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Old 10-14-2012, 12:02 AM   #1
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Towing capacity on 2003 Chevy Avalanche

I have a 2003 Chevy avalanche 1500. It has a towing capacity of 7200 lbs. I am hauling a 26 ft. Palomino Puma TT. The dry weight of it is about 6200 lbs. I have the sway bar, trailer brakes and stabilizer bars. Is this safe? I don't travel with freshwater in the tank. So far I haven't had any problems.
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Old 10-14-2012, 01:07 AM   #2
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Trailer tow capacity is kicked around on a daily basis. Your 7200 lbs, makes no allowance for any cargo you put in the tow vehicle, including passengers. Read your owners manual carefully, for how GM calculates the tow weight rating. Then check your door tag on the vehicle, take the posted GCVW, and subtract the GVW of the truck the difference is closer to the true tow capacity.
Have you taken your unit accoss scales to get your actual weights?
Even dry weights don't make allowances for all the options on the trailer.
I think you'll find that your over weight, and possibly , overloading your tires.
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Old 10-14-2012, 05:44 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip426
Trailer tow capacity is kicked around on a daily basis. Your 7200 lbs, makes no allowance for any cargo you put in the tow vehicle, including passengers. Read your owners manual carefully, for how GM calculates the tow weight rating. Then check your door tag on the vehicle, take the posted GCVW, and subtract the GVW of the truck the difference is closer to the true tow capacity.
Have you taken your unit accoss scales to get your actual weights?
Even dry weights don't make allowances for all the options on the trailer.
I think you'll find that your over weight, and possibly , overloading your tires.
Does the inclusion of trailer brakes increase the towing capacity? I was looking online and it said that a 03 avalanche has a towing capacity of 8200 with trailer brakes. I used the equation that you mentioned. The gvw of my truck is 6800. The owners manual says that Includes cargo and all passengers. So if I subtract gcw from gvw I get about 6200. When I load the trailer I would go over, but I'm not near the weight allowance for passengers. Is there anything I can do to increase my towing capacity?
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:27 AM   #4
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Why not take the combo out and get it all weighed--that will take the guessing out of any decisions you have to make. Weigh everything as it sits when ready to camp, including all passengers/stuff in the truck and trailer.
You are going to be close or over weight ratings, I believe.
The towing capacity of the vehicle is set by the manufacturer and you cannot increase it. You CAN make additions to the setup to make it handle the load better, but still will not increase the capacity.
GM should not be recommending a tow rating of 7200 without trailer brakes--there is something being lost in the interpretation of what you read. In fact, it is probably illegal in almost every state to tow such a trailer without having working brakes.
Hope this helps a little, and welcome to the forum.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockytop77 View Post
I have a 2003 Chevy avalanche 1500. It has a towing capacity of 7200 lbs. I am hauling a 26 ft. Palomino Puma TT. The dry weight of it is about 6200 lbs. I have the sway bar, trailer brakes and stabilizer bars. Is this safe? I don't travel with freshwater in the tank. So far I haven't had any problems.
If you're overloaded, you are not "safe". And you're probably overloaded.

There are numerous weight ratings for your truck, including the max weight allowed on your tires, wheels, axles, receiver hitch, gross weight of the truck (GVWR), and gross weight of the combined truck and trailer (GCWR). But when matching tow vehicle to trailer, you need to be concerned with only two of them, GVWR and GCWR. GVWR limits the hitch weight you can haul, and GCWR limits the gross weight of any trailer you can pull. Chevrolet says you should never exceed either the GVWR or GCWR of your Avalanche. And if you never exceed either the GVWR or GCWR of your tow vehicle, then you won't exceed any of the other weight ratings either.

Your tow rating of 7200 pounds begins with the GCWR of the Avalanche and subtracts the weight of the unloaded pickup. So you can tow a trailer that weighs 7,200 pounds only if your tow vehicle has absolutely nothing in it except a skinny driver. No options, no passengers, no tools or extra fluids or spare parts or jacks, nothing. Your actual tow rating is the GCWR of your tow vehicle minus the actual weight of your wet and loaded Avalanche as shown by a CAT scale. So with the normal family and stuff in the truck, your actual tow rating will be a lot less than 7,200 pounds.

However, even the actual tow rating is not enough info to match trailer to tow vehicle. The actual tow rating tells only the weight of any trailer you can pull without exceeding the GCWR. The tow rating ignores the weight of how much hitch weight you can haul without exceeding he GVWR of the tow vehicle. And the max hitch weight is usually the limiter on half-ton pickups and SUVs and mixed up conglomerations such as your Avalanche. Your max hitch weight is the GVWR of the tow vehicle minus the weight of the wet and loaded tow vehicle without the trailer.

