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Old 02-26-2007, 08:25 PM   #1
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2003 GMC 1/2 Ton TV Question and Advice

My TV is a 03' GMC 5.3 4wd Z71 3.73 gears
2 people and not a lot a extra stuff and towing in the western US
The "book" says 7900 tow max limit

We are looking for a 23' or 25' Safari GVWR 6300
My question is for those that currently tow or have in the past a 23 or 25 with a 5.3 4wd. 3.73 gears would you advise it, or should we be looking at a 19 Bambi.

I have read a lot of posts on the subject and frankly my head is full., SO I am looking for a warm and fuzzy, or are you nuts ? you'll tear your gears out kid!

Thanks in advance,
Bill
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Old 02-26-2007, 09:00 PM   #2
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It's Your Call

We've towed with your set up. A 03 Tahoe 4WD Z71, same engine & rear end ratio. The trailer is an 03 22ft Intl CCD and a 5000# GVW and weighing close to GVW when under way. Pulled it around Oregon and Calif on Interstates and byways. It did just fine. If you like to maintain interstate speeds going up 6% grades, you can but the engine RPM jumps to 4000 in 2nd gear. If 50 MPH is OK, then engine speed drops to 3400. We also pull with an 05 Denali with a 6.0 V8 and 3.73 rear end. Another 40 #ft of torque and it moves easier.Often, one gear higher. Mileage is the same. If you pull another 1300# compared to me, at 6300# GVW, the performance will be down, noticeably.

A suggestion, ask to test pull the trailer you want to buy. If the seller is motivated, chances are you will get an OK. Otherwise, I'd bet there's at least one fellow streamer in Washington who would let you hitch up and accompany you on a drive.
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Old 02-26-2007, 09:50 PM   #3
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Sierra Towing

Bill,

We have a 4WD Sierra extended cab 4.8l automatic transmission w/3.73 rear end that has a towing capacity of 6 000lbs.
Our 76 25' Tradewind is about 5 000lbs plus 3 kids.
We figured 80% of towing capacity for a margin of safety and comfort.
While towing the truck rides very nicely.
My '03 GMC is a piece of junk and has been a nagging irritation since new.
Toyota could not have a better competitor.

Robert
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Old 02-26-2007, 10:02 PM   #4
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I pull a 27ft Safari with a 2002 GMC setup like yours. I have pulled my unit 34,000 miles over the last 5 years and the truck works OK. I replaced the original tires with load range E, 10 ply tires and that really helped the handling. The truck was a little anemic when going through the mountains but I was surprised that the 5.3 managed to keep up with most of the traffic.

Larry Ruebel
Bismarck ND
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Old 02-26-2007, 11:08 PM   #5
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I'll say straight out that if it were me, I'd go with the 23' rated at 5600lbs GVWR. It's a safer bet. Once you get to the 25', pre 2005, it's really easy to hit 6300lbs even not bringing a lot with you. Fuel, passengers and cargo all take away tow capacity in addition to the trailer weights. The axles were upgraded in 05 and the 25' can tip the scales at 7300lbs now (not that I think you'd hit near 7300lbs from what you posted). Additionally, the 25' starts getting you into the widebody units. Keep in mind I'm saying this based on my guess that you're going new(er). If you go vintage, they weigh less and you might pull it off.

My general feeling is that once you start to get past 5000lbs and into the 6k range and beyond, 3/4 ton provides you with not only the engine upgrade, but also transmission, axles, brakes, and upgraded hubs which IMHO and exp , is far better suited for those types of weights, particularly when you get into hilly country or mountains. There is a big difference in my book between moving something and towing it.
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Old 02-27-2007, 02:34 AM   #6
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Thanks for all of this info!

I too am looking at upgrading my TV.
Currently I'm towing with my 2005 Nissan Pathfinder. The first time I towed it was great...very pleased with the performance and drove my 19ft 2004 Bambi CCD thru the Grapevine which is considered a REAL test! The next trip it seemed to lag a little and now after my 3rd Rally...well....after unhooking it and driving without towing I notice that the Pathfinder is a little 'groggy' and the suspension is wobbly!
I believe that it would be just a short period of time and I would be seriously damaging my transmission or who knows???

I'm watching with great interest all of you experts out there with your invaluable experience and knowledge in deciding on a new tow vehicle for myself.

I'm learning alot about the engine sizes and have a question...
What is it with the 'torque'??? What does it mean in comparison to engine size? A salesman said something about too much truck and not enough torque...What???

I'm a gal....and I'd like something 'pretty'.... !!!! (comfortable...for daily use)

I was considering a Lincoln Navigator, but it doesn't get as good MPG...

GMC Yukon Denali 6.0 like the above post...

something about a regular Yukon but not the Denali has an engine that goes from V4 to V8 as needed??? Maybe someone can tell me/us?

Thanks for a great thread and keeping us all current on what's out there.


Debra
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Old 02-27-2007, 05:45 AM   #7
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If you can weigh the trailer first, they don't always weigh what they should.

Mine supposed to be 6600-6800, it hit the scales at about 5100.
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Old 02-27-2007, 07:04 AM   #8
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Debra, with a 19' CCD, you could go 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton. I found though, when I towed my 19' Bambi that a V8 really made a difference in towing in hilly or mountain conditions. The Pathfinder has what I would call a very robust V6, but I do question some of Nissan's tow ratings and have for a while now. I think their Titan or Armada, if you were to stick with Nissan, would be a better match for the Bambi, otherwise, you could in fact take your pick of what's out there. I will say that few vehicles get great MPG when towing. Most get "around" 10mpg with gas engines and between 12-15 on average with diesels, but there is a premium for not only diesel fuel, but typically a significant upcharge for the hardware. If you plan on ever upgrading from the Bambi (as a number of us have done), get more than you need. If you plan on going 25' or larger, 3/4 ton is not a bad idea.

