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Kansas Kid

Can 5.3L Pull A Trailer?

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When I bought my Av I had dreams of getting rid of the old Dodge motorhome and buying a decent size camping trailer. 26-28 feet. I pulled a trailer to the job the other day with my work truck, 2001 1/2 ton Silverado 5.3L w/trailer pkg. 22 ft. box trailer was loaded with material and was about all I could handle. 100 miles on interstate. When I brought it home empty it was still a handfull. The last camping trailer I had was 33 ft. and I pulled it with a 1978 Chevy 350. I'm beginning to wonder if my 5.3 AV can handle a good sized camper. Appreciate all your thoughts and experience.

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With a trailer of that size I would want more vehicle under me than an Avalanche, something more in the line of a Silverado HD.  The 5.3L can pull trailers, but I'm thinking a 26-28' travel trailer is a bit much to be asking from it.

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Just wondering about how much you thought that trailer you pulled today weighed vs what a travel trailer will?  I'd be more concerned about weight then just overall length.  Your Avalanche is based off the chassis of a 1/2 ton Suburban, so its probably suitable for a trailer up to about 6000lbs.  Anything more then that and I'd be looking for a 2500 Avalanche or 2500 Silverado.  Its not that the 5.3 can't pull it, the rest of the truck might not be up to the task.

 

But, another thing to consider is how much towing do you plan on doing?  There isn't no need for a 3/4 or 1 ton pickup if you only want to tow once a month during the summer, and only about 100 miles at a time.  I believe Shaners used to pull a decent sized travel trailer with his 1500 Silverado, so he can probably help more then me.

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It would be at the limit for your truck.  It could be done, but you'd be reaching.  Here are some numbers for you

 

Terry 28x Travel Trailer   Dry Weight     4433 lb

Full Water and Propane Tanks                600 lb

Total                                               5033 lb

 

Add to this any cargo, food, toys etc. you travel with

 

Max Trailer Load for Z71 w/ 3.73           7100 lb

Max Trailer Load for Z71 w/ 4.10           8100 lb

 

So, you would be legal, but you really are asking alot of the truck if you try and carry this load over a long distance, especially mountains etc.  I am looking to tow a 30' travel trailer, and elected to go 2500 Avalanche, after finding my 1500 Suburban was just working too hard with a 25' trailer.

 

The Terry unit I quoted numbers for here is a fairly basic 28' trailer, no slide outs.  There are both lighter and heavier units out there, so I just kinda shot the middle for the example.

 

There was also just a similiar thread on this issue elsewhere, or here to be specific...

 

http://forums.pickuptruck.com/cgi-bin....=008149

 

Hope this helps

Scott

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Thanks Kansas Kid, and ScottS for the link. I'm not really worried about the weight on the truck, more worried about the ability of the 5.3. When I said it was all I could handle I should have specified that I was talking about the engine. I didn't expect the trailer to be such a strain on the 5.3. I am sure that whatever camper I buy, it will weigh more than the work trailer I was pulling with the Silverado work truck. I was in tow/haul mode and the engine seemed to be straining at all times. Not that I expected to yank it around like it wasn't there, I was just disappointed.

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There are alot of nice trailers out now that are very towable with the Av.  The Holiday Rambler Alumalite and the Coachman Futura series are both built well and have alot of light weight composite and aluminum materials in them.  They would be OK in the 26-28 foot range.  I had a 30' Coachman that I towed with my '89 G20 conversion van.  I worked it hard but it did OK.  The biggest problem I had with it was the BFG radial T/A's weren't up to the task.  They just didn't have enough sidewall strength.  You'll want load range C or D tires (preferably D).  They claimed the G20 to be a 3/4 ton van but it wasn't.  It had 5-bolt wheels and a wimpy frame and mushy brakes.

 

The second big tow vehicle I had was a '97 light-duty F250 excab shortbed 4x4 (7700 GVW).  I had load range D tires on it and it handled the load well.  This time I had my 32' Jayco with the 14' slideout.  The truck was up to the task but the Triton 5.4L (first year production) and the E4OD automatic weren't.  Even with the shift kit the tranny was like mush with that much weight behind it, and the motor was screaming in second gear whenever I pulled a hill (even on the interstate).

 

Then I bought my '00 Silverado.  It had a stronger motor and tranny.  I never towed with it though because I only owned it about 9 months and that was in the winter.  I did however replace the lightweight tires with some load range D anticipating some towing this summer.  Well, I bought the HD because I needed a bigger cab, and it tows just fine.  Nice tranny/motor combo and load range E tires.

 

To make a long story short.  Your tires are an important link in towing safely.  Your truck will tow a trailer of that size, but not at the speed of sound!!!  The 5.3L makes good power but it has to rev a little.  My 6.0L is the same way...  Once you get used to seeing the tach reading between 2400-3200 RPM you won't mind a bit!!!  My friends are towing car-haulers every weekend with there 5.3L and they like them...

