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Angus

Towing an OLE II with a 2007 Chevy Express AWD

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My wife and I are conducting Oliver research and will lay eyes on our first OLE II this coming Friday. Trying to answer as many questions as possible before the upcoming visit, and one question on the list is: Can we use our existing 2007 Chevy Express AWD Van?

 

What are your thoughts on keeping this vehicle as a starting point for a tow vehicle?

 

Here is the data on our van:

2007 Chevy Express H1500 AWD Passenger Van

"5300" V8 Engine

The manual lists 3.42 and 3.73 Axle ratios, but does not specify which ration for my particular vehicle.

Maximum Trailer Weight is 6,100 pounds (NOTE: The "Cargo Van" version is rated at 6,500 pounds, but all other specs look the same for both models. I'm not sure what the difference is besides the number of seats.)

GCWR is 12,000 pounds

Here is the data on our hitch:

Weight Distribution Hitch

Max Gross Trailer Weight is 7,500 pounds.

Max Tongue Weight is 750 pounds.

Weight Carrying Ball Mount

Max Gross Trailer Weight is 5,000 pounds.

Max Tongue Weight is 500 pounds.

We have been very happy with this van, and it has made several long journeys. The only downside to our van, is that it is a base model -- no cruise control... no electric windows... nothing fancy inside at all. We can live with this until the time is right to purchase a newer vehicle

 

The AWD handles dirt, gravel, ice, and snow with ease. The van has only "broken loose" from the road once, and that was when I was testing the limits -- I kept the gas on... did not touch the brakes... steered where I wanted to go... and the van eventually straightened and continued down the road.

 

We have one bench seat and removed the 2 back bench seats. The storage is incredible. I can't imagine that we would ever exceed the GCWR, but you never know.

 

My local tire-guy installed some heavy duty tires for hauling cargo (groceries) over the passes around Lake City. Can't tell you exactly what type of tire at the moment, but he has never led me astray.

 

It looks like we definitely need the weight distributing hitch.

 

Thanks,

 

Peter and Patty (no... we do not have much towing experience!)

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If you lived down below 3000 ft I would say, go for it. But having towed my Ollie on the Million Dollar Highway with a turbo diesel, I can say that you will be COMPLETELY unhappy with the towing performance and it will suck fuel like you would not believe.

 

You really need to consider a diesel. They make towing at 10000 ft a delight. If you get a HD model you won’t need a weight distributing hitch, nor will you have to worry at all about payload.

 

The Elite II is compact but, if you buy many options, it is a heavy little guy. You need more truck.... or else buy the smaller trailer.

 

Your van simply does not have enough reserve towing capacity for those high passes. Sorry for the bad news.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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I also apologize but I would have to concur with John. Although it is an anomaly and our trailer weighs over 7100 pounds, yours will weigh well north of 5000 pounds and that puts you closer to your max tow capacity than I would want to be.  I really feel you would have much better towing experience with a better equipped truck which would probably actually get better gas mileage also. We went from a 2014 GMC Sierra 6.2 liter gas burner to a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 6.6 liter diesel. The old truck got <12 mpg towing towing and (at most) about 20 mpg highway. The Silverado is getting >14 mpg towing and on a recent non towing trip, better than 26 mpg highway! And this beast weighs 1500 pounds more than the Sierra.

 

Something to consider...

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

      ALAKAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMA       ABBCMBNSYTsm.jpg

 

 

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Angus,

 

Of course your van will tow your Ollie!  The specs of your truck are considerably above the weight of your Ollie.  But, having said that, you might find you'd like something else later that is even heavier duty, and that will be fine too.  It's not like you're trying to tow it with a Beetle, or a Datsun pickup.    And your truck seems to have traction control, which is good.

 

Be sure you have a high quality brake controller before you tow!  Your brakes might be the weak link if you don't work the trailer brakes hard enough.

 

Yes, a diesel would get better mileage, but it also will cost a LOT to buy.   A big diesel will pull harder, but how hard do you need?  Use what you have and see how you like it.   I'm towing with a Ram/Cummins, but I know your truck is perfectly capable of getting you to a campsite.  You also already have 4WD which is very important.

 

BTW, you state the axle is a 3.42 AND a 3.73.  No it's not.  Which one is it?  3.73 would be better for towing.

 

You say yours is a 2017 and then you say it's a 2007.  They have significantly different engines.  Which is it?

 

Reed is towing with a 2017 or 2018 5300 Chevy and he seems to like it.  Maybe he'll chime in here.

 

Looks like your "ball mount" is a bit light.  Do you mean the actual ball mount that slides into the 2" receiver?  Or the hitch that is bolted to the frame?  Look on etrailer and see if you can upgrade to 6000 lbs.  The Oliver bulldog coupler on mine is for a 2" ball and it's rated for 6,000 lbs.

