Towing using an 06 Silverado 1500 questions?

Discussion in 'Chevy Silverado Forum (GMC Sierra)' started by vms4evr, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. vms4evr

    vms4evr Rockstar 100 Posts

    Got a handful of questions was hoping some of you could help me with.

    I have an 06 Silverado 1500 extended cab, 6.6ft bed, 5.3L with Z71, 4x4, towing package and 3.42 axle. 50K miles. It has never towed anything before. The truck is bone stock except for me replacing the shocks with new Bilsteins.

    I bought an 18ft lowered, open bed, car hauler and will be towing my Z06 to the track. The trailer weighs 1950lbs and the Z06 weighs 3150lbs. So 5100lbs total. Behind the truck. Then extra wheels, parts, tools, cooler, canopy, clothes, me, etc. Add another 500lbs. So maybe 5600lbs of total load on the truck.

    1. If I read it correctly the truck can handle 7400lb payload? (total weight of trailer/car and contents of truck and bed).

    2. The factory hitch says 5000lbs and my bar/ball are rated at 6000lbs. Will the factory Class 3 hitch work? Am I pushing it? Should I buy a Class 4 or 5 hitch? (the factory one looks as beefy as some of the Class 4/5 hitches I've seen).

    3. I'm thinking the Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller? Also GM supplies this pigtail sitting in my glove box. It says I need it to install the brake controller. But the brake controller says it just plugs into the factory harness? Is the cable only needed for certain controllers?

    4. I will not be adding a weight distribution system unless someone convinces me this truck won't pull well and I'll have to fight it. I've been told the truck should be fine on the highway even dealing with tractor trailers. Any comments or opinions from anyone who tows similar hardware?

    5. How well will the 5.3L deal with this load? Most of my trips are fairly flat land on interstate. Some will be hilly terrain from time to time? What should I expect for mpg on flat highway at 60-70mph?

    6. What is the deal with "tow mode" button and having the transmission shifted in Overdrive on the highway? I hear confusing comments. Some say you are not supposed to do it because the engine runs too low rpm. Some say it is ok on level land to squeeze out more mpgs. Hard on the transmission? Bad idea?

    7. Air bags or equivalent device to stop bottoming? I see the Air Bags that sit on the spring and tie into the frame. Supposed to keep the truck level. Assuming it is loaded down a lot. The bed will only have about 300lbs in it at most. The tongue weight should be about 300-400lbs. Does the back really need it with Z71 suspension?

    8. Am I missing something?

    Thanks for any feeback you can offer.
  2. lancer

    lancer Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts ROTM Winner

    i would have no problems hooking up the that trailer and hauling that car. i've got an 18' open car trailer and an 06 4.3L and i've towed ALL kinds of stuff with it and have had no problems. you shouldn't have any problems with your set up hauling your car, other than maybe losing a few mpg's. i used my truck to haul my old malibu to the strip several times and never once had a problem with it and to the nearest track to me is highway but its also up and down road. as far as the tow haul mode, i've always been told NOT to haul in overdrive if your truck does not have the tow haul mode. if your truck has the tow haul you can turn it on and still run in overdrive. this is what i do with my truck. here is my truck hooked up to my old car headed to the track........................

    and here it is hauling a friends 4x4 toyota to the mud bogs............. hope these give you some kinda ideas or information
  3. cain73

    cain73 Rockstar

    #3 - I have the Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller and yes it plugs right in as long as you buy it with the GM plug. When you order it make sure you get the GM one and it will come with the plug in as well as a universal one. It works great.
  4. Greg84

    Greg84 Rockstar 100 Posts

    The first thing I'd do would be hook it up with a full load and see how it tows.

    I'd also consider weight distributing bars before air bags. First and foremost reason, you wouldn't be over the hitch capacity with a weight distributing setup. If its rated at 5,000 lbs towing, it probably has a 7,000 or 7500 lb weight distributing capacity. You can also use a weight distributing hitch on any truck you've got in the future, you're most likely not going to be able to pull the air bags off your truck in a couple years and use them on a new truck.

    The factory hitch isn't very "beefy" if you take it off the truck. I pulled mine off last winter and couldn't believe how light it was, I'm guessing right around 20 lbs.

    Fuel mileage.. I'd guess 9-10mpg. I get around 9 pulling almost the same weight, but in a 24' enclosed trailer so its pushing a lot more air.

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

    Re-guarding....Number 6 and 7....

    The purpose of the Tow/Haul Mode is to:
    ......Reduce the frequency and improve the predictability of transmission shifts when pulling a heavy trailer or a large or heavy load.
    ......Provide the same solid shift feel when pulling a heavy trailer or a large or heavy load as when the vehicle is unloaded.
    .....Improve control of vehicle speed while requiring less throttle pedal activity when pulling a heavy trailer or a large or heavy load.

