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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This question is mostly academic in nature, as I don't have any specific, immediate or even near-future plans to tow anything "heavy" with this truck. I have almost no experience towing, and I think it was all just tow-strap towing around town/back roads: a '79 VW Rabbit with my '89 Cherokee on 31's, and a 90's Honda Civic with my '94 Sierra 1500 on stock tires. The Jeep got hot (but may have had some cooling system issues anyway...); the GM had no issues. Anyway, I digress; the point is, don't flame me for my ignorance, haha!


My truck has a Curt Xtra Duty tow hitch receiver that's rated for WAY more than this truck could ever tow, so no issue there. IIRC (without looking it up right now), the stock truck (with 3.73 gears, as mine has) is rated to tow 7,500 pounds. However, stock, the truck comes with 30.5" tires. Mine has 33" tires and a 2" lift. With these tires, I would guess the final drive is probably not too different from stock tires with 3.23 gearing... Additionally, the 4.8 is pretty dang weak at or below about 2,000 RPM (doesn't really start to make any decent power until 2,500+), and first gear is tall enough to do about 45 mph. So yea, the combination of the motor's meager low-RPM performance, the bigger tires, and the already-tall first gear, make for a not-so-good setup to ever do any real towing. It's sluggish enough right off the line that I feel like it might really struggle trying to even get moving at all from a stop with 7,500 pounds hooked up, LOL. I think second gear would do fine once I got moving: 55 mph = 3,500 RPM (should be enough power to get up steep hills with that weight).

Anyway, just wondering, what do you think I should be able to tow with this setup? Could I actually get away with hauling 7,500? 5,000? less?? Okay for once-in-a-while tow for an hour? Great way to roast my trans in 100 miles? LOL...

Again, this is really more of a curiosity, at this time at least, but I would just like to know.
 

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KJ, I have a 1999 Silverado, the first year of the "new" trucks with the 4.8, 5.3, 6.0L engine family. Mine is a 1500, 4x4 Z71, 5.3L reg. cab, long bed. My factory hitch is rated for 5,000lb trailer weight/500lb tongue weight. I've towed a boat occasionally and my cargo trailer occasionally. Both are in the 3,000lb. range. Neither came with brakes. I got rid of the boat, and I added brakes to the cargo trailer. My 4L60E went at 118,000 miles. $3k for rebuilt replacement.

My short answer is that 5,000lb would probably be around your max. I'm also on the irv2.com forum (RV forum), and "What can I tow? is asked about every other day. My observations from there is that the 6,000 pound range is what is often regarded as the realistic trailer weight for half ton trucks. A lot of that has to do with the fact that payload and rear axle weight rating limits will often be met by most before their "max tow rating" from a guide or literature is close to being met. I used to try to help by typing everything out, but now I just point to this video, which is the best and most comprehensive that I've found. My longer answer involves dealing with the weights and ratings and all that, so if you really want to learn how to figure out what YOUR truck will tow, then give it a watch. Everyone should. It's here... https://rvsafety.com/rv-education/matching-trucks-to-trailers
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Larry, thanks for the response! Sorry to hear about your 4L60E troubles. I wonder if your towing habits had any impact on that? Hoping mine lasts a lot longer! I do remember (albeit vaguely: been a long time...) my dad towing our light little camper trailer with our four cylinder 1984 Jeep Cherokee -- the one in my signature -- and that it really struggled, LOL. I guess to get an accurate real-world number, there would be a ton of factors to consider, such as rear axle carrying capacity as you mentioned, and trailer load distribution, etc. That makes sense. I'll watch your video and consider your 5,000 pound estimate a good one for any future considerations. Thanks.
 

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I have an 02 4.8L Silverado. Impressed with it's power. I put on a Cab over camper, approx 1300lbs and pull a 5X9 ft trailer with TW or quad aboard and it does very well - pulls hills with little problem. I have the tranny flushed every 30,000 miles, oil changed by me every 4,000 miles. Had 2500 front disks installed for extra stopping power and less probability of warpage.
It's got 165,000 miles and going strong. I had to replace fuel pump and water pump - thats it thus far
 

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Up hill or down. Interstate or slow back roads.

I see plenty of people way over load a half ton. It pulls it just fine so what's the problem?? But they never think about the size of the drive train components. Larger brakes, drive shafts, lug bolt size and amount, bigger trans with coolers etc. If your trying to haul/tow 7500 lbs you may want to look at a 3/4 ton, IMHO.
 

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KJ, that tranny swap was 10 years ago already. At the time, when I researched it, there is a handful of weak points with the 4L60E. Again, 10 years ago so I don't recall the particulars, but it seems as if it is not uncommon, almost expected even, that that little guy will go out post 100k mi. I'm sure there are many factors, such as towing, flushing, etc. that will go into the if or when. Everyone can do their own homework on those things. The rebuilds supposedly address these weaknesses.

I am the original owner of my truck, and overall I have been very pleased with it. So much so, that I'll probably own it until one of us is put in the ground.
 

