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View Full Version : Chevy 1500HD for 23' boat towing


Jeff d
06-25-2010, 08:58 PM
Well, I put the proverbial cart before the horse and bought a 5,500+ lb boat and trailer ('00 230 VRS) and our vehicles are a Honda Odyssey (Max 3,500 lb trailer) and a '94 Ford Ranger 4.0L (Max 2,700 lb trailer with current gearing. 5,000 w/ a regear).

I was initially going for 19-21' boats which would still be a big load for the Ranger but I anticipated at least being able to carefully make the trip to the local launch (4mi @ 25-45 MPH) for a season until I could get a larger truck. I found a deal on a 23' that was too good to pass up and jumped on it. Had to borrow my dad's '06 4.8L Silverado 1500 to get it back to the house.

Anyway, my dad's truck did fine and felt perfectly safe but it was a little gutless with that much weight behind it. Not sure what the gearing is.

I drive only about 8-10,000 miles per year so fuel efficiency isn't quite as important as it might be for those with longer commutes but I'd still prefer to spend as little as possible while still meeting the requirements. Also, we have 3 young kids so a quad cab is a must to avoid having to take 2 vehicles to the launch and make it a practical 2nd family vehicle. I anticipate using the boat 2-4 times per month between about April and Octoberish with a round trip each time of 8 miles.

I'd say we might take the boat out of town 1-3 times per year so highway performance is important but I figure I shouldn't spend a whole bunch of extra money on a 3/4 ton which will also use more gas and only benefit us a couple of times per year.

The budget is about $10,000 so that I can pay cash. Mileage can be somewhat high because I do all of my own repairs and maintenance and a 100,000 mile truck still has about 10 years of life left in it for my application. 4wd is a bonus but not a requirement.

So, I've been checking out '01-03ish 1500HDs but I'm wondering if the 6.0L is overkill for daily driving. If I went with a smaller V8 I'd probably need lower gearing though.

Can anyone comment on the 1500HD as a daily driver and when pulling a 5,500 lb load?

Does anyone have any better suggestions? I'm not brand loyal. I'd like a Tundra and Titan too but they tend to be more $$$ for a comparable vehicle.

The other thing is that I refuse to pay retail for just about everything I buy. So, to some extent the decision on what to buy will be made by what vehicle I can find a killer deal on.

uncleboo
06-26-2010, 12:21 AM
You should be able to find an 04 or 05 Titan crew cab for around 10K. Not necessary to regear the Titan, but I would look for one with the big tow package. It has the standard 5.6 liter engine across all trim levels. The crew cab would have enough room for the family and pull your boat with no problems. You could expect 14-18 mpg with daily driving (maybe slightly better if you drive on the Interstate for your daily commute).

Jeff d
06-26-2010, 12:45 AM
I was assuming Titans were were more than that but a quick craigslist search found several quad cabs below 10k. I was pretty stoked until I took a look at Consumer Reports and was very surprised at the "Much worse than average" reliability ratings for all years.

Jeff d
06-26-2010, 12:59 AM
Well, Edmunds shows the '05 Titan reliability as pretty outstanding. I'd probably try to steer clear of an '04 being a 1st year model. I like the shorter bed and the look of the Titan vs. the 1500HD. The shorter length is important because with the boat in the carport and no swing away tongue trailer a long truck will hang out into the street.

ShamrockIV
06-26-2010, 04:18 AM
Never go wrong with a chevy or gmc pickup. either can pull that boat. i pull my x30 with a 03 yukon xl. never had any problem and the roads and ramps at our lake are STEEP!!

good luck!!

michael freeman
06-26-2010, 07:16 AM
I pull my X30 with my GMC '00 5.3l Sierra stepside with no problems. It has the towing package which adds trans coolers, etc., but at least in Texas, that is not really an issue with this size of boat. Drivability is about 15 mpg all city driving w/ over 150,000 miles on the truck.

blackcreek
06-26-2010, 07:24 AM
I have had both ford and chevy. I pull with a 2001 F-150 Supercrew 4x4, 3.73 gears. The truck will just about idle up the ramp in low range. Tow/haul mode locks out overdrive so the tranny won't shift constantly. Plenty of room for four full sized men on the road when I pull my offshore boat. The bed is a bit small for a pickup but I rarely haul in the bed. 90% of the time I am hauling a boat (I own 3). I will never go back to two wheel drive and have to worry about ramp condition.

