If you get into lowriding deep enough, there will probably come a come time when you need a tow vehicle and a trailer. To ensure that your trailering experience is safe and trauma-free, you must consider a number of factors. Proper towing requires three things: the right hitch, the right trailer and a vehicle in good condition that's rated for the load that it will be towing. (Actually, there's a fourth item required for safe towing: a brain behind the wheel, but that's another story.) The load rating is easy to determine if you have a newer vehicle, since every automotive maker publishes trailer weight maximums for its new cars each year. But finding the right trailer and hitch combination is not quite so simple.
How To Get Your Ride To The Show Without A ProblemWith the show season in full swing, now's the time to make sure that you and your lowrider are safe before you take to the highway. A quick glance at the roadways during this travel season reveals in glaring detail the number of motorists who unknowingly overload their vehicles-and trailers. Aside from the cost of auto repairs resulting from an accident, or the long-term wear on their vehicles' suspensions, those folks are also risking life and limb in the interest of getting from point A to point B.
It's crucial that drivers follow some simple guidelines when towing. The first place to start is by choosing the proper trailer hitch. There's far more to making this decision than just price or how soon it can be installed. Talk to a qualified dealer and tell him exactly what you plan to tow, so he can make an informed recommendation.
Choosing A Hitch"You can't tow more than what your vehicle is rated to carry," says Saundra James of Bilt-Rite Trailers (in Sikeston, Missouri). "For safe towing, you need [to know] the vehicle's maximum towing capacity [which can be found in the vehicle's owner's manual], as well as the type of trailer, its gross trailer weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW)."
The gross trailer weight (GTW) is the weight of the trailer completely loaded. Tongue weight (TW) is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler. As a rule of thumb, the (TW) is 10- to 15-percent of the GTW.
Once you know these two figures, it's time to choose a hitch. Hitches are rated in five classes, which cover everything from passenger cars and SUVs pulling a modest 2,000 pounds to full-size trucks hauling upwards of 10,000 pounds.
Your low is ready to go but are you ready to tow?
The Featherlite Model 3101 bumper-pull open car hauler with removable fenders and pull-out
Pace American's Rallye Series trailers are ideal for car hobbyists on a budget. Features a
Leveling The LoadOnce you've chosen the proper hitch, you still must load the towing vehicle and trailer properly. When the trailer is fully loaded, does the trailer or hitch drag over bumps? Does your vehicle suffer from sway, road wander and fishtailing at speed? Does its rear end sag? When you're towing at night, do oncoming drivers flash their bright lights at you as you approach? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be a prime candidate for a load leveling device.
Several products are designed to help vehicles with leaf springs in the rear (which is most vehicles on the road) handle the extra load. The first product, aptly enough, is called helper springs. Another choice is a set of air springs.
Helper springs attach to your stock leaf springs and usually come into play only when you're hauling a heavy load or towing. They essentially increase the spring rate-but under normal driving conditions, they won't affect your vehicle's ride quality. Helper springs also can come in handy if you've installed heavy accessories on the back of a truck, such as a winch, a serious rear bumper or even a truck cap.
Air assist systems work in a similar manner, but a bit more elegantly. These packages include air springs that are added to your existing suspension. When you aren't towing or hauling a load, you leave the pressure in these springs nice and low, so you don't even know that they're there. Then, when you need to level your vehicle, you simply pump up the springs. Plus, because you use air to fill them, air springs are infinitely adjustable, which means that you can precisely tune your rear end's ride height until it's level with the front. Another plus: air assist packages are available for vehicles that have coil springs in the rear, instead of leaf springs.
To increase your vehicle's stability when it's towing, you may want to make a few additional suspension upgrades. For example, anti-sway bars (also called sway bars or stabilizer bars) are designed to reduce body roll (when your vehicle leans to one side during a turn). Most SUVs come with anti-sway bars front and rear, but they're quite small in diameter, and many pickups only come with a front bar. A swap to larger bars for the front and rear will dramatically improve a vehicle's cornering ability.