 

My Ollie has a tongue weight of about 475 lbs ready to go. I've measured it with a scale.   Not sure of the overall weight, but it is probably near 5,400 lbs.

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John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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+1 on the above but... It will work and as long as you know its limitations beforehand, you can plan ahead. You said your axle ratios are "3.42 and 3.73 Axle ratio", but which one? If you don't know then I would sell it because running the wrong ratio will make it impossible to back up hills when needed. You're running too close to the edge for me but... It would work if your in a pinch.

 

Reed

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Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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Angus, Of course your van will tow your Ollie! The specs of your truck are considerably above the weight of your Ollie. But, having said that, you might find you’d like something else later that is even heavier duty, and that will be fine too. It’s not like you’re trying to tow it with a Beetle, or a Datsun pickup. And your truck seems to have traction control, which is good. Be sure you have a high quality brake controller before you tow! Your brakes might be the weak link if you don’t work the trailer brakes hard enough. Yes, a diesel would get better mileage, but it also will cost a LOT to buy. A big diesel will pull harder, but how hard do you need? Use what you have and see how you like it. I’m towing with a Ram/Cummins, but I know your truck is perfectly capable of getting you to a campsite. You also already have 4WD which is very important. BTW, you state the axle is a 3.42 AND a 3.73. No it’s not. Which one is it? 3.73 would be better for towing. You say yours is a 2017 and then you say it’s a 2007. They have significantly different engines. Which is it? Reed is towing with a 2017 or 2018 5300 Chevy and he seems to like it. Maybe he’ll chime in here. Looks like your “ball mount” is a bit light. Do you mean the actual ball mount that slides into the 2″ receiver? Or the hitch that is bolted to the frame? Look on etrailer and see if you can upgrade to 6000 lbs. The Oliver bulldog coupler on mine is for a 2″ ball and it’s rated for 6,000 lbs. My Ollie has a tongue weight of about 475 lbs ready to go. I’ve measured it with a scale. Not sure of the overall weight, but it is probably near 5,400 lbs.

 

Writing at the same time again John :)

 

Being we just paid $2.72 for gas here and diesel is $3.50+ with the $.96 cent a gallon diesel tax here, you can do the math... Our Chevy has an 11,000lb tow rating and does not compare to the diesels but it it works fine for what we bought it to do. The Mercedes diesel we had was a whole different ball game and there is no comparrison but with the taxes here and the environazi attacks on diesel, Mercedes quit selling diesels to us stupid Amerikans... So we downgraded to Chevy but in the long run it will save us a lot of money. We have the top of the line Chevy but still, I will post a separate topic on the comparrison because as always, you get what you pay for and stepping down from a $100,000.00+ vehicle to a $52,000.00 vehicle, you expect there to be a big difference when you make that choice.

 

Reed

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Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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Writing at the same time again John ???? 

 

Like minds.

 

 

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John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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Peter & Patty - We seem to spend a bunch of time talking about which is better, which is safer, which is more comfortable, which has better "style", which is the most economical, etc.  I think that at its base level the whole deal about towing is fairly simple - make sure that the basic towing limits are covered with enough safety margin for you, others on the road with you and your insurance capacity.  Once that is done then (up to some limit) more is usually better.  More is either more comfortable or allows you to tow at higher speeds (safely) or for longer distances or over steeper passes or more extreme grades or varying difficult conditions, etc.  Virtually any of the current full size pickups with a tow package - whether gas or diesel - will tow a fully loaded Oliver without problem.  Will a heavy duty (HD) truck do it better?  Again - just how much "more" do you want or need for what you want to do?

 

Will your van tow an Oliver?  It appears that it will.  Will it tow it within the safety and performance margins that either you expect and/or want or can afford?  That depends on you.  I happen to believe that there are times when the gas pedal is just as important as the brake pedal for getting one out of a potentially dangerous situation.  Therefore, I tend to be more comfortable with a tow vehicle that is not as close to the limits as your van will be.  But, if you're willing to live within the limitations that the van will impose on you ...

 

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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John,

 

Thanks for your reply, and apologies for the data typos! To answer some of your questions and respond to comments:

My van is actually AWD. It's not a true 4x4 like our Jeep. I am unable to shift in/out of AWD.

Regarding the axle, I copied data directly from the Owner's Manual and was not able to find anything more specific on the tags within the vehicle. The manual lists both numbers 3.42 / 3.73 with not additional data or info. Not sure how now to narrow this down -- any ideas?

The van is a 2007... NOT a 2017... typo on my part. The manual lists the van as "H1500 Passenger Van AWD, 5300 V8".

The engine is 5.3L V8.

