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2004 Chevy Suburban V8 5.3L for towing?

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  • 2004 Chevy Suburban V8 5.3L for towing?

    I've just recently started looking at tow vehicles and trailers. I've found what appears to be a good buy on a 2004 Chevy Suburban with low mileage (under 40k) and in good condition. It has 4WD and a tow package already. According to what I've seen online, the tow capacity for these vehicles is 7300 lbs.

    I plan to buy a 2 horse trailer, likely no dressing room and will typically be towing 1 horse that weighs around 1200 lbs a couple of times per month.

    Will that be enough truck? When I am looking at the weight of the trailers, sometimes I see weight and curb weight. For example, I saw one trailer that empty weight was 2850 and curb weight is 4150. Which weight for the trailer should I be considering to determine whether the truck's tow capacity would be sufficient?

    Thank you for your help! I am hoping that by doing my research up front I can avoid grief down the line.

  • #2
    No.

    That truck does not enough ooomph to STOP your load.

    Heck our Prius can tow a 2 H trailer loaded with draft horses. But I do not think it would be able to stop it. No I do not have a hitch on our prius, but I have seen them, and them towing trailer's too.

    Cheap is as cheap does.

    I cringe when I see SUV's, or Suburban's, mini vans, etc towing. They are dangerous. Those drivers usually think they are some big 18 wheeler truck and mario andretta all rolled into one ego.

    Safety is what you want when towing a trailer with live moving weight. Boast all you want on the features, color, price, mileage, curb weight, mpg, stereo, 4WD. It ain't gonna safely stop your load. You may think so, but when the chips are down stuff happens. Traffic is not always as obedient as you think it is. You have a lot riding on that 2" or 2 5/16" ball.

    Have a read of this article.


    http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2010/11...e-rockies.html

    I got a 2011 chevy 2500HD 4wd, ltz, duramax last oct. Lovely. My first diesel, but not my first HD truck. Does all they say, and then some.

    There are better deals than a 'burbun. Do a search on trucks and towing, etc on this forum.

    Comment


    • #3
      Couple of things you need to check.

      What is the rear gear ratio? 3.08 not good for towing. 3.42 is okay if you are not towing the limit. 3.73 works best but will lower your fuel economy somewhat.

      Brake controler? You will want this regardless of what vehicle you tow with.

      Most people don't know this but the Suburban is built on the same type frame as the GM trucks and the wheel base is nearly identical to that of a "long box" GM truck.

      Curb Weight is the actual weight of the vehicle without any passengers or cargo in it. It’s the base weight that is used in subtraction to calculate the total weight of the vehicle with passengers and cargo.

      Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the total weight of the loaded vehicle. This includes the vehicle itself and the cargo that is loaded within that vehicle. This is what you want to use when comparing to your trucks towing capacity.

      For what you described, a Suburban truck is more than sufficient.
      Last edited by pds; Jul. 26, 2011, 11:04 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Isn't a Suburban on a truck chassis?
        "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"

        Comment


        • #5
          I have a 2003 Chevy Tahoe V8 5.3L - the Tahoe is just the shorter version of the Suburban. My gear ratio is 3.42 and it has the tow package - which beefs up a lot of the components.

          My trailer is a 2 horse BP - no dressing room - and it weighs 3000lbs. My state made me get it weighed before issuing the registration. I tow just one horse - 1400 lbs - and so my total weight is about 4400, and it is rated for 7300.

          I feel perfectly safe towing in this set up - to be fair, I have only hauled within 2 hour distances and on fairly flat roads. Maybe a total of 8-10 times a year. So not super heavy duty constant hauling. Not a problem - the Tahoe does great and you barely know you are hauling. Stopping is not an issue either and neither is acceleration when you need it.

          The only irritation I have come across is that the Tahoe/Suburbans of this era are notorious for having an issue with the rear lock relay. There is NO external way to open your rear hatch from the inside or outside if the electronics go screwy. So imagine putting all your horse stuff in the back - including an enormous trunk - and then not being able to unload it bc you can't get the back open. It sucks. I've had my relay replaced 2x so far. The newer ones have key access.

          Comment


          • #6
            Two words - Diesel Excursion.

            Tows 10K, truck frame, big brakes, decent MPG.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by TrakeGirl View Post
              I have a 2003 Chevy Tahoe V8 5.3L - the Tahoe is just the shorter version of the Suburban.

              I feel perfectly safe towing in this set up - to be fair
              But ya know, I do not feel safe being around you when you tow. I have seen lots happen over the years.

              Get a real truck to do the job at hand, not a poser.

