My '08 SWB LT V8 "Build" Thread

l008com

Well-Known Member
#1
Welcome to my build thread. I'm not doing anything too significant to my truck, but I figured it would be good to have this thread as a reference anyway, even if just to promote 275 width tires on stock TB's!

Last November, I rented a car here in Boston, drove to Lebanon PA and bought this 2008 Trailblazer. The V8 short wheelbase trucks are very hard to find, and in LT they are even harder. I wanted LT because i like the look of the grill significantly better. Now that is biting me in the ass with the huge premium that LT lenses cost. But anyway, It had something like 110K on it, an dI paid $9500 which I didn't think was too bad (This was November 2015). Probably right around $10K with the rental and tolls. It was in very nice shape, the interior looked basically new. It's black leather, pretty much loaded. The darker color interior makes it look much higher quality than you'd expect. The only thing it lacks inside is heated seats, which is a bummer cause it gets cooooold up here in Boston.

So even though it's SWB, I actually find it to be a very big truck. Larger than I'd prefer. My last truck was a ZR2 (2 door) S10 Blazer. The S10 wasn't a daily driver though, and the trailblazer is. Luckily gas is cheap because I'm getting about 18mpg average per tank. Although I did manage 23 mpg on the ride home from MD (stayed overnight from PA before coming home).

I've been driving it full time for many months now and overall it's nice. It has some issues, mostly the sloppy throttle/shifting and the super squishy bouncy ride. The throttle and shifting issues i'm told would be solved with a tune. I'm working on that but the only guy around that does them, is so hard to deal with, I'm pretty sure he doesn't want customers. The squishy ride gets better with every upgrade, I'm sure by the time I'm done, this thing will ride at least as good as an SS but with more ground clearance.

Here's what I've done so far:
  • Yokohama Geolandar 275/60R17 tires, look and handle great, fit without a single rub bone stock, no lift, no spacers.
  • Bilstein HD shocks
  • LED interior lighting, "warm white". Looks stock, but much brighter. And of course way less drain on the battery so no worries about leaving your lights on.
  • Some LED exterior lighting. But not the big ones, the 8 3157's. I want to do those too at some point but they're so expensive for LEDs that are bright enough to use, and the CK/non-CK makes good ones even harder to find.
Here's what I'm looking to do soon:
  • Definitely replacing all four springs with stiffer springs
  • Probably going to replace all my swaybar bushings and links front and back. This should be the final step to making this truck handle awesome
  • Doing a resonator delete
  • Putting a new bearing in my AC clutch pulley, so my truck doesn't sound like it has 8 bad power steering pumps whenever it's idling
  • I need to do a tune! The throttle lag and shifting lag are brutal. If anyone knows a shop in/near Boston that specializes in street tunes, PM me the info.
  • I'll probably get some 1.5" wheel spacers at some point soon. The truck will look a lot better with the wheel wells filled out and the wider stance, plus technically it should slightly improve handling.
Here's what I'd like to do someday:
  • I'd like to replace my cloudy headlight lenses with fresh new ones, and install HID retrofit kits in them so I can have OEM looking HID 4500K headlights. Problem is the HID kits are $275 and LT lenses are $300 a set. Insanity.
  • I'd love to replace the stock radio with a more modern Apple CarPlay compatible head unit
  • I definitely want to get a transmission temperature gauge of some kind. Not sure what kind yet, there are lots of options but they're all kinda meh. It's a shame they didn't squeeze a factory analog trans temp gauge into the cluster of this truck. It has a 6700 lbs towing capacity and a 6 pin harness, clearly it's meant for towing.
  • I'd like to install heated seats some day. I've read that it's not too hard to do yourself, although I'm kind of skeptical about that. But once the cold hits, I'm really going to miss being able to warm up in an instant. You don't always have the luxury of being able to wait for your vehicle to fully warm up inside, and it sucks driving around an ice cold truck.
Here's what I'm probably never going to do, but it would be nice:
  • I want a steering rack out of a TBSS, they have a much faster turning ratio for the steering. This Trailblazer has such a slow rate of wheel turn to steering wheel turn. You have to turn the steering wheel a ton to go around corners. Switching up the steering rack should take care of that. But this won't ever happen.
  • I want a G80. All three of my previous ZR2's had them, they were great for me. Almost never needed 4 wheel drive. These were an option on trailblazers but sadly, mine didn't come with one.
  • There's a video on youtube of some guy who replaced his 4 speed automatic with a 6 speed stick in a V8 trailblazer! I would absolutely LOVE this. Before this TB, my last 4 daily drivers were 6 speed manual sports cars. The manual is what I miss more than the sports car (especially since the V8 TB is pretty damn fast anyway). But the flip side to this is that this truck is likely to end up as my second vehicle someday when I get another real sports car. And when that day comes, it will be good to have it be an automatic. Plus I tow a lot and towing is always better/easier with an auto. Especially pulling a boat out of the lake without getting your truck wet.
  • I was originally going to try to get a set of 18" TB 5-star wheels, but I couldn't find a good deal on them. Then I found an AMAZING deal on the 17" tires ($85 each!!! on amazon) and decided I'd just stick with 17". I like the shape and offset of the 18"s, although I don't much care for the chromed look so it was sort of a tradeoff.
So here's some pictures, because people really only care about the pics!