For more control when you're going straight, a good set of shocks can make a world of difference. High-performance shocks will stabilize your vehicle, so it doesn't bounce as much after you hit a bump or pothole. They will also smooth out the feel of potholes, railroad tracks and other road irregularities, improving your vehicle's ride quality. Plus, good shocks also can help reduce body roll.
Several companies offer shocks that are adjustable, too. This means that you can set the shocks for a comfortable ride when you don't have a heavy load. Then, when it's time to tow or haul, you simply change to a stiffer setting so you avoid getting bounced around inside the vehicle-and to keep the rear end from sagging.
"All vehicles are equipped with suspension springs, which support the weight of the vehicle," according to Mike Morgan, national sales manager for the Air Lift Co., which manufactures air helper springs and air ride systems. "Factory springs provide a comfortable ride and good handling, but only until they're placed under the strain of a heavy load," he explains. "This leads to suspension sag, bottoming out and poor handling characteristics. When a vehicle rides at an attitude other than level, its drivability degenerates." While some of these problems can be mere annoyances, others are dangerous.
The Featherlite Model 4926 is an enclosed trailer available in 16-, 20-, 24- and 28-foot l
The Big Tex Model 10ET Pro Series tandem axle trailer has a 9,900-pound GVW rating, electr
PJ Trailers tilt trailer includes tandem 7,000 lb. Torsion Brake axles, 16-foot tilt deck,
Keeping Tabs On TiresOnce you've locked up the proper hitch and suspension aids, and you've properly loaded up your gear, you're out of the woods, right? Well, almost. If you really want to be sure that your cargo is protected, a tire pressure monitoring system is an invaluable tool.
This system continually monitors a vehicle or trailer's tires, and alerts the driver when pressures fall below safe levels. These devices consist of small sensors and receivers, which send a message to a display module mounted on the vehicle dash. This kind of system can be used with any tires and on virtually any vehicle, including your trailer and pickups with dual rear axles.
A tire monitoring system is particularly helpful with a tow vehicle and trailer, where an early low-pressure warning can prevent a potentially dangerous tire blowout and loss of cargo. The system also helps you avoid being stranded with a flat tire. Plus, it can save you money, since properly inflated tires last longer and contribute to improved fuel economy.
Another low-tech but effective tire pressure monitoring device is the TireWise Precision Tire Pressure Monitor. This simple monitor screws onto the valve stem of the tow vehicle and trailer tires and tells you at a glance if tire pressure is right on low as little as five-percent. Green is good, red is low.
The Class V Power Pull Xtreme Hitch from Valley Industries, rated for 12,000 lbs. weight c
If you're lucky enough (or well-off enough) to hire a professional to tow your cars, be su
Valley Industries' Under-Bed 5th Wheel Hitch System allows trucks to be quickly outfitted
Towing-Oriented Performance UpgradesWhile many vehicles have plenty of power for around-town driving, their engines can be seriously taxed when it's time to tow. If you're tired of being passed by everybody (including semis), you're probably ready to extract better performance from your engine. Towing can also be extremely hard on a vehicle's transmission, but there is a wide range of transmission performance products available.
While pulling more weight can put some strain on your vehicle's engine and transmission, stopping more weight can really tax its brakes, especially on long grades. Of course, shifting into a lower gear can help slow your vehicle, but this does generate heat, which means that you'll need a good radiator and water pump and a good transmission fluid cooler. You also may find it necessary to install better brakes. (We're sure that you're running appropriate trailer brakes and other important towing supplies.)
Have trouble hooking up to a hitch? Whether the problem is a matter of seeing what you're doing by yourself, finding the right size ball at the last minute or trying to connect a high tongue to a low hitch (or vice versa), there are quick and easy solutions.
Trailering is a much more complex subject than many people suspect. The improper use of trailers and hitches can lead to disastrous, if not fatal, consequences. It pays to be aware of what's involved. Take care and pay attention to the tips offered here; they may help to ensure that your next trailering attempt isn't your last one.
