Prep for towing

Prep for towing

Postby tstol [OP] » February 28th 2021, 3:05am

Good evening everyone. I have a 2003 GMC Safari AWD with a hitch. Lifted 2" with BFGs (don't know if that matters). I'm looking to make my van into a "motorcycle van" where I road trip towing a bike. I have a 500# bike and will likely get a 500# trailer. There is already a hitch on the van. I don't know if it's a factory hitch, but it doesn't look like there's a towing package.

What would be your recommendations for preparing the van to tow? Any and all recommendations would be helpful (transmission, brakes, etc...anything you can think of.)

TIA,

Tad
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby markmitch » February 28th 2021, 5:00am

transmission cooler would be my first update. If your have not done it yet drop the transmission oil pan and change the filter then replace gasket and reinstall the pan and top it off.
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby sixsix » February 28th 2021, 5:12am

tstol wrote: There is already a hitch on the van. I don't know if it's a factory hitch, but it doesn't look like there's a towing package. ...

Have you checked for a 4 or 7 wire / wiring harness set stowed in the jack /tools area?
.

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Re: Prep for towing

Postby zzimmer3 » February 28th 2021, 1:56pm

You trailer setup will be easy peasy towing for your van. I've pulled alot more weight for years with no issues. I installed a tranny cooler, rear sway bar, and a brake controller (I don't think you'll need that at 1000#s). For trailer lights there is a bundle of wires neatly tucked in your jack storage area . Your van will pull 1000#s with ease.
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby tstol [OP] » February 28th 2021, 5:02pm

markmitch wrote:transmission cooler would be my first update. If your have not done it yet drop the transmission oil pan and change the filter then replace gasket and reinstall the pan and top it off.


This may seem like an odd question, but is there a recommended transmission cooler?
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby tstol [OP] » February 28th 2021, 5:42pm

markmitch wrote:transmission cooler would be my first update. If your have not done it yet drop the transmission oil pan and change the filter then replace gasket and reinstall the pan and top it off.


Do you have a recommended cooler?
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby tstol [OP] » February 28th 2021, 5:43pm

Have you checked for a 4 or 7 wire / wiring harness set stowed in the jack /tools area?[/quote]

I will check today!
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby tstol [OP] » February 28th 2021, 5:48pm

zzimmer3 wrote:You trailer setup will be easy peasy towing for your van. I've pulled alot more weight for years with no issues. I installed a tranny cooler, rear sway bar, and a brake controller (I don't think you'll need that at 1000#s). For trailer lights there is a bundle of wires neatly tucked in your jack storage area . Your van will pull 1000#s with ease.


Thanks!
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby markmitch » February 28th 2021, 6:02pm

well I have used a few types and honestly I have always been fine with either type.
This is what I have on my big ford towing vehicle : https://www.summitracing.com/parts/der- ... ioQAvD_BwE
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby tungtide » February 28th 2021, 7:32pm

I tow a Carolina skiff. Have towed it from Kentucky to Florida. Never had a problem. My van is stock. Never actually weighed the boat but guess it at around 2 K
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby Mmusicman » February 28th 2021, 8:49pm

I tow a motorcycle from Florida to Tenn/NC several times every year.
Actually, you don't really need to do anything... 1000lbs is nothing!
The van is already equipped with a trans cooler built in the radiator...
perfectly capable of light-weight towing.
But even a small external cooler is always a nice upgrade... AND WELL WORTH IT!
Longer transmission life is ALWAYS a good thing!

They are cheap and easy to install... here's mine on my 2000..
(I sometimes tow over 5000+lbs)

20190407_162223aTransCooler.jpg

I've made many trips with mine...

BikeTrailerAstro-IMG_5360.1200.jpg

PS: I have AAA Premium towing with motorcycle/trailer coverage.
Always carry spare trailer tires!
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby Bossman » February 28th 2021, 11:56pm

Unless it has been done recently, it would be a good idea to service the rear axle ie: drain & refill
the differential. Fresh lube = happy diff when towing.

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Re: Prep for towing

Postby Mmusicman » March 1st 2021, 1:49am

Bossman wrote:Unless it has been done recently, it would be a good idea to service the rear axle ie: drain & refill
the differential. Fresh lube = happy diff when towing.

Probably good advice to do ALL regular maintenance.
But don't tell my 92... it has 300K+ on stock rear... never been opened. :o
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby DriveDog » March 1st 2021, 3:16pm

Yep, will be easy. I pull 5,000 lbs, and wouldn't ask an Astro/Safari for more, but so much less will be no problem. I changed the factory rear shocks for KYB Gas-A-Just so it wouldn't bounce over bridges and RR tracks, and that was a great improvement. Also, with the 2003 and later you get nicely sized brakes (rear discs).
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby tstol [OP] » March 1st 2021, 6:37pm

Bossman wrote:Unless it has been done recently, it would be a good idea to service the rear axle ie: drain & refill
the differential. Fresh lube = happy diff when towing.

Mike


Thanks Mike. I swear my mechanic said there wasn't a drain plug. So do you remove the plate? Sorry for the noob questions.
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby sixsix » March 1st 2021, 9:25pm

tstol wrote: ... So do you remove the plate?

...More like a bowl.

We call it a Cover - and you drain the RR Diff. by pulling the bolts and making a mess.
So... putting the cover and gasket back on correctly/rt. fill plug orient. is key - that is your 'fill gage'.

Those garages have the Best Toys for dealing w/ icky stuff.
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby Bossman » March 1st 2021, 10:06pm

Yes remove the cover. 10 bolts and one bolt will be a little longer than the rest because it holds brake line brackets at the top of the cover.
Before removing any bolts and draining the oil, it is very important to remove the fill plug FIRST. They get stuck in there over time
and I had to use an impact wrench to get mine out the first time. Apply teflon pipe tape to the threads when re-installing it.
I use a foil pan I stole from the pantry to drain it into. Dump that into my drain oil recycle bucket and throw the foil pan away. Mine took almost two quarts to refill. Basic, fairly easy job.

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Re: Prep for towing

Postby Mmusicman » March 1st 2021, 10:50pm

Here's what it looks like when your submerged leaking axle-seal floods it with water!
Believe it or not, (after several flushes) I saved this rear and it's still good to this day!

2015-01-17_13-40-09_522 differential.jpg

Yes, the fluid is supposed to be dark honey colored (or typically dark brown/black)... lol

2015-01-17_13-40-49_904.jpg
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby tstol [OP] » March 2nd 2021, 4:18am

That's crazy! What fluid do you recommend using?
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Re: Prep for towing

Postby Bossman » March 2nd 2021, 5:22am

I use synthetic 75w-90 gear lube. I think Walmart has the best deal: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Tech-F ... /309470123

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