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Decision Time.... Looking for a little advice and wisdom

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
Well, I was in the process of cleaning up and outfitting my '06H3 (for the Overlanding that I had originally purchased it for), and with just shy of 300K, the I5 engine has died. I had rebuilt the front end about 3-years ago, a new transmission and My "Ballistic Awning" last month, and received a new 10.2 touch-screen with dual cameras last week. I'm looking for a little insight and advice to consider for my options. Currently at the point when you fix one thing, something else seems to break.

I had originally considered a 6.0 (LQ9) swap but now am unsure if it will bolt up to the new/completely rebuilt transmission. And what all would be involved (cost wise) in a successful engine swap. I know several of y'all have taken the plunge. Is there a 'How-to" thread that I could send to my mechanic to shortcut the engine mounts alignment/header selections/computer connections/debugging process?

Another consideration/conversation is one I recently had with my insurance agent (i.e. Current vehicle value vs investment to rebuild vs investing in newer vehicle with a better insurable value). The H3 is 'paid-in-full' but to get a newer vehicle that will do what this one does would be $30-50K, but if I spent $15K on the engine swap, I'd still have a 17-18 yr old vehicle worth $8K. If it could be insured for the investment/rebuilt value, then that would change some things. I really like this rig, but am trying to look at this analytically, not emotionally.

Any thoughts?
 

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alrock

El Diablo
Staff member
Messages
10,447
Location
Scottsdale
It's an interesting decision and a very personal one. Your agent is right about valuation (well, I think he's a few thousand low regarding resale value), but I don't think you're holding onto the H3 for valuation. You will certainly have more maintenance $ to put into the H3 even after the engine swap, but it will never come close to the purchase of a new vehicle. Your insurance will be much less on the H3 than a new vehicle as well.

I'm sure I'll be crossing that same engine bridge as you at some point, and I don't know what I'll do at that point. But right now I've considered new vehicles and I really don't want to spend $50K plus another $5-10K in mods; I would want the engine swap. But the H3 is not my daily driver either. If it was, I'd more likely swap to a newer vehicle. But guess what - that would be the emotional choice for me (creature comforts vs. older tech) and not a logical one.

For me, my choices aren't about a newer vehicle vs. the H3, but a brand-new vehicle vs. the H3. If I'm going to make the plunge then I don't want any parts that need replacing and I want a full warranty.

If your budget can afford either option, go with what makes you happy. If you're going to be pissed off at making car payments for 60 months, stay with the H3.
 

08H3

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,316
Location
United States
I know this isn’t encouraging, but my 300K H3 has been sitting in the barn for over a year because there isn’t an answer that makes any financial sense. Used I5s are stupid expensive. No one will rebuild them. Shops are even reluctant to swap in a rebuilt OR want a small fortune. On the insurance issue, if it’s not your primary, Hagerty may insure it at agreed value. My camo H3 is through Hagerty. I called them and talked to them. I was very honest and upfront about what I intended to do with it and they did agree to insure it. I have a G-Body friend that uses Nationwide and they have an agreed value policy. I don’t know anything beyond that, but you may have a couple options with the insurance thing if you go forward. Good luck!
 

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
Thanks for the comments and the names of Ins Agents who'll discuss and 'agreed to' value. That changes things for me.
We all know that if it has either wheels or and engine it depreciates in value, and all machines/parts that are used, wear out. Even new vehicles are on borrowed time for a set life cycle.

But I with an 'agreed to' value, I don't feel as strung out on a limb or like I'm just throwing away money. (And I have really come to hate car payments).

Thanks again, I will reach out to those companies.
 

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
BTW - My state farm agent said that if I was interested in "restoring" it. A Classic Car policy could be written for it, but it would be limited to ~1,500 miles/yr. (3,000 miles RT to Moab - not going to work).

Or they could add value for "any accessories" on the truck (roof rack, body armor, winch), but nothing for Maintenance of the existing vehicle (i.e. wheels, tires, engine swap).
 

