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Old 09-28-2015, 12:42 PM   #1
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Changlng gears on tow vehicle

Currently have Chevrolet Suburban with 3.42 gears, but thinking of changing to 3.73 or 4.10 gears to pull our Salem, Cruise-lite. Well within load requirements now but, at times, need more tongue and power getting thru the Ozarks and Smokies. Anyone have thoughts, or firsthand experience on this modification? It's a 1994, 1500 with 350 motor. Less than 110,000 miles.
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Old 09-28-2015, 02:53 PM   #2
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1st of all, nice looking Burb !!

No experience with changing gear sets, but here are my thoughts:

If the Suburban is a 4x4 (I think most/all are ??) then the cost to change both gear sets could run into some big bucks.

Lower gears really help with starting from a stop, but maybe not as much when climbing. If a higher gear doesn't work, then a lower gear will. Say a 3:73 Burb might pull a hill in 3rd, your 3:42 might need 2nd...........big deal. The transmission can somewhat make up for the higher ratio gear set. Now if you constantly having to pull a hill in 1st gear with the torque converter unlocked (I think most vehicles don't have lock-up in 1st gear), that would be a problem.
The lower gear ratios would tend to "close up" the spacing between the tranny gears, making the engine hp and torque more efficient.

Taking off from a start on a hill with the 3:42s might put more of a strain on the torque converter vs. the lower gear sets.
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Old 09-28-2015, 03:16 PM   #3
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...If the Suburban is a 4x4 (I think most/all are ??) then the cost to change both gear sets could run into some big bucks...
I would venture to say "most are NOT 4 x 4. If I were OP, I would use the gear shift and forget the gear change.
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Old 09-28-2015, 04:42 PM   #4
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Change out the gears

It's 2-wheel drive, so I wouldn't need to do anything up front. I guess I get nervous when it downshifts to 2nd, the RPM's get close to red line and my speed drops into the 40's.

Thanks for the compliment on the burb. It's a very nice truck and, more importantly, paid for!
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Old 09-28-2015, 05:00 PM   #5
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It's 2-wheel drive, so I wouldn't need to do anything up front. I guess I get nervous when it downshifts to 2nd, the RPM's get close to red line and my speed drops into the 40's.
In that case, I think it will help. For a '94, you should have quite a choice for parts at auto-recyclers. Obviously, pick parts with the lowest mileage you can (if they know the vehicle it came from) and you may even be able to trade in your existing parts. See if you can get the speedometer gear from the transmission too - will keep your speedometer reading correctly.
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Old 09-28-2015, 05:24 PM   #6
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If you chose the new gear way...I would seek a 4WD shop to change mine...or a HP shop. Those guys do it all the time. Be prepared to use more than just gears. A lot of GM vehicles use a new carrier/spacer or something with that much change. I would want all new bearings...including axle. I would use synthetic lube also.


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Old 09-28-2015, 05:32 PM   #7
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Well seeing the age and mileage I would not consider the expense it will be to change the gear. I'd save my money and eventually trade out. Later RJD
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Old 09-28-2015, 08:38 PM   #8
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I had a 95 like yours but 4wd . It was a dog for towing. Had to keep the 350 up around 3000 rpms to tow my 31 foot prowler I had @ the time. So for the age of it I wouldn`t waste your money changing gears.
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Old 09-28-2015, 08:47 PM   #9
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X2 on the age/mileage. I applaud your desire to keep the old girl going, but doing anything this expensive to a 21 yr old vehicle is nuts, IMHO. You could go to all the trouble and 2 wks later the engine blows or the tranny goes out. I'd say "Save your bucks for a new TV." A newer TV should get better mileage and put out less pollution, too.
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Old 09-28-2015, 08:48 PM   #10
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4:10 gears will kill your daily fuel mileage. 3:73 gears have always been a good choice for towing and it is a common Chev gear set


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