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First Time Towing - Car Haul from Colorado to Virginia (2002 Suburban 2500 / 8.1L / LT)


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I have posted a few times here before about my project of restoring a 2002 Suburban 2500, 8.1L, 4x4 LT. The truck has 215k but is in great shape. I recently rebuilt the entire front end, and replaced every component in the power steering/braking system (pump, hydro boost, steering gear, lines, etc). I replaced all four shocks with Bilstein 5100s a year or so ago. I have been daily driving the vehicle 2-3 days a week as a kind of shake down, but it's getting time to take my first adventure in towing, and I need some advice. 

 

The Suburban has the factory hitch and 7-plug wiring port, and the previous owner wired in a trailer brake controller. I've never towed anything beyond pulling a ~3k pound sedan on a 2-wheel dolly behind a U-Haul truck in college. This summer, I need to tow my wife's Volkswagen ID.4 (curb weight is ~5500 pounds) on a car hauler from Colorado to Virginia as a part of a move. I won't have any real opportunity to do serious towing prior to that. To prepare I bought a good weight distributing hitch (a Weigh-Safe rated for up to 15k), and I plan on buying a car hauler here in Colorado and at least practice getting it hooked up before the big day comes. I know I'll need to buy some straps to secure the ID.4 to the car hauler (I'll have to use the kind that goes around the tires, since the ID.4 doesn't really have traditional axles). 

 

I have done every bit of maintenance one can do - every fluid change, swapped a gallon of transmission fluid every time I oil change (I've cycled ~6 gallons through it, it now comes out bright cherry red every time I do it). Is there anything else I need to be doing to the truck to get it ready for this trip? Anything I possibly can do before I have the car hauler and load up the ID.4? Anything I should expect on the trip itself? I am really new to towing anything (much less ~7k pounds of combined vehicle and hauler), and will really only get one shot at it. Any advice you all can give would be very helpful! 

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Don't work on the truck right before the trip unless you absolutely HAVE to.  Nothing like stressing out over having something go wrong while fixing it, or it's the wrong part, or whatever right before the trip, and then rushing to get it done so you can go on the trip (which makes it more likely something goes wrong with doing the work).

 

Do some reading up on how the specific trailer brake controller you have works, how to set it, and then spend some time configuring/testing how it works with the trailer, after it's loaded, before you get out on the road in heavy traffic.  You want to make sure it's working right before you get into traffic and/or on the highway.

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Just for the hell of it I’d check the cost of getting it professionally transported. Probably for the price of a car hauler transmission or a new engine.  Your asking a lot out of an older truck with that mileage. Worth checking.

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That's a very good point. Turns out it's quite a bit less than I thought it would be (most quotes are ~$1k). Now, the question is if I decide not to do the towing adventure, do I ship the Suburban and drive the ID.4 (longer trip, but $0 in gas), or ship the ID.4 and drive the Suburban with just me and the dog in it...

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Also, I was curious as to what transmission temperatures I should be looking for on a trip like this. Just tooling around town, with the vehicle more or less empty, and temps between 50 and 80, based on the gauge on the dash the transmission seems to generally be between 120 and 175. When it's hotter out here and I'm on it more, it gets in the 175-200 area. The fluid is perfectly fine, I know it's flowing through the cooler, but it does have the 215k on it. The one thing I haven't done is pull the pan and swap the filter - I mostly just didn't want to mess with that if the fluid looked good and temperatures stayed reasonable.

 

Anything to be concerned about there? 

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17 minutes ago, jpeterferrell said:

That's a very good point. Turns out it's quite a bit less than I thought it would be (most quotes are ~$1k). Now, the question is if I decide not to do the towing adventure, do I ship the Suburban and drive the ID.4 (longer trip, but $0 in gas), or ship the ID.4 and drive the Suburban with just me and the dog in it...

The gas rig would cost more to drive obviously. I read good things about the ID.4. Depending on time constraints could be fun. I’m sure just like Good Sams type clubs you could get hooked up with a trip especially designed for your ride. 

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On 6/4/2022 at 11:38 AM, KARNUT said:

The gas rig would cost more to drive obviously. I read good things about the ID.4. Depending on time constraints could be fun. I’m sure just like Good Sams type clubs you could get hooked up with a trip especially designed for your ride. 

Before anyone embarks on a cross-country road trip in an EV (Energy Vulnerable) they should check out the video the WSJ produced on the experiences of 8 testers worldwide in various manufacturers EV's.  In a nutshell, ok in the city, you're in peril open road.

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13 minutes ago, garagerog said:

Before anyone embarks on a cross-country road trip in an EV (Energy Vulnerable) they should check out the video the WSJ produced on the experiences of 8 testers worldwide in various manufacturers EV's.  In a nutshell, ok in the city, you're in peril open road.

When I travel from Montgomery tx to Fayetteville NC there’s cities and medium sized towns along the way. You would think with this administration push to electric that reasonable distance charging stations would already be available. 

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1 hour ago, KARNUT said:

When I travel from Montgomery tx to Fayetteville NC there’s cities and medium sized towns along the way. You would think with this administration push to electric that reasonable distance charging stations would already be available. 

Maybe peril was to strong of a word to use unless you like to use heat in the winter or a/c in the summer or your wipers in a rainstorm all which significantly reduce the advertised range. Then there's the charge time which can significantly add to the "experience" unless your fortunate enough to own a Tesla which seems to be the only manufacturer so far to have this figured out.

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