What do I consider when using GMC Yukon to tow?

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Hi.  We currently have a 2000 Coleman Cheyenne pop-up.  It's 21ft long, and looking up the specs online it just says "weight (lbs) 1969."  As I am looking at an upgrade (possibly a hybrid?) my DH keeps telling me everything I show him is too big to tow.  He feels that we can't go much bigger than we have right now.  He is the one that always drives, so I get that he needs to be comfortable with what he is driving, but I want to see if I can get an idea of the range based on all the numbers everyone is talking about.  I have read enough threads here to be thoroughly confused with all the different numbers and acronyms, and now realize I know less than I thought I did! 

We are towing with a 2006 GMC Yukon SL 4WD.  We are towing just with a ball hitch, not a weight-distributing hitch (just read about those today - maybe we need one of those??).  We do use a sway bar.  The current trailer has no trailer brakes and is a single axle.  I don't know if it would make a difference with a trailer with two axles, or if we used a better hitch.  Or if the trailer had trailer brakes. 

Doing just a google search on how much I can tow, I get the numbers "5700 to 6500 lbs" but I don't know how they figure it.  I attached an image of the specs I found on a different site.  I don't know what all those numbers mean, but this looks like it says we can tow 7700 lbs.  With these numbers I feel like 1) towing our current pop-up should not be maxing out our truck, and 2) if I am looking at a trailer under 5000 lbs (or maybe I need to go 3500-4500 if that doesn't count it loaded with everything?) we wouldn't be out of line towing it with our Yukon.

So.....  where am I right, and where am I wrong?  What weight range should I be looking for as I am window shopping?
 

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Pugapooh

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Welcome.

You need to look in YOUR vehicle for the numbers.  Drivers door jamb should have the yellow sticker.  Ring those numbers here and others will be happy to help.  I get confused by numbers .  The other numbers you n Ed would be weights of all the people in the Yukon plus the gear in it.  Not each persons actual weight but a combination. 

The then it can be determined what weight your Yukon can tow.  The dry weight is useless.  You have to figure an estimate of the weight of all the gear going in the camper as well. 

Hope that helps.
 

SpencerPJ

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I have a 2005 YukonXL and tow a 21' trailer.  I would not do any more with it, it groans on the hills now, let alone is getting up in age.  Your Yukon will do less than my XL version.  You need to give us the Carry Capacity off the yellow sticker.  Also, does your Yukon have trailer package?  not just the button on gear shift for tow, but a trailer package with extra cooler on transmission and a slightly larger gear in rear end?  You can call any GMC dealer and give them your vin#, and get that information.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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As pugapooh says, you need the specific info for your Yukon configuration, e.g. sub-model, engine, etc.    GMC doesn't keep their old towing guides online, but Trailer Life magazine has good archives for their summary of all vehicles.  Look up your GMC Yukon and get its max tow rating. In the guide, Yukon, Tahoe and Suburban are all in the same sections.

https://www.trailerlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Trailer-Life-Towing-Guide-2006.pdf

The least Yukon is rated at 5700 lbs and it goes up to 8500 lbs, but those numbers include passengers and gear in the Yukon as well as the towed weight.  You can use 85-90% of the max tow rating as a rough estimate of the maximum loaded trailer weight. Compare that limit to the trailer's GVWR (max loaded weight), not the empty weight (UVW). You rarely ever tow it empty, right?

I think you and hubby will find that your 4WD Yukon can handle you two and a nice sized pop-up or hybrid, something with a GVWR in the 6000 lb range.  Not likely to be much longer than the present 21 ft, though.  For example, the Rockwood Roo hybrid model 21SSL has a gross weight around 5900 lbs.  It should have more usable space than your present pop-up (it has a side slide-out as well as the pop-out ends).
https://forestriverinc.com/rvs/travel-trailers/rockwood-roo/21SSL/964
 

grashley

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First, thank you for asking!

The yellow placard referenced above was not required until the 2009 model year, so you may or may not have one.

Any heavier trailer should have trailer brakes.  You will need to have a Trailer Brake Controller (TBC) in the Yukon for them to work.
You will probably need  a WD hitch for any significant upgrade in camper.  This "moves" part of the hitch wt off the rear bumper and moves it to the front axle.  This will improve handling and make the truck more level.  Trailer brakes will help the drive as well.

I believe the SL is the "low" trim level on the Yukon, so the 1590 Payload number should be close.  This means the Yukon can carry a total load of 1590 lbs.  This includes all installed options (not standard equipment), the weight of all passengers, pets, snacks, car seats, tools and toys in the Yukon, plus the tongue wt of the camper plus a WD hitch (80#).

