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Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe Towing Questions

I have a 1999 two wheel drive Tahoe. It has a towing package and fingertip steering, its loaded. I have had the allignment checked by four garages. Everything checks out great, no problems, I put on new tires, brakes, greased bearings,new rearend,new shocks. I can not tow anything over 60 miles per hour , 3000# trailer or a 500# trailer. If I go faster than 60 I start weaving all over the road. Truck had 55k when purchased, now 120k. Any thoughts?


  • ahightowerahightower TXPosts: 539
    Maybe you just need a better hitch. I'm not a trailering expert (not really any kind of expert), but I've read about anti-sway hitches. Try one of the discussion groups about towing in general, versus Tahoe specific boards.
  • I pulled the same trailers with my suburban with no problems,I have a very nice equilizer hitch setup.
  • ahightowerahightower TXPosts: 539
    I always go for the obvious solution first. Next thought would be to make sure the weight you're towing is within the Tahoe's abilities, that the load is distributed as evenly as possible, and that you have good tires, properly inflated.
  • I am wondering if it may be the fingertip steering module is screwing up because of the extra weight of the trailer? It is a servo assisted steering module and it brings the steering back to center if it is off center. I have replaced the module, no change. My friend pulls a 500# trailer with his small chrysler van, 75+ miles per hour. I could not pull it over 60 mph, it tried to throw me in the ditch!
  • catamcatam Posts: 331
    I don't know much about "fingertip steering" as an option.

    However, some towing basics to be aware of are:
    1) Keep your tires inflated to maximum cold PSI when towing. A good set of LT tires as oppsed to pasenger tires makes a huge difference, as you can inflate LT tires up to 80 PSI if needed.
    2) Tongue weight of the trailer relative to the trailer weight should be 10%, excessively "light" or "heavy" tongue weight will cause the trailer to fish tail at high speeds.
    3) A good Equalizer hitch with anti-sway can make all the difference.
    4) Remember your Tahoe rear suspension is tuned for a comfortable ride for the occupants, (ie softer rear suspension). This means it is easier to overload the rear suspension, and create towing headaches. (unlikely to be your prob with a 500# trailer).

    Also can you disable the "Fingertip steering", if so try towing without it and see what happens.
  • arriearrie Posts: 312
    I would look at the tongue weight.

    I have experienced a problem like this when a trailer had too high negative tongue weight, i.e. the hitch was lifted up too much with the trailer.

    This could happen if the tongue weight is very small to start with and you drive fast. The wind resistance of the trailer exponentially increases with the speed. Force from the wind resistance tries to tilt the trailer backwards and causes lift on the hitch.

    You said you pulled the same trailer with a Suburban without any problems. Well, Suburban is about a foot and a half longer so it has some extra weight compared to Tahoe.

    The issue with too much negative tongue weight is easy to check. Just load your Tahoe with few hundred pounds of extra weight right at the rear end of the cargo hold and take it for a test drive.

    Too much negative tongue weight causes your rear tires to loose grip and back of the truck starts sliding sideways.

    The same issue, of course, can be caused by just too much negative tongue weight. Poorly loaded light weight trailer can create too much negative tongue weight and lead to the problem.

    Then there is this little more uncommon explanation. Your truck and trailer form a "vibration system", which has a joint at the hitch. Under certain conditions the back of your truck can start pumping up and down as the trailer tilts backward and forward.

    This problem you could also help with some extra weight in the cargo hold as the weight changes the natural frequency of this "vibration system". Another thing that changes the natural frequency is the springs. Your springs could be too soft or too hard for pulling your trailer but this explanation could be a bit too far fetch for this problem.

    May I ask what kind of a trailer are you trying to pull?

