Can my suburban pull a trailer? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 04-13-2014, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Can my suburban pull a trailer?

First off, I'm a young girl in college and I know next to nothing about cars except how to drive one. :) I (or actually it's my dad's) have a suburban, and everything I've been reading in an attempt to educate myself has been telling me I can't pull safely and easily with a 1/2 ton suburban. However, my dad is totally at odds with me and claims that we can. Granted, he does know more about cars and towing in general...but the horses are MY property, and I will not under any circumstance put them at risk...

I have two horses, both probably around 900lbs. I want just a plain bumper pull trailer with a small dressing room. My ultimate goal is to start endurance riding, but for now I won't be towing often or far. Maybe once or twice a month no more than 2/3 hours away...if I do to a ride it will be more like 3-4 hours away.

The suburban in question is a 2004 1/2 ton, 5300 v8, axle ratio is 3.73 I believe, and it's rated to tow 7500 lbs of trailer and 13000 total including vehicle weight. It has the towing package.

So, is this okay? Can the suburban tow safely?

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post #2 of 37 Old 04-13-2014, 08:53 PM
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I am not an expert, but I think that a V8 with a tow rating of 7500 lbs and a factory tow package ought to be able to pull a small two horse trailer. Just make sure you install a brake controller.
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post #3 of 37 Old 04-13-2014, 08:55 PM
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My family's v8 suburban has pulled a 4 horse trailer with 3 horses in it. Probably not the very best idea. But it worked fine for the 45 minute haul. And I use it to pull my one horse like twice a week.

I was drawn to horses as if they were magnets. It was in my blood. I must have inherited a genetic proclivity toward the equine species.
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post #4 of 37 Old 04-13-2014, 09:56 PM
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I believe the full size suburban sits on a truck chassis.

Yes it can tow a 2 horse trailer...as was suggested and by law it will need to have a brake controller installed to activate your horse trailer brakes.

I would also suggest equalizer bars between trailer and tow vehicle.
You are talking about a longer wheel base on the trailer with the added tack room and that of the tow vehicle, can mean more tongue weight than desired.
This will also help sway control and to even out your vehicles so you don't go down the road with your suburbans tail hanging low and your steering tires "light" in the air and the trailer nose heavy downward pointing so much...safer for all of you!

Just remember to not push that tow load to the highest amount...
When manufacturers put out those numbers they are "suggested" and the weight towed is "dead weight" like a boat or camping trailer, not a loaded horse trailer that can and does move around when the horses change their stance or lean on a side wall, butt bar or squabble with the horse sharing the area with them...
Vastly different to tow a boat/camper than a horse trailer...

Learn by going slowly and close to home at first...
When driving if you take a turn normally, you better take it with that trailer at 1/2 that speed...I go around corners at around 5 mph...maybe slower than many but my horses arrive in good mental shape not rattled and roughed up in their travels...and after we are done...they reload right up with no issues...
Easy, very easy on the starts and stops...no hard acceleration, no hard braking and learn to play lights so the less hitting the brakes the better...every time you accelerate or decelerate that horse needs to shift its weight around and regain their stance and balance...

Some things to think about...take a ride in that trailer yourself without holding on or leaning against a wall for support... a new view of what your animals goes through and better understanding of what you need to do from behind the wheel.

Safe travels and trailering...
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post #5 of 37 Old 04-14-2014, 03:20 PM
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Can your Suburban tow the trailer you are talking about? Yes. Is it safe? Sorta and I wouldn't recommend it for livestock.

One other thing you need to look for is a transmission cooler. If it isn't there don't tow unless you want to rebuild your transmission.
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post #6 of 37 Old 04-14-2014, 03:48 PM
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Are your Safely towing your horses?