Thrall
06-26-2010, 12:17 PM
If you're just towing it to the launch 4 mi away, throw some airbags or extra leafs under the back of the ranger and have at it.
Otherwise, yes a 1500HD would tow it great, but I'd opt for a 1500 5.3. 6.0 is a gas guzzler and IMO not the bulletproof engine the small blocks are.
If you want the snort of a 6.0 find a 5.7 Hemi Dodge instead.

Jeff d
06-26-2010, 10:46 PM
If you're just towing it to the launch 4 mi away, throw some airbags or extra leafs under the back of the ranger and have at it...

Well, this is what I've been thinking about a lot and I think it would probably be ok. The 2 main reasons not to are 1) I'm concerned that in the unlikely event that I was involved in a wreck I could be found negligent due to exceeding the weight rating for the truck and 2) I really could use the extra space because right now only one of our vehicles can fit the whole family.

Minimally I'd need a frame mounted hitch for the Ranger $120-150 but the problem with that is the largest hitch available for the Ranger is a Class 3 which is only rated for 5,000 lbs itself. So, I'd be exceeding the rating for the vehicle and the hitch itself.

Currently the Ranger has some value ($1,500-3,500) but if I kill the transmission on this 16 year old, 111,000 mile truck pulling this boat back and forth to the launch I then have a truck that's only worth $500 or so.

I'd opt for a 1500 5.3. 6.0 is a gas guzzler and IMO not the bulletproof engine the small blocks are.

Well, I don't need a gas guzzler. Are all of the crew cab Chevy/GMCs 5.3L? I seem to remember that's why my dad went with the extended cab. He wanted the crew but he drives a lot of miles and wanted the 4.8L for the MPG and he said something about all of the crew cabs had "bigger" V8s. This could be just that the dealer he was working with only had big V8 crew cabs though.

willgeorge
06-27-2010, 12:26 AM
i have a 2005 gmc 3/4 ton CC with the 6.0L. the motor is good for pulling, not so easy on the gas.. I can get anywhere from 11 to 13.5 on the highway while towing. sometimes even 14 or 15. sometimes it really depends on condtions like steepness of terrain and which way the wind is going. and basically the same mileage when not towing.. 8 to 9 around town.. I have no problems with the 6.0 and its a good motor w/ decent power. get a duramax if you want to be a baller. IMO

honestly the 1500HD is not a far cry from the 2500HD at all... they didnt make the 1500HD for very long...

without turning this into a gm vs. ford vs. dodge vs toyota brawl...

I would suggest (as everyone would) that its much much easier towing with something that has the size and capacity for it. although you could add bags to the ranger, in an emergency stopping situation that boat is going to outdrive your ranger and push you all over.

whatever you choose i'd say get a 1/2 ton at the least... thats a big boat to pull. you'll enjoy towing alot better when you've got the power and size to do it properly.

bkhallpass
06-27-2010, 01:18 AM
My boat/trailer has a dry weight of about 4700 lbs. Towed it from California to Wisconsin and back with 1/2 ton Yukon XL, 5.3 motor. Handled it with ease. I averaged very close to 70 mph, and was crossing the Sierras, the Rockies, and the Black Hills. Got about 13 mpg on that trip, but obviously, I was pushing it pretty hard. I do slightly better under normal towing conditions. 16-18 mpg normal driving.

I have a 3/4 4WD, Chevy Quad cab with the 6.0, and my numbers are similar to those posted above.

