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I'm helping a friend get her 2005 Envoy back to good running condition since she couldn't afford the thousands of dollars (worth more than the truck) a shop quoted her for basically a whole front end suspension replacement minus the struts. 218,000 miles and seems to have had a rough life. She is the newest owner, maybe a year since buying it. Took a look at it, just a former track vehicle mechanic in the Army, and decided they overestimated it quite a bit.

Done so far:
Oil change
Spark plugs
Serpentine belt
Transmission fluid change (dropped pan, replaced filter and gasket)
Replaced rear diff fluid (through cover as fill plug was seized, attempted extraction)
Front upper control arms
Upper ball joints
Stabilizer bar links

Now for the problems (although there shouldn't have been any)

Control arms. Shop also quoted to do lower control arms and lower ball joints but I didn't find anything wrong with them. At first, I wanted to try to save her money by just replacing the bushings but felt without a real press to do this, it would be too much hassle than it was worth. Rockauto seemed to have the best deal for control arms so at least I still saved her money on parts. The passenger side went fine, but the driverside front bolt that was a PITA. It gave me a reason to buy an angle grinder to cut the fender well sheet metal, but hand to remove battery and tray to get access enough to cut a slot for the bolt to come out.

Rear differential fill plug. I'm so happy 6'4" Olaf from Northern Minnesota torqued this plug to Odin spec or that GM used the least corrosion-resistant metal plug they could find. I'm not one that uses or has pipe plug sockets and figured a 3/8" drive socket should remove it, right? Wrong! Sprayed liberally with some penetrating fluid, hit it with a hammer attempting to shock it. I kept at it with every method I had. 1/2" socket wrench on an adapter, 18" 1/2" breaker bar on adapter, and finally with no care left, a 1/2" impact (I know it was dumb). Now it has a stripped and seized plug. So ordered a new one at the dealer, picked up some screw extractor bit. Drilled hole through, hammered extractor in and tried turning. Nothing. Keep spraying fluid, but the problem is the end of the extractor is this tiny size which I don't have the right wrench size for. It's like a square 5/16" but probably metric. Irwin brand extractor. I'm using an adjustable wrench and its not ideal. A socket fits on there but its 12 pt and as soon as I turn it slips. So I get a propane torch and get everything nice and hot. Still won't budge. I figure I'm not using the right extractor bit for this job. I know the easiest thing to do is weld a nut on it but I have no welder or a need to own one. I've never tried the candle trick, and was also thinking of hammering in a T55 or larger hex or torx bit into it as that worked on getting a fill plug out on my Tacoma. I ended up leaving the extractor bit in as it did seal it and wasn't going to fall out, although I need to do something soon.

This plug and that control arm bolt kinda soured me on working on this truck. What should've been easy jobs ended up stretching the whole day and into the next. Not having drain plugs is weird, but I can see liability reasons for not having them, just sucks for the DIY'ers attempting maintenance with just hand tools.

Upper ball joints. Double checked at the store to make sure they had the right ones. Vehicle was exactly like hers, Autozone gives me ball joints with groves in them but her steering knuckle has no groves. The diameter was the same though, so installed them anyway. I figure the grooves or splines will just flatten anyways and its tight enough in there that it won't just spin around. Again another thing I figured I wouldn't have an issue having but wasn't really an issue, just a concern, Maybe it's just Autozone's fault or it really is how it is.

Next things to do:
Replace front brake pads
Replace front sway bar bushings
Flush brake fluid
Flush power steering fluid
Flush coolant
Replace battery

From what I can tell, I think this truck wasn't taken care of well after warranty and most things I'm replacing seem stock from the factory.

Some questions
Brake pads for this vehicle - Metallic, semi-metallic or ceramic. The owner complains about noise so I figure ceramic would be best but what about longevity? Also brands? Which brands for this vehicle are to be avoided and what brands are the best value?
Brake hardware - Worth it to replace guide pins and boots? Or more? Pads looked to have some life left, making me wonder if its something else
Calipers and pistons - How reliable are they on this truck? Any need to worry with 218k miles?
Sway bar bushings - Anything particular or just OEM best?
Brake fluid capacity - I want to remove as much old fluid as possible, whats recommended amount to have to flush and fill?
Power steering fluid type and capacity - Some cars spec ATF but are these just power steering fluid? How much for flush and fill?
Cooling system fluid and capacity - Figure I will get whatever's cheapest that mentions GM vehicles, anything better for the price? How many gallons should be sufficient for a flush?
No, I'm not using a machine or any pressure for any flushes, just old school methods. Looking at the quality of fluids, they should've been done years ago.
Struts and shock life - Whats the average miles these trucks need these done? I noticed some leaking on one but nothing severe.
 

