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Old 04-10-2003, 05:42 PM   #1
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What tow vehicle would you suggest?

You can tell by my sig that we need a heftier tow vehicle. Went in today to look at Jeeps....0% financing BUT the tow capacitites are no better (6500/750 lbs) so since neither my wife or I are willing to give up "our" vehicles (she would be if it were the same vehicle basically)..... we have decided to get a third--it will have to sit out in the drive I guess; our garage is a 3-station but the length can only handle 17' because we have to be able to get to our cabinets and junk.

Here are the perameters..... SUV or PU, gas V8, 3/4 ton, tow capacity of 7,000 lbs and hitch weight of 750 lbs...
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Old 04-10-2003, 07:15 PM   #2
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What tow vehicle would you suggest?

Greetings Kistler!

I can understand why you are reluctant to part with a Jeep with quatra-trac. The one thing that was superior on my 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer when compared to my current K2500 Suburban was the 4WD system.

If I were purchasing a new tow vehcile for my 6,000 pound Overlander, I would still go with a Suburban. Unless it was a necessity for work, I don't think that I would go with 4WD again as it has been a problem about once every 12,000 miles on my '99 - - the electronic control module on the transfer case goes into meltdown phase and locks out 4WD - - replacement part runs $750 plus installation (covered by warranty each time it happened on my vehicle as the 12,000 miles easily passed before a year as the part was warranted for 12-months/12,000 miles). GM finally came out with a revised part when my fifth unit failed at 70,000 miles and the electronic control module has performed flawlessly (now have 104,000 miles on odometer). At 100,000 miles, the service 4WD light came on; and one dealer says that the transfer case needs new bearings (at least $1,600) - - another, more trusted, dealer is going to have a look at the truck in two weeks. The 4WD is the only complaint that I have with my 1999 K2500 Suburban after 104,000 miles.

My Suburban has the 7400 VORTEC V8 that is absolutely fabulous for towing my 6,000 pound Overlander. Except on steep grades, I have always been able to use Overdrive, and my solo and towing mileage is the same or better than with the 1995 Chevrolet K1500 Z71 Pickup (5.7 Liter V8 with 3.73 differential gearing) that I traded on the Suburban. I special ordered the Suburban in January of 1998 and took delivery in April of 1998. Its equipment included traction lock rear differential, 4.10 differential gearing, heavy duty transmission, and heavy duty (12,000 pound) trailer towing package. My day-to-day solo fuel economy runs 13 to 15 MPG while my towing fuel economy generally runs 12 MPG except in mountainous terrain. I am conservative when towing the trailer and keep my speed to a maximum of 55 MPH. Solo, my cruise control is usually set 3 MPH below the posted speed limit.

I don't think that I would ever consider going back to a pickup after having owned my current Suburban. It is so much quieter, has a much smoother, controlled ride, and is more practical for me with its 8-passenger seating package. I thought that the pickup would be so wonderful for hauling chores, but it was unpleasant to drive, rode like the proverbial lumber wagon even when towing, and had to have at least 600 pounds of ballast over the rear axle if it had any hope of navigating Wisconsin's winter roads even with 4WD.

Kevin
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Old 04-10-2003, 07:26 PM   #3
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Thank you for the infor.....so I have taken notes Suburban, Vortec V8, 2wd (prob hasa bigger tow rating than 4x4) 7400 Vortec V8 and 410 rear end.

Do you have any idea what years would have that set-up? I would like to find a good used one.....for example woulda 1998 or 1997 have the same engine? By the way how many cubic inches is that or liters, do you think?

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Old 04-10-2003, 08:17 PM   #4
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I have to agree. The Burban w/ the 7.4L 454 is king. I go into remote places and can see that 4x4 is needed. For now though, no off roading for me in a Caprice!

