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Last Post 31 Mar 2010 10:59 AM by  Steve Hoelscher
Help me pick a tow vehicle part deaux!
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ratt_finkel
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16 Feb 2010 08:00 PM

    I need some help selecting the best tow vehicle for my needs. And have tossed around everything from V-8 SUV's to turbo diesel trucks. The truck will be primarily used for DD duty. Towing will be used for autocross purposes only. Twice a month plus roughly 5 out of town events a year.

    3,200# Vehicle

    2k lb open trailer?

    Must have 4 real doors to carry people and crap.

    10-15k price tag. 20k at the absolute most.

    I recently was set on purchasing a 2003 or earlier Ford Super duty with the 7.3 TD. I've only managed to find one in the area to test drive. And it was obviously abused. Now I need to look at other options.

    I'm open to all suggestions. But my original idea of a 6.0 Chevy has been shot down my local autocrossers that have familiartiy with that setup. So I'm really perplexed on what to do.

    Thanks in advance!

    Joe_914
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    17 Feb 2010 05:13 AM

    I bought my 2000 Super Duty for 9K and it had 227K miles. New brakes Ok tires and just a few dings and scratches.

    now has 240K miles in the 10 months I owned it. Love it. Love it love it. I would never consider towing with anything less again. We take the truck everywhere as opposed to the wife's car.

    Just got to be patient and search everyday.

    BigEnos
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    21 Feb 2010 07:54 PM
    ratt_finkel wrote:

    I need some help selecting the best tow vehicle for my needs. And have tossed around everything from V-8 SUV's to turbo diesel trucks. The truck will be primarily used for DD duty. Towing will be used for autocross purposes only. Twice a month plus roughly 5 out of town events a year.

    3,200# Vehicle

    2k lb open trailer?

    Must have 4 real doors to carry people and crap.

    10-15k price tag. 20k at the absolute most.

    I recently was set on purchasing a 2003 or earlier Ford Super duty with the 7.3 TD. I've only managed to find one in the area to test drive. And it was obviously abused. Now I need to look at other options.

    I'm open to all suggestions. But my original idea of a 6.0 Chevy has been shot down my local autocrossers that have familiartiy with that setup. So I'm really perplexed on what to do.

    Thanks in advance!

    Not sure what turned you off, but I tow a similar setup to what you describe (car is 3370 and the trailer is probably 1800 or so) and 6.0L Chevy 2500HD it tows great. I did have one big failure (transfer case), but other than that I'm closing in on 100K miles with no other problems.

    That being said, I bought my truck with the idea that I wouldn't be driving it daily, but currently I am doing just that and the gas mileage is horrible. Unloaded commuting I'm getting around 13mpg no matter what.

    Being that you want a DD that can also tow, have you considered either a used Dodge or Ford 1/2 ton. Especially in 2wd trim (I know how you Texans like 2wd) it should be a decent DD and will tow fine. I wouldn't recommend a half ton Chevy because in your price range you'll probably only find 4L60E equipped models and I don't trust that transmission.

    preparedcivic
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    21 Feb 2010 08:59 PM
    I'll second the why not a 6.0 gas GM truck question. The drivetrain on my '04 has been basically trouble free, aside from snapping some exhaust manifold bolts around 65k miles. It has 82k now, and I expect it to roll many more. And this is towing an 8000lb enclosed for 30k of those 82k miles.
    RickyCRX
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    22 Feb 2010 09:36 AM

    I purchased my nearly-new '07 Tundra DoubleCab w/5.7L engine and TRD package for $19k 16 months ago... My open trailer with car is 5,200lbs and not much slows me down, aside from slow people that won't get out of the left lane. I generally tow at 75-80+mph and get an average of about 14.2mpg. It is comfortable enough to carry 5 people, and still have a very usable amount of storage space with the 6.5' bed. I highly recommend it.

    Bullitt2954
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    22 Feb 2010 11:10 AM

    RickyCRX wrote:
    I purchased my nearly-new '07 Tundra DoubleCab w/5.7L engine and TRD package for $19k 16 months ago... My open trailer with car is 5,200lbs and not much slows me down,

    Toyota's got a "Fix" for that now - you should get your recall paperwork in the mail any day now.............. [:O]

    Dave Hardy
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    22 Feb 2010 07:52 PM

    In general, the better it is as a daily driver, the worse it will be as a tow vehicle. For towing you want a long wheelbase, but that sucks in parking lots. You want power, but that leads to crappy mileage. You want a firm suspension, which can be tiresome on a daily commute.

    If I had to do both with the same vehicle, I'd go for one that is better at towing, and live with the crappy mileage. Towing with an undersize vehicle sucks.

    Phillip S. Osborne
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    23 Feb 2010 07:21 PM
    Jeremy, I would look for an 05 or newer hemi Durango. I have towed with one for three years, trouble free, 25K plus miles...I recently sold mine on a whim to a guy who was buying my trailer, and was sorry for it...Went to Florida a couple of weeks ago and picked up another one with less miles. I had 68K on my old one with never a problem. Changing oil and using the 5w20 recommended Mobil 1, still on original spark plugs, and still got 21 plus mpg on the highway when not towing...had gotten as much as 23 when driving in TX. 18 to 19 city, abeit driving extremely conservatively...The 05 and newer hemis have the MCD (multiple cylinder deactivation) at highway speeds and cut two cylinders. The in and out of this system is seamless...you never know when it is engaged. Best of all, you can find them with less than 50K miles, including Limited model if you look carefully, for less than 16K. There's a Viper guy in Houston that has an 07 for sale that is loaded and I can get his name and number if you want it...PM me if you more info...or email me at psosborne@windstream.net...
    gbeaird
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    25 Feb 2010 02:50 PM

    I'm so far quite pleased with our '02 2500HD diesel/Allison GMC. It is currently my DD, and the ~20 MPG is pretty good, IMHO, even with the price of diesel. Before it went up, the thing was pretty thrifty. I hook our steel open trailer with our 2700# CP car to it once a month, and forget it's back there, until I see that car tailgating us in the rear view mirror. Quite comfortable and quiet, too. It _only_ uses 10 quarts of oil per change, too.

    I'd look at used GM Duramax diesels if you want a good DD/tow vehicle.

    Gene Beaird,

    Pearland, Texas

    ratt_finkel
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    06 Mar 2010 11:00 PM
    I've strayed away from the gassers due to towing mileage. Everyone I've talked to says crappy crappy mileage when towing. Which is why I've opted for the turbo diesel in either ford or chevy variety. Still keeping my eyes open for a good deal. Many of the trucks around here are obviously abused (goosenecks, cabgaurds, etc.) So I'm holding out for a clean, well maintained vehicle.
    jdchristianson
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    07 Mar 2010 07:38 AM

    The diesel will surely pull the most and get better mileage towing, but you really have to put some numbers to the extra you will pay for a similar gas truck. Diesel fuel is still more expensive and maintenance on the diesel is more $ as well. How many miles are you going to drive and does it make sense? But in the end just get the one you like the best...

