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Old 09-19-2016, 11:37 PM   #1
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A Towing Question and request for advice

Hi All. This is a 2-parter:

My current tow vehicle is a 2002 Chevy Suburban 1500 LS. I added the hitch receiver. I want to get a 2500 HD Crew Cab, but that is 4 years away.

Here's part 1: Is there an significant difference in towing safety or performance between the long bed and the short bed, for towing a travel trailer?

I have a 2015 Sunset Trail super Lite travel trailer model ST240 BH. Dry weight is 5200. I haven't weighed it loaded yet (will do so soon), but I'm under 6000 lbs. My suburban is rated to tow 7400lbs, and I have an Equa-Li-Zer WDH.
Reading some other threads here, I think I've learned the following:
a) Get rid of my P rated tires for a good set of LT's, ASAP
b) Consider adding air-assist to the TV rear suspension
c) Invest in a good quality tire pressure/temperature monitoring system

Here's part 2: What are your thoughts on a, b, and c above? Is there anything else I should consider, or should do now?

Thanks!
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Old 09-20-2016, 06:08 AM   #2
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We are towing the same trailer with our 2011 Toyota Sequoia which is very similar to your Suburban. What you listed is exactly what we have done and it made a world of difference towing. I use a blue Ox Sway Pro with 1,000lb bars, we upgraded to load range E tires (only went to E because I could not find a D that would fit our 20" rim that I liked) We run them at 65PSI while towing and drop it down to 52PSI when empty. Believe it or not we think the truck rides even better on the stiffer tires while empty over those squishy P rated tires that are stock. I also added some 1,000lb airbags that were really easy to install and costs less than $100. Here are the bags for your truck 2000-2016 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 1/2 Ton 2WD & 4WD - Air Lift 1000 Air Helper Springs w/o Auto Leveling System [REAR] [60769] | $81.63 | SD Truck Springs | Leaf Springs, Helper Springs and Suspension Parts Those made a huge difference as well. All in all our camper is weighing in at about 6300lbs when fully loaded ready to camp and I got about 815lbs of tongue weight. Technically on paper I am maybe 100lbs over my GVWR, but with the added suspension and tire upgrade I am not too worried about it. and I live in the mountains of WNC and the truck will pull that camper all over the place with no problems, no sway at all, and at highway speeds even up steep grades. The tires and airbags are well worth the investment .
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Old 09-20-2016, 06:09 AM   #3
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If you are really 4 yrs away from a new row vehicle, you have plenty of time to consider LB vs SB.

a) is #1 priority
c) is #2 priority and with LT tires on the Burb, mostly a trailer tire issue. If possible get internal sensors, they cost more and require more effort to install, but are more accurate and more likely to show bearing and brake issues as well. Discount Tire charges me nothing for the dismount, install sensor and remount, but do charge for balancing.
For air bags, start with manual inflation and see how good they work, you can always add an onboard pump later.
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Old 09-20-2016, 07:37 AM   #4
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Are you comfortable that a suburban can handle the extra load ?
Not pulling load, but carrying load ?

Most SUV's are taxed with just what they can carry inside, much less putting tongue weight as well !

Reason I'm asking is that it might be prudent to consider upgrading vehicles now instead of putting money into your current one and not getting anything back from it...

Just trying to save you the tradeins we went through as I LOVED my diesel Excursions, but adding all kinds of stuff to make it work with a large trailer was money not well spent
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Old 09-20-2016, 10:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayle1 View Post
If you are really 4 yrs away from a new row vehicle, you have plenty of time to consider LB vs SB.
I know, I 'm just interested in the physics, and if there is any noticeable difference between the two when towing.
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Old 09-20-2016, 11:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnboytoo View Post
Are you comfortable that a suburban can handle the extra load ?
Not pulling load, but carrying load ?

Most SUV's are taxed with just what they can carry inside, much less putting tongue weight as well !

Reason I'm asking is that it might be prudent to consider upgrading vehicles now instead of putting money into your current one and not getting anything back from it...

Just trying to save you the tradeins we went through as I LOVED my diesel Excursions, but adding all kinds of stuff to make it work with a large trailer was money not well spent
Actually, on the short (<100 miles) trips I've made so far, it seems to handle things well. If the trailer gross weight is 6000 lbs and the TV is rated at 7400 lbs, that puts me at just under a 20% margin. not as high as I'd like, but manageable. And I am still well below the GCVWR also. I just don't get in a hurry, I stay in the slow lane and do not exceed 60 MPH. I have not pulled it on and significant grades yet, but will put it in 3rd with tow/haul engaged and take it slow up or down the hill.