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
Update:
To do a full rebuild of the 3.5 will be about $4,400 out the door; whereas, an LS swap will be over $6,000 and (from what I understand) a lot more involved getting all the new parts to play well together.

For those of you out there who have done the V8 swap, which would be the best route for an 06Base?
 

HUMMR-H3T

Member
Messages
20
Location
Omaha, NE
It's an interesting decision and a very personal one. Your agent is right about valuation (well, I think he's a few thousand low regarding resale value), but I don't think you're holding onto the H3 for valuation. You will certainly have more maintenance $ to put into the H3 even after the engine swap, but it will never come close to the purchase of a new vehicle. Your insurance will be much less on the H3 than a new vehicle as well.

I'm sure I'll be crossing that same engine bridge as you at some point, and I don't know what I'll do at that point. But right now I've considered new vehicles and I really don't want to spend $50K plus another $5-10K in mods; I would want the engine swap. But the H3 is not my daily driver either. If it was, I'd more likely swap to a newer vehicle. But guess what - that would be the emotional choice for me (creature comforts vs. older tech) and not a logical one.

For me, my choices aren't about a newer vehicle vs. the H3, but a brand-new vehicle vs. the H3. If I'm going to make the plunge then I don't want any parts that need replacing and I want a full warranty.

If your budget can afford either option, go with what makes you happy. If you're going to be pissed off at making car payments for 60 months, stay with the H3.
This is an interesting post being. I'm probably going to cross that bridge soon i've already replaced the water pump & coolant / battery is still holding on / it runs right /
it idles right .... eventually it will be my LS2, maybe an LS3 project truck
I'm not gonna let go of this H3T, It's gonna be my '' Forever truck.''
My H3T is covered by a extended warranty that covers it bumper to bumper. I've got this low production (1 of 56 with a 5-speed manual ) H3T and I've got my rare low production build #008 GXP Coupe of 1,152 Solstice GXP Coupes built....
all I need now is the 1000 sq ft x 1000 sq ft garage and a small house tucked into the back wall of said garage...
 

alrock

El Diablo
Staff member
Messages
10,447
Location
Scottsdale
Update:
To do a full rebuild of the 3.5 will be about $4,400 out the door; whereas, an LS swap will be over $6,000 and (from what I understand) a lot more involved getting all the new parts to play well together.

For those of you out there who have done the V8 swap, which would be the best route for an 06Base?
$6000 sounds cheap. You're swapping a lot more than just the engine to make this work. Moving motor mounts, different exhaust, a/c, power steering pump, air box, changes in wiring harness. But I haven't done it myself.
 

HUMMR-H3T

Member
Messages
20
Location
Omaha, NE
This is an interesting post being. I'm probably going to cross that bridge soon i've already replaced the water pump & coolant / battery is still holding on / it runs right /
it idles right .... eventually it will be my LS2, maybe an LS3 project truck
I'm not gonna let go of this H3T, It's gonna be my '' Forever truck.''
My H3T is covered by a extended warranty that covers it bumper to bumper. I've got this low production (1 of 56 with a 5-speed manual ) H3T and I've got my rare low production build #008 GXP Coupe of 1,152 Solstice GXP Coupes built....
all I need now is the 1000 sq ft x 1000 sq ft garage and a small house tucked into the back wall of said garage...
V8 swap is a option
a T3-T4 Turbo set up for my vortec 3.7 Litre is another option...
 

atvspeed4

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,173
Location
massachusetts
I would swap the H3 but your swap budget is too light. We have over 40k miles on a very unique swap and it has been awesome. I know Chris has logged a ton of miles as well on his. The issue for us is rust making it not worth it on all of the H3 we have been seeing in New England. If yours is rust free I would do an L96 (gen4) 6.0L swap like we did. The wiring harness we ordered from Jamie who occasionally pops on the forum and has done harnesses for other members as well. This 6.0 has vvt which when tuned is actually really awesome but no DoD so no lifter issue. If you can find a competent shop that builds 4l60E, have them build far beyond what they "think" you need. I know it cost more but in our experience all 4l60 variations are a ticking time bomb with large tires and 5,500-6,500 lbs moving around. If they have a 800-1,000hp "build" its probably the one that will last you the longest with proper tuning. We used stock manifolds but on our next build we would go tubular headers as one of the manifolds has been out of stock or hard to find for a while now. I would plan around $14-15k if you are not doing the swap yourself and keeping it simple as possible.
 