    Tow/haul is most useful under the following driving conditions:
    .....When pulling a heavy trailer or a large or heavy load through rolling terrain.
    .....When pulling a heavy trailer or a large or heavy load in stop and go traffic.
    .....When pulling a heavy trailer or a large or heavy load up Hills/Inclines

    Went Towing my Boat....I'm in 3rd gear and use the tow/haul for the above mentioned road conditions.

    Air Bags will help with Rear Sag and also helps with Handling went Towing....I have Air Lifts Rear air bags along with their compressor and Controls..(In the Cab)......Having controls allows me to adjust the bags for the changing road conditions........IMO it is a Great feature to have went towing.

  6. Sam_A

    Sam_A Rockstar 100 Posts

    Don't have answers for everything, but I just sold an 04 Z71 Extended Cab with the 6.6ft bed. I've pulled several cars in a 16-18' open car/utility trailer (pulled a Mustang GT and Honda Accord) and always drove with the TOW/HAUL ON and in Drive (in the really hilly sections I would drop it to 3rd to keep keep my RPMs around 3K and reduce the shifting points - my truck performed better this way, but level driving I stayed in Drive).

    As far as the #3 is concerned, Cain73 was correct. I have the P3 brake controller and bought the GM connecter and it was Plug-and-Play.
  7. vms4evr

    vms4evr Rockstar 100 Posts

    Thanks everyone.

    I went searching around the forum and was actually surprised there is no dedicated towing section. These trucks are, after all, supposed to be work horses. The first year I have owned it has been an easy life. Just commuting and hauling small stuff in the bed.

    Lancer thanks for the visual :) Pictures speak volumes.

    So the hitch will probably go and I'll get a Class IV that is rated to 8K-10K. The factory hitch says 5K but 12K with weight distribution. That seems a bit weird. That's a big jump.

    The Tekonsha for sure. I'll pay attention to get the GM variant.

    Thanks also for the clarification on the Tow/Haul guys. It's gonna get used soon.

    The trailer will be here either tomorrow or Friday. So I can register it Friday then play around with it. I haven't towed for quite a few years now. So I just need to play with the trailer a bit then throw the car on it and try it like some of you said. I'll have a couple of weeks to drive it around here to see. Then off to the track. This trip is about 700 miles each way. So part of my concern was if it sucks to pull with the stock setup it will be a crappy 2 days of driving each way almost all highway. It won't tow that far very often. Most trips are 1.5-5 hours each way. I'm doing one of my "bucket list" tracks this time. Sebring :)
  8. Sam_A

    Sam_A Rockstar 100 Posts

    Good luck and have fun!
  9. vms4evr

    vms4evr Rockstar 100 Posts

    Thanks Sam!

    Ok guys I just installed a Valley Class IV hitch rated at 10K and 1K tongue weight. This is a beefy hitch. The factory one is not that horrible and should be great if you stay in the Class III range and watch out for the welds. Mine looks clean as can be, and will be for sale if anyone needs one. The hitch install and removal of factory one is easy. Drop the spare. Loosen 8 bolts and out comes factory. Install the Valley unit is reverse. You just need a helper to stabilize the hitch as it is thick and about 50-60lbs. A 1/2 drive ratchet and close end wrench, in 13/16s for factory and 13/16ths and 7/8ths for the Valley. You need a torque wrench to bolt it down. 120 ft/lbs. Done. About an hour. The install guide says 30 minutes. Not happening unless you rush. If anyone is interested I have picture of the hitch installed. Looks clean.

    I'm taking my measurements and going to test the trailer on my 2" drop bar to see how that lines up. My buddy loaned me a tongue weight scale so I can get scientific about the weight. Instead of just guessing and measuring the drop on the truck when the trailer is loaded.

    Tonight or tomorrow I install the Tekonsha Prodigy unit. Since I have the towing package. It looks like plug it into the fuse box near the dead pedal. Screw the mount into the lower dash somewhere. Turn it on and connect trailer... Oh if it's that easy I'll be ecstatic.
  10. vms4evr

    vms4evr Rockstar 100 Posts

    Just a small update. I did get the Tekonsha Prodigy with GM pigtail. It was just that easy, plug-n-play. I set it as directed with an empty trailer and it works just fine. Haven't got chance to load the car on the trailer yet. This coming weekend.

    In the meantime I changed all fluids since the truck just hit 60K miles. Front and rear diff with 75w-90 RP Max Gear synthetic. M1 synthetic trans fluid and new filter. Autotrac II transfer case fluid. M1 5w-30 synthetic oil and filter. Lubed all the joints with synthetic lube.

    Replaced PS fluid with Valvoline synthetic. That was nasty black that came out.
    Flushed the brake lines completely. They needed it bad! Green fluid with too much moisture. Valvoline synthetic.

    I think I have it ready for the road now. I'll take pictures of the truck with trailer+Z06 when I get to Sebring Raceway and post them.

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