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Am I towing too much with my Suburban?


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dlee878
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May 11, 2017, 10:14 AM

Post #1 of 24 (361 views)
Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

I have a 2002 Chevy Suburban with around 180,000 miles on it. It's never had a transmission flush that I know of. (I've been the owner since 40K miles)

We recently bought an 8000 lbs travel trailor and with the weight distribution system when it's fully loaded it's right on the edge of what the Suburban is rated for. We've had it out a few times and it's towed it like a champ. This last trip we went through a hilly area and the transmission started slipping. We let it rest a while and then it was fine (I'm thinking the transmission overheated). On our way back home again it was fine until I got to the hilly area and it started slipping again. I looked at the fluid today and it looks burnt but I have no idea what the condition was before that.

My question is should I get a flush (and rebuild the transmission if needed and get a transmission cooling system) or am I asking too much of the Suburban and am I just going to end up killing the next transmission I get as well even if I put a transmission cooling system in it? In other words, should I put money (a few thousand) into the transmission or do I need to invest big money in a new truck to toe it?


(This post was edited by dlee878 on May 11, 2017, 10:17 AM)


Hammer Time
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May 11, 2017, 11:23 AM

Post #2 of 24 (343 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

The first thing is you never should have done any towing at all until you installed and external transmission cooler.

It's probably too late now. The damage is done. You're asking a lot of that truck to pull that trailer long distance with the kind of miles it has on it.

If this is going to be a habit, you might want to get a new truck.



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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



dlee878
User

May 11, 2017, 11:29 AM

Post #3 of 24 (338 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

Thanks, very new to towing anything and didn't know. What if I bought something like a Ford F-350 with 180K miles on it. Would I still be asking too much of it to tow that trailer everywhere or would that be a different story?


Hammer Time
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May 11, 2017, 11:37 AM

Post #4 of 24 (332 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

I wouldn't be towing anything that heavy long distance with anything that has that many miles on it. The vehicle is on borrowed time and you are taxing it to the max.



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dlee878
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May 11, 2017, 11:46 AM

Post #5 of 24 (325 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

Thanks, may have gotten myself in over my head with the travel trailer as I can't afford a $40K pickup.


Hammer Time
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May 11, 2017, 11:50 AM

Post #6 of 24 (321 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

You may have to rebuild that trans now anyway and if you do that you should be in good shape as far as the trans goes but remember, everything else in that truck now has 180K on it also so differentials, bearing, etc all could give you problems..



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dlee878
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May 11, 2017, 12:00 PM

Post #7 of 24 (316 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

It's been a champ so far. I've had it for 6 years and put 140K miles on it and other than routine oil changes all I've done is put in a fuel filter. Best vehicle I've ever had.


dlee878
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May 11, 2017, 12:05 PM

Post #8 of 24 (310 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In


Quote
You may have to rebuild that trans now anyway

You think I should try a trans fluid flush and see if that helps? It runs fine now when I'm not towing anything. I think it just overheated. Or do you think that overheating it for sure did permanent damage to the transmission and a flush is just throwing away $$?


Hammer Time
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May 11, 2017, 12:07 PM

Post #9 of 24 (304 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

That would just put the last nail in the coffin. Fresh fluid at that mileage would likely make it worse.



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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
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May 11, 2017, 12:33 PM

Post #10 of 24 (293 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

Total ditto on all fronts. First off towing 8,000 lbs and have is hard on whole vehicle no matter what you do never mind one with high miles. Expect transmission failure or more.


Heat is the #1 killer to late now. Buying new or later expecting to tow as HT said you would add a cooler, change out fluid and have trans checked out if expecting this now with any regularity or more than across town type towing.
The best of now somewhat ordinary vehicles like those listed you would order new with a tow package for what load and choose extra cooling plus with that weight I'd change gear ratio to handle it better for rear differential on those mentioned.


New or already well know exactly a good low miles one all checked out and capable of this,


T



dlee878
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May 11, 2017, 12:52 PM

Post #11 of 24 (291 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

Interesting, thank you both for shooting straight with me. I thought if I bought a truck with a big engine I could travel the US with it without having to worry no matter how many miles the truck had on it. Surely I would have guessed under 140K for a diesel truck wouldn't be an issue. I guess I was wrong. Sounds like I'd need to invest around 40K for a good truck with low miles and even at that need to make sure it's got a transmission cooler. Also sounds like from what you're saying the damage is done on the Suburban and I should drive it until the transmission blows out and then get it rebuilt but even if I get it rebuilt and put a transmission cooler in there I'm just asking too much of that Suburban to pull that trailor 100 miles 5 times per year. Does all this sound accurate?


Hammer Time
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May 11, 2017, 1:09 PM

Post #12 of 24 (280 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

I don't know why you are hung up on this $40K truck. There is a whole bunch of real estate between new and 180K. Any truck under 50 to 60K should be reliable. Just because you have a diesel engine doesn't mean the transmission or the rest of the truck will last as long.

