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View Full Version : Thinking About a New Tow Vehicle - 2004 Suburban w/ 5.3



RobertJ
01-31-2012, 01:24 AM
We have been pulling our boats for awhile with out 2000 Durango with the 4.7. It has been an awesome rig but the family is growing and we need room to haul the five of us plus a friend for each kid. I also need more space for the dog instead of his 70 pounds of labness on someones lap. Anyone have any experience with the burb and the 5.3. Our '07 LSV loaded is around 6 grand and we have hit the scales with the Durango and boat at 12 grand. I would really love to get a Denali with the 6.0 but I have a 16 year old and college is coming soon so we are trying to keep a reasonable budget.

Thanks for the ideas and suggestions.

rdlangston13
01-31-2012, 02:31 AM
Get a Denali with the 6.2. Teach your kid about sallie Mae

mmandley
01-31-2012, 03:03 AM
We have been pulling our boats for awhile with out 2000 Durango with the 4.7. It has been an awesome rig but the family is growing and we need room to haul the five of us plus a friend for each kid. I also need more space for the dog instead of his 70 pounds of labness on someones lap. Anyone have any experience with the burb and the 5.3. Our '07 LSV loaded is around 6 grand and we have hit the scales with the Durango and boat at 12 grand. I would really love to get a Denali with the 6.0 but I have a 16 year old and college is coming soon so we are trying to keep a reasonable budget.

Thanks for the ideas and suggestions.

The 5.3 is a soild proven engine and a lot more popular then you might think. Give this a read.
http://www.carcraft.com/techarticles/ccrp_0804_325_chevy_small_block_engine/viewall.html

Now its not my first choice in a truck that big, or when loading it down and pulling a boat, but for our shorter summers and as long as your not making trips across the state i think it will hold up well.

How many miles are on this burb you are thinking of getting?

Heres a full spec sheet for the truck

http://www.edmunds.com/chevrolet/suburban/2004/features-specs.html

Suprahunter
01-31-2012, 10:02 AM
If your no slave to fashion look at the full size GM passenger vans. They are a Suburban frame and drive train with a box on top. I have a 05 GMC 3500 6L and 373 rear gear. Its definitely the red headed step child but it can safely hold 12 passengers and the dog . If you remove the seats it becomes a camper or box truck. Best of all because they are not popular you can get them cheap.

http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn127/suprahunter/NewVan002-1-1-2-1-1.jpg

http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn127/suprahunter/NewVan013.jpg

KG's Supra24
01-31-2012, 10:22 AM
I have towed with both the 5.3 and the 6.0, both 04's. The 6.0 was noticeable better but the 5.3 (tahoe) wasn't a struggle to pull the 24.

I would take your time to find a well treated burb. I sold my 2004 6.0 last year this time because I was beginning to worry about the tranny with 160k and pulling all the time. I believe the nicer model burbs have airbags? That would be helpful towing.

FWIW, I like the cargo van recommendation.

deerfield
01-31-2012, 10:50 AM
If your no slave to fashion look at the full size GM passenger vans.

RobertJ - I think Suprahunter makes a pretty interesting suggestion. My tow vehicle is a '99 Suburban that for now still serves its purpose but some day will be in need of replacement. Full size GM passenger van is something I will want to consider, especially if the price is less.

Bought our Suburban in '02 when the family outgrew a Volvo station wagon and I had my sights on a boat in the not too distant future. The K2500 with big block is more engine that I need for pulling the Outback, so if I had it to do over I would buy a 1500 Suburban with the small block engine. Better on the gas mileage.

Our boys are on the tall side: 6'7", 6'5", and 6'3". With friends, gear, dog, and boat in tow, Suburban pretty well handles the load and everyone is comfortable. Also have a roof cargo box for the times when there is just too much stuff.

Picture of the Suburban and boat is below. All in all, Suburban is excellent choice. - Deerfield

kaneboats
01-31-2012, 11:53 AM
I tow the LSV with the Suburban. I have the 5.3L. It does fine. Take it easy on the hills but run 75 all the time. No problems whatsoever. 6 kids on board plus gear-- we fill every seat. Here's a pic getting ready to pull out on the way to the Sinclair Jam in 2010.

http://www.moomba.com/msgboard/attachment.php?attachmentid=13272&d=1328025159

sandm
01-31-2012, 12:19 PM
I surf with a couple that use a full size truck with the 5.3 to tow their sanger. they are selling it this spring to step up to a gm passenger van. holds more, bigger motor and great for camping instead of sleeping on the ground. they are not the most attractive things, but it's amazing what a nice set of rims, some window tint and a subtle graphics package will do for a van..

bergermaister
01-31-2012, 12:26 PM
Besides the engine, take a look at the gearing. The difference between a 3.42 highway gear, 3.73 all around gears, and 4.10 towing gears makes a big difference as well. My poor '98 GMC is unfortunate to have 3.42's and it really works hard going up the hills and maintaining freeway speeds while towing. I tend to not settle for the slow lane so I'm rodding the piss out of it during the summer trips.

