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Old 03-06-2012, 11:39 AM   #1
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Am I damaging my Suburban by towing with it?

I've got a 2010 1/2 ton Suburban WITHOUT the towing package. That means that it didn't come with the factory tranny cooler of 3.42 rear-end. I've added a tranny cooler and that keeps things pretty cool while towing.

I'm hoping that someone might know if I'm actually hurting the 3.08 rear end (or any other systems) by towing my Eddie Bauer. Basically I'm okay with the performance but I don't want to end up stranded on the side of the road because the thing got destroyed while towing.

I don't end up flying down the freeway or over mountain passes but I'd really rather not buy another Suburban right now or spend the $5000 the dealer said it would cost to change the gearing. A pickup's not an option because of the other ways that I use the vehicle.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:47 AM   #2
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You are pulling around 5200 lbs dry weight. That is a call I would not want to make. I would take it to a mom and pop trailer shop, and get their opinion. I have found that businesses who build, repair and sell trailers for hauling are pretty knowledgebale about what you can tow and cannot. I always take my airstream for towing, brakes or axels to those types of shops.

I am pulling 4500 Lbs dry weight airstream with a ram 1500 4.7L engine. It has a 3.55 rear end and a transmission cooler and worry sometimes myself. Especially when I am going up hills. I feel it in the truck. Gross weight I am right at my limit for towing.

Check the side of your door and maintenance book in you glove box and see what the towing capacity is. It should tell you.

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Old 03-06-2012, 12:11 PM   #3
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Your not "hurting" the rear end.....BUT..... I would highly recommend a remote transmission temp guage/filter. The added fluid will also help cool.

Keep track of your weights, don't overload the axles,(trip to the CAT scales in order), weight ratings on a tag drivers door jam. Make sure your not overloading the tires, D rated LT's recommended.

AND....take your time. You'll only know by towing if a change is needed.

Bob
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:32 PM   #4
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I concur with Roberts writeup.
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:47 PM   #5
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there might be some advantage by changing tires. you can alter the drive ratio by going to a smaller tire with more revolutions per mile. at the same time you'll have to go to a tire with the same or higher load rating. it is worth doing some homework.
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:49 PM   #6
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Okay, there's a CAT scales about 40 miles away in Rice Hill, I can probably make a fun trip out of it with the 4 year old. There's a drive-in there that has fantastic milk shakes and fried pickles.
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:56 PM   #7
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Tires?

While I cannot concur with the smaller tire recommendation, you must replace the "P" tires that were OEM with LT tires.
We sometimes forget that the weight distribution hitch throws additional weight on all four tires thus exceeding the load rating, especially if your Suburban is loaded down with gear, people, dogs, and cats.
I would be more concerned about tire failure than rear-end failure.
I've know many Airstreamers who are content to go slow and take it easy with an underpowered tow vehicle.
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Old 03-06-2012, 01:09 PM   #8
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This sounds familiar. Only numbers will tell the story. And, X2 on trans additions.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...ml#post1042045
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Old 03-06-2012, 03:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phbarnhart View Post
I've got a 2010 1/2 ton Suburban WITHOUT the towing package. That means that it didn't come with the factory tranny cooler of 3.42 rear-end. I've added a tranny cooler and that keeps things pretty cool while towing.
Be sure you check the RPO codes and find out what rear axle you actually have. They can vary for all kinds of reasons and if you don't know for certain that you have a 3.08 then well maybe you lucked out.

Quote:
I'm hoping that someone might know if I'm actually hurting the 3.08 rear end (or any other systems) by towing my Eddie Bauer. Basically I'm okay with the performance but I don't want to end up stranded on the side of the road because the thing got destroyed while towing.
Heavy towing is going to be tough on the rear axle no matter which one you have. I have a 10.5" rear with 4.10 gears which by all reports is supposed to be indestructible but which is starting to growl and probably needs at least pinion bearings. My Suburban has around 130,000 miles on it and has been towing all its life. I have no idea for sure what the former owner did with it but I do know that the welds on the hitch were almost broken.

But the thing about rear axles is that they fail gradually and warn you along the way. Listen and you should get several thousand miles advance warning if not more.

