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Old 12-23-2016, 04:22 PM   #1
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NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Hey guys, I'm a long time Colorado admirer but first time owner as I just took on a new project in the form of a 2008 Colorado LT Crew Cab with the 3.7L I5 that had been involved in a pretty mild frontal collision and I bought at a salvage auction. It's got just over 109k miles on it and the motor runs great. I plan on fixing up the front end and replacing the airbag that was deployed to get it to a point where I can get it retitled and have it become my new daily.

I've been working on cars as a hobby for a number of years (my day job is as a software engineer) but this is the first time I've ever taken on a project to this degree so it's pretty exciting for me. I'm hoping to document all my successes (and failures) so feel free to follow along for the shenanigans. I'm sure I'll be tapping into the collective knowledge of these forums a lot going forward so thank you all in advance!

Without further adieu here's the first set of photos from the salvage auction. I'm planning on picking it up after Xmas next week and starting the tear down ASAP at which time there will be plenty more pics to come!










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Old 12-23-2016, 04:24 PM   #2
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Looks like it will be fun! What mods do you plan on doing?
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Old 12-23-2016, 04:45 PM   #3
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Looks like it will be fun! What mods do you plan on doing?
Pretty high up on my list (after the necessary stuff to get it driveable) will be:

Speakers/amp/headunit - Probably nothing crazy, I've had Alpine Type-S setups in a few vehicles now so I'll likely stick with something along those lines.

LED/HID - My current daily '98 Rav4, bless it's soul, is a great car but has THE WORST headlight beam pattern I've ever seen so I cant wait to make the front of this colly shine brighter than the goddamn sun so I never have to deal with surprise deer crossings at night without any chance of seeing them coming. I also enjoy a little offroading and driving around in the snow so a lightbar for low visibility situations would be wonderful.

Mild lift - Again this is going to be a daily so nothing extreme but I'll likely try to squeeze a couple inches out of the suspension and perhaps a couple inch body lift.

Tires - The ones on there currently are in decent shape so it's a lower priority but I'll likely step it up a couple inches on the next set of tires.

Flares - One of the first things that really endeared me to the coloradoes were the big aggressive composite fender flares that the early year z71's had before they moved to using body color matched ones. Don't judge me but if I can score a cheap set of those early black/dark gray plastic z71 fenders I'd pick them up in a heart beat.

Winch - I love the utility of my rav4 with AWD and snow tires in the winter and I've probably taken on situations that I absolutely shouldnt have with the little bugger (and it's always come out on top, for the record) but now that I'll have something with proper 4x4 I'd love to also have the ability to get myself out of any future trouble I get myself into.

Tool Storage - Obviously being a crew cab the 5ft bed is already pretty small and I'd like to leave as much as I can of it usable but I plan on looking into a real slim/shallow tool box to have a place to throw straps and tools. I'm a huge DIY enthusiast when it comes to home or car related projects which was a major factor in the decision to get a truck as i've hauled all sorts of ridiculous things in my rav4 or on the tiny roofrack.

Rustproofing - I. FUCKING. HATE. RUST. I think I was forever scarred by an ex who had a 1992 Geo Tracker that she absolutely adored and would never get rid of but also happened to be the biggest rustbucket on the planet. Over a few years of maintaining that truck-let for her I welded in so many rust patches in that floorpan that I might as well just have replaced the whole pan. I had to weld in new crossmembers to support the gas tank, fabricate new rear shock mounts, it was insane. Consequently I plan on going to town on the undercarriage of this Colorado with a wire wheel and rustconverter to get rid of any sign of rust that may be there already and then bathe the belly in undercoating so that she stays pretty for many years to come.


With that all being said, if anyone here has experience with rebuilding the airbag system on one of these trucks I'd love to get some info on that to cross-reference with what I've read so far. I know I need to replace the driver's side airbag. The passenger side didnt go off so that's still good. From there I believe I'll need to replace at least one of the two frontal impact sensors, if not both. Is there a good way to tell which has been tripped? Also I'll need to replace the driver's side seatbelt restraint lock, but what I'm not clear on is if the ones for the passenger side and the rear seats need to be replaced too or if they're like airbags and dont trigger unless someone is sitting in the seat? Finally I'll have to either replace the SDM or get it reset, is there anything else I'm missing? I found the service manual on the forums already and read through the section on the airbag system and that's what I came away with.

Last edited by noeffu; 12-24-2016 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 01-11-2017, 03:10 PM   #4
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

A little update:

Got it home and started tearing down the front end.

The damage that extended beyond the front bumper/grille was contained to the bumper mount on the frame that was bent back and the grille mounting bracket that was part of the radiator support.


Decided to try pulling the bumper mount back straight using a hand winch from Harbor Freight and my Rav4 as an anchor.

Worked like a champ!

Now for that mangled bracket above it that was spot welded onto the main radiator support. I found a Colorado at the local junk yard and figured it would be easier to drill out the spot welds with a spot weld cutter bit and weld the one from the yard on than it would be to try to bend and hammer out all the damage from the messed up one.


I have a few more pictures on my camera at home that I'll add later. I also removed the seatbelts to get the retractors rebuilt, replaced the driver's airbag with one I grabbed at the junk yard, and sent the SDM out to be reset.

Beyond the damage repair I got a bunch of parts in including a new bumper assembly, fog lights, molded Aries floor mats, window rain guards, and Auxbeam LED bulbs for the low beam, high beam, and fogs.

