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Munched Front End; Questions About Replacing Front Clip

Old 05-01-2010, 08:10 PM
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Default Munched Front End; Questions About Replacing Front Clip


I have a 94 Sierra on which I crunched the front end. (Bumper to bumper traffic on an L.A. freeway, 15mph collision, lots of broken plastic, huge bummer).

I do not have collision on this (it was a nice but inexpensive craigslist purchase that I got to haul a race car, so it was never intended to be a garage queen or even a daily driver). So I'm just going to fix it myself, then have a body shop shoot it. Unfortunately, it was sandblasted and repainted about 3 years ago and looked quite good. I will need to replace the fenders, hood, core support, rad, A/C condenser, trans cooler, and bumper. Ugh, it makes me angry just thinking about it. I've taken a lot of it off so far and not much is salvageable.

1) Given that this is a body-on-frame (and I'm used to unibodies), looks like replacing the fenders is pretty straightforward AND the inner fender walls are part of the fender -- one complete unit -- other than the lower, black fender well liners. Am I wrong? I have the Haynes manual (and a Bentley, but the GMC Bentley is not nearly as complete as it is for my other cars) and I'm not seeing a lot of good illustrations. I've also looked in the LMC catalog. The right fender is creased behind the wheel well and the pass door won't open. Should I look for anything special in this area (ie frame or cab damage) or is it most likely that once the whole fender panel is replaced, I should be able to reasonably realign the panels and the door clearance will be fine?

2) Radiators. I currently have a large cap radiator but wonder if there are other alternatives I should look at, since I'll be replacing it anyway. The truck has a 350 in it and I tow a 5000lbs trailer with about 1000 lbs of gear in the bed to races. Any particular brand or reseller you guys recommend?

3) Trans cooler. It got munched bad and actually split in half. This was an OEM unit. Suggestions on something else to look at? When we tow, we tend to tow 1000-2000 miles in a weekend. I killed one trans in my Yukon; I'd prefer not to kill this one, so if there's sometheing better, I'm all ears.

4) Used parts vs. new. I've only talked to a few wrecking yards so far. I'm hearing between $900-1200, depending on if it's just a clip or a full front end. In a preliminary look, it appears that LMC can probably get me most of the major parts I need for around $1k, but these won't have all the little pieces here and there. Given the paint problems GM had at the time, would it be worth it to just go with new so I don't have to spend a lot of extra time prepping for the body shop? Or is the stuff I would get new just cheap Chinese junk that will probably get dented during shipping? And will the fit and finish be the same?

5) Fan/Water Pump. The fan clutch is extremely tight. I assume this should spin somewhat freely in ambient temps of 75 deg. Considering it ate the rad, should I keep an eye on that shaft and make sure the water pump is ok? Anything else on the engine worth checking at this point? Motor and trans mounts look fine right now. Like I said, it was a slow collision, it was just that with the brakes fully applied at the last minute, the truck nosed down and the bumper slipped under the Broward bumper of an E-350 service van. Had it been most of the other cars on the road, my truck probably would have buffed right out.

I'm sure I might have some other questions down the road, but this is the beginning. Thanks and cheers.

Last edited by truckasaurus; 05-01-2010 at 08:12 PM. Reason: Fixed tense!
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