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Old 06-29-2014, 09:07 PM   #1
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Tow vehicle overheating

We just purchased a Jayco 32 bhds travel trailer and have been on two trips using our new tow vehicle, a 2004 chevy suburban K2500. The TT has a gross vehicle weight of about 9,000. The suburban has a towing capacity of 12,000. It is performing well in general but has nearly overheated twice at the end of the trips while climbing our road (1/4 mile 9% grade) and our driveway (400 ft 5% grade)

Question: Why is this happening? Can I avoid it by shifting into low gear? Using special oil or transmission fluid? Need help from the towing experts please.
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:27 PM   #2
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There's tons more info needed before anyone gives you a solution. First, what is overheating? The engine coolant, oil, or transmission fluid?

Then, it can be tons of problems. For the engine coolant, it could be a bad t-stat, water pump, bad coolant, bad fan, bad fan clutch, clogged radiator, bad sensor, bad wiring, or even a bad computer worst case scenario.

So, first thing to do is find out WHAT is overheating.
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:27 PM   #3
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First of all welcome aboard. Lots of good information here.
Are you having issues with the engine or transmission? That sub is ten years old, have you had the cooling system flushed and pressure tested recently? Does it have the larger radiator and trans cooler that come with the towing package?
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:41 PM   #4
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Generally dropping a couple of gears manually to keep the engine revs high and thus ascending slower will reduce the amount of heat generated while at the same time pushing more air and coolant through the radiator.

However, you sure it really is overheating. We get used to the needle sitting in the lower half of the gauge and worry if it goes to 3/4 when that may be quite normal in some short-term situations
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:32 AM   #5
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Is the coolant or tranny overheating?
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:55 AM   #6
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Any time you are pulling a steep grade, you should keep the rpm's between 3500 and 4400. At 2000 the water pump is moving half the flow of 4000 rpm. Try this and see if it doesn't cure the problem.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:00 AM   #7
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I'd check the fan clutch first on a Chevy of that vintage.
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:04 AM   #8
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Texastbird, You must know your suburbans. It was a faulty fan clutch that engaged intermittently but not at idle or low speed, thus overheating while pulling my TT slowly up my steep road and driveway. Have another question: would it be better for me to go up the steep hill at 10 miles an hour in second or third gear as opposed to drive? (Getting the car back today and going camping again this weekend)
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:46 AM   #9
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Keeping it in second or third just keeps the trans from going into too high of a gear. It keeps third as max or second as max. Just try it and see what happens.
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Old 07-02-2014, 02:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stiles410 View Post
Texastbird, You must know your suburbans. It was a faulty fan clutch that engaged intermittently but not at idle or low speed, thus overheating while pulling my TT slowly up my steep road and driveway. Have another question: would it be better for me to go up the steep hill at 10 miles an hour in second or third gear as opposed to drive? (Getting the car back today and going camping again this weekend)
At 10 mph, you'll probably want to use 1st gear. In any event, I would select a low gear such as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, depending on how fast you are going, but don't use D. It'll probably select too high of a gear and may lead to overheating again.

That being said, my 2013 F250 does a pretty good job of gear selecting while towing, as long as I'm in tow/haul mode.
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Old 07-02-2014, 11:40 PM   #11
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I've had my share of fan clutch problems on GM products.
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Old 07-05-2014, 08:50 AM   #12
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Make shure your radiator is clean. Check to see if there is anything blocking it up between the raditaor and air conditioner condenser. Make shure all the fins are nice and straight and not plugged up with bugs and other debris.
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:23 AM   #13
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Those short distances shouldn't cause the TV to overheat at all once the cooling system is working properly, regardless of gear.

A couple other things to consider - does this TV have 3.73's or 4.11's? The highway gears will make it more prone to getting hot on longer grades and you may need to downshift then. Also, does the vehicle have oversize tires?

I had a 89 K2500 with a 350 and the 700R4/3.73s and got a great deal on some big Mud Terrain TAs, but the thing would overheat the transmission on the big grades out here in the desert and I wasn't even towing. I went back to the regular tire size but once I started towing my 8000# toyhauler I started having transmission problems to the point where I replaced the truck with a 8.1L/Allison with 4.11s. The mileage sucks but I have NO towing issues whatsoever.

As my transmission guy told me when he put in the third rebuilt tranny "that tow package is for pulling sea-doos, not that thing you have!"
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:44 AM   #14
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Clean the fins on the radiator. You can add some water wetter to the radiator. If increases the boiling point of the water. and works well. Last but not least. Look up stewart components and get one of there awesome water pumps. There water pump will cool it for sure. NO PROBLEM. the pumps are a little pricey but worth every penny. I would get a stage 1 or 2 pump for it. You can look at derale transmission components as its a 2004 means its prob got a 4L80E trans in it. Get there cooling tube pan holds 3 extra quarts and has cooling tubes through the long section of the pan. Those 2 accesories the water pump and pan.....Bring on the long grades.
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