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Heavy towing with auto vs manual

Old 12-05-2015, 04:37 PM
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Heavy towing with auto vs manual

Hi guys. So I've been doing quite a bit of towing with the 01 24V in my sig. And quite frankly the towing performance is ridiculous. Now the guy I bought it from threw his money away on a stock auto rebuild so I know the tranny needs some help. The truck is decent when the converter is locked but obviously when it's in slush mode it's embarrassing, to say the least. My problem is that I use the truck A LOT for my business and it needs to be versatile which I feel these trucks are not. I frequently run highway miles unloaded from job to job so I like the 3.55's. But I also need to tow 6-8 tons (probably more next year). I know 4.10's would be way better towing as my V10 truck will out tow this cummins any day of the week. But I don't like the compromises. So my question: Built auto with a low stall triple disc converter and more power to overcome the pathetic transmission gear ratios? Or should I do an NV4500 swap and let the lower first gear compensate for the 3.55's and still have my highway cruising. I also only get about 13-14 (15.? once) mpg avg anyways even with the 3.55's. Obviously more gears means less compromises and unfortunately, manual is the only way to get this in this platform. Money is not a concern. I just want to spend it wisely. How much of a difference will a built auto and TC make over stock? I understand the increased converter efficiency but you're still working with garbage gear ratios. Any input? I almost just want to buy another truck. I'm starting to miss my Duramax/6-speed Allison.
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Old 12-05-2015, 08:02 PM
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I guess my OP may have came across a tad harsh. Don't get me wrong, I like the truck. Just wish it was as capable as it's size, drive train and sound would suggest. My main question is still whether a built auto with more power would be satisfactory for heavy towing or if i'd be better off running a stick. I don't mind shifting gears and that would probably be my personal preference in a vehicle like this. But...it's an auto now and may become more of an employee vehicle next year. Which means I'd rather it be auto for them. Now if I could swap in an Allison 1000 6 speed with a stand alone controller...that would be sweet. But more of an investment than the truck is worth really. It has about 215K on it now.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:58 AM
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The '01 in my sig has 3.55s and was a dog towing until I did the trans with a better TC. I towed 13K quite a bit with it and it did fine.

However my next truck was a 2003 and 6spd with 4.10s. I put in a South bend clutch and edge J/A and it would tow circles around the 2001. It towed 18K on a regular basis.

My 2006 2500 that I have now has 3.73s and I miss the 4.10s.

I don't think you have that much into your truck to justify a swap vs buying a manual truck.

Personally I wouldn't let an employee drive a chipped truck, you're just asking for trouble. Keep your toys to yourself and have a stockish vehicle for the employees.
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:59 AM
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A transmission makes a TON of difference in how a Cummins pulls.

However, until you get to a 6.7L and a 6 speed auto, the NV4500 and NV5600 always wins for ONLY towing.

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Old 12-06-2015, 07:40 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. If I was to keep this truck as my driver, I would like to swap the gears. But I'm not keen on the price of changing out a 4x4. I would love to swap the 4.10 geared dana 80 out of the 97 to save having to regear one of the axles. It has half the miles on it and it's 4.10 already, but it has drum brakes and I feel that is a step backwards.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:03 PM
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I have no regrets swapping my 12v over to a 5 speed, other than stop and go traffic. We got our 07 auto this past summer, all stock and the 5spd really outshines it getting the load moving. Saving up for a converter and valve body. The 07 doesn't pull more then a 8k lb travel trailer, 12v gets up to 3-5k in bed plus another 6-10k on trailer few times a year.
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Old 12-07-2015, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by gorms View Post
I have no regrets swapping my 12v over to a 5 speed, other than stop and go traffic. We got our 07 auto this past summer, all stock and the 5spd really outshines it getting the load moving. Saving up for a converter and valve body. The 07 doesn't pull more then a 8k lb travel trailer, 12v gets up to 3-5k in bed plus another 6-10k on trailer few times a year.
I have been seriously contemplating ditching the slushbox as well if I end up keeping this truck for myself. I have seen kits for doing the swap that include the (updated) transmission for $3'579.75. Is that worth getting? All I'd need is the pedal assembly. I would have almost this much into a built auto and I'd still be stuck with the same crap gear ratios. With the lower 1st gear of the nv4500, I could probably just keep the 3.55 gears. Also a lower reverse would be great for backing trailers up into driveways. I HATE having a reverse that is higher than 1st.
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Old 12-07-2015, 05:05 PM
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It can be done for less then that, I think I was under 3k including clutch/flywheel and rebuilding it with all new bearings. Just gotta keep an eye on Craigslist and all the classifieds.
Only a few times pulling heavy around 55-60mph I wish I had 4.10 s but otherwise 3.55 does a fine job. NV has a bit shorter o/d as well, I'm right at 2k rpm at 65 with 235/85 tires instead of about 1750.
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Old 12-10-2015, 11:40 AM
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Unless you prefer to tow with a manual, I wouldn't bother going through the effort and expense converting transmissions. Converting probably wont save you any money either since manual transmissions arent cheap and you'll more than likely invest in a stronger clutch to assure enough holding pressure.

A properly built custom transmission and torque converter (not some "strong" rebuild from the local tranny shop) will tow anything you want. Add a mild chip like an Edge EZ and you should be able to tow around those loads you mentioned like never before.

