Towing Help

Discussion in 'Towing & Trailer Tech' started by senorschmidt, May 6, 2012.

  1. senorschmidt

    senorschmidt Member

    I just got a Travel trailer for the fam and I am trying to figure out how to improve the towing performance on my suburban.
    I picked up the suburban last summer. It seemed to be in really good shape. It now has 157k miles, running really strong. It is a k1500 4x4. It has a cold air intake, corvette solenoids on the transmission (4l60e?), 5.7 liter, cat back dual exhaust, stock height. I got it from a guy who runs a tire shop and a detail business, so he really seemed to take care of it.

    I don't know what gearing it has, but I was thinking of changing it to 4:10. I heard that headers will most likely not help or even lower low end torque.

    So...what do you guys think. What could I do to improve towing performance? What is the stock gearing on it? What is the towing rating for it. I have a trailer that is probably around 4200#. Thanks.
  2. ejohnson03

    ejohnson03 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    The weight of the trailer you described should be very easy to pull down the road.

    Just remember to turn off the OverDrive.

    I am pulling a 21ft. hybrid travel trailer weighing in at around 7400lbs and have no problems pulling with my 1500.

    Post some pics of both the truck and camper when you get a chance.

    Welcome to the club...

    99'HEARTBEAT MODERATOR Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    :sign0016:To the Site......:glasses:

    To the find out what Gears you Vehicle Has, Inside your Glove Box is a White Tag/Sticker....which is the Service Parts I.D. Tag(Pictured Below)and on it you will see your Vehicles Vin # Number and a Series of Letter's and Number's which are
    RPO codes.....which stands for Regular Production Options...In Short what your Vehicle came with from the Factory, and unless the guy Changed/Swapped out the Gears?? will be looking for the One Following RPO Codes, to find out what Gears your Vehicle has,

    GU4 -- AXLE REAR, 3.08 RATIO
    GU5 -- AXLE REAR, 3.23 RATIO
    GU6 -- AXLE REAR, 3.42 RATIO

    GT4 -- AXLE REAR, 3.73 RATIO
    GT5 -- AXLE REAR, 4.10 RATIO

    The White Tag Inside your Glove, is Called the Service Parts Identification Label

    Here's what it looks like:


    Depending on what Gear's you end up having??......One item that will help with Performance, more than any other aftermarket Performance Upgrade, would be going with a Tune(Custom Tune)it will give you the Best Bang for your Buck,
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  4. senorschmidt

    senorschmidt Member

    @ejohnson03 - The truck tows fine. It gets the job done. I just want it to get the job done better. I am towing a toy hauler which is 8.5 feet wide, 16ft box, 20ft overall length, and probably about 12 ft high at the back and about 9 feet in front or so.

    @99'HEARTBEAT - Apparently I have the 3.73 gearing. I will check the diablo tune. Thanks.

    Any other ideas?
  5. senorschmidt

    senorschmidt Member

    I just checked out the Diablo site and could not fine anything for the 5.7 in a 96 suburban. It seems like they only go back as far as 98, but I couldn't find anything for the 5.7 on their site at all. As far as the gearing goes, I have the 3.73 gears.
    I also just checked a gearing chart and based on having the tires that I do (265x70x17 or about 31.5x10.5x17), the 3.73 are not very good for towing, but better suited for highway cruising. It seems that maybe 4.11 or 4.27 gearing may be a way to go.
    I think my first step maybe should be to install a large transmission cooler and temp gauge and see how hot the transmission gets when in O as opposed to third. I have just been towing in 3rd and MPG went from 13 to about 8-9.
  6. ejohnson03

    ejohnson03 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Tranny cooler is a great idea.

    Those gears with that tire combo should be fine for towing, just not cross country.

    MPG sounds about that same as what I am getting with my combo.
  7. senorschmidt

    senorschmidt Member

    So...if I were to travel cross country, like say from California to Chicago over the rockies, or to Alaska, what would you change?
  8. ejohnson03

    ejohnson03 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    The vehicle... maybe swap out the 1996 for a 2010.

    Ha ha...

    Maybe the rear gears to 4.10's along with the tranny cooler upgrade.

    I am looking to upgrade my tranny cooler and swap out the stock Rad for a larger one from a big block.
  9. MrShorty

    MrShorty Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    How much better? One thing I often worry about with this kind of question is if our expectations are reasonable. Yes, there are things that can improve performance, but, in the end, there's only so much that can be done. You might dump a bunch of money into it and not see the kind of gains you expect, when that same money (along with the money gained in selling the 1500) would go a long ways towards buying a 2500 or 3500 with a diesel engine that will do much more than the 1500 could ever do.

    I think if I were going to the expense of regearing, I would not stop at one step up. One step up (4.1) is only a 10% increase in torque. I would suggest at least 2 steps (4.56) up from your 3.73's. Remember that, with the 4x4, you have to regear front and rear, which doubles the cost of regearing over the 4x2. I'm also assuming that 4.56 are available for the 8.25 IFS, which may not be true.
  10. moogvo

    moogvo Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    No it isn't... It's MANDATORY! The BIGGEST one you can find!

    The 5.7 only has a limited amount of torque. Torque is what you need to pull heavy loads. You will only be able to pull so much with a 5.7 in a 'Burb. At the same time, you need to be thinking about how you are going to STOP that load. Brakes are too often overlooked when upgrading for towing.

    a half-ton Suburban is a great family hauler, but if you are going to put a lot of weight on the rear end of it, you might consider a 2500 or even a 3500. Unlike the 1500, the 2500 and 3500 will have heaver semi-floating axles and bigger brakes. the 3500 will have a more rigid frame and larger engine options.

    I could only drive my '93 Suburban on cloudy days. On sunny days, I had to turn the A/C off so it would have enough power to pull it's own shadow down the road!

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