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Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe Towing Questions



  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    You have too many variables to solve, the way you are testing.

    First, I would eliminate any trailer issues (mis-wiring, bulbs, or grounds) as possibly being the problem. To do this, you need to have a separate source of power to manually test it out (don't use the Tahoe trailer connector). You can use either a standalong battery, or build yourself a test power source with a cigarette lighter plug, some wire, and a couple alligator clips.

    Powering from the cigarette lighter, connect to the different wires of the trailer and verify that each one is working exactly as it is supposed to. Verify that the correct filament of the bulbs (if you have the assemblies which use dual filaments) are lighting. The bright filament when a brake/turn is powered, the dim filament when the running lights are on. Verify also that you don't have any bulbs where the filaments are broken and crossed over onto the other filament. This will also verify that you ground back to the bulbs is good as well. Only after you are absolutely certain that the trailer is wired and working correctly, do I plug into the back trailer connector.

    It is much easier to troubleshoot trailer wiring issues this way. In the first steps you eliminate the truck from being the source of any problems, until you absolutely are sure the trailer is correct. This then eliminates the trailer from being the source of the problem when you eventually connect them together...proving that you have a tahoe problem or not.
  • I found out that this truck has a brake stoplight connection for attaching my trailer brake control, but is there somewhere to hook up the brake wire? My truck does have the blue and red wires at the light hook up. Any ideas?

  • First off are you using the factory 7 pin connector or an aftermarket 4 pin? These hook up differently and the four pin doesn't have a connection for electric brakes
    Testing this can be a headache and time consuming and many times due to a bad ground if it occurs on most lights.
    Kiawah above has posted the best manner to find the faults.

  • I am pulling a 3900 lb travel trailer with my 2008 Suburban. It has the 5.3 liter V* with the 3.73 rear end. The book shows it rated at 7100 lbs for trailer towing. I recently pulled it over 2000 miles from Louisiana into the North Carolina mountains. Pulled a lot on the Blue Ridge parkway. I had no problems but my temp on the transmission did get over 220 on 1 or 2 occasions and I immediately backed off. When I got home I purchased a transmission cooler from GM since I found out I only had the radiator cooling. The only time I had the temp issue was climbing one steep road and once heading into a head wind and trying to drive 60 to 65 miles per hour. I recently emailed a transmission shop about what he thought and he said that there have been problems with the transmission in these. He thought that I was over my limit but I am barely at 1/2 what the book says. I was trying to stay well below what the book says anbd now I am wondering if I am pulling too heavy a load. Someone also suggested driving in a lower gear, but I don't want to drive across country in 3rd gear. Does anyone have any reasuring words for me so that I can relax in pulling a 3900 lb travel trailer. It was suggested by the transmission guy that I install the cooler and service the transmission every 30k miles. have I bought a Suburban with a weak transmission or are they reliable when towing? Thanks for any words.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    I'd be sure to buy an extended warranty, if I was doing the trailering you do.
  • Well, I have purchased the 100k bumper to bumper and the vehicle only has 32k on it. The powertrain has the 100k warranty anyway. I have only pulled this trailer once since I bought it in October. I would only pull that distance probably once per year. My main concern is that I am pulling too heavy a load for a Suburban with a 5.3 liter. I believe the transmission is the 4L60E. I know it's the 4 speed and the rear end is the 3.73. The book shows 7100 max trailer weight which is considerable more than the 3900 I am pulling. I realize you have to take account for cargo, but I am not loading it up hardly at all. Leaving the water tanks almost empty till I get where I am going. I am just trying to see what people's experience has been with the newer Chevy Suburban transmissions. Thanks.
  • zboaterzboater Posts: 17
    I had a 2008 Suburban LTZ with the 5.3L and 3.73 rear end 4X4 and tow package (trans-cooler, etc). I towed approx 5K-6K lbs back and forth from OH to FL with no issues. Used the trailer mode. If I tried to stay on the gas to keep at 70-75 MPH, RPM ran in in 3200-3500 RPM range (3rd gear) and gas milage was terrible (<8 mpg). However - transmission temp never was an issue.

    I now have a 2009 2500 LT 4X4 (6L, 6 speed, and 3.73 rear end, and trans-cooler, etc.) and tow approx 9K - 10K lbs back and forth from OH to FL with no issues. Used trailer mode. Run in the 75mph range at approx 2200 RPM range and averaged just shy of 10 MPG. Trans temp never was above 150.