I have also towed a boat/trailer with dryweight of 5400 lbs from San Francisco to Tahoe with
a Chevy 1/2 ton 2WD, extended cab with the 4.8. I thought it did just fine considering we were driving up the mountain into high elevation. My driving partner felt it to be a bit underpowered.

I would think any of the GM V8s on a full sized pickup or suburban would meet your limited towing needs.

BKH

michael freeman
06-27-2010, 03:16 PM
without turning this into a gm vs. ford vs. dodge vs Toyota brawl...

I would suggest (as everyone would) that its much much easier towing with something that has the size and capacity for it. although you could add bags to the ranger, in an emergency stopping situation that boat is going to outdrive your ranger and push you all over.

whatever you choose I'd say get a 1/2 ton at the least... that's a big boat to pull. you'll enjoy towing alot better when you've got the power and size to do it properly.

I agree, I would step up to a 1/2 ton and not worry about your next panic stop. I only have to pull my boat about 2-3 miles to the lake and I had some insane lady just walk out in the street in front of me. I braked as hard as I could without locking everything up and still just barely saved her life. She just looked at me like she owned the road and kept walking. ??? Anyway, anything less then my 1/2 ton and working surge brakes and she would be dead. You will also find the extra wheelbase will make long distance tows much less work. I haven't towed with a ranger, but I towed a dune buggy with a jeep before and the trailer owned that jeep on the highway. Power wasn't an issue but the short wheel base had the trailer pushing the jeep all over the place. Never did that again.

TEAL98
06-27-2010, 07:35 PM
I pull with a 2002 Yukon SLT, 4WD with the 5.3L. Not sure about the towing package, I would assume it's on there because it has the factory receiver with the factory plug and tow/haul mode button on the shift lever:confused:

That truck gets 18mpg if you feather it on the highway, averages about 16 normal driving. Not sure what it is under towing, as my tow distance is only about 20-25 minutes from my house. I can tell you that the truck takes it like a champ, and that I really don't need to use the tow/haul mode at all. But I will put it to use every now and then, if the truck is full of people and gear.

My buddy had the first year 1500HD Chevrolet crew cab, 4WD with 33s on it. We towed a 1990 2500 Suburban (454/TH400/14-bolt corp rear) across the Blue Ridge Mountains. He had the tow package. I'm pretty sure that all 1500HDs have the 6.0 but I could be wrong, as his definately had it and turning 3.73s in the back. The truck didn't struggle much going up the steep grades near Elkton, VA and Skyline Drive. For those of you that know where that is on Route 33, you know what I'm talking about. That truck took it like a champ, with the exception of the trans getting a bit hot, but not near the red part of the gauge. That's about all I can tell ya as far as my experience with those models go...

I think the late 90s 190 boats weigh in somewhere aroundn 3k lbs and this 5.3L Yukon has no problem whatsoever getting the job done... at all

stuartmcnair
06-28-2010, 12:27 PM
if you don't need a truck you might want to look at a 2000 Eddie Bauer Expedition (I mention the trim level because of the air ride suspension) with the 5.4 liter. My wife drives one and it is strong. Not like my 6.0L Diesel but it has no problems towing my tractor which weighs a good bit more than your boat. You could probably get one for around $7,000 is good shape.

Ours has over 150,000 on it. Neighbors has over 300,000 and still going strong.

Jeff d
06-28-2010, 12:32 PM
Well, I found a Mastercraft brochure for the '00 Maristar line and it lists 3,300 lbs. as the "design weight". Not sure what design weight means relative to dry weight. Anyway, I was previously calculating using a dry weight of 3,800 lbs which is what I found at a few other 3rd party resources in the past. The same brochure confirmed that the weight of the tandem axle trailer is 1,180 lbs.

So, we might be talking about more like 5,000 lbs or so with a full tank of gas, battery and gear. Not that 500 lbs makes that big of a difference.