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Chevy Trailblazer 2008 LTZ (4.2L)
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I will answer on the brake system.
If you believe that premature wear of the brake pads is caused by acidification of the caliper guides, then of course an inspection of this part is required.
(Maybe the anti-creak plates worked on the brake pads? And there was noise because of this?)
Remove the wheel, remove the brake caliper and make sure that the anthers of the guides are not damaged. Guides should move easily without jamming. If there is something wrong, remove them and remove the old grease, you should use the new grease GM P/N 93165631 (attention do not use copper grease !!!) To pump the brake system, it is possible to use DOT 4+ You may need about 2 liters to completely remove the old fluid from system.
GM 93165631.jpg

The main thing is to unscrew the valves on the calipers.
(This can be a headache)
Bleeding the brake system should begin
1. Right rear wheel
2. Left rear wheel
3. Right front wheel
4. Left front wheel
Do not forget to constantly add brake fluid to the reservoir.
I recommend buying you a Haynes repair manual, this will help you better understand what should be done when repairing a car.
 

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2004 gmc envoy_slt
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For the diff drain plug, did you try heating the plug area with a torch?
If this a 4x4 vehicle, do not forget to change the transfer case fluid and use only GM AutoTrak II fluid.
 

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2003 gmc envoy_sle
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As far as fixing the situation with your diff cover, assuming it has a cover, not being a Ford style rear end, you could take it to a welder to really heat it up, inside and out. If that doesn't work, the plug and the threaded part could be removed, and steel pipe parts can be welded to the cover. While there, you could have him do the same at the bottom, to drain the majority of the fluid for next time it needs a change. Or a trip to the junk yard to find another cover.
 

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You've got your hands full, beavis.
The brakes may squeak simply because there is no "brake disc quiet" lube installed. I'd replace the pads, front and back, and apply the lube that comes with them. I always keep an extra bottle on hand because they never give you enough. (I like to apply the goop to the the points that contact the back of the pad and watch the excess squish out. If I don't see excess, I assume I did not apply enough.) I use Powerstop brand and have good luck with them.

You'll want to use DexCool coolant. Not sure on your flushing method but my '03 L6 EXT takes 15.2 quarts in the cooling system.

I didn't see any mention of replacing the air and fuel filters.

Clean the throttle body? These vehicles are notorious for drivability issues because of a gummed up TB. There are a ton of discussions here to guide you through the process.

Shocks last 50k-100k miles. My ride still felt nice at 140k but decided to replace all four just cause it seemed like the right thing to do. WOW! I'm amazed how much better it was. I didn't feel them get bad because it happened SO gradually.

Have fun, Bud!
 

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You've got your hands full, beavis.
The brakes may squeak simply because there is no "brake disc quiet" lube installed. I'd replace the pads, front and back, and apply the lube that comes with them. I always keep an extra bottle on hand because they never give you enough. (I like to apply the goop to the the points that contact the back of the pad and watch the excess squish out. If I don't see excess, I assume I did not apply enough.) I use Powerstop brand and have good luck with them.

You'll want to use DexCool coolant. Not sure on your flushing method but my '03 L6 EXT takes 15.2 quarts in the cooling system.

I didn't see any mention of replacing the air and fuel filters.

Clean the throttle body? These vehicles are notorious for drivability issues because of a gummed up TB. There are a ton of discussions here to guide you through the process.

Shocks last 50k-100k miles. My ride still felt nice at 140k but decided to replace all four just cause it seemed like the right thing to do. WOW! I'm amazed how much better it was. I didn't feel them get bad because it happened SO gradually.

Have fun, Bud! 9apps
umm thanks for the reply

Even I had a similar kind of issue and doubt, thanks for solving it

Regards
 

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Rockauto seemed to have the best deal for control arms so at least I still saved her money on parts. The passenger side went fine, but the driverside front bolt that was a PITA. It gave me a reason to buy an angle grinder to cut the fender well sheet metal, but hand to remove battery and tray to get access enough to cut a slot for the bolt to come out.
I need to diick with the lower control arms of my '03. I would not have expected to have to cut sheet metal to do it. I guess I have something to look forward to, now.