What you're doing will also be tough on the transmission and that may not give so much warning. The cooler you've installed will help. Frequent fluid and filter changes will help. But ultimately the friction surfaces of the clutches have limited wear life. They can only shift so many times and then they're done, and if they are carrying 2x the load then they can only shift half as many times. So to some extent you'll shorten your transmission life.

Quote:

I don't end up flying down the freeway or over mountain passes but I'd really rather not buy another Suburban right now or spend the $5000 the dealer said it would cost to change the gearing. A pickup's not an option because of the other ways that I use the vehicle.
I understand completely and appreciate the pickle you're in. Usually gear ratio changes aren't worth it, but if you're thinking seriously about that you can check with independent garages. $5000 is high even for a 4wd, and way high for 2wd. You can price out ring and pinion sets on rockauto.com, they have them in your choice of GM or aftermarket. Not something I'd suggest doing yourself but not a dealer-only mod either.

But the thing is that you can repair towing-related damage for that kind of money. I replaced the transmission in my 3/4 ton pickup for around $4000, like you, I'd been towing beyond GM's recommendations (and it had a hard life plowing snow before I got it). The choice is yours but many people conclude that it's cheaper to tow with what they have, even if repairs ultimately become necessary, than to make changes in advance.

Be safe out there and watch the tire and axle maximums, those really do matter.
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Old 03-06-2012, 04:52 PM   #10
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@Alumaholic: The tires are not OE but they aren't LTs, they're P tires with an XL with 117 load rating that can handle a maximum of 2833lbs (so sayeth Discount Tire's chart) I do inflate them almost up to max for towing.

@REDNAX: Yep, it's me again.

@Jammer: It's the 3.08, it says so right on the window sticker (I bought the thing new before I got Aluminitis) I'll look into some unaffiliated places. The shop that installed my break controller and tranny cooler can probably recommend one if they don't do it themselves. I've got a couple of little kids and I really don't want to drive it until I break it, also, the wife would probably break me if that happened.
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:06 PM   #11
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If you switch your tires to size 245/70/17 LRE it would change your rear ratio at a given speed because the tires are shorter. It would be similar to the 3:42 ratio you want and you would get more capable tires.
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Old 03-06-2012, 06:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by r carl View Post
If you switch your tires to size 245/70/17 LRE it would change your rear ratio at a given speed because the tires are shorter. It would be similar to the 3:42 ratio you want and you would get more capable tires.
Interesting idea. What are the downsides to switching tires to a smaller ones, other than the speedo no longer being accurate?
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Old 03-06-2012, 06:23 PM   #13
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SlightlysSmaller tires will result in more revs per mile which will throw your speedo off slightly and may effect your mileage (actually could go either way depending on your vehicle and driving habits). other than that it should have no negative effects. most vehicles have an allowable range of tire sizes depending on option packages and you should be well within the safe zone here. BTW the speedo fix is a simple chip reprogram doable by many independent shops or the dealer.The rest of the recommendations in this thread (tranny cooler and guage, LT tires) make huge sense both short term and long term.
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Old 03-06-2012, 06:28 PM   #14
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Depending on the tire rolling diameter, there may be calibrations available from GM to recal the shift points and speedo. Have your dealer check their TIS2web download menus for availability for whatever you choose. Also if you change gears, there may be a download as well.
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Old 03-06-2012, 06:39 PM   #15
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Check the gearing prices. That's a permanent change that would, IMO, work better than a tire size change (given a choice between only those two). RANDY'S RING & PINION online has parts prices, plus some calculators to "see" how tire or gear changes "work". Labor is more a matter of experience, and a bit of talent. There will be at least one shop in your area recommended by other shops.
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Old 03-06-2012, 06:40 PM   #16
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Interesting idea. What are the downsides to switching tires to a smaller ones, other than the speedo no longer being accurate?
No downside, spedo may show 3mi faster which may save you a speeding ticket. Changing gears is too much money.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by r carl View Post
No downside, spedo may show 3mi faster which may save you a speeding ticket. Changing gears is too much money.
You can program the PCM to any tire height, so thats not a concern.

Had to do it on our 06 when we switched to the Michelin LTX's.