Calculate the weight of everything in the Yukon as listed above, including the hitch, but NOT the TT hitch wt.  Subtract this from the 1590# Payload.  This is the MAX hitch wt you can handle.  Assuming a 10% hitch wt, multiply this number by 10 to get the MAX  trailer GVWR possible.  Assuming 12.5% hitch wt, multiply remaining payload by 8 to get max trailer GVWR.

These numbers will have you maxed out, so that sets an absolute upper limit for GVWR.

Do not let the salesman sell you based on dry wt - their favorite number.  Nobody goes camping in an empty trailer, and the real weight will be closer to the GVWR than the dry wt.  Anything less than GVWR is called a safety margin.
 

blw2

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my silverado is basically the same thing but without the back seats.

all those brochure numbers are ballpark....and the placard in the door is just a start.

what I ultimately did to learn what I could tow, and what I suggest for you

look on your glove box for a sticker with a bunch of codes
internet search for "gm rpo codes"
each of these codes defines the equipment and option in your truck
find the code that tells you what differential ratio you have
probably
G84 : AXLE REAR, 4.10 RATIO
GW8 : AXLE REAR, 4.10 RATIO
GS3 : AXLE REAR, 3.73 RATIO
GU6 : AXLE REAR, 3.42 RATIO
but you'd have to confirm for your model..

and the code  for your engine/transmission

...I'm pretty sure those are the only two variables you'll need to confirm
then take this info to your owners manual.  There are lookup tables there...for a given engine/transmission/gear ratio that show exactly what the GVWR and GCVWR are for YOUR truck

Next, weigh the truck.  Weigh it loaded as if you're going to tow...with family and stuff aboard...would be ideal


GVWR is the number your truck can weigh total...on the tires loaded with gas, with stuff, with the weight of the trailer's tongue hitched on.
how much below this number is your actual measured weight?  That's how much room you have for your new trailer's tongue weight.

Then, the GVCWR is the total allowed weight of truck + trailer.  How much below this number your trucks measured weight is will tell you how much total trailer weight you can tow.

then lastly, most folks would advise not to tow right up to the max.  Handling will be a little less than ideal.  I've towed with an F-250 that was under it's ratings but close...and while it was ok, it wasn't comfortable.  Putting that same trailer behind a 1 ton dodge 3500 dually was very noticeably more comfortable to drive.  Night and day....

My silverado has the V8 engine and the factory trailer tow package...but it has a 3.42:1 rear end...which gives it a very low weight capacity.  I was surprised at how little I can tow.  I don't remember my actual number, but I think it was in the ballpark of about 6,000# total trailer weight.

good luck
 

grashley

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Brad gave some valuable information.  One MINOR addition.  The GVWR of the truck plus the GVWR of the trailer does NOT equal GCWR because the hitch weight is counted in the weight the truck is carrying AND is part of the trailer GVWR.  Be aware of this as you crunch numbers.
 

RVMommaTo6

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I towed a 36 foot TT with my Yukon after the dealer told me that was fine and it never occurred to me to question him. That didn't work out too well and I ended up in a roller over accident because of it. Rolled 2 and a half times with all my kids in the car.
 

SeilerBird

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RVMommaTo6 said:
I towed a 36 foot TT with my Yukon after the dealer told me that was fine and it never occurred to me to question him. That didn't work out too well and I ended up in a roller over accident because of it. Rolled 2 and a half times with all my kids in the car.
Please post the photo Amanda.
 
Joined
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Thanks for all the replies!  I will see if I can find that yellow sticker - I don't have the truck here right now.  Where do you go to weigh a truck?  Does it cost much?
 

grashley

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Getting it weighed is wise.  Around here, the metal recycler and trash transfer station have scales that MAY be free.

Once you get it weighed, the remaining payload is the GVWR from the white placard minus the scaled weight.  I call it remaining payload because when you do calculations for payload, everything and everybody in the Yukon when it was weighed are already included.
 

donn

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Do you have a DOT scale close by?  Here in Oregon the scales are always on even if the office is closed.  There was not many trips that I did not drive across a closed DOT scale to prove to myself my actual weights.  Load the Yukon up like your going on a trip.  Drive to the scales and weight it.  Spend as much time as you need to get accurate weights.  You will want front, rear, and total weights.  When you get home compare the SUVs numbers to scaled numbers.  That will give you the information you need to make an educated guess.  Also, dont let the advertised trailers weights fool you into buying more than you can handle.  Use the trailers GVWR.  That may be worst case, but again you wont have any unpleasant surprises that way.
 

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