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Old 08-07-2013, 06:58 AM   #1
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1991 34' Limited
Birmingham , Alabama
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Can my 2008 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT tow a 1991 Airstream Limited Classic 34'?

Hey guys,

I'm in the market to buy a new RV and was hoping that you all could help me figure out whether or not my truck, a 2008 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT with a 5.3L Vortec V8 Engine, 3.42 Axel Ratio, and Trailering/Towing Package, can handle towing a 1991 Airstream Classic 34'.

I've been researching online and the Airstream's Dry Weight looks to be around 7300 lbs which is pushing it for my truck. Has anyone else had any experience pulling a 34' Airstream with a Chevy 1500? Do you think my truck can handle pulling the RV if I install a weight distribution and sway control system?

I live in Birmingham, Alabama, so I will be pulling on somewhat mountainous terrain (not huge mountains, but still mountainous), so that adds to my concern.

Hoping to get some good news so I can join the Airstream Owner's community!

Thanks!

Jeremy
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Old 08-07-2013, 07:07 AM   #2
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1984 34' International
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The most important question is, can your TV handle the weight of the trailer? I don't think there was a Classic trim model in 1991, but the 34' 1991 Excella has a tongue weight of 800lbs, empty. The payload of your vehicle is 1,947lbs.

So even if the tongue weight of your trailer ends up being 1000lbs loaded, or higher, you still have an ample margin for people, gas and luggage.

I personally tow a 1984 34' International with a dry tongue weight of 620lbs with a Honda Odyssey minivan. All numbers, axle weight, total weight, etc, are well within the specs and capabilities of the vehicle.

I would not suggest this setup for anybody living in the mountains, or boondocking in the desert, but for the gently rolling hills of Ontario it is perfect.
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Old 08-07-2013, 07:12 AM   #3
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Yes, if properly configured.

More important question is "Can my suburban stop my Airstream?"

As your vehicle is "new", you have much improved braking than older Suburbans. I still would want to be sure your system is 100%
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Old 08-07-2013, 07:16 AM   #4
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I have pulled a 1997 Excella Classic wide body with a 2005 model truck like you describe. I can be done, but to me it was not a "comfortable" feeling. Now, when I say that, I mean that the truck still had the "P" metric tires on it, and I experienced a "squishy" feeling when making any side to side movement as in avoiding an obstacle or a quick lane change. An "LT" tire would probably help this. Will the truck pull the hills?
Probably, but, you are going to find it downshifting with that 3:42 and you will have to keep an eye on the trans temp so as not to overheat. It can be done. YMMV.
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Old 08-07-2013, 07:18 AM   #5
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I believe you will find that (once loaded) you will be significantly over the tow rating, rear axle load rating, and GCWR....for starters. The 3.42 is really going to hurt your performance.

I personally wouldn't do it, but I know some do.
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Old 08-07-2013, 07:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanB View Post
Yes, if properly configured.

More important question is "Can my suburban stop my Airstream?"

As your vehicle is "new", you have much improved braking than older Suburbans. I still would want to be sure your system is 100%

Please feel free to correct me, but to the best of my knowledge, except in an emergency situation, i.e. trailer brake failure, the vehicle should never stop the trailer - if anything, it should be the other way around, with the total stopping distance somewhat reduced with a trailer in tow.

Even with a brake failure in the trailer, gently does the trick. My first towing experience was with un-braked horse trailers, you hit the brakes too hard, they would come around and bite you in the butt.

Should the brakes on a trailer ever fail, the worst reaction would be to hit the brakes of the TV too hard.
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Old 08-07-2013, 07:37 AM   #7
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GCWR takes into account the use of trailer brakes.
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Old 08-07-2013, 08:32 AM   #8
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Truck should pull fine. Make sure you read, (follow me here) the owners manual. They have trucks set up pretty well now. Make sure your trailer brake unit is properly adjusted. A proper hitch is very important. This too must be adjusted for safe operation. I had the Equalizer brand hitch that incorporates load leveling and sway control in one simple to use system. One thing that I am a table pounder on is tire pressures. Build up of heat is number one cause of tire failure. Number one cause of heat build up? You guessed it, improper inflation. I have 2 complete tire pressure monitor systems. One in my truck / trailers, (horse, utility) and one on motorhome. I have Pressure Pro brand and have been very pleased. Wife asked about cost, I told her it was less than deductible when trailer and truck get sideswiped on side of interstate.
Keeping it safe is very inexpensive.
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Old 08-07-2013, 08:43 AM   #9
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dznf0g,

I am curious about your comment on the 3.42 axle ratio hurting performance. I currently have a 2007 Yukon XL with the 3.73 ratio and in thinking about a new GMC Sierra pickup and was going to go to 3.42 for better mileage when not towing. I currently have a '68 Safari 22' which is easy to tow and our largest unit would likely be a newer 28' Flying Cloud.

