2002 Chevrolet 3500 - Seized Engine

I found a truck on Craigslist (maybe my 1st warning) it’s a 2002 Chevy dually with 245k miles and the owner says it’s not running. The engine is seized up. What causes that on a Chevy pickup? I’m looking for items to build a ranch so I can take care of my family.

I’ve looked online google search of Duramax pickups to read about a common issue being fuel injectors that need replaced. I was worried it didn’t have oil and burned up the engine! The owner is asking $4k and I have an AAA membership so I can get the truck towed to the shop. Is this repairable? My 2nd cousin Jon Moss actually engineered this truck but he’s in AZ now so I need to get this truck in decent enough shape to be able to drive from TX for him to go over it. What else should I look for in the service records to keep this purchase open for discussion?

You want to buy a 17 year old truck with a seized engine , what a bad idea . Even if they gave it to you it could easily cost 10000.00 to put this thing back on the road.

Edit ; Your phrase ’ build a ranch ’ makes me wonder do you even have any Ranch experience because that takes lots of money an independent ranches just are not lucrative ventures .


What causes a seized motor on a Chevy pickup with 245,000 miles? Neglecting to check the oil level or maybe, just maybe, the engine finally decided it had enough of towing HUGE loads for 245,000 miles and just gave up. It is a 3500 dually built for towing, after all.

EVERYthing is repairable. Whether it makes sense to DO so is another matter entirely.

You aren’t going to fix this truck with just a new set of injectors. If it really does have a Duramax engine in it, the cost of a remanufactured one is roughly $6000 and that doesn’t include replacements for the worn out components like the alternator or AC compressor or power steering pumps nor does it include labor. This truck will cost you roughly $9000 just to get it running assuming the transmission is OK. That is another very expensive part. And everything ELSE is 17 years old with a quarter million miles on it.

Ignore this truck. It is a money pit.


Non of our business.

Run, Kristina, Run

Lack of maintenance,
Makes you wonder what else is about ready to fail.


It really doesn’t matter why the engine is seized. It’s scrap metal, will be very expensive to replace, and asking 4 grand for a high miles truck with a seized engine is insanity.

It can be safely assumed that the truck likely has a number of other pricey issues currently or issues that will soon raise their ugly head. As Mustangman said; it’s a money pit sight unseen and certainly not something to build a ranch with as you state.
Building a ranch is going to require far more than a truck.


No matter the make of vehicle, a seized engine is the result of it having been driven by someone who didn’t care about maintaining it. Whether it rarely had its oil changed, or whether he never bothered to check the oil between changes is immaterial. The engine is now just a huge paperweight, and repairing/replacing it will be extremely costly. And–no–bad injectors wouldn’t cause the engine to seize.

Your instincts about it having been run w/o oil are undoubtedly correct.

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As the brothers would say “doesn’t anyone screen these calls?!” I wholeheartedly agree with everyone else. The engine likely seized due to lack of maintenance, and this thing is a gigantic money pit waiting to happen. Run away from this thing quickly.

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The money pit this truck represents may be good practice for a ranch! (What doesn’t defeat us makes us more gullible.) But, good luck.

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is the engine “seized” or just not running?

One may be worth $4000 on this truck, the other is absolutely not.

Either walk away or prepare to spend about $9k-$12k for a rebuilt Dmax or closer to $7k if you rebuild it yourself.

If the engine was seized chances are it’s junk at this point.

What’s the cost of a Duramax of the same vintage with the same mileage but with a fully functioning engine? About what this truck costs plus the cost of a total engine rebuild. That’s not a coincidence. If it were a cheap/easy fix, the current owner would’ve done it, diesel trucks hold their value exceptionally well. My guess is that to properly repair this truck it would end up cost more than the truck would be worth with a working engine.

I’m somewhat familiar with the name. But he primairly worked with GM’s performance/niche cars. Not trucks (the SSR notwithstanding). Isuzu builds the Duramax engine for GM.

How much money are you willing to part with?

Honestly, I think you should forget about this truck. I wouldn’t pursue it any further.

I would not pay $4k for a RUNNING truck with over a quarter of a million miles on it; I certainly wouldn’t pay anywhere near that for a truck that needs a new engine! To a do-it-yourselfer, this might be worth $1000 or so. However, it sounds like you are planning to pay someone else to do the work, which means this would be a bad deal even if the owner agreed to let you have it for free!

