02 Suburban 5.3 2wd...too slow now

shocker998md

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Location
grantsboro nc
So I have some 5.3 suburban experience. My wife had a 2004 suburban z71 with a 5.3 4l60e 3.73 gears and 285 70 17 tires. After a few months of all basic maintenance and what not I wanted to mess with it. It was a family mobile but back up tow rig for towing a small car trailer. I started with going through blackbear performance and tuning it. I used efi live and did some data logs, Sent those to him and he put a tune on a pcm and had me install it and data log again. He did a few tweaks and all was good. It pulled better, shifted better and I was happy.

I then put in a SUM-8718 Pro LS Drop-in Truck Swap Cam 205/217 112+2, .500 /.500 along with a set of speed engineering long tube headers, 3 inch single pipe into a dynomax ultraflow muffler. Then I had it re tuned and it runs great. All I did was stab the cam in, replaced the water pump gaskets and timing cover gasket because it was leaking a little. It pulled way better and sounds good but it was 98% just a driver and was a back up tow rig incase my truck was down.

If I was to use a suburban solely as a tow rig I'd search for a 3/4 ton burb so I had the 6.0 4l80 a 14 bolt rear and leafsprings in the back. Leave it hooked to the trailer and have a beater driver for mpg.

I'm in the process of selling ours this week and I'm getting good money for my 04 suburban. I wouldn't build the half ton to be a primary tow rig, every feature of the 3/4 ton is better for this purpose.
 

OnlyOneDR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Location
R
Late to the party with this one but if you haven't done anything my advice is to give up on it as the engine is nearly worn out and I am guessing so is the transmission even with regular maintenance.

Upgrading to something 2014 or newer GM nets you the EcoTec3 5.3 with 355Hp+ and the six speed transmission which is magic having the 4:1 first and double OD. It gets out of the hole in a hurry and can be frugal on the highway when unloaded.

If you still want to re-gear I have a brand-new Eaton Detroit Truetrac for sale for the 8.5/8.6 currently sitting on eBay.
 

marty79

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Location
Vale, NC
Late to the party with this one but if you haven't done anything my advice is to give up on it as the engine is nearly worn out and I am guessing so is the transmission even with regular maintenance.

Upgrading to something 2014 or newer GM nets you the EcoTec3 5.3 with 355Hp+ and the six speed transmission which is magic having the 4:1 first and double OD. It gets out of the hole in a hurry and can be frugal on the highway when unloaded.

If you still want to re-gear I have a brand-new Eaton Detroit Truetrac for sale for the 8.5/8.6 currently sitting on eBay.
Haven't done anything yet, gotta wait till this swap is done and need to focus on business stuff. By then I'm hoping to be able to buy another vehicle
 

ManglerYJ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2005
Location
Lexington, NC
Late to the party with this one but if you haven't done anything my advice is to give up on it as the engine is nearly worn out and I am guessing so is the transmission even with regular maintenance.

Upgrading to something 2014 or newer GM nets you the EcoTec3 5.3 with 355Hp+ and the six speed transmission which is magic having the 4:1 first and double OD. It gets out of the hole in a hurry and can be frugal on the highway when unloaded.

If you still want to re-gear I have a brand-new Eaton Detroit Truetrac for sale for the 8.5/8.6 currently sitting on eBay.


I am curious to se how my soon-to-be-picked-up 2021 Z71 Tahoe handles hauling my 5000-6000 lb travel trailer around with the 10 speed trans. Since they are still pretty new, I haven't seen much in terms of the durability of the 10 speed, but the 5.3 liter is pretty tried-and-true by this point. We ordered it sight-unseen, so I have yet to even test drive a 2021.
 

OnlyOneDR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Location
R
I am curious to se how my soon-to-be-picked-up 2021 Z71 Tahoe handles hauling my 5000-6000 lb travel trailer around with the 10 speed trans. Since they are still pretty new, I haven't seen much in terms of the durability of the 10 speed, but the 5.3 liter is pretty tried-and-true by this point. We ordered it sight-unseen, so I have yet to even test drive a 2021.

I had three gas GMs with the 6L80/85 and they all towed great. I had a 2014 with the "new" EcoTec3 and that engine was kick-ass for what it was. I put 140k+ on it and it drove well right up until it was turned in (company lease). I towed my Frontier on my flat deck, gross combined weight close to the 15k maximum for the truck (yes, I scaled it). It always did the job great, just needed a rear sway bar, LT tires, and stronger brakes for that load if it was going to tow it more often. A 5-6k trailer should do great.
 

LBarr2002

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2009
Location
SC
Late to the party with this one but if you haven't done anything my advice is to give up on it as the engine is nearly worn out and I am guessing so is the transmission even with regular maintenance.

Upgrading to something 2014 or newer GM nets you the EcoTec3 5.3 with 355Hp+ and the six speed transmission which is magic having the 4:1 first and double OD. It gets out of the hole in a hurry and can be frugal on the highway when unloaded.

If you still want to re-gear I have a brand-new Eaton Detroit Truetrac for sale for the 8.5/8.6 currently sitting on eBay.

I had three gas GMs with the 6L80/85 and they all towed great. I had a 2014 with the "new" EcoTec3 and that engine was kick-ass for what it was. I put 140k+ on it and it drove well right up until it was turned in (company lease). I towed my Frontier on my flat deck, gross combined weight close to the 15k maximum for the truck (yes, I scaled it). It always did the job great, just needed a rear sway bar, LT tires, and stronger brakes for that load if it was going to tow it more often. A 5-6k trailer should do great.
I have all 3.
2005 Yukon XL 5.3 4l60 3.42 gear
2005 Yukon XL 2500 6.0 4l80 3.73 gear
2015 Sierra 1500 5.3 6l80 3.42 gear

The 1500 xl sucks for towing, moving on.

The Sierra is the "quickest" towing. Has no problem moving the load, but you get bucked around.

The 2500 xl is by far the most comfortable towing. Unloaded it's the slowest of the 3 but loaded it pulls like a dream. Did 800 mile round trip SC to Kentucky two weeks ago and couldn't be happier. Brakes are better than the Sierra.

2014+ trucks are expensive. And they're getting to the age that expensive repairs are most likely coming. I'm seriously considering selling mine.

I pull my jeep on an aluminum trailer or 24' 4600lb dry camper so I'm well below max capacity of either.
 

1stgenxxx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2005
Location
Hudson
my 2017 1/2 ton 5.3 tows pretty darn good
 

LBarr2002

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2009
Location
SC
my 2017 1/2 ton 5.3 tows pretty darn good

Had a 2016 same that was rated around 9,000 towed good also, 10K 18' PJ Buggy hauler with an XJ on it.

Yeah. My 2015 tows pretty good too. My point is it's not the best. It's also still worth about $30k trade. I don't have a simple, right answer for John's original question, but I really don't think going out and buying a $30k dollar truck is the right move.

My vote is keep the current burb for family duties, and don't dump a bunch of money into it. Keep yours eyes open for a 2500 or GMT800 Denali (gets you 6.0 and 3.73) that you can pay cash for...
 

OnlyOneDR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Location
R
Had a 2016 same that was rated around 9,000 towed good also, 10K 18' PJ Buggy hauler with an XJ on it.
I had a 2014 double-cab 2wd 5.3 w/3.42s and it was rated 9900. Needed a rear swaybar, LT tires, and better front brakes to be fully "competent" for larger loads but towed very well for what it was.
 
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