Last edited by noeffu; 01-12-2017 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 01-19-2017, 04:36 PM   #5
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Another update:

Installed the LED bulbs from Auxbeam for the lows, highs, and fogs. They're hella bright and the install was extremely easy. I ended up having to get new headlights as I realized two had broken tabs and after finding a great deal on a new canyon grille I decided to skip trying to salvage the stock chevy grille and replace it instead. Thinking of doing a cutout of the stock center area and replacing it with a mesh panel as I dont really want to mix and match chevy/gmc emblems. The grille and new headlights should be here today but in the meantime I noticed the area where the bottom right tab of the driver's side headlight goes into the slot in the radiator support had been pushed back a little less than a 1/4" and was preventing the headlight from sitting nicely and bolting up. I worked on it a bit using a deadblow and my come-along setup and think I got it to come out enough to line up nicely but I wont be sure until I can get home from work and check it with the new headlights. I'll snap some pictures tonight of the progress and still need to get some others uploaded from my actioncam.

The Aries molded floormats fit great and look awesome, would highly recommend if you're looking for a more affordable alternative to WeatherTech stuff.

Hopefully by tonight or tomorrow I'll just be waiting for the SDM to come back from the company I sent it to for clearing of the previous crash data and then she'll be all ready for the inspection and retitling process. I'm getting antsy and can't wait to be able to daily this thing.

Last edited by noeffu; 01-19-2017 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 01-19-2017, 07:03 PM   #6
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

I like where this is going!

I love all the pics....... we are picture whores here
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lol... Guess everyone is too excited about the head work.
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Old 01-20-2017, 01:31 AM   #7
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Looks like you have a little experience in collision repair from the type of body repairs you did. Nice plan/attack should be a great truck to enjoy. I really like the size of the Gen 1 355. I have a 12 Canyon Crew in the beginning of a 5.3 swap considering the long bed install. I think it will let me have a more usable bed area. Gonna be a daily driver on
So Cal streets. Keep that build going on.
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Old 01-20-2017, 01:46 AM   #8
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

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Looks like you have a little experience in collision repair from the type of body repairs you did. Nice plan/attack should be a great truck to enjoy. I really like the size of the Gen 1 355. I have a 12 Canyon Crew in the beginning of a 5.3 swap considering the long bed install. I think it will let me have a more usable bed area. Gonna be a daily driver on
So Cal streets. Keep that build going on.
Absolutely fucking zero.

But here's the result of the night's work. Got the grille on and lights in. It's not perfect and there still must be something off with the driver's side headlight because it's not sitting as flush as I want but it's a start.


Last edited by noeffu; 01-20-2017 at 01:50 AM.
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Old 01-20-2017, 10:18 AM   #9
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Nice Work!!
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Old 01-20-2017, 11:31 AM   #10
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Amazing resurrection of a old, beat up truck. I bet you got that truck for peanuts and I bet the repair cost in total was dirt cheap! I'm still amazed that truck was considered "totaled" if it was basically sold as salvage. Hell, replace the rear bumper and no one would ever guess it was a salvaged truck! Great story, well done and thanks for sharing!
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Old 01-22-2017, 04:29 PM   #11
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Looks great. Nothing like the "salvage item" in the first pics. Amazing what a little bit of vision, new parts and makin' it happen. Will watch the progress, continue the pics coming.
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Old 01-22-2017, 06:31 PM   #12
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Excellent work, great to see another one save from the junkyard or crusher
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lol... Guess everyone is too excited about the head work.
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Old 01-22-2017, 09:54 PM   #13
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Very nice job. Lucky find on the "total". Definitely keep us posted.
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Old 01-22-2017, 10:05 PM   #14
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Looking good already!
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Old 01-22-2017, 10:59 PM   #15
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

So today I did some tweaking of the panels/bumper to try to even gaps up and such. I also did what I consider my crowning achievement and installed the window visors. As far as what's coming up I ordered new fenders and have a neighbor who does body work who just happens to have some Silver Birch Metallic already mixed up from a truck he was painting this week and offered to spray my new fenders for $20. More pics, enjoy!










Last edited by noeffu; 01-22-2017 at 11:01 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 02:42 AM   #16
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Love the facelift, really great work! She's really coming together, back from the dead!
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Old Yesterday, 10:02 AM   #17
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Looking damn good!

and $20 to spray your fenders......that's a damn good deal. Better throw some beer in to sweeten the deal.
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lol... Guess everyone is too excited about the head work.
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Old Yesterday, 10:10 AM   #18
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

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Looking damn good!

and $20 to spray your fenders......that's a damn good deal. Better throw some beer in to sweeten the deal.
Yeah he owes me some favors from helping him out with stuff on his car and he already has the paint mixed so it's not like he needs to go out of his way to do it. Just saves on otherwise wasted paint. I'm glad it worked out so nicely, too.
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Old Yesterday, 10:17 AM   #19
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Well.......gotta love being able to cash in some favors then!
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lol... Guess everyone is too excited about the head work.
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Old Today, 12:04 AM   #20
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Re: NOEFFU's Salvage to Savage Build Thread

Wow, looks like everything all came together at the right time. What did you use for the lift? Truck looks better every time you post it. Salvage vehicles are a good way to go for a budget build. Always nice to have someone to trade skills with, keeps the costs down.
What's next on the list?
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