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View Full Version : Why are there so many old suburbans?


Contemplation
09-12-2017, 04:48 AM
Why are there so many 90s and early 2000s Chevy Suburbans/ GMC Yukons still rolling around in 2017?
I don't see as many old cars of other makes in particular, but for some reason people won't let go of these things.

bob++
09-12-2017, 05:12 AM
I have no idea what those cars are like, but I bet that it is a, because they were well built in the first place and b, because they appealed to the kind of people that like to keep their cars as long as they can.

jz78817
09-12-2017, 06:12 AM
they sold about 200-230,000 of them a year back then. Bound to be some still running around today.

keep in mind, that still means plenty of them went to the crusher.

Shagnasty
09-12-2017, 08:30 AM
They are "Built on tradition" according to Chevy. Suburbans are really expensive vehicles these days (around 100K for a new one). Only some people need that much passenger space and usually not most of the time. Many of them are relatively low mileage for their age and worth fixing if they have problems because the replacement cost is so high. People that need to haul around 8+ kids and adults don't tend to have an extra 100K laying around to get a new one but they may be able to afford or maintain a used Suburban.

DesertDog
09-12-2017, 09:02 AM
The MSRP for a new 2-wd is around $50,000. There are lots of options but I can't imagine the price doubling. In the main, you're right, though. I bought a 1994 Suburban for $2,000 back in 2008 for hauling stuff to dog shows. It was during a peak in gas prices and the guy who owned the auto repair shop I trade at had offered it for $4,300 at first, slowly dropped it to $2,300, then gave up, storing it in the yard at the station for six-months. I caught wind of it, offered $2,000 and he jumped at it.

It has no a/c because I'm too cheap to replace it and other than the peeling paint syndrome* runs well. The biggest problem has been that when the heater core failed, it took three replacements (under warranty, luckily) before one would stick. I haven't popped for a new one because one of its main duties is to take me to Burning Man and back every year, and the interior is well dusted -- I've bought a leaf blower to see if that will help. Be damned if I'll subject a creampuff to that abuse.

*'94 is right in the period when some mfrs were switching from lacquer to epoxy paint and hadn't figured out yet how to make it stick. I had a '92 Toyota Cressida (long deceased) with the same syndrome.

Hermitian
09-12-2017, 09:05 AM
Look at the sales totals. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Suburban#Yearly_American_sales) At their peak in 2001, they sold three times as many as their low in 2009.

Mdcastle
09-12-2017, 09:40 AM
They're built solidly like a pickup truck, yet used mainly for hauling kids and groceries around.

LSLGuy
09-12-2017, 10:35 AM
They also stand out from the crowd. There are probably a similar percentage of e.g. Chevy Impalas of the same age around. But because the Impalas are utterly generic sedan mehmobiles, you don't notice them.

As well, if you live in a part of the country that is big on trucks rather than big on commutermobiles you're going to have had more new Suburbans to start with.

Finally, as Shag said, lots of folks with that mission are the same sort of folks who drive it until it dies. Rather than doing the lease turn-in thing after 3 years.

Multiply those three factors together and you get what you see.

What Exit?
09-12-2017, 10:39 AM
If a product is well built, sells well and has a good variety of uses, it is likely to stick around.

Derleth
09-12-2017, 11:10 AM
If a product is well built, sells well and has a good variety of uses, it is likely to stick around.And even when that doesn't apply, as in this case, they can stick around anyway.

(Chevy Suburbans never gave my family anything but trouble.)

48Willys
09-13-2017, 12:02 AM
If a product is well built, sells well and has a good variety of uses, it is likely to stick around.

And even when that doesn't apply, as in this case, they can stick around anyway.

(Chevy Suburbans never gave my family anything but trouble.)

As has been stated in many other threads, YMMV. Your experience with this rig may not be the norm.

Just because you have had issues with them, does not mean that What Exit?'s statement does not apply.

Many of my friends & relatives are huge fans of the Chevy Suburban. The 1962 Suburban that I drove across this nation for a cousin in 1977 is still in use in Idaho. It has helped many a young driver to learn how to drive. With its 283 SBC & its 4 speed granny tranny it is the perfect tool for this job. One more dent does not matter in the least.

Keep in mind that it is not just the folks with a big family that buys them. Many companies that need a go anywhere, durable, people mover, will buy Suburbans. Oil field crews, Fire crews, Rail Road work crews, Loggers, and prison work crews are some of the other folks that put these versatile rigs to work.