              Also regardless what truck I am pulling with, regardless of what load I am hauling, regardless what farm work I do with the truck I want to FEEL that trailer or load at all times. The sign of a good/safe trailering person is that they can feel and know the load they are hauling. I have the biggest hauling truck (now) on the market. I can feel the trailer at all times, empty or loaded. But believe me, this truck has no problem pulling any load at all, nor stopping it either. I can feel movement in the trailer of the horse, and this is due to experience in hauling. No there is no sway at all in the truck when there is a horse moving around. The movement is slight, but I can feel it. I get 19 mpg in the city and 16mpg hauling. It has 4 doors, and it is a nice go to wal-mart truck. I have no dually's, and it is a short bed. This truck is great with a load, or driving to town with no load. 36 gallon tank so I fill up less often. No diesel stink either. I have not one care what anything weighs I will be pulling, towing, hauling or carrying.

              jm(longtime hauling)e.
              Last edited by rmh_rider; Jul. 26, 2011, 12:02 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Towing with the Tahoe/Suburban is the same as towing with a Chevy 1500 series truck as it is the exact same engine and chassis. Would you feel safer if I had one of those? Because it is in the magic shape of a truck?

                Probably what you would really prefer me to do is get a 2500 series or above.

                Hey...I'm game. I am concerned about the fact you don't feel safe around me. So send me a check and we'll get that problem taken care of pronto.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  According to the information I have, the axle ratio is 3.73.

                  In some cases I see the tow capacity listed as 8300 lbs also. If I call about the truck I'll ask whether they have the owner's manual so that I can get the specifics for the vehicle in question.

                  My ideal scenario is to find a 3/4 ton truck (I actually prefer a pick up with 4 full doors to an SUV) but this truck may be a good deal. Fuel economy is not a big consideration for me, I don't drive much- probably will be in the 10-12k miles per year range.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I worked 2 full time jobs, and saved my $ for a truck. I sold my 2002 to get a new truck saved the rest of the money. I worked every day of the week for a long time over a couple years plus. How about you?

                    I am not working at the other job, should I work 2 jobs again so I can give you some money? Better yet maybe I should send you my 401k. That may afford you personally a better hauling vehicle. I could pick up a stall cleaning job in my spare time for that 3rd job.

                    The 1500 series are really for driving around town.

                    I have no such need for a truck like that.

                    And yes, I would feel safer if you did. Be specific when you get another hauling vehicle, make sure it is a HD and has a specific real tow package.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Some random thoughts...

                      You are talking about a 2 horse without a tack room and those are typically 12' long 6' wide and if it is aluminum (or a steel stock, i.e. not enclosed) it is probably in the 3,000lb range for the lightest trailers you can find (I've looked at lots of trailers lately). Do weigh it on a scale to make sure, of course. Also check your ratings for weight towing and also gross weight when you are calculating your capacity and remember that live weight is more dangerous, so stay well under your max. Get a trailer with brakes on both axles, instead of just one.

                      You need an electric brake. I have a Tekonsha and really like it.

                      You want to live, so you should really consider a sway bar (fyi, a friend had sway issues in bad weather with a 3/4 ton with one horse on a bumper pull--one horse = uneven weight) and I would get an equalizer hitch (particularly if that year had independent rear suspension already).

                      Verify that you have a tow package and a tranny cooler and do check the gear ratios. My husband's uncle was sold a suburban with a tow package that really wasn't a tow package, and he burned through his tranny pulling a ski boat around after a few years--bad deal.

                      One thing that hasn't been mentioned is to check your tires and their load capacity. Not all tires are created equal! Also, the balls and hitches they sell everywhere usually max out at 5,000 lbs--you want a stronger one. Seems obvious, but I bet there are lots of people out there using a 5,000lb ball/hitch and thinking they are ok because of the other ratings.

                      I tow with an Expedition in emergencies (like to the vet clinic). This is on the F150 chassis, and I believe I read the Expedition from my year weighs MORE than the truck, FYI. Great for gas mileage! I borrow my friends 3,500 lb Featherlite and haul one horse. I am well below my tow rating, but it sucks compared to a 3/4 ton. Yes it can do it. The 5.4 L V8 engine is strong enough, but the independent rear suspension makes the rear a bit soft. I absolutely want a weight distribution hitch when I get my trailer, but I'm probably going with a small stock or something along the lines of a Brenderup type if I want the ability to pull more than 1 horse. It works in a pinch, and I'm not on the interstate, but if I was hauling frequently, I would prefer a 3/4 ton suburban.
                      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have an Expedition and an F350, and both tow (and stop!) my bumper pull stock trailer just fine. Each has positives and negatives. It's a lot harder to get into and out of tight spots with the F350, so some places we go riding are off limits unless I drive the exped. That HUGE turning radius is a real pain. I don't think I'd use the expedition to tow the horses to the grand canyon, but for typical east TN trailering, it is just fine. Yes, an suv needs to be equipped appropriately, that's a no-brainer.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The Suburban is built on a truck frame and will do just fine towing a small bumper pull with one horse. Put a weight distributing hitch on it and make sure the brake box, tranny cooler, etc are all up to snuff and you will be fine.

