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L98/LT1/LT4 Maintenance Cost

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Old 04-21-2017, 01:20 AM   #1
nlombardi
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Default L98/LT1/LT4 Maintenance Cost

I'm a younger guy seriously considering purchasing a C4 to use as a daily driver. Insurance is gonna kill me so I'm curious as to which engine would be less expensive to maintain.

This isn't a question pertaining to which engine is more powerful, that's an argument I've seen all over the internet hahaha.

It looks like it's gonna come down to either a 91 with the updated interior and body style but with the L98 or the 92-95 with the LT1/96 with the LT4.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-21-2017, 07:45 AM   #2
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All three are solid engines. LT1 has the optispark which gets a bad rap from poor aftermarket units.

As you say, you're a young guy and insurance will kill you. You might have made up your mind already, but this might not be the daily driver for you. The youngest of the C4 generation is 21 years old. Don't just consider engine maintenance. There is a whole car full of aged suspension, transmission and electronics to look after as well. That is the more complicated and costly items on a C4. In its basest form all three engines are derived from the original SBC, a long running we'll known motor. These cars are now old, no arguing that. It will have problems down the road no matter how well it's been cared for. There is no recipe or blanket statement that can say maintenance won't cost much. It is simply an unknown.

My recommendation would be to wait it out, hold off for now. Drive something else daily and save on the side for a Corvette that you can put much less expensive collector car insurance on (can't be your daily driver and I'm assuming you are at least 25).

Best of luck with whatever you decide.
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:41 AM   #3
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I've owned my 1990 6spd L98 for a year now, and I bought it for cheap as a daily driver in below average condition. The engine had fairly low miles (49k) and everything drivetrain wise was good. The interior had tears in seats, ripped carpeting, high reading tach etc. Nothing immediately threatening so I put it off. The bad- Brake master cylinder want bad, had to replace. Headlight motor broke so I had to disassemble to replace with a new 20$ part. otherwise, motors are expensive. Steering knuckle in steering column is worn so the wheel bobs up and down. 130$ part and some pretty dedicated labor. However, it has actually been pretty good. Since I only own the L98, that is the only thing I can comment on. Buying in a good condition, and thoroughly inspected will leave you with a fairly reliable old car. However, questionable maintenance will result in questionable reliability. Also, doing the work yourself will save you a fortune. Some of the repairs commonly done are cheap, but handing it off to a mechanic will absolutely leave you with a sense of regret. Especially if you want to save money at a young age.
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:23 AM   #4
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I'm sorry. I wanted to start with an apology since I can not tell you that one is better than the other.

Either the L98 or the LT1/LT4 engines are quite good. I lean towards the L98 being slightly more reliable, however the LT1 has been used in a lot of high mileage applications like the police cars, taxis, etc. that the police used for about 100K then the taxis used up to about 300k miles. In short both motors are basically chevy small blocks that can run nearly forever.

The transmissions are very similar between the automatics or the 6 speeds so no relative difference.

All of the C4's are getting older. with age will come things like plastics and rubber that age. That could be interior parts, suspension bushings, hoses, belts, wires and connectors, AC seals, weather stripping etc.

I have daily driven an '88 A4 and a '94 M6 for about 2.5 years and 45k miles each. Both of these were about the least cost of ownership cars I have had. I did normal maintenance, but there were very few repairs needed to either one during my ownership.

Some of the things I did to the '88 were to replace the valve cover gaskets, replace the EGR, replace the rusted out catback exhaust, the dash lights. I never repaired the antenna that didn't go down all the way.

On the '94 I replaced the rear wheel bearings, the driver's seat lower section, the front air dam (after I hit a big block of ice), shocks, a vacuum hose that leaked and would not allow the cruise control to work. I did not repair the headlights that growled and made jerky movements but still worked, or the antenna. I also repaired the whole front end and paint due to hitting a deer at about 65mph, but that doesn't count.

It really depends on the individual car. Some like mine broke very few things, while I have had other cars that broke everything. Make sure to look over the car very well before you buy and try to check that it is running and driving like it should with no funny noises, vibrations, no performance issues, etc. Starting with the right car is key.

Good luck

Last edited by QCVette; 04-21-2017 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 04-23-2017, 02:20 PM   #5
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L98 costs = basic small bock costs for similar vintage

LT1 costs = basic small block PLUS Opti, LT water pump, LT stub shaft oil pump drive...go online and price out this stuff...plus cost of changing out dual mass flywheel to single mass

LT4 costs, all of the above plus some goofball LT4 specific items, like non adjustable pedestal mounted rocker arms ...but they are full roller; lol...plus first year OBII , if smog is an issue;

don't let anyone tell you these cars are cheap...they ain't sure someone somewhere bought / inherited one and has driven it ten years with only oil changes...it happens, I guess, but any machine is going to need maintenance and corvettes, well maybe more so.

According to the author of "101 projects for your C4"...and maybe because he owns one, the most desirable / cheapest to maintain, 89 to 91 with an L98 and ZF six speed...but that's just one man's opinion.
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Old 04-23-2017, 02:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nlombardi View Post
LT1/96 with the LT4.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I own one, its a fabulous car...not cheap...but then I've done a ton of work on her...and it was running when I got it...well you can fill in the rest of the story
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nlombardi View Post
I'm a younger guy seriously considering purchasing a C4 to use as a daily driver. Insurance is gonna kill me so I'm curious as to which engine would be less expensive to maintain.

This isn't a question pertaining to which engine is more powerful, that's an argument I've seen all over the internet hahaha.

It looks like it's gonna come down to either a 91 with the updated interior and body style but with the L98 or the 92-95 with the LT1/96 with the LT4.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Yes...91, pre LT1 and your life will be easier.
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:51 PM   #8
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I'll weigh in here.
22 Y/O. Very mechanically adept for not having professional training.

LT-4 Car

I agree with the sentiment a couple have expressed. I like the face lifted cars but really hate dealing with smogging my car so an early-90s L98 car would've probably been the better move.

That being said, these are at the end of the day SBCs, there are some goofy things about them but I've owned trucks, a couple imported cars, and a couple domestic cars and to be quite frank, if you do your work to find a well maintained car it will take care of you.

Don't get me wrong if something like Opti goes haywire it ain't cheap or easy so you better be familiar with wrenches and cuss words.
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:57 PM   #9
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Also, maybe don't listen to me.
I'm young and stupid, but that's what makes it fun.
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Old 04-24-2017, 12:52 AM   #10
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They are all good L98, LT1 or LT4.

Service history is what you need to look for, C4s are now getting long in the tooth and will need more maintenance.
Look for some low mile examples or a higher mile one that has had a lot spent on restoration.

Seriously I would recommended a c4 as a weekend car, becoming too easy to get written off / totalled in a small car park accident.

A corvette is not just a car, they have character and hold a special place in our heart .

It doesn't matter if a daily drive for example a Toyota gets written off / totaled ...
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:54 PM   #11
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fyi , just did a mid grade full brake job last week on my 96 CE LT4 : $900.00, today new pair of magnaflow mufflers $ 575.00. i am old dude and pay out the wazoo for repairs , you MUST be able to do your own labor.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:27 PM   #12
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Default Depends how nitpicky you are...

I bought an 86 with fresh paint and a bunch of go fast parts just added. Started chasing a vacuum leak and now I have a fully rebuilt engine with all the extras. Complete brake job the whole way around and every single bushing + shocks replaced. If you ok with things not being to snuff then you should be alright but, you can dump a ton of money down this hole really fast....
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