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5.3, 6.0 or 8.1

kschaper75

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Looking to buy a tow rig for my 85 Toyota pickup. Still on stock axles and 35's for now. I won't go back to the old site and search so I'm posting here. Do I need a 3/4 ton? It won't be a daily just minimal towing, some homedepot runs and what not. Budget will be 15k or less. I'm not opposed to Ford or Dodge just had good experiences with Chevy. Don't really want or need a diesel after having one for a few years. Thanks!
 
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Lowrollin70gmc

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You don’t need a 3/4 Ton, but at a certain point the used 1500 to 2500 price difference isn’t that great. I love the 6.0/4L80E and 6.0/NV4500 combos for their simplicity and low cost of repair.

As for engine, I love the 8.1 and have had a couple trucks with it (one 2500, one 4500). Sucks gas, and had oil consumption issues in the 2500. My work has a fleet of 6.0 GM 2500s and they’ve been very reliable, especially considering they either have a trailer on for the summer or a plow attached all winter.
 

'84 Bronco II

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A 5.3L half ton will do the job, but it will struggle if you tow on big grades. As mentioned, for a ˜10 year old truck, the 3/4 or 1 ton will be about the same price as a 1/2 ton, so personally I'd go with a 2500/3500. For what you are talking about, a 6.0L would probably be the best fit. An 8.1L is a bit overkill and will burn a lot of gas even when you aren't towing. If you were planning on towing close to 10K, an 8.1L might be worth looking into.

I am not as in tune with Chevy pricing, but for 15K, you could easily get yourself into a 2011+ 6.2L Superduty which is the way to go for a newer gas rig.
 

kschaper75

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(Untitled)

Thanks for the info. i figured a 6.0 would be good. Havent really looked at the fords but will see what i can find. I did see an 03 chevy 2500 with 150k for 6300. 4x4 long bed. Figured i couldnt go wrong with something like that.
 

Haggard-Beard

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Do ya care about gas mileage when driving empty? If so then 5.3. If your fine with getting fuck all for mileage then I would recommend the 6.0 or 8.1. Either one will pull whatever ya throw at it, but the 8.1s are harder to find.
 

kschaper75

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Do ya care about gas mileage when driving empty? If so then 5.3. If your fine with getting fuck all for mileage then I would recommend the 6.0 or 8.1. Either one will pull whatever ya throw at it, but the 8.1s are harder to find.

Gas mileage is irrelevant as it won't be my DD. 8.1's seem to be scarce or have a million miles on them
 
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rockota

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If it’s not a DD, then I wouldn’t even consider a 1/2 ton...
 

YotaAtieToo

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Can you get by with a 2wd? Because that's by far the best way to get a great tow rig for cheap.

I had a 6.0 burb and it kinda sucked towing, I might have had a lemon.

I'd be looking at V10 ford's, or heck even a 5.4, those a re cheap!
 

tracyb

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simple. whatever you find the best deal on. ive currently got 3 fords; '10 5.4l f350, '12 6.2l f350, '98 e350psd. and a '09 5.3l burb. i tow with all of them.

the 5.4 gets used the most for long haul family trips at around 17-20k. its 4door and was cheapest. i like the 6.2l more but is only ex cab so carseats suck, and they get the same mpg for what i use them for, maybe 5% differance. nobody but me likes the noisy, stinky diesel. the 5.3l burb is the most comfy but has to spin the same as the 5.4 and doesn't have the bigger axles and brakes etc... i dont trust the 5.3l tranny.

i beat the 5.4l with no regard, 4-5k rpm for half hour or more at a time pulling mountain passes. and at 241k miles on the od still doesn't miss a beat. rpms dont bother me at all and the late model 5.4l are some of the most under valued trucks on the market. i bought the truck knowing to keep money on hand for a new motor or tranny at a bad time on a big trip, but it just runs hard and has been the most reliable off all the rigs... knock on wood
 

DMG

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I suggest a 1500hd or 2500 with the 6.0 and a tune.
 

kschaper75

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(Untitled)

so which tuner is best? Did some searching and as always its all over the place.
 

Haggard-Beard

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Diablosport intune i3 is what I was gonna use on my burban before I got rid of it
 

Chevy_man

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I've never understood why people think the 8.1 is such a gas hog. They get 12 empty, just like a 6.0, if your loaded heavy they still get 6, just like a 6.0

Hell, my 3500 with a L31 vortec only gets 12 empty, and 6 towing.



Buy whatever you can find in a 2500/3500 just to get the 4l80e. High mileage and a 4l60e is just asking to build a trans.
 

TRINDU

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I know of a 2007 classic, 6.0, nv4500, regular cab, 4x4, 50k miles....

With magnuson supercharger. Was just mentioned in pass but can inquire.
 

DMG

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so which tuner is best? Did some searching and as always its all over the place.

I sent my pcm to Wayne Hartwig. Hopefully he moves over to thus site. Black Bear works too.
 

DMG

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I've never understood why people think the 8.1 is such a gas hog. They get 12 empty, just like a 6.0, if your loaded heavy they still get 6, just like a 6.0

Hell, my 3500 with a L31 vortec only gets 12 empty, and 6 towing.



