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 > GM 5.3, 6-speed, 3.42 experiences wanted

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Empty Nest, Soon

Birthplace of Rivers, WV

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Posted: 03/01/11 06:10pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I’m interested in hearing from those who have towing experience with the GMC/Chevy 1500 with the 5.3 liter engine, 6-speed automatic, and 3.42 rear end.

I’m looking to buy a new truck and I want something that will tow at least as well as, and preferably better than, the current truck while driving the mountains of WV. The current front-runner is the aforementioned GMC/Chevy.

I’m especially interested in hearing of any experience in towing up extended grades of 7% to 9%. (Leaving our second house in WV, where the TT is parked, I have a 5 mile drive up a hill that is mostly 9% grade.)

The HP of the 5.3 is actually rated a little higher than the 5.7 in the current truck; the torque is about the same; rear end ratio is higher. Not sure where this comes out on balance.

Please tell me your story about towing in the mountains with the 5.3, 6-speed, and 3.42.

Thanks!

Wayne


Wayne & Michelle

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music69

Tennessee

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Posted: 03/01/11 08:00pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You may want to add a little info about your camper (esp. weight), for comparison to what others may be towing.

arizal

Prescott,AZ

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Posted: 03/01/11 08:17pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had a truck like yours with an automatic and pulled a trailer much like yours 1998 Wilderness 26' and also pulled it with 5.3 with 4.10s and my 2009 5.3 6speed with 3.42s kick both of their butts (more HP and 2 more gears make a huge difference). Driving my old man speed of 65 solo I get over 20mpg. That Six speed trans makes a huge difference. I love it!!!! You should be able to pull your trailer up those grades with no problem and down hill with the tow haul/ engine brake will be a real plus also. You will have to run a few more rpm than you have with the 5.7 but that doesn't hurt it. My current trailer is the same weight as yours but has a "V Nose" so it tows down the road easier than most but that doesn't make a difference on mountain grades. I have not towed it on a 5 mile 9 prercent grade but I am sure that you would not have a problem with it. Don't let privious experiences cloud your judgement of a 5.3 engine 6 speed 3.42 combo with HD Trailering Equipment as long as you stay with in its ratings. I love my truck if you can't tell.
Good Luck and Happy camping
ARIZAL

* This post was last edited 03/02/11 07:34am by arizal *   View edit history


2009 Sierra 1500 SLT Crewcab 5.3 6 speed 3.42 Axle 4X4 w/ Runningboard Lift
2009 Viewfinder V21FB with Handicap Assist Mods
Yamaha EF2400ISHC

skipnchar

Topeka or somewhere else

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Posted: 03/01/11 09:58pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Can't make any recommendations without knowing just what you'll be TOWING up that 9% grade. If it's a 4,000 or 5,000 lb. trailer you'll probably be just fine but working the truck (economy gearing is the biggest problem) but anything much larger and you'll be doing that drive in low gear at best. Add a tranny cooler with a built in fan and you might STILL be OK but traveling slow means low air flow through the radiator and a warm tranny.
Good luck / Skip


2011 F-150 HD Ecoboost 3.5 V6. 2550 payload, 17,100 GCVWR -
2004 F-150 HD (Traded after 80,000 towing miles)
2007 Rockwood 8314SS 34' travel trailer

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Empty Nest, Soon

Birthplace of Rivers, WV

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Posted: 03/02/11 06:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For the next year or two, I expect to be towing the TT in my signature, about 4200 pounds empty, probably 6000 pounds (including stuff in bed of truck) loaded. After that, hard to say. Maybe a bigger TT, maybe a motor home (and the truck no longer needed for towing.)

The present truck (GMC 2500HD, 5.7L, 5-speed stick, 3.73 rear end) is rated by GM to tow only 6500 pounds. For the proposed truck, GM claims a tow capacity of 10,000 pounds.

The new truck will be equipped with a tranny cooler, temp gauge, and all the other heavy-duty items needed for towing.

The present truck pulls the TT up that mountain adequately. My biggest towing complaint is with the gearbox – IMO it needs another gear between third and fourth.

I was mostly hoping to hear from folks who have the Chevy/GMC 5.3L, 6-speed, and 3.42 set-up and what their real-world experiences have been with the truck, and what kind of hills and what loads they’ve had experience with.

Wayne

mkirsch

Rochester, NY

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Posted: 03/02/11 09:38am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Unfortunately, that's not what you're going to get here... You're going to get opinions, mostly from people who have never owned, or even driven, the subject vehicle.

You're going to be told that the 3.42 axle ratio is unusable for towing. Get a 3.73, or a 4.10.

