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Old January 11th, 2013, 12:30 AM   #1
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Default 5.3L vs 6.0L vs 8.1L for towing and working

Im looking to pick up a truck ($5k-$8k range) to tow the boat, and use for hunting and what not. Not looking for a DD. Im trying to get feedback on towing a 6k lb boat setup. I would like to get a diesel but dont want to spend the money on one. How do the 5.3Ls do for towing? I hear unloaded the 5.3ls do pretty good on fuel, but how would it do for hauling? My in laws have a 04 Denaili yukon and we pulled the boat last year and it pulled awesome, I was pretty impressed with it. Fuel mileage wasnt bad with it either. Should I expect the same performance out of a 2500HD with a 6.0L?
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Old January 11th, 2013, 06:20 AM   #2
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I have got an 05 crew cab 2500HD with the 6.0l and with a 8500 lb camper behind it I would see about 8 to 9 mile per gallons and with a 26 ft v nose steel snowmobile trailer with little cargo I got about 9 miles and with a 24 ft enclosed car hauler weighing in at about 3500 lbs doing 75 i got about 9 miles per gallon.

With all these at light to heavy I got about 8 to 9 miles per gallon. But with all these I could easiler do 75 and when I wanted to go just put the pedel down and off you went. I have used an Avalanche with the 5.3 on the same camper and it would only get about 8 miles per gallons but the 6.0l made for a better towing engine with the power it had. You were not reving out to 5,000rpms and it did not take miles to get up to speed like with the 5.3.

So if you are looking to tow I would say the 6.0l over the 5.3. I have not experience with an 8.1 so I will not coment on that.

Also with my 6.0l i get between 12.5 to 14 mpg unloaded highway depending on time of year. Also my truck has 4.10 gearing.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 07:47 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by barry1me View Post
Im looking to pick up a truck ($5k-$8k range) to tow the boat, and use for hunting and what not. Not looking for a DD. Im trying to get feedback on towing a 6k lb boat setup. I would like to get a diesel but dont want to spend the money on one. How do the 5.3Ls do for towing? I hear unloaded the 5.3ls do pretty good on fuel, but how would it do for hauling? My in laws have a 04 Denaili yukon and we pulled the boat last year and it pulled awesome, I was pretty impressed with it. Fuel mileage wasnt bad with it either. Should I expect the same performance out of a 2500HD with a 6.0L?
I've had 3 5.3 liter trucks. two were the 07 newer style and one was an 01.

My 01 (extended cab Z71) I "think" had 3.42's it towed my 24 foot boat just fine in 3rd gear. I used OD from time to time but it just hunted too much. My boat was around 2500lbs rigged out with a motor my trailer another 1,000, then fuel gear and misc. I always figured I was around 4500 lbs. I never weighed it. towing I usually got 10-13 mpg or so. I also towed a few jeeps with this truck which were heavier than my boat and less aerodynamic and they were fine. Unloaded day to day driving this truck got 17 mpg but I did a lot of highway. Sold this truck with 185k on it, only troubles I ever had were an o2 sensor.

My 07 was 4 speed 3.73 gears towed a bit better, was a crew cab and had active fuel management. It got the same mileage towing my boat 8 towing a jeep (yj on 36's with an 8.8 and cage not overly heavy on a 16 ft hauler 6k pounds total or so?), 18 mpg day to day driving and I pulled just over 20 mpg highway a time or two.

Only towed the with the newer truck once. I now have an 09 crew cab, 3.42 gears, 6 speed trans. It tows a lot better than the 07, still gets 8 mpg towing. I towed a one ton handicapped van on a pretty burly car hauler. Thinking fairly close to 8k pounds? Not sure to be honest just making a guess. Other than the van catching a lot of wind and swaying a lot on the trailer it was fine.

I wouldn't be concerned with towing a 6k boat. Yes it would be a lot nicer behind a diesel, but for the occasional tow the half ton with a 5.3 should be fine.

I've driven hosejockey's 6.0 and 8.1 trucks to tow with and they have a lot more power/torque than the 5.3, they are also 3/4 ton trucks so its almost like comapring the 5.3 to a diesel again. The 6.0 and 8.1 both have plenty of power.

