Rented a Chevy 1500, Really Impressed with Towing!

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14,828
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Central NY
Had another trip to an offroad park about 240 miles away. My F350 just isn't up to these type of trips, especially the steeper hills in Pennsylvania.

U-Haul lets you rent their pickups to tow your trailer. It's not cheap, but it's cheaper than a tow bill and way cheaper than a payment on a newer truck and having to DD A truck.

I ended up with a 19 Silverado 1500. These are pretty basic. It did have power window and android auto radio. Uhaul covered up the badges so no idea what model it was. It had the 5.3 , 6 speed auto /2wd and really tall highway gears. 6th gear at 65 was 1500 RPM!

The thing that impressed me the most was the MPG. It's a light truck being base model and 2wd, but I was blown away at the mileage of this truck! I put gas in it 3 times over the 520 miles I had it; all towing my Jeep on trailer (5800 pounds). First tank was 13.4 MPG. Second tank was the worst at 12.6 but that included the death hill. 3rd tank was 13.8 which was most of the ride home. Cruise was set at 65 the whole way, all figured were hand calculated. The MPG display on the gauge cluster always red a bit low.

The second was the power. I guess having 217000 less miles, 20 years more technology, less weight and a torque converter attached to a close ratio automatic helped a ton. This powertrain and gearing combo effortlessly maintained 65 on all of the hills we hit. There's a few hills on 81 where my truck has to run 40 with the 4 ways on and engine screaming away at 4000RPM. The computer had the transmission drop a few gears, never unlocked the torque converter and I never saw more than 2700 on the highway stretch.

On the "death hill" we call it, I was able to get the thing up to 45 MPH. With my tired old F350, it' usually done at 20MPH. It's a 13 or 14% grade with a hairpin in the middle. This truck did awesome! I also didn't have it to the floor to get up to 45. Still never saw more than 4000RPM.

I really, really liked the interior on it. The seats were awesome for a 10 hour drive. I even slept in it two nights. The steering wheel was great and I could turn down everything inside to a reasonable level so I wasn't blinded by the gauge cluster.

The truck really handled my tongue heavy trailer awesome. I didn't feel like the front was unloading or excessively bouncy. It was planted and firm!

Things I didn't like:

There was nothing on the dipstick. I had to add 4 quarts of oil. Being it was a Uhaul rental with 13000 miles, I am pretty sure it's never had an oil change.

The rear suspension squatted a lot! My trailer is heavy on the tongue for sure, but I maxed out the trailer jack and squatted the rear suspension 5 inches! I don't believe the weight was distributed poorly, because the truck handled the trailer awesome!

Lastly, I couldn't see over the hood. the dash is way too high as is the hood.

Honestly, really want to pick up one of these 5.3 / 2wd work trucks. Its perfect for my operation.
 
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The Midwest
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Miller88

Thread starter
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14,828
Location
Central NY
The rental was a single cab / long bed.

UHaul will reimburse you for oil if you have the receipt.

When I discovered no oil I wasn't in a spot where I could get any so I had to use what I had on hand. It was some old oil --- of course the recommended 0w-20 ;) because that's what I bought real cheap a while back.


What engine is in the F350?

A very tired 5.4 2 valve with 235000 miles. The big hindrance on the hills is the wide ratio manual transmission. A torque converter would help a ton!
 
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9,120
Location
Illinois
I did the same a few years back, except I had a U-Haul car trailer as well, with a '52 Chevy on it. Mine was an '18 GMC 1500. I wish that I had taken a picture of the sticker in the glovebox, to figure out how the rear end was geared.

I slogged my set-up through the Ozarks, and it did just as well.
 

4WD

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17,056
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Texas
I did the same a few years back, except I had a U-Haul car trailer as well, with a '52 Chevy on it. Mine was an '18 GMC 1500. I wish that I had taken a picture of the sticker in the glovebox, to figure out how the rear end was geared.

I slogged my set-up through the Ozarks, and it did just as well.
Some of them are 3.08 for economy … they even did a 3.42 with a trailer package. The lots carried many of these two gears but of course you could get 3.73 with 6 speed. Now the 8 speeds commonly use the 3.42
 

Miller88

Thread starter
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14,828
Location
Central NY
I believe this one had 3.08 gears. Given the 1500RPM at 65. Really incredible how well it handled the 5800 pound trailer for having such tall gears. It's my first time ever towing with a modern truck, the tow/haul mode really did work wonders. It held 5th gear most of the time except on the flats. But didn't excessively shift.
 

4WD

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Texas
Yeah … I started a thread maybe a couple years back asking folks to name a vehicle from the past that would have been so much better with a 6 speed or 8 speed transmission …
(my H3 with 4.56 could have used 3.73 with a 6 speed)
 
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18,183
Location
NH
These modern transmissions have quite the range of ratios. I suspect that it makes for better mpg to have a taller final drive ratio--less turns of the pinion and hypoid per mile. Thus, transmissions with deep first gear, driving what seems like ridiculously tall final drives.
 