We had an '85 34 ton w/454 2wd and it was a total beast. That truck could tow the house if there were a connection for it. The gas mileage was bad pulling and only slightly better not, but it was a hell of a car! The entire body was dripping with rust, but that engine and trans are most likely still in use today (in someones Vette or other car enthusiasts ride).

If you really want some juice, try getting your hands on an 8.1L with an Allison transmission.

At any rate, anything at 454ci or greater will pull like there is nothing back there!

BTW, I am not sure that the tow rating for 2wd or 4wd in a newer truck is that much different. I could be wrong, but I have been living on the Chevy site and I don't see to recall seeing large differences.

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Old 04-10-2003, 08:39 PM   #5
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Burb.

I just hand shaked a deal over the phone for a 454 Burb 10 minutes ago with one of the other forum members. I pick it up tomorrow at lunch.

You might concider looking a little older and saving some money. The one I'm picking up is a 88 with 71k on the clock. Most of that was with a 31ft excella in tow. When it wasn't towing it was garaged. It looks almost new and it's pretty well loaded including dual A/C. Blue book on the 88-91's with 454 is around $4k. I'll be paying a little more than that but this truck is perfect except for a cracked windshield. Like most of my vehicles this one found me but I did look at quite a few and there are deals to be had. There are 3 in my area that are under 100k on the clock around the $5k mark. THere is a retired city Burb with working A/C and 60k for $2k but it's a stripper with rubber mats and vinyl seats. Pretty well no options but A/C. I thought about buying it and putting a different seats in it from a wreck and reselling LOL.
www.autotrader.com
Here is Kelly Blue Book. www.kbb.com

The only problem I see is it's not going to fit in your garage. The 73-91's are right at 20ft bumper to bumper. I think the newer ones are about 18ft. 92 up lost about 6 inches in width and 20 inches or so in lenght.
A Tahoe is about 16ft but you can't get the 454 and 3/4 ton suspension in them.

You cannot get a 4x4 Suburban with 454 till 92 or later. I think it may have been 93 before it was available but I might be wrong.
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Old 04-10-2003, 08:51 PM   #6
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The newer models have different engines.
I think any of them would be acceptable unless you are going up mountains. In that case the 4800 would be not be acceptable. They are coming with huge power these days. My Ram 1500 4.7 4WD pulls my Overlander real nice, but I haven't gone up any mountains yet. I'll know in 2 weeks. Depends on whether you want a truck or SUV. Any larger one with a long wheelbase, should pull nicely.

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Old 04-10-2003, 08:54 PM   #7
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4X4 Electronic Transfer Cases....

I bought a new 1998 3/4 ton 5.7L 3.73 rear and kept it for 26000 miles. It had the pushbutton electronic transfer case. Sold it to a close friend. He has not had any problems with it at 56,000 except for the front brakes.

My current truck is the same basic truck, but a 3500 series, and manual transfer case. There is a substantial difference between a small block and big block when towing a trailer. Once you've had one, you don't want to go back!
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Old 04-10-2003, 08:57 PM   #8
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Wow, thank you all for writing....this sounds feasible. $ wise...now my prob is going to be finding one.

I take it the valve covers will say 454 on them; how am I gonna tell if it has a 410 rear end?

Hopefully, since I leave in a retirement area, I can find a used one that was owned by a persnickety senior citizen.

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Old 04-10-2003, 10:02 PM   #9
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The valve covers might not say 454. Our '85 didn't, but I can say that the valve covers will be one of the biggest you've ever seen. They'll be hard to miss. They are 2x the size of the 350.

There should be a production code if it's a 90s. Those codes can be translated by the shop books usually. The only thing is that if it's been modified, it is kind of hard to tell then unless you crack it open to look.

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Old 04-10-2003, 10:06 PM   #10
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What tow vehicle would you suggest?

Greetings Kistler!

Beginning in either 1996 or 1997 when the 7400 VORTEC (454) debuted, you will find 7400 VORTEC on the Air Cleaner and/or valve covers. Once you have seen one 454 and identified its spark plug configuration and exhaust manifold, you will be able to distinguish others upon initial visual inspection.