Having said that, I would love to upgrade my TV now, but it is just not financially possible, as we already have one $550/mo car payment. I totally get what you are saying about investing in an older vehicle, but I've taken good care of it over the years and have a very reliable mechanic that is the only one who works on it. It has 162K miles, and it is likely the transmission will be the next major item to go. But I figure I can replace that for $3,500 and easily get another 100K miles out of it. Just a better option for me at present than dropping $45-$50K on a new TV.
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Old 09-20-2016, 11:38 AM   #7
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I would recommend anytime you are towing to use "tow-haul" mode, that adjust shift points & assist in transmission braking going down steep grades. You may want your mechanic to add another/or larger tranny cooler to help save on the transmission.
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Old 09-20-2016, 02:37 PM   #8
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Steve, I was more leaning toward what the carrying capacity of your SUV is once you load it up with people and 'stuff'

The rear Axle weight rating on pickups is usually the biggest thing to worry about when towing big 5'ers so not sure how that relates to a tt on a suburban,
just trying to help !
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Old 09-20-2016, 08:32 PM   #9
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Here are some specs for a 2002 Suburban:

Weight Information
Curb Weight - Front (lbs) 2584
Gross Axle Wt Rating - Front (lbs) 3150
Gross Combined Wt Rating (lbs) 13,000
Curb Weight - Rear (lbs) 2230
Gross Axle Wt Rating - Rear (lbs) 4000
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating Cap (lbs) 7000

Available rear axle payload 4000 - 2230 = 1770 (adding helper springs, air bags, LT tires, etc. will not increase this)

Available vehicle payload 7000 - 2584 - 2230 = 2186 (passengers, gear, pets and tongue weight)

Your number one consideration should always be the safety of you and your family.
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Old 09-20-2016, 11:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnboytoo View Post
Steve, I was more leaning toward what the carrying capacity of your SUV is once you load it up with people and 'stuff'

The rear Axle weight rating on pickups is usually the biggest thing to worry about when towing big 5'ers so not sure how that relates to a tt on a suburban,
just trying to help !
Ahh, OK. I missed your real point first time
Funny thing is, the new TT is a step up from a tent trailer we had. The problem with the PuP is it is very limited on storage space. So whenever we'd go anywhere, I removed the third row bench seat and cram the entire back end full of gear, and I mean full! The tongue weight of the PuP was about 320 lbs, and the new TT is about double that, btwn 600 and 650. But most of the heavier gear I used to haul in the TV is now distributed in the TT. I plan to load the trailer before the next weekend outing and take it to a local scale, and see how my numbers compare to the list DavisK posted. My WDH is 110 lbs by itself...
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Old 09-21-2016, 12:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavisK View Post
Here are some specs for a 2002 Suburban:

Weight Information
Curb Weight - Front (lbs) 2584
Gross Axle Wt Rating - Front (lbs) 3150
Gross Combined Wt Rating (lbs) 13,000
Curb Weight - Rear (lbs) 2230
Gross Axle Wt Rating - Rear (lbs) 4000
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating Cap (lbs) 7000

Available rear axle payload 4000 - 2230 = 1770 (adding helper springs, air bags, LT tires, etc. will not increase this)

Available vehicle payload 7000 - 2584 - 2230 = 2186 (passengers, gear, pets and tongue weight)

Your number one consideration should always be the safety of you and your family.
Thank you DavisK and everyone for your responses. I wholly agree that my #1 concern is the safety of my family and the people I share the road with. That's why I'm trying to make sure I do everything possible with the TV and TT to make things as safe as they can be! Looking at the numbers I come up with the following:

Available payload of 2186 (passengers, pets, gear, Tongue wt)..... In my case:
Passengers = 490 lbs
Pets = 80 lbs
Tongue Wt = 625 lbs
WDH = 110 lbs
Full Gas Tank= 162 lbs
Total = 1067 Lbs

If I've done the numbers correctly, I'm left with 2186 - 1067 = 1119 lbs available for "stuff" to go into the suburban. Realistically, I can't see everything I'd pack back there now adding up to more than 400 lbs max. So, I should be at least 700 lbs under my 2186 lbs available vehicle payload limit.

Please, PLEASE correct me if I'm looking at this incorrectly. I really do appreciate all your inputs!