Alpha X

Well-Known Member
Messages
415
Location
The Motor City
Do you have any desire to attempt to rebuild yourself? I suppose that all depends on if you have the time and/or space to give it a shot. Probably would involve a machine shop. Sometimes auto parts store lend/rent tools. Or Harbor Freight / Craigslist could be an option for inexpensive tools. Those engines are in enough Colorados and H3's that I'm betting you can get rebuild kits and parts fairly easily.
 

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
$6000 sounds cheap. You're swapping a lot more than just the engine to make this work. Moving motor mounts, different exhaust, a/c, power steering pump, air box, changes in wiring harness. But I haven't done it myself.
Yeah, none of the extras were included in that price. What I'm hearing from most is to find a doner truck and pull absolutely everything out of it and do a full swap, motor, trans, wiring harness and computer. The donor motor would still need to be rebuilt, so that is still leaning cost heavy for the swap route.
 

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
This is an interesting post being. I'm probably going to cross that bridge soon i've already replaced the water pump & coolant / battery is still holding on / it runs right /
it idles right .... eventually it will be my LS2, maybe an LS3 project truck
I'm not gonna let go of this H3T, It's gonna be my '' Forever truck.''
My H3T is covered by a extended warranty that covers it bumper to bumper. I've got this low production (1 of 56 with a 5-speed manual ) H3T and I've got my rare low production build #008 GXP Coupe of 1,152 Solstice GXP Coupes built....
all I need now is the 1000 sq ft x 1000 sq ft garage and a small house tucked into the back wall of said garage...
I had planned on this being my forever truck as well, but we'll see what the fates allow. Looking at the condition of some of the doner vehicles, may just go that route, or rebuild the original motor and use the extra funds for lockers, bumpers and other goodies.
 

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
I know this isn’t encouraging, but my 300K H3 has been sitting in the barn for over a year because there isn’t an answer that makes any financial sense. Used I5s are stupid expensive. No one will rebuild them. Shops are even reluctant to swap in a rebuilt OR want a small fortune. On the insurance issue, if it’s not your primary, Hagerty may insure it at agreed value. My camo H3 is through Hagerty. I called them and talked to them. I was very honest and upfront about what I intended to do with it and they did agree to insure it. I have a G-Body friend that uses Nationwide and they have an agreed value policy. I don’t know anything beyond that, but you may have a couple options with the insurance thing if you go forward. Good luck!
I found this as part of my quest. Thought I would share, don't know if it would help get your H3 out of the barn. This is $500 over what it'll be to rebuild mine if my crank isn't trashed. (Just as a point of reference)
 

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Mr_Rich

Well-Known Member
Messages
636
Location
High Desert & Santa Maria
With the stupid prices of trucks these days an LS swap makes perfect sense; especially if you want to keep the vehicle. The decision to be made should be an engine that GM still supports to a certain extent. LS parts are going to be more readily available than I5 or some of the V6's, not that the latter is even a choice. I liked the I5 in my 3T. It made good power compared to the Jeep Comanche I owned from '86 to '89. GM gave up on the I5. That pretty much says it all.
I've got a '97 Chev K2500 EC with a 7.4L that I can't smog for Calif. I think an LS swap makes perfect sense if I don't find a drop in HD 5.7L to drop in place of the 7.4L engine. What didn't make sense five years ago makes much more sense in these times. I think you just have to adjust your thinking.
 