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4WD

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Texas
I had a 2018 Z71 with 3.08 … it was quick (light regular cab) … capable off road (easy to put in 4Lo if needed) … around 1750 at 70 mph …
Only towed a 2k boat so obviously that was a snack …
 
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9,120
Location
Illinois
Some of them are 3.08 for economy … they even did a 3.42 with a trailer package. The lots carried many of these two gears but of course you could get 3.73 with 6 speed. Now the 8 speeds commonly use the 3.42

This unit had no signs of a trailer towing package and no factory equipped trailer brake controller. Of course, the heavier U-Haul trailers have their own braking systems. For a hitch, the truck had a U-Haul branded receiver hitch (of course). I assume it was a 3.08. I can't see U-Haul paying anything extra for an optional rear end.

My 2017 Sierra has the 5.3 / 6 speed / 3.73 combination (Max Trailering package) with the 2500/3500 mirrors on the doors. It thinks it is a 2500 model.
 

Miller88

Thread starter
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14,828
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Central NY
Is it possible your low power issues with the F350 could be a plugged cat?

With the amount of oil it burns, that could be a possibility. Seriously 1 quart every 150 miles or so towing. But I can assure you, no exhaust gets back to the cat. The Y pipe is rotted completely out o_O . It does pull well for what it is, but it's just a matter of too wide ratio gearing.On the steeper hills, if I shift out of 2nd at 4500RPM , that will drop the engine just below 2000 RPM. These 5.4s (especially NPI heads) don't make their torque until 2400RPM or so.


This unit had no signs of a trailer towing package and no factory equipped trailer brake controller. Of course, the heavier U-Haul trailers have their own braking systems. For a hitch, the truck had a U-Haul branded receiver hitch (of course). I assume it was a 3.08. I can't see U-Haul paying anything extra for an optional rear end.

My 2017 Sierra has the 5.3 / 6 speed / 3.73 combination (Max Trailering package) with the 2500/3500 mirrors on the doors. It thinks it is a 2500 model.

This rental did not have a towing package. 100% aftermarket hitch and no trailer brake controller. Also haphazardly installed wiring receptacles. My trailer has the 4 flat wiring and surge brakes so not a problem for me!
 
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24,175
Location
CA
With a property adjusted weight distributing hitch air bags are not needed.
Are you sure? I see many photos of Rams posted in our group with WDH's and there is still serious saggage with a moderate load. Then again, it is possible that coil springs are just poorly suited for towing and/or the WDH's were not setup correctly.
 

CKN

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6,580
Location
Utah
Are you sure? I see many photos of Rams posted in our group with WDH's and there is still serious saggage with a moderate load. Then again, it is possible that coil springs are just poorly suited for towing and/or the WDH's were not setup correctly.
Crtic-
I am very sure. With a properly adjusted WD hitch-the front of the vehicle should be no more than 1 to 1 1/2 hitches higher than normal. A PROPERLY ADJUSTED WD HITCH distributes weight among the axles of the trailer-and the front and rear axles of the tow vehicle. If you have seen Trucks FRONT UP with a WD hitch-those hitches are not adjusted properly.

AS I have mentioned previously-I have towed from the Utah to the East Coast - and all over the Rocky Mountain West. Most recently-two back to back 1,700 mile trips in late September and early October.

I have logged over 20,000 miles towing my trailer.
 

ls1mike

$50 Site Donor 2021
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In the Garage...
Not to be mean to the 5.4 but that is an anemic engine in a 3/4 ton or better. My old 02 6.0 gasser used to destroy my buddies 05 5.4 Ford towing the passes out here in Washington...not that either of them were particularly fast. When I went from my 4 speed 300HP/340 ft/lbs of torque 02 6.0 2500HD to my current 2017 3500HD 6.0 6 speed 360HP/380 ft/lbs I didn't expect the difference to be that big. I was wrong. One hill in particular will give you an idea of the difference. On this hill towing 8500lbs the old truck would see 4200 to 5200 RPM to maintain 60. The new truck 3200 to 3900 RPM to maintain 62 to 65. It was worth every penny.
 

CKN

Messages
6,580
Location
Utah
Not to be mean to the 5.4 but that is an anemic engine in a 3/4 ton or better. My old 02 6.0 gasser used to destroy my buddies 05 5.4 Ford towing the passes out here in Washington...not that either of them were particularly fast. When I went from my 4 speed 300HP/340 ft/lbs of torque 02 6.0 2500HD to my current 2017 3500HD 6.0 6 speed 360HP/380 ft/lbs I didn't expect the difference to be that big. I was wrong. One hill in particular will give you an idea of the difference. On this hill towing 8500lbs the old truck would see 4200 to 5200 RPM to maintain 60. The new truck 3200 to 3900 RPM to maintain 62 to 65. It was worth every penny.

A bigger motor/truck can be better. However-if you are towing no more than 5,000ish pounds the 5.3 is fine. Im in the Rocky Mountain West. The mountain passes don't get much higher.....elsewhere. Some of use don't want the ride of heavier truck when not towing. And yes they ride like garbage when empty. Sorry!
 
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