2002 Tahoe, need more torque.

Discussion in 'The Choo-Choo shop' started by black70buick, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. black70buick

    black70buick Well-Known Member

    Hey guys,

    I did a little searching on the web, but I also want to see what you guys recommend...

    I just returned from a camping trip with our new '23 travel trailer. Estimated trailer weight was 6k lbs. Trailer dry weight is approx 4k lbs.

    Avg mpg was 9.8 while in tow/haul mode. This is a 2 wheel drive 5.3L Tahoe with 3.42 rear end. According to the manual the max tow capacity for this configuration is 6800lbs. I think this Tahoe handled the trailer very well, stopping, turning, and keeping things stable when going down the road. I was disappointed in the power with this load. Now to my question... what is the most cost effective way to increase low end torque? I would like to reduce the significant amount of shifting up and down the trans has to do to keep the rig moving forward. IMHO a bit more low end torque around 1500 - 2500 rpm would go a long way to making this a little better. Thank in advance.
  2. 71skylark3504v

    71skylark3504v Goin' Fast In Luxury!

    In my opinion, there is probably not a cost effective/time effective mods you can do to a 5.3 to increase the low end. And even if you did increase torque, if that Tahoe has a 4L60e trans it will not appreciate the extra punishment. If it bothers you that bad, I would upgrade to a 3/4 ton rig.

    Someone else may know something I don't though.
  3. woodchuck2

    woodchuck2 Well-Known Member

    IMO there is not much you can do except maybe try a small tuner but you will only gain 20-30hp and 50lbs of torque at best. Better than nothing. That is really a heavy load for that Tahoe. I have an 02 1500 GMC with the 5.3 and i have nicknamed it the turd, reason being it feels like a gutless turd after towing with my D-Max. The 1500 replaced my other D-Max that i had to sell, it gets 20mpg and has ok power empty but towing my enclosed trailer around 7k lbs is torture for that truck. I hope in the next yr or so to be replacing the 1500 with another D-Max.
  4. austingta

    austingta Well-Known Member

    Yes... you just need more truck.
  5. black70buick

    black70buick Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys...

    Between the 5.3 and then the weak 4L60E, I figured the solution would be a 3/4 diesel....I should have never got rid of my F250.

    During the drive, I told my wife that the Rivi would pull that trailer better than the Tahoe. Her response was great..."How do we get the hitch to mount up to do it?" I was so happy that it wasn't a response of disbelief, but more of how do we make it happen. :)

    My amazing wife is receptive to change, though she loves the Tahoe (it is her Daily Driver) but she is interested in something a little smaller to shuttle the kids around. I guess its time to do some vehicle shuffling. I just needed a little unbiased convincing, instead of my selfish desire to pursue a different tow vehicle :)

    Thanks everyone...now on to figure out how to make a vehicle change happen with limited $s. Maybe get the hitch mounted up to the Rivi :puzzled:

  6. woodchuck2

    woodchuck2 Well-Known Member

    Well, if you do not need the Tahoe but want a truck that can haul the family, just as bad on gas as most other trucks but you want it to handle well in traffic for her then look into a GMC Denali Quadrasteer. It is AWD, 6.0 of gas guzzling power, designed for towing and has the turning radius of a Honda Civic. One fella around here had one he put 20's on and it looked sharp, and i am not fond of big wheels. He also said it handled like it was on rails.
  7. 71skylark3504v

    71skylark3504v Goin' Fast In Luxury!

    How hard would it be to drop in an 8.1 or Duramax with a A1000? Add a 14 bolt 3.73 rear and that would be one fun Tahoe.
  8. Golden Oldie 65

    Golden Oldie 65 Well-Known Member

    I feel the same way about my 2005 GMC Sierra Z71 4wd 1500 with a 5.3. My old 5.7 seemed to have twice the towing power that the 5.3 has. I pulled an enclosed trailer with a `69 GTO inside 1,000 miles to Wisconsin in February and that truck stuggled the whole way. The loaded trailer probably weighed in around 7,000lbs. I couldn't use the cruise or the OD and the truck hit an all time low of 7.4mpg but got 20.1 coming back home empty. Fortunately I don't have to pull an enclosed trailer very often. The last trip last week I pulled my open trailer loaded with a car that was full of stuff, probably around 5,500lbs total including the trailer, and the truck was also full so I had a pretty heavy load. I was pleasantly surprised that the low point was 12.04mpg and the high was 17.23 pulling the trailer empty coming home. Still, I got in the habit of not using the cruise in the hills so I could keep it under 3,000rpm, otherwise the cruise would keep kicking it down to 2nd gear pulling up hills. If I pulled a trailer long distance more often I would definitely go with a 2500 with the 6.0 engine but I like the gas mileage if the 5.3 everyday so...............
  9. woodchuck2

    woodchuck2 Well-Known Member

    It is being done, check out on dieselplace.com. I have also read where some guys put the quadrasteer in a Tahoe, damn thing must have the turning radius of a tricycle.
  10. black70buick

    black70buick Well-Known Member

    Went camping again this past weekend in same area. Drove a little slower, got a little better mileage, and a nice little exhaust leak... :mad:
  11. bigjimmyl

    bigjimmyl Well-Known Member

    vortech or paxton blower, used to put them on back in the day, more torque, hp, better mileage cheaper than a new truck
  12. Hector

