My new to me 2006 9-7x 5.3 rebuild

TollKeeper

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Dec 3, 2011
6,886
Brighton, CO
As some of you probably saw, I bought a 2006 9-7x with 160k miles on it. It has a dead cylinder #1.

Here she is, sitting in my driveway (no more truck pics at the moment)
20220402_135701.jpg


So I tore into her pretty good today. New plugs, dug around on the interior, and checked operation of pretty much everything

Cylinder 1 is a stuck AFM/DOD lifter, verified after doing the tune up, and pulling the valve cover, and starting the engine. To my surprise, the oil pressure seems really good on cylinder #5 pushrod, it squirted oil thru the pushrod, and put a string of oil across the hood on my Envoy! She really needed a tune up, will post pics from my phone in the next post.. It had AC-Delco Platinum 41-962 in it. I replaced those with Iridium 41-162. AC blow nice and cold. It may need some ball joints. Worry about that when I get the engine running right.

Interior is mostly clean. Missing 3 of the 4 floor mats. Has the owners manual. Has the cargo cover in the trunk. Drivers seat forward/backward operation is non-op, and the drivers lumbar kinda works, but is mostly non-op (it just clicks, and then bangs).

Drivers side headlight ballast is DOA. I took the bulb out, and tried it on the passenger side, and it worked great. I guess it could be wiring, or a fuse. I just have not gotten that far yet. Someone replaced one of the headlights at some point. One side was a Phillips, the other side was a OSRM.

The passenger side fender I think I can beat back to true. Gonna worry about that later.

I turned on the Hazard Lights/4ways to check lights, and I heard a clicking above the spare tire? is this normal?

I am sure I need to change the smurf blood (TC Fluid), and the diffs. One project at a time!

Edit: Running parts list and cost
2169 for the truck
137 Spark Plug Wires, Head Gasket, Exhaust Gasket, Head Bolts, Exhaust Manifold Bolts (AM)
71 Lifter & Tray (OR)
5 Pushrods (AZ)
76 Spark Plugs (AAP)
105 Various Junk Yard Parts (headlights, rear rotors, seat, radio, etc) (PnP)
166 for PCM/TCM reprogram - @limequat
49 for VLOM parts ( www.CrazedPerformanceRepair.com )
164 Brakes (pads front and rear, front rotors) (AM)
50 Oil Change (AAP)
25 Emissions (Gov)
43 Plates and Tags (Gov)
-32 returned spark plug wires

(Legend - AM=Amazon, AZ=AutoZone, AAP=AdvanceAutoParts, OR=Oriellys, PnP=Pick-n-Pull, Gov=Government)

Still Needed
Brake Vacuum Pressure Sensor Bung/Gasket
Wipers

Running total
3028

Special Tool Purchases
15 Fuel Line Disconnect
11 Wobble socket adapters

Tools Borrowed
3/8 Torque/Angle Wrench
1/2 Torque/Angle Wrench
 
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TollKeeper

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Dec 3, 2011
6,886
Brighton, CO
Phone pics

3rd pic is the Cylinder #1 plug. Its soaked!
 

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TollKeeper

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@limequat - If the Stuck lifter hack works, going to be sending you the PCM to get the AFM/DOD delete done, plus a few other things.
 
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TollKeeper

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More pics, sitting in my backyard until I get the parts I ordered today.
 

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Mooseman

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Dec 4, 2011
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I turned on the Hazard Lights/4ways to check lights, and I heard a clicking above the spare tire? is this normal?
Maybe the trailer wiring relay? I can't say I remember one in mine.
 

TollKeeper

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Dec 3, 2011
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Brighton, CO
I did notice that it was built with air ride suspension, but someone converted it. Still has the inflation hose in the hatch area, but no sound when I hit the button. I am still uncertain if I want to convert it over to air ride. I think I want to keep the spring, but I do like the ride of a air suspension.

Anyone have a spare 9-7x 6 disc radio they are parting out? I just need a button on it. I did want to put a nav system in it, but the wife would rather have the 6disc, which is missing the power button. The XM radio works, and is ACTIVE! Win!

Sunroof works flawlessly. I had forgotten why I wanted a SWB with OUT a sunroof. My head rubs on the headliner.
 

Mooseman

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It's an expensive system to fix, especially if everything is missing. I'd leave the springs and use the money on other mods.
 
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TollKeeper

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Dec 3, 2011
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Someone had mentioned that the Ballast's are hard to find.. I am finding them all over the place, pretty cheap too. around 28-50 bucks new. The ballast was also used in a Cadillac, Audi, Volvo, Lincoln, and Mercedes. Manufactured by Bosch (explains why the fail! LOL).

For reference..