    Jeff Christianson

    47CP
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    07 Mar 2010 08:10 AM

    ratt_finkel wrote:
    I've strayed away from the gassers due to towing mileage. Everyone I've talked to says crappy crappy mileage when towing. Which is why I've opted for the turbo diesel in either ford or chevy variety. Still keeping my eyes open for a good deal. Many of the trucks around here are obviously abused (goosenecks, cabgaurds, etc.) So I'm holding out for a clean, well maintained vehicle.

    IMO, be careful of mileage claims on both extremes with gassers and diesels. Everyone drives differently and tends to emphasize the mileage to make thier point. :) Also, find out what speed people drive, I am not patient enough to drive somewhere at 55mph, though it would make a huge difference in mileage. In my experience overhead computers are like economic experts, always wrong and always surprised, so I hand calc mileage

    So, my opinion: With an open trailer, I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to get a gasser truck (or Durango, which I actually did :)) But a good deal on a diesel isn't a bad plan either.

    Over the last 3 seasons, I have had an E350 with V10 that tows the store (24' enclosed trailer) and a 2006 Dodge with Cummins that towed my former 24' enclosed car trailer. We tow about 15-20k miles per year, the Dodge was my daily driver. On identical trips, the van gets 2-3 mpg less than the diesel, 6-8mpg for the van, 8-11 for the truck. THis is running the exact same conditions and the trailers are very similiar (big fricken parachutes). We generally run about 70-72mph.

    Though not generally on the same trip, we have towed open trailers with both trucks. The Diesel got about 15-16mph with the open trailer and Z06 on it. Speed seemed irrelevant. Chris towed the Z06 to Atlanta with the van and got 12mpg with the open trailer.

    The truck would generally average 18-20mpg empty. I never got over 20mpg even on long trips. The van gets 15-16mpg with no trailer.

    I DD the truck (until I traded it for the Durango :)) and have also DD the van at times. In both cases, and with my former Ford and older Dodge diesels, the mileage is horrible in mixed daily use. I have about a 7 mile commute each way, split halfway between city and highway. I don't track mileage as closely, but it is around 10mpg in all cases. This may be the most important figure for your costs. :)

    Just some experience over time and various vehicles, hope it helps.

    DaveW

    ratt_finkel
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    07 Mar 2010 04:16 PM
    47CP wrote:

    ratt_finkel wrote:
    I've strayed away from the gassers due to towing mileage. Everyone I've talked to says crappy crappy mileage when towing. Which is why I've opted for the turbo diesel in either ford or chevy variety. Still keeping my eyes open for a good deal. Many of the trucks around here are obviously abused (goosenecks, cabgaurds, etc.) So I'm holding out for a clean, well maintained vehicle.

    IMO, be careful of mileage claims on both extremes with gassers and diesels. Everyone drives differently and tends to emphasize the mileage to make thier point. :) Also, find out what speed people drive, I am not patient enough to drive somewhere at 55mph, though it would make a huge difference in mileage. In my experience overhead computers are like economic experts, always wrong and always surprised, so I hand calc mileage

    So, my opinion: With an open trailer, I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to get a gasser truck (or Durango, which I actually did :)) But a good deal on a diesel isn't a bad plan either.

    Over the last 3 seasons, I have had an E350 with V10 that tows the store (24' enclosed trailer) and a 2006 Dodge with Cummins that towed my former 24' enclosed car trailer. We tow about 15-20k miles per year, the Dodge was my daily driver. On identical trips, the van gets 2-3 mpg less than the diesel, 6-8mpg for the van, 8-11 for the truck. THis is running the exact same conditions and the trailers are very similiar (big fricken parachutes). We generally run about 70-72mph.

    Though not generally on the same trip, we have towed open trailers with both trucks. The Diesel got about 15-16mph with the open trailer and Z06 on it. Speed seemed irrelevant. Chris towed the Z06 to Atlanta with the van and got 12mpg with the open trailer.

    The truck would generally average 18-20mpg empty. I never got over 20mpg even on long trips. The van gets 15-16mpg with no trailer.

    I DD the truck (until I traded it for the Durango :)) and have also DD the van at times. In both cases, and with my former Ford and older Dodge diesels, the mileage is horrible in mixed daily use. I have about a 7 mile commute each way, split halfway between city and highway. I don't track mileage as closely, but it is around 10mpg in all cases. This may be the most important figure for your costs. :)

    Just some experience over time and various vehicles, hope it helps.

    DaveW

    Dave that is all very good info. I appreciate it. I have no doubt that the gassers would pull what I need it to. But I have two local races towing with 6.0 Chevy. One 1500HD one 2500HD. Both complained about mileage while towing. Including towing to a local venue and going through an entire tank of gas. Which is just ridiculous in my book. On top of that, a severe lack of pulling power when approached with any type of elevation. Luckily, most of Texas is flat, lol. But considering we have 3 pulls to Arkansas and at least one to Lincoln. Single digit towing numbers does not impress me. it sounds like the DD mileage is going to suck no matter what. The Durango idea definetely interests me more than a truck. But again, I can't imagine that would be better than a gasser v-8 or v-10.

    Dave Hardy
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    07 Mar 2010 09:28 PM

    '02 2500HD with 8.1 and Allison:

    - 12mpg empty cruising at 80 +/-

    - 10mpg towing a civic on an open at 80+/- The difference in 75mph and 85 mph was like .4mpg - in other words not enough to slow down.

    BigEnos
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    08 Mar 2010 05:35 AM
    DILYSI Dave wrote:

    '02 2500HD with 8.1 and Allison:

    - 12mpg empty cruising at 80 +/-

    - 10mpg towing a civic on an open at 80+/- The difference in 75mph and 85 mph was like .4mpg - in other words not enough to slow down.

    I have an iPhone app that tracks mileage so I'm not relying on any built-in computer for these numbers. My truck, 6.0L 2003 Chevy 2500HD gets between 13 and 13.5 typically commuting for me (26 miles one-way in mixed driving). Best *ever* mileage was on the PA turnpike with a motorcycle in the bed, 15.6.

    According to the records on my phone, towing to Lincoln and back my worst tank was the first one on the way out which was 10.5 avg. Probably due to MD traffic and the mountain roads between here and I-80. after that it was mid-11s to mid-12s. It's pretty flat out on I-80, though, so that's really best-case scenario for towing. I've never had a single-digit average when towing, but I've never towed an enclosed trailer, either.

    I tend to go as fast as I feel like going, which honestly is generally low-70s and can be as high as mid-80s (when conditions permit).

    AStocker
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    08 Mar 2010 08:38 AM

    Hey Brian,

    You said:

    I wouldn't recommend a half ton Chevy because in your price range you'll probably only find 4L60E equipped models and I don't trust that transmission.

    I'm curious why you say that. Our 2003 4WD Avalanche (which I assume has that tranny) now has 130,000 miles most of which is towing (including pulling our 89 Camaro). Everything seems fine. Should I be concerned?