 
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#2
For the tune, limeswap.com (@limequat) does great work on mail order tunes. Had mine done by him and it really woke it up. Unfortunately he doesn't have spares on these PCMs to do a loaner with but he has a quick turnaround.
 

Jrgunn5150

Well-Known Member
#3
Jeremy did a great job on my tune. I was really happy with it.

It tows ok, it's no diesel, but it can haul another vehicle around if you keep it out of OD and keep your speed down.
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#4
This truck is a daily driver so a mail order tune is out of the question. Plus if I'm going to bother to do it at all, I'd rather have someone do it while driving the truck to really be able to dial it in just right.
 

SnowBlazer

Silver Supporter
#5
9
This truck is a daily driver so a mail order tune is out of the question. Plus if I'm going to bother to do it at all, I'd rather have someone do it while driving the truck to really be able to dial it in just right.
You could pull a PCM from a junk truck. I git lucky and got one off ebay that was VIN unlocked for like $30. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but, I believe the only thing that will happen using a VIN Locked PCM, is it'll throw a SES light.
 

Bow_Tied

Well-Known Member
#11
Congrats on the new ride, looks great. I looked for some time and never saw a single SWB TB with a V8 that wasn't an SS and so ended up with a SWB Denali V8.

I also have a ZR2 (Jimmy) - did you ever off-road it?
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#12
I looked for some time and never saw a single SWB TB with a V8

I also have a ZR2 (Jimmy) - did you ever off-road it?
It took me about 6 months to find one, and I ended up driving from Boston to PA to get it. But it was worth it. I just need to get the suspension and the tune done so it doesn't drive like a boat any more.

I never did any off roading with this last ZR2, but back when I was in my early 20's and had brand new ZR2 blazers, I did a little bit of off road. I didn't go crazy because I was afraid of getting it stuck somewhere. But the ZR2s are super capable trucks, I hope they come back in some form or another someday.
 

Bow_Tied

Well-Known Member
#13
I never did any off roading with this last ZR2, but back when I was in my early 20's and had brand new ZR2 blazers, I did a little bit of off road. I didn't go crazy because I was afraid of getting it stuck somewhere. But the ZR2s are super capable trucks, I hope they come back in some form or another someday.
Here's a little vid of my ZR2 having some fun, skip the first 45 seconds:

Ya fingers crossed they'll do a Colorado ZR2 with diesel. That'd be sweet. Not holding my breath though.
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#14
The problem with that Colorado ZR2, aside from the long wheelbase (compared to a 2 door Blazer) giving it poor clearance, is that the concept ZR2 pickup was probably a $40,000 to $45,000 truck. I wanted them to make it, but even if they did, I'd never buy it :sadcry:
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#15
After reading about it in another thread, I grabbed a pair of 18mm sockets, and tightened the "bolt" that is the pivot for my brake pedal. I'm not sure exactly how the whole assembly goes together, but I tightened it and presto, no more brake pedal rattle when I go over bumps! I thought I was going to have to replace the pedal and pivot (they aren't that expensive but seemed like a pain in the ass to install) but all I had to do was tighten the bolt. My truck went from driving like a 10 year old truck to driving like a 5 year old truck. It made such a difference, it was worth noting it in my build thread!

