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martylum

90's Chevy Suburban-how much weight will it handle safely

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Hi-I'm looking for a replacement towing vehicle for my 87 3/4 Ton pickup with 454 engine and wondering if a mid to late 90's Chevy Suburban will do the job with my trailer. It's a 24' box trailer weighing in at 3,500 # and rated to hold 7,000 # gross. There's nothing wrong with my 87 Chevy at 100,000 miles but I'd like the passenger carrying capacity of a closed vehicle.

Will a 1/2 or 3/4 ton Suburban do the job towing 7000# or a bit more?

Thanks for your experience and advice.

Martin Lum

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I'm with Steve, our 93 Suburban still remains a faithful unit. We have given it a pulling siesta since the purchase of our GMC pick-up though. You might have to look a bit for a big block though. Ours has the 350 and was a good puller.

The 3/4 ton is the better choice for towing heavier loads. The numbers you listed are not really heavy in my view. That era was still when a truck was a truck. It is prior to the slush pot, 1/2 ton, urban want to be trucks which are the norm now.

Find a clean Suburban of that era and you won't be sorry. The price might even be right on something like that in these times.

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Hi Marty,

Steve and msmazcol are right on the money.

My 1986 Suburban 3/4 ton with 454, and my 2002 3/4 ton (2500 Series) with the 8.1 Litre engines are preferable to just about anything on the road with regard to comfortable reliable and safe towing. I also recently bought a 2000 Ford Excursion 4wd turbo-diesel 7.3. It is a great tow vehicle, but I don't see it as any better than the Suburbans - in fact we may be selling the Excursion because we just don't need all 3 tow vehicles.

Email me directly for additional thoughts.

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Maybe you two Martys can work out a deal. I would stick with the GM product until the cows come home. No Fords in our stable.

Not looking to start anything please!!

IMHO

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Hi-I'm looking for a replacement towing vehicle for my 87 3/4 Ton pickup with 454 engine and wondering if a mid to late 90's Chevy Suburban will do the job with my trailer. It's a 24' box trailer weighing in at 3,500 # and rated to hold 7,000 # gross. There's nothing wrong with my 87 Chevy at 100,000 miles but I'd like the passenger carrying capacity of a closed vehicle.

Will a 1/2 or 3/4 ton Suburban do the job towing 7000# or a bit more?

Thanks for your experience and advice.

Martin Lum

Please excuse me for the following if you know this already.....

Before settling on a tow vehicle it would be prudent on your part to obtain the vehicle manufacturer's specifications regarding the published towing capacities of the vehicles you are considering.

Should you ever be involved in an accident while towing (heaven forbid) those specifications will be examined by the law enforcement people investigating the accident. Should it be determined that your trailer was overweight/out of spec for the tow vehicle you could be legally and financially at risk.

Best of Luck with your search for a tow vehicle.

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Hello Marty, just a few thoughts:

A 1990s Suburban 1/2 ton with a 350 was rated to tow 7000-7500lb. A 3/4 ton was rated up to 9-10,000 and had the bigger brakes, bigger wheels & tires, bigger rear axle, etc. With those extra features a 3/4 ton is good IF you can find one, they were relatively scarce even when new compared to 1/2 tons. A 3/4 ton with a 350 might be ideal and still get decent mileage.

When you look at a Suburban look for the decal listing it's option codes in the glove box. Look for the following:

G80-Locking Differential

GU6 3.42 Axle (1/2 tons)

GT4 3.73 Axle

GT5 4.10 Axle

Z82 Factory Trailer Pkg (including oil & trans cooler, etc)

Good luck and let us know, Todd

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Hey Marty,My Brother and i used 454 3/4 ton Suburbans for years,BEST tow vehicle on the PLANET with the exception of a dually crewcab.That was before the diesel craze,BEST part is you could fix just about anything on the side of the road yourself.diz

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Thanks everyone for your comments and advice. I drove a very nice condition 96 1/2 ton Suburban which handled a great deal better than my 87 3/4 ton but when i checked the owners manual the towing capacity was listed at 6,000 or 6,500 # depending upon whether 2 or 4 wheel drive. The 3/4 ton model same year listed at 7 or 7,500# for 2-4 wheel drive. With my trailer weighing in empty at 3,400# or so, it's easy to go over the limit of my trailer's gross weight limit of 7,000#.

My 87 3/4 ton owners manual does not list any towing limits but I've towed 7,500 to 8,000# with one short excursion with 9,500# and it seemed to do an adequate job.

Braking is the area in which I would wish for better performance on the truck-trailer combination.

Thanks again.

Martin Lum

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If you didn't need quite the towing capacity another excellant tow vehicle is the '92 -'96 Roadmaster. Full frame and decent gas milage. Rated for I believe up to 5000 lbs. Towing package came with rear sway bar, trany cooler, oil cooler, high output alternator, oversize radiator, and load leveling shocks. Family of 4 and a 3500 lb boat several times Wi. to Mo. vacations.

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Marty,

I checked the towing capacities for my 2002 Suburban 3/4 Ton (2500 Series) with the 8.1 Litre

They are the same for 2WD and 4WD, which makes me believe that the truck actually exceeds the printed limits, but they vary based on the rear axle ratio:

3.73:1 Ratio -- 10,500 lb trailer

4.56:1 Ratio -- 12,000 lb trailer

The real benefit over the 1/2 ton, is that the suspension, steering, and brakes, as well as the frame itself of the 3/4 ton is just built heavier, and is intended as a workhorse, as opposed to being the next bauble on a "Soccer-Mom" tennis bracelet. The new 1/2 ton models are great as an all-around hauler, but for "serious" trailering, you would be far safer and happier with the 3/4 ton

Best of luck whichever way you go

Edited by Marty Roth
afterthoughts brain-backfire (see edit history)

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I own a 1993 GMC Suburban K1500 (4 wheel drive) 350 V8. (new rebuilt Good Wrench Engine and New rebuilt transmission). I live in central Wisconsin.

The Yukon Suburban Owner's Manual (page 4-58) says this about towing capacity:

"For utility vehicles, a trailer should never weigh more than 7000 pounds (6125.6 kg)...but even that can be too heavy. It depends on how you plan to use your rig. For example, speed, altitude, road grades, outside temperature, and how much your vehicle is used to pull a trailer all are important. And, it can also depend on any special equipment that you have on your vehicle."

I pull a rock band covered trailer (2500 pounds empty, plus 1000 pounds of loaded trailer stuff, speakers, sub woofers, amps, etc.) Plus, 5 heavy boys ride in the Suburban with 6-8 guitars and sensitive tube amp head units.

I always run in 3rd gear, and have an extra tranny cooler in additional to the towing package. Plus, I have a transmission temperature gauge that registers about 165 degrees when towing.

I use Mobil 1 Synthetic engine oil, and have the tranny oil changed frequently based on the miles I put on the Suburban.

Here is the "opinion part" of this post: I would be confident about pulling a 6000+ pound trailer, but would religiously watch the tranny temperature gauge, and limit the speed to 50-60 max, depending on conditions. Winter towing is easy. But hot summer towing is the true test. 7000 pounds is too heavy for a 350 V8 despite my equipment and cautious pulling attitude.

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