Some idiot destroyed my truck - help me rebuild it better than ever?

autoteleology

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Hi, I don't post here much (or at all) but I lurk several times a week to learn about my truck, a '99 W/T C2500 I inherited from a close uncle who passed a few years ago. They were a carpenter by trade and this was their work truck. Frankly, it was a total POS when I received it, but I've put a lot of time and love (and money, ugh) into it over the years I have owned it as it was my first vehicle and it has sentimental value to me, and, well, I also just love it for what it is, objectively.

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They really don't make trucks like this any more, ever since (in my opinion) car design aesthetically peaked in the 80's and then has been mostly terrible for the last 30 years. It's also just fun to be able to stomp on the gas on a highway onramp and feel the power of a big engine that isn't nannied to death like some other, newer cars I've driven, especially with the Black Bear Performance ECM tune people here helped me get in the past :)

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Anyways, one day, about six months ago, I was driving to work and out of nowhere, a clearly galaxy brained specimen of humanity decided to stop full tilt at an intersection without a stop sign or traffic light and I slammed into them, destroying the front end of the truck.

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Thankfully, I had dashcam footage of the incident and I got a pretty decent payout from the insurance company, but now I'm left with the task of rebuilding it, and I am out of my league when it comes to how to do this to the high standards I would like to achieve, even with a professional doing the work. I don't really understand how to differentiate good parts and manufacturers from bad ones, especially given what I've heard is an epidemic of cheap Chinesium garbage and outright knockoffs flooding the market to the point where even experienced mechanics can get screwed on parts.

Additionally, I would like to take this opportunity, given that I have to now replace a bunch of stuff one way or another, customize the truck a bit more to my liking (namely, installing an 88-89 style grille and lamp assembly with HIDs/LEDs, because they're just so cool!).

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I have a lot of stuff planned out to the best of my ability to reduce the burden of my request, but there are gaps in my plans that I need outside help from smarter people than me to solve, and that's where this post comes in - I would greatly appreciate it if this community could look over my work and either fill in some blanks or point out if I've made any bad choices.

- - - - - - - - - -

Replacement front grille (going with the 88-93 special edition because I want those super cool quad beams!)

- https://www.lmctruck.com/1988-98-chevy-gmc/custom/cd-1988-98-all-chrome-special-edition-grille

- https://www.lmctruck.com/1988-98-chevy-gmc/stock/cd-1994-98-chrome-lower-grille-panel-set
(this lower panel set is allegedly only for the 94-98 grille, but I don't see why it would be different?)

- https://www.lmctruck.com/1988-98-chevy-gmc/stock/cd-1988-98-grille-mounting-components

Headlamps (I've read these are decent if you can't get the Bosch assemblies?)

- https://www.lmctruck.com/1988-98-chevy-gmc/headlight/cd-1988-89-headlight-dual

- https://www.lmctruck.com/1988-98-chevy-gmc/headlight/cd-1988-98-custom-headlights-150mm

Running lights (x4, switchback - super bright, about 1600 lumen apiece)

- https://www.lmctruck.com/1988-98-chevy-gmc/parklight/cd-1988-89-custom-parklight-sets

- https://www.headlightrevolution.com...rbide-bulbs-LED.BUL.1157.CAR2_2?quantity=1GTR

High beams (x4) (my chosen running lights are so bright, with a proper replacement housing, I suspect I won't actually need low beams and will instead be able to simply use four high beams, assuming there's any ability, if needed, to aim the lower assembly)

- https://www.headlightrevolution.com/9005-gtr-lighting-ultra-led-bulbs-hr?quantity=19005/HB3:

Sidemarkers (my state doesn't do inspections, so no need for amber - I'm going for a colorless look where all the front lights are 6000K)

- https://www.headlightrevolution.com/t10-194-gtr-lighting-5-led-bulbs-LED.BUL.T105_3?quantity=1Dodge

- https://klearz.com/88-93_obs_clear_corners1988-93

Hi-Low Wiring Kit

- https://www.lmctruck.com/1988-98-chevy-gmc/headlight/cd-1988-98-high-beam-headlight-relay-kit

Heavy duty headlight wiring harness (how does this work with the Hi-Low wiring kit? Are they mutually compatible?)

