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Z71Tahoe-Suburban.com > Z71 Tahoe Suburban Care, Maintenance, Modifications, & Product Reviews > Towing
71dsp
We just purchased my in-laws 05 Z71 Tahoe for a very good price. biggrin.gif I've been using it the past 2.5 years to tow my track car, but since it wasn't my truck, I didn't want to suggest any modifications beyond a good brake controller for towing. Now that it's ours, I'm planning to do some mods to make towing a little more comfortable and safe. I have to say that I've been very impressed with the truck over these past couple of years. Very comfortable, fit and finish is very good, no squeaks or rattles, and it runs great.
What I'll be towing is an 18' steel deck trailer (2,200 lbs) and a 98 Honda Prelude (2,500 lbs), a couple sets of tires, tools, etc. I figure 5,000 to 5,300 lbs with all the spares and everything.
No pictures of the truck yet, but here's one of the car! wacko.gif
IPB Image

The truck has 3.42 gears, so it struggles a bit on hills. Sway hasn't been an issue, but the tongue weight makes the rear sag a bit. I'd certainly like to fix that.

My wife and I have a history of keeping cars for a very long time, so I don't mind spending money to make the Tahoe perform its best, and hopefully increase towing reliability as well.

So, here are my thoughts:

4.10 gears (either GM OEM or Yukon gear?)
Rancho RS9000XL shocks
Eibach or Hotchkis sway bars
AEM intake
Air Lift rear assist bags and/or Equal-i-zer WD hitch setup
ECU tune

I'm also thinking about installing a higher capacity trans pan, but my understanding (thanks to this site!) is that these trucks already have deep sump trans pans. If that's the case, I'll probably just tap the stock pan for a trans fluid temp gauge. Then based on the temp readings, I might install a larger trans cooler.

I've also thought about an exhaust or headers, but I'd really like to keep the truck as quiet as stock. My track car is loud enough! Actually too loud, but that's another story.

I also have a Helms service manual on the way.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! good.gif
rounderk5
QUOTE(71dsp @ May 5 2007, 07:39 AM) [snapback]132593[/snapback]

So, here are my thoughts:

4.10 gears (either GM OEM or Yukon gear?)
Rancho RS9000XL shocks
Eibach or Hotchkis sway bars
AEM intake
Air Lift rear assist bags and/or Equal-i-zer WD hitch setup
ECU tune

congrats on the purchase and welcome aboard! good.gif

All of those, and the brake controler sound like they will do you very well. Consider Bilstein shocks, although not as burly as the Rancho 9000's, the ride on Bils is 2nd to none. Also consider a Blackbear Performance Tune by Justin, (contributing member and site sponsor)...Also 2nd to none when it comes to tunes, (so I've heard).
Again - welcome-z71ts.gif
Charlie
I will sell you my 3.73's front and rear with the rear gov lock for $300. They have ~32K miles on them!
71dsp
cpike3, I appreciate the offer, but I think if I'm going through that much work, I'll probably do 4.10s. smile.gif

rounderk5, I'm running a Prodigy brake controller right now. Best I've come across yet! For the tune, I was going to go through Justin, as I've read all the positive feedback on the site for his work. I'll check out the Bilsteins too. It's too bad they're not adjustable.

What is consider optimal trans temp when towing? What is too hot?
HokieNav
QUOTE(71dsp @ May 5 2007, 12:51 PM) [snapback]132600[/snapback]

What is consider optimal trans temp when towing? What is too hot?
I've been seeing around 150-180 here recently. It seems to be very weather dependant (never saw over 150 during the winter months).

You also don't need to tap anything to get a trans temp gauge, your truck is already pre-wired for one, it goes in that little empty circle over in the bottom left. The cheapest and easiest way to add it is to swap the whole cluster for one out of a 2500 Silverado that comes with it stock.
wubstyle
Welcome to the site! I promise not to make any "rice" comments to your honda biggrin.gif

X2 on the Bilsteins, they're amazing.
71dsp
There's not much rice on it, other than the Skunk2 oil cap I got for free. tongue.gif

I'm going to have to give those Bilsteins another look after seeing all the positive reviews on them. Also, the cluster is a very good idea. I really like the Yukon Denali cluster. I've been reading the posts about it, and it's by far the most painless and stock looking. I'm not so crazy about the pillar gauge pods.

How difficult of a job, say on a 1-10 scale, would you guys say changing the F&R rings and pinions be? I'm familar with car work, as I've done 95% of all the work on my track car, but it's a FWD Honda which is a far cry from a 4WD Chevy!!
Dave in Mpls
welcomesign.gif

I think the 4.10s would ge a good fit for your needs.

Scott is running Bilsteins and bags, so I'm sure he'll chime in as to their effectiveness.

Justin is a good call for the tune.

Were it me, I'd replace the POS stock hitch with something a little more substantial. Puruse some RV forums if you want to see some neat pics of GM NBS hitch failures. Your mileage may very wacko.gif
Charlie
I just regeared (hence the sale offer) and I would say it is an 8. If I didn't have the lift in, taking out the front dif would have been a nightmare. The rear wasn't too bad.
Scott
Welcome aboard 71dsp,

I like your list - You're pretty much right on target! I do a lot of towing two and have already balzed this path.