    Thanks, Paul

    BigEnos
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    08 Mar 2010 05:49 PM

    I have only heard things, no personal experience. Junior had an avalanche that seemed to be great, too. If I were shopping for a truck I'd avoid them, but it's really nothing more than unsubstantiated bias.

    Brian

    AStocker wrote:

    Hey Brian,

    You said:

    I wouldn't recommend a half ton Chevy because in your price range you'll probably only find 4L60E equipped models and I don't trust that transmission.

    I'm curious why you say that. Our 2003 4WD Avalanche (which I assume has that tranny) now has 130,000 miles most of which is towing (including pulling our 89 Camaro). Everything seems fine. Should I be concerned?

    Thanks, Paul

    Eskimo
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    09 Mar 2010 11:58 AM

    I formerly towed with a 2wd 2500HD 8.1 Allison, and just sold it for a 4wd '04 Avalanche 2500, which has the 8.1 and 4L85E.

    I'm so far ahead of the game with up front purchase and maintenance cost that it would take a diesel truck around 100,000 miles to break even. It has all the power to pull the 6500lb load it normally tows with no problems, doesn't mind short trips, starts right up in the cold, is quiet, and rides like a 1/2 ton pickup. Power is tops. 450lb-ft at 3000rpm has a way of moving you nicely.

    The Avalanche / Suburban 2500's are notably quieter than their pickup truck cousins, and ride better as well.

    Oil Changes only cost me $48 total.. roughly half of a diesel's using synthetic oil and a good filter, and then factoring in 1/2 a fuel filter with each diesel oil change. Diesel is still more expensive than 87 octane, and on my 8 mile daily commute, the diesel would never warm up - not a good thing. No wait to start, no plugging in, no clatter, no slimy fuel pump handles...

    Plus, the versatility of the Avalanche is amazing.. 4 full sized people and all their stuff on a long trip? check. Need to haul a 4x8 sheet of MDF back from Home Depot in the rain without it getting wet? check.

    Just my $.02 as someone who said "I'd never drive that ugly-ass thing" until I actually drove one...

    ratt_finkel
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    09 Mar 2010 10:44 PM
    Eskimo wrote:

    I formerly towed with a 2wd 2500HD 8.1 Allison, and just sold it for a 4wd '04 Avalanche 2500, which has the 8.1 and 4L85E.

    I'm so far ahead of the game with up front purchase and maintenance cost that it would take a diesel truck around 100,000 miles to break even. It has all the power to pull the 6500lb load it normally tows with no problems, doesn't mind short trips, starts right up in the cold, is quiet, and rides like a 1/2 ton pickup. Power is tops. 450lb-ft at 3000rpm has a way of moving you nicely.

    The Avalanche / Suburban 2500's are notably quieter than their pickup truck cousins, and ride better as well.

    Oil Changes only cost me $48 total.. roughly half of a diesel's using synthetic oil and a good filter, and then factoring in 1/2 a fuel filter with each diesel oil change. Diesel is still more expensive than 87 octane, and on my 8 mile daily commute, the diesel would never warm up - not a good thing. No wait to start, no plugging in, no clatter, no slimy fuel pump handles...

    Plus, the versatility of the Avalanche is amazing.. 4 full sized people and all their stuff on a long trip? check. Need to haul a 4x8 sheet of MDF back from Home Depot in the rain without it getting wet? check.

    Just my $.02 as someone who said "I'd never drive that ugly-ass thing" until I actually drove one...

    Sounds like the perfect vehicle. But what type of mileage are you seeing?

    Eskimo
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    10 Mar 2010 06:02 AM
    ratt_finkel wrote:

    Sounds like the perfect vehicle. But what type of mileage are you seeing?

    Not very good. 14.5 on a trip from PA to Indy and back with my motorcycle in the bed and 750lbs of cargo, and an average of 9 towing through the hills of PA, letting the cruise control keep my speed at 70-75.

    But like I mentioned, it doesn't matter much to me because I'm still $$ ahead of the diesel guys, so I just let 'er eat. 36 gallon tank on the Suburban/Avalanche 2500's, so still a decent range. Diesel 2500 silverado's, similarly equipped, with similar mileage were going for $7000 more than what I paid for the Avalanche.. That's a lot of gas I can burn!

    Basically, you can have a 1/2 ton tow rig which has components that are marginal for towing, a 3/4 ton gas which has the HD components but eats gas, or a diesel, which costs more up front and more on maintenance, but will reward you with a 250,000+ mile life and better mileage, but not if you use it for short trips.

    Impala SS AutoXer
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    10 Mar 2010 04:00 PM

    I'll throw out my experience and experience of friends. For the record, I'm towing with a 2006 GMC 2500HD with the Duramax/Allison.

    The truck is just under 4 years old. I've put 83K miles on it (it is a DD), bought new.

    In that time, the issues I've had with it were :

    1. OEM shocks were bad. In fact, one was DEAD from the factory. Set of $250 Bilsteins = fixed

    2. Under-dash HVAC temp valve went out, $130 part and about an hour of my time to replace (it is a common issue on these trucks)

    3. The steering shaft rattled a little bit. Replaced with a Borgeson, it also rattles. I've learned to live with it.

    That's it. Other than that, the truck has been dead nuts reliable.

    As for "more expensive maintenance on a diesel", guess I'm not really seeing it. Oil changes do take 10 quarts (about $55 for me to do myself including the filter, using Rotella) BUT the change interval is 10K miles. Figure it's about a wash with a gasser that uses 5 qts but only goes 5-6K miles.

    Fuel filter : $30-ish bucks, every 15K miles. Takes about 30 minutes to replace, and easy enough to do that if I had to do an emergency swap on the side of the freeway I could do it (underhood on the right side, instead of under the truck)..

    Trans Filter : external trans filter that looks like a small oil filter. I replace it every other oil change (20K miles), filter costs $10 and you have to add back roughly 8 oz of fluid. The fluid always comes out VERY clean.

    Trans fluid : I may change it at 100K on principle. Same with the rear diff fluid. I doubt it'll NEED it, but, you know...

    Gas mileage : my commute is 11 miles, mostly highway BUT in the Bay Area (meaning, it takes 30 minutes some days, 15 others...consider it similar to a freeway commute in Dallas). I get about 15-16 MPG while commuting. Empty on the highway it'll do anywhere from 19 at 80 MPH up to 23 at 55 MPH. Towing I get 17-18 (and have even gotten 19 on occasion!) doing a "CA legalish" 62 MPH. Dropped to about 17 MPG when towing to Lincoln last fall doing 70-75. Car was an ST Civic on an open trailer, saw similar with our STS Integra in 07-08 on the trailer. Drops 1-2 MPG from that towing my 96 Impala SS on the same trailer (car weighs literally DOUBLE what the ST Civic does though!). Got 12-13 in 2006 towing an enclosed trailer to Topeka.