Really the 1/2 ton chassis is the bigger limiting factor to the 5.3 than power is in my opinion.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 07:51 AM   #4
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^ and 1/2 ton brakes. Towing only, 3/4 ton 6.0 would be my choice. My 5.3 half ton vs my parents 6.0 3/4 ton is no comparison.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 08:19 AM   #5
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^ and 1/2 ton brakes. Towing only, 3/4 ton 6.0 would be my choice. My 5.3 half ton vs my parents 6.0 3/4 ton is no comparison.
i've always had plenty of braking power. But I don't disagree with you that the 3/4 ton brakes are better in every single way when towing.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 08:46 AM   #6
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Not using it for a DD? Buy this: http://www.greatlakes4x4.com/showthr...2001+Silverado
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:43 AM   #7
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I sent him a PM on details...thanks for that info.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:44 AM   #8
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Sounds like I might want to consider the 2500HD route. Im sure the 1500 would be more then adequate as Im currently towing a 4k lb boat with our 12 JKUR and it does fine.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 02:58 PM   #9
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Sounds like I might want to consider the 2500HD route. Im sure the 1500 would be more then adequate as Im currently towing a 4k lb boat with our 12 JKUR and it does fine.
overkill unless you are towing hundreds of miles at a time every weekend. I don't tow like my grandpa, I towed my yj and my boat at 80 mph.

That said that big old handicap van I felt a lot better at about 65. And in my older age I am not in such a rush to get places....either way a half ton will do what you want just fine.
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Old January 11th, 2013, 09:37 PM   #10
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I got both 2000 5.3 gmc but I got a 2002 hd crew cab with a 8.1 and I've pulled my ranger with both and my 30 ft 5th wheel with my 8.1 and love the power of the big cubes and get 8-9 miles to the gallon I won't have a 6.0, go big same gas millage have extra power
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Old January 12th, 2013, 08:22 AM   #11
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I got both 2000 5.3 gmc but I got a 2002 hd crew cab with a 8.1 and I've pulled my ranger with both and my 30 ft 5th wheel with my 8.1 and love the power of the big cubes and get 8-9 miles to the gallon I won't have a 6.0, go big same gas millage have extra power
How is fuel mileage in the 5.3 compared to 8.1l pulling same setup?
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Old January 12th, 2013, 08:47 AM   #12
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How is fuel mileage in the 5.3 compared to 8.1l pulling same setup?
If your worried about mpg you need to sell the toys that you are wanting to drag around. In all reality if your not dd the truck mpg shouldn't be a factor. And if it is a factor it sounds like you are living above your means.
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Old January 12th, 2013, 12:28 PM   #13
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How is fuel mileage in the 5.3 compared to 8.1l pulling same setup?
did you read my posts? the 5.3 will get about 8-12 towing.
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Old January 12th, 2013, 12:51 PM   #14
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if it's not a daily driver and if you don't need the "truck" aspect, keep an eye on bidcorp.com

they have Chevy 2500 series former prison transport vans with the 6.0L up for auction with ~100,000 miles on average and they rarely go over $6,000 for 2007/8 models.

*shrug* most still have the dividers in so if the kids get too unruly...
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Old January 12th, 2013, 05:22 PM   #15
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If your worried about mpg you need to sell the toys that you are wanting to drag around. In all reality if your not dd the truck mpg shouldn't be a factor. And if it is a factor it sounds like you are living above your means.
Lol yup that's it! I'm living above my means to ask a question about fuel econonmy. I take all things into consideration before I make a purchase. I will probably get a 8.1L as this will be a towing/hauling vehicle specificly.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 12:06 AM   #16
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Ok I went and test drove an 02 1500HD with 6.0 and an 02 1500 with the 5.3L. I was not impressed with the get up and go of the 6.0, and I forgot how terrible the turning radius is on the GM HD trucks. I was impressed with the power of the 5.3L, they seem to get up and go much better then similar year F150s with 5.4L. Now I have to drive a 8.1L truck to see if its worth me getting a 2500 series truck.

Sounds like 1500s and 2500s have simiar issues

Front wheel bearing issues on both
transfer case issues on both
junk bodies on both (rust)
Same interior
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Old January 20th, 2013, 09:21 AM   #17
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^ and 1/2 ton brakes. Towing only, 3/4 ton 6.0 would be my choice. My 5.3 half ton vs my parents 6.0 3/4 ton is no comparison.
Depends a lot of the vehicle specifics, brand and year, mostly.