Pulling an 8000lb trailer is a workload for any vehicle but one with that many miles is already pretty much used up. Mechanical things don't last forever and a heavy load accelerates the wear.



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Tom Greenleaf
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May 11, 2017, 1:09 PM

Post #13 of 24 (277 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

Making more sense now. Almost except for Semi trucks - "Tractor Semis" like Kenworth, Peterbuilt, Mack and so on, the crap we can buy diesel or not isn't impervious to miles just likely better. Seats, windows, arm rests - whole vehicle isn't up to high miles without insane care.


Go synthetic oils - all involved related to drivetrain up to vehicle's specs. Correct tires rating and size of course.


Frequent brake checks and all suspension items. Lighting always a hassle. Tires on towed vehicle frequently suk too, lights and it's suspension and brakes if applicable. Tons to think about to be trouble free. Never ends, multiple spare tires and wheels too.


Lots of work, thought but if you love it (had my days with stuff like this) was worth it,


Tom



dlee878
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May 11, 2017, 1:26 PM

Post #14 of 24 (272 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

I'm saying $40K because when I look at something around 50K miles with at least a 2500 engine that's the price tag I'm seeing. Do I not need a 2500 to pull 8K lbs regularly?


Hammer Time
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May 11, 2017, 1:40 PM

Post #15 of 24 (268 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

I guess that depends on what you buy and who you buy it from.

I just checked KBB for a 2013 GMC 2500 SLE with a turbo diesel with 50K and private party sale is about 29K and certified pre-owned for 33K.

The same truck in 2010 is 26/30K

If you go with gas instead of diesel, it's 12K less.



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dlee878
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May 13, 2017, 4:56 PM

Post #16 of 24 (227 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

I don't have that kind of money. I'm either going to have to fix the Suburban and put a coolant system on it or buy something for $15K and live with either solution until they give out on me.


Hammer Time
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May 13, 2017, 5:00 PM

Post #17 of 24 (223 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

If you rebuild your trans you'll probably be OK. You'll probably have other repairs in the near future but that's still a lot cheaper than a new truck.



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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



dlee878
User

May 23, 2017, 10:31 AM

Post #18 of 24 (175 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

I went ahead and got it flushed this morning and drove home about 20 miles and so far so good. I'm going to make an appointment to get a transmission coolant system put on. If the transmission goes out at a later date I'll deal with it then but it didn't seem to have issues immediately after the flush.


Hammer Time
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May 23, 2017, 1:23 PM

Post #19 of 24 (163 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

It probably won't until you head out with the trailer.



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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



dlee878
User

May 24, 2017, 6:32 AM

Post #20 of 24 (148 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

Thanks for the heads up. We are planning a trip next month and I'll come update you at that time. I'm staying hopeful because when they did the flush there were no metal flakes found but the fluid had the color of engine oil.


Tom Greenleaf
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May 24, 2017, 7:00 AM

Post #21 of 24 (144 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

Dexcool TMK by name should be an orangish color you may only really see well with a drop on white paper. I think that's a standard no matter the maker? Engine oil an amber is usual new.
You are worried about it rightfully so. Sorry if a repeat but do you know if this transmission is original or has had a complete rebuild? Many just plain wear bands and clutch material over miles, time and type of use that has a limit.
It's heat that changes color no different that oil in a frying pan type thing. That becomes its own problem up to clogging things and early trans failure so suggestions are to cool trans fluid is a help. Entire vehicle rating gets involved as well.


There are normal limits to the expected dependable life of several things just anyway. Towing is one thing that shortens that life,


T



Hammer Time
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May 24, 2017, 7:45 AM

Post #22 of 24 (140 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In


Quote
Dexcool TMK by name should be an orangish color you may only really see well with a drop on white paper.


It's trans fluid that he was flushing.

OP, if you are planning to just hook that thing up for the first time and head out on a long trip, you are a brave fella, my friend. If you break down in the middle of nowhere and have to pay outrageous prices to rebuild the trans and your wife shoots at your because of it, remember our conversation.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



(This post was edited by Hammer Time on May 24, 2017, 10:19 AM)


dlee878
User

May 24, 2017, 10:08 AM

Post #23 of 24 (130 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

It's got some repair work that needs to be done so I need to take it about 20 miles to an RV repair shop first. Then we're planning a short 50 mile trip to test it out to see how it does. I'll keep you posted.


Tom Greenleaf
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May 24, 2017, 11:57 AM

Post #24 of 24 (111 views)
Re: Am I towing too much with my Suburban? Sign In

My mistake - sorry - typed name of one product both start with "Dex" and brain took a break on me!


Sorry for confusion on that, Tom






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