    Obviously, LOTS of towing power to spare. Heck, climbing the Sierras or the Grapevine (0-4000ft-0 grade between Bakersfield and LA) it doesn't even downshift below 5th gear...let alone actually lose even 1 MPH of speed!

    In CA right now, diesel is about even with 87 octane at the place I buy fuel.

    The truck cost roughly $7K more than a comparable gas truck when I bought it. As you can see, I'd still get most/all of that back if I had to sell it. The maintenance really isn't appreciably more.

    As for the Avalance, issues are two :

    1. Get a 1500, you get the 4L60E. From the factory, it is a crap transmission for towing. You can fix that with a GOOD rebuild (i.e. not a mere GM reman or your average Aamco factory replacement job, but rather using better parts with a rebuilding expert), but that eats up some of that truck cost difference.

    2. Also note that GM uses a different (read that as WEAKER) frame on the Avalanche vs the Pickups (1/2 ton to 1/2 ton, and 3/4 ton to 3/4 ton). I can point you towards a friend of mine in AR who had a BENT FRAME on his 2500 Avalance (towing an enclosed trailer, truck couldn't take it...he now owns a 2500HD Pickup) if you want to talk with him about it. You'd likely be OK with an open trailer, but it limits your growth potential in towing.

    Just my experience, but I'd make the same choice again in a heartbeat!

    Eskimo
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    10 Mar 2010 04:53 PM
    Impala SS AutoXer wrote:

    As for "more expensive maintenance on a diesel", guess I'm not really seeing it. Oil changes do take 10 quarts (about $55 for me to do myself including the filter, using Rotella) BUT the change interval is 10K miles. Figure it's about a wash with a gasser that uses 5 qts but only goes 5-6K miles.

    As for the Avalance, issues are two :

    2. Also note that GM uses a different (read that as WEAKER) frame on the Avalanche vs the Pickups (1/2 ton to 1/2 ton, and 3/4 ton to 3/4 ton). I can point you towards a friend of mine in AR who had a BENT FRAME on his 2500 Avalance (towing an enclosed trailer, truck couldn't take it...he now owns a 2500HD Pickup) if you want to talk with him about it. You'd likely be OK with an open trailer, but it limits your growth potential in towing.

    Actually, mine went 8000 miles before it was time to change the oil, and just to be clear, my price for an oil change was using synthetic oil..

    The frame is the Suburban frame, and there is an "issue" with a weak spot when you tow with a lot of tongue weight. Fortunately, there are a couple of class 5 receivers that bridge this frame section and have been shown to eliminate the issue, as there are several on the board towing 12,000lb loads with the 2500's.

    Having owned a 2500HD pickup prior to the Avalanche, I'll also mention the unloaded (and loaded) ride for that matter is more harsh on the truck mostly because of the leaf packs used (the truck has a payload of ~3900lbs, the 2500 Av ~2000lbs), and partly because of weight distribution.

    racnmni
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    12 Mar 2010 10:12 AM

    I know this has kinda gravitated towards big manly trucks... but I remember the op was something about a liveable dd. I towed for 4 years with a Hemi Grand Cherokee. Mini Cooper and pit bikes on a solid deck steel trailer (5Kish) plus the wife, dogs, loaded with gear we got 10.5-11.5 towing 65-75mph going to Topeka and back. It gets 15-19 mpg in the real world due to cylinder de-activation and is comfortable It has been bullet proof now at 105K. Probably 10-15K of that towing. All that, and the wife enjoys driving it too. Oh, and these things can be had CHEAP, since there are a ton of them out there. Soft suspension though, so you need a weight distributing hitch (I don't have one) or the load needs to be balanced properly in the trailer. If the car is a few inches too far forward or back I notice it in a hurry.

    That said, +1 for the 8.1 chevy as well. We picked up a Super C class motorhome (Kodiak 5500 based) last year and that is our new tow rig. It is the 8.1 with an Allison behind it. We were about 22K on the scales fully loaded and I felt like I had plenty of power. The 8.1 likes some fuel though... 6.5-8 mpg pulling or not. She's a brick in the wind alright, but the power was better than expected for a house on wheels. No hotel, no boarding the dogs, when it rains, we are dry, when It's hot, we are cool. Love that thing! The wife even LIKES to come to the events now! Just my 2 cents

    Good luck with the search!

    Steve Hoelscher
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    16 Mar 2010 02:20 PM
    AStocker wrote:

    Hey Brian,

    You said:

    I wouldn't recommend a half ton Chevy because in your price range you'll probably only find 4L60E equipped models and I don't trust that transmission.

    I'm curious why you say that. Our 2003 4WD Avalanche (which I assume has that tranny) now has 130,000 miles most of which is towing (including pulling our 89 Camaro). Everything seems fine. Should I be concerned?

    I can answer that: In a word: Yes.

    Fact: The 4L60E is the #1 transmission in the repair industry. I know, I was in the business for several years. It was a statistic that was easy to track and well known in the industry.

    My shops averaged about 4 of these a week. Nearly half my business. The equivalent Ford transmission, with as many or more units in services is the 4R70W, of which I averaged less than one a month.

    Those are the facts, you make the call.

    Joe_914
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    17 Mar 2010 03:58 AM

    Put a big cooler on a Ford Transmission and it will last the life of the truck.

    my super duty has 240K and best I can tell it's never been out.

    Steve Hoelscher
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    17 Mar 2010 07:52 AM
    Joe_914 wrote:

    Put a big cooler on a Ford Transmission and it will last the life of the truck.

    my super duty has 240K and best I can tell it's never been out.

    Partly true. I would add; change the fluid regularly. There is no better way to improve the service life of an automatic transmission.

    The Ford van I tow with, has 296,000 mostly towing miles. It has the factory tow package cooler on it but the fluid has been changed annually since new. I did rebuild the transmission the last week I owned a shop as a preventative measure (back in 2005). At the time it had 240,000 miles on it. We only replaced the "paper and rubber" (gaskets and seals), electronics and did the updates (new intermediate drum which uses the new style mechanical diode) and a new style servo and band with a kevlar lining. All of the original clutches went right back in. I also installed a new torque converter with a kevlar clutch. The transmission was working perfectly when I had it rebuilt but I figured I might as well since I had the opportunity.

    Dave Hardy
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    17 Mar 2010 12:08 PM

    Steve - Do you have a preferred fluid and change interval for the Allison? Is a drain and fill sufficient or do I need to plan on taking it somewhere with a flush setup

    Steve Hoelscher
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    17 Mar 2010 12:40 PM
    DILYSI Dave wrote:

    Steve - Do you have a preferred fluid and change interval for the Allison? Is a drain and fill sufficient or do I need to plan on taking it somewhere with a flush setup

    If you tow regularly, change it annually. Its not expensive and well worth the investment. Most people let the transmission fluid go until it looks like it needs changing. That is, it starts getting dark. Well, that's too late. The reason is, transmissions don't have a combustion process that produces the carbon that turns motor oil black. So the fluid stays red until it begins to varnish or gets contaminated or burnt. ATF is a complex blend of hydraulic oil and additive packages consisting of stabilizers and anti shudder cushioners. The additives dissipate over time and cause the fluid to eventually varnish.

