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Old 07-10-2009, 11:18 AM   #1
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2004 1500 4300 vortec manual 3.42 axle

Why is my full size truck tow capacity so low? 4100 lb. max trailor rating. I want a 25' fb twin but like my truck. Any mods or new tv? Is a manual tranny good or bad? Which is better 2wd or 4wd?
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Old 07-10-2009, 12:18 PM   #2
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The 4300 engine is quite small, with low hp, and torque numbers. The 3.42 axle is designed for mileage, not pulling power. With a trailer, sometimes even a patch of wet grass will stop a 2wd vehicle.
Everyone has a "formula", for sucessfull towing, within their weight range. The lower end seems to be around something like a 5.3, with 3.73 gears, with power/torque going up from there.
If not 4wd, then a posi type differential, is almost mandatory.
Modern auto transmissions, with sufficient cooling, are very hard to beat, stick shift is for the die-hards, who need to keep their hands, and feet busy, although going down a very steep hill, in granny gear feels secure, starting out, going up hill, is hard on the clutch. You make your choice, and take your pick, YMMV.
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Old 07-10-2009, 12:18 PM   #3
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Your towing capacity is so low because you only have a V6 engine (4300=4.3 Liter), and 3.42 is not consistant with a truck that is equipped with the towing package. Normally a towing package has a 3.73:1 ratio, or lower. Usually a manual transmission equipped vehicle has a lower towing capacity. Four wheel drive does not effect towing capacity, but it does effect GVW or GCVW because it is heavier. Hope this is of some help.
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Old 07-10-2009, 01:52 PM   #4
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2wd or 4wd is a preference...but being in WI, I would think 4x4 would be a good idea.

4.3L is a V6 as has been pointed out. Folks suggest automatic trans for towing. Dunno why, but I don't need folks to point out that semis use manual...whole different beast.

You should have at a bare minimum at 5.3L 1/2 ton and if the 25 is a newer Airstream you really want the 6.0L.

What you have right now is a grocery getter, out there for economy and light towing. There are three mods you can do. Replace the engine, replace the transmission and replace the rear axle and/or gears. I think you'd be far better off getting used pick 'em up truck, but that's just me.
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Old 07-15-2009, 06:17 PM   #5
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You will find that your towing capacity is low because of 2 reasons. Your Tranny is a stick, and your engine is a v6. The V6 will tow more, if you put it in front of an automatic. ( opposite of the old days) 3.42 gears isnt bad, for a v8 but border line for a 6. But still an automatic tranny would make the difference.

The reason for Stick tranny's lowering tow rateing is. They are much lighter duty in part because tha cases are alluminum, and they use ATF as a lube. Years ago they were cast and used 90 weight gear lube. Honestly if you can drive a stick, you will be ok in the short.

Semi trucks are all together different. They gross 80,000 lbs and permit loads are way over that. The Trannys actually have pumps in them, and are as big as you engine and tranny together, but twice as heavy. There negines are not like pick up engines either. the only thing in common is they run on diesel.

If you are just weekend camping here and there, and staying around 100 miles from home, you are probably OK
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Old 07-15-2009, 06:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jginter4240 View Post
Why is my full size truck tow capacity so low? 4100 lb. max trailor rating. I want a 25' fb twin but like my truck. Any mods or new tv? Is a manual tranny good or bad? Which is better 2wd or 4wd?
Manual is fine if it has a low enough first gear ratio and is rated to tow what you have. In the V6 model, I suspect you are limited due to the first gear ratio, the 3.42 gearing, and the small engine's lack of torque. Launching the rig could take a lot of clutch slipping under certain circumstances.

In my opinion your 4.3 pickup is insufficient to tow a newer 25' Airstream regardless of modifications. It may be suitable for very short distances in flat terrain. If you're looking at other half ton pickups, look for the largest engine option and rear end gearing of about 3.70-4.11
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Old 07-15-2009, 08:27 PM   #7
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Tje 4.3 by displacement standards is a large v6. As I recall it was used in many light commercial applications and fleets with great success. It has low rpm high torque rating as well if memeory serves me correct.

