Salvaging a Rainier- Eventually a GranSport

Gutless

Well-Known Member
#1
So I winter bombed an l67 swapped 4th gen for a few winters and I just cant do it anymore. Bought a durango with a blown motor and fixed it last winter and didnt really like it. Stumbled on this 04 Rainier 6 weeks ago and have been slowly putting it back together.

5.3, 180K, virtually EVERY option, power pedals, memory heated seats, nav, onstar, satradio, sunroof, bose super stero. 3.73's posi. Not bad overall. Smacked a deer, body shop bought it at an insurance auction, found out its NOT a trailblazer and its tough to find some of the parts and sold it to me, the idiot, haha. Hopefully it will get me to campus every day during the winter and still allow me to haul around my fturd and cutlass when I need to.








PS pump return was broke, AC pump clutch was toast so their both fixed.



Turned the nasty scored rotors (since Im a wannabe machinist and cheap)


Hacked, pulled, pushed, and cleaned. Original core support that has been pushed as close as to where I think it should be.


As it sits now
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#2
So the plan is to get some of the last parts ordered and get the front end wrapped up. Still need a grill and lower battery support (kinda hard to find actually)

Im taking the CXL badge (because whats that mean?) and since its a V8 im going to 3d print up some GranSport badges and put one on the hatch and one on each front door. Going to drive it this winter and address what else needs to be done. If the suspension is shot it will probably get the belltech lowering setup. Otherwise its staying stock. It it was boosted I would get some Grand national badges for it but its not and im not a poser (even though it is black).

If i stumbled on a pickup blower setup I would put it on here and get my 3400 stall converter I have laying around but the day after my trans would blow up and it would be nice to have a reliable DD for once.
 
#5
Should be able to grab a lower battery support from any GMT360 I would think.
 
#6
Have you checked www.car-part.com ? I found a dozen or so grills in USA and Canada. Even if it's not local, I'm sure you could get it shipped.
 

Boricua SS

Well-Known Member
#8
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#9
Grill isnt a huge deal, theres one in cedar falls ia ive considered getting for 250 but im not going to be driving this until the snow falls so ive got 5 months realistically to hunt one down. Just stupid that I can get brand new headlights loaded off rockauto for like $140 but I cant get a grill for under 250.

I was speaking about the lower support part that attaches to the fender. I ordered one and it showed up to be a generic dorman tray they probably used in cars and vans but nothing that bolts to the fender. I already had the lid thing ordered and that showed up right. I swore I found the support on rockauto a few weeks ago and cant find it now. Im really afraid to order one anywhere now because it will probably show up wrong. Me being unobservant the salvage yard I stopped at Saturday for the hood just so happened to have the fan shroud and I didnt realize it til now.

Only thing frustrating is that its a v8 buick and not a I6 TB, everyone assumes they are the same and they arent. First radiator was ordered as a v8 one and showed up as an I6. Same went for the rad fan shroud and now this battery tray is a generic part.

I can drive 60 miles and get one of the battery trays for $25 from a salvage yard or just get that one on tbss. Not sure what im doing yet, haha.

My parts list currently is a grill, drivers inner fender, battery support, v8 fan shroud, turn signal bulb bases, and a few other random stuff. Got half of the stuff located just gotta send the money or press order I guess.

Whole point of this? I dont want to do this anymore.



And this ends up like this WAY to often.
 
#10
For cross referencing parts between different models, you could always go to http://parts.nalleygmc.com/ and look up the part numbers for different models for the same part. Crazy thing is that the battery tray for an I6 TB is $35 but for the Rainier it's $147! :crazy:



Whole point of this? I dont want to do this anymore.

That's what I said last time I did this with my TB but I did finish it.
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#11
Got the AC working (after finding a mysterious leak, blown fuse, and bad seal), got most of the lights working (after finding blown fuses, bulbs, and modifying bulb sockets for the turn signals), changed the trans fluid, Tcase oil, hung and fit the bumper, and some other random stuff. Messed around with getting the coolant system air bled.