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Kristina, you got a lot of answers that sound like lectures, and none of them sound like a person who has ever dealt with a siezed up engine. I’ll suggest a common, believable answer as to cause, though I don’t think I’d want to suggest you persist with this truck. One way – that I don’t think is rare – is this. The oil pump in an engine is usually pretty reliable, but 245k miles is a long life. When we are taught to drive, I hope we’re all told sternly that if that oil-pressure light comes on, we MUST shut off the engine immediately. . The reason for that urgency is . . . the likelihood of a siezed up engine. It’s just human nature to think, "It’s only one mile (or whatever) to a better stopping place … . . " Let’s just suppose that the oil pump intake has fallen off the pump and is lying in the bottom of the oil pan, and it’s pumping NO oil, NO oil pressure. The loads on the bearings are still very heavy, and the oil that’s in there gets squeezed out completely in short order. Connecting rod bearings are at the end of the oil supply route. With the lubrication completely gone, the rod journal on the crankshaft is rubbing very hard against the dry bearing metal, which is a very thin coat. If those surfaces sort of weld together, the bearing will likely rotate as it’s never supposed to do. Because of the construction, a rotated bearing likely will be wedged against journal so that it’s jammed and won’t permit any movement. So the engine cannot turn over – it’s seized up. A repair shop doesn’t want to try to repair something like that. Fifty or sixty years ago they might. But there’s not much profit in such repairs, and the shop will get a claim against it and never hear the end of it if anything else goes wrong in that engine.

Common causes of seized engines

  • running the engine without enough oil in the crankcase
  • engine overheats due to lack of coolant or failed water pump/belt etc
  • engine has water or coolant inside one or more of the cylinders and is hydro-locked

To get this truck back on the road suggest to budget for whatever the amount it is, parts and labor, to replace the engine with a used one. Probably on the order of $6500. The $4000 price as it is seems a little steep to me. If you could get it for $1000 say, then another $6500 for the replacement engine, might be a pretty good deal at $7500 total for a running Chevy 3500, definitely a good truck for a farm. But you’d still have to accept some risk, the transmission for example could also be bad or about to fail.

Were I presented with the problem, and my objective was the farm, not having fun repairing a truck, I’d just look for a better, already running example.

And that is where you would be wrong . There are many professional mechanics who replied to this thread .


And very experienced hobbists as well. :wink:


George, where did you get this cost? As others have said, a truck that may have been run into the ground could have lots of $$ needing to be spent.

You see lots of junk on Craigslist, Facebook, etc. with a pretty high price. This includes automotive and otherwise. I once saw a cheap no-name Wal-Mart TV for $400. It took several minutes to turn on and then had lines on it until it warmed up all the way. It was described as a great TV to just leave on all day as this wouldn’t be a problem. I figured this was maybe a $100 TV so went and checked. Nope, it was an $80 TV brand new and they wanted $400 for it with problems. I deal in electronics for a living. This thing has NEGATIVE value to me because I have to pay to recycle anything with a screen these days. At best it has no value for someone who is willing to deal with the problems. I come across people simply upgrading their TV and want their old ones hauled off so have several perfectly good spares.

This truck is the same way. Someone wants WAY TOO MUCH for a pile of junk. Go to the nearest scrapyard and see what scrap cars are bought for by the ton. Buy the truck based on that price and offer no more than scrap. If it is in fact junk, you have a place to get rid of it without losing a ton of money. This thing is worth several hundred dollars, not several thousand.

I bet you can buy at least a running version of this for a couple thousand more. The seller may get this as a part out vehicle though.


Keep looking. A seized engine means it needs an engine transplant. You’d be upside-down on the deal even if the truck were free.


I once went to look at a car. It seemed like a good deal and I drove several hours with a friend and a carload of tools to get the car running and drive it home. The guy knew NOTHING about cars. It just died on the way home from work and had to be towed home.

Remember this truck had a locked up engine. This likely means other stuff had been neglected. Anyway, back to my car.

I show up and try to start the engine. The starter felt like it was hitting a brick wall. I removed the oil fill cap and could tell the engine was just barely turning. It felt locked up. I then pulled the oil dipstick and nothing showed but some oil residue and small metal particles. Things were not looking good.

I decided to just look around. He indicated the car had “some rust” but nothing major. There were holes through major structural components of the car. I opened the coolant cap and it was nasty as well. I asked him when oil was last changed or added and he said about 10,000 miles ago.

I told him that I wasn’t interested. He knew that I had driven several hours based on his description and felt bad. He did drop the price by a huge amount and change his ad to include that the engine was probably locked up afterwards so the next person would know.

The ad you are looking at says the engine is probably locked up. You might have them pull the dipstick and see if any oil shows. Sometimes these are rebuildable but at significant cost and sometimes they have a hole through the block.

I wonder if Kristina will return and say if she bought the thing or passed.