Rear differential fill plug... ...Sprayed liberally with some penetrating fluid,
Total waste of time. Pipe thread is tapered, seals via thread deformation and by "stretching" the threaded hole it's screwed-into. It's a gas-tight seal, obviously liquid-tight since it wasn't leaking gear oil.

Therefore, penetrating oil cannot get between the threads. What doesn't evaporate, just leaves a puddle on the ground. Penetrating oil is USELESS on pipe thread.

picked up some screw extractor bit. Drilled hole through, hammered extractor in and tried turning. Nothing.
Now you can change the fluid AGAIN, since you put metal chips into the differential assembly when the bit broke through the end of the plug.

Keep spraying fluid
Still a waste of time.

So I get a propane torch and get everything nice and hot.
Propane without additional oxygen is not anywhere near hot enough. MAP-Pro is not hot enough. You need oxy-acetylene, or added oxygen with propane or MAP-Pro.

If the plug doesn't glow orange, it's not hot enough. Heat the PLUG not the housing. But now that you've drilled a hole through it, I'd suggest plugging the hole with a smaller pipe plug, screwed in fairly loose so the bare flame doesn't set fire to any gear grease or gear grease fumes in the housing.

I've never tried the candle trick,
Same as penetrating oil. The threads seal air-tight, liquid has NO chance of getting between them.

Autozone gives me ball joints with groves in them but her steering knuckle has no groves. The diameter was the same though, so installed them anyway. I figure the grooves or splines will just flatten anyways and its tight enough in there that it won't just spin around.
Seems very scary to me. I wish you had photos. Sounds like you got the wrong ball joints.

Next things to do:
Replace front brake pads
Easy. Last time I did that, I removed the calipers, blew the pistons into a fistfull of rags (so the piston didn't hit the other side of the caliper.) I cleaned the scuzz off the piston, cleaned the old fluid out of the caliper bore, removed the square-cut seal from the piston bore and then scraped my fingernail across the sides of the square-cut seal to peel off some crusty build-up. The seal had no cracks, seemed nicely flexible, so I put it right back into the freshly-cleaned caliper groove, and shoved the piston back into the bore after inflating the dust seal with a little-bit of compressed air.

I used Performance Friction "Carbon Metallic" brake pads. Most brake pads now are made in China or India; Performance Friction is made in Florida.

Flush brake fluid
Suck out most of the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir. Wipe the dark scuzz out of the reservoir as best you can with a paper towel, being careful to not tear the towel and leave paper inside.

Fill reservoir with fresh fluid of your choice. I avoid DOT 5 like the plague, but DOT 3 or 4 should be fine.

Crack the bleeder on the Right Rear caliper, let it drip into a drain pan until the fluid runs fresh 'n' virgin-pure. Refill reservoir as needed, but put the cap on the reservoir and on the can of fluid unless you're actually pouring from the can into the reservoir.

When the fluid at the RR is new-looking, close the bleeder screw, do the LR, RF, LF. They won't take as long, because most of the old contaminated fluid has gone out the RR bleeder screw.

Flush power steering fluid
MY '03 Trailblazer needed "Special" GM "Cold Climate" PS fluid to fix a PS whine. Expensive, but VERY worthwhile in my case.

At any rate, get a big drainpan, drop the PS return hose at the reservoir. Use a scrap piece of hose and a bolt, and a couple of clamps to seal the return fitting at the reservoir. Put the reservoir end of the return hose into a drainpan. Fill the reservoir, have a helper start the engine while you continue to pour fluid into the reservoir. When the fluid coming out of the hose into the drain pan looks virgin-new, shut off engine, reconnect hose to reservoir, top off fluid as needed.

Flush coolant
Don't forget upper and lower rad hoses, and heater hoses. At least the upper and lower rad hose clamps should be re-useable. Wonderful design--grip 'em with a pliers, they'll lock open until you're ready to reinstall 'em. Then tap 'em so the lock releases and they spring back to clamp the hose.