Forrest-X45
06-28-2010, 05:38 PM
honestly the 1500HD is not a far cry from the 2500HD at all... they didnt make the 1500HD for very long...



Actually there is a huge difference between the the 1500HD and 2500HD. Totally different trucks when comparing chassis, drivetrain, and brakes, etc......
You are probably thinking about the standard 2500 or also know as the 2500LD. The 1500HD and the 2500 trucks were very similar and GM stopped building the 2500 after they built the 1500HD for few years.

Back to the OP question - I would just look for a nice used 1500 with the 5.3L. I believe the 1/2 ton crew cabs only come with the 5.3 or 6.0. Don't bother with the 4.8L, it doesn't get that much better fuel economy over the 5.3 and doesn't tow nearly as well as the 5.3. If you want big towing power and don't care about fuel mileage look for a crew cab VortecMax, they have the 6.0L's. The crew cab 5.3L will tow your boat just fine as well and save you some money at the pump.

auburn buck
06-29-2010, 10:09 AM
For what it's worth, my 5.3 L Tahoe has easily taken our Maristar 230 up and down I-80 to Tahoe for the last five years.

Jeff d
06-30-2010, 06:34 PM
Sold the Ranger for NADA retail 12 hrs and 15 mins after posting it.

Found what looks like a pretty good deal on an '04 Dodge 1500 w/ the 5.7L Hemi. It's got only 47k on the clock and is priced at nada trade in.

Gonna go see it in about an hr and we'll see how it looks.

ridefst
06-30-2010, 09:57 PM
In my experience, the Hemi isn't nearly as nice on the highway as the chevy 6.0.
The reason for this is that the Hemi puts out lots of power when it's revved up, but not so much down low. Therefore, it's always shifting down a gear for any little hill.
I've have my '03 Dodge 1500 for two years now, and I actually prefered the vortec 350 in my old chevy. I've got a few friends with 6.0's and they seem very similar to the old vortec, lots of torque down low so they just motor up the hills without complaining.
I might be a little happier with the Dodge if I hadn't had to rebuild the rear end at 76k (yup, 1,000 out of warantee) and put three steering racks on in two months (no idea why, but at least I only paid for one)

Of course, for a 4 mile haul; any of them will get the job done just fine.

Jeff d
06-30-2010, 10:01 PM
It was nice and the price was good. Nothing spectacular to convince me I needed it at that moment but it's at the top of my list. It had flowmaster exhaust which I don't like. I'd have to negotiate an exhaust trade with some kid that's into that.

cmw
07-01-2010, 09:43 AM
For what it's worth, my 5.3 L Tahoe has easily taken our Maristar 230 up and down I-80 to Tahoe for the last five years.

Second this. I still pull with my "95" and an "07".

MIMC
07-01-2010, 01:50 PM
Not that I'm an expert and not wanting to start the whole GM vs. the world arguement....but to answer your question I personally would stay away from the 1500HD. I believe it's overkill for what you will be towing and how often you will be towing - not to mention it will be a daily driver. The 6.0 liter is a great engine, but it's the gearing of the 4L80E trans that kills you on MPG. Since you mentioned the early 2000's, I would suggest a 1/2 ton 4WD with a 5.3 liter engine, 4 spd auto trans, 3.73 rear axle and the Z82 trailering package, this will give what you need for towing and still be a nice riding truck and decent MPG. Shoot me an IM and I can help with some VIN research (repair history, etc) if you provide me a VIN - only GM VIN's. Good luck!

Jeff d
07-01-2010, 01:52 PM
I'm gonna check out an '01 Tahoe 2wd with the 5.3L tomorrow. It belongs to a friend's parents who are the original owners and very meticulous so I have high hopes.

Thrall
07-01-2010, 02:33 PM
I'm gonna check out an '01 Tahoe 2wd with the 5.3L tomorrow. It belongs to a friend's parents who are the original owners and very meticulous so I have high hopes.

That'd be a good one to get. I always look for "grandpa cars" when I'm shopping used.

