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Old 01-09-2014, 05:21 PM   #1
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Default Chevy towing

There have been a few discussion lately over towing with a B, so a thread on RV.net caught my eye.

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...d/27451043.cfm

The poster is contemplating towing right at max combined weight on a Airstream Avenue, cutting out as much stuff in the van as possible and putting them in the trailer to reduce tongue weight. He is talking a 6000+ pound trailer at this point.

I have only heard of one person towing that heavy that I remember, a guy on the Yahoo Roadtrek board, and he is a very experienced driver with lots of mods to the van to keep it cool (all fluids) and be able to stop it. We have all heard of the brake and heat issues of stock Chevies in the mountains and heat.

My guess is that he would be OK as a flatlander, but have some severe, maybe dangerous, issues in the mountains.

Has anybody towed anything that big with a Class B Chevy? Pickups will tow that easily, with the same engine, but they seem to be setup for it with much better cooling and brakes, and the truck weighs something like 4000# less.
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:31 PM   #2
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Default Re: Chevy towing

I know there are tow ratings but do Chevy vans come with all the bells and whistles of their pickup trucks for towing? Towing takes a toll on vehicles regardless. One thing I learned when I had my Airstream trailer and researching all the advice from Airforums.com for a few years is you NEVER tow the maximum rated limit. Most all said never over 75%. Those were people speaking from experience. Also, those people for the most part were using tow vehicles that were not maxed out in weight like a B most likely would be. I suppose if you were towing your boat a few miles down the road to launch it on a lake you could max out but not on extended RV trips. That's what I took away. So I traded in my Chevy Blazer with a 5,000 lb. tow rating for a Nissan Titan pickup truck with an 8,000 lb. tow rating to tow a 4,000 lb. trailer. It made a huge difference.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: Chevy towing

"What is my max trailer weight?" topics / questions come up often. The problem is every van's max trailer weight is different based on lots of variables. I haven't towed with my van but did a lot of reading on the topic when I was thinking of getting a trailer.

My van weighed 8820 lbs last June. Subtract that from the GCWR (13000) equals 4180 so right away I know I can't exceed that. Our B vans are loaded so an easier and quicker calculation of GCWR (13000) minus GVWR (9500) equals 3500 lbs which might be the best answer for very general advice when "What is my max trailer weight?" questions come up on B forums. The 3500 lb quick answer for my van is actually close to what two online calculators came up with.

The max trailer weight for my particular van if it was just an empty cargo van is 6000 lbs. It is not an empty cargo van though. If I had the 4.10 axle the max trailer weight would jump to 7500 lbs. I have the 3.73 axle ratio. You need the specific info from the actual van that will be doing the towing to figure out the max trailer weight for the van.

Looking at my 1997 GM brochure shows that 3500 unloaded cargo vans max trailer weight varied from 6,000 lbs (6.5L diesel) all the way up to 10,000 lbs (Vortec 7.4L V. GCWR's varied from 11,000 lbs (5.7L Vortec w/ 3.42 axle ratio) to 17,000 lbs (7.4L Vortec w/ 4.10 axle ratio). I would think it varies like that with newer Chevy's too.

It would be interesting to hear from B van owners who tow with their vans. What did the calculations indicate was safe and what weight did they end up towing? Was it comfortable? What was the performance like on hills? etc. etc. etc.

Interesting note:
The brochure for my van lists max trailer weight as 6000lbs (unloaded cargo van)
My owner manual lists max trailer weight as 6500 lbs (unloaded cargo van)

How do you find your van's Gross Combination Weight Rating GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating)? I happen to have the original 1997 GMC Savana brochure which lists it for my van. Is it printed on newer van stickers? It is not printed on my van's sticker and I don't see it in my owner manual.
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Old 01-09-2014, 10:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Chevy towing

"How do you find your van's Gross Combination Weight Rating GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating)?"

Good question. I knew ours because it was listed in the Roadtrek specifications, and they still have that information on their website. It was also on the Chevy van brochure that I looked at back then. I just looked in our factory service manual, and didn't see anything there. Maybe in the owners manual, but ours is buried amongst the van update so I can't look. Perhaps a trailer hitch manufacturer site would have the information.
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Chevy towing

I just looked at the Chevy site, and it appears that the specmanship wars that the pickups have had for a long time have made it to the vans. The new 3500 extended van is showing 10,000# towing and 16,000# GCVW. IIRC our 2007 was at 8100# and 14,000#. I wonder if they have improved the cooling to go with that change. Some of the pickups were rated upward of 20,000# GCVW.
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: Chevy towing

When I bought my vintage Airstream trailer, even though I knew in advance my Chevy Blazer was suppose to be capable of towing it, I knew right away I wanted more when I towed it home. It was like, if this is what towing feels like, I don't want any part of it. So I upgraded my tow vehicle. They ought to have towing school to let you try out different loads with your B. Despite any numbers you can go by, experience and feel might be the best guide. I don't know if I trust the specs as I don't know if each manufacturer is trying to out brag each other or if they are trying to be realistic for liability reasons.

Since I could never back up towing I finally just gave up on the whole idea. I think I have towing dyslexia. I'll probably never tow again.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: Chevy towing

Greetings, while the trailer we chose is not near that "Max" spoken of of 6K in the OP i will share our experience for the sake of our fellow "B" towers

The attachment-photo is a shot of our rig on it's maiden voyage last spring. The total length bumper to bumper is ~34ft. We regularly take this combo on groomed forestry trails/roads to remote camps and are off grid for ~5 to 6 days at a time between re-stocking.

We've since done some mods to the van such as a 3" lift kit and some more interior fit/finish.
Our tow rig is a 2010 Chevy 1500 AWD van that has a GVWR of 7300lbs. Currently the scale weight is 6800lbs fully loaded with ~1 week supplies (we keep it stocked as we take frequent spontaneous trips). The GCWR is 1200lbs. So that theoretically leaves ~5k max towing. We found something well below that limit that we luv.

The trailer is a 2013 15ft Parkliner fiberglass TT that weights 2300lbs fully loaded at scales. The van doesn't even feel like it has anything behind it on the road. With the van's stock 5.3L, modified suspension, and the trailer's LT-radial tires the van can easily accelerate to 70mph if the need arises to pass going up a grade.

Now our "Living" situation in this set up is a bit unusual in that the tow rig is set up as a "Master Suite" and we use it to sleep in. Once we are up and about we have comfortable living in a "Great Room" setup in the Parkliner. This arrangement isn't to everyone's liking but the two-room arrangement gives lots of variation on a theme and also room for visiting adult-kids if we are able to meet somewhere for a yearly gathering.

Anywhooo.... Best wishes on whatever you decide, and safe travels.
Thom
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