Buy whatever you can find in a 2500/3500 just to get the 4l80e. High mileage and a 4l60e is just asking to build a trans.

Towing heavy they get similar mileage but the 6.0 gets 2-3 better driving around empty , doesn’t burn as much oil and is easier to work on or get parts for. I like a tuned 6.0 in a multi-use vehicle.
 

Chevy_man

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Towing heavy they get similar mileage but the 6.0 gets 2-3 better driving around empty , doesn’t burn as much oil and is easier to work on or get parts for. I like a tuned 6.0 in a multi-use vehicle.

My Yukon (light weight and light drivetrain) gets 15mpg with the 6.0.
I've never seen a truck get over 13. The 8.1's I've driven get 12-13 empty.

​​​​​​If you get super mileage out of a 6.0 you've got an anomaly.

​​​
 

WTF?

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i'd say 5.3 or big block. To me,the extra power of the 6.0 over the 5.3 isnt worth it for the fuel it burns. But i will concede that the 2500 chassis & brakes handles the loads over 6k great.


my designated towpig for the past 2 years has been a stock 02 2500hd 4x4 6.0 auto with 4.10's. I heard the stories of 6.0's hitting low mid teen mpgs on the highway , but this aint one of those unicorns. i cant get 12 mpg out of it empty (11.7 was my best tank ever, running empty 55-60 mph back roads with no traffic trying to go easy on the skinny pedal.) I generally count on get 9 mpg in mixed driving & get 6.5 mpg towing heavy ~8k or 7.5-8 mpg towing 3.5k.

I'm in the process of replacing the 6.0 with an 8.1 truck because the fuel burn impact should be pretty much naught.

towing the same 3.5k boat with a 5.3 1500 silverado i can get 11.5-12 mpg. And so I will pick a same vintage 5.3 Burb or half ton pickup from my stable to drag anything up to around 5k, because its completely capable & stable at those weghts and gets almost twice the mpgs.
 
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YotaAtieToo

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Does anyone actually know why the 6.0 is such a gas hog with marginal power difference over the 5.3? Or is it the extra weight, drag and lower gears of the 2500?
 

WTF?

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Does anyone actually know why the 6.0 is such a gas hog with marginal power difference over the 5.3? Or is it the extra weight, drag and lower gears of the 2500?

my buddy had a 07 or 08 1500 ex cab with the maxtow pkg 6.0 that couldn't get over 13.0 mpg on the same commute that he got 17+ out of a 01 5.3 suburban with the same 3.73's.
 
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Haggard-Beard

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Does anyone actually know why the 6.0 is such a gas hog with marginal power difference over the 5.3? Or is it the extra weight, drag and lower gears of the 2500?

A large part of it is the 4l80. Good trans but also a good bit of parasitic loss.
 

DMG

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My Yukon (light weight and light drivetrain) gets 15mpg with the 6.0.
I've never seen a truck get over 13. The 8.1's I've driven get 12-13 empty.

​​​​​​If you get super mileage out of a 6.0 you've got an anomaly.

​​​

01 2500hd 6.0/4500/4wd ccsb with 3 inch exhaust and tune from Wayne would pull 14+ unloaded. My customers at the Chevy dealer with 8.1s reported 10-12 with a lot of oil consumption as well.
 

What?

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Out of 3 options, 8.1 hands down without a doubt. Why they build more than 6.0 than 8.1 is beyond me.

I wouldn't be opposed to 2011+ F150 with 6.2 either.
 

kschaper75

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Appreciate all the feedback. For what I will be doing even a 2wd 6.0 would be good. The selection is pretty good in my price range. I do see a lot with over 300k which is encouraging for longevity.
 

BIG-O

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I have an 03 sierra 2500hd 6.0. All stock accept for a Wayne tune. It tows our 85 4runner on 35's just fine. Have to Rev it on the hills though. With a 3/4 ton truck, you get a full float rear end and the 4l80e, but you have to pay commercial registration. In Ca at least.
 
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YotaAtieToo

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Appreciate all the feedback. For what I will be doing even a 2wd 6.0 would be good. The selection is pretty good in my price range. I do see a lot with over 300k which is encouraging for longevity.

My 6.0 had 240k and needed an oil pump, the intake pulled for some sensors, and the holy grail 4l80e would bang into 2nd when warm. None of this came up on the extensive test drive I did, but of course on the way home.

Not sure how to avoid all this, just make sure you get it good and warm on the test drive. Also maybe bring a cheap scan tool to make sure they didn't just clear the computer.
 

YotaAtieToo

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I have an 03 sierra 2500hd 6.0. All stock accept for a Wayne tune. It tows our 85 4runner on 35's just fine. Have to Rev it on the hills though. With a 3/4 ton truck, you get a full float rear end and the 4l80e, but you have to pay commercial registration. In Ca at least.

Not all 2500 got the FF rear, just the HDs.

ALL trucks are considered commercial in CA. A little Toyota, even my neighbors 29 model T pickup :homer:
 
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