Anyways, assuming this weekend goes as planned with getting the AFM/DOD lifter released.. I already have quite the shopping list growing..

Send PCM to Limequat (VATS, Tranny Line Pressure, shift points, DOD/AFM, Speed Limiter)
Drivers side ballast
Replacement radio face

Bluetooth adapter (when I can find one in stock)

Floor mats if I can find them

Then just routine service to get it up to date
Tranny/TC/Oil/Rear Diff service
Check over the front end
Fix the power seat track

The bad thing is, I have 30 days to get it plated, or start getting penalties. If the AFM/DOD hack works, I am still 1 week in the hole, and I still need to send the PCM out, get it back, get a emissions done, and get to the DMV.

If it doesnt work.... ZOINKS! I dont know if I want to tear the heads off, and put in new AFM/DOD lifters, I know for sure I dont want to do the full AFM/DOD delete.
 
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xavierny25

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Mar 16, 2014
6,151
Staten Island, N.Y
Anyone have a spare 9-7x 6 disc radio they are parting out? I just need a button on it. I did want to put a nav system in it, but the wife would rather have the 6disc, which is missing the power button.
20220405_180935.jpg
Not sure if the the 1 on the saab is any different but this is what was in the Voy. Let me know
 
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TollKeeper

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Being Saab, they are different. Thanks thou. I got a couple of those radios, including the one I pulled from my Envoy. The buttons/knobs have a slightly different mount. Saab always had to be different than everyone else!
 
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TollKeeper

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I think I might have bit off more than I can chew ..
 

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Mooseman

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Crap. I can't see it too well but what does the cam lobe look like. My question would be why did it bend? Usually happens when there is piston to valve contact, which would be from another catastrophic failure. The only thing I can think of that may have caused this was that it was run like this for a long time and bent the rod over time.

But your engine is basically fine. If you have an boroscope, check the cylinder and piston. If you have a mirror attachment, try to see the valves. If it all looks good, replace the pushrod and check if it opens the valve normally if the cam is still good. I'd hook everything up with the valve cover off and run it so you can see it in action. If necessary, run a compression test.

If the cam got wiped out, time for a DOD delete kit.
 
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TollKeeper

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Cam profile looked good, no gouges, or anything like that.

No shiny bits that I could see.

Autozone sells 7.4 inch pushrods for 5 bucks. Everything I find says those are the correct length. Going to swing by and pick one up. (going to search and see if I can verify the length)
 
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Mooseman

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Maybe buy two. Don't you need a modified one to do the hack to "unlock" the stuck lifter?
 
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TollKeeper

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Nope, I bought a kit that includes the AFM/DOD oil block, and rod.


Slightly overpriced, but I need the stuff..

I still dont know if the lifter is stuck, until I get it partially reassembled.
 

TollKeeper

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Dec 3, 2011
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Brighton, CO
Autozone sells 7.4 inch pushrods for 5 bucks. Everything I find says those are the correct length. Going to swing by and pick one up. (going to search and see if I can verify the length)
7.4 inch is the correct length (actually 7.397) for a DOD or non-DOD cylinder apparently.

Crossing my fingers!
 

TollKeeper

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More bad news.. the lifter is exploded. Above my mechanical ability at the moment..

Now what to do with it....
 

Mooseman

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I would assume the cam is toast. Is the lifter bore damaged? O f course you won't know that until the head is pulled. If the lifter can be pulled out, then it should be possible to just put in a DOD delete kit.

If the lifter bore is damaged, I don't know if that can be fixed. How do you know the lifter exploded? Can't see much without pulling the head.
 

azswiss

Active Member
May 23, 2021
402
Tempe, AZ
Head needs to be pulled so you can see the lifter, the lifter tray, and the cam.

In for a penny, in for a pound.
 

Mooseman

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Dec 4, 2011
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No wonder GM are getting sued for this DOD garbage! After all these years they never were able to make it reliable.
 

Reprise

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Jul 22, 2015
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I would assume the cam is toast. Is the lifter bore damaged? O f course you won't know that until the head is pulled. If the lifter can be pulled out, then it should be possible to just put in a DOD delete kit.

If the lifter bore is damaged, I don't know if that can be fixed. How do you know the lifter exploded? Can't see much without pulling the head.
Assuming worst-case scenario, I think (?) a *pro* welder might be able to fix it, but for what it would cost (especially if any other damage)... it might be cheaper to swap the engine. But the head needs to come off to be able to go any further. Really, the cam needs to be pulled, as well. And that means the front cover / balancer comes off.

The lifter bore might not be damaged, but you won't know until the head comes off.