  • I have pulled four trailers with this truck. The hauling trailer,4'x8', is not a problem when it is empty. The other trailers are as follows, 500# popup, 3500# travel trailer, 1500# Scotty travel trailer. I have adjusted my equalizer hitch so that these trailers sit level when being towed.Fingertip steering, there is a small motor with a computer module connected to the steering assembly somewhere, it keeps the truck on center.
  • jeff64jeff64 Posts: 1
    Terry32...I haven't seen any more on this subject since 12/18. Did you ever get this problem corrected? I'm thinking of purchasing an '03 Tahoe to pull a 5000 lb camper and I don't want the same problem to occur. If you took any of the advice, what helped? Thanks.
  • rrsmithrrsmith Posts: 1
    I recently purchased a used 2004 Suburban 2500 LT which has the standard Vortec 6000 engine. I don't know what the axle gear ratio is but I'm assuming it's 3.73.

    The car is a daily driver for my family of 6 which typically extends to 8 with extra kids around. Aside from that use I pruchased the vehicle in hopes that I could also tow my 97 Jeep Wrangler on a car hauler behind it.

    I recently towed a trailer and was somewhat disappointed in it's performance. It could be that I had unreasonable expectations but I have no idea.

    The trailer was a 16 foot car hauler with a steel bed. I'm assuming the trailer was relatively heavy. Loaded on the trailer were the following: two quads (2wd 150cc), four large coolers, 10 bikes a barbeque and miscellaneous camping gear. I can't imagine that the total weight of the gear and the trailer was more than 4500 pounds probably less than that.

    The terrain was the Sierra mountains in California about 5000-7000 ft in elevation and hilly. My experience was the following:

    On hills the vehicle couldn't seem to maintain 55mph. Whether in or out of tow/haul mode or manually shifting or leaving it in drive. I would slow down from 60mph at the beginning of the hill to about 38mph at which point the transmission would let me downshift but it would be around 3500rpm. At that point it would have the power to accelerate up to maybe 50mph but of course the engine would be at high RPMs if it upshifted I would, of course, lose all my power and slow back down to 38ish mph and it would downshift again. Maybe I just need to expect to drive 40mph up inclines but I thought it should perform a bit better than that.

    Can anyone confirm if this is normal or not?

  • check tire size and pressures. larger tires will result in less power as will low pressure. trailer bearings might be dry or too tight. cat converter could be plugged, Ail filter could be dirty. other than that, burbon should pull better than that.
    I have an '04 2500 trk w/ 410 gears. i pull a 8100# (dry) toy hauler, loaded I'm guessing 10 or 11,000 lb with some downshifting on inclines, more with hills and lots with wind and hills. it really does struggle with strong wind & bigger hills. i do have k&n intake with flowmaster exaust to try & help with towing & milage also, but feel the truck does well driving in 55 zones vs. 70 zones. I try to stay in overdrive by speeding up for hills(when traffic allows) and just slowing down on some of the hills. burbon should be in tow/haul and if shifting too often stay in 3rd vs overdrive.
  • On a 99 1500 Suburban. What is the max towing capacity?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    It's going to vary, based upon your model 2wd/4wd, the tires, and the rear end it was ordered with.