The Ball Mount data comes from the sticker on the hitch. The sticker provides 2 numbers: 1 for a ball hitch weight, and then another if I'm using a Weight Distribution Hitch -- 500 pounds tongue weight for just the ball and then 750 pounds if I have a Weight Distribution Hitch. Then 5,000 pounds max tow weight with just the ball hitch, and 7,500 pounds max tow weight if I have the Weight Distribution Hitch.

The max weights sticker on the ball mount that slides into the receiver match what is already on the van (750 and 7,500)

Thanks,

 

Peter

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John,

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

We had a feeling that we might be approaching the upper-limits of performance and safety with our current van. We can financially pull the trigger on the OLEII, but need to onload some property (the business) before upgrading to a newer more powerful vehicle.

 

I can tell you that when I moved to Colorado, I pulled a U-Haul trailer (2,210 pounds) with the van. The trailer was carrying my Jeep (~3,300 pounds). The Jeep and Van were both loaded floor to ceiling with books and other household goods. The van "felt" heavy, but handled the load well through the mountains passes, and it was stable on the flats at 75 mph. Wish I would have weighed everything along the way. :-)

 

Peter

 

 

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Angus,

 

I'd go ahead and get your Oliver and bring it home with your van, assuming not too heavily loaded, a good brake controller and excellent tires rated for the task.  Then, as you get settled and get a few miles on it, you'll probably want something with a bit more towing capacity and larger brakes.  Like a 3/4 or 1 ton P/U with single rear wheels and possibly a diesel.

 

I don't like to recommend diesels to those not familiar with them for various reasons, but they are the best at towing.  Specific years and models can be either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.  Later models are extremely complicated, etc.

 

Weight distribution hitches are a subject worth discussing too.  Your empty Oliver will have a tongue weight of about 450 lbs.  Seems within reason for your van without the WDH, but just barely.  Since your hitch is rated for a 750 lb load with  WDH, it is strong enough to handle a 450 lb load.  It seems the rear suspension of your truck is the limit and will sag without a WDH.  So, I guess it sounds like a good idea to get one.  Your next rig probably won't need it though.  Anderson hitches are offered as an option from Oliver, but they are controversial.  I have one and don't want to use it.  Others have had trouble with them.  But they work with the Oliver tongue design better than anything else.

 

Try putting 500 lbs in the back of your van, as far back as you can, and see how bad it sags.  You might be better off with heavy duty overload springs than a WDH.   Those vans can be rated as high as 8,300 lb towing capacity with the right options.

 

I hope you don't plan to tow it at 75 MPH like your previous example.


John


"I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt."


LE2 #92 (sold),   Black Series HQ19   

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No... definitely not with a new Oliver! :-)

 

Peter

 

I hope you don’t plan to tow it at 75 MPH like your previous example.

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Angus, part of the equation is occupant comfort, both while towing and while unladen. While a big gas motor can perform acceptably well up high, it will never feel effortless. You will spend a lot of time with the engine wound out in the lower gears, ocassionally smacking the steering wheel with your hand in frustration. At 10,000 feet your little V8 is only supplying 60% of its factory (sea level) power. It can be very frustrating for the people inside to be in a vehicle that is simply underpowered for the task.

 

A modern turbo diesel will lope along at low rpm in a supremely relaxed manner. My Cummins 5.9 could climb steep grades while towing 6000 pounds at 4000 feet in overdrive at 1600-1800 rpm, no problem. The only way you would know it was working hard was to watch the boost gage. At 13,000 feet on a 12% climb, it was foot close to the floor in second gear, but it would still accelerate. The turbo supplies the extra air that is needed up high, so power loss is not dramatic.

 

My new TV is a Land Cruiser 5.7 with 400 ft lbs of torque and a six speed auto. It pulls the Ollie without a problem, but it is in no way effortless, and as a result it is not as relaxing an experience. I have to use the gears and rev it to 4000 rpm or more.  It is rated at 8500 pounds so it isn’t close to its limit.

 

When empty an older HD truck will beat you up on rough pavement. That is the main reason I sold the old Ram, it was hopeless and painful on rough back roads and choppy freeway. Forget about forest roads!  The newer HD trucks, a Ram 2500 in particular with independent airbag rear end, is actually comfy. I am very fond of the Power Wagon 2500 with the 6.4 gas engine.

 

You will need to decide which factors matter most to you. A big truck optimized for towing works great but you may not want to drive it at other times. The sweet spot for an Ollie appears to be a long wheelbase “heavy half ton” with a turbo gas motor, like the F150 Ecoboost, or perhaps the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel. Either would pull your trailer up the steep high grades, yet be easy to live with hauling groceries.

 

You can certainly try your van,  but I would caution you not waste much money trying to improve it. It is not the best starting point for this purpose. A set of rear air bags and HD shocks wouldn’t cost much and might make it OK for a years trial. After you have some experience pulling your Ollie you will know a lot more about what will suit you best.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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