Towing tips for hauling 5th wheel, travel trailers, or smaller trailer based on Phil’s towing experience:
Fuel Economy: Trailer towing of necessity burns more fuel, but there are steps that can be taken to improve towing fuel economy. With a 5th wheel trailer, wind resistance is the biggest problem. I installed a roof mounted wind deflector and improved my mileage from 10mpg to 12mpg, towing our 32ft 5th wheel. If you have a pyrometer, watch exhaust temperature and drop your speed or downshift to keep temps under 900 degrees if possible.
Transmission Shifting: If you are towing with a 2001 to 2006 Duramax with the five speed Allison transmission, consider letting Phil’s install an Overdrive Lockout switch. For about $250, we can give you the fourth gear that GM did not make selectable. To do this we reprogram the Transmission Control Module (TCM) to the latest software and then install a momentary contact switch and wiring to the TCM, inside the cab of your truck. When pulling a hill while towing, selecting 4th eliminates the hunting and lugging problems of the otherwise excellent Allison transmission.
Using the Bully Dog or Edge while towing: I have experienced a significant improvement in fuel economy while towing with the Bully Dog set on Level 2. In a recent trip to the State of Washington and back, I was able to average 17mpg while towing a two axle U-Haul trailer the entire distance of 2,600 miles. Higher power levels for towing are NOT recommended. Towing by itself is stressful on the transmission. Additional power can cause even the heavy duty Allison transmission to slip, greatly accelerating wear.
Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems: Ever have a tire failure on your 5th wheel or travel trailer? I have had two, and it isn’t any fun. Unlike a flat tire on your car or truck, the flat on the trailer is difficult or impossible to feel. As a result, the tire can self-destruct and do considerable damage to the sides and undercarriage of your trailer. A tire pressure monitoring system can monitor the pressure in your trailer tires and warn you of a low inflation condition BEFORE the tire self-destructs. Depending on the system installed, the cost for a Four Tire system is around $450. This type of system uses pressure sensors mounted inside the tires. Other styles that use a sensor that threads on in place of the valve cap are less expensive, but also easier to steal.