Bob
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:25 PM   #18
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1/2 ton and common sense

Over the years I have always used a under dog for a farm pu and tow wagon.. Most were 250 to 300 cu in in line 6cyls. Some with autos and some with 4 speeds and one 5..

Came time to update my ride last fall and saw that the difference between the GVW of the 3/4 ton and a HD 1/2 ton model was only 500 lbs.. The price difference was over $3000 more for the 2500 model for only 500 lbs more carry weight.. I could have tossed out the extra $7000 and got diesel Cummins,, but I'm not getting great reports with the newer diesel engines choked down with all the EPA goodies..

Once I researched and found out the frame was the same on both the 1/2 tons and the 3/4 I went with the 1500 with the HD tow package.. Full oil cooler for engine and transmission. I wanted to try a Hemi with the 18 to 20 mpg reports empty weight I got word from local folks. So what I ended up with is a Tradesman 1500 with the full towing package and a tow rating of 10,500 lbs with the 3.92 gearing. Same pu with 3.55 drops the trailer size down to 6500,, and with the 3.20 falls to 4500 lbs.. So with this you can see how important with the same pu and engine the tow rating drops off the charts as the axle numbers go down..


What it all boils down too is just a few basic rules.. A axle ratio around that 4 to 1 ratio can make a 120 hp 6 cyl pull like a tractor.. The axle carries the load and takes it off the transmission and engine..

Its hard for me to believe that to swap out the ring gear and pinion would cost $5000, We have 3 shops in our area that would be happy to do that job for $500 labor and all the new parts are less than $350 from Summit racing and other jobbers like that... And end up with better made ands stronger gears than OEM..

I run sync gear oil and trans oil and change oils every 20,000 miles at max.. Most of my farm pu's are sold or traded off with 350k to 400k miles and still run and drive like new.. Never had to repair any major drivetrain part in over 40 years of daily hard work abuse..

Second rule is if its an auto trans,, don't let it hunt for a gear,. If its shifting for every little hill,, every shift is just throwing heat into the unit and one less shift left in the life of the transmission.

I have a 6 speed in my new Dodge and when pulling our new 1972 Overlander home last week we were bucking a 50 mph head wind most of the 300 miles home.. Yes it could pull 6 gear but it was full peddle.. I just dropped it down to 4th gear ( direct) and ran it home at a nice 2800 rpm engine speed. Trans temp never got over 120f.. since no load was on it.. Power in ,,, power out with no gear reduction or gear over drive.

Same advice goes for manual transmissions. Generally 4th gear is direct and in basic terms,, the engine shaft going into the transmission is locked with the output shaft.. No heat, no pressure on bearings and letting the rear axle carry the load.. Its down in back ,, with a flood of fresh and cooler air and with clean oil loves to work all day long.

Sodbust.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:41 PM   #19
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I tow with a 3/4 ton Chevrolet Express Van. It has the 5.7L (350cid) engine and 4L80E transmission. The rear gears were 3.73. This worked OK for our trailer, but was a bit slow (and hot transmission temperatures) up the hills. I had the rear gears changed to 4.10 (cost was about $1,000). This made a big difference. I also added a (second) transmission cooler and put an electric fan on it. Then I added a transmission oil temperature gauge. Now I know when to slow down, shift down, or whatever.

For the speedometer, I used a Granitelli speedometer pulse resampler (as I recall, the transmission pickup is supposed to be 40,000 pulses per mile). It is programmable for tire size, rear gear ratio, etc.

Too much fun.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:29 PM   #20
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Suffice to say we acquired a 3/4 ton with tow pkg to replace our 1/2 ton for just the reasons given above. IMHO you are pushing the envelope by the time you fully load your EB (7300#) + suburban and head down the road... likely beyond design parameters for your sub. A supplemental trans cooloer is a step in the right direction; but, after we added the trans temp guage to our 1/2 T, we decided that the benefits of brakes and tow/haul trans and gearing ...plus heavier suspension justified the change to 3/4 ton TV. Damage due to towing your wonderful EB may not be covered under TV warranty and insurance adjusters are well versed in shifting financial responsibility in accidents / crashes.

PS: ...we love that EB edition, and ... Go Beavers!
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