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Old 04-10-2012, 09:39 PM   #1
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Towing Problem with SUV

Hello,

I just got back from a nice camping week in Northern California. The issue I am having is with my tow vehicle. I am towing a Jayco X213 with a 2003 Chevy Tahoe with 120K on the od. The package struggled on the steep mountain roads and hitting grades of 7-12% taxed the Tahoe. It did make it and my Trani temp stayed below 220 when it was 45deg out side. But I saw RPM's in the 4k range and I assume that is almost maxing out the vehicle.
The trailer weighs roughly 4700# and I have the Tahoe 4x4 with 5.3L and the 3.73 gears in the rear. I think I am going to have to get another vehicle due to all of our mountains but I do not know if just getting a truck if I will end up the same thing or to go all out and get the expensive diesel.
I need some good advice from seasoned campers that tow in the North West, you are aware of the grades that must be climbed. Thanks in advance for your input.

Brent
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Old 04-10-2012, 10:06 PM   #2
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Sounds like you need a 6.0 ltr gasser or diesel if you plan to tow that terrain regularly.
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Old 04-10-2012, 10:36 PM   #3
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The 2003 Tahoe says it's rated to tow 7400 lbs. You are not even close to maxing out your weight. My friend has a 2007 Sierra with the 5.3 and tows a trailer much heavier then 4700 lbs with no issues. Maybe your engine is tired and not developing the power that it should.

I remember when a buddy and me had our boats which weighed about 8000 lbs on a trailer. He was towing them with a 2004 Ram 5.7 Hemi with 3 of us in the truck. We could gain speed going up hills, no shortage of power. A properly working 5.3 should handle 4700 lbs with ease.

Hopefully someone driving a 5.3 can chime in with their towing experience with that motor. The reason your rating is 7400 lbs is because your limited by the SUV chassis. A 1/2 ton pick-up with that same motor is rated to tow even higher loads. Its says the Sierra with the 5.3 can tow 8600 lbs.

I'm not sure that 4000 RPM climbing a steep hill is a big deal. I guess it depends on the feeling you were getting. Could you gain speed or did it feel like a struggle and you were not going to make it?
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:33 AM   #4
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Do you have a way to switch off the OD? I know I have to tow our trailer with OD off.
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:56 AM   #5
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azimuth-- Sounds like you truck shifted down to 2 nd gear which, under the circumstancs (grade & weight) it did what it had to do to keep going. As I have said before the weight is the weight, but the drag is the killer. I don't know if your tv needs a tuned up but that probably woudn't change anything. i guess you could buy a another tv, with more power, but if you don't hold up traffic sounds like your good to go. Larry
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:03 AM   #6
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Many of the RVers in the east get by with the small engines. If you live in the west and pulling steep grades you need a larger engine. I find my 6.8L V10 is acceptable. My TT is light but I pull stock trailers and just yesterday was pulling a fertilizer spreader that weighed about 15K loaded, I might add, with no trailer brakes or lights because it is a farm trailer from Simplot. If I was going to get another vehicle, and no longer being able to get the V10 on a 3/4 ton truck, I would be looking at diesels. Although I have always preferred Ford, I would be looking at the Dodge diesel. I have heard Dodge Cummins is the only vehicle that passes EPA without the urea system on it.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:12 AM   #7
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Keep in mind that it's not just power, but gearing is an important part. Chances are an 80hp farm tractor could pull a 400hp pick-up truck backwards. It's all in how it's geared and how the power gets to the ground. Your 5.3 SUV is probably geared higher then a 5.3 (or any other motor) pick-up truck. SUV's are primarily made to move people where as pick-ups are made to work. If you have a tow/haul mode you should use that. It will allow the motor to rev higher in between shifts and lock out the overdrive shifting. There are also mods you can do to get more power out of your 5.3 which would be cheaper then buying a new TV. But if you're able to maintain speed as mentioned above and your not redlining the engine I would not worry too much about it.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:07 AM   #8
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Thanks for the input. That is correct that the Tahoe will pull all day long with no problems on small grades to flat. I did tow in 3rd and I had the tow haul mode activated. It does change the shift points as it should. The truck runs excellent and I have always done the maintenance on it as well as add an after market tranni pan. A lot of the roads which were steep slow going, the truck went up them fine. But it is like it was almost bogging down at 2500rpm or going all the way to 3500 or 4000rpm. I guess that is going into a much lower gear. Tranni temp was climbing pretty good even though the temps were generally cool and I wonder what would happen in the dead of summer.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:23 AM   #9
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put a tranny cooler on if it dosent have one already. Also, does the tow/haul mode eliminate the need to drop it in 3rd? My parents have an '03 tahoe 5.3 2wd and never really hauled anything too heavy with it but nice to know how it would handle these situations. I agree, gearing can be an issue but also look and other possible performance mods (chip/tuner, exhaust, tuneup etc) before going off and getting a bigger TV unless your in the market for one.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azimuth551 View Post
snip....... Tranni temp was climbing pretty good even though the temps were generally cool and I wonder what would happen in the dead of summer.
One other consideration that may contribute to elevated tranny temps is the condition of the tranny fluid. TV's that tow often in mountain regions may rerquire the fluid to be changed more often then a TV that tows primarily on the flats. So I have to believe throwing in 7% to 12% grades on a regular basis must add to the fluid degradation as well.

Just thinking out load

Bob
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