Thanks.
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Old 08-07-2013, 08:56 AM   #10
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With a 28'er i'd opt for 3.73.....but, if you are shopping new, the modern 6 speeds vastly improve towing performance with a 3.42. I would get the trailer, load it, weight it, and compare it's weight to the towing recommendations published by GM. Also, when you weight it, keep in mind that like people, our trailers gain significant weight after a couple of years of "accessorizing".

A 68 Safari 22'er weighs considerably less than a new 28' FC....I think.
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Old 08-07-2013, 09:02 AM   #11
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Yeah my '07 Yukon XL has a 4 speed tranny with the 3.73. I am probably going to wait for the rumored 8 speed to come out on the new trucks. In the meantime I'm happy with my '07 since it is paid for.
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Old 08-07-2013, 09:06 AM   #12
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Hi,
We have a 34' LTD also, and the first tow vehicle we used was a 2000 Chevy 2500HD LB with a 350 ci V8.
The truck/engine pulled the trailer, but any , I mean any hills or upgrades caused multiple downshifts and high rpm climbs. It was uncomfortable and the mileage was abysmal. I would caution against it.
As stated above the 1500 chassis is light for the towed weight, it may get you by, but it will be very hard on the running gear and braking systems.
As an example, we have had the same coach, but have changed out TV's in this order, you may see a trend
2000 Chev 2500HD Ex Cab Long bed 350 Vortec gasser
2003 Chev 2500HD Ex Cab Long bed 6.6 Duramax diesel
2006 Chev 2500HD Crew Cab Long bed 6.6 Duramax diesel
2012 Chev 3500HD Crew Cab Long bed 6.6 Duramax diesel
I'm a slow learner! The 2006 got the best towing mileage
So far 66500 miles on the Airstream, leaving next week for 8500 more.
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Old 08-07-2013, 09:07 AM   #13
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3.42 gear ratio is not a good towing gear especially if you are traveling any mountainous areas. Basically the lower the number( a higher gear ratio) the less pulling power you have but will get better gas millage at highway speeds. The higher the number( 3.76, 4.11 etc. the lower the gear ratio) gives you more power to pull but will cause the engine to turn higher rpm at highway speed so it effects gas millage. The happy medium is in their somewhere and all that depends on what you are pulling and what kind of terrain you will be towing in. I personally wouldn't pull a 34' whatever (any TT) with a half ton truck much less these small suv and mini vans the canadians seem to use. The numbers may work on paper but that doesn't translate to real world experience and COMFORT when driving. Just because the numbers say it will work if you are not comfortable and relaxed when towing then it will be a miserable experience.(I know all you Andy groupies will tell me you are comfortable and it is safe) If you don't want to upgrade to a more heavy duty TV then you might look at a smaller TT somewhere less than 30 ft. If it won't safely pull it without a WD hitch then you don't need to be towing it.( before everybody get their panties in a wad over this one a WD was never intended to make a vehicle carry weight it wasn't meant to.If a vehicle can tow it then the WD hitch will make it safer)
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Old 08-07-2013, 09:24 AM   #14
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You may be able to get by, but with that axle and engine side you aren't going to be happy with the performance. Especially since you won't be doing a lot of flat land towing. Obviously you won't be using OD.

The fact that you already know in your mind that you are pushing it means that this is going to be a nagging issue for you if you go through with purchasing this trailer. It's no fun when that nagging concern cooks around in your brain, every time you go out.

As much as you'd like that 34' unit, consider either a lighter Airstream or give serious consideration to trading up your tow vehicle. I've never regretted trading my 1/2 van for a 3/4. I always knew I was going to go bigger and when I did, the tow vehicle wasn't an issue.

Jack
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