    If you change it regularly, the additives stay fresh and the transmission stays happy. The fluid never gets old and breaks down.

    Drain and fill is fine if you change it regularly. "Flush" services are over rated and are not substantially different than a drain and fill. Also, it is rare that the operator actually does a thorough job of flushing the system. Another important note. Often, the JiffyLube/Quickchange oil change operations use a cheap (off brand) grade of fluid. You DO NOT want to tow with cheap, off brand, fluid. The extra heat will kill the oil in months. Always use a name brand oil. Castrol, Havoline, etc... Store brands are in the off brand catagory.

    Eskimo
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    17 Mar 2010 12:57 PM

    When I got my truck with the Allison, I did a garage-flush.. that is, disconnecting the return line from the trans cooler and let it drain while the engine was idling, keeping the level up by constantly adding fluid. Also had the wife put it in reverse, 1st, and second to get the fluid moving through as many paths as possible. I used about 3 gallons total of fluid, but there was a noticeable change from start to finish. After that, it was a 25k drain & fill, and had I kept the truck, after another 25k, repeat the flush..

    It wasn't too terribly messy or hard to do, took about an hour, total. But I bought the truck with 60k on it, and was unsure when the fluid was last changed.

    Steve Hoelscher
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    17 Mar 2010 02:47 PM
    Eskimo wrote:

    When I got my truck with the Allison, I did a garage-flush.. that is, disconnecting the return line from the trans cooler and let it drain while the engine was idling, keeping the level up by constantly adding fluid. Also had the wife put it in reverse, 1st, and second to get the fluid moving through as many paths as possible. I used about 3 gallons total of fluid, but there was a noticeable change from start to finish. After that, it was a 25k drain & fill, and had I kept the truck, after another 25k, repeat the flush..

    It wasn't too terribly messy or hard to do, took about an hour, total. But I bought the truck with 60k on it, and was unsure when the fluid was last changed.

    Yep. That works just fine and is functionally identical to the high dollar "flush machines". You can buy a length of 3/8ths rubber transmission cooler line and a cheap bucket with graduated lines on the side. Put the outlet end in the bucket and a funnel in the inlet and simply match the lines on the bucket as it runs. I have done this myself with my cars/trucks.

    You don't really need to run it through the gears as that only moves a tiny amount of fluid in the valve body and servos. This method does help get the fluid that is retained in the torque converter that is other wise retained on a drain/fill.

    Matt93SE
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    21 Mar 2010 09:58 PM

    I'm going to scab onto this thread for a part tres.

    I recently purchased a 24' enclosed and my 1/2 ton Chevy obviously isn't handling the job. flat out in 4th (it's a 5sp manual), it'll do best of 65, but I get roughly -4mpg. Even at 65mph, I'm getting blown off the road by grannies driving out here in the flatlands south of Houston. Average cruising speed is about 80, so I'm mainly trying not to get run off the road. The clutch in it doesn't like having to back into my long and narrow (read: 5pt turn and back reaaaaal sloooow) driveway. Then again, the truck is a '90 with 180k miles on it; nothing works inside (A/C, radio, etc are all out). Poor Chebby's on its last legs. This weekend, the wife finally gave me permission to buy a new truck. WOOHOO!

    I figure, fully loaded, the whole trailer & gear will be about 8500lb. Roughly 5000 for the trailer, 2500ish for the car, 300 for tool box, 300 for spare tires. throw in another 300 for generator and air compressor, and I'm roughly 8500. Good thing this trailer has the 5500# axles!

    My useage will be hauling the car & spares around Houston area tracks for club racing- it's about 4.5 hours to Dallas, the same to No Problem Raceway in LA, and 2hrs to College Station. I'll probably hit college station several times a year and the others once or twice. Throw in a trip or two each to Oklahoma and Austin and that gives me a few hills to deal with aside from the south TX rice paddies I live in. the truck won't be my DD, but if it rides well enough and gets decent mileage, I may drive it more often. I will definitely be getting an automatic- it's just too much of a pain to tow with a manual when the autos in these things seem to get such great reliability numbers.

    All that said, There are a bunch of 04-05 Ford F250 6.0 diesels in the area for 10-15k depending on the usual factors. There are a few 2500s from Dodge and Chevy, but the great majority here are Fords. I'm thinking the F250 is the way to go for my intentions.

    since I'm also a n00b to buying a diesel, can some of you veterans point out the major things to look for when I'm crawling over them at the used car lots and Craigslist finds? I of course get looking for fluid leaks, signs of helper springs, 5th wheels, general overloading, holes cut in the dash from programmers and chips and whatnot, but what about the driveline, engine, etc? what's a good one "act like," so to speak?

    Also, I'm assuming breaking the wind with the trailer itself is the biggest effort in the pull, no? Once I've started loading the trailer, I would assume the truck isn't really going to care much about the last 1000lb of crap I haul once I get moving on the highway. i.e. the truck will still pull the same with my trailer at 7500lb gross weight or 8500lb gross weight. Is that a fair assumption in this case, or do I need to make a real effort to keep the weight to a minimum?

    Thanks!

    47CP
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    22 Mar 2010 05:51 AM

    Matt,

    You probably want to do some research on the 6.0 Fords, especially the early ones. www.ford-trucks.com and www.thedieselstop.com are two sites I have frequented in the past. I have known people who had ones that were trouble free, but others who had monthly dealer visits for the life of the truck. Note, I do not have personal experience, I had a 7.3 Ford and 2 Dodges.

    If it were a good enough deal, it might be worth it, but there is a reason why those particular ones are so cheap, relative to the other makes.

    IMO, the 250 is fine and don't worry about the last little bit of weight, the truck won't notice. I get/got the same mileage with empty enclosed trailers vs full ones.

    HTH, IMO, YMMV,

    DaveW

    Matt93SE
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    22 Mar 2010 06:54 AM

    Thanks for the input. There are Chevy and dodge 2500s in the area too, but they're all 4 door models and that's jsut stuff I won't be needing. 95% of the time, it's me and maybe the wife in the truck so I don't need a back seat. I'd like an extended cab just to be able to throw junk in the back out of the rain, but I don't need the extra size, weight, and parking hassles of 4 doors.

    Nonetheless, there are other options- the Ford 6.0 just seems to be the most common around here, and I'll definitely do some research into why before I purchase. :)

    AStocker
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    22 Mar 2010 07:47 AM
    Steve Hoelscher wrote:
    AStocker wrote:

    Hey Brian,

    You said:

    I wouldn't recommend a half ton Chevy because in your price range you'll probably only find 4L60E equipped models and I don't trust that transmission.

    I'm curious why you say that. Our 2003 4WD Avalanche (which I assume has that tranny) now has 130,000 miles most of which is towing (including pulling our 89 Camaro). Everything seems fine. Should I be concerned?