Jeff d
07-01-2010, 02:36 PM
There's also an Excursion with the 6.8L that I might look at. Serious gas hog but I don't drive a ton and it would be nice to have the space available if a need arose.

Jeff d
07-01-2010, 03:38 PM
There's also an Excursion with the 6.8L that I might look at. Serious gas hog but I don't drive a ton and it would be nice to have the space available if a need arose.

I think I'm done considering this vehicle. We don't drive much but it would add almost $2,000 per year to our fuel bill. I doubt it's cheap to work on either.

We'll see how that Tahoe looks.

JohnE
07-01-2010, 04:41 PM
My X14 wieghs 3300 or so. I've had no issues towing it with my '05 Avalanche with the 5.3. And I've towed it to or from Charlotte at a 900 mile trip each way through the mountains of VA and NC. Plus a bunch of 150 mile trips.

Sodar
07-01-2010, 04:55 PM
5.3L is a good motor. My dad has towed a ton with his 5.3L/3.73 rear end. Only problem is that the tranny has gone out 2 times in 130k miles.

Ethomass
07-01-2010, 09:59 PM
i have a 2000 silverado with the 5.3. Its extended cab z-71 with towing package. when loading up to go camping with supplies and the boat 2001 ps205v, the truck feels a little sluggish but still pulls well. The only real issues i have are that the transmission went up around 90k and replaced with brand NEW one (pricey) and it is starting to act up on me I am not at 154k. The second issue is the fuel pump they are notorious for going bad, getting ready to replace mine now, seems like many others on fullsizechevy.com have had the same issues. otherwise great truck!!

Jeff d
07-02-2010, 05:11 PM
The Tahoe was nice but it was so plain and unappealing. I'm not pulling the trigger on it yet but it's a good deal.

I'm really burned out on looking at vehicles now. The thought of getting something as unoriginal as a plain white 2wd Tahoe just isn't doing it for me. If it was just about any color or 4x4 or less than 100k on the clock I would have jumped on it. I really don't like champagne or tan vehicles at all but right behind those two are white and silver. I want something that I'm at least the smallest bit excited about so we don't have to go through this exercise again in another year.

6gun
07-03-2010, 07:55 AM
I tow a 240SC Maristar at about 5500 lbs with a very well taken care of GMC 1997 Yukon GT 4x4 I bought for $5200...needed nothing. It's perfect. I also pull it with a Lexus LX470...amazing power and comfort at an amazing price.... The Yuk does fine, thank you very much.... and gets better mileage to boot. I have yet to have to put it in low range to get up the ramp.

Jeff d
07-06-2010, 11:31 AM
Well, I was about to pull the trigger on a nice red Dodge 1500 with manual transmission and 4.7L. Decided to do a little bit more homework and discovered that, depending on the rear end, the manual Dodge 1500 can only tow 4,000-5,500 max. I was a little shocked and had to pass on the truck.

Dodge has a pretty good online resource to determine the exact tow rating for a particular vehicle (even older models):
http://www.dodge.com/towing/D/home.html

I haven't been able to find the same type of resource for GM or Ford. They both have the specs for the current models but not years past. I was using Edmund's before to determine capacity before but they seem to not be very precise with their tow ratings. For the '05 Dodge 4.7L all they show is 8,350 lbs which is the rating for the automatic.

I need to be more careful about my selection now because I read in some other forums that, depending on the rear end, some Silverado 1500s w/ the 4.8L are only rated at 4,700 lbs.

Thus far I've had the attitude that any 1/2 ton will do the job. More than likely that's true but I want to have some capacity in reserve and not be at 95%+ of the rating whenever I tow. If I already owned the manual transmission dodge I would have used it to tow the boat without much hesitation but I'm not going to purchase it for this purpose when I can likely find something more suitable.