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I have a Z71 w/the 5.3 and it is great at pulling.  We pull a 24' gooseneck flatbed trailer and also a 20' stock trailer and the 'rado doesn't break a sweat...stopping is a diff story..I HATE anti-lock brakes on a truck!!!!   :angry:

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My k1500 5.3 with HD trailer pkg. will pull the neighbors F250 diesel (approx.6100 lbs.) on a dolly with no trouble and would be about the max weight I would want to pull. On a very short trip it has pulled a 6500 lb. skidloader on a 1500 lb. trailer and it was much more than the truck could handle and it wasn't safe. In fact about another hill and my poor truck would've been toast. It's good to feel safe.

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I pulled a 22' car type hauler trailer that was made into a stake bed type thing.  It's a work trailer and weighs about 3,000 pounds and I loaded in a bunch of wood so it weighed a good 4,000 - 4,500 pounds.  My truck w/ the 4.8 had no problems pulling it, starting, stopping, or manuvering.  Ther trailer didn't have any brakes on it (heck I didn't have the wires hooked up since I didn't have a connecter that adapted for it.)

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I'll add some input as well. One thing everyone has missed so far is the hitch / receiver set-up. Towing anything that big or heavy requires a weight distribution hitch. This distributes some of the weight back into the trailer to even out some of the load.

Don't forget sway bars either, these will do a great job stiffening out the rearend and help keep the trailer straight behind the truck.

Shaners has the tire suggestion right on the money, you need heavier ply tires to support that weight out back.

 

My dad towed a 24 ft travel trailer with his Dodge Ram 1500 with a 5.2 and had no problems with it. He now intends to tow the same trailer with a 2001 Durango w/ a 4.7L. I don't think it will do it, but he is confident it won't have a problem. He has towed trailers for many years (since I was a kid) and the whole key is patience and the correct set-up and equipment.

I tow a 18ft Tracker V-18 aluminum bass boat (about 1700lbs) and I tow it (or would like to tow it) like there is nothing attached to the back. My dad constantly reminds me that I have to be patient and I can't run 75mph all the time.

 

There is an article in this months Truck Trend magazine all about towing. Try to pick a copy, it'll help you out 100%.

 

Hope this all makes sence.

 

bassdog

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I'm thinking if it was me in your situations, I have about 4 things I would do.

 

1.  Get rid of the POS stock hitch and replace it with a Class IV hitch from a good manufacturer.  The GM hitch is not heavy duty in the least.

 

2.  Go find some tires that you like and get them in a load range D at a minumum, and even better if you can find load range E tires.  Might cost a little more, but you won't have to worry about tire failure when towing.

 

3.  Get a good brake controller, because with the half ton brakes you will need it.

 

4.  If your truck doesn't have 4.10 gears, I'd probably tow exclusively in D (1:1) and tow at a slightly slower speed.  Just fast enough to get the motor into where it makes good power.  Might take a little while to get used to the higher rpm, but these motors like it.  With 4.10's you can probably tow in OD until you start getting into the hills or a strong headwind.

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I'm one of the few here that hate the 5.3L.  I don't think the thing has any nuts at all when towing.  The old 5.7 was much better.  Please don't take offense, but you should have got the 8.1L Av, then we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

 

I have a Z71 w/the 5.3 and it is great at pulling.  We pull a 24' gooseneck flatbed trailer and also a 20' stock trailer and the 'rado doesn't break a sweat...stopping is a diff story..

 

Really???  Is there any weight on these trailers when you pull them???  Doesn't even break a sweat??  I find that hard to believe, unless you tow them unloaded.

 

Come on guys, be honest, the 5.3 is not as good as the old 5.7 and we all know it.  We make excuses like "it needs to be in the right RPM range" and the like.  The problem is that the majority of people don't tow with their trucks, the only use them to drive around in and Chevy knows that, that's who the 5.3 is designed for, not people who want to load it and tow 6000# + trailers.

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The way I justified trading my Expedition for the Av was the increase in fuel economy. Which I got. 8.1L wouldn't have given me an increase in the 13.5 MPG the Ford was getting. It would have been neat to have though. I thought about the camper (versus keeping the motorhome) because the Av is such a blast, and so comfortable. I realize I can't have the best of both worlds, since I got the 3.73 gears for fuel economy. I had a 1988 Chevy ext cab long bed w/350 and 2.90 gears (if I remember right). I know 2.90 sounds mighty high. I pulled a trailer from Albuquerque NM to Marion, IL loaded with the kids Pinto and furniture, and the truck loaded with furniture. 4 adults and a baby. Truck was new. I recall yanking it around like it wasn't there. Used up my brakes tho. This 5.3 should make more HP than that 350, so maybe I remember things better than they really were.

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I pull my 5000 pound travel trailer with my 5.3, Z-71, ex-cab, 3.73 gears with no problem. I generally get 11-12 mpg on the highway if the terrain isn't too steep. I use the tow-haul mode, never tow in overdrive and don't run the crap out of it.

 

I am satisfied with the 3.73 gears. They don't seem to be too high for towing and I get great mileage when I am not towing.

 

I use a weight distribution hitch and have zero complaints about the way it handles when towing.

 

Doug

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