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What to look for in buying a K5?

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by Hoss, Oct 7, 2001.

  1. Hoss

    Hoss Registered Member

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    Location:
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    When I was 18 I had a 79 Blazer 4x4 with a 4 inch lift. I loved it but ended up selling it. Anyways, its been several years and now I have a good job and I would like to get another one for fun.

    Unless someone gives me some good reasons, I'm pretty set on getting a 79 again. I found that this particular year was very easy to get parts for. Not just engine/suspenstion parts, but for body and interior parts too. At least from all the various catalogs I have it seems the 79 is good for getting parts.

    But, I don't want to waste money and want to make sure I get the best I can for what I plan to do with it. This won't be a daily driver or anything, pretty much just for fun. I will off road with it quite a bit, but nothing too crazy. Lots of mud and some minor air. I plan to lift it several inches and put on very large tires (38+ inch).

    I have a few main questions, and am also looking for any advice for any area of my project, even stuff I didn't think to ask about. I'm fairly experinced with auto mechanics as far as road vehicles, but am not that experienced with off roading. The most I've done is installing a 4 inch lift per the instructions on my first 79 Blazer.

    So, some questions:

    1) Am I wrong to look for just a 79? Is there a better year to be looking for that has the same body style?
    2) Which engine should I be looking for? I'm thinking a 350 but would like to hear your thoughts.
    3) What kind of running gear stuff should I be looking for? Like axels, transfer cases, transmissions, brakes, etc? If you suggest anything specfic, please let me know how to identify it as well.
    4) What are good tire sizes for an 8 inch lift? How about a 12 inch lift?
    5) Whats a good brand for tires for a truck like this?
    6) What are some specfic Blazer things I should look for when finding a Blazer to buy? Like common weak spots that might have failed, certain models/options that dont lend to lifting, or certain models/options that are good to have with a lifted truck, etc.
    7) Please provide me with any stores and/or shops in the Seattle, WA area (within say, 50 mile radius) that you feel are good places to goto for parts or service for a lifted Blazer.
    8) Please provide me with names of companies you feel make some great parts for the Blazer. Everything from engine parts, to suspension/lift kits, to brakes, etc. If they are not in Seattle, WA area, companies with internet or catalog sales would be best.
    9) Any other suggestions you may have. At this point I'm mostly looking for feedback about making sure I get the right Blazer and finding compaines and parts so I can start researching my options for what I want to do with it once I get it. I know I want a lift, but not sure how big I want or anything. I know I want to rebuild the engine and clean/restore chassis and body. But again, nothing specfic at this point.

    Sorry to ask all these questions, but I don't have any friends that are really into this stuff and I want to make sure I'm going down the right path. I really want to avoid buying a Blazer and later finding out I should have got some specfic axel or engine serial #.

    Thanks for any help you can give me!

    -Chris
     
  2. DMK

    DMK 1/2 ton status

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    Look for rust. Tires depends on what it is used for. Would go no more than 6 inch lift on blazer. Really any year from 69-91.
    If doing mods I would look for all stock blazer than you know whats done and how it's done. 87-91 blazers are fuel injected.
     
  3. xnoahx

    xnoahx 1/2 ton status

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    Location:
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    Its pretty easy to get parts for all the blazers. There are 4 basic designs to the blazers. There is the first gen 69-72 all with fully removable tops and a different body style than your 79. There are the 73-75 which have the same body as your 79 but are also full convertable. The 76-80 are all pretty much like your 79 was. In 81 they switched to a smoother front end but the rest of the truck stayed much the same untill 89 when they switched to a different grill.

    Some other things to consider are smog laws in your state. When i was looking for a blazer I wanted a 69-73 because they were smog exempt and i wanted to be able to do whatever i wanted to the engine. The newer blazer you buy, the more smog crap will be on the engine making a bit more difficult to work on the engine.

    My 73 K5 <a target="_blank" href=http://www.geocities.com/xk5blazerx/73k5.htm>http://www.geocities.com/xk5blazerx/73k5.htm</a> 350/TH350/NP203, Q-jet, Edelbrock intake, Vortec heads, 4" lift, and 36" TSL's
     
  4. rocko

    rocko 1/2 ton status

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    Location:
    Ellsworth, Maine
    Honest opinion...
    Go for the 89-91 model... The Throttle Body Injection(TBI) on these are super-reliable and there are many after-market upgrades for the TBI.. The 89-91's get decent gas mileage if you're light on the gas.. I'm getting 17-18 mpg on mine.. at 65 and cruise control set..
    I'm extremely happy with my 89 and my 83 Blazer's.. But the 89 is my daily driver.. and the 83 is my off-road toy..


    I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work. www.rocko.rockcrawler.com
     
  5. Can Can

    Can Can Pusher Man Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Location:
    Cochrane, Alberta, Canada
    Since it sounds like you're going to use this truck mostly for fun, I guess the body probably isn't a big deal. If you like your rigs to look good, follow DMK's advice and take a good look for rust. Mechanical repairs are one thing, but a bad body can be a real problem. Take a look at the floor replacement article on the main page.......

    350s are great motors. Parts are cheap and there's a million mods you can do to boost performance. I agree with Rocko about the TBI thing as well. And along the same lines, the newer TBIs probably won't have many smog issues.

