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upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Can I tow with what I have or should I upgrade my ratio?

upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby CHDdad [OP] » Oct 26 2020, 4:18pm

I have a couple of questions with my setup and if I am safe to tow or would I be better to upgrade the axle ratio ... or buy something else? I am new here and don't know a lot of what I am talking about, having learned a lot over the past week doing searches.

My setup ... I have a 2017 Sierra 1500 SLE crew cab with the 3.08. I called GMC and they told me (from my VIN) that I can tow up to 6900 lbs. Once I had the information I needed, I looked in my book and read that I can tow up to 6100 lbs. Not sure which to believe there. Front / Rear axle's are 3950 lbs, a GVWR at 7200 lbs and GCWR at 12,000 lbs. Curb weight is roughly 5300 lbs before my family and belongings (lets call it 6,000 lbs).

We are looking to purchase a camper, which is when I discovered the crappy tow rating for this vehicle. So, my question ... Would I do OK pulling a trailer (mainly less than 50 miles with an occasional (once every two years) long haul into the mountains?

I am looking at 3 different campers (all roughly 25' long). One has a dry weight of 4900 lbs and a total weight of 6000 lbs, the other two sit around 5000 and 5500 lbs dry and 7000 total. OR should I have the axle ratio changed to a 3.42 or 3.73 for better towing OR bite the bullet for a better tow vehicle (not the best option for me right now).

I occasionally drive my truck to work (60 miles RT) so I do enjoy the decent MPG's I see. If I went with a new gear, would that increase my towing capacity and if so, how much? Would that have an effect on anything else in the truck (gas mileage). Is the rest of the truck capable of pulling more weight with the new gear?

I appreciate any advice you can offer. I'm sure this has been asked many times, I just have not been able to find answers close enough to make me happy 8-)
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Re: upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby CHDdad [OP] » Oct 26 2020, 4:31pm

Let me add that it has the 5.3 engine with 6 speed and is 4x4. And now I know it is a gear ratio, not axle ratio ... oops
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Re: upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby 19trax95 » Oct 26 2020, 4:38pm

Get a different truck.

Changing your gear ratio does not change your towing capacity.

Really around 6000ish pounds is about all id want to tow with a 1500 and be comfortable. They can do more, but with a high profile trailer such as a camper, or larger enclosed trailer, the 1500s just get sketchy to me. They don't control it well unless there is zero wind and no need for sudden changes in direction.

Lower profile trailers are a little better. But the weight still gets to the truck pretty easy.

If you want to stick with a 1500, look for one with 3.42 gears or if your going a little older than what you have, 3.73 gears with the max tow package.

But unfortunately, with the 3.08 trucks, they get the neutered rating and are stuck there because of it.
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Re: upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby GBSierraSLE » Oct 26 2020, 4:46pm

If it were my truck, I'd go with 3.73's or even 4.10's, depending on tire height. I have 3.42 and don't tow much of anything and I wish I had 4.10's. 3.08's will suck in the mountains. Like Eric, 6,000 lbs or so is the most I'd ever want to tow with a 1500 regardless of what GM says. You'll have to change both diffs and get a tuner to correct your speedo. 4.10's with a Lew tune would really help you. $2,000+ or so total for gears and a tuner/Lew tune. A weight distribution hitch would also be a must.

No matter what you do, you cannot legally increase the tow rating or payload capacity of the truck. All the gear change will do is make it easier to tow a given weight.
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Re: upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby Walkers » Oct 26 2020, 5:22pm

You are going to run out of capacity before you get everything loaded up. Honestly, you are better off upgrading the truck. Since you are new to towing, and there is a learning curve, I would stick to a much smaller trailer. Try renting a smaller trailer first, get the insurance!, then you can make mistakes with a rental, learn your limitations, and learn what you really need.
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Re: upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby CHDdad [OP] » Oct 26 2020, 5:27pm

I do have a 12' enclosed trailer that I use for mowing, roughly 2500 lbs. My little ranger struggles with it but my sierra pulls it like there is nothing back there.

I do appreciate the replies ... so far it is making more sense to try and upgrade the vehicle at some point.
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Re: upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby Bradley21sanders » Oct 26 2020, 5:32pm

Unfortunately for you I am with the rest.

Legally you wont change your tow rating buy changing gear ratios.

Cost will be $800-1200 per axle for a shop to do it

MPGs are going to drop with the ratio change. See my signature.. 4.56s and average 14 with 33s and thats mostly 65-70mph driving on a 70 mile round trip for work

I can tell you that going from 3.42s to 4.11s was a great upgrade when pulling my 5000# trailer. I have since went from 4.11s to 4.56s

I would try to stay under 7k loaded on a 1500.. yes it can do more and 90% of people do it daily but for safety and peace of mind I wouldnt go over than unless it was a 2500

Edit: I was around 16mpg with the 4.11s on the same 70 mile round trip
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Re: upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby deepnsteep » Dec 02 2020, 7:13pm

I signed up here too ask this exact question! Not to Bogart your thread but I was wondering about a few more details. Apparently there are two different rear ends possible in these models...a 9.5" and a 9.76". Mine has the 9.5" Are all 3.42 and 3.73 ratios the 9.76" or are they only 9.76" when they came with the tow package (Z82 option)? What's different between those rear ends? Also would these pickups that have lower tow capacities have less engine and transmission cooling capacities and different brakes? I guess what I'm getting at is if I lowered the gear ratio what else might be holding back its tow capacity?
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Re: upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby Z15 » Dec 02 2020, 9:20pm

9.76" comes only with the NHT Max Trailering Option. Not available with Z71.
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Re: upgrade the 3.08 for towing?

Postby Chevy-SS » Dec 02 2020, 9:29pm

Personally. I would just try to use the vehicle as it is. Too much money and hassle for the gear swaps IMHO. And even then, you don't have other upgrades that might come on different truck.

My vote is: try what you got... if it doesn't work, then get different truck. Just remember to drive in tow/haul mode, and take it smooth and easy. You might be pleasantly surprised.
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