I ordered my stiffer springs tonight too. I'll have lots more to say about that once they are installed, and once I drive them for a few days.
 

Inferno333

Well-Known Member
#16
Great looking TB! You've got a solid list of mods.

Are these really that hard to find? I'll have to put my 06 SWB LT V8 up on here before it becomes trade fodder. :biggrin:
 

FearlessAZ

Well-Known Member
#17
Great looking TB! You've got a solid list of mods.

Are these really that hard to find? I'll have to put my 06 SWB LT V8 up on here before it becomes trade fodder. :biggrin:

In certain areas it is. I have seen some areas on craigslist that have multiples at one time. Here in the AZ area, they are few are far between.
 
#19
In all of Canada, they are just rare with the exception to the 9-7x which seems to have a higher ratio of V8's.

Most of us here are sensitive to gas prices since we get raped every time we go to the pump so 6 cylinders get preferential treatment.
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#20
Most of us here are sensitive to gas prices since we get raped every time we go to the pump so 6 cylinders get preferential treatment.
If 2nd gen Trailblazers ever come to North America, I wouldn't be surprised if the turbo 2.0 was an option in them. That would help the fuel economy, and probably would be about as powerful as the old 4.2.
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#22
Oh no I was talking about the little gas 2.0 turbo they put in lots of things these days including the camaro. It actually gets descent torque.

But yea, the 2.8 turbo diesel that you can get in new colorados, that would be bad ass in a trailblazer. Almost 400 ft-lb of torque. That's more or less my "dream truck". Make it in an extra short wheelbase, 2 door model and i'll be happy as shit :biggrin:
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#25
This just in:
SuperBrightLEDs now makes a 3157 pair that comes in white, amber and red, AND is available in CK and non-CK. $15 per bulb! Which is a lot compared to junk ebay bulbs, but it's cheap compared to other quality LED bulbs out there.

Lucky me, I was going to go through the hassle of modifying my brake light circuit board, but now it looks like I won't have to. I haven't actually ordered these lights yet, so I don't know if they're actually good or not, but the specs are promising.

"Good" to me means at least as bright as incandescents, AND just as noticeable a difference between it's dim and bright modes. I will keep this thread posted and post links if they are good bulbs. I'll also do short LED/incandescent comparison videos.
 

anthonyl79

Well-Known Member
#27
9

You could pull a PCM from a junk truck. I git lucky and got one off ebay that was VIN unlocked for like $30. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but, I believe the only thing that will happen using a VIN Locked PCM, is it'll throw a SES light.

Check around on the LS Swap pages on facebook. Guys are selling ECM's on there for around 150 unlocked and tuned. Your best bet is to find someone local that can do a dyno tune for you.

This just in:
SuperBrightLEDs now makes a 3157 pair that comes in white, amber and red, AND is available in CK and non-CK. $15 per bulb! Which is a lot compared to junk ebay bulbs, but it's cheap compared to other quality LED bulbs out there.

Lucky me, I was going to go through the hassle of modifying my brake light circuit board, but now it looks like I won't have to. I haven't actually ordered these lights yet, so I don't know if they're actually good or not, but the specs are promising.

"Good" to me means at least as bright as incandescents, AND just as noticeable a difference between it's dim and bright modes. I will keep this thread posted and post links if they are good bulbs. I'll also do short LED/incandescent comparison videos.
I saw that you wanted to do HID's, the problem I had with the HID's is they would change color slightly and man does that drive me NUTS!! I recently went with a pair of LED's for the headlights. They are just as bright, will last longer and don't have the big ballast like HIDs do. Got mine for 60 for the set.
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#28
Your best bet is to find someone local that can do a dyno tune for you.
That's the plan. The guy in bridgewater does the tune while driving it to dial everything in.


