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  1. #1

    Question Towing cross a couple ?s

    Hey everybody!
    This is my first post on the site here, so I'm hoping I get some helpful responses! I have a beautiful '87 gmc v1500 full size burby. On September 1st I plan to move cross country-Seattle, wa area to southwest NewHampshire. As is my truck is full stock, no lift, or other mods. I plan to fill her up completely with boxes and the such...pretty normal household stuff. The heaviest item being loaded is my snap on kra bottom box (around 400lbs). As well as the truck being packed full I will also be towing my 1994 Acura integra on a car dolly trailer. The integra will be loaded with boxes containing light items, you know clothes and the like. My truck just had its 100,000th mile! Runs super solid, strong, reliable. I have never done this lengthy of a drive before, let alone hauling a full load. Just looking for any advice from all of you experienced towers. Do I need to install a trans temp gauge? If so,should I do inline, or in the pan? How about an aftermarket trans cooler, or is the stock radiator trans cooler efficient enough? Oh, nearly forgot the basics... She's a throttle body injected 350 3speed auto with shift kit.
    Thanks in advance for any advice/insights.

  2. #2

    Enkeiavalanche's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Piermont,NY, back in Northern NJ now, But may be in IL soon....


    Wow Long move..If you come to the NNJ/NY area before NH let me know.. Anyway I would just take it slow and easy. you should be fine, Also be very careful on the Big Mt hills. You say you do have a Trans cooler? Good, A gauge for the Trans Temp would also be good to get..

    Welcome to the site...
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  3. #3


    Enkeiavalanche, he doesn't have either. I would advise him to get both. The load between the truck and trailer will probably be pretty close to the max weights for the truck. I'm guessing the 'burb has something in the range of 3.08 to 3.55 gears in it, which are great for long flat highways unloaded, not so great for towing, heavy loads, and mountains.

    You say you have a 3 speed transmission? I guess it's a TH400. That's a good strong transmission, but any little bit you can do to help it keep cool will mean the farther you get before it starts slipping due to heat. Temp senders in the pan are generally preferred, but anywhere you can easily fit a temp sender gives you some idea as to how the transmission's doing. The stock trans cooler is ok for driving and light towing, but as before, with the long hauls, go for better cooling.

    As for the rest of the truck, if you can, give it a full tune-up before the trip. There's no sense in not making sure as few things can go wrong as possible. Double-check those spark plug wires are firmly secured and up away from the exhaust. That one stranded me in the middle of nowhere in Texas for 2 days and killed my transmission when I lost 2 spark plug wires on a long-haul. Check the suspension and look for any torn or missing boots or boots with grease leaking out of them. Make sure your tires are inflated to the proper pressure.

    Fuel mileage is going to suck for you. When I made my last long haul towing a trailer, I was only making 12-13 mpg, and that was with a 700R4 transmission with overdrive. Keep a light foot whenever possible with your speed around 60mph, and you should do ok.

    And most of all, have fun, but be vigilant to what's going on with your truck. Mr. Murphy likes to hide behind every corner.

    1991 Chevy Suburban 1/2 ton 2WD w/ chevy SBC 350-3/4 ton drivetrain upgrade w/4.10 gears 200K miles
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  4. #4


    What route will you be taking? I-80? or another route?
    Between mountain passes and stop and go driving in the construction zones. Yes on both and make sure your coolant is spot on.
    2010 Chevy Silverado Z71 ext cab.4x4
    72 Monte Carlo 350-415 hp- sold (June 2011) to pay medical bills
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  5. #5
    Sr. Mechanic Ridyn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Blog Entries


    Transmission cooler, transmission cooler, transmission cooler, and transmission cooler. I mentioned it that many times because nothing can ruin a good tow than an over heated transmission. A flat, or a radiator hose going out sucks, but are quick fixes if you're somewhere not too far from an auto parts store, but an over heated transmission that fails and decides to blow more than just a head ache.

    "Never ask a man if he's from Texas. If he is, he'll tell you. If he isn't, there is no need to embarrass him."

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  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Ridyn View Post
    Transmission cooler, transmission cooler, transmission cooler, and transmission cooler. I mentioned it that many times because nothing can ruin a good tow than an over heated transmission. A flat, or a radiator hose going out sucks, but are quick fixes if you're somewhere not too far from an auto parts store, but an over heated transmission that fails and decides to blow more than just a head ache.
    Amen. This is the #1 thing you can do to protect yourself. Get the BIGGEST one available (it's like $5 or $10 more) and mount that sucker up front. I have a 35Klb GVWR cooler on my 1500 and couldn't be happier. Remember that decreasing the average temperature 20 degrees over the life of the transmission doubles it's life.

    Also, because tranny fluid breaks down over time (but is still useful), you'll have the most protection by doing a transmission flush before you go to ensure you're starting from a good state.


    2006 Vortec Max 1500
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  7. #7


    Thanks for all the suggestions fellas! I did install a b&m trans temp gauge, very handy! the sender unit is inline with my return flow. I also installed a large cooler in the front of the truck, has helped a ton! I have a full load in the truck, and in the integra I'm towing behind it. This sucker is HEEEEAVVY... But it's conquered every pass the NW has thrown at it so far with ease! Trans temp has barely ran over 160, and is crushing along at about 120 or so. I am in Bozeman for the night, and have one last pass to get through in the morning before I'm in Wyoming.
    I have had one big issue that left me stranded at the top of lookout pass (Idaho/Montana border) and I'm gonna have to blame craw daddy for jinxing me. Two of my spark plug wires caught fire for noo good reason... Thankfully I noticed the significant power loss and pulled over to check everything out Imediately. Popped the hood, and saw the fire!! Luckily, I had a gallon jug of water handy. And the tow guy aaa called was kind enough to bring a new set of wires!

  8. #8
    Sr. Engineer
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Western Maryland/Wyoming


    Hi. Hope the trip is going well. It looks like you are taking I-90. It's a good route. I have towed with my 02 burb, from Wyoming to NYS. Except for construction zones and traffic around Chicago and Cleveland, you should have clear sailing. There is an excellant AAA garage in Mitchell, SD, if you run into any other problems. Good luck.

  9. #9


    Good luck on the trip. I've made the trek as well but we went from Spokane to South Dakota and then turned south to Louisiana in 2 fords. Let us know when you get there.

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  10. #10


    Yes indeed. Taking I-90 mostly. Besides one slight detour down into Iowa. Besides the potentially trip ruining underhood fire (the spontaneous plug wire combustion) haven't had any problems yet...though gas mileage is pretty spendy. I averaged around 8mpg from central Washington to Bozeman, Montana. Hoping it gets a little better now that I'm out of the mountainous areas. Drove from Bozeman into rapid city, Wyoming today, am staying overnight here and pushing all the way to Pocahontis, iowa tomorrow. Will be staying a day or two with family thereabouts and doing a little maintenance and inspection, then continuing on to New Hampshire. So far so good! Ohhh, also, while the eastern Montana/Wyoming region is somewhat dull scenery wise, there are a lot of wildfires burning, which made it a little more interesting. One in Wyoming not more than a mile off I-90 that a got to drive by as the sun was setting made for a VERY awesome sight perfect view, truly amazing sight. And the red moon accompanying it was just gorgeous!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Ooops, that's rapid city, south Dakota.

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