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Old    Taft Leissner (tl7)      Join Date: Feb 2005       05-23-2010, 8:25 PM Reply   
I'm towing our 2010 Moomba LSV with a 2003 Tahoe. Our "local" spot is about an hour away, and it tows really well. On occasion we like to tow to some of the lakes in central Texas (hill country) or on longer trips (4+ hours), and it feels really sluggish in these instances. ASIDE from upgrading to a diesel, are there any mods I can do to increase towing performance? Cold air intake, chips, tuners, etc?
Old    Brady (pdxWAKE.com) (big_b_21v)      Join Date: Oct 2006       05-23-2010, 9:57 PM Reply   
I had a 2003 and a 2005 Tahoe. I added the K&N intake and a catback exhaust system. They pulled a 2001 Moomba, a 2006 Supra 21V and our 2009 Malibu VLX pretty well with just those mild upgrades.
Old    Mikeski (mikeski)      Join Date: Aug 2003       05-23-2010, 10:32 PM Reply   
Option 1. Supercharger
Option 2. lower axle gears

Don't waste your money on those things you mention.

I tow my 5000+ pound Nautique with my 2003 5.3L Tahoe, and my 2000 5.3L Silverado. Both do pretty well in most instances. Towing up to Lake Tahoe in the altitude is a bit painful but it's not too bad otherwise. Gotta stick with stock diameter tires or the performance will really suffer. You could probably put slightly lower profile tires and pick up a bit but it might not look too good.
Old    S Dub (sdub)      Join Date: Jan 2003       05-24-2010, 6:39 AM Reply   
I agree with the above. Cold air intake, new cat back exhaust, and most importantly new rear end gearing. your Tahoe prob. has 3.73 rear end gears, try bumping up to some 4.10's
Old    Corbin J. Ross (corbin)      Join Date: Jul 2009       05-24-2010, 7:10 AM Reply   
Just remember the higher that gear number is the lower you mpg will be.

If you do decide to go with a computer mod of some sort I would recommend one that has a few settings. For instance, I have one from Edge that I can set specifically for towing. I'm not going to say that it increased my power dramatically but the tow setting does reprogram the shift points slightly which is nice when towing on hills, the transmission doesn't have to search for the right gear. Additionally, if you are a gear head, you can set your own shift points for the specific driving in your area.
Old    C.I.E..... Evan (guido)      Join Date: Jul 2002       05-24-2010, 10:27 AM Reply   
Programmer, cat-back exhaust, and cold air intake will net you modest gains. Also, remember that most programmers will require the use of premium fuel after they've been installed. These mods and a set of 4:10 gears will work wonders. It's still a 5.3, though. The best part about these motors is that they're impossible to kill. Rev that thing. The worst part is that they have no torque. Mine struggled up any sort of incline.
Old    Bruizza (bruizza)      Join Date: May 2009       05-24-2010, 11:03 AM Reply   
Cold air intake, cat back exhaust and a Nelson performance tune. Call up the guys at nelson and tell them what you want and they will hook you up. It will be one of the best $200 you ever spend.
Old    Tony Medaglia (h2ohangtime)      Join Date: Aug 2002       05-24-2010, 2:42 PM Reply   
Unrealistic, I'm guessing, but trade it in for a Denali! We had a 2003 Tahoe with the 5.3 and now we have a 2004 Denali with the 6.0 and the difference is huge.
Old    Kona (konaking)      Join Date: Mar 2008       05-25-2010, 6:02 AM Reply   
The motors are great yes although under powered for towing. Your real weak link is that 4l60e tranny. Increase the size of your cooler and never tow in overdrive. The 4 2 band will burn and the sun shield is a weak link in the tranny. For the most part you will be good so just take your time and enjoy the ride.
Old    Clubmyke (clubmyke)      Join Date: Aug 2004       06-04-2010, 8:13 AM Reply   
what kind of mileage do you get with the 6.0 ?
Old    Tony Medaglia (h2ohangtime)      Join Date: Aug 2002       06-04-2010, 6:08 PM Reply   
Not super, about 10 towing on flat ground, 11 with a tailwind, but it isn't as sluggish as the 5.3 was. Not sure how that compares to the 8.1, but we didn't want a Suburban or Yukon XL (too big), so the 8.1 wasn't an option for us. I believe the 5.3 didn't get much better, though, maybe 11-12 when towing.

