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Old 10-21-2019, 01:33 PM   #1
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5 star tune on Trailer Tow Vehicle

I have read several threads on Motor Homes that have a 5 Star Tune module installed and they seem to have helped in some of the installs... but, My question is different, I am interested in hearing from folks that have installed a 5 Star Tune module on a "GAS" Pickup used as a Tow Vehicle.

I have a 2007 GMC 2500hd with a 6.0 ltr GAS engine the truck has a HD Tow Package with the Trailer Tow Haul mode standard. The minute I hook up the Trailer I put te Tow Haul Mode on and don't take it off until I bring the trailer back home and put it away.

Our current Trailer is a Jayco 26rks and off the factory weight of 6500 lbs and probably by the time we put our stuff in it, propane and batteries I am probably at 7500 lbs. When we are traveling down the interstate at 65 all is well... don't even know it is there... but, when I hit the grade between here and Knoxville (up to 6% at some points) the truck shifts down, revs go to about 4500 RPM and we go trucking up the grade.... coming back down, the Tow Haul Mode acts like a diesel brake slowing us on the decent.

I am told that all this is doing what it is suppose to for the "GAS" engine and the Tow Haul Mode is handling shifting as it should....

So, then what about 5 Star Tuning and perhaps a better flow air cleaner element? With the Tune and air-cleaner I'm looking at about $800 to 900 for the components... but, before I step in to that I want to ask if anyone on here that tows with a "GAS" engine that has installed a "Chip" and Air Filter.... what is your thoughts... is it really going to make that much of a difference or should I just leave it as it is... I"m not worried about 1 or 2 mpg, but more the performance in the short times we are going up the grade.

We may trade up to a larger trailer at some point so anything might help that.

We only go out about 3 or 4 times a year for 3 or 4 days each and usually travel with in a day distance... Should I just leave it as it is and enjoy the ride or is there documented proof that spending another $900 on the upgrade be worth it from a performance standpoint?

I do realize if I went out and bought a $70.000 diesel I'd have more power... but for my occasional use I just can't justify it.. My current 2007 2500HD Crewcab, leather interior and runs really good.... has less than 14,000 miles on it....

Looking forward to your replies...

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Old 10-21-2019, 02:10 PM   #2
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My Ď14 6.4 RAM has a tune. No dyno, but seat of the pants is better. The biggest thing it has done is made shifting better. It seems to know better when to hold gear and when to downshift over the factory tuning. Unloaded itís snappier. Loaded, I canít really tell the difference. It might take a little less throttle to go up the same hills. Overall mileage hasnít changed, but you can never tell with the wind howling around here.

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Old 10-21-2019, 04:38 PM   #3
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I tuned my 2005 f250 using 5 star, they are regarded as one of the best tuners for the v10 applications.

I've noticed a pretty significant bump in power, but the biggest improvement was the transmission tuning. It is phenomenal.
I had already installed a k&n intake (terrible, wont buy another oiled filter setup, ever), and had a more free flowing dual exhaust setup.

I picked up about .5 mpg empty, and a solid 1mpg loaded.
Fact is, I liked the v10 setup so much that I tried to buy another when it was time to step up go a f350 and a longbed, couldnt find one that wasnt beat or from a fleet, and stumbled in to a 6.7 at a very good deal, so I went diesel.

I still prefer my 5 star tuned 5r110w transmission over the 10 year newer 6 speed in the diesel. So much so that I'm having 5 star do some emmesions present tuning for the 6.7.

With all that said, have you looked at black bear tuning? My buddy has a 1500 with a 6.0 and max something package, that truck is a serious runner with a intake tune and exhaust! I think black bear is kinda the standard for tuning Chevy gas motors.
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Old 10-21-2019, 04:43 PM   #4
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Well, I jumped the gun, I missed the entire part of your post about pulling grades.

Your truck is pulling exactly as intended, the peak torque curve is much much higher then a diesel, so gas trucks need to rev freely to make power.

Nothing you do to your pickup is going to change that. It made me a bit nervous the first few times I towed, but pulling the continental divide I never saw any temps climb or had any issues towing a 7k# travel trailer.