I recently went with a pair of LED's for the headlights. They are just as bright, will last longer and don't have the big ballast like HIDs do. Got mine for 60 for the set.
Got a link?
I've had HIDs in most of the cars I owned in the past decade and I never had any issues with colors. I'd be going with 4300K HIDs, none of that blue stuff.
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#29
Ok my spring upgrade is complete!! I wasn't doing it for ride height, I was doing it just for a better, stiffer ride. The springs that came on my truck (with 115K or so) were very squishy, very boat like. I had 83/84 springs in the front. I replaced both fronts with 87s, and in the rear I used Moog springs for an EXT. My truck is not an EXT. The result is a very stiff, sporty ride. It feels a lot like a ZR2 blazer. Also a bonus I hadn't considered, it has improved throttle and brake response, since its spending less time squishing the springs. And I got some extra ride height too.

So I upgraded to bilstein 5300 shocks, got new on/off road tires, and now have replaced all springs. As you can imagine, this thing drives like a whole new truck! I still plan to do my swaybar bushings too to make it even tighter. That should be it.

My tires are 275/60R17, which is 30" by 10.8".
The one downside of these springs, is that my new big tires are LOST in those new specious wheel wells. Now I wish I had went with 31x10.8s, which is exactly what I had on my last ZR2 blazer. But I'm not going to ditch brand new tires, I'll just find other things to upgrade instead!

But the ride is just fantastic. This truck was all over the road when I got it. Bumps would send it shimmying side to side, dips would send it rocking like a boat. Like an actual, literal boat. Now it drives like a very sporty truck!

 
#30
Have you had it on a level surface yet? These trucks usually have a front rake and might be more now with the EXT rears. Or maybe the fronts equalized that keeping it at the same angle.
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#31
The angle seems about the same. It was a little more when I had only the rears done for about a week. But none of the driveways I park in are level so it's tough to say for sure.
 

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
#32
I had 83/84 springs in the front. I replaced both fronts with 87s, and in the rear I used Moog springs for an EXT. My truck is not an EXT. The result is a very stiff, sporty ride. It feels a lot like a ZR2 blazer. Also a bonus I hadn't considered, it has improved throttle and brake response, since its spending less time squishing the springs. And I got some extra ride height too.
Could you (or someone) explain the numeric designations on the springs? I *do* have a LWB, and would like to do something similar in the springtime - along with installing the front Bilstein 5300s (I have the rears already). Thx in advance...
 

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
#34
The "springtime" hehe....
So I'm not sure exactly what you're asking though?
Funny that you caught the 'springtime' mention - I had originally written 'spring', and changed it as I realized it could be construed as the 'suspension component', and not the 'season after winter'.

Anyway... you mention replacing "83/84s" with "87s"
What do those numbers represent?

I know that GM had several different springs they used (16 in all, IIRC), and a 360/370 could have a different spring on each corner - they were apparently matched to each vehicle (which I found amazing, reading about it on this site).

I'm not thinking (?) the numbers represent that, but figured I'd mention it, to show that I had some prior knowledge about the springs. But those numeric designations are new to me. I know they don't represent model years :undecided:
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#35
There is a ton of information available about front springs, and a little bit of information about rears.

With all the front spring information, I was able to determine which I had from the list, and went several levels "stiffer".

With the rear, I was not able to determine which springs I had from the lists I found, and I couldn't find any way to determine the stiffness of the springs my truck had. So after months of searching, and people on other forums with years-old threads promising to get back to me with more info, and not, I gave up. I figured if moog has different springs for the EXT and SWB, the EXT springs MUST be stiffer. That plus not being 110K miles old means they should be plenty stiffer than what I have. And they are!

For the rears, I just looked it up on the moog website or something like that, then ended up buying them on Amazon I think.