I'm waiting for the day when Ford or Government Motors finally designs a Tahoe/Expedition-size SUV that they can put a PSD or Duramax in. Until that point, I'll have to settle for the gasser.
Old    KDA (idaho_hillbilly)      Join Date: Jun 2009       06-05-2010, 9:35 PM Reply   
I tow my Sanger v237 with a 8.1L Suburban in North Idaho, NOT flat land, and I get around 10mpg. I will say the 8.1L is a BEAST, and makes the 6.0L look like a little girl. The 5.3L isn't a very good puller, but if you get a 6.0 your going to get crappy gas mileage ALL the time. When I had my Tahoe with the 5.3L, I just knew I was going to putt up the hills. Maybe just leave 30 minutes earlier.

My GM dealer says they are coming out with a Suburban with the Duramax as early as next year!
Old    Chris (rio_sanger)      Join Date: Apr 2007       06-06-2010, 7:39 AM Reply   
"My GM dealer says they are coming out with a Suburban with the Duramax as early as next year!"

I'll beleive that when I see it .
My dealer told me the same thing when I bought my 8.1 ...In December 2000!
Old    KDA (idaho_hillbilly)      Join Date: Jun 2009       06-06-2010, 8:08 AM Reply   
Can't blame a guy for hopin' and dreamin'.
Old    Johnny (guma)      Join Date: Sep 2009       06-06-2010, 7:35 PM Reply   
I bought an '02 Yukon about a month ago, for the sole purpose of being my tow pig. It has the 5.3L and 3.73 gearing and had 92K miles on it. Had it checked out at an indie shop and bought it from the local Nissan stealership. I am very pleased with this vehicle towing our '10 Tige 22Ve. Combined dry weight for boat and trailer is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5200lbs. We also just took a trip from Tampa to Charlotte 2 weeks ago, and was extremely happy with the 13.4 mpg while towing the boat. I would tow in D, with the Tow/Haul engaged, and cruise between 67 and 70mph, which kept the RPMs right around 2000 or just under. Handled the job just fine, no tail wagging the dog feeling, if you know what I mean.

Only problem we have had was on a sandy ramp had some tire slippage when leaving, but I got her some new shoes since then and no more problems. I also have some mods planned for the 4L60E tranny, as I know this tranny is far from bullet proof. Just flushed it last week, and will order some more goodies over the next week.

To the OP, I know this is off the beaten path, but the trailvoy.com (trailblazer/envoy have the same tranny) forum has some great information for mods on the transmission. Go there and do a quick search and enjoy. You can also go to the tahoe/yukon forum, but I found the trailvoy forum much more helpful.

Last edited by guma; 06-06-2010 at 7:42 PM.
Old    Mikeski (mikeski)      Join Date: Aug 2003       06-07-2010, 11:46 PM Reply   
To keep things in perspective. That $100 a year you save in gas by towing in D will probably cost you a $5k trans replacement at some point in time. I never, never, never tow in D with my Tahoe or Silverado 5.3's. I would much rather throw a rod through the pan of the motor than burn up a trans band. Even running at 75mph which I rarely do I still leave it keep it in 3. Try to hit the hills at 65-70mph and try to keep the rev's above 3500 and it climbs OK. Once you introduce some altitude into the equation it just takes patience and time, there is no getting anywhere quickly uphill. Also, you need to be careful with big tires, that will kill a Tahoe's ability to tow. I run the factory Denali 20's on my Silverado, same diameter as the stockers.
Old    Kona (konaking)      Join Date: Mar 2008       06-08-2010, 5:10 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeski View Post
To keep things in perspective. That $100 a year you save in gas by towing in D will probably cost you a $5k trans replacement at some point in time. I never, never, never tow in D with my Tahoe or Silverado 5.3's. I would much rather throw a rod through the pan of the motor than burn up a trans band. Even running at 75mph which I rarely do I still leave it keep it in 3. Try to hit the hills at 65-70mph and try to keep the rev's above 3500 and it climbs OK. Once you introduce some altitude into the equation it just takes patience and time, there is no getting anywhere quickly uphill. Also, you need to be careful with big tires, that will kill a Tahoe's ability to tow. I run the factory Denali 20's on my Silverado, same diameter as the stockers.
I second this all the way.
Old    John Bauer (jonyb)      Join Date: Nov 2008       06-08-2010, 5:51 AM Reply   
Everyone has their own opinions on what tows the best. I knew I'd read a thread (about a guy wanting something better than his Tahoe) and seeing a reply from someone else that tows with the same Tahoe "and it does just fine".