If you have a safety problem with your vehicle, or if information is missing from your trailer certification label, call the DOT Auto Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236 or visit www.nhtsa.gov. We have also included information on trailer types, brakes, towing tips and product photos in this Guide. Check it all out so won't have a trailering trauma when you tow your low to the show.
The Odyssey Brake Control from Valley Industries features double-axis accelerometer techno
The triple ball mount from Valley Industries includes a 1 7/8-inch ball rated for 2,000 lb
The Smart Gooseneck Hitch from Kintec features a 26,000 lb. trailer capacity, 5,200 lb. pi
Trailer TypesTrailers, like automobiles, are manufactured for thousands of applications and come in all shapes, sizes and configurations. As with cars, these differences in individual trailer specifications can mean the difference between a trailer that pulls cleanly and smoothly behind your rig, and one that bucks and sways like a wild mare at a Sunday rodeo.
OpenAn open trailer is one that exposes the trailer load to the outside environment. This design features a flat, usually metal or wood surface that's opened in the center. Utility trailers have low side rails on three sides; racing trailers do not. These trailers don't provide any protection for their contents, but tend to be lighter and provide less aerodynamic drag than enclosed trailers. Open trailers also offer the advantage of being relatively inexpensive, costing about $1,400 to $2,500 new.
EnclosedAn enclosed trailer provides protection from the outside environment and provides an added measure of security because the trailer functions as a portable, lockable garage. These trailers tend to be heavier and less aerodynamic than open trailers; they're also more expensive. Enclosed trailers usually cost in the $4,000 to $6,000 range (new), but can go much higher.
Single AxleA single-axle trailer has just that: a single, load-bearing axle. These trailers can be found with or without brakes, either enclosed or open. Single-axle open trailers are rare, usually reserved for small cars (few will hold anything longer than 14 feet). Suspension is usually of the leaf spring variety. This type of trailer is ideal if the combined weight of the trailer and contents is under 3,000 pounds; trailer brakes are then optional. Anything heavier than that requires the use of brakes (in most states a legal requirement, common sense everywhere else). Single-axle trailers tend to be unstable on the road and don't track as well as dual-axle units. However, according to a spokesperson at TrailersForLess (in Fayetteville, Georgia) the world's largest online trailer store, the difference is slight and shouldn't scare you away from a well-built single-axle trailer if you have a small lowrider (under 2,000 pounds).
Dual AxleA dual-axle trailer uses two load-bearing axles, and can be either open or enclosed. These units usually feature either leaf springs or independent torsion bar suspensions. Brakes are recommended, if not required. A dual-axle trailer tracks more accurately over varying road surfaces. In addition, if there are brakes on both axles (which is not usually the case) braking capacity is double that of a single-axle design.
Rostra Precision Controls' Trailer Towing Kit allows drivers of trailers up to 53 feet lon
When towing large cars or trucks, make sure that your tow vehicle is heavier than the trai
Spal USA offers a complete line of electric cooling fans in various sizes for improved coo
Trailer Braking SystemsIn addition to the various types of trailers, there are several types of trailer braking systems.
Hydraulic Surge BrakesA hydraulic surge system consists of an actuating cylinder that's usually integrated with the trailer tongue assembly. As a vehicle applies its brakes, the "surge" of the trailer towards the decelerating tow vehicle automatically compresses the surge actuator. As the cylinder compresses, force is applied to the master cylinder on the trailer; this, in turn, applies force to each of the braking cylinders.
Proper use of surge brakes is primarily dependent upon the assurance of unrestricted movement between the tongue-mounted main housing and the hitch-mounted surge assembly. (Note: Because of this last requirement, surge brakes are not recommended when using a weight-equalizing hitch. Surge brakes are also more expensive, and usually only justified when you're using several different tow vehicles that would each require an electric brake controller.