Plus, with the upgraded transmission you'll be able to utilize an exhaust brake which will make towing those weights much safer and more enjoyable.

Look at some big name companies like ATS, etc.....
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:32 PM
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Johnny5.9
I have all the parts to do a 4x4 auto to manual swap.
PM me if you like.
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Old 12-14-2015, 10:21 AM
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Good points all around. Does anyone have any thoughts on the ats co-pilot for these trucks? I've heard it'll give me the TC lockup in 2nd like a tow/haul. That would make the auto a more practical load mover too. With a billet triple disc converter of course. But I have no experience with them personally. A local 4x4 shop her ball parked a gear swap at about 2K complete. All new stuff. Seems about right from what I've read. Ideally, I'd like the built transmission and 4.10's. But not sure I can justify that outlay of money into a truck with 215K on it. Ugh. I just don't know...Or do I just sell the thing and get a 4th gen? Haha.
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Old 12-14-2015, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by johnny5.9 View Post
Good points all around. Does anyone have any thoughts on the ats co-pilot for these trucks? I've heard it'll give me the TC lockup in 2nd like a tow/haul. That would make the auto a more practical load mover too. With a billet triple disc converter of course. But I have no experience with them personally. A local 4x4 shop her ball parked a gear swap at about 2K complete. All new stuff. Seems about right from what I've read. Ideally, I'd like the built transmission and 4.10's. But not sure I can justify that outlay of money into a truck with 215K on it. Ugh. I just don't know...Or do I just sell the thing and get a 4th gen? Haha.
That a question only you can answer. Meaning, either way you look at it justification is the deciding factor. If you can justify the cost of a new truck which will serve your needs you need it to do better that what you currently have. Or can you justify keeping the truck you have and investing money in it to better serve what you need it to do. "Investing" isnt really the right word since vehicles depreciate in value, but you can potentially save money either way you choose so its a potential investment on current funds.

A breakdown of annual costs, depreciation, and tax advantages may better help you understand which is the more logical move.

When I need my truck to do more it didnt take me long to understand that its current value and money needed to make it more capable was far less than that of the new higher DMV fee's, higher insurance, and monthly payments a new truck would entail. So in point, I cant "justify" the cost of a new truck because I can still get my older one to do what I need and save all that cost burden. The only other main variable is cost of repairs, whereby a new truck will have a warranty which will defer most repair costs as the used truck wont.

That said, 215k miles isnt very much for these engines. It although can be a lot of miles on the rest of the truck depending on how it was maintained and used. Generally the rest of the drivetrain is the majority of that issue too. So if you're replacing the entire transmission and rebuilding the differential then you really have only minor drivetrain/chassis components left which would cost much money to fix if needed.

I know I rambled on but I thought it worth discussing.
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Old 12-16-2015, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by KATOOM View Post
That a question only you can answer. Meaning, either way you look at it justification is the deciding factor. If you can justify the cost of a new truck which will serve your needs you need it to do better that what you currently have. Or can you justify keeping the truck you have and investing money in it to better serve what you need it to do. "Investing" isnt really the right word since vehicles depreciate in value, but you can potentially save money either way you choose so its a potential investment on current funds.

A breakdown of annual costs, depreciation, and tax advantages may better help you understand which is the more logical move.

When I need my truck to do more it didnt take me long to understand that its current value and money needed to make it more capable was far less than that of the new higher DMV fee's, higher insurance, and monthly payments a new truck would entail. So in point, I cant "justify" the cost of a new truck because I can still get my older one to do what I need and save all that cost burden. The only other main variable is cost of repairs, whereby a new truck will have a warranty which will defer most repair costs as the used truck wont.

That said, 215k miles isnt very much for these engines. It although can be a lot of miles on the rest of the truck depending on how it was maintained and used. Generally the rest of the drivetrain is the majority of that issue too. So if you're replacing the entire transmission and rebuilding the differential then you really have only minor drivetrain/chassis components left which would cost much money to fix if needed.

I know I rambled on but I thought it worth discussing.
Ramble all you want. It's all good info and valid points. Thanks. You hit the nail on the head with the point about mileage. The cummins does have some great longevity but we don't drive engines. We drive trucks. And the rest can go just as fast as any other. That said, this one seems to have been lucky enough to escape the real abuse. One thing is for certain, it would be very hard to beat the low cost of ownership of these 2nd gen's. I really like being able to make one payment for insurance that is less than a new truck payment and be insured for the year.
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Old 02-14-2016, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by johnny5.9 View Post
Good points all around. Does anyone have any thoughts on the ats co-pilot for these trucks? I've heard it'll give me the TC lockup in 2nd like a tow/haul. That would make the auto a more practical load mover too. With a billet triple disc converter of course. But I have no experience with them personally. A local 4x4 shop her ball parked a gear swap at about 2K complete. All new stuff. Seems about right from what I've read. Ideally, I'd like the built transmission and 4.10's. But not sure I can justify that outlay of money into a truck with 215K on it. Ugh. I just don't know...Or do I just sell the thing and get a 4th gen? Haha.
Johnny--Can you say MYSTERY SWITCH-works great.
Just do a search, lots of good info out there.
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Old 06-30-2016, 05:54 PM
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Well, I retired the 01 from constant trailer duty and that is now done by the 02 with a 6 speed, 4.56's, twins and more power than I know what to do with. That solved the towing problem.
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