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  1. #1

    Default New to Forum - Towing questions & do I have the the right burb?

    I have a 2010 Suburban 1500 LT w/ 5.3L engine and 3.08 axle; I was not smart enough to investigate the axles & towing relationship before buying the car. Last summer I pulled a small MPG trailer loaded at +/- 3400 lbs about 10,000 cross country. Overall, the car did well, but I became very apprehensive with the bigger hills and passes in the northwest due to the tranny temps during a climb. On a number of occasions, when the temp would hit 220, I would pull over & idle to pull heat off. And even thought it is rated at 5000lbs for that axle, there were a few times that I thought I might not be able to get that 3500lbs over the hill.

    I'm headed out in three months again for another trip and wondering what I could do to improve things.

    #1- Is it wise, cost effective or necessary to consider having a different axle installed on my car, or would it make more sense to trade?

    #2- According to my paperwork, I have a Heavy Duty Towing Package installed, and have been told that includes a tranny cooler, but are there upgrades or anything else I can do to improve performance or safeguard the vehicle?

    #3- I am spoiled by the room and comfort of the suburban, and travel with my dogs so the extra air conditioned space is really handy - but is there a better vehicle for me to consider?

    Thanks for any and all input
    johnmichael

  2. #2
    Jr. Engineer Jamm3r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnmichael View Post
    #1- Is it wise, cost effective or necessary to consider having a different axle installed on my car,
    Over the course of years I have had several trucks with a rear axle ratio that I would have liked to change. However, due to the expense, I have never actually followed through with a change. For a 2wd truck, you're looking at around $400 in parts and maybe $800 in labor, for a 4wd truck, more than twice that.

    My 2004 2500 'burb has 4.10 gears, I tow an 8,500 pound trailer, and on a hot summer's day in hill country the transmission temp will typically be over 200. At that point the computer firms up the shifts and stays in lower gears longer and the temp no longer rises. With modern fluids and seals the trans can run hotter than that without damage. How much hotter is debatable but in reality the computer won't let you push it much past that so it doesn't matter much.

    or would it make more sense to trade?
    Only if the ashtrays are full

    I mean, you're still way under the towing limit. People go over it all the time without changing the r&p.

    #2- According to my paperwork, I have a Heavy Duty Towing Package installed, and have been told that includes a tranny cooler, but are there upgrades or anything else I can do to improve performance or safeguard the vehicle?
    You can see if you can find an oversized transmission pan. I have one on my 'burb but I'm not sure how much it really helps. I don't know if they're available for the 2010 -- try Summit Racing or mag-hytec.com.

    Also, you can replace the fluid a little more often than the factory recommended interval. I replace mine every 30,000.

    #3- I am spoiled by the room and comfort of the suburban, and travel with my dogs so the extra air conditioned space is really handy - but is there a better vehicle for me to consider?
    If you need the space of a 'burb there's no substitute unless you want the now-discontinued Ford Excursion. If you can get by with less room well then there's the Tahoe, the Expedition from those folks over at the blue oval, and the Nissan Armada.
    Minneapolis area - 1997 K2500 regular cab long bed + 8.5' Western Unimount plow + modified transmission + 2nd battery + modified camper charge circuit + 1971 Cayo camper -and- 2004 4x4 Suburban 2500 8.1 + Maxbrake controller + 2nd battery + modified trailer charge circuit + Reese receiver, pulls 30' Airstream trailer

  3. #3

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    You know, it's not the end of the world if you are towing with 3.08 gears, you just have to tow a little smarter.

    Your 5.3 should have the 6 speed transmission. Gear 5 and gear 6 are both overdrive gears.
    Your 6 speed should have the "M" selection on the gearshift selector.
    Your 5.3 should also have the tow/haul feature.

    My suggestion:
    - use the tow/haul feature (if will raise the shift points)
    - Use the "M" (manual shift selection), the + and - on the paddle refers to up and down shifting of the transmission gears.
    - use gear 5 for normal driving while towing (never select the 6th gear)
    - on a hill, manually downshift (using the paddle) into 4th gear, if the hill is steep, paddle down to 3th.
    - when you reach the top of the hill, paddle back to 5th gear.

    And the most important one, install a transmission cooler.
    Ray

    '09 Avalanche LTZ - Black
    '05 Envoy XL (sold)

  4. #4

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    I have a '97 w/ 350. I have the tow package. I still added an extra trans cooler and a real trans temp gauge. I pull a 6K+ lb trailer. Only time I was worried about it was pulling up the grade on I-40 heading to Asheville, NC. Temp got to 230/240 or so for the last mile of the hill. Normal temp with the trailer is 200-210. As soon as I got over the ridge and started down the other side, it cooled right off and was good to go. Had the trans checked when we got back. All was good.

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