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
I agree with everything that you have said. I had my I5 tuned and tweaked up to ~285-290hp and for 90% of the time it was sufficient. I was never going to win any drag races off the line but I was able to pull out both a Dodge ram 4x4 and an F150 hooked in tandem that were both stuck in a muddy field. (Full disclosure, the Ram should have been able to get the Ford out if it had better tires... but it didn't and the H3 rescued both at once.😁)

The only real issues that I am facing are 2 fold. 1- As the cost of the LS swap increases, that open up other potential options. Such as @ $12K just buying another H3 with fewer miles or other interior options. At $18K getting an H3 Alpha, H2 or Chevy Avalanche. And 2- then there's the fear of lingering Frankenstein issues from cobbling multiple vehicles together if something fails when out on the trail.
Again, this will not be a DD. It's a backup/bad weather/but mostly an overlanding escape vehicle. With it being my means to escape from daily problems, I just want to be creating potential ones to bring with me.
 

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
UPDATE: The Decision Process (with a little bit of LIFE factored in)

First of all I'd like to thank each of you that have chimed in on this thread & through the years. The path I chose was not my original plan, but with everything else factored in I feel its the most pragmatic at the moment. As my Dad once told me, "We all have grand plans until the money becomes part of it." And, as life (or Murphy) would have it, in the midst of the decision process, my wife's car had it's engine to go out and she was due a new-ish trade. So, Momma came first.

In regards to the '06H3, I was in the process of outfitting it for a long-term overlanding vehicle with every intention of this being a big part of my retirement. A lot of work had already been done, and more to do. The original intent was an LQ9-ish/6.2 for the towing torque needed for pulling a trailer over mountains. I looked at crate engines, full salvage engine/wiring harness/PCM swaps, coparts total vehicle purchases, or just trading for another H3. But the more I looked into it, the locally available resources, the problems others were having, and what I have already invested (and installed) on this vehicle, I was really afraid that it would wind up becoming a $30,000 Frankenstein. So I stepped back and just looked at it from a end-use/financial investment approach.

OPTION 1: Trade for another H3 in basically the same condition as mine at the time of purchase. (130,000-150,000 miles) $10K- $12K / ($7K with trade). Would lose most of upgrades already made/Prior problems encountered would happen again.

OPTION 2: Trade-up - H2, H3 Alpha, Avalanche - Similar condition as original purchase, but more capable. $18K - $20K/ ($13-15 w/ trade).

OPTION 3: LS Swap - Based on PMs with those who have/are taken the leap. -$25K - $30K for a turn key swap, if you can find someone capable of debugging the PCM/Wiring Harness issues between the '06 PCM and donor vehicle.

OPTION 4: - Used RAPTOR $55K+ - Honestly, this was a serious consideration for the retirement travels, I Don't want to work long enough to pay for it. Not to mention my wife telling me, "If you spend $60K on truck, I don't want you dragging through the trees and mud getting it all scarred up."

With all this in mind, I stepped back and said, "What do I need, to be able to do what I want to do?" Top of the line is nice, but is it necessary? Better to be out there in what you have, then waiting on what you don't. So I looked as the least expensive, Option 1 and said for the $7K you would spend on this what could you do with your H3, and this is what I am doing.

The 3.5 is at the shop being bored out, ported & polished, and rebuilt. Per our brethren at 355 Nation - the biggest problem with the 3.5 is its restricted airflow, so a new Magnaflow exhaust manifold/cat has been purchased. Original wiring in place and a reflash from PCM of NC once the improvements and changes have been made.

Also included in the upgrades will be a lot of Rough Country upgrades, (winch, lift, lights, S-pod), outfitter design HD Tie rods & steering reinforcement, a set of 35's on sanded and painted wheels, rear deck/drawer system, custom jerry rack/tag relo, and possibly a rear locker. I'll be posting pics as it comes together.

Thanks again for all the input and help with this hurdle.
 

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crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
RESURRECTION!
At almost 1-year to the day, the H3 is back up and rolling. And virtually a brand new vehicle with faded paint.