Electric BrakesElectric braking systems connect the braking system of the trailer to the braking system of the tow vehicle. This is accomplished by the installation of a cab-controlled braking controller. Activated electrically, the braking force of the trailer is generated using magnets and drum armature plates located within each wheel braking system. Electric brakes are usually preferred over surge brakes because their operation is independent of the braking ability of the tow vehicle. For example, if the brakes go out on the tow vehicle, it's then unable to generate enough deceleration surge to activate the surge brakes. But the driver can manually activate electric brakes, thus allowing the trailer brakes to slow the entire rig. This is the way to go for most applications.
Even a motorcycle should be towed with the proper trailer to make sure that it travels and
The Kintec Smart Brake Module requires no user adjustments (when towing with the Kintec Sm
The Kintec Smart 5th Wheel hitch features a 22,000 lb. trailer capacity, 4,400 lb. pin wei
Trailer Breakaway SystemIn some states, any trailer with a braking system is required to have what is known as a "breakaway system." In the event of a trailer hitch failure-if the trailer becomes disconnected from the hitch-the breakaway system will automatically apply the trailer brakes to stop the now-independent trailer. Trailers equipped with electric brakes carry a separate battery to activate the breakaway system, while braking force is applied hydraulically in surge brake applications. (A cable locks the brakes in a break-away situation.) Check the applicable laws to see if breakaway systems are required in your locale.
Trailer Buying TipsThere are many factors to consider when buying a trailer. TrailersForLess offers the following tips:
1 Go with an established trailer manufacturer. As with anything else, you usually get what you pay for, so go with the best that you can afford. After all, there's no sense spending umpteen dollars on your lowrider, only to lose it off of a cliff because you skimped on the trailer.
2 Look for highway-rated tires. TrailersForLess strongly recommends the use of bias-ply tires, advising that radials tend to produce an unsettling sidewall "walk" that can cause problems. If you must use radials, inflate them to the highest pressure allowed by the manufacturer. Other industry experts on the other hand, say that they love radial tires and recommend them. The decision is yours; just make sure that the tires are in good condition and rated for the load that they will be carrying.
3 Look for low deck heights and long ramps. This will help you avoid "high centering" your low-slung lowrider when you're driving it on or off the trailer. If your car is particularly low, be sure to get a "beavertail" and extra long ramps. Ask the seller for a guarantee that the trailer will load your car.
4 Avoid bolt-together trailers. According to trailer retailers who service many types of trailers, bolt-together types have an inordinate amount of problems. Look for welded trailers with components of structural steel rather than rolled form sheet steel. All-aluminum trailers, if welded, are also excellent but expensive.
5 Be an informed buyer. A knowledgeable trailer salesperson should ask you several questions pertaining to your intended cargo load. Know the weight, wheelbase, width and center of gravity of your intended load (don't forget, the car can be loaded on the trailer facing in either direction to balance the load). Decide on any options you might need, like a tire rack or storage box. It's important to know these things beforehand, so a trailer can be built to accommodate all your needs.
6 Trailers should have adequate and effective suspension travel. Otherwise, your beloved lowrider will be forced to absorb the majority of the road shocks... not a wise thing. The torsion suspensions now featured on many trailers, like Featherlites, Pace Americans and most other quality enclosed trailers, are a popular option.
7 Look for proper tie-down points. Is the tie-down point strong enough to hold the load? Vehicles should be tied down at the chassis, with the trailer absorbing any road shocks. There's some controversy surrounding this item, but the folks at TrailersForLess see this as the proper way to secure a car.
8 If you're purchasing an enclosed trailer, look for one with a curved or V-shaped frontal area because this significantly reduces aerodynamic drag. Also, look for a ramp door with more than two hinges to support the load. Four hinges in the same area tend to distribute the weight on the door more evenly, prolonging both hinge and door life. And unless you're into serious weight-lifting, make sure that the ramp door has spring assist.
