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Old 10-10-2007, 03:04 PM   #1
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2005 31' Classic
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Tow Vehicle for a 2005 Classic 30' WB

I recently bought a 2005 Airstream Classic TT (a 30' Wide Body) and towed it home over some moderately steep grades using a 2007 Yukon XL 3/4 Ton 4x4. I had a problem on the downhill stretch which shook me pretty badly. I downshifted from drive into 3rd gear and a VERY LOUD mechanical whining noise started and eventually stopped when I switched back to Drive. I don't think I lost a gear but the noise was pretty bad. I almost made it home without further incident but then the whining noise started and stopped in Drive three times starting about 10 miles from the house. The Yukon is in the shop now with the transmission in pieces and I am wondering if this thing was caused by driver error (I am not sure what I did wrong, if it was), whether this was a fluke incident caused by a bad part or whether I have enough truck to handle the TT. Any thoughts or suggestions?
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:40 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about your problems Ramblin. Not familiar with the Yukon line of SUVs. However, I went to the GMC website to see what your SUV is capable of towing.

The 2007 3/4 ton with V8 and 4wd says it can tow 9,300 lbs. (Note: **Maximum trailer ratings are calculated assuming standard equipped vehicle, driver, and required trailering equipment. The weight of option equipment, passengers, and cargo will reduce the maximum trailer weight your vehicle can tow. 10% to 15% of the trailer weight is the recommended trailer tongue load.)

The SUV also has a max payload of 2,120 lbs. (Note: ¶Maximum payload capacity includes weight of driver, passengers, optional equipment, and cargo.)

I don't have the Airstream 2005 weights but looking at the latest info on the Airstream website for the 31', as indicated in you profile, has a dry weight of 7050 lbs without options and its max GVWR appears to be 10,000 lbs.

The hitch weight without options is 760 lbs which you would subtract from your Yukon's payload capacity leaving you 1360 pounds to divvy up btwn passengers, cargo and fuel.

You mentioned that you downshifted into 3rd gear when you started getting the problems does that mean you only have a 4 speed automatic? It would seem that if you have the 3/4 ton it should have come equipped with GMC's 6-speed automatic, heavy duty, electronically controlled, with overdrive and tow/haul mode.

I don't have any answers for you but it would seem to me having read a lot on these forum threads about proper TV, that your Yukon would seem to be a little underpowered for the size trailer you're pulling or you're at close to its max capabilities.

I may be wrong and would hope others out there reading this would correct me if I'm wrong.
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:47 PM   #3
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We tow our 2005 Safari 25FB with a 2005 Yukon XL 2500 4x4x4. We have doen over 20,000 miles with this combo. We have done extensive touring in the rockies. We have not yet experienced what you described. We have done long down-grades and have down shifted without anything unuasual happening.
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:28 AM   #4
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How fast/how many revs when you downshifted?
May have been too hard of a downshift...
GM trannys are particularly bullet proof and you have the HD in that truck.

To answer part of your question; that 3/4 ton is all the truck you should need.
Have them put shift kit in while they have your tranny out.
Oh Yeah, use TH mode whenever you are towing.

And be more careful with the manual downshifts...

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Old 10-11-2007, 08:14 AM   #5
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I have an 04 Burb with 4.10s, 4L80e trans, and the 6.0L in my 3/4 ton Burb.

I agree that the 3/4 ton is all you need for a 30' unit of that year. I do have some reservations though about the Burbs capability only from the standpoint if you are a real packer of stuff when you go camping. Yes it is true that the 2005 30' Classic is rated at 10k GVWR, but that is now including nearly 3,000lbs of NCC. If say you pack only about 1000lbs of stuff and have reasonable passenger and cargo as well, the 30' and 31' could be within the safe tow ratings of a 3/4 ton Suburban or Yukon XL.

Now also keep in mind that a 3/4 ton Burb or Yukon, though still a legit 3/4 ton in all respects, the Silverado or GMC pickup lines have more robust frames, differentials (full floaters), and, a diesel/allision option, making them better geared for what I like to call the 10,000 (lb) club.

If you pack that 30' Classic full or near it's max NCC, which I would find hard to believe (but possilbe), I would strongly suggest you get into a HD series pickup, and most likely get one with a diesel.

Now for the trans issue, typically GM has the computer refuse to downshift to certain gears, regardless if you pull the selector to a gear maually, if the RPMs are too high, this is to help protect the trans from having major issues in this type of situation. I'm not sure I agree that the 3/4 ton 4L80e in that truck is a six speed. I beleive it to be and OD 4 with tow/haul.

I am a bit concerned about the vibrations and sounds you are having, as you most likley know, thay are not typical or normal. I'm glad you briugh the TV to the dealer to make sure the trans is still in good shape. If that is not the cause, then I'd also have them look at the driveshaft is still properly balanced and not bent or distorted, and ther rear gears.

