NASCAR News: Silverado Report

What You Need to Know About Hybrids Before Doing Collision Repair

by Craig VanBatenburg, AAM October 14, 2003 4:42 PM EDT (2042 GMT)

This month, let’s look at the Chevy CK1500 pickup with the 4.3 V-6 engine. The 5.7 is still around, after the 5.0 was discontinued around year 2000, but the 4.3 is very popular. The half-ton pickup is one of Chevrolet’s best sellers.

Has the 2003 CK1500 half-ton pickup, now called a Silverado, become easier to service than its 7-year-old brother? How good was the design back in 1996? To find out, I interviewed many Chevy dealer and independent techs. Once you know the usual trouble spots and a few tricks, it becomes a good truck to service. None of the techs had a lot to complain about, but little has been done to make this truck easier to service.

The fuel pumps still wear out prematurely and the No. 3 spark plug is still blocked by the steering shaft. The ground connections still lose their contact early on. Valve covers leak oil and the rear parking brakes with rear disks are poorly done.

Two improvements have been made over the years: the PCM has been moved under the hood near the battery, making it much more serviceable, and balance shafts were added to smooth out the vibrations. This was needed to stay up with the competition. Is a complete redesign coming? Not for awhile, but there may be a hybrid version when GM goes back to the drawing board.

When techs are asked if things “could get better,” yes is always their answer. Do GM engineers think about the service problems when redesigning their vehicles? I think the answer is “not often, if ever.”

Why didn’t they move the 4.3 ahead six inches and give access to this little V-6, seeing as they had so much room under the hood? Why keep the rear disk/drum system when it is so prone to fail? Get rid of the disk brakes and go back to drums. The overall design is OK, but it is always easier to design something bigger than smaller. Let’s hope when the Silverado goes thorough a complete redesign, the technicians have a say as to where components are placed and what systems are used to make this truck easier to service.

One final note about this serviceability column: please remember that the comments here are always the technician’s opinion of these cars and trucks, not the OEM’s.

Pros and cons

The new Silverado needs an overhaul. It is good but not improved for the technician. The 4.3 needs to move 6 inches ahead when redesign comes up. It is hard to fault a design that has lasted so long, but with trucks soon coming under the same guidelines as cars for safety and emissions, this truck will have to undergo many changes, most likely from the ground up. I hope GM looks at serviceability and takes a big step forward and not backward when the new Silverado is designed.

Craig Van Batenburg, AAM, has been the owner and lead technician of Van Batenburg’s Garage Inc. in Worcester, Mass., for more than 25 years. He is ASE master and L1 certified. His specialties are Hondas and Acuras, with a deep backround in Asian technology. Van Batenburg is also the owner of the Automotive Career Development Center, www.auto-careers.org, and delivers management and technical seminars nationwide.

Automotive Service Association (ASA) and AutoInc. Magazine. All rights reserved.