    I can answer that: In a word: Yes.

    Fact: The 4L60E is the #1 transmission in the repair industry. I know, I was in the business for several years. It was a statistic that was easy to track and well known in the industry.

    My shops averaged about 4 of these a week. Nearly half my business. The equivalent Ford transmission, with as many or more units in services is the 4R70W, of which I averaged less than one a month.

    Those are the facts, you make the call.

    Thanks for the info Steve.

    Other than changing the fluid regularly, is there anything I can do proactively on this tranny to avoid ending up on the side of the road?

    Paul

    Matt93SE
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    22 Mar 2010 08:27 AM

    Pull an 89 civic instead of an 89 Camaro, and keep your foot out of it?

    Have you added a tranny cooler to the truck? You might want to install a tranny temp gauge and/or a standalone tranny cooler to keep the fluid temps under control. Heat seems to be the biggest killer of automatics, so lower the heat and you lower the stress on the guts.

    If/when the rebuild comes around, there are internal modifications you can have done to beef up the transmission, but I'll leave that up to guys with more experience on such items and where to go for that.

    Steve Hoelscher
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    22 Mar 2010 11:15 AM
    AStocker wrote:

    Thanks for the info Steve.

    Other than changing the fluid regularly, is there anything I can do proactively on this tranny to avoid ending up on the side of the road?

    Well, changing the fluid annually is the very best preventative measure. Also, if you don't have a "big" external transmission cooler, get one. From there learning what the transmission is doing and why then will give you the opportunity to being proactive when driving. To that end, go out and find a nice flat, straight, piece of road to practice on.

    With the trans in the normal "OD" position, start of with moderate throttle pressure and let the transmission run through the gears, counting as it shifts. Note the shift sequence: starting off in 1st gear, then 2nd gear, then 3rd gear, then the torque converter clutch applies and then 4th gear. Do this several times until you are accustomed to the feel of the torque converter application and how it differs from a "shift". Next, while driving at cruise speed (say 60-65 mph) in OD, steady state, hold the throttle steady and reach over with your left foot and touch the brake pedal. Not enough to slow the truck, but just enough to turn on the brake lights. While doing this, note the rise in rpm (probably about 100 rpm). This is the torque converter clutch diss-engaging. It will re-engage a few seconds after you release the brake pedal. Try this several times until you are familiar with the action of the torque converter clutch locking and unlocking. The converter clutch will also diss-engage when you lift off the throttle for a moment and re-apply to steady state. Try this as well to learn its action.

    Now that you are familiar with the torque converter clutch locking and unlocking, try this: At steady state cruise, again about 65 mph, begin gradually adding throttle pressure. As you do, note the engine rpm rise. At some point, the additional throttle pressure will force the torque converter clutch to dis-engage. Your earlier practice will make this easier to note. Now ease off the throttle and wait for the clutch to re-engage. Try this several times until you are familiar with the opperation. Also, try continually adding throttle pressure until the transmission downshifts to 3rd and note the difference between the torque converter unlocking and a downshift to 3rd.

    Now that you are familiar with the torque converter operation, when towing, you never want to run the transmission in OD any more than a few seconds with the torque converter unlocked. When climbing even slight grades, if the torque converter unlocks, immediately downshift to 3rd either by applying additional throttle or my manually shifting to 3rd. Also, when climbing any grade that you know will require a downshift, anticipate the downshift by downshifting manually to avoid lugging the motor in 4th or allowing the torque converter clutch dis-engaging.

    Running the transmission with the torque converter dis-engaged builds tremendous heat very fast. In only a few minutes it can build enough heat to boil the transmission fluid. So you are far better off to run the transmission in 3rd with the torque converter clutch applied than in 4th without. In fact, if the torque converter in hunting (in/out of lockup) you should instead downshift to 3rd and stay there until it can run consistently in 4th with the clutch applied.

    Also, if you have it rebuilt, the best upgrade you can do is to "pin" the torque converter regulator valve. This is a simple mod that keeps the torque converter regulator valve fully open all the time. This keeps the clutch at 100% apply any time the computer commands "apply". The valve normal operation is to regulate slip so the clutch is never at 100% apply. This builds a lot of heat and wears the clutch. Why GM does this, no one knows.


    Matt93SE
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    22 Mar 2010 11:57 AM
    Steve Hoelscher wrote:

    Also, if you have it rebuilt, the best upgrade you can do is to "pin" the torque converter regulator valve. This is a simple mod that keeps the torque converter regulator valve fully open all the time. This keeps the clutch at 100% apply any time the computer commands "apply". The valve normal operation is to regulate slip so the clutch is never at 100% apply. This builds a lot of heat and wears the clutch. Why GM does this, no one knows.

    GM does that so they can sell transmissions.

    That's great info- never thought of changing my driving habits like that- I'd always just run with OD off when towing with Dad's truck, which I guess just kept it in 3rd w/ the TC locked on the highway. Of course that was a 1/2 ton pulling a pretty good size load, so it probably needed to stay in 3rd.

    One of the mods the FWD Nissan drag racers do is wire a switch in parallel with the transmission computer and separate by a diode to send an active high to the T/C lockup pin. they then put a window switch on it to engage about 3000rpm so that anytime the engine is above 3000rpm, the switch forces the T/C to stay locked up. They also run the line pressure fully open all the time so it shifts quicker.

    Don't know how that would do in a Chevy, but it's how the Nissan guys force their auto that were too weak for a 200hp engine to be able to survive a 450hp turbo'd engine with nitrous.

    Steve Hoelscher
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    22 Mar 2010 12:21 PM
    Matt93SE wrote:

    One of the mods the FWD Nissan drag racers do is wire a switch in parallel with the transmission computer and separate by a diode to send an active high to the T/C lockup pin. they then put a window switch on it to engage about 3000rpm so that anytime the engine is above 3000rpm, the switch forces the T/C to stay locked up. They also run the line pressure fully open all the time so it shifts quicker.

    Don't know how that would do in a Chevy, but it's how the Nissan guys force their auto that were too weak for a 200hp engine to be able to survive a 450hp turbo'd engine with nitrous.

    Those are all typical hot-rod/drag racer mods that have been used on many different kinds of transmissions. You wouldn't want to run the line pressure wide open on a street driven transmission. If you have ever driven a 4L60E with high line pressure you would see why. The shifts are so harsh it will destroy engine/transmission mounts, U-joints and drive you crazy after only a brief drive.

    There are a number of updates that most good shops will incorporate in an overhaul. We had a standard set of updates that we did on every 4L60E we built. Then there were a few extra we did for the more serous applications. Regular towing or off road apps.