    Looked at 2007 2500 with 4.1 rear end - gas milage was terrible all the time, and RPM towing was back over 3000 RPM.

    If you are only pulling 4K lbs - you should not be having any issues ...

    Very happy with my '09 2500 towing ability ...
  • Thank you for your reply. I am going to install the cooler before I tow again. I actually averaged about 10.5 to 11 mpg for the whole trip with the mountain driving included. I really had no issues other than the temp going a little high a couple times. I had some people tell me that 220 was not too high and the computer would shut the thing down if it got too high. Interstate driving at 60 to 65 was between 200 and 210. The dealer service tech said he wouldn't even worry about it but a cooler wouldn't hurt. I am not sure how yours was at 150 because GM says the normal operating temp is 180 to 200. I am reading mine with the onboard display that came on the vehicle. I have heard that depending on where the temp is sampled has something to do with what a guage may show.
  • zboaterzboater Posts: 17
    If I remember correctly - I think I was also at the 210 - 220 range in my 08 LTZ when towing even with the towing package cooler ... but I am at 150 - 160 in my 2500 ... different engines and different coolers - so not sure I know why - simply know what is showing up on my dash readout.
  • greinergreiner Posts: 2
    I have a 2009 Sub LTZ. I bought this thing and fear that I may have been "had". It did not have the K5L HD towing package, so I had them change the rear axle from a 3.08 to a 3.73. I was told the K5L was simply a different rear axle and a heavier-duty transmission cooler. I was clear that I wanted to tow a 5000lb dry-weight trailer. I have asked 10+ people this question and I have gotten 10+ DIFFERENT answers. Can someone provide some advice on what i should be towing with this thing? The manual says that the 5.3L with 3.08 has a tow max of 5100lbs, with 3.42 a max of 5600 lbs, and with the K5L a max of 8100 lbs. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you- Steve
  • zboaterzboater Posts: 17
    I know what you mean - I followed a bunch of forums and always had different answers in trying to decide what I needed (even though we all know more is better). Not sure what all changed in the rear end when you "upgraded" the rear axle from the 3.08 to the 3.73 - however I would have never pulled 6K with the 3.08. Variables in towing specs all include engine (5.3 vs 6.0), rear end (3.08 vs. 3.42 vs. 4.10), 2WD vs 4WD, LS/LT vs LTZ (autoride), wheels (20" low prifile vs. normal), tow package, and how much "addtional weight" (people/gear) you have in the truck, etc. Most likely your hitch is a class III and good for 600lbs tounge and 5.5K - 6K lbs towing (that is the standard on all the Suburbans as far as I know). My previous 08 Suburban was 4x4 LTZ (3.73 rear end), autoride/level, 20" wheels, heavy duty trailer package, and 5.3 engine. 6K was right on the edge of what I would comfortably want to tow with that car. Depending on your distance, and if you are really at only 5K on your trailer (go to a scale), you might be on the edge. You will feel it back there. Hope this helps.
  • greinergreiner Posts: 2
    Thanks for the reply. I'm not so sure the real axle was "upgraded", but the change from 3.08 to 3.73 should enhance the towing capacity. I am under the impression that the Sub suspension is not different when the HD towing package is added (only an upgraded tranny cooler and 3.42 gears). In fact, it is not a very expensive option from the factory.
    I think i'm just going to rent a 25ft trailer and get a feel for it and then i'll probably end up sticking to a 4000lb-4500lb target weight for a trailer. I think i'll be within my range for sure. Thx again for your response.
  • will73will73 Posts: 1
    I have a 2008 Tahoe LT2 2wheel drive, with towing package. Last summer, we towed our 4600#trailer and it about over took the Tahoe, the trailer fishtailed and the Tahoe was rocking. We were all over the road. Since that incident, I purchased an additional sway bar, load leveler, the works. The trailer still sways behind the Tahoe and causes the Tahoe to move sideways. I can't go over 45mph when pulling the trailer. The max tow cap. is 8700#. Had a friend pull the trailer with Silerado, no problems (went 75mph). So, I know it's not the trailer. I spent hours at a hitch shop getting the right set up to make sure the trailer is level, tongue weight ok,etc. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    edited March 2010
    I go for the longest wheelbase vehicle I can get, for towing.
  • Will73,

    We have a 2008 Tahoe LT (4x4) with the 3:73 gears and the 5.3Lt. It also has the tow package. We pull a 29ft (33ft front to back) Keystone Passport 290bh which is 5,100lbs dry and has a 500lb hitch weight. Our hitch is a Reese with the weight bars and a slide sway bar. I have left the sway bar off at times and i know its not there, but nothing that would scare my wife or I.