- https://www.lmctruck.com/1988-98-chevy-gmc/headlight/cd-heavy-duty-headlight-harness

Taillights (clear, to match the front lighting - gotta replace em while I'm at this, because I'm tired of LED hyperflash)

-
https://aftparts.com/product/tail-light-pair-1988-1998-chevy-k1500-silverado-suburban-c1500/Tail

Hood (stock or a mild cowl, but I have zero clue how to pick a part. I heard I want something steel?)

Replacement front bumper (I can't order the premium non-license plate version because it seems to be out of stock for far into the foreseeable future, I need a quality alternative option that won't rust in five seconds in northeast salt)

- https://www.lmctruck.com/1988-98-ch...cd-1988-98-front-bumper-without-impact-strips

Radiator (mine was trashed in the accident, I have even less of a clue on how to pick this than the hood - I would like to do some value performance mods in the future, if that helps)

- ?????????

- - - - - - - - - -

Also, some nice to haves…

U-joint / steering shaft (current rag joint is completely trashed, want to swap to u-joint for reliability and improved steering feel - is this in particular actually a viable mod worth my time, or should I just buy an aftermarket joint and shaft?)

- https://www.gmt400.com/threads/xj-s...ks-95-instructions-on-page-31.12087/page-14XJ

Steering rack (higher ratio because I find driving the truck in the city is like piloting a yacht sometimes)

- https://redheadsteeringgears.com/product/1997-1999-gm-suv-12-71-ratio

Pittman arm (no idea what separates good from garbage components, or who makes the quality parts)

Braking assembly (my brakes are pretty bad and mushy despite having mostly new hardware all around, so if any of these mods are worth doing, or if there are possible issues I could troubleshoot, I'd like to know)

- https://www.gmt400.com/threads/1990-c1500-abs-rwal-removal.11427

- https://www.gmt400.com/threads/gmt-400-hydroboost-swap.13105

- https://www.gmt400.com/threads/stainless-steel-rear-disk-brake-conversion-problem.49629

Undercoating (my truck, given that my uncle only drove it in the three "construction" seasons, and not the winter, so it is almost entirely rust-free, and I'd like to keep it that way if possible - I have someone who does undercoating, but they typically use POR-15 and my impression is that this is an obsolete product)

- black cosmoline / CRC 6026 HD corrosion inhibitor / fluid film

- fluid film corrosion inhibiting black paint / rust bullet / eastwood internal frame coating?

- https://www.eastwood.com/eastwood-black-rust-encapsulator-paint-over-rust.html

- I've heard 3M has some really good anti-corrosion products, too?

Finally, I got a new to me, very clean 88-94 60/40 seat, but unfortunately, my current seat is a full bench, and for some reason, the replacement seat didn't come with the necessary mounting parts. What do I need and where can I get it (I assume Car-Part.com or a Pick-N-Pull…). Also, if there are any other general greebles, feelies or miscellaneous bits and bobbins I'll likely need to acquire, please let me know :)

Thanks for everything!
 
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autoteleology

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If you have a Pull-A-Part nearby, that's where I'd get replacement sheetmetal. Unless it's been replaced once before, it's GM quality, and it's waaaay cheaper than new.

Ah, yeah, that makes total sense. Instead of dicking around on the internet guessing at whether a hood will have decent metallurgy or not, I could just like... snag an OEM quality one off a truck considering I want a stock look, duh. It's easy to overcomplicate the things we don't understand, lol.

You sure the frame isn't bent?

The accident was, fortunately, only at around 20 MPH or so because we were in a school zone during school hours. It looks a lot worse than it is because this idiot was driving around a Jeep with an empty tire mount on the hatch and this big metal hook speared the front of the truck right at hood level, causing all of the warping in the front. There actually wasn't any frame damage, and if you look at the post-accident pictures, neither of the fenders have bent. I have a friend who owns a body shop doing the work on this and they said that all of the body damage is easy to fix.
 