Overall my little test drive went well. The trans fluid stunk pretty bad and there was a decent amount of gunk on the magnet. Not sure if the trans is on the way out or if just that its a 180K trans and thats what its going to look like. Trans shifts a little wierd. Feels like it goes out of gear, waits, and then goes into the next gear. Ive gotta glance at the tune and see if something is just laggy because its a buick and its LUXURY or its just wore out.



Dont see it here but it looks like it sits WAY high in the back. Its only an inch higher but it feels like im going downhill all the time.
 
#12
If it has airbags, the rear can be adjusted via the sensor arms although these trucks usually have a forward rake to them.

Anyway, it looks like it on its way to a full recovery.
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#13
Ive gotta replace the airbags before I do anything though. The ones on it leak fast enough that its not worth setting anything. Might lower it a tad in the back. Saw the belltech lowering kit is 325 now and its a nobrainer to get but I told myself im not modding it for at least 6 months. :smile:

Vehicle is sitting until august. Going to do a little here and there, buff the paint, paint the bumper, find a grill, change the airbags, clean the interior a bit more, align the front end just a tad more. Change the front diff fluid too. I needed to get it out of the garage since Im going to an overdrive trans in my Olds before I go to the Carcraft summernats and it would be nice to get my fturd fixed so i can take that to college again this fall until the snow flies.

Otherwise i'm pleased as a pumpkin! Totally wasnt expecting to be at this point already. Thought Id take all summer to compile parts but it sits all together now.
 
#14
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#15
So the little stuff has been finished. Bumper fits better now, had to build some brackets and screw the fender to the bumper since it had elafant ears and hung out on each side. Dropped the spare tire (took like half an hour to find out how to get the wrench end into the winder), and when it was off the tire was flat, go figure, so its staying off. Found where the leak is in my airbags so that answers my question. Rad fan and shroud is in place, AC works intermitently, got the battery tray in and all together. Fit the drivers inner fender, and fixed the glass hatch part not opening.

Body shop i bought it from painted the bumper cover in flat black, not sure if its primer/sealer or what but its close enough to not care about painting it this winter. If I paint it im doing the hood and getting the slight dent in the door/fender fixed. But its really not bad at all. Black on a black vehicle is okay with me.

Just need a grill and rear air bags. Bags take like 4 days to drain out anyways so if I drive it every day its okay. Tires are almost gone too but I havnt decided if Im going to get a set of Saab 18" for it since the ones on it now are really corroded so im going to hold off til I either get stuck this winter or until next spring when I hunt down new wheels.

And I gotta figure out how to disable that damn auto seat memory feature. Every time I get in it and start it it slams me into the dash. Previous owner was definitely not 6'2". And what was the GM engineering department thinking when they designed the seats in this thing? Did they build the thing for children or contortionists? The adjustable pedals would allow a 3ft tall person to drive it.


 

Matt

Silver Supporter
#16
With the seat memory, do you have the DIC with steering wheel controls? If so, it's in the menu...just turn it off.
 

Paul Bell

Silver Supporter
#17
Hey Gutless, that Rainer certainly looks better than when you got it!

Since noboby's mentioned it since you said it in post 9, the engine is a 5.3 litre LS engine, usually considered a Chevy engine. And the battery tray is GM number 15080344 for all years and engines of all these trucks, GMC, Chevy, Olds, Buick, Isuzu, etc. They run around 30 bucks.
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#18
Still waiting on a grille. They randomly dried up on car-part and got expensive. Theres one for $250 that has sand pitting and im hesitant to spend that on an unknown good part. Spent some time doing a final interior cleaning, and fixing the switch panel on the drivers seat. Gotta get the glove box door fixed too, raises up if you bump it.

But otherwise its been sitting at home until it snows and I put the fireturd away for the winter. Theres still some T-top off time left in the season.

Kinda looking forward to seeing how the 300hp AWD with posi deals in the ice. Tires on it arent shot but arent good either.
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#21
So the little ive drove it theres a few things ive noticed.

Steering is tight but the steering effort is very low and ratio is slow. My cutlass has a fast ratio steering box and has some slop but the steering feel is very firm and fast. Firebird has a very high steering effort and fast ratio rack so its quick too. Just a completely different feel with this, seems like lock to lock takes forever and the effort is so low I dont really notice when I move the wheel and it swerves too easy. Not sure if an SS rack is faster or what. If it is and I ever replace the rack its getting a faster ratio.