KT Mobius
01-31-2012, 01:05 PM
hey Robert , if you get the scooby doo van Ill move.

kaneboats
01-31-2012, 01:07 PM
Hmmm. Daphne or Thelma isn't exactly the same contest as Ginger or Mary Ann is it?

bergermaister
01-31-2012, 01:16 PM
and here we go again...

http://files.sharenator.com/1307505786407_The_Off_topic_topic_post_3_Logic_Str ikes_Back-s400x400-190817-580.jpg

wolfeman131
01-31-2012, 01:18 PM
Get an A-Team van!

http://i530.photobucket.com/albums/dd344/wolfeman131/images.jpg

kaneboats
01-31-2012, 01:20 PM
Oooooopppppssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.moomba.com/msgboard/attachment.php?attachmentid=13273&d=1328030401

wolfeman131
01-31-2012, 01:22 PM
sorry, but this is getting out of control.

http://i530.photobucket.com/albums/dd344/wolfeman131/38d8e_ORIG-thread_jack.jpg

wolfeman131
01-31-2012, 01:25 PM
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y234/sandgnat/Miscellaneous/certifiedthreadjack.jpg

chawk610
01-31-2012, 01:45 PM
I bet Wonderbug could do the trick!
13274

kaneboats
01-31-2012, 01:58 PM
Hey, isn't that speedbuggy?

RobertJ
01-31-2012, 03:53 PM
Well time to get back on track. Thanks for the advice and info guys. The van idea would be good if it was 4X4 and I had a different wife, brought up the van idea before and was shot down rather quickly. I love the wife way to much to even consider a different one and I need 4X4. Also, I don't KTMobius to move out of the neighborhood he is a great neighbor and a good guy.

Here are the details on the burb I am looking at; 2004, single owner car fax, 80,000 miles, clean and the leather is in good shape, 3.73 rear end, I have to check to make sure it has towing package (not just a hitch added), White with grey interior (would look good pulling black and white LSV).

The rig is at a local reputable Mecedes/Acura dealer that I have bought cars from before, just not a Mercedes or Acura. If I decide to go ahead with the car I will take it to my mechanic before I pull the trigger. I know it is not the perfect car but it might be closer then the Durango. The only issue I have with the older burbs and Denali's is the way the middle seat has to be folded to get people into the 3rd row. You have to flip the bench up then pull the back forward and you still have to step over the seat to ge to the back. I think this changed in 2006 and the middle row folds forward and gives you a little more space to get to the back.

Mandley, you always have great technical advice and I read most of the article but I don't modifiy my rigs very much after I buy them. It does look like you can do some wicked things to the 5.3 and if I can convince the wife that the mods will increase gas mileage she might let me do them. although I took that route with the Durango when I put flowmasters and an air intake on it. I think she caught on when it kept getting 12 MPG but it sounds good getting it..

maxpower220
01-31-2012, 06:53 PM
I had an 02 Avalanche with 5.3L, 3.73 and 4x4. I hauled a boat across the country(Fl to CA) and back with it. The 5.3 is a great little motor.They have been around for a long time and they are in all types of GM products. The 4 speed auto is a proven tranny, but have the fluid changed immediately if you buy it. It you delay at all, you will be better off not changing it (unless it was done once already). You should expect to get 130K miles before a problem. Any problem will likely be a water pump and thermostat. No reason that the motor and truck should not get 180-200K without much issue.

I added a Gibson exhaust system, Edelbrock shorty headers, Hi perfromance coil packs, wires and spark plugs. Everything together may have improved my gas mileage by .5-.8 mpg. It would have taken years and years plus 100s of thousands of miles to break even on the cost of parts vs mileage savings. I did it because I liked to. No way it would ever pay for itself in fuel savings.


I currently have an 09 Avalanche with a 5.3L, 3.42 gears(the new "option" gear) and 6 speed auto. If you can stretch your budget, Try finding the newer gen (07+). Active fuel management helps gas mileage a little, a few more HP in the motor, at least a chance to find a 6.0L, but the new body style is a huge improvement (quieter, smoother, better in about every way).

chawk610
01-31-2012, 06:57 PM
Hey, isn't that speedbuggy?

That's Wonderbug Sid and Marty Kroft


ok, back on track!

Boonejeepin
01-31-2012, 07:08 PM
I tow the XLV with a 2009 suburban w the 5.3. It does the job pretty well.

Prior to the Suburban we had a 2004 Escalade w the 6.0. The 6.0 and the air ride suspension are the only thing I truly preferred in the Eacalade. I think you can find the 6.0 in some Suburbans and Yukon XLs.

I never towed the XLV with the old rig but towed a Sea Ray 185 sport with each and there was a difference between the 6.0 and the 5.3 for sure.

Not to scare you away from the Suburban but I have noticed that the frame may be slightly torqued from towing. One side sits about 3/4 inch higher with no trailer. I guess it could also be from springs that are sagging unequally. We also tow a 5500lb travel trailer from time to time.

sandm
01-31-2012, 07:09 PM
drove the ex-inlaws tahoe with the 5.3 and the active engine thing. it was cool.. saw 20mpg out of a couple of tanks to arizona and back. it was an 09. great rigs..

mmandley
01-31-2012, 08:45 PM
Hey Robert, yea i couldnt find a good article to link that talked about the engine and how good it was without finding something with upgrades LOL.

Tha main thing to take away from that article is they are a dime a dozen engines, parts are cheap, people modify them a lot with no issues, and with only a few mods it can make great power LOL.

Honestly all i would do if it was mine, is upgrade the air intake <filter housing> put in nice plugs and wires, then duel pipes from the cat back with a performance muffler to give it a nice rumble.

As long as it has the 3.73 rear end it will be fine for towing, 80K sounds like some decent milage, ask them to service the trans, fuel filter, and change the rear diff fluid, these are notoriously neglected items on most peoples cars.