9 Ask about the warranty. Does the manufacturer stand behind its work, or is it an unreliable operation?Ask plenty of questions. If you're dealing with a reputable outfit, they won't shy away from your questions and concerns. Remember, the more you know, the less chance you'll have of getting suckered into a bum trailer.
Trailering TipsOnce you've purchased the trailer that meets your needs, the following safety and operational pointers should be observed:
1 Always check the trailer to make sure that it's locked securely to the hitch. Never assume that "the other guy" did it. It pays to check. Also, use a trailer lock or padlock to secure the release latch in the down position.
2 Try to use about 10 percent of the trailer weight as tongue weight. This means that if you're pulling a 5,000-pound load, you should try to place about 500 pounds over the tongue. More tongue weight will stress the hitch and restrict the steering capacity of the tow vehicle, while less weight can cause dangerous fishtailing. Never have less than 75 pounds over the tongue.
3 Bent tongue jacks are a common problem, since people often do not wind up the jacks enough to clear the ground. A swing-away jack is therefore preferable, and will usually cost no more than $25 extra.
4 Before you even start, make sure that your vehicle is capable of safely towing the load. Check your owner's manual for towing capacities and make sure that you buy a hitch that is capable of safely towing the load. Finally, never have more weight behind you than in front of you. The tow vehicle should always weigh more than the trailer and load.
5 Check the trailer's ID plate and the sidewall of the tires to determine the maximum tire inflation pressures. Always run the maximum recommended tire pressures. Check the tires, lug nuts and the wheel bearings often to ensure proper operation.
6 Double safety chains should always be used. Most trailer companies recommend that you cross the chains under the coupler, with one hookup going from the left side of the trailer to the right side of the hitch, and the other crossed under the coupler from the right side of the trailer to the left side of the hitch. Make sure that the safety chains are attached properly. Keep the chains short enough to be effective, but long enough to allow proper turning movements. If they're too long, just twist them.
7 Never overload the trailer. Check the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) rating on your trailer to determine capacities. Avoid using bumper hitches that aren't attached to the frame. Also, avoid using the factory truck bumper with holes for the trailer ball. Many of these bumpers are very weak, and may only be held to the truck with two or four hardware-quality bolts. Adjust the brakes every season. They can wear down to almost no stopping power if you let them slide.
Hitch TypesAnother important ingredient in the towing equation is the proper towing hitch. The use of the wrong hitch can lead to disaster.
Receiving And Nonreceiving HitchesThere are two basic categories of hitches: receiving and non-receiving. Receiving hitches feature a removable ball mount containing the trailer ball; this coupler is connected to a receiving hole on the tow vehicle. This allows for various types of ball heights and types to be used. To change heights, you simply slide one receiver out and slide a new one in. Non-receiving hitches are one-piece hitches that attach permanently to the tow vehicle. Ball height is generally not adjustable, which eliminates some of your ability to ensure level towing. (A trailer will tow better when very close to level; an un-level trailer may overload one axle.)
Weight-Distributing HitchesWeight-distributing hitches apply "leverage" between the trailer and the towing vehicle, thus allowing the tongue weight (TW) to be carried by all axles of both the tow vehicle and the trailer. These trailers are ideal if you have a very light tow vehicle and a very heavy load to tow. Greater TW loads can be towed with this type of hitch; in addition, a weight-distributing hitch gives the vehicle and trailer a level tow, which provides better control and less stress on all components. Weight-distributing hitches will also help to eliminate sway, but only if the sway is attributable to an imbalanced trailer load.
These hitches are also height adjustable, but because they can interfere with the transfer of braking forces, they are not recommended with surge braking systems. This is because the weight-distributing apparatus can often keep the surge cylinder from completely engaging or disengaging. Therefore, electric brakes must be used with these hitches.
TrailersForLess points out that these types of hitches are often sold for applications where they are not really needed. So, check around before buying one. The wrong hitch can make things worse.