Brake pads for this vehicle - Metallic, semi-metallic or ceramic.
I use Carbon Metallic. But any pad shouldn't be noisy if they're installed properly and the rotor finish is acceptable.

Brake hardware - Worth it to replace guide pins and boots?
Inspect and see. The quick answer is to replace 'em. I examine stuff, and if it looks good and wasn't giving any problem...I re-use it. But then, I'm willing to take it apart again if I screw up. I do things on my own car I wouldn't do on a "customer" car.

Calipers and pistons - How reliable are they on this truck? Any need to worry with 218k miles?
I threw pads on my Trailblazer at about that mileage. Didn't worry about the calipers. No problems with 'em, and I've got another ~50K miles on it.

Mind you, I did tighten the adjustment on the park brake shoe on each side. Goofy design.

Sway bar bushings - Anything particular or just OEM best?
Given a choice, I always install Polyurethane bushings. Are you sure they're actually "bad"? I've seen more problems with the sway bar links than the sway bar bushings.

Brake fluid capacity - I want to remove as much old fluid as possible, whats recommended amount to have to flush and fill?
I'd buy two quarts. In actual practice, I buy it by the gallon and keep the container sealed. Rat Bastards are selling brake fluid in plastic bottles now, instead of metal cans. I use enough fluid to justify a gallon at a time.

Power steering fluid type and capacity How much for flush and fill?
I'd say three quarts. Maybe four. Buy four, return the unopened one if you need to.

Cooling system fluid and capacity - Figure I will get whatever's cheapest that mentions GM vehicles, anything better for the price? How many gallons should be sufficient for a flush?[/QUOTE]
I use Prestone Universal Lifetime fluid in my vehicles. For fook's sake, do not buy "50/50 Premixed" coolant. Buy "Pure" anti-freeze, then mix it yourself with distilled water. Look at the owner's manual, determine how many quarts the cooling system takes. Put one quart of pure antifreeze into the overflow bottle, put the rest into the radiator after draining the system. Top off with distilled water as needed. That way you KNOW that all the antifreeze needed is installed.

Too often, guys "flush" a cooling system but don't drain it properly afterwards, so there's "trapped" flush water in the bottom of the block. They install "50/50 Premix" in the radiator, which then is diluted by all the water that DIDN'T drain out of the block. Freeze protection is then marginal and leads to (expensive) problems.

Struts and shock life - Whats the average miles these trucks need these done? I noticed some leaking on one but nothing severe.
If it leaks, it's in need of replacement. Mine are still OK at 250K. Or, at least I'm not seeing the leaks, and it still rides decently.

I recommend buying you a Genuine GM "official" repair manual, this will help you better understand what should be done when repairing a car.
FIFY. Haynes and Chiltons are good for "emergency" toilet paper.

You've got your hands full, beavis.
LOL

You'll want to use DexCool coolant. Not sure on your flushing method but my '03 L6 EXT takes 15.2 quarts in the cooling system.
Some folks are truly allergic to any thought of "DeathCool" or "DexSludge". I've used it successfully. That said...I like the "Universal Lifetime" stuff because I don't have to keep track of which coolant I used in which vehicle.


I didn't see any mention of replacing the air and fuel filters.
Good catch.
 
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Grooves in the tie rod ends and similar pieces are for grease retention up in the tapered area.
Brakes, Akibono, and NAPA's best, are both made in the USA. NAPA's best rotors are chemically treated on all surfaces against rust. Handy is the car is going to sit some. Just from sitting for awhile, rust ruined perfectly good brakes on my Envoy.
 

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Grooves in the tie rod ends and similar pieces are for grease retention up in the tapered area.
Why would a tapered stud in a tapered hole NEED "grease retention"? They're designed so the stud doesn't move in the tapered hole--the taper creates a "press fit" when tightened, specifically to prevent the two pieces from moving independent of each other.

I'd still like to see photos. I've never seen a tapered stud for a ball joint or tie rod end that had grooves. Makes me wonder what I'm misunderstanding.
 

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Why would a tapered stud in a tapered hole NEED "grease retention"? They're designed so the stud doesn't move in the tapered hole--the taper creates a "press fit" when tightened, specifically to prevent the two pieces from moving independent of each other.

I'd still like to see photos. I've never seen a tapered stud for a ball joint or tie rod end that had grooves. Makes me wonder what I'm misunderstanding.
Removal.
 
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