The aforementioned '62 suburban was a Forest Service rig in it's first life.

Enola Straight
09-13-2017, 09:49 AM
Suburbans have been around for decades.

When you've been constructing something for so long, you tend to work the bugs out of it.

anomalous1
09-14-2017, 02:01 AM
My vote is also for reliability and cheap and plentiful aftermarket parts for Chevy's/GM. I've heard of suburbans with about 500,000 on the engine and transmission, and still hanging out (operative word; hanging). I do see quite a bit of them myself. I was always interested in them, but the poor gas mileage is....poor.

ElvisL1ves
09-14-2017, 09:58 AM
Not many Suburbans have ever been totaled in collisions.

gnoitall
09-14-2017, 10:34 AM
Not many Suburbans have ever been totaled in collisions.Well, not in collisions with only other cars (http://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/2016/11/30/vernon-man-killed-suv-train-collision/94695610/), anyway.

Kevbo
09-14-2017, 01:29 PM
Well it might be some of what keeps me driving my well preserved '97 F-250.

The things are fuel hogs, and a big pain in the ass to drive, so you tend to put most of your miles on something else.

But useful enough when you need them that you hang on to them for things like pulling boats or other trailers, hauling a big crew, multiple dogs, etc. etc.

The value isn't high, so you can just carry cheap liability insurance, and nobody races the things, so they are not terribly risky from an insurance standpoint. Also the market isn't very good for big-ol gas hogs, so it isn't like you are losing a lot of opportunity cost.

It isn't too hard to find a mechanic that can fix one even if you aren't up to DIY. So they are fairly reliable for the vintage. Nice not to need a rental when the primary commuter is in the shop.

So if you have room to store one, then you hang on to it.

Really Not All That Bright
09-14-2017, 01:32 PM
Another vote for confirmation bias. They're stupidly huge and annoying in traffic, so you notice them. There does seem to be a trend among giant SUVs (https://blog.iseecars.com/longest-lasting-cars-over-200000-miles/) to remain on the road for a long time, but we're still talking about a tiny fraction of the total built.
They're built solidly like a pickup truck, yet used mainly for hauling kids and groceries around.
Being solidly built is irrelevant. Body-on-frame vehicles are constructed to optimize tow and load capacity, not long-term durability. The way they're built is more significant to the OP's question because it means body damage can be repaired relatively cheaply (versus a unibody vehicle).
Suburbans have been around for decades.

When you've been constructing something for so long, you tend to work the bugs out of it.
Also irrelevant. The 1992 Suburban was an all-new model built on a new platform. It's true that the GM small-block engine had been around for decades, but the same engine was used in lots of other cars which you hardly see these days.

Elendil's Heir
09-14-2017, 01:57 PM
I have no idea what those cars are like....
There's this crazy thing the kids these days are all calling "Wikipedia": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Suburban

Hampshire
09-14-2017, 04:38 PM
I also imagine becuase of their size that they are relatively easy to work on and a lot of them are kept running by do-it-yourselfers in their garages. More modern compact cars and SUVs have everything so crammed into them they are a pita to work on. I'd expect everthing in a Suburban is fairly accessible.

Joey P
09-14-2017, 04:54 PM
In addition to the Suburban/Yukon, there's also the Tahoe which is just a shorter version of the Suburban and the Denali and Escalde which look similar. So that's a few more models that might make you say 'hey, look, another Suburban'.

As for why so many from back then. I think part of it is, as other said, they're built really well. My dad is on his third one. I think this one is a 2008 with about 200k on it, and he drives them really, really hard and treats them like a pick up. It's showing it's age but it's still chugging along.
Sure, it might not get great mileage, but what he does with the truck he couldn't do with anything smaller.

Now take someone who doesn't drive it hard and as long as they're willing to maintain it, I don't see why they can't get quite a few more miles out of it. I could see having to drop in a new motor in the next 100,000 miles or so, but the body, transmission and suspension all seem to be just fine.

Also, people really seem to like it. It looks pretty much exactly like this (http://useduscarsales.com/carimages/2008-Chevrolet-Tahoe-Black-6110011.jpg), and he'll occasionally get random people asking him if they can buy it because that's the year (or generation) that they've had their eye on. They don't even seem to be bothered by the checklist of things that he tells them will need to be done eventually (not that he's going to sell it anyways).

TLDR, they're built well, they're nice trucks and they're really comfortable. It's also a 'truck' (as opposed to being a crossover or SUV) without being a 75000 dollar Escalade.