(A Lump Of)COAL: 1997 Chevy Blazer – My Brief Life With A GM Deadly Sin


(Submitted by Joshua Ziegler)

Being fifteen years old and nearly ready to get my license, I was exploring all the different cars I could get. I had my heart set on a 90’s style K1500 Silverado and set out to find one. But when my parents presented me with me first car, a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer, that dream came to an end, to be replaced by a nightmare.

The Blazer wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was still a Chevy truck. The little truck only cost around $500, but needed a new transmission, since it would not shift into third. Maybe if you were going downhill it would shift, but that was rare at best. Driving the Blazer to the transmission shop, it was backfiring and stalling. After the transmission work and a major tune up, it was actually running pretty well.

My Blazer was a fully loaded LT with four wheel drive and a beautiful black paint job. The truck had features like power locks, windows, and seats, and tan leather interior, an electronic transfer case, and other goodies. For 1997, all LT Blazers featured body colored trim pieces, making mine look rather sleek. Aside from a few paint chips and fading rub strips on the bumper, my truck was perfect. No damage, no rust, and no paint issues.

That rather large 4.3 V6 growled along, swiftly moving the Blazer through the roughest roads. That engine has some power, but sucked gas. My gas mileage was often no better than the Blazer’s full size counterparts. The suspension setup was pretty standard for an SUV: solid rear axle with leaf springs out back and a IFS setup with coil springs up front. The Blazer actually rode along quite smoothly, but handling was iffy due to a lot of play in the steering and excessive body roll.

I quickly fell in love with my Blazer, but was soon met with some painful issues. First, one of my mirrors was ripped off at a car wash. That was fixed when I took the car in for new tires and brakes. Next, the hood latch broke, something I learned to deal with and never fixed.  The sway bar on the front suspension broke two times in three months. Then seven months after getting the car, the fuel pump went out. This was a surprise, as the previous owner had just replaced the pump before the tranny went out.

After fixing the fuel pump, I brought the truck home. When I went to leave an hour later to take the truck out for a spin, it wouldn’t start. Back to the storage shed for another few weeks. The cause now was a wiring issue that prevented the car from starting in any gear other than neutral. Upon fixing that and trying to start it, smoke started coming out from under the hood. The ignition switch was fried.

After those hiccups, everything was well except for when a little water got into the distributor cap. But then after twelve months of ownership the car was up for an inspection again. The truck failed for ball joints, exhaust, and the center stop lamp. The exhaust had a leak in it and the center stop lamp has shorted out. After fixing all those things everything was running fine until the fuel pump went out again.

The “new” transmission started showing warning signs of failure after the inspection. The little truck started having issues going into gear. I thought nothing of it at the time. The radio shorted out and the next day the starter went too. This was all within fourteen months of ownership and only 110,000 miles on the car, with less than 10,000 on the transmission.


The transmission finally gave out one night while driving home when it wouldn’t go into gear. It finally did but wouldn’t shift out of first. The transmission had just been one month out of warranty. My time with Blazer had come to an end after fourteen months. The car was sold for $500 meaning it was nothing but a massive loss. I carted around in my parents’ 1998 Ford Taurus for a while and was given the opportunity to buy, but passed it up for my next COAL.