If you guys have never towed anything with a truck/SUV that's more than capable to do the job, you don't know what your missing.

Taft, you're at the wrong place to ask about tow vehicles. Most people here use mid-sized SUV's that are barely capable of towing my golf cart.

An exhaust, tune, and CAI won't make enough of a difference for what it'll cost you. Gearing will destroy the fuel economy, and you'll still need a tune. Expect around $1,000-$1500 for front and rear gears (if it's 4X4). Then another 300-500 for a tune. Taking out most of the torque management will help via tune, but then you take a chance on damaging the transmission.

You're boat doesn't weigh that much, I'm actually surprise you don't like the Tahoe. A step up to a Denali with the 6.0L would be a good move. Their AWD, 375hp, but mine gets about 14-15mpg around town, 10 when towing. Any gas burner is gonna lose fuel economy as soon as the boat is hooked up. Diesel's don't lose the economy when towing, in fact most of them get around 14-15 towing, and with a boat as light as yours, it may be better. I'm not saying you need a diesel to tow with, just telling you the differences. I've towed with many different vehicles, and my boat is heavy. I tow it now with a Denali 6.0L, but I'm not happy with it. The boat is pushing 5,000#. The only thing stopping me from getting a diesel is that my vehicle is a 2004 CTS-V, and it's not going anywhere. The Denali is my wife's and she really likes it, so that's where we're at. If the car ever goes away, I will buy another diesel. Not a new one though, those people are crazy. Trucks to me aren't worth $50K. A nicer 06-07 Chevy crew cab classic 6.6L Duramax can be had for around $20-$25K. With a programmer the truck will safely have 600hp, and about 800ft lbs. torque.
Old    Johnny (guma)      Join Date: Sep 2009       06-08-2010, 6:37 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeski View Post
To keep things in perspective. That $100 a year you save in gas by towing in D will probably cost you a $5k trans replacement at some point in time. I never, never, never tow in D with my Tahoe or Silverado 5.3's. I would much rather throw a rod through the pan of the motor than burn up a trans band. Even running at 75mph which I rarely do I still leave it keep it in 3. Try to hit the hills at 65-70mph and try to keep the rev's above 3500 and it climbs OK. Once you introduce some altitude into the equation it just takes patience and time, there is no getting anywhere quickly uphill. Also, you need to be careful with big tires, that will kill a Tahoe's ability to tow. I run the factory Denali 20's on my Silverado, same diameter as the stockers.
I am completely ignorant concerning transmissions, can you explain what the difference is between towing in 3 and towing in D w/Tow Haul engaged? My thinking was, if I can keep the engine RPMs low and maintain a decent speed then it would be less stress on the transmission. Going up hills it would regularly downshift, and upshift right at the crest of the hill. I did try towing in 3 on the highway, but RPMs were up around 3000, even on flat ground. I would think, higher RPMs means everything is working harder to maintain speed.
Old    Mikeski (mikeski)      Join Date: Aug 2003       06-08-2010, 10:41 PM Reply   
Low RPMs + heavy load = lots of heat buildup in a transmission

If you keep the RPMs up the transmission sees more revolutions and less load per revolution. Not sure how to explain it differently.

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