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  1. #1
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    117
    Location
    Indiana (Purdue country)
    Tractor
    John Deere 4710

    Default Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    Hello all. Thanks for your interest.

    I have a 2004 1/2 ton Suburban with the 5.3L engine and 3.73 gears. I have the stock hitch, rated to 5,000 lbs or 7,000 lbs with a weight distributing hitch. I would like to increase my towing ability without having to deal with a weight distributing hitch.

    I know I would need to get a heavy hitch and put it on. But what about tongue weight? Can I put airbags in the back coil springs to help out? Any other options?

    I don't really need to go over the 7,000 lb threshold. I just want to get there safely and have the truck tow a little better.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Josh
    Green 4710, 460 FEL, MX6, and many other things on the wish list.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member jwstewar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    2,290
    Location
    South Central Ohio
    Tractor
    2003 New Holland TC24D

    Default Re: Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    Why are you opposed to a weight distribution hitch? They aren't a big deal to hook up and us. Biggest drawback is a little bit of creaking when traveling slow and they are loaded heavy.
    Jim
    New Holland TC24D

  3. #3
    Elite Member George2615's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    3,177
    Location
    Central Square, NY
    Tractor
    LS XR3037HC

    Default Re: Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    Yes you can replace the hitch with a heavier one. They usually bolt up easily with 6 bolts to the frame. For assistance with tongue weight if you are against a WD hitch you can do one of the following.

    Are you sure the suburban has rear coils? I haven't had a suburban since 88 but it had leaf springs. If you have leafs you can have a spring shop add an extra leaf to each rear spring. (I had that done to the 88 suburban I once owned). If you have coils maybe they are getting a little weak and should be replaced.
    If you do have rear coil springs you can add air bags inside the coils.
    Or you could buy air shocks. This would probably be the easiest to do.

  4. #4
    Silver Member chevy292's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    109
    Location
    Ma.
    Tractor
    Kioti DK35 TLB

    Default Re: Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    I had an 04 ram 1500 with the hemi. powerful truck but the rear sank with just my 3500lb motorcycle trailer. I put a set of airbags in it with an onboard airsystem for under $400. Made a world of difference.
    DK35 TLB. 6' Box Blade, 60" flail mower

    1963ish JD 2010 TLB

  5. #5
    Super Star Member Diamondpilot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    13,837
    Location
    Daleville, IN
    Tractor
    Jinma 254/284 Ford 861 Powermaster at work

    Default Re: Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    Are you sure it has 3.73 gears? Not a big deal but I looked in my book for both a 2004 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive Suburban with a 5.3L engine and it shows 4:10 gears as the only option. Note: this is just a guide I have so it may be incomplete.

    Anyway the 2 wheel drive version is rated at 8,400# towing and the 4 wheel drive rated at 8,200# so you are good there.

    As for the hitch you could upgrade and put in air bags but why? Its a 7 year old truck that may not last much longer and this stuff is truck specific. They are also going to run you $500 or more for both. If you buy a WD hitch for a $200 you will have it for life.


    Chris

  6. #6
    Gold Member Raw Dodge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    283

    Default Re: Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondpilot View Post
    Are you sure it has 3.73 gears? Not a big deal but I looked in my book for both a 2004 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive Suburban with a 5.3L engine and it shows 4:10 gears as the only option. Note: this is just a guide I have so it may be incomplete.

    Anyway the 2 wheel drive version is rated at 8,400# towing and the 4 wheel drive rated at 8,200# so you are good there.

    As for the hitch you could upgrade and put in air bags but why? Its a 7 year old truck that may not last much longer and this stuff is truck specific. They are also going to run you $500 or more for both. If you buy a WD hitch for a $200 you will have it for life.


    Chris
    A WD hitch is 400+ dollars unless you buy online,then its 300+ 100 shipping! Towing local roads,and tight city streets a WD hitch is a major pain,as they add a twisting motion to sharp turns by design.they are best used on highways,and interstates,they are not well suited for roads where steep inclines or depressions are encountered...
    Id do the air bags,and get a good hitch,the stock hitch is garbage anyway and should be discarded the day you get the truck,they are weak,and thin.
    Cat 246 SS,Homemade 35T log splitter,2004 Ventrac 4231G various attachments...2005 Dixie chopper XXWD5000, 2001 Dixie Chopper XW2500-60

  7. #7
    Super Star Member Diamondpilot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    13,837
    Location
    Daleville, IN
    Tractor
    Jinma 254/284 Ford 861 Powermaster at work

    Default Re: Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    I agree the GM hitches are junk but I just ordered a Curt WD hitch 10,000# unit with 1,000# tongue weight with anti sway setup to my door for $210.

    I also agree they are a pain at times but a god sent at others. That being said I personally do not use them but would before buying airbags. Airbags to me are just a band aid for too small of a truck.

    Chris

  8. #8
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    462
    Location
    Colebrook, N.H.
    Tractor
    Kubota L3830HST

    Default Re: Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    Have you ever heard on Timbren overloads? They are very easy to install. You remove the rubber bump-stops and bolt on the Timbrens in their place. You can find them on the internet or sometimes at spring shops. They kind of look like an airbag but are hollow rubber. I have used them on my last three pickups, a half ton, a one ton and a three quarter ton. They make a specific model for each truck. My trailers have heavy tongue weights but I don't use an equalizer hitch. I just make sure to rotate my tires often.
    -Jim

  9. #9
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    117
    Location
    Indiana (Purdue country)
    Tractor
    John Deere 4710

    Default Re: Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    I don't tow everyday and when I do I'm usually hooking up and unhooking a lot. That's why I don't want to mess with a WD hitch. And I know the truck is getting a little older and if I had unlimited money I'd get a new one. But it's hard to justify a bigger truck when I don't need it everyday. And yes I'm sure of the 3.73 gears and coil shocks.

    So it looks like a new hitch and airbags or the timbren things. Will do more research when I get near a real computer.

    Thanks all. I appreciate all the responses.
    Green 4710, 460 FEL, MX6, and many other things on the wish list.

  10. #10
    Elite Member timswi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    4,868
    Location
    Beaver County Pa
    Tractor
    Kubota BX23 & RTV1100

    Default Re: Help me improve towing on a Suburban

    Personally I'd go with the WD hitch. The airbags really are a band-aid. I have pulled travel trailers on some very hairy country roads and never had a problem besides the occasional "creek/pop"..Turn the radio up

    WD with anti-sway is a serious improvement over nothing. Air bags won't help much with handling either.

    As far as the truck being 7 years old...Please. Mine is 6 years old and will pull anything I hook up to it and showing no signs of age at 80K.

    I have a 2004 1500 GMC Z71 xcab with a 5.3 and 3:73's. Pretty similar to your truck overall.
    BX23TLB & RTV1100 with 72" Power Angle Plow

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