LONG RV trip with Suburban and 34' Trailer...
I have a new 08 Suburban... and a 07 Keystone VR1 34' travel trailer. I am planning a round trip Oregon to Texas trip over 2-3 weeks.
I have been a short trip trailer puller for over 10 years, but this will be my first long road trip.
Does anyone have experience that can tell me what kind of preperation I need make sure is done to my rig and trailer before we go? (I was thinking oil change for the suburban and have the bearings packed for the trailer. Anything else?)
How many is too many miles to tow in one day?
I am sure I will have more questions later...
It should be a fun trip
I sure hope gas prices are a bit lower next summer for ya! Welcome to the Roadtrip America forums.
As I'm not a mechanic, I can't give you a lot of advice on this. Obviously, anytime you're taking off on a long roadtrip, it's a good idea to get a thorough tune-up including all fluids, hoses, tires, alignment, etc. I trust my mechanic so I just tell him what my plans are so he's aware that he needs to look ahead and consider issues that might be a concern on a long trip. Hopefully, you trust your dealer.
We generally recommend that people travel no more than 500-550 miles per day. However, that recommendation is usually for people who are NOT towing. I have had truck/camper and truck/trailer combos but I typically also only did short trips in them with LOTS of stopping to explore each day so our daily miles were fairly small. I would guess that 400 miles per day would be a more reasonable top-end when towing. Hopefully others will pop in here with more experience doing long-haul towing to give you more advice regarding that.
Keep your questions coming so we can help you plan a terrific roadtrip vacation!
Transmission tempratures and towing, other suggestions
You don't mention it, but I assume your Suburban is a 3/4 ton Sub (aka a 2500 series as opposed to a 1/2 ton 1500 series), and you don't mention power (gasoline vs diesel). I will assume the heavier duty truck since you're towing a 34' travel trailer.
Often a 3/4 ton Sub will come with a "towing package" which will include, among other items, a separate cooler for the automatic transmission fluid (ATF). You should assure yourself you've got one, and it's worth considering installing a high-quality aftermarket cooler even if you do. In the event there's not one on it now, installing an aftermarket ATF cooler is an absolute must, simple as that. Heat buildup is the principal, virtually the sole, enemy of an automatic transmission. Following the manufacturer's directions as to use of "tow/haul" mode settings on your vehicle and keeping the fluid cool are crucial to a happy automatic transmission. I would also recommend a "full system ATF flush" prior to the trip, install a new internal ATF filter, and add an in-line filter such as the "Magnefine" brand. My replacement ATF would be top-quality synthetic. I would be unconcerned with relatively low miles elapsed between purchase of the truck and the beginning of your trip, and I would be particularly skeptical of manufacturer's recommendations as to ATF fluid change intervals. The "full system flush" means an active draining of all fluid and replacement of same. A "normal" ATF change leaves much fluid in the torque converter, lines, and pumps, and only a full system flush gets all the old out and makes room the the good stuff (the synthetic). I think some of the quick lube places advertise full system flushes, but I would be more comfortable with a trusted independent transmission shop doing the work, to be honest with you.
I would also drain and refill the rear differential with top quality synthetic fluid, again ignoring the low miles issue. Pay particular attention to manufacturer's recommendations about so-called limited slip additives, as a truck so equipped needs the additive in order for the LS to work properly.
Likewise, a fresh oil and oil filter change are due right before departing, and I'd change it again in TX before heading back.
Before departing, I'd have a new fuel filter installed as well as a new air filter. Again, forget the manufacturer's change interval recommendations, just do it.
It sounds like a great trip. A Suburban and a 34' trailer is quite a handful. Be sure to hitch up and take some shorter trips before you hit the Big Road. Practice makes as perfect as can be, you know.
Travel safe and have fun.
Make sure all you brakes are in good working order. Lots of long down grades between Oregon and Texas. As far as miles per day, when you get tired its time to stop.
Thanks for the good information... Yes I have a 3/4 ton with tow package, 6 speed transmission with heavy duty cooler. I ordered it that way.
I had thought about the having the differential changed, but never thought about transmission fluid.
Thanks again for the great advise, I actually have 3 short trips in the next 6 weeks planned to tow this new combo, although i have towed with the new suburban a few times, it was with my older trailer.
Allison 6spd auto trans?
I haven't at all kept up with GM models, but I guess you've got the Allison auto trans and it's a 6-speed if you're saying changing the fluid seems a good idea. For that matter, changing the fluid in a manual trans, if so equipped, prior to the trip is good practice, as well.
So, is your big Sub a diesel or a gasser?
Yes its an Allison 6 speed automatic transmission. And its a gas hog! But I figure if I start saving now I should have the money required to do this long haul vacation!
Understood, gasoline engine w/ Allison 6 spd auto trans
While that doesn't necessarily change my thoughts and recommendations, I now have a better understanding of your rig.
Again, some might look at the auto trans fluid change out as overkill, and perhaps it is, but it's fairly inexpensive insurance, in my humble opinion.
My 2002 Ford diesel pickup, F350 single rear wheels, has a fairly fragile 4100 series auto trans. Lots of them came apart in under 100,000 miles. Mine's got 166,000, albeit with minimal towing, but I think the combination of extra-frequent fluid changes, the full-system flush method, synthetic fluid, and in-line filters are some of the reasons for extra long life on mine. From what I've read, however, those Allison's are generally very durable.
Best of luck to you,
Ugh, I don't know too much about GM transmissions, but I've learned my lesson about Ford trasmissions. I just had to replace/rebuild the lowsy CD4E Transmission in my SUV, and a work vehicle that is the same model, has been sitting idle in the parking lot since last winter because the $2,000 repair isn't in the company budget. Leave it to Ford to put an automatic transmission built for a subcompact car into an SUV. I even was draining the fluid at every oil change (just a drain and fill, not a complete flush), but that wasn't enough to save it.
Anyway back to the original post, I think flushing the fluid on virtually new truck might be a bit of overkill, especially if it is designed with a cooler. I would make sure to check the fluid, and make sure it is still a good candy-apple red color. I might then do a flush after the trip, after you've given it a good workout. As Foy mentioned, a flush only costs about $80, so it certainly is cheap insurance.
Yep, both Ford and GM put some crummy slushboxes in pickups and SUVs in from the mid 1990s well into the 2000s, and may be doing so today--I just never see them since every vehicle in my personal stable has +160,000 miles and is over 7 years old.
The Allisons which are optional on Beth's truck are a different breed of beast, as I understand it.
While I agree a months-old transmission generally needs no fluid flush, my primary interest in doing so would be to get top-quality synthetic in there. Now, if it came from the factory with synthetic ATF, I'd do just as you suggest and just monitor the look and smell of the fluid during the trip (where significant darkening and/or a burned smell are indicative of overheating and damage to the fluid) and do the full-system flush afterward.