There should be a "broadcast" sheet attached to the glovebox door that lists all of the options on the vehicle. The following are codes that I am fairly certain were used from 1995-1999 (possibly a little earlier as well):

E55 = Tailgate Body
Z82 = Heavy Duty Trailering Pkg.
L29 = 7.4 Liter V8
GT5 = 4.10 Differential Gears
G80 = Locking Rear Diff.
KNP = Aux. Trans. Cooler HD
V10 = Cold Climate Pkg.
QIZ = LT247/75R16E Tires
C69 = Front & Rear A/C
AJ1 = Deep Tinted Glass
B39 = Load Floor Mats
ZQ3 = Tilt Wheel w/Cruise Control
C36 = Rear Heater
AG9 = 6-Way Power Seat
R9L = SLT Decor Pkg.
C6P = 8,600 lb. GVWR

Looking through the record book for my Suburban to find the codes brought back lots of memories - - especially the list price - - nearly ten (10) times what I paid for the first home that I purchased. The codes above are just a few of those on my invoice as my Suburban has every available option except the sunroof, diesel engine, and raised white letter tires.

Kevin
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Old 04-10-2003, 10:13 PM   #11
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Kistler,
You are be able to tell displacement from the emissions sticker on the radiator cowling, a 454 is a 7.4 liter engine. I know the 98's had multipoint fuel injection, prior to that but possibly ending in 95 they had throttle body injection. As far as the axle ratios I am not a GM expert but would assume that anything with the 454 would have the lower gears. My boss has a 98 LT 3/4 ton Suburban that he is considering selling, his wife wants a new Cadillac ESV with the 6.0 liter. The Burb has around 60k on it right now, hard loaded, 4x4, 454, very clean. I considered buying it for myself but have been there, done that and would not be looking forward to $60 fuel ups anyways. If you are remotely interested send me a pm.

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Old 04-11-2003, 12:28 AM   #12
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Kistler,

Ask 10 different people and you will get 10 different opinions - here is mine.

I don't know how heavy your Classic is. (dry or gross weight). Are you sure you need the big block? It is only 25' in length. I thought one of the virtues of 25'-sized units was ease of towing.

I would get a Chevy 1500 HD or a base 3/4 ton truck with the 5.7L engine and 3.73 rear and overdrive. And full size bed and probably X-cab. I think this will satisfy your parameters.

It is pretty obvious the big-block engines like 454 and 460 with the right rear axle will pull anything but the mileage? Oh, the mileage. People who own them don't want to raise that sore issue. You will get all of glorious 12 miles per gallon in anything with a 454. Daily driving? 8 or 9.

460 is the same way, I know. Great engine actually. I really doubt I will wear mine out. Excellent vehicle but IMO, don't get one unless you *must* have one.

I went through the same process a few months ago. Trying to get a vehicle that's good for towing, daily driving (yeah right) and which didn't cost a lot (triple yeah right). In end, I got 2 out of 3 and it is not so bad. But when you make a commitment to a unit, whether the unit is an A/S or SOB you make a commitment to significant vehicle expenses, much more than just people transportation.
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Old 04-11-2003, 08:04 AM   #13
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Kistler,

I have owned my Suburban for exactly 9 days now, and I love it! I searched for about 6 months to find the right one, but I was very picky. I ended up finding a beautiful 1994 K2500 454 with 38,000 miles. I paid $12k. Some may think that's high for a '94, but it's less than a 1/3 of what it cost new.

What I can tell you about searching for one, is that they (the 454s) are more difficult to find, but sellers seem to have a hard time selling them too. There aren't a lot of people looking to buy a 454 these days....

Craig
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Old 04-11-2003, 08:42 AM   #14
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Craig, you do seem to have found a "find".... I like to look at vehicles so I guess I'll do the lots these next few weekends.

Kistler
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