This is coming from old-schoolers who don't understand the concept of a 6-speed transmission. They are still basing their opinions on an old C6 or TH400 3-speed.

On paper the 6-speed/3.42 combination has better overall final gear ratios than the traditional 3-speed or 4-speed/3.73 combination.

Up until last year, I've towed roughly 4000lbs with a 4.8L and 4-speed/3.42. It really needed a gear between 3rd and 4th, and another gear between 2nd and 3rd. With those gears, that truck would've manhandled that trailer. As it was, it would lug down in OD, and rev just a little too much in 3rd.

The 6-speed transmission eliminates the 1:1 3rd gear and replaces it with a ~1.15:1 4th gear, and a ~0.89:1 5th gear. Plus you've got a low-low 1st gear to get heavy loads moving. Exactly what the truck needed, IMHO.

Now if they'd gear down reverse on these automatic transmissions, we'd really have something... They don't need to be that fast.


2002 Chevy 3500 DRW/8.1/Allison & 2000 Palomino B1500 popup TC

-Yes, I haul a popup with a dually. No, I don't think I need a dually to haul a popup.

music69

Tennessee

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Posted: 03/02/11 10:49am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have probably analyzed the daylights out of the 5.3/3.42/6-spd vs my current 08 5.3/3.73/4-spd. Camper is ~7k lbs loaded. Total combined weight with everyone/everything on board is ~ 13k lbs. I'm right at my "ratings" with this setup.

1. 1st gear on both will get the truck moving just fine, but favors the 6-spd.
2. 4-spd/2nd @ 55 mph / 3600 rpm will pull any grade @ 55 mph I've run across so far (east coast), but it's quite a jump in rpm from 3rd to 2nd. To compare, 3rd on the 6-spd will run ~ 3100 rpms at 55 mph. Probably not enough for some of the grades I've pulled, but a better selection for 90% of them (probably good for 4% to 5% hwy grades). The trade-off is that for those steeper/longer grades (7%+), I'm pretty sure I'd have to slow down on the 6-spd to hit a nice rpm in 2nd (or pull really high rpms @ 55).
3. 3rd on my truck pulls 95% of all terrain, and unlocks the TC for a little extra push when needed. Anything over ~3% to 4%, and it's going to want to slow down or go to 2nd, which is a ~1300 rpm jump @ 55 mph. 4th on the 6-spd is going to have ~5% more power. If that's not enough, it is only ~500 rpms bump to 3rd gear @ 55 mph.
4. 4th on my truck will only pull on gentle terrain without locking/unlocking the TC all the time. That said, it will pull like that all day across the plains without a big head wind. 5th on the 6-spd has ~10% more torque at 55 mph, but will shift to 4th rather than "lock/unlock" the TC. It reasons that 5th will handle that much more wind in the plains than 4th on the 4-spd/3.73.
5. Forget 6th gear on the 6-spd at this weight.

All of the above said, I too have been asking for real experience on the new 5.3/6-spd vs the 5.3/4-spd ever since it came out. Not much info, other than "it's far better" to "don't like the shifting".

* This post was edited 03/02/11 10:59am by music69 *

Supercharged

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Posted: 03/02/11 05:04pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You need to get lower gears. A set of 4.10 gears. I have a 5.3 with a supercharger, which pulls up even 12% roads with no problem with a 3.73. But it is not free to buy one like this. The mileage is great when not pulling and very good pulling, and you can beat your teenage kids away from the stop light to.
If you can take the smell, smoke of a diesel or shaking, get a diesel.


2005 Chev 5.3 Supercharged 395HP 425 T hp. Two wheels on front, 2 on back. one seat, tint windows. front and rear bumpers, headlights, windows. Door on each side. Heater, floor mats, 6 Reese candy bars, junk behind seats, some dirt. Pulls so hard.

APT

SE Michigan

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Posted: 03/03/11 09:25am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Supercharged, the 6-spd with 3.42 gears will accelerate better in the first 3 gears than the 4-spd with 4.88 axle.

music69

Tennessee

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Posted: 03/03/11 09:31am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

APT wrote:

Supercharged, the 6-spd with 3.42 gears will accelerate better in the first 3 gears than the 4-spd with 4.88 axle.


That only matters if you have a 6-spd, and only if you ignore the function of the torque converter. The TC seems to work harder on the longer gearing of the 4-spd than on the 6-spd (more "slip" velocity). The 6-spd does accelerate off the line quicker, but that's of little importance to *me* when towing. I care about the 40 to 65 mph range and pulling steep grades.

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