The front, I used the list below and ordered them from some random gm parts website I had never heard of before. I've never driven an SS before, but mine may handle as good, possibly better than an SS now with all the upgrades. I can't wait to do those swaybar bushings to really tighten it up like crazy.

Front Spring Thread: http://forums.offroadtb.com/viewtopic.php?t=158
Spring List Front & Rear: http://i.imgur.com/4khLRrW.png

I couldn't match those three letter codes to actual part numbers. But any GM dealer should be able to give you the part numbers of all of your springs from your VIN. If you already have an EXT and are looking to stiffen it up, I'm not sure what options you have. You really need to get stiffness data for the list of spring part numbers GM has, or match up part numbers to the list above. I wasn't able to do this, but my shortcut for the rears totally worked.
 

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
#37
There is a ton of information available about front springs, and a little bit of information about rears.

With all the front spring information, I was able to determine which I had from the list, and went several levels "stiffer".

<snippage>

I couldn't match those three letter codes to actual part numbers. But any GM dealer should be able to give you the part numbers of all of your springs from your VIN. If you already have an EXT and are looking to stiffen it up, I'm not sure what options you have. You really need to get stiffness data for the list of spring part numbers GM has, or match up part numbers to the list above. I wasn't able to do this, but my shortcut for the rears totally worked.
I'd like to thank you for this info - I wasn't aware of it. I couldn't find matches for my codes either (6WS and 7WS), but I'm planning on replacing my front shocks in the...wait for it...springtime :crackup:

Armed with this info, I may do the springs as well. :tiphat:
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#39
Well I don't have a new AC compressor bearing, and that's not due to a lack of effort. Apparently I'm the only truck with steel cooler lines right in front of the compressor.

But I do have freshly cleaned and RAIN-X'd glass. I cleaned them all, I rain-x'ed the mirrors, front and rear windshield, and the front side windows. I did two coats then buffed them clean. And I put my new fancy rain-x wipers on.

The last time it rained, I could barely see out of my truck at all, it was crazy! We've been in a drought for most of the year I've had this truck, so i never really got to see just how bad it is in the rain. Should be better now. Although I do really need a new windshield. There's lots of tiny pits and lots of very fine scratches from the old wipers.

(1-for-2, better than 0-for-2 I suppose)
 
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l008com

l008com

Well-Known Member
#40
Tonight I replaced the factory incandescent bulbs in my reverse lights and front blinkers with LEDs. Just the main 3157's in the front, I had already done the small 164s.

The Whites:
https://www.superbrightleds.com/mor...rd-firing-cluster-wedge-retrofit-car/804/798/
The Amber:
https://www.superbrightleds.com/mor...45-smd-led-tower-wedge-retrofit-car/633/1909/

Geez you think they put enough search engine spam in their URLs?

I only took pictures of the white, not the amber. The ambers look good. Their dim mode could be a little brighter. The bright mode is ok, but would be a little close to the dim, if they did make the dim a little brighter. In other words, both modes could benefit from being a bit brighter. But they're not bad. If I had another vehicle, I'd consider buying them again.
I think part of the reason the Ambers don't look better, is just the really odd, really stretch out reflector bowl they have for these lights. Also the color isn't a perfect match to the small side lights, due to the orange lens they have over them. But they're good enough and were only $10 each.

The whites were a different story. They are directional, which I thought just might work well for a reverse light. They are 4500K which is my favorite color for external white lights. Color-wise, they look real nice. But they are a little dim. A little too dim. I left them in for now, and I won't return them since they were only $6 each. But I'll probably upgrade them again in the future to something brighter. I found a very dark cemetery to test these lights out in, and it was very hard to back up down unknown windy narrow roads with zero street lights. As indicator lights to other vehicles, they'll probably look real good though.


This picture is misleading because the LED is directional, so the 'source' of the light is smaller than the 360°s of incandescent bulb which makes the whole reflector a light source. But that doesn't necessarily mean one is brighter than the other.



 

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