View Full Version : Hauling vehicle maintenance - what REALLY needs to be done?

May. 31, 2012, 08:59 AM
I was hoping some of the mechanically inclined members on here could help me cut through some of the crap and tell me what I REALLY need to worry about getting done to maintain my hauling vehicle.

It is a 2003 Chevy Tahoe, V8, Z71, 5.3L. Hauls one horse in a aluminum bumper pull trailer (no dressing room), mostly local (within 2 hours) maybe a total of 6-7 times a year. Otherwise used as primary vehicle 3x/week for commuting. Has 95K on it.

I keep up with routine maintenance - oil changes, brakes, pads, rotors, tires, fix whatever breaks, battery, spark plugs have been changed and this winter I had the coolant flushed and refilled. Outside of that - haven't really done anything 'above and beyond'.

Planning a four hour hauling trip each way (fairly flat terrain) in a month or so and wanted to know if there was anything else I should have checked out/replaced before we embark. My manual says I should have replaced the following by now: differential, fuel filter (this one I prob will do soon bc we've had some issues), power steering fluid, transmission fluid, distributor cap, timing belt, and radiator hoses. Any of those optional at this point?


Tamara in TN
May. 31, 2012, 09:24 AM
well...if you lose any one of these on your trip it WILL be longer than a 8 hour cruise


May. 31, 2012, 09:36 AM
You might want to consider adding a transmission cooler to your radiator system. Not too expensive a job. Yes, change the transmission fluid and filter.

Carry spare serpentine belt (I'm assuming that your truck has one) or fan belt. Even if you don't have the tools or know-how to replace one, you will at least have the proper one for a tow truck driver or garage to use.

If the distributor cap and rad hoses are in good shape, I wouldn't change them.

As for the timing belt, don't worry about it unless this is a zero clearance engine.

May. 31, 2012, 09:39 AM
I would have all hoses and belts checked, and replace anything that's getting a bit too worn. Just do it - trust me, it SUCKS to have those things go out!

Check the battery cable connections - if they are starting to crack, replace them. They can be the difference in getting the truck started, or not.

Have the alternator checked. The last thing you want is to be going down the highway with the trailer and the truck just...dies because the battery wasn't being recharged.

Yes, check *all* fluids, including windshield wiper fluid ;)

May. 31, 2012, 09:43 AM
In addition to the other suggestions, be sure to check (and doublecheck) all your truck's brake fluid lines, especially the one to the master cylinder, as well as making sure your trailer brakes are operating at full efficiency.

I learned this the hard way after losing my brakes while hauling a loaded trailer (ruptured brake line to the master cylinder). Luck and excellent trailer brakes saved the day (and my horses, truck & trailer).

Have a safe trip!

May. 31, 2012, 10:47 AM
Having just gone through a broken timing belt - yes, sitting on the edge of a highway - I would have that checked and changed if needed. Better to do before it breaks because you're dead in the water immediately and I wouldn't want to be there with horses aboard.

May. 31, 2012, 12:06 PM
dont forget windshield wipers....

May. 31, 2012, 01:34 PM
Also, as stated, do a transmission fluid change and filter change, BUT I wouldn't do a transmission "flush" since you haven't been doing them!

Twisted River
May. 31, 2012, 01:38 PM
Transmission fluid!!!

Mar. 2, 2015, 10:11 PM
Dumb question: Is transmission fluid more important in towing vehicle? I was told it didn't really need to be done in my SUV- and that "most" places will only take out the fluid in the reservoir and refill it instead of flushing the whole system. I syphoned it out myself and replaced it.

Mar. 3, 2015, 02:00 PM
Sign up for Rider USA. Cheap insurance in case you do break down and need to be towed!

Before I hauled to Kentucky from NW INdiana, I had the mechanic check things over. Brakes were a little worn and would have lasted, except that I was towing horses to Kentukcy. Tires were a little worn and would have lasted longer, except that I was towing horses to Kentucky. Ended up replacing everything including the exhaust and new wipers. Total bill was over $2000! Not breaking down on the way to or from Kentukcy, priceless!

Mar. 3, 2015, 04:07 PM
Not replacing the entire differential (unless it breaks), but the differential fluid. All of those are important & then some. If you haven't touched your tranny fluid, change that now! Hoses & power steering fluid do need to be checked at least.

Aluminum trailer or not, all of those are doubly important on a smaller vehicle (I used to tow with an older Tahoe with the 5.7L, it did ok, but poor thing worked HARD, I don't miss it). Your transmission & differential are vital parts of your drivetrain & that fluid, along with your fuel (filter) MUST be clean & maintained to avoid catastrophic & sudden failure.

Having bought two radiators for previous tired vehicles, they're not cheap...I never again want to be standing by the highway in the dark, saying, "I wish I would have..."

Mar. 3, 2015, 07:39 PM
My manual says I should have replaced the following by now: differential, fuel filter (this one I prob will do soon bc we've had some issues), power steering fluid, transmission fluid, distributor cap, timing belt, and radiator hoses. Any of those optional at this point?

Nope. Power steering fluid, maybe because a failed PS pump won't strand you but it might make steering impossibly hard to do.

Also I believe strongly in fixing anything that brakes. (no typo). So that means bleeding the brake fluid every few years.

Transmission fluid is definitely more important in a towing vehicle. Also the gear oil and transfer case fluid.


Mar. 4, 2015, 04:53 PM
Woah zombie thread...

Mar. 6, 2015, 01:49 PM
DANGIT! I hate it when I fall for that, I forgot to check! Derp.