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Your truck if i remember correctly is an Ext cab 4wd? If so its 6800# rated as it came from the factory with either the 30" or 31" tire options. With the tire size change its hard to 100% know what it will tow but you have effectively dropped the gearing to around ~3.50:1 so it will not pull as well as a stock one. I would say Larry's guess of 5k may be its limit. Remember with the bigger tires you have also put more load on the brakes and the lift has changed the dynamics of the suspension. Those two things will limit what it can tow safely more than the engine and gearing ever will. Moving a load is not usually the issue, controlling it and stopping it safely are.

As far as the transmission goes my experience has been totally different, my 06 4L60E has over 200k on the clock and over half of those miles were towing boats that weigh close to 5k all over the hills of the north east. That truck has had zero transmission issues other than a leak from the torque converter seal at ~150k that needed to be addressed. Beyond that its been regular fluid changes about every 50k or so. As i mentioned before i put a B&M pan on that truck at about 1000 miles when i swapped the all the original fluids and oils over to Amsoil fluids and oils. I have also never had it attached to a flush machine, just drained the pan and swapped the filter every 50k. I'm guessing that the extra 2+ quarts of fluid and improved cooling has done a world of good for it since it still shifts good as new. That truck also had the factory tow equipment which also features an external transmission cooler( the normal truck has the one built into the radiator only) which also contributes to better life because the fluid runs a lot cooler. If your truck does not have an external trans cooler and you plan to tow anything i highly recommend putting one on it. I also had a 2000 with a 4L60e, same deal as the 06 but i only put like 100k or so on that truck before it got totaled in a wreck.
 

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I have an 02 4.8L Silverado. Impressed with it's power. I put on a Cab over camper, approx 1300lbs and pull a 5X9 ft trailer with TW or quad aboard and it does very well - pulls hills with little problem. I have the tranny flushed every 30,000 miles, oil changed by me every 4,000 miles.
 

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I know we are talking apples and oranges. I consider a halfton pickup to be a grocery hauler. When on trips I see so many rigs on hilly terrain pulled over with engines steaming. Now you see these newer pickups pulling larger 5th wheel trailers with single tire axles, that would scare me big time. I was looking for a 1ton dual flatbed at a decent price. Wound up with the 5500 and glad I did. I know this is way more than the average fellow needs, but with the heavier frame, bigger brakes and cooling system it serves me without complaint. As most of you know what I put on the truck is a lot, but I can say even when it is hot the temp gauge stays right at 200 all the time, even when pulling long grades at speed. I do have a ford ranger for my grocery hauler. Wouldn't want to put much of a load on that lol.
 

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i had a 2006 silverado with the 4.?? it won't pull your hat off of your head. when we went to a 24 foot trailer the truck had to go
 

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I have a lot of miles towing every kind of trailer you can imagine as well as having owned numerous tow trucks (wreckers) and car carriers with tow bars and wheel lifts etc

I would only use a half ton to tow smaller trailers like motorcycle trailers and small boat trailers although I've seen people towing much heavier RV trailers

They key is making sure you are towing your load and that your load is not pushing you

I's say a safe tow load is around 3k to 4k lbs because of the transmission and brakes on a half ton they are usually not meant to pull heavy loads

If you are going to tow a lot and over long distances get at least a 3/4 ton they can handle loads very well and if you are towing 7500lbs and over go with a full 1 ton and take advantage of safety items like a Hensley Arrow or Propride 3P no sway hitch they are twice the cost of a high end conventional hitch but they can save your rig and life many times over the course of 50k miles towing

I have hitches on everything I own including my 2012 Prius which has been pictured here on the forum many times fetching or delivering a TW with a single rail Kendon stand up trailer

One nice truck can pull a wide variety of trailers with just one rig to maintain and a single insurance policy as trailers are insured with the vehicle towing the unit unless you purchase a dedicated policy for the trailer
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Heres one of my newest trailers custom built in Illinois this uses high strength steel alloys ie no mild steel and it can haul a 6000lb payload with a 4 degree loading angle the trailer uses hydraulics to raise and lower
 

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I have a 2002 Silverado with the 4.8 and the 4L60E. Mine is a 4WD X-Cab, and I've owned it since august of 2002. I have towed my little aluminum boat frequently, (owned that since 1987). Also towed a dual jetski trailer and a small utility trailer with one or two pallets of wood pellets occasionally. That drivetrain gets nothing but praise from me. Just two months ago, at about 235K on the truck, my sunshell finally went. Lost reverse, and first gear with that, but drove it for a couple days before dropping it off at the trans shop. A complete rebuild with a new torque converter and all new lines cost $2300, but that truck is like a part of me after all these years. Granted, I never really stressed it with what I've towed, but I would say I'm quite happy with this truck. The upstate NY salt is starting to eat out the rear wheel wells, and the usual cab corner rot is there too, but otherwise it's still a solid, reliable tool for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
That's good to hear, Rickhem! I'm at 170k now, and I do hope to get 200k out of mine. It burns a fair bit of oil due to cracked/shrunken valve stem seals, and the trans has a slightly rough 1-to-2 shift the first couple of times when cold. Other than that, everything is mechanically perfect still.
 
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