Mechanicals include:
- 3.5L Bored 0.020 over w/ domed top pistons
- Heads Milled
- Crank ground
- New valve cover/PCV
- Magnaflow Exhaust Manifold (NO More 2K Drone!!!!)
- New Water Pump
- New Power steering Pump & High pressure Lines
- Crossfire Iridium Plugs
- Rebuilt Transmission
- Upper Control Arms
- Ball Joints
- CV Axles
- Front Brakes/Rotors
- Rough Country 2" lift
- Rear Yolk & Diff Seals
- 97 Camero Flowmaster Muffler

Cosmetic (In Process)
- Stripping the peeling chrome & Repainted with accents
- Stripped & Painted Peeling Chrome Wheels
- Custom Rear Jerry can/Trax bd mount/Licence plate relo
- Raptor-lined Lower body, Rear Fenders, Mirrors

Pending Install:
- Cooper ST MAXX 35's
- Defliece hidden winch mount
- OpenRoad 13K Winch
- New Brush Guard
- Schwarttzy Rock Sliders
- 10.2" touchscreen headunit within a Custom Hardwood Console
- Front/Rear Cameras
- LED Halo Headlights/Fog Lights
- Drawer System/bed platform
- Custom Roof rack w/ 4-Rough Country 6.5" Flood Lights
- Rough Country 6-switch Accessory Control
- Pitch/Roll/GPS/Altimeter

Pics to follow as the reconstruction continues!
 

alrock

El Diablo
Staff member
Messages
10,447
Location
Scottsdale
Glad to hear! That's a huge amount of work. One note is that some owners have had issues when they used any plugs other than AC Delco.
 

crwalkerasla

Well-Known Member
Messages
313
Location
Corinth, MS
Famous quote/exchange with my wife, "And just WHY, is your truck in the shop again?!?!?!"
Just getting the last few kinks worked out. You are not going to make a Silk Purse out of that Sow's Ear. Baby, where we're going to be going, you don't want silk!
 

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#1Rockstar

Probationary Member
Messages
1
Location
Three Forks, Mt.
Well, I was in the process of cleaning up and outfitting my '06H3 (for the Overlanding that I had originally purchased it for), and with just shy of 300K, the I5 engine has died. I had rebuilt the front end about 3-years ago, a new transmission and My "Ballistic Awning" last month, and received a new 10.2 touch-screen with dual cameras last week. I'm looking for a little insight and advice to consider for my options. Currently at the point when you fix one thing, something else seems to break.

I had originally considered a 6.0 (LQ9) swap but now am unsure if it will bolt up to the new/completely rebuilt transmission. And what all would be involved (cost wise) in a successful engine swap. I know several of y'all have taken the plunge. Is there a 'How-to" thread that I could send to my mechanic to shortcut the engine mounts alignment/header selections/computer connections/debugging process?

Another consideration/conversation is one I recently had with my insurance agent (i.e. Current vehicle value vs investment to rebuild vs investing in newer vehicle with a better insurable value). The H3 is 'paid-in-full' but to get a newer vehicle that will do what this one does would be $30-50K, but if I spent $15K on the engine swap, I'd still have a 17-18 yr old vehicle worth $8K. If it could be insured for the investment/rebuilt value, then that would change some things. I really like this rig, but am trying to look at this analytically, not emotionally.

Any thoughts?
I'm doing a LS swap in my H3 and I have a rebuilt 3.7 with under 15,000 miles on it, runs great. I installed the 3.7 3yrs ago and then I found a Alpha with a LS V8 that was rear-ended and they totaled it. I will have a lot of extra parts.
 

Teahead

Well-Known Member
Messages
108
Location
Tacoma
Always a decision to go with NEW or rebuild what you got.

IMHO, if the cosmetics and interior and electrical is PRIMO, but just needs mechanical bits replaced, probably is better to just rebuild.

You buy a $60k SUV, and right when you drive off the showroom floor, you've already lost $5k.

And the interest on the car payments is enormous! That $60k vehicle after 6 years is now $70k.
 
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