Thrall
07-08-2010, 03:32 PM
4.7's are turds, reliable, but not too powerful. While 2 of the 3 vehicles I have are manual trans, if you do alot of city/stop and go driving, a manual is a pain to deal with. Just a tow vehicle, go with a row yer own all day long, IMO.
I haven't had the best luck with my last 2 F150s, an 05 and an 08. They are company trucks, but don't get used much harder than a normal DD and have had mulitple major repairs between the 2 trucks, all under 60k mi. Something I didn't see with the prev style F Series.
I'd still vote pretty much equal between a 5.3 GM or a 5.7 Dodge.

Jeff d
07-08-2010, 03:35 PM
Maybe I need to revisit the '04 Dodge 5.7L Hemi w/ 47k miles for $11,000. I didn't want to deal with having to get a bed liner, hitch and finding a factory exhaust to replace the Flowmaster but I haven't really found anything better at this point.

Thrall
07-09-2010, 09:49 AM
Maybe I need to revisit the '04 Dodge 5.7L Hemi w/ 47k miles for $11,000. I didn't want to deal with having to get a bed liner, hitch and finding a factory exhaust to replace the Flowmaster but I haven't really found anything better at this point.

Too bad you're so far away, I have a brand new dodge hitch sitting in my backyard, came with a bumper I bought for my 07.
Bedliners can be had for free or almost free, go see a LineX type place, they usually have plastic bedliners laying around from customers that get a spray in liner. Muffler, easy, less than $100 to get a new, quieter one.
I'll say this for the Hemi/auto combo. One of our work trucks, completely abused by the first driver, is going on 120k mi now. Axles, front end, brakes etc were abused to no end and have all been replaced, but the engine/trans have never been cracked open to my knowledge.......and it has more balls than my 5.4 Ford work truck, hands down. Mileage isn't great, but hard to compare. All our mileage stinks up here, mountains, heavy loads, heavy right feets!

Jeff d
07-12-2010, 07:33 PM
Well, I got the '04 Hemi Dodge for $10k w/ 47,000 miles. The 2 week wait paid off because he came $1,000 off of his "firm" price during that time.

Working on a hitch for it at the moment. Went to one junkyard on saturday and they had no 3rd generation Dodges at all. I need to go to another one but they're only open 9-5 M-F which is when I'm working. That yard caters more to pro's so they tend to have later model stuff that's not totally picked over like the big "U Pull It" yards.

Not sure how to proceed with trailer lights either. It has a factory 4-flat connector so I might just buy a 5-flat connector, hack the 4 pin off, connect everything back to the 5 pin and then tap the reverse light wire for the 5th pin.

The fancier way to do it would be to get the OEM Dodge 7 pin round harness, put it in the factory location next to the license plate and then get a 7 pin to 5 pin adapter. If I happen to find a truck at the junkyard with that on it I'll grab it but otherwise it sounds like too much $$.

ridefst
07-14-2010, 09:06 PM
The OEM dodge 7 pin connector really isn't expensive.
One pin broke off on mine, so I checked at the dealer first (expecting the worst).
The entire assembly cost something like $15 or so.

Jeff d
07-14-2010, 10:51 PM
The OEM dodge 7 pin connector really isn't expensive.
One pin broke off on mine, so I checked at the dealer first (expecting the worst).
The entire assembly cost something like $15 or so.

Are you sure that included everything for a vehicle that didn't already have 7 pin wiring from the factory?

If I look under the back of my truck I don't see anything near the hitch area that a 7 pin connector could even plug into? The only thing there is the regular trailer wiring connector. It's not like there's a connector hanging there that I could plug straight into unless it's very well hidden.

I looked at about 6 3rd generation dodges at the junkyard and all any of them had was the same thing as mine back there. I would have pulled a 7 pin harness if I could have found one.

I found a trailer hitch at the junkyard and put it on my truck. If I had to do it again I'd just buy the hitch for $100. I saved $60 or so in the end but it was a lot of trouble to fish the backing plates out of the crossmember and then transfer those to my truck and took me about 3 times the amount of time it would have taken to just install a new one.