Please post what they find as the root cause of this, because sometimes, these issues, though on the surface seem exlcusive to one GM truck, typcially can be seen in others and it might save some other GM truck owners (like me ) some troubleshooting time.
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:28 PM   #6
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This Yukon was purchased with a 3.73 rear end in it and changed by the dealer to a 4.10 rear end to get us to the towing capacity we thought we would need. I was a bit nervous about this but was advised that Yukons come off the assembly line ready to accept either rear end without any modifications necessary to the rest of the vehicle.

I suppose it is possible that the rear end switch caused a problem; when mechanics have to monkey around with things like rear ends and drive trains there is always a possibility of error.

The transmission is a 4 speed with a tow/haul feature and the unit has the heavy duty tow package. It is supposed to haul a 9,400 lb. trailer and the 30' Classic was essentially empty when we picked it up so it shouldn't have even come close to the GVWR of 8,900. I thought this was good enough but maybe I was wrong. I guess if this doesn't work out, my next stop will be to a Dodge dealer to look at 2500 Ram pickups. I will share the diagnosis of the dealer when I get it - the Yukon has been in the shop for a week and a half.
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:36 PM   #7
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If you're going to buy a new truck, get a 3500 or equivalent, skip right over the 2500s or 250s.
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PWRSTRK
If you're going to buy a new truck, get a 3500 or equivalent, skip right over the 2500s or 250s.
Now that we have the whole story, I am suspicious of the rear end mods, could have been shoddy work...probably was not needed any way. Too bad.

The only thing a 1 ton will get you over a 3/4 ton truck is payload-not an issue with travel trailers, especially AS's as they do not have particularly heavy TW's.
Tow ratings are same, or in some cases lower, for 1 tons...
Unless you carry your anvil collection with you, I'd avoid the stiffer springs of the 1 ton...can do more harm than good to the rest of the system.

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Old 10-11-2007, 09:44 PM   #9
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I came through your neck of the woods in August and on the 8% downhill grade south of Falls creek falls, I had to pull down to 2nd gear to maintain 45 mph. These new transmission controllers keep us from messing up so I suspect you didn't do anything wrong, just an isolated failure (probably doesn't help though )
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:12 PM   #10
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The Ford has the torque shift. If you step on the brakes for 5 or so seconds while slowing down the transmission wil downshift in tow haul mode and hold the speed you had when you stepped on the brakes. No manual down shifting required.
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Old 10-12-2007, 07:45 PM   #11
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I agree on several points.

First, yes, anytime you mess with the pumpkin (differential), if you are even off by a slight bit, you will have issues. I messed with my gears on my sedan..had 2.93s and I put 3.73s. The person doing the work really, truely has to know their stuff cold to work on the differential. I've had some issues and I had a race car mechanic install them who does great work, so that may part of the issue. Looking forward to what they find was the root cause.

Second, Bill is right on about the 1 ton. Unless you have the 30' slide and fill it to it's max NCC or the 34' slide and fill most of the NCC up, it could be overkill and may damage the Airstream in the long run due mainly to the stiffer ride. Airstreams like softer rides.

I know I may get flamed for this, but here it goes just the same. Dogde makes some great trucks and the engines they use are fairly good too. However, I have heard more transmission issues with Dodge trucks than any of the Fords or GMs. I do admit all have some level of issues, not trying to say GM and Ford get off the hook, but from what I've read over the years, if it were my money, I'd go Ford before I'd go Dodge, and folks round here know my feelings about Ford.
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Old 10-13-2007, 03:57 PM   #12
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I spoke with the service manager Friday at the dealership where the Yukon is being repaired. I was told that one of the clutches malfunctioned and caused some damage. Apparently, the clutch problem I encountered is not completely unique; GM redesigned the clutch and recommends that it be used as a replacement (you have to wonder about the other GMC transmissions where this rogue clutch is installed and where their hapless owners are going to learn about it). My dealer finally located an approved clutch (in CA) and had it sent here (GM was unable to ship parts last week because the computer in their distribution center melted down). I am supposed to be operational by Tuesday.

I gather from all of the posts (for which I thank you) that nobody thinks the Yukon 3/4 ton is inadequate for the job of hauling the 30' Classic. I think I will test the Yukon/Airstream rig this fall and winter and see if everything is okay. Next summer we are heading to the Mountain west (where I grew up). If I get uneasy with the rig before departure time, I will look at a 3/4 ton pickup (a Dodge or Ford).
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Old 10-13-2007, 04:58 PM   #13
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SilverTwinky, you are correct, Dodge ATs are generaly not as strong as they need to be for heavy work. The Chrysler corp. started with a weeker trans and tried to beef it up to heavy use. GM, Ford designed thier ATs to be very strong from the outset. If you go with a Dodge get the 6spd manual and the Cummins and your truck will last till the end of time.
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