Tongue Weight And Gross Trailer WeightThe two most important factors to selecting the proper hitch equipment are gross trailer weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW). Tongue weight is the downward force placed upon the hitch ball by the trailer tongue (or coupler). In most cases, it should be 10- to 15-percent of the gross trailer weight (GTW). The gross trailer weight is the weight of the trailer combined with the weight of the load being trailered.
To determine tongue weight, simply place a scale under the tongue jack. To ensure proper readings, make sure that the trailer is level. Use a box or pieces of wood to bring the coupler up to normal height. A household scale can usually measure up to around 300 pounds.
If you'd like to measure higher weights, place a household scale and a brick of even thickness 3 feet apart. Set a piece of pipe on each, and lay a wood beam across the two. Reset the scale back to zero to account for the weight of the wood and pipes. Center the tongue jack on the wood beam, making sure that the trailer is loaded and even. (Be sure to block the trailer wheels so that it doesn't move.) To calculate the TW, simply multiply the scale reading by three.
Valley Industries' new hitch aligner includes two fluorescent balls mounted on telescoping
The hand-held Predator is a sophisticated flash programmer that anyone can use, with appli
Hitch ClassificationsHitches are divided into several categories depending upon their weight-carrying capacities and abilities.
Weight-Carrying ClassesClass I: GTW to 2,000 lbs., TW to 200 lbs.Class I, 2500 Series: GTW to 2,500 lbs., TW to 250 lbs.Class II: GTW to 3,500 lbs., TW to 300 lbs.Class III: GTW to 5,000 lbs., TW to 500 lbs.
Weight-Distributing Classes*Class III: GTW to 4,000 lbs., TW to 350 lbs. (some have GTW of 5,000 and 7,500 lbs.)Class IV: GTW to 10,000 lbs., TW to 1,000 lbs.*Some types of vehicles cannot use some of the heavier hitches, so check applications before purchasing a tow vehicle.
Hitch TipsHere are several tips to help you out when you purchase your hitch.
1 "The single biggest mistake is to not have a transmission cooler on an automatic transmission [vehicle]," TrailersForLess points out. "You will kill your automatic box if you run without one."
2 Go to a qualified hitch installer. While many types of automotive shops sell hitches, very few people know what it takes to install them correctly. Professional shops learn about the customer's needs before they recommend a hitch. They also make sure that every trailer towing combination is absolutely level before it leaves the shop. If the tow vehicle/trailer combination doesn't sit level, chances are the hitch wasn't installed correctly.
3 Ask plenty of questions. Make sure that the installer knows everything about your needs before deciding what to install. Ask if the installer is insured (as well as the manufacturer). If the manufacturer is producing a quality hitch, they'll be willing to stand behind it.
Get More Towing Power In A Flash With The PredatorTuning your engine is easy with this hand-held programmer.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve horsepower on your late-model, computer-controlled tow vehicle is with a performance tuning flash programmer. And the Predator, from DiabloSport (in Boca Raton, Florida), is one of the best programmers on the market.
What Is The Predator? Without getting too technical, the Predator is a state-of-the art, high-performance tuning flash programmer in a sleek handheld unit. Once connected to the vehicle, the Predator's internal computer recognizes the vehicle's pulse code modulation (PCM) and automatically picks the proper tuning files designed specifically for that PCM.
Inside the Predator's memory are the actual tuning files that optimize spark timing and air/fuel ratio curves. The transmission parameters are remapped to improve the shift characteristics such as shift firmness and shift points. Unlike other "tuners," DiabloSport's programming is performed in very small increments throughout the entire RPM range, for a smoother, wider and a more predictable power delivery. DiabloSport engineers spend many hours on the dyno, street and track to ensure that the tunes provided with the Predator are the best they can be.
Dyno-Tested Performance TunesThe Predator was created with one thing in mind: power! Average power gains are in 10-20 rear wheel horsepower (RWHP) range in cars and 20-30 RWHP in trucks. The Predator's additional influence makes itself noticeable immediately with an increase in power that starts in the low RPM range and builds at the high RPM end.
