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Old April 30th, 2012, 01:58 PM   #1
camccardell
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Default upgrading towing capacity

Been thinking about this one for awhile, and I ask, Is it even possible?

I have a 99 GMC suburban (K1500) and would like to increase the towing capacity of it.
I was thinking of changing out the rear axle to a 14 bolt
possibly stronger springs
Trans cooler
Bigger Radiator
Weight distribution hitch

Anything else?
Would this in effect raise the towing capacity of the truck, or just make the current setup stronger?

Looking at purchasing a 28'-32' tow behind trailer

The burb is rust free, and in damn good working condition (after spending some coin making it that way)
I would hate to off it and search in vain for a good k2500 only to not be able to find one.
It does have the 350, and I wonder if that is also a limiting factor.

thanks!
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Old April 30th, 2012, 02:17 PM   #2
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How often are you looking at towing this trailer? My father use to tow our 29ft prowler TT with a 1999 suburban 4x4. While it didn't pull as good as my uncles 3/4 ton big block suburban, it worked ok for the half dozen times a year he needed to pull it.
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Old April 30th, 2012, 02:27 PM   #3
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Stronger frame? Bigger brakes? Different axle gearing?

You're never going to increase the towing capacity in the GVWR rating sense of things, but you can make things stronger and thereby buy yourself a bit of extra margin and make it easier to tow near OEM capacity.
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Old April 30th, 2012, 03:02 PM   #4
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It all depends on what you want to do with it.

You aren't going to make too much better, in terms of towing a lot more. You've got a small block and a 4L60e, after all.

Now, you can make it *better* at towing whatever you towing now.

Your basic stuff:

Good trans cooler
Load range E tires
Weight distributing hitch
good brake controller

Then maintenance items: shocks, brakes, sway bar bushings, tune up stuff, etc.

If you have a line on a semifloat 14 bolt that would otherwise bolt in, I suppose, but I think thats a slippery slope, and I'd just bite the bullet and sell it and get a 3/4 ton if you need it...
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Old April 30th, 2012, 03:24 PM   #5
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What Jesus said plus either timbrens or airbags for the rear. Suburbans are saggy as it is. I wouldn't bother changing the axle. It's the engine that will be your limiting factor. Not that it won't do it, just obviously won't be as great as a BB or diesel. Towing in Michigan will be ok, but a trailer that big in the mountains and you will be hating life.

Last edited by smasheromalley; April 30th, 2012 at 03:28 PM.
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Old April 30th, 2012, 07:53 PM   #6
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I would assume that with the wife, 3 kids, possible mother in law, + luggage, the burb by itself would be rather weighed down.
Wife wants me to swap in a 5.9 cummins, lol
Anywho, just wondering if a 6500lb trailer is just not feasable with my rig. I'm not scared to do a few upgrades, as this will only be towed a few times a year, but I don't want to face failure on the side of the road either.
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Old April 30th, 2012, 08:14 PM   #7
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I would not see an issue with 6500 lbs. That is what the average joe (myself included) is looking at with the typical Jeep/compact 4x4 on a 2 axle flatbed is likely pulling.

As mentioned, some airbags or timbrens in the back if its sagging...

I've had several friends in our club pull with burbs, tahoes, and K1500s of that era with no trouble.

In the immediate, the power of a 13 yr old 250hp small block is your limiting factor. Int he long term the 4L60e is the weak link. Make sure to keep it cool and maintain it.
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Old April 30th, 2012, 09:09 PM   #8
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They made heavy 1500 trucks with a six lug 14bolt,if you can find one at a lqk they are cheap.I think It would be a bolt in,if your 99 is the 88-98 chev truck body style.
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Old May 1st, 2012, 07:54 PM   #9
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looking rather spendy.
I think it might take at least 2k to get the truck up to where I would feel comfortable towing. Needs tires for starters. Damm load range is 114, which I think is below or right at c range, not sure though.

New tires are at least $800

Radiator is 2-300
air bags 300
brake controller 200
trans cooler 65
weight distribution hitch $200?
axle?


Sheesh, but it is good to take a step back and look at all this though.

I might run with it and upgrade as necessary, (exluding the trans cooler which I think is manditory) But I think my 35psi max tires will hate me, so they will be the first thing I look for.

Guy called me back about the trailer and said it says 4887 lbs on the trailer, so not too shabby.
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Old May 1st, 2012, 08:18 PM   #10
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If your radiator is good/ cooling system is in relatively good shape dont mess with it right away
Timbrens are half the price of airbags, set and forget. No maintenance. I've used them
Brake controller you will need no matter what
Trans cooler is cheap
WD hitch probably no getting around that. Look for used?
Axle again I wouldn't bother. WD hitch will spread the tongue weight. Unless you swap to full float it's just not worth it IMO

Tires will be a nightmare. No getting around them.

Hell tires and hitch and brake controller and see how it feels. I think you'll be fine
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Old May 1st, 2012, 08:21 PM   #11
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Isn't that one with over 230K miles I see in person 2 years ago?

I hate to say but it cheaper to buy Ford E350 club wagon and able tow 10K pound.
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Old May 1st, 2012, 08:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MilwaukeeF350 View Post
Isn't that one with over 230K miles I see in person 2 years ago?

I hate to say but it cheaper to buy Ford E350 club wagon and able tow 10K pound.
nope, that was my 95 f150 and it isn't towning anything but rust at the moment.
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Old May 7th, 2012, 12:20 AM   #13
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14 bolts come around every now and then if you look for them. Air bags are really the right way to do it, they install easy, and they can be adjusted for the varying loads. The biggest improvement you will see is when you are empty. Use a york 210 compressor and a air dryer and you will not have to think about it for 10 years. You will need a break controller obviously. Tires can be bought at cost if you talk around enough.
You can waste your money and go with the cheaper options or do it right and end up spending 4k. It all comes down to how much you like the truck and if it is worth it to you to do the conversion or switch to a higher rated truck.

A good trailer and good loading principles will make more of a difference in how it tows then the weight rating of the truck used. In your case, because you do not have the option of a fifth wheel a triple or double (spread out a few feet) axle may work best.
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