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SUBURBAN5

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I feel your pain. Very similar scenario in my accident of 2020.
Like others have said, anything metal and body panel related, go to a junk yard and buy the whole front clip. Or if you rather piece the center components then you can do that. As for the frame you wont know if its bent until your start putting new parts on it and the gaps dont line up. Since my crash was on the driver side, it's more obvious my frame was bent. Your crash was in the center. Your core support took the impact. The frame that bolts to the core support are extremely weak upon impact. Imo there most likely tweaked inward. Not a big deal btw. But they will have to get pushed back. Do not go with aftermarket parts for the bumper brackets. I have oem fender and hood. Fit perfectly. Fan shroud and plastic parts I rolled the dice and bought aftermarket. I believe @Hipster has experienced on body collision. What ever he recommends I would trust. Good luck to your truck and it will be a good rebuild project imo. I was scared at first and overwhelmed. Turns out I did everything but pull the frame. That part I had a shop do. Keep us posted
 

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Hipster

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The frames on these trucks are not as stout as one would think. I usually do a quick measure with a tram guage to see if anything jumps out before going any further.

Even at a salvage yard you have to check sheet metal and parts. Not uncommon for one in the salvage yard to already have aftermarket parts on it.

If your dealing with the salvage re-certification process hang on to every reciept. It's different in every state but you might need to prove where the parts came from if you retained what might be now considered a "salvage vehicle".
 

HotWheelsBurban

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I agree on the frames' strength; they're designed to take the impact so you don't. When our other 99 Burb got smacked, by a red light runner, it didn't look that bad initially. Once the shops got to closer inspection though, the frame was bent around the front horns and the area where the motor mounts are. Probably would have been a chore to get it going down the road straight, and more $$ than the insurance company was willing to put into a 13 year old truck. Had to fight and argue with them just to get the 3K for purchase of the one I have now, once they totalled the other one.
My dad and brother walked away from the wreck with minimal injuries; the FWD Monte Carlo that hit our Burb had the engine and transaxle in the front seat, and the dopes in it left the scene in an ambulance.
And a word of advice for all who read this: you need to have uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance! Most of the wrecks my folks were in-- none their fault-- that's the only way we got paid anything. So many people in greater Houston area do not have financial liability ( insurance) on themselves or their vehicle ( even though basic liability coverage is required by state law, and you have to show proof of insurance to get your vehicles registered/licensed).
 

PlayingWithTBI

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you need to have uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance!
Absolutely carry uninsured/under insured coverage plus higher property/personal damage. Arizona recently raised the minimum coverage to 25/50 ($25,000/$50,000) bodily/total and $25000/$50,000 property - IT'S NOT ENOUGH! We have been carrying 100/300, 100/300 UM and UIM plus $5000 medical and $50/day car rental with $1500 max (plus Collision) on all our cars. When my wife got hit back in Sept 2021 the other driver (who was sighted for it) only had the minimum. That is being used up in a hurry. We got reimbursed for $500 deductible collision, $460 for rental when it went over the $1500, and our insurance is paying for all of her and her passenger's Dr bills, MRIs, CT Scans, etc. Don't know when it'll all be over.

YOU INSURE WHAT YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO PAY OUT OF POCKET.
 

frito-bandito

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Absolutely carry uninsured/under insured coverage plus higher property/personal damage. Arizona recently raised the minimum coverage to 25/50 ($25,000/$50,000) bodily/total and $25000/$50,000 property - IT'S NOT ENOUGH! We have been carrying 100/300, 100/300 UM and UIM plus $5000 medical and $50/day car rental with $1500 max (plus Collision) on all our cars. When my wife got hit back in Sept 2021 the other driver (who was sighted for it) only had the minimum. That is being used up in a hurry. We got reimbursed for $500 deductible collision, $460 for rental when it went over the $1500, and our insurance is paying for all of her and her passenger's Dr bills, MRIs, CT Scans, etc. Don't know when it'll all be over.

YOU INSURE WHAT YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO PAY OUT OF POCKET.
This! Me and the wife upgraded to “old people insurance” a few years ago, essentially we raised our coverage amount on our existing vehicles lmao
 

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