1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd shift is a little soft/slow. Not sure if I can just quicken it up in HPtuners a bit or like I thought before the trans is just wore out. Im used to the firm shifts in my firebird and cutlass so its just different with this.

Ive either got a warped rotor or my front rotors are tuned a bit off paralell. I didnt have the fixturing to chuck the rotors like I wanted so I grabbed them and indicated off the pad surface. Plus one of them was under spec so its not like I was out much. Gotta get a set of new rotors for the front.

Rear air bags still need replacement

Glove box door latch is wore out or the locating pin is missing so it always wants to open

My 2 key fobs I got when I bought the car dont work, or they didnt program. Did the key switch on, key on/off twice and hold the lock/unlock button at the same time and it didnt do anything. Even tried the one off my firebird (97) and it didnt do anything. So im not sure what the story behind that is.

And I should pick up bags for the rear too.

And a blower kit, headers, 3400 stall converter..... :smile:
 
#22
The tranny in these trucks are tuned pretty soft. For a more satisfactory result, I would recommend a shift kit. If you want to go with the tune, then you probably would want the level 3 firmness. Level 2 is OK but you would probably want 3. Also get rid of torque management.

For the bags, I've read that they can be replaced with normal springs and eliminate the bag system. I think there is an article here somewhere. A set from a junker would probably work well.

For the key fobs, did you try replacing the batteries? One common problem with them is the battery clip/tab that breaks off or comes unsoldered. Dirty contacts too. A light rub on the contacts with a burnishing brush or very fine sandpaper on the gold coloured contacts will help. Use some contact cleaner on the carbon contacts.

Anyway, it sure is looking good!
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#23
Minor updates!

Got arnott bags and new delco front rotors. Replaced the drivers airbag and passenger front rotor and the breaks dont pulse anymore and the rear doesnt sag. So I have another bag and rotor laying around, haha!

Only annoying thing is when it starts after sitting a while it has a real loud buzzing/jackhammer sound coming from like the middle of the dash. After like 20 seconds it gets quiet and continues for another 40 seconds or so and then shuts off. Wont happen all the time, only after extended periods of sitting.
 
#24
Possibly air mode actuator for the HVAC system.
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#27
Definitely tracked down my rattling sound from the dash on start up. I only have air coming from the dash vents and switching it doesnt make a change. My guess is a pen got dropped down the defroster vents and jammed in the vent door and now the motor is stripped out. So i gotta tear the dash apart this thanksgiving and see if I can pull the door actuator out and see if theres something stuck.

And I dont have AWD. I checked and the front diff isnt blown, the front tires turned the driveshaft, tcase isnt locking. Called 2 dealers to try to get a tech 2 on it and see if there was a code or what. There has not been a service AWD light. One dealer told me it would be over 2 weeks before they could look at it, the other said it would be a week and were determined I was a moron and I didnt just want the tech 2 hooked up, they thought I needed the system "thoroughly inspected" which required ohm testing all senors and examining wiring.

So I found a place that was willing to plug in a tech 2. I got 2 history codes, C0306, Motor circuit malfunction, C0327, encoder circuit malfunction, and C0347, encoder channel B input circuit high. I changed the tcase fluid when I bought it. So its been snowy so im going to run back to the shop this week and see if there is any codes that return. Im assuming the encoder motor is broke or stuck in 2wd. It would be nice if somebody would just try to run the encoder motor though its motion and see if its bad. At least they told me to bring it back once it got a bit more slippy out so they could see if it throws any new codes without charge so theres that. Im assuming the encoder motor is stuck, its a 190K mile vehicle.

And my tires are not ice comfortable. So i need to hunt down a set. The one rotor and one bag replacement solved both problems. Still have the other new bag and rotor laying around too, haha!

Otherwise its been good. If I fixed my traction issue and got the annoying 30 seconds of ratcheting sound on startup id be happy!
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#28
Ended up changing the encoder motor and it fixed the 4wd. It is a lot better in the snow. Was almost useless. If I bought new tires it would be awesome in the snow. Its got highly worn tires on it now.