My 2004 Safari is rated at 6300lbs and I did weigh it once with a typical load for me and it was at 6196. I think this lack of an NCC was one (as I'm sure a few) of the reasons Airstream upgraded the axles starting sometime in the 2005 model year.
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Old 02-27-2007, 09:17 AM   #9
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I do have experience with exactly that setup (Suburban though, which has higher tow rating than the pick me up). If you like to get around a lot I would stick to the 23.
Check out my thought here;

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ice-28886.html

PM if you have more ?

Bill
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Old 02-27-2007, 11:58 AM   #10
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well said

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillTex
I do have experience with exactly that setup (Suburban though, which has higher tow rating than the pick me up). If you like to get around a lot I would stick to the 23.
Check out my thought here;

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ice-28886.html

PM if you have more ?

Bill
bill,

read your post on the above link and couldn't agree more. i have had similar experiences; first towing a 3000# pop-up with a 2wd tahoe 5.3L (scary), then upgrading TV to a 4wd tahoe 5.3L but with heavy duty towing package(better), upgrading (downgrading?) the popup to a lighter (2500#), less equipped off road pop-up (better yet). upgraded TV to 3/4 ton suburban w/ 6.0L engine, which towed the pop-up great, but would still downshift significantly driving in the mountains if i tried to keep highway speeds.

i now own a 2007 silverado 3500 with the duramax/ally combo (crew cab, long bed - originally purchased for woodcutting) and recently ditched the pop-up for a 2005 22' international. towing the 22' ccd home from albuquerque, nm i set the cruise control at 69 mph the whole way home, except for going over raton pass. the duramax towed the 5000# trailer like it wasn't even theren not even downshifting when going up significant grades the suburban didn't tow nearly as well with a trailer that weighed half as much as the AS and got far worse fuel economy (i typically got 10-12 mpg with the suburban towing the pop-up and got a solid 14 mpg with the duramax towing the AS).

i am sold on the duramax as it rides at least as smooth as the suburban, pulls like a beast and gets better fuel economy than my previous gassers, even when not pulling. plus you have an engine that will likely last 300,000 miles plus. not to mention the grade braking features of the allison tranny which really make a difference when driving in the mountains, towing or not. understand it is an expensive option (though a 3/4 ton or 1 ton diesel pickup costs about the same or even less than a loaded full size suv), but well worth it IMHO.

as far as vehicle tow ratings go, my current philosophy, based on previous experience is: if you are going to tow long distances and really want enjoyable, no stress towing, stick with a trailer that weighs no more than half your vehicles maximum rating. you can tow more but it is just not any fun having your trailer pushing you around on the road. just my $.02.
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Old 02-27-2007, 12:11 PM   #11
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Torque vs Engine size

Babeebloos----Good questions. Think of an engine as a pump that takes air in, adds fuel, makes a spark that causes an explosion, which turns the engine producing cranking power which we call torque and then expelling the air it took in and repeating that process over and over.

The importance of engine torque is that it is torque that twists the drive wheels and makes the vehicle go. The more torque an engine can produce, the greater the weight that can be moved. The amount of torque an engine can produce is directly related to its size (displacement 3.0l, 4.6l 5.3l, 6.0l etc}. As a rule of thumb, the 6.0l produces twice the torque of the 3.0l and about 10% more than a 5.3l. The number of cylinders and their arrangement of V4, V6, V8, V10 are primarily a means of changing engine size. Diesel engines produce considerably more torque at low speeds for a given size than does a gasoline engine. Hence its popularity in pulling heavy loads, trailers.

A second item to keep in mind is that when we accelerate from a stop, the engine is initially rotating slowly and so torque at low RPM is key. Diesels are also better at this.

To improve vehicle economy, the mfg are starting to use the on board computers to control how many cylinders are getting fuel and making power. This is called displacement on demand. When you push on the accelerator for more power, all cylinders work. When you are cruising on flat ground at a constant speed, the engine drops back to a V4.

Currently, the Lincoln Navigator engine does not have that feature, some of the GM trucks do. The influence on mpg is about 10%. The 6.0l Denali may not currently have that feature like the 5.3l Yukon does, but it will have it in a matter of months.

For your 19 ft Bambi, a gas engine is just fine. If you had a 34 ft trailer, then a diesel would be a real advantage.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-27-2007, 01:20 PM   #12
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Deb-

Torque and Horspower explained above, though should add that HP is always measured as work-ability at a given engine RPM.. Torque is "Power to Twist" while HP is power to move things along. Think of high perfromance race cars with 800HP engines screaming at 14,000 RPM, yet they almost stall leaving the pits after fuel stop, due to lower torque.. Diesel tractor can pull tree stumps at 2MPH, but engine turns slowly...

And as for Pathfinder being "Groggy and Wobbly", I'd hate to cost a sales person a commision on your new vehicle, but you may want to have it checked to see if something is just worn or needing adjustment. Tire pressure and shock absorbers and sway bar can affect handling significantly, and fuel injection or transmission filter and fluid levels can impact performance and acceleration...

If you go new, with room for art work in back, Tahoe or Yukon Denali or Expedition or Navigator or Escalade would all work well, with good stiff suspensions... For your trailer, I don't think you are close to needing a 3/4 ton or big engine or diesel... For fun, the VW Taureg V8 or Diesel is very elegant inside, and several members here are using one to pull their smaller trailers... I'd resist Dodge Ram or Jeep Grand Cherokee (roughly the same vehicle) as being a little short of wheelbase for towing, though many do use them with Bambi's... Just personal opinion...
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