Tuning your truck will make it feel 1000# lighter, buy wont change it to run a ton different on long grades while towing
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Old 10-21-2019, 05:02 PM   #5
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Any increase in power, over the stock tune, will only develop at wide open throttle.

A free flowing air filter is still going to run up against a throttle body and its throttle plate. The original filter is designed to flow enough air, even if over 50% plugged.

Unless your driving up the hill, with your foot to the floor, there will be no extra HP.

ALL HP and torque ratings are measured at wide open throttle.
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Old 10-21-2019, 06:05 PM   #6
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2X also don't the tune kits require you to run premium gas? it seams like a lot of money to spend for such little results. you would be much better to go a slightly lower gear ratio for about the same money.
Jay D.
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Old 10-21-2019, 06:54 PM   #7
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Wow, what a lot of great information and input.... and real life feedback... thanks so much....

We usually just use the truck on occasions that we want to tow something and around town for those items that won't fit in the Outback (that explains the low millage). In July we drove the truck up to Ontario Canada to pick up a enclosed trailer and I have to say on the way up we were getting in the neighborhood of 18mpg... I was a happy camper. Prior to going p I put a undercover top on it (I"m told that helps MPG). On the way home, it was a different story, we towed a 8x10' enclosed Haulmark trailer back lightly loaded but it did affect the fuel mileage but we didn't even feel it back there...

Back to my original post, this all came up the last few times we towed our TT to the Smokey's and around Crossville we hit the grade up of 6%. he truck and trailer handled great, no sway or a feeling of uncontrollably... but just that bogging down up the hill... but, we were still passing the big 18 wheeler s so I can't complain too much.

From what you say is what were experiencing is pretty typical and actually performing well... I am sure the temps were staying well with in range of normal operations. Perhaps I just need to do a little more charting and gathering information on details... It seems like for the most part, we can hold at 40-45 pretty well and unless for some reason we have to slow down (due to traffic) it stays pretty steady... but once it gts down to the 30 to 35 mph it is really screaming to get back up... Keep in mind, all this is with in a 15 to 20 minute time-frame and then were back to full speed and moving right along.

It would be great to find a new diesel but since were using the truck for less than 2,000 miles a year I just can not justify the expense.... so, I guess given the above information even $900 to do a tune and filter won't do that much for what we are using the truck for at this point... But, I sure appreciate the input and I'll look all this over and do a little more research on the suggestions you have provided...

Thanks so much for all the time and input you all have provided...
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Old 10-21-2019, 07:42 PM   #8
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Have you looked into long tube headers?
BB Chevys are known to really wake up with just headers, but I have not had any experience with the 6.0 gas engines.
Maybe worth a look.
Happy Glamping.
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Old 10-21-2019, 08:31 PM   #9
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The term tune is pretty general. It can include reprogramming of the air/fuel mixture. Be incredibly careful with that.

Towing a load up a grade in the summer with a leaned out AF mixture is a risk. I'd never do that.

GM calculates the AF ratio to be on the safe side. Keep that. Also, GM will void the engine warranty if they find out. Don't listen to those that mention the magnisson (sp) act in this regard.

A tune could also mean to delete stuff or modify other programming unrelated to AF ratio. I'm not sure what a 5 star does. Sounds cheesy.
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Old 10-21-2019, 09:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Mtn. Lion View Post
The term tune is pretty general. It can include reprogramming of the air/fuel mixture. Be incredibly careful with that.

Towing a load up a grade in the summer with a leaned out AF mixture is a risk. I'd never do that.

GM calculates the AF ratio to be on the safe side. Keep that. Also, GM will void the engine warranty if they find out. Don't listen to those that mention the magnisson (sp) act in this regard.

