuff starts breaking and becomes a nuisance.

With the Avalanche specifically, check the rear headliner for signs of water stains. The bolt holes on the roof where the sail panel trim attaches tend to leak. Also, there are two duckbill drains in the floor under the midgate hinge panels that can clog and cause water to flow into the cabin. Make sure you fold the midgate and inspect the seals and the rear window moulding. These can get pinched and leak. The bed panels are heavy, but useful so check that they are included.
 

nitro_rat

On a Suburban Excursion
I notice GM has recently started selling trucks with optional "fake roll bars/sail panels" to mimic the Avalanche "look" on both Silverado and Colorado pickups. :rolleyes:
Those type bars have been standard equipment on pickup trucks in most of the rest of the world for decades. They're only "new" in the US. Much like the "new" Ford Ranger which has been around for years in the rest of the world.
 

Hackopotomus

Observer
I bought one new back in '05. Boy, was it ugly in stock configuration! 😳 😁 The combination of the cladding and tiny tires just made it look off balanced. Once I lifted it 6" and ran 35's it looked much better.

I didn't like the cladding at first but once the lift was on and I was using it off road I came to appreciate it for the protection it provided.

Mine was a 2500 with the 8.1. The truck had a ton of power but was pretty thirsty on gas. It was very comfortable (loaded LT) and very nice to drive. I liked it a lot but sold it to get into a diesel for towing. The Avalanche towed my 10K+ boat with ease but going up grades it would down shift and tach out at 4K RPM's to maintain 70 MPH. Also, because it was a gasser it didn't have engine braking or the Allison trans.

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Recommended books for Overlanding

CrazyDrei

Space Monkey
Is... is that a Gen1 Ford Raptor bumper?! lol thats awesome! Those bumperettes are a bitch to keep on while offroading.
badm0t0rfinger,

Yeah, absolutely love the look of first gen Raptor bumper on this truck, and yeah lost both the bumperette covers when I took the bumper out of my truck, broke them could not get them on and then lost one of the actual bumperrettes on the trail not too long ago.
 

Stryder106

Explorer
Hi - so you want to overland an Avalanche? It is an extremely capable truck, more capable than people give it credit for, and by far the most functional body design for solving overloading issues - secured storage, large storage area, thru cab access, etc. But as others have mentioned, it's soccer mom suburban underneath so there are weak points that MUST be addressed. The challenge of an Avalanche is that there is very limited - read that as almost zero - aftermarket parts support for items like bumpers, racks, winch mounts, etc.

Having said that - there are substantial differences between the 1500 and 2500 Avs. First, the rear diff is 10bolt vs 14bolt - meaning not as strong. Front diff is 7.25" vs 9.25" - again not as strong - and in a 2500 you CAN put a locker in that front diff if you want - can't in the 1500. Transmission - 4L60E (problematic) vs 4L80E (bulletproof), capacity (1500# vs 2200#), engine 5.3L v 8.0L, hubs 6 lug vs 8 lug.

Now - the downside of a 2500 will be substantially reduced fuel MPG. Having said that, I chose the 1500 Avalanche and spent 8 years figuring how to deal with the weak points (see my build thread that Rayra referenced) and make it essentially capable of going toe to toe with any overlanding or offroad rig out out there - with the exception of the rock crawlers.

Keep in mind - I am an overland and offload explorer - meaning my rig is my lifeline. If there are two ways to the same point of interest - I'll opt for the one that's least likely to invoke damage to my vehicle.

Now for the news - I totally destroyed my black Avalanche (Te Anau III) in an accident in October. I purchased another 02 Avalanche - except white and a Z71 rather than an NFE, and am in the process of cutting apart my old one and transferring everything to the new one.

My recommendations to you starting from scratch with a 1500 2002, I would purchase at a minimum a Z71 preferably an NFE, do not by a base model. Reason being is that the base will likely have 3.73:1 gears and 1.25" torsion bars and weak rear springs. Whereas the Z-71 and NFE will have 4.10:1 gears (which will carry you up through a 33" tire), stiffer rear springs, and thicker torsion bars. Why NFE over Z-71? I have found the torsion bars in my old NFE are 1.35" vs the Z-71 at 1.30". It doesn't sound like much, but it equates to a 23% increase in spring rate - meaning it's a bit stiffer and will handle it better when you start adding the weight. The NFE also has an engine block warmer - a bonus if you live in cold environments.

