Diesel swaps are nothing new. People do this every day but some swaps are more unique than others. For example, the GMC Yukon or Chevrolet Suburban is a neat donor vehicle to swap with a Duramax engine and Allison transmission. Coined “Duraburb” or “Durakon”, this swap offers the appeal of a diesel truck as well as room for family, equipment, etc.
Oftentimes, people wonder how this is possible? What all does it require? The biggest question in most projects is, what does it cost? In a video we found on YouTube by the Nazty Nate channel, he goes into every detail of his latest LBZ Duramax swap and we found that this is pretty good information. We realize that not every swap will match the prices of Nate’s build, but this gives you a good idea of what you’re up against when you set out to build your own Duraburb or Durakon.
For starters, you’re going to need the Suburban or Yukon. Based on Nate’s video, it seems easy to find your truck. It really just depends on how much you’re willing to spend and what condition you’re okay with having. Nate’s journey to finding the right one cost $4,500. “The first cost you’re going to run into is simple. Finding the Suburban or Yukon,” he said. “You’re obviously wanting to find a 2500 model and if you’re doing an LBZ swap, you want to find one in the 2003 to 2007 range because all of the wiring is compatible.”
So here you are with your new truck, but you’re going to need the engine, transmission, and other additional parts to complete this step. So, do you start looking for the best deals on an engine or transmission? Do you find a complete dropout drivetrain from a junkyard? “You can either piece your swap parts together, find a complete dropout, but I suggest you find a donor truck that you can keep there during the install so you’ve got everything you need,” Nate said. “I bought a donor truck and mistakenly got rid of a lot of parts before I was done when really I needed more off the truck.”
There were critical parts on Nate’s donor truck that he needed, but hindsight is always 20/20. Nate found a donor truck that was crashed for $4,000. For $4,000, he would get a running engine, a working transmission, a lot of the other items he was going to inevitably need. “The truck ran and drove fine, but it came with its issues. The transfer case, the rearend, and the driveshaft were all showing signs of failure,” Nate explained. “My initial cost upfront was $8,500 for both vehicles and everything I thought I would need.”
Now, we understand that his choice of trucks was a certain price. You may be able to find these items for much cheaper. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, you may want to find trucks that are in much better condition and you will pay the premium for it, but you’re getting an idea of what this will run you. “A few things I considered once the Yukon and the donor truck were bought is that these weren’t ready to mesh yet. I bought the wrecked truck with issues so right there, I’ve got more expenses into fixing the driveline parts I needed,” he said.
$700 went towards a new rearend, $400 went to rebuilding the transfer case, $50 for body mount spacers, and fresh wire and loom was another $50. Because he scrapped the wrecked truck’s cab prematurely, he had additional costs for a shift cable, too. That was another $100. Moving into the engine area, he wanted a fresh fuel system and because he wanted to go with an upgraded one, this turned into a $1000 upgrade. He trusts the AirDog fuel system with a sump because it was the easiest setup available.
“You could certainly use the factory sending unit and run it throughout the truck and modify the lines, but I wanted it to be reliable and easy, though,” Nate said. “Yeah, it was a $1,000 upgrade, but if you’re wanting to do any modifications to it, you’re going to need it.” So, again, this is all up to you. If you want to go all out, it’s going to cost you more.
Besides the cost of the Yukon and the donor truck, Nate faced around $2,000-$3000 in other items he wanted to have for his swap. With a grand total of $12,100, his Durakon was completed. So, you’re trying to do this on the cheap side, you could probably do this for $7,000 to $8,000. If you’re going to go on the nicer side of things, you could be closer to the $15,000 mark. It really just depends on what you’re wanting out of your Duraburb/Durakon.
We hope that this gives you an idea of where you stand on a cost to do a Duramax swapped Yukon or Suburban and we hope you come back for the next one. Stay tuned to Diesel Army for the latest industry news, new product installs, event coverage, and diesel-powered features.