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Old 08-18-2008, 10:33 AM   #1
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2005 30' Safari
Houston Texas , Texas
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Anyone tow with a GM 8.1 ??

Anyone have a 8.1 liter in a pickup or suburban? Curious as to your experience, do they use oil like some say, does it run hot?

Looking at updating my 01 with a 6.0/3.73 with a 05 8.1/4.10.

Thanks for any input...

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Old 08-18-2008, 12:31 PM   #2
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1968 30' Sovereign
1959 18' "Footer"
1954 22' Flying Cloud
Brussels , Wisconsin
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2004 8.1

I have pulled with an 2004 8.1 Suburban up to last month. It did not use oil, did not run hot. It did quit when it got hot out 90 degrees or more. Chevy replaced the crankshaft sensor, the fuel pump modulator and a couple of other things to get it to stop doing that. They never did fix that problem. It pulled our 30 footer like it was not behind the truck, get it moving and set the cruise and go! All at 11 MPG!

Because Chevy could not find the problem with it shutting down and a number of other problems, I traded this month for a 2008 Tundra.

Hope that helps

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Old 08-18-2008, 12:34 PM   #3
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I have a few buddys that tow with a 454 and they are beasts. 4:10 is steep. I also have 4:10 but have a Super Duty with a 5.4 liter and a 6 speed automatic tranny. I cant beleve you would have trouble towing anything up to 15000lbs or maybe even 18500. Big wheel stants. You should be well equiped for anything. Also Suburbans came with heavy duty cooling systems when prroperly equiped,I will say 1 thing That aint no Tundra or Titan, you will be getting a great tow vehicle. I think they get about 12 mpg towing.
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Old 08-18-2008, 12:39 PM   #4
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Our friends tow their SOB 5er with that the 8.1 and the Allison trans (a 2005 2500 HD. they get 7 mpg towing or empty. I borrowed it once to tow our hybrid and got 8.
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Old 08-18-2008, 01:41 PM   #5
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Ask Tin Hut

Fellow Forum Member and Airstream Life contributor Tin Hut has a 8.1 in his Suburban. Send him a PM and ask him what he thinks.
Kevin & Prim Li
Bandit the Siberian Husky (RIP) & "G" the Min-Pin (RIP)
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Old 08-18-2008, 01:58 PM   #6
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Thumbs up

Buy It great truck, the allision makes all the difference.

11-11.5 towing at 65-70.

13-14 no tow.

No oil or heat issues.

When you go up a mountain check your mirrors you won't know it's there.
'77 Sovereign Intl 31' CB
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Old 08-18-2008, 02:27 PM   #7
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Our friends have one, and tow there 27' safari. 8 mpg towing 11 mpg around town.... I followed him with my old popup once, and he past as easy as I did... Nothing will stop it... He has had no issues but only has 20,000 miles on it...

May you have at least one sunny day, and a soft chair to sit in..

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Old 08-18-2008, 03:22 PM   #8
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8.1 Chevy gas

I have an 8.1 gas in my 2001 Dually with a 4.1 rear and 4 wheel drive. No overheating but they did replace the engine at 6,000 miles because it was an early one that did burn oil. I have 45,000 on it now and no oil problems. I rarely use the 4wd. It gets 12 mpg at 70 without a trailer behind it and maybe 10 mpg at 55 with the 31 footer behind me. With the wider stance of the dually and full ton running gear, the trailer does not even seem to be back there. About the same mileage as my 460 cu in out of the 80's.I have not experience some of the stall problems some have had. I did need to replace a fuel pump and crankshft sensor at 35,000 miles for a charge of $900 just after the warrentee ran out.
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Old 08-18-2008, 05:52 PM   #9
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Great input..

Thanks guys, I bought the 8.1 !!!

I currently have the 6.0l with a 3.73 and it tows the Safari Bunhouse with no problem until........a hill. I even get respectable mileage and absolutely Toyota reliablilty from it for almost 120k miles. With all that said, I think if I can get 9-10 from the 8.1 with much better towing on hills and passing I will really enjoy it. I sometimes feel like the 6.0 is really working, however I know the newer (post 2k) vortecs like RPM much more than the old 350s/454.

I was just worried about the big block, memories from childhood with my dad. He never left home without a case of oil, distributor cap, and a gallon of antifreeze. I remember crusing across Colorado and him giving the family a gauge "status report", ...."she's runnin' about 240F..."! Gulp.

I will have to post some pics when I get her home.

Anyone know how much oil they hold?
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:02 PM   #10
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We have an '05 Burban with the 8.1 and the 3.xx rear. Doesn't run hot. May use a quart of oil every 5000+. We took it and the trailer ('05 Classic 30' SO) up a 10% grade in the Big Horn mountains. Water temp held steady. Trans temp was high, not in the red zone, but steady. God bless Chevy.
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:48 PM   #11
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We have an '06 2500 HD crew cab with 8.1, Allison 6spd, and 4.10 rear end. I pulls out 31' Sovereign beautifully. 10-12 mpg towing 65 mph. 12-14 mpg without. Uses less than 1/2 quart between oil changes. Love the Allison transmission. We will be keeping this TV for quite some time.

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Old 08-18-2008, 09:52 PM   #12
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River Forest , Illinois
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My 8.1 never has had an overheating problem, though she does burn about a quart of oil every 1,800 to 2,000 miles. It did go through the GM oil consumption test, and GM says that its oil usage is normal – go figure.

It is a pleasure to tow with the power of this engine. Gas mileage towing is about 9 mpg at 65 mph and 11 mpg at 55. Not towing, around town you will see about 8 mpg, and about 12 mpg on the highway at 70 mph. Whenever it fill it up around town, I have to remind myself why I got the big block – it is great for towing!
2005 30 Bunkhouse
2005 Chevrolet Suburban 2500, 8.1L 4.10 rear axle
Honda 2000
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by SafariSS View Post
Anyone have a 8.1 liter in a pickup or suburban? Curious as to your experience, do they use oil like some say, does it run hot?

Looking at updating my 01 with a 6.0/3.73 with a 05 8.1/4.10.

Thanks for any input...
Funny thing about the 8.1 question. I was talking to my neighbor Saturday A.M. He has a 8.1/Allison tranny 2500HD extended cab. He likes the truck ....except the fuel mileage. He pulls a Landscape trailer some of the time, HE is in the landscape business, and pulls a 24 ft. SOB with it. He Averages 7 MPG with it overall....yup...thats is everything from the time it was new. The best HE has got is 11 mpg empty on the freeway. They just got back from a Beach vaction pulling the SOB and he told me 7 mpg for the trip. It has 4.1 gearing and the Allison tranny.
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Old 08-19-2008, 06:21 AM   #14
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Houston Texas , Texas
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Fortunately the mileage is not a huge downer to me, as I only use the Suburban for towing. As I mentioned before I only get 10-11 towing with my 6.0 liter, so if I give up a mile or two with the 8.1 no biggie for the tradeoff of great towing.

I saw on the workhorse chassis website GM has durability tested this engine for 200k, that means with good maintenance you could go beyond theoretically.

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