First things to address: Tie rods - stock are anemic, get a set of Rare Parts. Shocks - the Eibach Pro Truck Sport shocks are an excellent value and were actually designed on my Avalanche loaded for overloading and traversing Death Valley. So - you get a purpose built shock for your rig with an off the shelf price. Tires - my preference is for the General Tire Grabber X3 because I get into a lot of stuff where I feel more comfortable having the thicker tire. A solid choice is the General Tire Grabber ATX. Can't go wrong with BFG KO3 either. If you have no gear and just want something inexpensive to try it out - pickup a Napier Sportz tent made for the Avalanche and the air mattress (fits the bed. It's a pretty cool little setup - I had it for a few years. Add a second battery. Find a NOS GM batter tray - it fits near the passenger side firewall, battery and isolator. wire it up and now you have something to start running your accessories to and can also jump start yourself if needed. Pickup some basic recovery gear - MaxTrax are a great thing to have along. There are ways to wake the engine up - but that is for a later day. Your transmission is a failure point - either get it addressed by a shop that understands the design flaw or at a minimum - make sure you have a big transmission cooler routed outside of the radiator to keep the temps down. Any questions feel free to ping me. Good luck - the Av is a great vehicle.
 
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Stryder106

Explorer
Stryder106,

You are the in house NFE expert. Do all NFEs have 4.10 gears? Or is was it an option for specific years?

My 03 Avi 1500 NFE has 3.73s.

Interesting.......my understanding was that 4.10s were in MOST Z-71s and ALL NFEs. I think you just disproved my understanding. What is very interesting is that the torsion bars in the Z-71 I just got are 1.30" thick while my NFE bars were 1.35" thick - a 23% spring rate difference. I just had Sway Away custom grind me some at 1.45" and put those in the Z-71. It's something I had planned to do with my NFE given all of the weight on the nose with the bumper, winch, 2nd battery, welder, and air compressor.
 

CrazyDrei

Space Monkey
Interesting.......my understanding was that 4.10s were in MOST Z-71s and ALL NFEs. I think you just disproved my understanding. What is very interesting is that the torsion bars in the Z-71 I just got are 1.30" thick while my NFE bars were 1.35" thick - a 23% spring rate difference. I just had Sway Away custom grind me some at 1.45" and put those in the Z-71. It's something I had planned to do with my NFE given all of the weight on the nose with the bumper, winch, 2nd battery, welder, and air compressor.
Stryder106,

Yeah I thought you mentioned it in one of your earlier posts in the build years ago and was surprised that this NFE had 3.73s. Anyway, I'm getting ready to start pulling drivetrain out, will find out the difference between torsion bars in both 03 NFE Avi and compare them to my 00 Suburban. If they are bigger or stiffer I'll definitely keep them around if I go back to torsion bars in the Sub.

Also, for the 1.45" bars you are going to have to look at bigger shocks 2.0 or 2.5s to keep that rebound in check.
 

Stryder106

Explorer
Stryder106,

Yeah I thought you mentioned it in one of your earlier posts in the build years ago and was surprised that this NFE had 3.73s. Anyway, I'm getting ready to start pulling drivetrain out, will find out the difference between torsion bars in both 03 NFE Avi and compare them to my 00 Suburban. If they are bigger or stiffer I'll definitely keep them around if I go back to torsion bars in the Sub.

Also, for the 1.45" bars you are going to have to look at bigger shocks 2.0 or 2.5s to keep that rebound in check.
Yeah - I already have 2.0 with twin valving and extra large reservoirs and are adjustable. More importantly, mine are custom built by my childhood friend who designs shocks for the most well known companies - so whatever adjustments or revalving they need they'll get. I have to have them redone anyway from the accident.

I forget where you're located - but I'm gonna have available front diff and a rear diff with 4.10s and Z-71 axles in them because I'm going to swap in my old ones with the 4.88s, locker, G2 (rear, RCV front axles. I already have a spare set of Z71 rear axles out of my old Av if you need them.
 
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