The Predator can hold up to five custom tunes made by any authorized dealer nationwide, the upload process is less than 30 seconds. This makes the Predator a valuable product to have. If you tuned your vehicle from stock and like the power that it's producing, most likely you will start adding modifications to your car as time goes on. Good thing that you have a Predator because you can go to any of our authorized dealer and get a custom tune for your exact modification setup. Your vehicle will run better, faster and get the best gas mileage that can be achieved for that particular modification setup.
A Predator tuned vehicle will also exhibit significant improvements in drivability. The additional power and improved shift patterns created by the Predator tune will yield quicker acceleration and better mileage, whether it's in town or out on the highway.
The power increase in the lower RPM range will yield a better throttle response. An increase in miles per gallon (MPG) is a by-product of maximized engine efficiency, the improved timing curve and air/fuel ratio creates a more complete combustion; i.e., the engine extracts more power from each molecule of gasoline-especially important with today's gas prices.
And the coolest thing about using the Predator is that it won't void your factory warranty. "The Predator will not void or affect the factory warranty in any way," said a DiabloSport spokesperson. "There's a law protecting vehicle owners, the Magnusson-Moss Warranty-Federal Trade commission Improvement Act of 1975."
Under the Magnusson-Moss Act, aftermarket equipment, which improves performance, does not void a vehicle manufacturer's original warranty, unless the warranty clearly states the addition of aftermarket equipment automatically voids your vehicles warranty, or if the aftermarket device is the direct cause of the failure. The easiest way to check this is to look in your owner's manual under "what is not covered." For more information on your rights as a consumer, go to www.semasan.com.
We wanted to test the Predator for ourselves, so we asked Shawn Ellis of SoCal Tuning & Performance to use a Predator (Model #U7193) on a stock 6.0-liter Cadillac Escalade engine (previously installed in a Chevy Avalanche by Guaranty Chevrolet in Santa Ana, California).
Today's computer-controlled engines have a built-in speed limiter, which is normally a good thing. It keeps you from going too fast in any one gear and blowing your engine. In this case, it also prevented us from getting full power band dyno runs necessary to determine what the factory horsepower was on the engine. However, it was easy for Shawn to overcome that problem by using the Predator to increase the limiter speed.
With the speed limiter reset, we visited Joe Jill, Jr. at Superior Automotive Engineering (in Anaheim, California) to run the truck on their chassis dyno. After getting our baseline, Shawn input the new custom flash program with the Predator and ran the truck again. The results were impressive to say the least. We gained an honest 30 horsepower at the rear wheel-with 87 octane gas. Shawn assured us that he could get even more hp with 91 octane gas.
The Predator certainly proved its prowess to us. And we know that newfound power will make a big difference the next time that we use the Avalanche to tow our low.
Pre-Trip ChecklistHere's a short checklist of important items to check before you hit the road.
Tow VehicleWalk around the vehicle and check these items:
Coolant level in radiatorCoolant level in coolant recovery reservoirRadiator cap fits properlyWater level in batteryBattery terminals free of corrosionRadiator hoses (flexible and tight)Fan belt, is it tight? Worn?Transmission fluid levelCondition of transmission fluid (Pinkish, Okay; dark brown, transmission needs service)Transmission fluid cooler hoses and connectionsEngine oil level (How many miles since last oil change?)Power steering fluid levelHose and connections to power steeringSparkplug wires snugAir filter (When was it last changed?)Fluid in windshield washer reservoir
TrailerWalk around the trailer and check these items:
All lights and turn signals (Do they operate properly?)All tires (Tire pressure and tread wear)All wheel lug nutsSafety chains connected and crisscrossedBreakaway switch and lanyardCoupler locking-pin (if used)Trailer electric cable connected and secureTongue jack fully upDolly wheel removed (if appropriate)Load distributed on trailer so that proper tongue weight is maintained (about 10-percent of trailer load)Trailer is level when attachedBearings greasedCoupler size matches ball sizePin and clip installed through drawbar of hitch