USA Car Season End Event in Southern Estonia – Suburban Made It!

A week ago a nice event took place in Southern part of Estonia which is more than 200 kilometres away from the capital where we live. Ofcourse we wanted to go. However, the weather was not good enough to take the Corvette because I never drive it intentionally into rainy weather. And since it’s Autumn, you can NEVER know where some rain might show up and ruin your day. So, since we have only one more American car left in our “fleet”, the other option was the Suburban.

It wasn’t too easy to make it, though! The Suburban had been messing up the whole Summer and since we didn’t drive it very much and had a busy Summer by all means, we didn’t take it to repair. One of the big issues was starter and everything related – it often made terrible noise when cranking and the bendix didn’t want to retract automatically when engine started so that caused an even worse noise. I had the whole starting system fail on me several times during Summer and I fixed it by re-aligning the starter myself and retightening the bolts. I knew it was just a very temporary solution anyway.

The other thing was rear differential – I knew there was something wrong because it made gear noise when coming to a halt and especially in right turns. We first thought that a bearing could be worn, but that wasn’t it.

1997 Chevrolet Suburban in Repair ShopA week before the event I finally took the Suburban to repair. Pretty soon the problem with the starter was diagnosed – the flywheel was out of alignment and was therefore floating up and down by about 2 millimetres. That’s quite a lot. So, the transmission had to be removed and then they could figure out whether the flywheel itself was bad or perhaps the crankshaft out of center instead…

Once everything was apart, the fault was found to be in the flywheel. Since I already replaced that about one and a half years ago, it must have been simply a faulty part from the beginning and finally messed up the starter and ate its teeth so it couldn’t start properly anymore. The flywheel was sent to Finland for warranty and a new one was installed on the Suburban. That was fine, thank god. The bendix on the starter was also destroyed so a new one had to be installed as well. That pretty much concluded the starting system repairs. Everything was put back together and worked flawlessly.

Now the rear differential was much more painful. The differential case was somehow broken! Don’t ask how – the only heavier job I did with this truck was towing some slightly heavier than normal trailers but that could have only finished up an already messed up differential, not destroy a well working thing.1997 Chevrolet Suburban in Repair Shop Anyway, we had to find a new rear diff. Brand new GM parts are too expensive to order here and therefore we had to find a good used part. In fact, we found a rear end from a K1500 Tahoe which was a 4×4 and wanted to replace the whole rear end to eliminate any possibilities that my Suburban’s rear end could have been faulty somewhere. However, it just didn’t fit properly. Strange that the 4×4 rear end is just a tiny bit wider than the 2WD.  Fortunately, the differential itself was a perfect fit. The diff was found to be in good shape and therefore we replaced just that. The diff is a G80 with Auburn full locking system. Rear end was assembled back together and the oil with special LSD oil additive was poured in.

That repair really made a huge difference to this vehicle. The engine starts up like new, the drive is very smooth and there is no gear noise whatsoever. I’m very happy that it worked out like this.

1997 Chevrolet Suburban driving on Estonian roadSo, we got the car just a day before the Southern Estonia event and were able to drive it there the next day. The event was nice but I wouldn’t consider it anything too special. Just a lot of such cars we don’t see very often in Tallinn and ofcourse a nice long cruise on the hilly roads. The weather was nice, too. We stopped at a barn where one of the Estonian Cadillac Club members keeps his cars collection. It was quite a nice set of cars, really.

So, a nice day all in all and certainly well worth the money spent :)

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