On The Level: We Breathe New Life Into A Tired 2000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71
Sometimes the only problem with older trucks is they are, well, old. Over time, Mother Nature and hard use simply wears out parts and degrades how well they function. This is especially true of brakes. Rubber brake lines age, increasing flex, and give your brakes that confidence-killing, spongy feeling. Rotors warp, glaze over, and the end result is brakes that make you a bit nervous, especially when coming down a steep grade or towing.
Over time the aftermarket has also released parts that are just better engineered than what came on the trucks stock. In the case of brakes, companies like EBC offer rotors that are made of better steel and designed to shed performance-killing heat better. Braided-steel brake lines are stronger than even-new rubber lines, and this stiffness results in a firmer pedal. We know it’s no revelation, but better parts just work better.
GM also likes to ship their trucks with a rear-high rake. Hey, when you’re towing or hauling a heavy load it looks fine, but the rest of the time it’s just odd. To fix this Pro Comp offers a line of leveling kits that makes it easy to bring the front up a bit and get your ride level. And, if you care about how your truck sits, then a new set of plus-sized rollers is really a no-brainer.
We had a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 extended cab truck. It stopped on a buck fifty and looked, well, like an old stock truck. To get the Chevy working, and looking, better we ordered up a few key pieces from EBC, Pro Comp, Mickey Thompson, Goodridge, and Smittybuilt and wrenched them into place.
1. Our starting point was this ’00 Z71 Silverado. Besides pedestrian looks, it was also rockin’ the infamous GM “rear high” rake. This was also the line of GM 1500 trucks that were equipped with four-wheel-disc brakes. Unfortunately, they weren’t very good to begin with and over time become even more “mushy” and ineffective. This might be why they later went back to rear drums.
2. The brakes may not have worked that well, but they did last. Those locking clips are evidence that these are the original rotors. Considering that the truck has over 130,000 miles on the clock, that’s a pretty good service life. The rings were removed with pliers and discarded.
3. For replacement rotors we went with EBC 3GD Series Sport Rotors (PN 7215, $252 pr.). These 12.796-inch rotors came slotted and dimpled as well as fully coated. The venting system is much better than stock and helps lower rotor temperature to stop fading under heavy load. They were direct replacements for our stockers.
4. We wanted to run EBC’s new heavy-duty orange pads, but they were on back order, so we temporarily tossed in a set of “high quality” pads from our local parts house.
5. Like the brakes, the shocks were equally tired and worn out. To replace them we ordered a set of Pro Comp Pro-Runner shocks (PN ZX2018, $75 ea.). These gas-charged monotube shocks featured brushed, zinc-plated bodies and had dyno-tuned multi-stage valving. For the money they’re hard to beat.
6. We suspected that another cause of our mushy brakes were the old rubber brake lines. To eliminate the hose flex we picked up a braided stainless hose kit from Goodridge (PN 14183, $136). They came with Teflon-lined hoses for the front and rear as well as a fifth line, and distribution block. These lines should really help fix our spongy pedal. You can also see the stock GM brake line brackets. We had to bend these open to get them off of the old lines.
7. The new lines were slid into the GM brackets and, after getting the silicone sleeve in place, we crimped them closed to hold the line in place.
8. All the new parts installed just like the stockers they replaced and this was our final result. These steps were then repeated on the passenger-side system.
9. Like the front, the rears were worn-out original equipment.
10. After pulling the rear rotor we inspected the shoes for wear, but they were good to go.
11. Like the fronts, the rear EBC rotors (PN GD7047, $278 pr.) came slotted, dimpled, and coated. They measured out at 12 inches and featured the same improved venting system.
12. The rear Pro Comp Pro-Runner shocks, like the front, were direct bolt-in replacements. The rear shocks (PN ZX2034, $75 ea.) had the same monotube design as the fronts.
13. We then installed the shock assembly. Note: It was much easier to do this one side at a time using a pole jack to support the differential.
14. For the rear brake lines we first installed the new Goodridge distribution block on the top of the rear axle.
15. And, just like that, our new braided brake lines were installed. At the end we bled the system and filled it with some high-temp brake fluid.
16. We used a pair of large locking pliers to push the pistons back into the caliper. A large C-clamp works as well. We then dropped in new pads and reinstalled the caliper.
17. To fix the truck’s rake, we bought a leveling kit from Pro Comp (PN 63150, $180). The box contained two torsion bar keys, new bolts, and shock extensions. The keys can raise the truck from 1.5 to 2.5 inches, but our plan was to just go the minimum, so we didn’t need to run the shock extensions.
18. To make the job easier we also grabbed a Pro Comp torsion bar unloading tool (PN 67971, $126).
19. The unloading tool let us safely remove the heavy load on the key so we could remove it from the truck. This tool is even more necessary if you’re working on an HD chassis with larger torsion bars.
20. With the tension off the key, we could remove the bolt and then the stock key.
21. Here you can see the difference between the stock and Pro Comp keys. Once the keys were installed we put the truck on the ground and then adjusted the front height until the Chevy was sitting just how we wanted it.
22. To help the truck stand out from the crowd, we also picked up a new set of Mickey Thompson Classic III black 17-inch wheels. And, since the old lug nuts would have really dragged down the sweet new wheel, we picked up a set of Monster Lug M14xP1.50 (PN 33006 B, $76 set of 20). These lugs are chrome vanadium steel, so they’re built right and look killer. They also feature 60-degree taper seats for more contact area. We also picked up a set of their locks (PN 33002 B, $29). We liked that the lock set came with two keys.
23. In a mix of form and function we also picked up a set of Smittybilt Sure-Step side bars (PN CN1910-S4B, $150). They came black powdercoated and with integrated step pads.
24.-26. Installation was a snap. We attached three (per side) hangers to the truck, one at of the three side body mount locations and then bolted the step bar to the brackets.
27. Later the new EBC “orange” pads (PN ED91304, $205 front) arrived, and we installed them on the truck. The new rotors, braided lines, and pads had dramatically improved the feel of our Silverado’s brakes, but these new heavy-duty pads really got the truck stopping better. They don’t squeal, and so far we haven’t had any fading during heavy use. They do dust a little bit more than the stock-like pads, but given how well they work we don’t mind.
They say that wheels and tires can make the car (or, in this case, truck) and this picture proves that axiom. We went with a set of Mickey Thompson Baja STZ (LT275/70/17) tires. The Baja STZ is a great tire for those who want great street manners and excellent off-road traction. They price out at just over $200 a tire and the E-rated sidewall will provided increased stability for towing. As a bonus, they look killer.
Don Lee AutoCucamonga, 91730
GoodridgeTorrance, CA 90501
EBC BrakesSylmar, CA 91342
Mackin IndustriesSanta Fe Springs, CA 90670
SmittybiltCompton, CA 90220
Pro Comp USACompton, CA 90220
Monster LugsSanta Fe Springs, CA 90670