    Hector '79 Buick Limited

    I know that you are asking about modifications to the engine but you could also consider a gear change.Altough I have never pulled a travel trailer with my '02 Silverado I have towed many a car with it and find the 3.73:1 gears are a good compromise between mileage and pulling power.
  13. black70buick

    black70buick Well-Known Member

    How did the engine fair? What all was involved when you did this. Can you give me a play by play? I have been prowling craigslist for the kit, but what else is needed. I am very interested in your experience in doing this. Thanks.
  14. nekkidhillbilly

    nekkidhillbilly post whore

    4k for a sc. Honestly I've pulled 7k with my 4.8 w 373 gears and it did great.
  15. black70buick

    black70buick Well-Known Member

    On flat road I could not be happier but to go to 6-7000 feet into a national forest on the the interstate the poor Tahoe really gets a work out. So far I found a 3.73 rear for $600. An LS sc kit on craigslist for $1200.
  16. sean Buick 76

    sean Buick 76 Buick Nut Staff Member

    I have been looking into a similar idea of buying a 2000-2013 Chevy truck, and turbocharging it... After weighing all the options I am now looking for a 2010 Crew cab short box 1500 4x4 with the 5.3 and 6L80E trans with 3.73 gears. Adding a 4" suspension lift, 33" BFG All terrains, single turbocharger, larger injectors, and Megasquirt computer... I expect about 600 HP and 700 ft of TQ with the bone stock 5.3. People are making 1000+ HP with these LS 5.3 engines... Modified 5.3 and 6.0 engines are making 1500+ HP and surviving.

    I am avoiding the 4L60E trans, they are not much good unless you spend mega money on them...

    The most bulletproof GM gas combo for towing is the 6.0, 4L80E trans in the 3/4 tons, but the HUGE downside is the lack of fuel mileage when not towing.

    Unless you want to add a turbo sized for low RPM boost then you might as well buy an economy SUV that is better on fuel and then get a real tow rig.... Unless you are limited like I am and not allowed to buy any more vehicles unless I sell a few LOL... If that is the case then you can just hop up what you have and have some fun.... I like the supercharger idea except the trans bill will suck when you fry the trans in a few months...




  17. 71skylark3504v

    71skylark3504v Goin' Fast In Luxury!

    That's cool and all, but it does not make sense to me. They already make turbocharged trucks. DURAMAX.:Brow: By the time you upgrade everything on that 1500 you will not be close to what $ for $ you could have gotten out of a 2500 Duramax.

    If you are going to run 600-700 HP through a 1500 4x4 drivetrain with big tires, buy some comfortable walking shoes. You are to need them when that truck is broke down or in the shop.

    It hasn't taken me long to realize 1500 trucks are play toys meant for stock size tires, low power, and light loads. If you do REAL work with 4L60e transmissions, 10 bolt rear ends, and 8.25" front ends you are going to be left disappointed. IMO, start with a 2500. Everyone who has made a 1/2 ton rear go "KA-BOOM!" in the middle of the woods knows what I am talking about.
  18. black70buick

    black70buick Well-Known Member

    I resolved to do something to ensure reliability changing from wanting more toque. The exhaust leak is just frustrating and may be a sign of what is to come...

    You nailed it. Cash funds are low... Looking at my options right now without buying another rig.
    I cringe every time the 4L60E shifted under load even in tow/haul mode and I dare not use my own controller on it. I think I have become paranoid as I thought I felt the trans shuddering in shifts this last trip. Mind you I refrain from going faster than 65MPH usually at 60 or less avoiding driving it hard like I did the first trip (by driving hard I mean keeping up with traffic in the slow lane). I think the smartest thing would be to get lower gears in the rear...this will at least relieve mechanical force in the trans. I would love to SC/TC it. I found a truck on CL where the owner swapped the 4L60E with 4L80E then SC it. Putting down a modest ~600hp/tq. Would love to get it, or replicate combo...his rear was 3.73.

    I love camping with our trailer. I has been great for the family. I just need to figure a solution out or this Tahoe isn't gonna last very long... I can simply drive slower but the hill climbs are killer...not like I can camp near town in 100 degree heat. That's no fun.

    Keep the comments coming...

  19. nekkidhillbilly

    nekkidhillbilly post whore

    Well I was in ky eastern ky at that. If you want mpg better than 9 a sc is a bad idea. I did have 373 gears but any gas truck is not going to pull 7k at 65 up grades unless its 500 hp. I've driven trucks that make more tq than a 455 and they still gear down and are wound out pretty well. Even my tuned diesel will gear down with a load at highway speeds and that's 700 ft lbs

    ---------- Post added at 10:19 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:14 PM ----------

    How fast are you pulling them. Some hills I'd bog down to 40-45 and at 4-5k rpm. That's not bad for a gas truck. Go drive a v6 or an earlier 80s or 90s and you see what I'm saying.
  20. black70buick

    black70buick Well-Known Member

    I am not really concerned about fuel mileage at the moment. I can handle 9-10mpg for the frequency of camping. I don't think I can handle the price of repairs to engine, trans etc. Rather not wear the Tahoe out before I can get to a point to trade it for something more capable. I estimate another year....5-6 more camping trips.

    40-45 if I have the foot in it and the engine screaming @ >5k rpm. Forgot to mention I am running stock tires.
    Im not sure of the hill grades, but lowest speed with foot down was 30mph. I just can't do it. The thing was begging to be shot.

    fwiw, during the first trip we passed a Tahoe and a 1/2 ton Sierra on the side of the road on one of the steeper grades with comparable sized trailers ~23'. Both vehicles had the hood up... I did feel good as our tahoe wasn't too hot to pull over.:TU:

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