In say a 2006 Chevy 1500, the brakes are 12" diameter, and then later in the ~2008+ they went to 13" rotors. The 3/4 tons were already at 13", and then stepped up larger later on.

But there are a other 1/2 tons that are already using 13.7" rotors on the half tons. Not bashing chevy, but Chevy 1/2 tons seem to be the lightest duty of the half tons (except in the vortec max heavy halfs). Smallest engine, lightest rear axle, smallest brakes, etc. Regardless of which truck, the newer they are, generally the better the brakes. I know we've had a few of these posts in the past. I've always stated that my 09 F150 easily outbrakes either of my dodge 3/4 tons (96 and 00) with a trailer load.

I have known several people with them for towing basic jeep loads, and have all seemed to be happy with them. You just need to let the 5.3 rev a little. I think the 6.0s also need gears/revs. The newer ones are better than the first of them with LQ4s. I have 3 friends using 8.1s and all like them a lot better then the 6.0s. Mileage doesn't seem different between the two. (Thats been my experience in the heavy trucks. Dodge V10s and 5.9s in large 3/4s were about the same, and 5.4 vs 6.8s in the ford super duties also the same)

If its mostly towing, then MPGs will be close on all of them. Unloaded, the 1/2 ton will be a bunch better, and feel lighter and faster usually.

MPGs is also going to depend a lot on your speed. 12mpg @ 65 mph, and you'll see that drop down to 9mpg @ 80 mph.

I would see what you can find in a nice 8.1L 3/4 ton.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 09:55 AM   #18
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Depends a lot of the vehicle specifics, brand and year, mostly.

In say a 2006 Chevy 1500, the brakes are 12" diameter, and then later in the ~2008+ they went to 13" rotors. The 3/4 tons were already at 13", and then stepped up larger later on.

But there are a other 1/2 tons that are already using 13.7" rotors on the half tons. Not bashing chevy, but Chevy 1/2 tons seem to be the lightest duty of the half tons (except in the vortec max heavy halfs). Smallest engine, lightest rear axle, smallest brakes, etc. Regardless of which truck, the newer they are, generally the better the brakes. I know we've had a few of these posts in the past. I've always stated that my 09 F150 easily outbrakes either of my dodge 3/4 tons (96 and 00) with a trailer load.

I have known several people with them for towing basic jeep loads, and have all seemed to be happy with them. You just need to let the 5.3 rev a little. I think the 6.0s also need gears/revs. The newer ones are better than the first of them with LQ4s. I have 3 friends using 8.1s and all like them a lot better then the 6.0s. Mileage doesn't seem different between the two. (Thats been my experience in the heavy trucks. Dodge V10s and 5.9s in large 3/4s were about the same, and 5.4 vs 6.8s in the ford super duties also the same)

If its mostly towing, then MPGs will be close on all of them. Unloaded, the 1/2 ton will be a bunch better, and feel lighter and faster usually.

MPGs is also going to depend a lot on your speed. 12mpg @ 65 mph, and you'll see that drop down to 9mpg @ 80 mph.

I would see what you can find in a nice 8.1L 3/4 ton.
I agree with everything you said.....I want to try and find a decent 8.1L truck. or a 5.3l in a half ton. Also FWIW if you think your 09 F150 brakes good, the 2010 is considerably better as they changed calipers, rotor size, and beefed up rear brakes considerably. If money were no issue I would get a newer half ton, but unfortunatley I cant.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 09:56 AM   #19
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Only thing that concerns me about the 8.1ls if you hear some of them use oil, and also if you have to replace/rebuild an allison it gets expensive.
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Old January 21st, 2013, 09:33 AM   #20
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Only thing that concerns me about the 8.1ls if you hear some of them use oil, and also if you have to replace/rebuild an allison it gets expensive.
I think my brother's 8.1 had damn near 200k on it last I drove that truck (It's a dump truck/work truck, very few grandpa miles).

Who cares if it uses a little oil anyway? Is oil expensive?

The 8.1 can shit and get, I bet that truck is faster with a boat in tow than a 5.3 is empty.
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