Also contorted myself under the dash and replaced the vent mode actuator. Old one was locked up and dumped all the air flow out the face vents. Not to mention the 3 minute jackhammer sound out of the dash on startup.
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#29
So i pulled the intake off to put my supercharger on.

OK, not really. Oil pressure sensor went out earlier this week. Im home for winter break so I decided I should get it done while its easy. I coudlnt get my fat hands on the sensor so I just pulled the intake. It only takes like 2 hours and I was able to clean the intake flanges out. Blew another $75 on intake gaskets I wouldnt have done if I could have got the socket on the sensor but it wasnt that bad. Man those intake ports are carbony. Catch can-maybe.

 

Paul Bell

Silver Supporter
#30
I would HIGHLY reccomend upgrading to the LS6 PCV system.

http://ls1howto.com/index.php?article=18

My intake ports looked much worse than yours from oil contanimation due to the crappy stock PCV system on these trucks. You'll also need to get the oil gunk out from the intake manifold.

Here's the LS6 valley cover after installation, I also did the "four corner" cooling with a LS1 coolant manifold:
 
#31
*Soapbox mode on*
Here's what pisses me off. GM had the ability to make the LS1 better by using the LS6 PCV system at maybe just a little more cost. They knew how to fix it but no, just keep putting out a crappy design and we'll keep buying them.
*Soapbox mode off*

Great info. Definitely something I can tackle on mine as I do have some oil consumption issues. Could also be DOD, which I'll eventually get disabled with a tune.
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#32
Parked in the truck parking today, yeah, im cool. :cool:

Towed it 250 miles or so. Drove down to pick it up at 68 and got 13 or so mpg. Loaded it up and drove home at 60 and got 13 or so. Got more than enough power, good breaks, only bad thing is randomly sways. Not bad swaying, just have to stay on top of it.

Dont need no diesels! Car is a tin can though, its got a 5.3, th400 and 9", and thats it.

 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#33
So the reduced engine power light has randomly came on and off twice. But otherwise it hasnt been bad.

This winter has been unusally warm and no snow so my nearly bald tires havnt been a problem. It snowed today, so its a mix between fun and no, im not trying to powerslide, its just doing that.

300hp locking diffs and AWD can make you go anywhere, but turning and stopping not so much
 
#34
Get a code reader to see if you can see any historical and pending codes. If the REP kicked in, it should have stored a code. So far, the best code reader to get at a reasonable price is an ELM327 Bluetooth interface and the Car Gauge Pro app for Android. It reads all codes, including ABS, Body, Airbag, etc., as well and Powertrain. It should be able to read stored codes.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=Scantech.CarGaugePro&hl=en
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#35
I have hptuners but im afraid it will store as a non powertrain control and I wont be able to scan it. Ill probably take my cable out today and see if there is any codes.

I have the bluetooth phone app with the blue $15 bluetooth OBD2 scanner I have used with the torque app but the free app leaves a bit to be desired. I might have to try that good app.
 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#39
I am planning on designing and CNCing up a lower blower manifold for LS engines so you can take cobra blowers and fit them on LS's for under $1000. I traded a front G body suspension for a core 5.3 a month ago to jig it up. Turned out the 5.3 was real nice and just needed a cam and a lifter. This iron headed 6.0 came up with the front drive stuff for $200 that I snapped up thinking I could stick that 5.3 crank and rods and heads onto this 6.0 and run it in something. Turned out the 5.3 I bought had the strong Gen IV rods and the 6.0 is real nice. Took the heads off to find it still had cross hatching in it and its real clean. Only bad thing is it got cast iron heads.

So im at a crossroads, throw my 706 heads from the 5.3 or find some 317's to put on my 6.0, or throw the gen IV rods on my 6.0 pistons and find a set of LS3 heads and make a 1000hp 6.0.

Its not ending up in the Rainier though. :/

 
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Gutless

Well-Known Member
#40
Its just a scratched up engine hauler!

Ended up with a 72-74 porche 914 engine basically free. Finally sold it but I gotta haul it around this week.


And I gave it a badly needed wash.