How I saved $40,000+ on fantastic tow vehicle

Questions about towing your boat or boats that can be towed.

How I saved $40,000+ on fantastic tow vehicle

Postby Mischief Managed » Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:11 am

I live in the north east US where cars and trucks tend to rust out long before they wear out. IT drives me nuts to retire a vehicle with a perfectly good drive train solely because of rust. I decided to try and find a solution last Spring and think I nailed it.

I did some research and discovered that GMC/Chevy trucks with the LBZ code Duramax diesel engine/6 speed Allison transmission are the perfect blend of reliability, power and simplicity. The LBZ engine has lots of power, re-designed (reliable) injectors and no DEF. IT has all the fixes of the newest Duramax engines without the emissions stuff. LBZs were made from 2006.5 to 2007.5, so they are a little hard to find.

I started searching for a one-owner, well-maintained, unmodified, LBZ-equipped, "high mileage" (150,000 to 200,000), non-smoker, no-accident-history truck, in states where rust is not a problem. These engines and transmission can easily last 500,000 miles so it made sense to me to save money by buying one with 200k on the clock. After a month-long search, I found the perfect truck on craigslist in Denver, CO; a 2007 GMC Sierra 2500HD SLT Classic crew cab short-bed 4x4. I emailed the owner his claims meant that the truck met all my criteria. I ran a carfax on it and learned he was telling the truth. I happen to have a friend in Denver that knows trucks and he test drove it for me to confirm that it was as good as I had hoped. He acted as my agent when I bought it with a bank check that I'd sent him, and sent the title to me in the mail. I paid $18,700. The NADA average retail value was over $25,000 at the time. The truck had 181,000 miles at the time of purchase.

Once I owned the truck, I registered it and insured it; and then booked cheap air (148 bucks each) and flew out to Denver with my wife and picked up the truck. We spent 5 great days driving it back home and doing a little sight-seeing on the way. It was an excellent road trip. I used hotel points for lodging on the trip home too.

The only issues I've had:

1. The truck has a New Venture transfer case that is susceptible to "pump rub" leaks. I knew this going in and installed a kit ( ... e-kit.aspx) to prevent the problem, shortly after getting the truck home. Turns out my transfer case was still like-new and would have taken years to start leaking, but I have piece of mind now. The work was very easy. Parts and fluids cost around $100 and it took me 4 hours to do the work.

2. The truck suffered from "frame beaming", a problem addressed in a TSB (GM Campaign # PIT3009J) that recommends two new rear cab mounts (70 bucks each). They took about 20 minutes to install.

I've used my truck to tow my boat all Summer and I love it. It's ridiculously powerful and tows the boat effortlessly. A new one with the same options would be at least 60 grand. I expected to hate driving it unloaded, but I have found that I enjoy driving it all the time. My 18 year-old daughter loves driving it too.
Raymond NH, USA

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Re: How I saved $40,000+ on fantastic tow vehicle

Postby nawtical1 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:05 am

With our boating lifestyles as expensive as they are, its good to be able to save a few $$$ somewhere. Seems like you saved a bunch.
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Re: How I saved $40,000+ on fantastic tow vehicle

Postby jacobske » Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:11 am

I bought an LBZ Duramax in 2010 (was 2006 model). It's been great for towing and some daily driving as well. They are currently in such high demand that prices are actually going up... Since I haven't towed in 2 years, I'm actually toying with selling it.
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Re: How I saved $40,000+ on fantastic tow vehicle

Postby Nautical » Tue Sep 08, 2015 4:47 pm

I don't mean to scare anybody but my friend did the very same thing with his 06 (same 1/2 year better Duramax thing, etc.) and he ended up having so many issues that a thousand miles from home he ended up trading it for a brand new Ford. His was "chipped" so maybe that's why but the 3 scenarios they gave for why it was leaking coolant all involved removing the cab to get at the engine and even if it was as simple as freeze plugs, it was a $5k repair.

This might just be one story and an isolated incident but I thought I'd throw it out there. New trucks are priced so high they're just about unreachable by an everyday Joe so you're doomed either way it seems.
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