    Matt93SE
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    22 Mar 2010 03:11 PM

    Yeah, sounds typical. That's why these guys also put switches on them so they could turn that stuff off after racing. The good thing is they held the power- just had to beef up the engine mounts and crossmember in the cars so the engine wouldn't fall out on the ground. usually no problems breaking axles since the cars are FWD and have pretty beefy axles from the factory. Big issue was keeping traction and picking up people's jaws off the ground when they broke the tires loose shifting into 4th at 115mph.

    ahhh useless straight line racing. Glad those days are over for me. I've broken less in 10 years of road racing/HPDE than I did in 6 months of regularly drag racing.

    Dick Rasmussen
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    22 Mar 2010 06:23 PM

    Steve,

    Great info on learning a 4 spd with lockup auto. I can tell this with our 4spd Mustang auto (4R70W). What about 6spd autos like the newest Fords in both cars and trucks? How the heck do you tell what gear you are in and whether it was shift or the T/C clutch that caused the rpm change when the rpm difference at 65 mph between any of the top 2 or 3 gears is minimal?

    Thanks,

    Dick

    Steve Hoelscher
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    22 Mar 2010 08:30 PM

    Hi Dick. That's a dang good question. Converter clutch engagement on 4R70W's has always been quite subtle. Most drivers never notice it. Even a trained tech has to pay close attention to know when the clutch applies. The problem is compounded when you realize that the clutch applies in 3rd (but not always in 3rd) and is released momentarily for the 3-4 shift, 4-5 shift and 5-6 shift. The easiest way to tell a shift from a clutch engagement is by watching the tach and speedo. As the clutch applies in 3rd (or 4th) for the first time, you will see the rpm stabilize as the speedo continues its steady climb. Once the clutch is fully applied, the speedo and tach will track together until the next shift. The clutch will be seamlessly re-applied after the shift and the tach and speedo will track together again. As a general rule of thumb, a normal upshift will take about .7 to 1.0 seconds and the clutch application will take 2 to 3 seconds.

    When I had my shops I employed a couple of Aamco Certified Master Technicians. Now despite what you may think of Aamco as a company, an Aamco Master Tech is as good a rebuilder as you will find in the industry. Period. The training and testing required to get that certification is the best in the industry. So one of these guys was very bright and had a bunch of tech bulletins publish in his name. One of the Tech bulletins he wrote was on 4R70W converter lockup. He figured out that drilling a hole in the valve body separator plate to vent the cushion circuit for the torque converter apply would quicken the engagement. So this mod was used when he rebuilt the unit in my van. The problem is, its only slightly quicker engagement as the clutch plate in the torque converter itself is cushioned by the rate at which the charge is vented.

    AStocker
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    23 Mar 2010 07:47 AM
    Steve Hoelscher wrote:
    AStocker wrote:

    Thanks for the info Steve.

    Other than changing the fluid regularly, is there anything I can do proactively on this tranny to avoid ending up on the side of the road?

    Well, changing the fluid annually is the very best preventative measure. Also, if you don't have a "big" external transmission cooler, get one. From there learning what the transmission is doing and why then will give you the opportunity to being proactive when driving. To that end, go out and find a nice flat, straight, piece of road to practice on.

    With the trans in the normal "OD" position, start of with moderate throttle pressure and let the transmission run through the gears, counting as it shifts. Note the shift sequence: starting off in 1st gear, then 2nd gear, then 3rd gear, then the torque converter clutch applies and then 4th gear. Do this several times until you are accustomed to the feel of the torque converter application and how it differs from a "shift". Next, while driving at cruise speed (say 60-65 mph) in OD, steady state, hold the throttle steady and reach over with your left foot and touch the brake pedal. Not enough to slow the truck, but just enough to turn on the brake lights. While doing this, note the rise in rpm (probably about 100 rpm). This is the torque converter clutch diss-engaging. It will re-engage a few seconds after you release the brake pedal. Try this several times until you are familiar with the action of the torque converter clutch locking and unlocking. The converter clutch will also diss-engage when you lift off the throttle for a moment and re-apply to steady state. Try this as well to learn its action.

    Now that you are familiar with the torque converter clutch locking and unlocking, try this: At steady state cruise, again about 65 mph, begin gradually adding throttle pressure. As you do, note the engine rpm rise. At some point, the additional throttle pressure will force the torque converter clutch to dis-engage. Your earlier practice will make this easier to note. Now ease off the throttle and wait for the clutch to re-engage. Try this several times until you are familiar with the opperation. Also, try continually adding throttle pressure until the transmission downshifts to 3rd and note the difference between the torque converter unlocking and a downshift to 3rd.

    Now that you are familiar with the torque converter operation, when towing, you never want to run the transmission in OD any more than a few seconds with the torque converter unlocked. When climbing even slight grades, if the torque converter unlocks, immediately downshift to 3rd either by applying additional throttle or my manually shifting to 3rd. Also, when climbing any grade that you know will require a downshift, anticipate the downshift by downshifting manually to avoid lugging the motor in 4th or allowing the torque converter clutch dis-engaging.

    Running the transmission with the torque converter dis-engaged builds tremendous heat very fast. In only a few minutes it can build enough heat to boil the transmission fluid. So you are far better off to run the transmission in 3rd with the torque converter clutch applied than in 4th without. In fact, if the torque converter in hunting (in/out of lockup) you should instead downshift to 3rd and stay there until it can run consistently in 4th with the clutch applied.

    Also, if you have it rebuilt, the best upgrade you can do is to "pin" the torque converter regulator valve. This is a simple mod that keeps the torque converter regulator valve fully open all the time. This keeps the clutch at 100% apply any time the computer commands "apply". The valve normal operation is to regulate slip so the clutch is never at 100% apply. This builds a lot of heat and wears the clutch. Why GM does this, no one knows.


    Great info Steve. Thanks.

    One more question: The Avalanche is equipped with a "Tow/Haul" button that I use every time I tow. It dramatically changes the feeling of the tranny and its shifting. How does this fit into the above advice?

    Paul

    Steve Hoelscher
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    23 Mar 2010 08:21 AM
    AStocker wrote:

    Great info Steve. Thanks.

    One more question: The Avalanche is equipped with a "Tow/Haul" button that I use every time I tow. It dramatically changes the feeling of the tranny and its shifting. How does this fit into the above advice?

    The tow/haul button simply raises the line pressure inside the transmission. This delays upshifts slightly and slightly raises the "apply" pressure on the clutches and band servo. The idea is to reduce clutch slip and quicken the shifts under load. The thing is, it is my belief that this button is more "marketing" driven than actual functional benefit. Line pressure is managed by the transmission programming based on MAP (vacuum which is an indicator of load) and throttle position (request for load). If this map is properly programmed, the mapping will raise line pressure as necessary without the need for the button. I think GM's marketing department wanted a response to Ford's OD/Cancel button which is actually very useful. (I use mine all the time as it makes downshifting for those big climbs a piece of cake.)

    Bottom line. Use the Tow/Haul button but everything previously noted, still applies.

    atcovan
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    24 Mar 2010 07:15 PM
    Valuable information, Steve. Thanks. I'm certain you've saved me a ton of $$ on my 5.7 2001 Express van. I have the monster Hayden cooler and change the fluid at 25k intervals.
    Matt93SE
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    28 Mar 2010 12:17 PM

    Update from my end..