    Look on the tag on the drivers side door jamb, and it will tell you the Gross Vehicle weight you can haul (including the weight of the suburban). Then look in your owners manual under towing, and you should have a chart which you look up your model and rearend ratio.
  • Can anyone give me advice on trailer bearings. I'm looking for the best bearings for my dual axle trailer. It's an EZ Loader with a 6500lb. boat on it. Just recently blew out the bearings on one of the wheels and need to replace all of them. I'm looking for the best bearings for salt water use with minimal maintanence. Thank you.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    You need bearing buddies on each of the axles. When you dunk the trailer, water will find it's way into any bearing and ruin it. The bearing buddy puts grease under pressure into the bearing and keeps it pressurized, so that the water has opposing pressure and stays out. Keep the buddy pumped up with grease.
  • jdmac62jdmac62 Posts: 1
    I recently purchased a 2004 Suburban 1/2 ton. I installed a K & N cold air intake and an considering replacing stock muffler with a flowmaster. I am looking for better performance and economy, but NOT increased interior cabin noise. I travel with my wife and 3 kids, and do not want them complaining of loud interior cabin noise, especially when towing. I talked with a tech at Flowmaster, they recc. the 70 series big block II, but another tech said any of their mufflers would create an uncomforatble interior cabin noise. Any advice or experience with these mufflers on this truck? Thanks in advance.
  • ahightowerahightower TXPosts: 539
    Just thought I would share the following. I managed to get 13 mpg (according to trip computer, may be slightly overstated) while towing an 18' 3500 lb travel trailer about 550 miles round trip last week. I had the cruise control set at 55 mph. We have a 2005 Yukon XL, 5.3, 2WD with the 3.42 gears. The truck seemed powerful enough at higher speeds, up to 65 mph (particularly when drafting a semi). But it was only doing about 10mpg at 65, and the transmission constantly wanted to downshift and rev quite high, and the shifts were rather abrupt. By turning off cruise and just allowing the rig to slow down a bit on inclines, I could keep it in high gear and get somewhat better mileage, but at 55 it seemed perfectly content with cruise control on and rarely if ever needed a downshift. Don't worry, it was a very light traffic area (Hwy 287 in the Texas panhandle plains) and I stayed in the slow lane. I suppose I could have saved about 90 minutes round trip by doing 65-70 instead, but it's so much less stressful just slowing down a bit and not having to watch for cops, and never having to pass anyone else. Besides with three little ones, you have to stop for bathroom breaks so often that there's no point in trying to make good time. Just leave earlier and settle in for the long haul.

    This was our first time with an RV, and we loved it. It was a rental, and we'll definitely rent again, and probably go for something slightly larger. I suspect a pop-up camper would give much better fuel economy as it's obviously the wind resistance more than the weight. The guy actually has a very nice 31 footer that he said we could easily handle with the weight distributing hitch he supplies with it. It's about 5500 empty, 7100 max, which is near the stated max capacity of our truck. I'm willing to give it a try. So nice to just park and plug in and have a nice kitchen and bathroom and real beds to enjoy at the end of the day.
  • lakegirllakegirl Posts: 1
    I recently purchased a 1999 Tahoe that does NOT have a towing package included. I have an 18" pontoon that weighs next to nothing and was wondering if it would be safe to pull with the tahoe using just a ball. The distance being traveled is only about 5 miles down the road to the lake. I plan on getting a towing package soon, but we are going this weekend and I need a quick answer!!!
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    You're fine, you don't need a towing package at all.

    I'd get a towing package (transmission cooler), if you were towing a large trailer long distances....where the added weight and windage would cause the transmission to overheat.
  • gblairgblair Posts: 7
    Dynamax turbo mufflers. flowmaster performance without the flowmaster noise. Used them on my old 78 suburban 4x4 back in the day. It was quick off the line & not much louder than stock.

    Chevy engines dont like backpressure like some other brands' V8's do, so increasing the pipe diameter a little bit could be useful too.

    Hope that helps ya!
  • Stepping up to a 06 3/4 ton w/ tow pkg, 4:10 rear end and 6.0 eng. Have been towing with same, only a 89 with a 454. Am concerned if the 6.0 has enough grunt for the mountains out here in Montana. Any experienced towers help and advice welcomed.
  • bigloadbigload Posts: 1
    Is there anyway aftermarket to increase the towing capacity of at 2005 Suburban 1500? I think it tows roughly 6800#, I just bought a 27' Searay that has a dry weight of 5800#, add roughly 1100# for the trailer and then another 1500# for fuel, passengers, etc., and I'm at 8400#. Trailer is a tandem axle with brakes. Wondering if I can add something to cool the transmission, add rear stabilizers or a different auto-leveling suspension? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Wondering if I can add something to cool the transmission, add rear stabilizers or a different auto-leveling suspension?

    I think you would have insurace and liability issues if you exceed the towing limits even with those mods.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    I'd suggest looking at the specs for a new vehicle order, and compare what changes (in a new vehicle) to get up to the 8400+ that you need. Use the new vehicle, because that's where you can find the written differences.