Head needs to be pulled so you can see the lifter, the lifter tray, and the cam.
x2. Except you're not going to see very much of the cam -- if the lifter comes out, you can kinda see the corresponding cam lobe -- but I'd really want to pull the cam, tbh. Especially if the lifter comes out in pieces, or there's any other visible damage. You'll need to spin the cam the full 360 degrees in the block to look at the entire lobe (180" on the crank, as the cam spins at 2x crank rotation) (720" on the crank, as it spins at 2x the cam rotation)

If you 'lucked out' and the block is intact -- after all that teardown, it would be a perfect opportunity to put in the full delete kit. But with all the parts, gaskets, etc. -- it'll probably run more than the $2000 paid for the vehicle (see my Sierra's build thread for what I replaced / spent -- although I did a bit more than what was 'absolutely' necessary, and mine wasn't a DOD delete.)

Evaluation / decisions to be made, after the teardown is done. Or start sourcing an engine, if you absolutely can't do the teardown.
 
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northcreek

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Jan 15, 2012
2,933
WNY
More bad news.. the lifter is exploded. Above my mechanical ability at the moment..

Now what to do with it....
I would think that you could sell it for what you have into it, even with full disclosure.
 
Jul 6, 2014
9,237
No wonder GM are getting sued for this DOD garbage! After all these years they never were able to make it reliable.
This is why I own LQ4s. Though I don't know of first hand anyone that's had an issue with AFM I've seen it enough on here to be drawn away from it. The ones in the high feature engines work a lot better (dohc) for several reasons...
 

Mooseman

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It would be possible to replace a DOD engine with a pre-DOD version, even an iron block. The difference in weight is around 100 lbs or so.
 

TollKeeper

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Its possible.. Kinda

In my case, I can replace my LH6 with a LQ4/LQ9 or LM4 as it has a 24x reluctor, but would possibly run into problems with the tune, because the PCM is still going to look for the DOD stuff, but it wouldnt exist on that engine.

If my truck was 1 year newer, I would have more options, but the engines get quite a bit more expensive with a 58x engine.
 

Reprise

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The ones in the high feature engines work a lot better (dohc) for several reasons...

My curiosity is piqued enough to do some reading on this. Anything you can reference online?
I don't doubt you, of course... I just want to know the how / why of it :biggrin:
 
Jul 6, 2014
9,237
My curiosity is piqued enough to do some reading on this. Anything you can reference online?
I don't doubt you, of course... I just want to know the how / why of it :biggrin:
My understanding was the way it's both fed and collapses the lifter vs follower is just better.. And you're not dealing with both the pushrod and rocker because it is a follower type... I'll look and see what I can find because I do recall a thread on it. But the high feature engines just don't seem to have an issue with that system. Not to mention a DOD lifter is massive by comparison. They system itself seems similar but different. I'll try and dig up the GM tech document on the 3.6.
 

Mooseman

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For the DOD stuff, that's not a problem as it can be tuned out. Your current PCM/TCM can be tuned with basic LQ4 mapping and then enhanced a bit, at least as much as possible without actually putting it on a dyno.

Just a warning though, if you do put in an LQ4, your current 4L60E and the 8.6 rear will be marginal.
 
Jul 6, 2014
9,237
The 4l60 in the escalade made it 300k without too much issue. It'll be fine lol
 

TollKeeper

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Just a warning though, if you do put in an LQ4, your current 4L60E and the 8.6 rear will be marginal.
But it will be fun until its not!

If I do go down the engine replacement route, I was actually considering a LR4/4.8 This is supposed to be for my wife. And she just doesnt need all that, and I just want it to be reliable. But even the LR4 is hard to come by in decent shape at a reasonable price.

At this point, as much as I hate to say it, I am trying to stay on the ultra cheap. Get the head apart, and see what I see. If the Cam is wiped, then its engine swap, or part out. If the cam is good, which with what I could see thru the cam window, it is, than replace the lifters with OE, new lifter tray, new head gasket, new exhaust mani gasket, new head bolts, and put her back together. But all this hinges on the head being good. Which I wont know till I get it apart. I really want to keep the 799 heads, but finding a replacement that doesnt need to be rebuilt...

I am at the beginning phase of buyers remorse.
 

Mooseman

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The 4l60 in the escalade made it 300k without too much issue. It'll be fine lol
It was likely the 4L70E, just like in my Avy 6.0L. A little upgraded from the factory.

At this point, as much as I hate to say it, I am trying to stay on the ultra cheap.
I did mine on the cheap as well. I got a used stock non-DOD truck cam from eBay, new lifters and trays, new chain and oil pump along with a gasket set. Didn't even have to change the tune except for turning off DOD codes but had it improved at the same time by Limequat.
 