                          You will find the 5.3L engine small and feeling underpowered. If you can find one with the 5.7L, you will like it a lot better. Either with get terrible mileage, but unless you go diesel, that will be the breaks.
                          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                          We Are Flying Solo

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The short answer is "yes."

                            The longer answer is "yes, but you're approaching the margins of safe towing."

                            The Suburban, for all intents and purposes, is a truck with a really fancy cap and seats. So apply the same rules to a Suburban as you would to a pickup. A half ton would likely do the job you want to do but you'll have little margin for error if something goes awry (like a trailer brake failure). As long as you understand this and operate with this in mind you'll probably be OK.

                            I don't see this risk as being unreasonable, but I don't know that I'd take it.

                            G.
                            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by airhorse View Post
                              Two words - Diesel Excursion.

                              Tows 10K, truck frame, big brakes, decent MPG.
                              Yes, if you don't mind an older vehicle (production ended around 2005, I believe) and can actually FIND one!

                              I know COTH is very anti-SUV towing in general, but have you guys seen some of the campers people are towing with SUVs? Maybe I see more living in a summer recreation state, but O. M. G. Talk about not feeling safe...
                              DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                thanks for the feedback folks! I like vehicles to last, so I think based on the info here and what I am reading, I'll pass on this truck and keep looking. I'd rather get a vehicle I feel very comfortable with from a power perspective. I am concerned that if the truck isn't really up to the job, it won't last very long even if I don't have any safety issues in the interim. Like I said I am not necessarily looking for an SUV, but this one seemed like a good price (it is an estate sale that they are looking to move quickly). Also, fuel economy is not one of my criteria because I only drive about 150 miles per week currently (about 8k miles per year). I expect trailering will add around 2-4k miles per year to that total.

                                I'll probably stick with my original plan to look for something a little "beefier."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by rmh_rider View Post
                                  But ya know, I do not feel safe being around you when you tow. I have seen lots happen over the years.

                                  Get a real truck to do the job at hand, not a poser.

                                  Also regardless what truck I am pulling with, regardless of what load I am hauling, regardless what farm work I do with the truck I want to FEEL that trailer or load at all times. The sign of a good/safe trailering person is that they can feel and know the load they are hauling. I have the biggest hauling truck (now) on the market. I can feel the trailer at all times, empty or loaded. But believe me, this truck has no problem pulling any load at all, nor stopping it either. I can feel movement in the trailer of the horse, and this is due to experience in hauling. No there is no sway at all in the truck when there is a horse moving around. The movement is slight, but I can feel it. I get 19 mpg in the city and 16mpg hauling. It has 4 doors, and it is a nice go to wal-mart truck. I have no dually's, and it is a short bed. This truck is great with a load, or driving to town with no load. 36 gallon tank so I fill up less often. No diesel stink either. I have not one care what anything weighs I will be pulling, towing, hauling or carrying.

                                  jm(longtime hauling)e.
                                  Got news for you, a 2011, 2500HD Chevy is not "the biggest hauling truck on the market."

                                  For what the op described as the use, a Suburban is a perfectly safe choice.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I towed for many years with suburbans 1/2 ton and two wheel drive. My two horse trailer was an old Campbell Coach made of steel and I never had any trouble pulling it, all my stuff and two horses. It was a very popular set up in the Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas area when I did HT's. I have since graduated for a dually 3500 Dodge diesel and a 3 horse slant load with an 8'-0 short wall in the dressing room. You can't bet the truck but if you have to have one vehicle to do it all I loved my Suburban.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by rmh_rider View Post
                                      I have not one care what anything weighs I will be pulling, towing, hauling or carrying.
                                      This scares me far more than the thought of the OP hauling one horse in a little 2H BP with a suburban (which, by the way, would be totally fine). I'd have to look up the spec's but I'd imagine that the brakes on a 1500 suburban are going to be the exact same as on a 1500 pickup.

                                      I don't care WHAT kind of truck you drive, there are limits (legal and physical) to what you can tow and carry and you should know (and care) about them. Just because your Duramax has an "HD" at the end of the name doesn't really make it invincible.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        My only question would be what kind of terrain you are dealing with. I hauled with a Suburban when I lived in Houston, Texas where the only hill is an overpass and loved it! Then I moved to Kentucky where I contend with hills every time I tow. That Suburban was NOT enough truck. The clincher for me was driving to Maryland from Kentucky and going through those mountains. WORST towing experience ever. So I traded that in for a Dodge Ram 3500 quad cab diesel dually with four wheel drive...and have not had a trailering problem since!
                                        www.rockhillfarm.net

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