    I have pulled this camper 70+ mph down the highway, but usually run around 65. Put the vehicle in 3 and press the tow/haul button and the vehicle will pull this camper great. I am actually looking at a bigger one weight wise. I don't dont know why yours would sway that bad? Is it possible that you are loading all your gear in the front or back and not distributing the weight in the trailer? Wish i could help, but mine seems to do the job very good.
  • zboaterzboater Posts: 17
    Check tire pressure and make sure at max when towing, and also make sure that trailer/car rides flat when on hitch - get drop hitch if required, and check that tounge weight is in check - you should not have that kind of sway - esp with sway bars.
  • yank77yank77 Posts: 2
    My camper is loaded correctly. I did weigh it as it is hauled and it is 8000lbs. My tahoe has coil springs in the back and I'm looking at putting in the air bags, but not sure that will help. I think I'm at the limits of the tahoe. The tow/haul mode over heats the tranny on th hills, I found it is better just to run 3rd gear. I'm just gonna give up towing with the tahoe fro now and use my 3/4 ton pick up it's older but has what it takes to move the camper.
  • lmaddielmaddie Posts: 4
    I just purchased a 2009 3/4 ton LT 2500, 6.0L 6 speed trans. I'm not sure about the gears, where can I find out what gears I have?

    My plan is to buy a travel trailer and see the country with the wife and three kids. I was told the same thing about getting a P/U but like you, it was not an option.

    I would also like to know about increasing gas mileage. Should I put a new exhaust or air flow system on it?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  • zboaterzboater Posts: 17
    I am using mine stock and use 87oct gas. I have read of others putting in new air filters, exhaust changes, rear spring air bags, etc. I simply put in haul mode, do not use cruise, and try to keep in the 70-75 MPH range, without getting above 2800 RPM ... hope the burban serves your needs well - and if you find anything that improves performance - let me know.
  • jerheyejerheye Posts: 1
    edited June 2011
    I recently purchased a 2010 suburban LT 4wd with the trailering package (heavy duty hitch and 7 pin adapter). I noticed I have two radiators in front of vehicle, there is the big one with hoses running to motor and somewhere else and a smaller in front running it appears to the transmission. I dont have the window sticker, the rear end is a 3.42 locking differental. I am trying to find out if I have the heavy duty cooling since I have the trailering package. Makes a 2500 pound towing capacity diffrence. Thanks.
  • dakota007dakota007 Posts: 1
    Hello all. I am new to this and have been looking for a group to answer some questions for me about towing with my 2008 Chevrolet Suburban. We just got it a few months ago and it had 25k miles on it. It is an LTZ with the 5.3 L engine. We have recently got into camping with a travel trailer and I pulled it this past weekend to the lake and it didn't really pull as well as I thought it should. I know there is an adjustment that needs to be made on the drop-down hitch to make it a little more level (not off too bad). I have the sway bar and it didn't do much swaying at all. My issues were in the power and towing performance... especially on the hills. I pulled in 3rd gear with the towing package engaged. The hills were terrible and my RPMs would go up around 4000-4200. I do not know the in's and out's of mechanics, but I am fairly decent when it comes to this stuff. I know that the vehicle has the electric shocks so when the weight is put on, it adjusts the vehicle. I do not know what all the talk is about the axle ratio or torque though I do know it makes a big difference.

    Without knowing right now what my ratio's are, is there anything that I can do the vehicle to make it pull the 26' travel trailer better? Upgrades? Driving habits? I guess I was concerned when the RPM's started to go up that high since I wasn't sure it could damage anything. It was tough to get up to highway posted speed and really hard to get up the hills without punching it to the floor and having the RPMs increase. We didn't average very well in the fuel department. Just some advice on options and driving would be great! Thanks.
  • dee81dee81 Posts: 1
    edited January 2012
    Can a Suburban pull an Explorer?

    I'm renting a Suburban and I need to tow my explorer from L.A to NM. Is this possible? I see a lot of Suburbans pulling boats so I was just wondering.
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