Jul 6, 2014
9,237
It was likely the 4L70E, just like in my Avy 6.0L. A little upgraded from the factory.


I did mine on the cheap as well. I got a used stock non-DOD truck cam from eBay, new lifters and trays, new chain and oil pump along with a gasket set. Didn't even have to change the tune except for turning off DOD codes but had it improved at the same time by Limequat.
I believe the 70e is 2006 and up. Every rpo I've found indicates 4l60hd/4l65. But being an early 2003 it's a crap shoot, could be a regular old 60e too because I've seen that as well.
 

TollKeeper

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Dec 3, 2011
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So these are the parts I have in my cart at the moment

Rockauto....
Felpro ES72220 Head Bolts- $24.79
Felpro MS92467 Exhaust Mani Gasket - $10.33
GM OEM 12589226 Head Gasket - $32.79
UP MS96857 Valley Cover Gasket - $16.76
Felpro ES75120 Exhaust Mani Bolts - $19.89
GM OEM Front Lifter Guide - $11.50
GM OEM Rear Lifter Guide - $11.24
UP JB7011 AFM/DOD Lifters (4) - $99.74
UP JB2079 Regular Lifters (4) - $28.79
UMP 7831W Spark Plug Wires - $25.79

Sub-Total $281.64
Tax $25.46
Shipping $31.97
Discount $14.08
Total $324.99

I didnt want to go with the UP (united power) AFM/DOD lifters, but they arent in stock anywhere by OEM.

Any parts I am not thinking of hear?
Anyplace I might be able to get a better price?

Not doing a AFM/DOD delete, just a tune, and only pulling one head.
 

TollKeeper

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Looks like I can save a bit of money... Maybe on Amazon..

--Link Removed--

Comes out to $297.82

But again, no name lifters.
 
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TollKeeper

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Are the head gaskets the same side to side?????
 
Jul 6, 2014
9,237
Head gaskets are the same. I'd use oem exhaust manifold gaskets only because they are thicker... if you want to be really cheap you can reuse the head bolts and gaskets as per sloppy mechanics... :redface:
 

TollKeeper

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Although I am trying to stay ultra cheap, I dont want to jinx the rebuild. Since the Head Bolts are TTY, going with new. I just hope the Y-Pipe to Mani bolts, and mani to head, play nice.

But with the way this project is going.. I am not holding my breath.
 
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Mooseman

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Dec 4, 2011
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Ottawa, ON
Don't forget at least one push rod. Check the rocker too.

At least with Amazon, you can return the stuff free if the lifter bore is grenaded.

On Amazon, check for the warehouse deals. For example, the Fel Pro head bolts there is one at $19 instead of regular $24. The Fel Pro Exh manifold gaskets are half the price of the OEM (single vs. two). There is also one head gasket at $19 instead of $36 so saving on at least one gasket. I have had excellent luck on returned items. Sometimes they would say packaging is damaged but is actually unopened. saves a few bucks there.
 
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Reprise

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Jul 22, 2015
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The Fel Pro Exh manifold gaskets are half the price of the OEM (single vs. two).
That reminds me... I have an extra set (b/c I bought them thinking they were 'each', when I did the Sierra).

I'm going to use a different brand when I redo my exhaust, so I'd be happy to donate them to the cause, for the cost of shipping. If interested, PM me with your zip code, and I'll figure out what it'll cost to send them the cheapest way. Not that they're super expensive, but if it helps, I'll be glad to do it.

Also... IIRC, I've heard the FelPro head bolts are not the best for the application (like breakage or thread stripping... something like that). Which surprised me, actually, given their rep on gaskets and the like.
If you haven't ordered the bolts yet, and can find a different set, maybe get those instead.
(Mine were sourced from BTR, via Michigan Motorsports. I think they ran about $30 a side, a couple of years ago.)
BTW, the top ones can be reused (they only torque to 22ft-lb, IIRC, and they're not TTY).

Since you're going to be in the valley, I'd replace the knock sensors & sub harness, as cheap insurance. They're not supposed to be reused, so if you do remove them for some reason, new ones 'should' go in (note quote marks). Up to you. The sensors run about $18/ea (2), and the harness is similar. At least, they did a couple of years ago.
Also, since you've got the valley cover off, I'd replace the oil pressure sensor and the cam position sensor. They're easy to get to if the valley cover is off (and a nightmare if the intake manifold, etc., is installed.)

You're going to need a bunch of brake cleaner, and I found acetone to be one helluva solvent, when I did the Sierra's oil pan and valley cover. For the Brakleen, Amazon sells gallon jugs of the stuff -- pour it in a $1 spray bottle, and it'll be cheaper than a dozen cans. But you'll have to rub a little more, vs with the spray cans.
 
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