The 1500 is a decent platform, get a 4:10 rear end if possible, and see how it goes. You might just surprise everyone on thiis forum and save thousands.
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Old 07-15-2009, 10:17 PM   #8
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The 1500 is a decent platform, get a 4:10 rear end if possible, and see how it goes. You might just surprise everyone on this forum and save thousands.
I'm performing this modification for a customer this week. He tows wagons, not travel trailers, but we expect to raise his tow capacity by at least 1000 pounds, for a retail price of $1200, parts and labor, including reprogramming his truck's computer. $1200 is a lot cheaper than any truck you could buy that won't fall apart when you turn the key.
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Old 07-15-2009, 10:52 PM   #9
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Dude, I had a 1500 suburban 4wd with a 3.42 rear end, and it was hell to tow with. I towed a 3500gvw coleman Utah camper with it and struggled with any hill, I had to drop her down to 3rd to get it to do anything. My mileage was at best 10 mpg with the 5.7 liter.

I now have a heavier trailer, Safari 30 at 7500 lbs and a 8.1 liter Suburban with 4.10s.....ahhh the wonder of gearing and torque. My new burb tows my heavier trailer better (and better mileage!!!), than the old rig.

Tall gearing is hard on the rear end, transmission gets hot etc.
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Old 07-15-2009, 11:03 PM   #10
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Looks like we're all pretty much on the same page here, the 4.3 and 3.40 gears, along with the manual transmission, won't cut it. You'll have to do something, or maybe several somethings, to get suitable performance.
Our 2500 series truck with the 6.0 and 3.73 gears gets 15 mpg MT, and 10 towing our 7,000 pound 31' trailer. I do know our 4.0 liter Ranger didn't like towing our less-than-4,000 pound Argosy. It had the high gearing like your Silverado.
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Old 07-15-2009, 11:14 PM   #11
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I had a 90's GM 1500 truck with a V6... it was soo weak that it could barely pull its own weight. I would never consider pulling an Airstream with it.

Combining a V6 with 3.42 axle and manual tranny = everything is wrong for towing.
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Old 07-15-2009, 11:17 PM   #12
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I had a 90's GM 1500 truck with a V6... it was soo weak that it could barely pull its own weight. I would never consider pulling an Airstream with it.

Combining a V6 with 3.42 axle and manual tranny = everything is wrong for towing.
Strangely enough, we had a Chevy Astro with a 4.3 (and automatic) that did pretty good for towing our smaller trailer. Maybe it was the exception proving the rule.

On edit, I remember a truck at work (1990 GMC 3500) that had a 4.3, and we regularly loaded it with a couple of tons of equipment, with no problem as far as being able to pull itself around.
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Old 07-16-2009, 02:18 AM   #13
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Key word is Torque Converter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
Strangely enough, we had a Chevy Astro with a 4.3 (and automatic) that did pretty good for towing our smaller trailer. Maybe it was the exception proving the rule.

On edit, I remember a truck at work (1990 GMC 3500) that had a 4.3, and we regularly loaded it with a couple of tons of equipment, with no problem as far as being able to pull itself around.
Hi, actually it is two key words. "Torque Converter." This is why an automatic trans has an advantage because the Torque Converter is, in other words, a Torque Multiplier. Anyway you still need 3:73 or 4:10 gears.
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:28 AM   #14
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Hi, actually it is two key words. "Torque Converter." This is why an automatic trans has an advantage because the Torque Converter is, in other words, a Torque Multiplier. Anyway you still need 3:73 or 4:10 gears.
Yes, the torque converter allows the engine to work at a more favorable speed. The one ton van belonged to Florida Torque Converter, and was a test bed for manufacturing and modifying torque converters.
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