My half-ton pickup has a factory tow rating of 8,400 pounds. But my TT that weighs less than 5,000 pounds when wet and loaded on the road overloads the tow vehicle over the GVWR. So that's why I'm pretty sure that your rig is ovedrloaded when wet and loaded on the road.

We can discuss ratings and numbers day after day, but the only numbers that count are the actual weights of your wet and loaded rig on a CAT scale. Then compare those weights to the GVWR and GCWR of your Avalanche. So load up with eveything that will be in the rig when on he road. Stop at a truckstop that has a CAT scale, fill up with gas, then weigh the wet and loaded rig. The CAT scale will give you the weights on your front and rear and trailer axles,along with the gross combined weight if the rig. Add the weights on the front and rear axles and compare to the GVWR of your Avalanche. Compare the combined weight of your rig to the GCWR of your Avalanche.

Lots of folks tow overloaded, and get by with it. But if you're ever involved in accident while overloaded, you can bet the lawer for the other party will be certain you will never again have enough spending money to afford even a tent, much less a nice camper, or the funds necessary to go camping.

Quote:
Does the inclusion of trailer brakes increase the towing capacity?
No, not in the way you mean. The GCWR (from which towing capacity is derived) assumes you have trailer brakes on any trailer that weighs more than about 2,000 pounds, and the trailer brakes are strong enough to stop the trailer without any help from the truck brakes.

Quote:
Is there anything I can do to increase my towing capacity?
Maybe. Look in your Owner's Guide to see the GCWR available on your Avalanche. The GCWR is based on engine power as well as axle ratio. You may be able to replace your ring gear and pinion (i.e.,axle ratio) with one that has a higher number (i.e., 3.73 replaced by 4.10) to increase your GCWR. Increasing the GCWR automagically increases your towing capacity.

But don't forget about the other half of the formula. It won't do any good to increase GCWR if you are limited by hitch weight. And there is no practical way to increase GVWR to give you more payload capacity for hitch weight without trading the tow vehicle for one with more payload capacity.

Here is one set of specs I found for the 5.3L engine at the Avalanche fan club:
Chevrolet Avalanche Resources - 2003 1500 Series 4X2 Technical Specifications:

Towing Capacity with 3.73 Axle: 7,300 pounds
Towing Capacity with 4.10 Axle: 8,300 pounds
Standard Payload: 1,363 pounds
Gross Vehicle Weight (GWV): 6,800 pounds
Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR): 13,000 pounds

Notice those specs are incomplete because they show only one GCWR. They show two different tow ratings, so there are obviously two different GCWRs too. Your Owner's Guide should include the available GCWR specs for your truck. And those specs above are for 4x2s. 4x4 specs are:

Payload and Towing
Towing Capacity with 3.73 Axle: 7,100 pounds
Towing Capacity with 4.10 Axle: 8,100 pounds
Standard Payload: 1,322 pounds
Gross Vehicle Weight (GWV): 7,000 pounds
Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR): 13,000 pounds

Neither the 4x2 nor 4x4 have the 7,200 tow rating you mentioned, so it's not clear which you have. But you also said your truck weighs 6,800 so I assume it's a 4x2?
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:27 AM   #6
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How can I tell what my axle ratio is? I know that the 3.73 comes standard but I'm not sure if it 3.73 or 4.10. I bought it used. Also, if its 3.73, does anyone know the cost of changing the axle ratio?
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:36 AM   #7
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Two ways to find axle ratio.

1) the door sticker on the drivers side usually states it. If not
2) contact a Chevy dealer. They can look up the vin number to confirm it.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:42 AM   #8
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Another way to find the axle ratio is to make a chalk mark on both one of the rear wheels and the driveshaft to the rear axle. Now move the vehicle in a straight line until the rear wheel has made exactly one revolution. If the driveshaft rotates 3.73 or 4.10 times for that one wheel revolution, that's the axle ratio.

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Old 10-14-2012, 11:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rockytop77 View Post
Also, if its 3.73, does anyone know the cost of changing the axle ratio?
Depends on which axle you have and which brand of ring-gear and pinion you choose.

Assuming you have a 4x2 with a GM 8.6" axle (10 bolts on the diff cover), you can order the parts from Randy's for $190 to $425, depending on brand. Of course, the Genuine GM parts cost the most, but the Yukon brand is excellent for less money. I don't know about their el-cheapo brand. Then a local diff shop will probably charge you around $200 to $300 to do the R&R.

Diff Wizard

As to which ratio you have now, your truck probably has the axle code on the Federal Certification Label on the doorpost. That label contains the VIN, tire size, GVWR, and codes for several things, including axle. With the axle code, any Chevy dealer can tell you what it means. Or do some Bing searches and you can probably find a table with code = ratio.
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:45 PM   #10
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Thanks for all of the help!
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