    My 84 is pretty much stock, but it seems to me that 12 inches of lift is a little overboard. It seems that a lot of guys run 4- 6" lifts with 36-38" tires, and these guys play REAL hard!!! The axle combo of choice is a Dana60 front with a FF14bolt rear. This much I've figured out from all the reading I've done. A lot of guys still use 10 bolts without encountering a lot of trouble though. There's alot of discussion about the best transfer case- some guys say 203, some guys say 205. That said, lots of guys have 208s and 241s. I really don't know enough about TCs to give you an educated opinion. Try to find a circular red tag on the rear of the transfer case- that will give you model number. There's also a great axle ID chart on this site somewhere.

    The weak spot that comes up over and over again is the mounting holes for the power steering box. I believe ORD sells a patch to deal with the problem. They also sell a great steering box brace to help keep it from flexing around.

    I guess a lot of the stuff I'm telling you is the basics. Probably the best thing to do is to figure out EXACTLY what you want the truck for, and go from there.......




    <font color=blue> WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER<font color=blue>
     
  6. muddin4fun

    muddin4fun 3/4 ton status

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    I have a '79 with a 4" lift.....but I'm not selling it [​IMG]. '79 is one of my favorite years. I think the grill with that front end was the best looking one. Also, in my state, it's pretty much smog exempt which is what I was also looking for and a lot of higher performance crate motors were made from blocks that included '79 blocks.

    You want to check where the steering box bolts to the frame for cracks. If there is one, it's not a disaster, but it'll need to be fixed so just keep that in mind with what the seller is asking. Rust on the cab around the door is normal, but be wary of excessive rust. The top of the cab could be rusted pretty good too, so look at that. You will also want to pull back the carpet and check for rust on the floor boards. Again, there could be some, but if it's excessive then you would decide if it's something you would want to repair and also another thing to consider with the asking price. 350 is a great motor. I would stay away from a 305. You will get the same gas milage from a 305 or worse than a 350 with less power. I think on '79 is was pretty much all the same stuff. 12 bolt rear, 10 bolt front, mostly 350 auto trannies (seems to be the most common). This is if it's stock.
    As you prolly know, these trucks are top heavy so I really wouldn't go much bigger than 8"...especially if you are gonna be jumping it. If you are gonna jump it, stay at or under 6", in my opinion.
    With the trucks that were from '81 or so thru about '84 or '85 (I had an '86 pickup with the OD tranny and I just drove by the tranny shop and saw it there which means this is it's third tranny within about 6 years.)a nd have an over drive tranny I would stay away from. They had some bugs that needed to be worked out with those trannies in those years.
    The internet and this site will be your best freind [​IMG]

    <font color=blue>Women should put pictures of missing men on beer cans...</font color=blue>
    Website link is in my profile [​IMG]
     
  7. Blazer_Boy

    Blazer_Boy 1/2 ton status

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    Well gotta check out that famous rust. Of course there is the obvious exterior rust but you should alos crawl under. Check ALL the body mounts, they like to crap out. Look inside the back wheel well where the floor drops down. Those corners and the subframe are prone to rot. Look at the tailpan too. Look up inside of it, it like to rot in there and you can see the floor, not god. The tailgate hinge mounts sometimes go too. Also look around the filler pipe, that usually gets pretty nasty.

    This is the rust that I have observed when I tore the floor out of my '82. If you want an old truck you have to remember that beggars can't be choosers. Don't buy the first one you see but the perfect rust free specimen is rare and expensive.

    <a target="_blank" href=http://www.geocities.com/bigkern76>http://www.geocities.com/bigkern76</a>
     
  8. Hoss

    Hoss Registered Member

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    Thanks for all the replies! I think I have enough info to at least start my search. Sounds like rust is the worst thing, that and the steering box issue.

    What are good brands and locations to look at for lift kits?
     
  9. bigk

    bigk 1/2 ton status

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    I'd definitely go for a fuel injected rig from 87 on out. For lots of mud consider a 6 inch lift and 3 inch body lift and 39 inch Boggers, with some trimming of the fenders. Not too much steering correction to deal with, but from what I understand, you'll need longer driveshafts. But I'm sure there are guys around here that know more about this than me.

    Karl
    Temporarily Unemployed Underwear Model
    87 3/4 ton
     
  10. zakk

    zakk 1/2 ton status

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    1) Fuel Injection! if you decide you want a carb, sell me the kit![​IMG]
    2) rust...self explanitory
    3) frame around steering box. buddy of mine did not know to look for that (didn't ask me either [​IMG]) and got a truck with a split frame there.
    4) axles are not a big deal as you will end up swapping at some point
    5) 12in lift is A. a ton of $$$ and a waste if you do not want to go rubber side up like a jeep [​IMG] you can fit 38" tires with a 4" lift...
    6) learn to use a sawzall...sheetmetal needs to go at odd times in the night when you have a vision of "clearence issues solutions" in your dreams...
    i think that is it....also have friends that will trade help for beer and pizza [​IMG]


    -Zakk
    '77 K5 SB 400 TH350 NP203 p/t 6" Lift D60 14BFF 4.10's 36"Wrangler II's

    [​IMG] MOAB 2002 OR BUST!! [​IMG]
     

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