    Twenty five (ish) years ago when I had a large trailer and was concerned about this myself, if I remember correctly in a GMC p/u I had to go to a 3/4 ton and the main difference was the rear axle strength, the size of the brakes all around, the rear spring #leafs/strength, the wheelrim strength and number of lugnuts, and the tire size and rating.

    I know I also ordered it w/transmission cooler, but I don't think that was 'required' for the GVW.

    I have no idea what the current models differences would be, but it should be easy enough to research for new sales.
  • yank77yank77 Posts: 2
    I have a 2004 Tahoe that suffer miserably when hooked up to my 31ft travel trailer. Granted the trailer is at the Tahoes limits but I have the sway and weight distrubution hitch. It does not like the hills and still sways. I credit this to the 5.3 and coil springs in the rear. I can deal with it being under powered. My question is if there is any type of suspension upgrades to make it handle better? For now I have gone back to towing the trailer with my 97 2500 with the vortec 454. Any Ideas?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Don't overlook the tires, which could be a brand with a lot of sidewall flex. The short wheelbase doesn't help either.
  • zboaterzboater Posts: 17
    bigload - How has your Suburban done with this? I have a 2008 LTZ (3.78 rear) with the 5.3L V8 and heavy duty trailer pkg. Looking to tow a similar boat/load and wondering if upgrading to a 2500 is going to be required and how your experience has been. Do you do mostly local tow - or long (>1K mile) drives? Thoughts welcome.
  • mcgyvermcgyver Posts: 13
    Used to tow an open trailer weighing 4k with my 99 K2500 and 5, problems at all. Then bought an enclosed Vnose trailer and now pull 7200 pounds. and it downshifts at any incline so speedup going down to face the next incline to help.

    Got tired of this so bought a 2003 K2500 with the 8.1 motor which will pull a house
    but mileage doesn't suffer badly as it has a 3.73 gear VS my old 4.10 gear. And I don't use any stabilizers or sway controls, just put it on the 2 5/8" ball and go!
    My old 99 K2500 has a rear track 4" narrower than the front so I have 2" spacer/adapters on the rear for a wider stance and stability which helped. BTW, my 99 K2500 is now for sale, black/gray, 121k, SLT for $7500 and in NC.
  • zboaterzboater Posts: 17
    Question - does anyone have any experience (gas mileage, performance, issues) towing approx 9K lbs - 10K lbs with a:

    1) 2007 3/4 Suburban (6.0L, 4 speed trans) with 4.1 rear end?

    2) 2009 3/4 Suburban (6.0L, 6 speed trans) with 3.73 rear end?

    I know everyone will say to go to a P/U but not an option ... wondering if one direction is better than another ...

    Any thoughts or experience appreciated.
  • I have a 2004 Chevy Tahoe, which apparently has a wiring harness problem.
    I have two trailers, both with new wiring harnesses and light assemblies.

    ALL Tahoe lights work fine without a trailer connected.
    Trailers have good grounds.

    The Tahoe plug at the back tests “good” on all connections UNTIL the trailer is plugged in. Then the lights go crazy.
    The Tahoe ground then tests “hot”
    Tahoe lights: none on trailer
    Brakes lights: none on trailer
    Left Directional: good on trailer and Tahoe
    Right Directional: none on trailer; Tahoe works, but both tail lights come on
    Brake & left directional: Trailer has left directional; no brakes; Tahoe ok
    Brake & right directional: Trailer has LEFT directional; no brakes; Tahoe ok
    Lights & left directional: Trailer has left directional; no tail lights; Tahoe ok
    Lights & right directional: Trailer has no lights; Tahoe has tail lights, but right directional stays on and does not blink

    Both trailers have the same performance.
    The Tahoe wiring has never been damaged or under water, and has worked fine for five years.
    Can it be the right tail light module on the Tahoe? Wiring harness?
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