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Towing Capacity


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#1 jwcinpk

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 08:49 PM

What would the towing capacity of the 2500 4x4 with the various engines be? Duramax? 6.0? 8.1? What kind of fuel mileage am I looking at?
Any truck I buy will be a regular cab with a manual tranny. I pull a three horse trailer, stock trailer, and an equipment trailer pretty regularly in the summer. Probably 10,000 lbs + trailer is the heaviest I'd ever go. It'll be a daily driver 35 miles one way to work. All my trailers are the bumper pull type, is this going to present a problem? Currently using a 94 3500 series 12 ft flat for the heavy stuff (350) and driving a 94 Z71 (350).

#2 Shaners

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 10:03 PM

10K lbs is heavy but the 6.0L would pull it...

But since you are going the manual tranny route I would opt for the 8.1L if you are going to tow alot... The motor option is cheap, but the Allison auto isn't, but the manual tranny will take care of the extra money.

From what you describe, I would go with the 8.1L and the manual transmission. That would be a Combo that you will love for your daily driver and when you hook up to your stock trailers.

The Dmax is great, and it gets good MPG's, but you'll have to put a ton of miles on it to recover the intial cost.

I would say if you wanted to have an automatic tranny, then I would recommend the Dmax/Ally combo. But since you want to row the gears, then I would recommend the 8.1L and save a ton of cabbage up front!!!

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#3 gunslinger45

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 12:55 PM

I don't know, I think its a little closer call. The 8.1 and Dmax may have the same tow ratings, but 10K lbs is on the upper end of the scale. Not saying the 8.1 wouldn't pull it, but as you get up in weight, the higher torque rating of the Dmax may serve you better. The choice of a manual with the 8.1 may negate some of the torque advantage, and you'll definitely have a more efficient drivetrain than with the Allison slush box (not dogging it, its a great tranny), but the load on the engine will still be significant. From a load perspective, I just think the Dmax may give you a little more margin. Especially since it seems like you actually tow quite a bit. If you were a casual "tower" than I think the 8.1 would be a slam dunk. As for gas mileage, good rule of thumb seems to be that the Dmax gets 50% better mileage than the 8.1 towing or not. Some people will bicker over Dmax losing less mileage when towing, but in general, 50% seems to be about average across the line. So the 8.1 nets around 9 mpg city, 13 hwy empty, and the Dmax gets around 14 city, maybe 18 or 19 hwy. If you're towing 10K lbs, probably shift the mileage down by 4 or 5 mpg for both. These are just rough numbers based on the bazillion posts people have concerning mileage. One last thing concerning the upfront price of the diesel. I see that you currently drive two 94 model trucks. This kind of tells me that you keep your rigs around for a while, so the upfront cost of the Dmax may be able to be captured. Everyone on this forum has opinions about the break even point of the Diesel vs the 8.1. All I can tell you is that my analysis yielded around 130 -140K miles as the break even point and that you should do your own analysis and see what pops out.

Bottom line, either engine will get the job done with the trannies your talking about. I have the 8.1 and love it, but if I knew I was going to be regularly towing a near max load, and keeping my truck around for a significant amount of time, I'd think it would be hard to ignore the Dmax option. Best of luck in your decision, and let us know what you go with.

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#4 CMNTMXR81

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 01:50 PM

Do you want top of the line LT trim?

If so, the manual isn't a selectable option with LT.
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#5 JimWilson

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 02:03 PM

I agree with Shaners; the 8.1 with the manny tranny is a pretty good setup. And a LOT cheaper then the dmax.

#6 496Cubes

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 07:59 PM

I had the same decision a while back and ended up choosing the 8.1 engine. I wanted a truck to pull and drive to work. I had previous experience with a 6.5 diesel that wouldn't start below 20 degrees unless it was plugged in. I didn't want to get stranded at work on a cold night, but posts I've read since joining this forum have claimed the Duramax will start down to 10-20 below 0 without being plugged in. I don't know if they will still be able to say that after 100,000 miles when there compression goes down a little as the engine wears.

If you get a gas engine, definitely skip the 6.0 and pay the little extra to get the 8.1. I tow a gooseneck trailer that is around 18,000 lbs when loaded. I get around 9-10 mpg towing which I think is great for a gas motor. I'm sure this is better than the 5 mpg gallon I'm guessing you're getting with the 350 towing.

Driving 35 miles one way to work you will definitely get the diesel warm, so there's no problem there. You'll get way better gas mileage 20 vs 12 running empty. You'll also have more low end torque, which is nice when backing up a trailer with a stick. With the 6.5 I could idle it backwards and I could just use the clutch, my 8.1 would kill if I did that.

In the end you'll have to decide which is better for you and crunch the numbers on the higher price of the duramax. It's a tough decision. Best advise I can give you is get rid of the bumper trailer and get a gooseneck, it's sooo much better. Good Luck.

#7 jwcinpk

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 08:22 PM

You guys seem to be saying what i kind of figured "the 8.1 will do it, but the duramax will do it better". I'm used to about 16 mpg with my Z71 so going down to 12 would hurt. When I get a trailer behind me it would really hurt, but my 94 is getting pretty weak. My concern was that a single rear wheeled truck may not be able to handle a bumper pull trailer with 10,000 lbs on it. Maybe I should be looking at used short wheel base flat dually's with the older 454 and a manual tranny and a new truck for a daily driver. Or shucking out about $4500 for a decent gooseneck. Then again, I'm getting too many vehicles and trailers. Already have 2 trucks and 2 cars and 3 trailers. :P

#8 Shaners

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 09:40 PM

I've pulled close to 12K LBS with my 2500HD off the hitch. It handled the load fine...

Certainly a dually would have been better, but I only went about 10 miles.

A new 1/2 ton Chevy with a 5.3L and 4x4 would give better MPG's than your old Z71, and I suppose you could pick up an old 3500 to tow with...

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#9 MCourson

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 10:46 PM

Dmax gets around 14 city, maybe 18 or 19 hwy.

Im getting 18 city, 21,22 hwy
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#10 CMNTMXR81

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 10:14 AM

I've had about 10k out on the back of my 2500HD with nary a problem.
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#11 422 SS

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 07:17 PM

A 6.0 liter will easily pull a 10,000 lb bumper pull trailer.I pull far more than that quite often with my 1 ton van.If your going to get one of the optional powerplant I would skip the 8.1 for the Duramax.I'm one of the few on this board who has owned one of each,and trust me the Dmax is money well spent.If you have any negotiating skills you should be able to get the gap down to the $2800-$3200 range for the diesel upgrade over the 8.1.While a persons driving style and fuel costs vary you will save thousands in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle.My Duramax HD has 19 k on it and using the mileage figures from my old 8.1 truck and the Dmax truck I have saved $1400.00 already in fuel costs.It kinda blows the "huge upfront expense" myth out of the water.By 40-45 k the Duramax will be paid for in my case.If you didn't tow as much as you describe I would recommend a 6.0,they tow all but the heaviest loads nicely.I have 100,000+ miles under my belt pulling 10-18k lb bumper pull trailers with out issues.If the trailer is loaded properly it's a breeze.However my next race car trailer will be a gooseneck due to it's size,I don't think anyone makes a 40 ft bumper pull.
PS check the used car value sites and compare two identical HD one with the 8.1 the other with a Duramax at 100,000 miles.It was a real eye opener for me.