Firstly, definitely go with the 4.10's. The 9000's are nice but like the others say the Bilsteins are very tought to beat. Do a search on trans gauge - I've got a 3/4 ton cluster with the oem guage and once you have it, you won't be able to live with out it. Also, you can opt for SS or Escalade versions, so take the time to shop a bit and resist the tempation to add-on an auxillary trans gauge - you'll regret it later!

On the rear squat, I'm running the Airlift SureSet, and I gotta tell you, it's very slick. Do a search on SureSet - I'm sure I've made a few posts. The one thing I'll warn you and the others about, make sure the intake for the compressor is waterproofed. I just replaced my compressor that failed, and when I tore it apart, it was all rusted out from water ingestion. Obviously, this was totally my fault, as the position allowed water to pour right on top of it from the hood/finder seam. I fashioned a protected remote intake to solve this actually just today.

The sways will help and if you want to notch that up even further, you might want to consdier swapping out the lower rear control arms with the HD Hotchkiss units. Carguru, did this not too long ago, and he report that is really firmed up the rear axle.

Regarding performance, I'd suggest starting with the traditional stage one performance mods of a nice cold air intake - AEM is quite nice, but research that Dry filter which is a real PIA and expensive to clean. I still prefer the oild filter with a pre-filter. Also, I'd save the money on headers and stick with a nice catback. Corsa has some nice systems. The Sport has a little rumble, but the touring is supposed to be pretty civil. Finally wrap it all up with a custom tune from Justin, who's getting some rave reviews.

I hope that'll help a bit. Let me know if you have any questions.
71dsp
Scott, thanks for the advice. You guys are slowly working me towards the Bilsteins. I'm also going with a cluster instead of the separate gauge. It'll be much cleaner, and I like the Denali cluster. biggrin.gif I'll look into the control arms as well. Anything that makes the rear more stable is certainly worth looking into.

I saw your posts on the SureSet. That's what sold me on it!

One new question I have since searching the board: if went with keys to level the front with the rear suspension, what kind of height increase would I need on the front? From my measurements, it looks to be close to 2". Would I need to get longer than stock shocks with this setup? There seems to be some debate in the threads I've read. Also, any long term updates with raising the truck this much in the front with keys?

I need to be careful, I'm going to spend too much money on this truck!!

What kind of transmission pan would you guys recommend? I'd like something with a higher capacity, but since the stock pan is a deep pan, I'm not too worried about higher capacity.
Scott
You can get close to +1-1/4" with the stock keys. I happen to be running the rear 1-1/2" spacers and the ford keys, and after 3 years everything is solid. My rear fender lip is at 40" and the front is just under 39". That's why I got the SureSet to keep it from squatting too much with the trailer. The set up works great. The stock length shocks work great unless you swap to the rear Eibach bar which we found can cause some issues with not properly limiting suspension travel and will allow the shocks to hyperextend, but that's only in conjunction with the rear spacer.

On the trans, I probably would lean toward a better cooler than more capacity.
71dsp
Alright, I've been convinced to go with the Bilsteins. They're cheaper than the Rancho 9000XLs and from what I've read, they should perform better too! I'll be on the list for the next GP for sure.

Wouldn't the shock keep the suspension from drooping excessively anyway, even with the keys/spacers? I read the thread on that issue with the Eibach sway bars, and it seems to me the problem would be the end link length. I'm sure something could be fabricated quite easily with some tubing, tube adapters, and some rod ends. That's what I did on my track car to make all the sway bar end links adjustable to allow the preload in the bar to be eliminated when corner weighting the car.
Scott
QUOTE(71dsp @ May 6 2007, 12:10 PM) [snapback]132640[/snapback]

Alright, I've been convinced to go with the Bilsteins. They're cheaper than the Rancho 9000XLs and from what I've read, they should perform better too! I'll be on the list for the next GP for sure.

Wouldn't the shock keep the suspension from drooping excessively anyway, even with the keys/spacers? I read the thread on that issue with the Eibach sway bars, and it seems to me the problem would be the end link length. I'm sure something could be fabricated quite easily with some tubing, tube adapters, and some rod ends. That's what I did on my track car to make all the sway bar end links adjustable to allow the preload in the bar to be eliminated when corner weighting the car.

The configuration of the stock rear bar limits the extended travel of the suspension and in turn prevents the stocks from topping out. Unfortunately, the Eibachs don't do the same. I would imagine the shorter endlink would help but I've never researched this in person to determine the appropriate length. However, before you went down this path, I did want to warn you.
71dsp
Very interesting. I've never run into a suspension configuration like that. I'll have to check mine out when I get a chance. I do appreciate the heads up though!

I'd also be interested in a GP on the Eibachs, as I don't think I'll be able to do the Hotchkis sway bars and control arms. I'm wanting to do the control arms at a minimum, but paying twice as much for the Hotchkis sway bars is a bit difficult to explain to the wife. However, I can see why they're more expensive since they're tubular.

Thanks for all the help Scott! I'll be sure to post some pictures when I get around to installing all this stuff. I have an event at TWS in early June, so I don't think I'll be able to get to modifying the truck real soon, maybe sometime in June, so it's perfect timing for a GP! biggrin.gif
JOCWW
We put air lift bags on our tahoe and keep it a 5psi around town and then maybe 25 psi when towing our trailer its a 24 foot enclosed 3k lb dry. and they work nicely
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