I am going to take it to a local scale and weigh things (all the individual weights for both the TV and the TT) fully loaded, before our next weekend trip in October. My hope is that I'm good with the numbers, and getting the new tires, airbags, and TPMS will make my rig as safe as it can be!
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Old 09-21-2016, 05:38 AM   #12
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There is lots of good information on this forum and some great people who look out for one another. Not everyone is made of money and we can't all afford new $60k F350's to tow around our smaller campers. All I can tell you is that we have been towing our ST240BH with our full size SUV for a year now and I have never once felt unsafe pulling with it (or stopping). As a matter of fact the Sequoia pulls it so steady and easy that sometimes I look down and catch myself doing 70 I really try to just keep it in the right hand lane doing 60mph just cruising along. I can pull Saluda grade coming up the mountain on I 26 which is a 7% grade at 55-60 and the temp guage on the truck never moves. With a good WDH you will not have to worry about trailer sway either, even when tractor trailers pass me it stays straight and true, no "white knuckle " rides. All I can tell you is real world experience from someone who pulls the same trailer as yours with virtually the same wheelbase SUV and with good LT tires, bags, and WDH you will have zero problems pulling this trailer. There is another guy on here that has a sequoia and pulls a 240BH as well, and while on paper we are basically "maxed" out with our weights, he will tell you the same thing that his SUV pulls, stops, rides, steady as can be. I have read stories of people pulling 30' long Air Streams with the older model Sequoia that had much smaller brakes, suspension, and engine than the newer model, so I am not worried about our little trailer. Would I love to upgrade to a bigger truck? Absolutely, but the Sequoia is paid for and since it does the job just fine I cannot justify dropping all that money on something bigger. Now time to sit back and read comments on why I'm crazy for using an SUV and why I need an F350 or 1 ton truck to pull a little 6,000lb trailer
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Old 09-21-2016, 07:38 AM   #13
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I would just put on LT tires on the Suburban if it does not have them and consider putting on a aftermarket transmission cooler. I also change the fluid in our tranny every 3 years. If you have the trailer package (I do not think you do if you had to install a hitch) the cooler is very small. I put a bigger one on ours and it did make a difference.
Thanks
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Old 09-22-2016, 08:33 PM   #14
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My 2 cents... Anyone who says they are 4 years away, finds out quickly that it becomes a year and a half. That's just an itch too long to go without scratching. My advice; drive what you have for a season and see how it feels. Usually the first white knuckle experience tends to tell you either a.) your driving conditions such as wind or speed are bad and you have to adjust, or b.) driving conditions are similar to typical, and you really should be looking at a new tow vehicle. Don't be afraid to be the guy going 55, on a 65mph highway. It's amazing how much easier it is to tow when you go slow and steady and stay in the right lane.
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Old 09-23-2016, 01:49 PM   #15
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Put on some LT's a larger tranny cooler add a Hensley hitch and use it for 5 more years.
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Old 09-26-2016, 10:45 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smw57 View Post

Available payload of 2186 (passengers, pets, gear, Tongue wt)..... In my case:
Passengers = 490 lbs
Pets = 80 lbs
Tongue Wt = 625 lbs
WDH = 110 lbs
Full Gas Tank= 162 lbs
Total = 1067 Lbs

If I've done the numbers correctly, I'm left with 2186 - 1067 = 1119 lbs available for "stuff" to go into the suburban. Realistically, I can't see everything I'd pack back there now adding up to more than 400 lbs max. So, I should be at least 700 lbs under my 2186 lbs available vehicle payload limit.

Please, PLEASE correct me if I'm looking at this incorrectly. I really do appreciate all your inputs!

I am going to take it to a local scale and weigh things (all the individual weights for both the TV and the TT) fully loaded, before our next weekend trip in October. My hope is that I'm good with the numbers, and getting the new tires, airbags, and TPMS will make my rig as safe as it can be!
You don't add tongue weight in addition to gvw of your trailer. Is included already in that number. The reason to list the tongue weight is to ensure you have the proper weight distribution to match your vehicle. Approx 15% of total.

To many others point, your tow vehicle is well within the wt spec of your trailer.
Yes, I agree with LT tires on your tow vehicle, good tranny cooler, wd, and getting it weighed to ensure your calculations are correct.

Spend your money on maintenance including tranny ATF changes within spec, etc. You will enjoy that peace of mind.
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:38 PM   #17
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Update:

OK, so after considering all of your much appreciated wisdom, here's what I decided to to:

1) Suspension Upgrade:
I found these on-line after looking at the air helper springs suggested by Poppabear, and ordered a set. Just seemed like a simpler approach to accomplishing the same thing, and they are supposed to come on Thursday:
http://timbren.com/products-page/ses/gmrys4/
There is a pretty cool "before and after" video on the website that made me decide to go with these.

2) New Tow Vehicle Tires:
Tomorrow I am putting a set of Michelin Defender LTX M/S tires on the Suburban.

We will be camping in Oceanside, CA on Oct 14-16, about 160 freeway miles roundtrip, and I'm anxious to see how these two upgrades perform. I'll let you know when we get back!
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Old 10-05-2016, 06:43 AM   #18
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Timbrens are not as good as air bags. When the vehicle is unloaded they are doing nothing and then as the vehicle is loaded they begin to function. Sounds good, but in reality, even when loaded as the suspension moves over it's full range of travel, the effect can be kind of squirelly. Especially say one tire hits a bump or pothole while the other doesn't. Anyway I found the effect unsettling and it would likely add to driver stress and fatigue.

Air bags are not much more expensive unless you opt for an onboard compressor. Anyway, with airbags you can experiment with what air pressure works best.

I had no problem returning the Timbrens for a full refund.
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Old 10-05-2016, 10:10 AM   #19
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Not a fan of the Timbrens either. I chose to use the Roadmaster Active Suspension. Helps not only with weight, but with side to side movement also. Real steady when driving.

Check out the info here. https://www.activesuspension.com/
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Old 10-05-2016, 02:02 PM   #20
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No point in asking for advice if you aren't willing to take it...

I am getting the Michelin LT 265/75R16, load range E tires put on as I type.

The Timbrens come tomorrow and I'll return them. Will buy to air lift 1000 air helper springs recommended by Pappabear. I like the active spring system Mark5W recommended, but already spending almost $1000 on the tires, plus $85 and installation on the air springs. My money printer ran out of ink...

Thanks all for your input!
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