A tune could also mean to delete stuff or modify other programming unrelated to AF ratio. I'm not sure what a 5 star does. Sounds cheesy.
My v10 ran lean from the factory when towing heavy. The tuner let me adjust for that and add fuel where needed.
It really was a night and day difference towing. Didnt turn it into a diesel, but sure let me keep up with traffic easier, merging on to the hiway is easier, transmission went from lazy, to I'm the right gear always, with very crisp shifts. Overall going from the generic one size fits all tune that Ford shipped the truck with, to the tune that was prioritized for towing performance, was a great bargain in my mind.
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Old 10-21-2019, 09:41 PM   #11
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I don't have a tune on my 2006 GMC 2500HD but I do have the big block in mine, 8.1 with the Allison transmission. I pull a 21 foot Outdoors and it is close in weight to what you have. Living in Sparks NV. I have to cross over big hills almost any time I pull my trailer going to the west.

I don't use the trailer mode as it keep the revs higher than what I would normally expect. On a flat road I am turning about 1500 and any hills I encounter the highest I get it 3500-3700 RPM and that keep me close to 50-55 mph. The longest grade I pull is going over I-5 near Ashland. Coming back from the coast it is the same, trans temp gets to 200 but that is as high as It gets.

I increased the size of my trans cooler and installed a deeper pan to hold more fluid. I re-gapped my plugs to 0.045 and installed a 180 degree thermostat but that is the most I have done to the motor.
4500 rpm seems to be a little high for going up a steep grade, even with my old truck with a 400 and turbo 350 the max I ever saw was 3700. Not sure what rear gears you have but both my trucks had 3.73 rear ends.

Just getting close to 20,000 miles so far.
2006 GMC 2500HD 4WD 8.1
2018 Outdoors RV Creekside 21RBS
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Old 10-21-2019, 10:10 PM   #12
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The 6.0 makes its peak torque at 4250 rpm, peak horsepower at 5400.
The 8.1 makes its peak torque at 3200, and peak horsepower at 4200.

Sounds like both trucks are engineered and operating exactly how they should be to me. That 8.1 was kicking right on the heels of the first duramax, and coupled with an allison, I'm surprised they weren't more popular. They are a beast of a gasser!
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Old 10-21-2019, 10:48 PM   #13
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some of these kits give you a little more power by advancing the timing this usually will require premium gas. also you can on GM rigs manually shift your trans when climbing long steep grades. I travel the I5 hi way through Canyonville and Ashland several times and pull my 6500# T/T up the passes easy with my 5.3 at 60mph 4000rpms. you guys with the 6.0 engine should have no problem, unless your afraid to step on the gas peddle. 4000RPM'S won't hurt theses engines.
Jay D.
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Old 10-22-2019, 07:02 AM   #14
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I think you've "got it made in the shade", you just might not know it.

Since I can only tell my own story... As a lifelong "gear-head" hobbyist and some time racer/engine builder, I of course, tried to apply my knowledge and efforts to getting the most power and MPG efficiency out of my old school Ford V8 tow rig.

From the factory it was setup to deliver the best gas mileage if driven normally. Seemed I always wanted to get to the top of the hill first, (within reason), and get a decent MPG number for my trip. One day my wife asked me, "What's the real dollar cost difference in fuel for a camping trip with all this effort you are making vs. just enjoying the ride?" "It's just going to cost (X) regardless, just chalk it up to the cost of doing camping business".

The only thing that will realistically change our gas mileage is slowing down, since we are effectively pulling a barn door down the road behind us. Once I quit worrying about it, the trips have been great, the fuel cost stopped being an issue, everybody around me seems happier.

For best gas engine towing performance, in hills or getting up to speed, you want the engine to be operating above max torque rpm range and headed toward max horsepower rpm range.

With your 6.0L, as others stated, that torque peak is around 4,400, depending on which version your truck has. It has legendary reliability, is designed to run hard when needed, keep it maintained, let 'er run, and remember, no truck payments buys a lot of fuel and more trips. Enjoy.

If it will help, average your annual fuel cost/mileage between the "Subi" and the truck, for the mileage actually driven, for the truck. There, fixed it for you... Oh, fwiw, I really like 5-Star, especially for the Ford V10, get one "just because", not for any return on investment.

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1995 E-150 Club Wagon Chateau 5.8L (old school cool)
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