    Last week I was able to find an '02 F250 with the 7.3 Power Stroke in Tulsa with just 110k miles. flew up to Tulsa and drove it back to Houston on Wed. averaged 18mpg on the way home at 75mph and spent about two hours in stop & go traffic. not bad, all things considering.

    Loaded up the trailer on Friday and drove it 400 miles round trip to Austin. didn't even bother to worry about mileage since I was running behind and all I wanted to do was get there on time. I can say, however that the truck pulled my 24' enclosed just fine at 75, with a bit of room to spare for the uphills and random left-lane parkers. trial by fire, and it passed!

    atcovan
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    28 Mar 2010 02:05 PM
    Matt93SE wrote:

    Update from my end..

    Last week I was able to find an '02 F250 with the 7.3 Power Stroke in Tulsa with just 110k miles. flew up to Tulsa and drove it back to Houston on Wed. averaged 18mpg on the way home at 75mph and spent about two hours in stop & go traffic. not bad, all things considering.

    Loaded up the trailer on Friday and drove it 400 miles round trip to Austin. didn't even bother to worry about mileage since I was running behind and all I wanted to do was get there on time. I can say, however that the truck pulled my 24' enclosed just fine at 75, with a bit of room to spare for the uphills and random left-lane parkers. trial by fire, and it passed!

    Hi Matt, sounds like you found a nice truck. If memory serves, the 7.3 injectors are problematic and really sensitive to oil condition/cleanliness, so change it often. At 110k miles, it's only just breaking in!

    Matt93SE
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    29 Mar 2010 07:29 AM

    Thanks for the heads-up! I hadn't heard that about the injectors, so I'll keep an eye on them. I called the Ford dealership's name that was on the keyring (I bought it from a VW/Audi lot strangely enough), and it seems to have been pretty regularly serviced at their dealership, including a regular diet of Rotella.

    Joe_914
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    30 Mar 2010 04:16 AM

    Wise choice on the Super Duty, I have gotten as high as 19.7 cruising empty @ 70-75 but that is rare. 16 towing and that is at the same speed.

    I have found nothing to get better mileage other than stay out of boost. (bed covers, 4" exhaust, big air filter). none affected mileage. Mine has 241K and runs great, and tows anything I can hook to it.

    wrchas
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    30 Mar 2010 08:06 AM

    http://www.thedieselstop.com/ is probably the best source for information for Ford diesel trucks.

    In regards to mileage, both the '99 F250 that I had and the '01 F250 that I have, have returned mileage figures as high as 20 and as low as 11 with an overall average of about 15.5mpg (that's some commuting, pulling an open trailer, pulling an enclosed trailer, and some long trips not pulling anything). The '01 received a DP-Tuner (with stock, +60hp, and +80hp tunes) which made for a nice power gain but mileage gains are marginal at best. Trying to get good fuel mileage on a long trip recently, the stock tune got me just over 15mpg. The return trip with a +80hp tune got me just under 16mpg. This was pulling a car on an open trailer.

    The cost of diesel trucks and maybe even the operating cost may be higher than other vehicles, but the ease and comfort with which they tow is worth the difference. I haven't been around the Rockies so I can't comment on montains but here in the southeast, the truck takes all the hills in stride - going up and coming down. After I wrecked a 1/2 ton gas pickup truck pulling an enclosed 24' trailer, I decided I wanted a 3/4 ton diesel. I've never regretted my choice.

    Joe_914
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    30 Mar 2010 01:31 PM

    Yep, tow kinds of people that tow trailers.

    ones that have a diesel

    and those that will have a diesel.

    Don't personally know anyone that went from 3/4 ton or more Diesel to 1/2 ton gasser.

    BigEnos
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    30 Mar 2010 02:05 PM
    Joe_914 wrote:

    Yep, tow kinds of people that tow trailers.

    ones that have a diesel

    and those that will have a diesel.

    Don't personally know anyone that went from 3/4 ton or more Diesel to 1/2 ton gasser.

    Then you have the 'tweeners like me who are happy with their 3/4 ton gassers. I just can't make the economics of a diesel work, and I only tow open trailers so I don't really need all that extra power. It would be nice to have the power reserve and in theory the mileage, but the newer trucks seem to not do as well on MPG, though I'm sure the pendulum will swing back to diesels getting great mileage. The $7K-9K price of admission to the diesel party is just too much for me.This is just my opinion, I don't want to start a diesel vs. not thread. Everyone has their reasons.

    I can't say I wouldn't go to a 1/2 ton, but I'd prefer not to. I probably would only do that if my truck was going to be my permanent daily driver.

    Steve Hoelscher
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    31 Mar 2010 08:39 AM
    Joe_914 wrote:

    Yep, tow kinds of people that tow trailers.

    ones that have a diesel

    and those that will have a diesel.

    Don't personally know anyone that went from 3/4 ton or more Diesel to 1/2 ton gasser.

    I have had a diesel and went back to "a half ton gasser". I bought my current van (gas clubwagon) in '98 as a temporary filler while I shopped for a diesel van. I had used a Powerstroke F350 extensively but wanted a van but they were pretty scarce at the time. I liked the gas van so much I kinda quit looking for a diesel. Then I had a chance to buy a '95 F350 Dually with a 460 Gasser at a bargain price. The truck pulled great but the mileage sucked and while it had more power than the van it wasn't as good a tow vehicle. Its a really long and wide truck with far less usable space than the van and is far less comfortable. I used the truck occasionally until I traded it for a '96 F350 Powerstroke. I liked the truck more than the 460 but the higher costs of fuel and maintenance, plus the annoyance of living with such a large vehicle wore thin. I never sold the van and later had a chance to sell the truck at a nice profit so I jumped at it. So I was back in my old van again. The van is nearing 300K miles and is still going strong. But it won't last for ever and I am now shopping for a replacement.

    I prefer towing with a van and if I had a diesel van that would likely be the difference for me. I had intended to switch to an enclosed trailer when I switched to a prepared car, that's why I bought the F350 PS. But after using it some, I decided to stick with the van and open trailer. Ultimately, I will probably replace my existing van with a diesel or V10 van and get one of the new style, small, ultralight, aluminum, enclosed trailers.

    Joe_914
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:790


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    31 Mar 2010 09:45 AM

    Hey Steve, I guess I have to take that back. Since I officially know you now since Dixie Tour.

    BTW Ed and I love the Race Keeper. once we figure out all the other cool things it does (or at least how to use them) we are certain to love it more.

    Steve Hoelscher
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:831


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    31 Mar 2010 10:59 AM
    Joe_914 wrote:

    Hey Steve, I guess I have to take that back. Since I officially know you now since Dixie Tour.

    BTW Ed and I love the Race Keeper. once we figure out all the other cool things it does (or at least how to use them) we are certain to love it more.

    Glad you like the system. And we have more, even cooler, stuff coming. [:D]



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