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post #7 of 37 Old 04-14-2014, 03:55 PM
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Good luck. SHORT HAULS ONLY and DO NOT OVERLOAD IT!!
I truly believe that you need a truck to haul horses in a trailer. We wore out our full ton 1984 Dodge truck pulling a 4-horse steel, at 142K miles, and I was at my wits end until Dodge came out with my old truck, 1993 3/4 ton Dodge Cummins. Even though I have a 2007 Dodge Cummins Full Ton, doolie, 4 x 4, I've kept the 21yo truck. Too bad you don't live closer. I'm selling it this Spring to buy a compact car for my business.
I still can haul 40 bales (65lbs) of hay with it, and it still cruises at 20 mph when you foot is off of the gas, in Drive and in Reverse.
VERY powerful engine and mine is rigged for both bumper hitch (with swaybars) and gooseneck.
I have 117,000 miles on it and it lives in a garage.
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post #8 of 37 Old 04-14-2014, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help guys.

My dad did mention a transmission cooler and brakes on trailer...I just don't completely trust his judgement where this is concerned. I REALLY would prefer to have a truck just for my own peace of mind, but I think he is going to fight me on this until I just go along with it.

I asked my trainer about it and she said absolutely not to the suburban towing a trailer. I may just have to get her to talk to him.

So horselovingguy, when you're talking about the added dressing room are you saying the longer wheelbase is better or worse for safety purposes?

Proud owner of Aurelius (PB Arab) and Oinky (Arab/Paint).
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post #9 of 37 Old 04-14-2014, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by aureliusandoinky View Post
So horselovingguy, when you're talking about the added dressing room are you saying the longer wheelbase is better or worse for safety purposes?
I am not saying either way...it is your decision and your project to gather the most information to make the best informed decision. You need to do the research about your particular vehicle then present the entire picture of pros and cons to your father.
I want no fingers pointed in my direction for an answer you may have issue with...everyone has a personal opinion and personal needs in their trailer.

I will say that you need to be careful to not "overwhelm" your tow vehicle with weight and hitch weight distribution ...
Only you can make the decision on what to tow with, what class of vehicle whether SUV, truck, or whatever. And what weight classification series of vehicle to choose.
I believe even Suburbans come in different weight classifications, chassis of light, med or HD suspension and equipment of trans., brakes, suspension, etc...or they use to.
It is you who needs to live with any decision that you make...good or bad outcome that happens.

Not meaning to sound nasty or evasive, but what I would do or someone else here and what you must do because of $$ constraints, current availability of a "tow vehicle" and the fact you have a parent already decided and "mind made up"....unless you are going to go out and purchase the vehicle of your choice.
A true towing vehicle is a large expense new or used...something to also consider as they are costly to run, maintain and just keep going down the road...they aren't cars or gas friendly usually either...
Make sure you have adequate or better vehicle insurance, if a payment on the trailer, trailer insurance and that you are covered for towing horses with your vehicles insurance carrier...usually a "rider" added to the policy and inexpensive but peace of mind when out there on the road hauling.
If you are going to be towing invest in towing insurance. Think it is US Rider that covers horse trailers...like AAA but for the equestrian because to my knowledge no one else will touch a horse trailer especially a loaded one with issues.

Sorry, I won't tell you better or worse for safety reasons...
Before you even make that decision I think you need to determine what trailer manufacturer and model you are interested in and searching for as their honestly are to many variable with just a open question as you posed it.
Here is the best I will give you...
Dressing rooms can be nice, they can be a PITA, they can add to your trailers ease of use and they can take away from it. They can be a great place to store equipment safely and they can be easily stolen from...
Homework, you need to do your homework and research on the particular trailer you are interested in...be armed with concrete information you understand, what is meant by what you read , and then about that which you want to purchase. This is a large expense and one you can love or hate...
You also need to know exactly what is in your vehicle when it was manufactured, what options and variables were put in to it...that all makes a difference.

Do some internet searches and read the articles about what to look for in a tow vehicle by experts, true experts who are very savvy in safe hauling of horses...read the good, bad and very ugly...again gather the facts and understand them so you can present them and refute or compliment what your father is telling you.
Time to hit the books, the internet, the blogs of manufacturers, consumer reports for vehicle reviews {yes some do horse trailers}...go out and speak to people and look, look, & look some more before you make a decision either way.


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post #10 of 37 Old 04-14-2014, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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I don't take offense, and I would never blame anyone for a problem that is MY choice. That's why I'm doing research. It will be my dad's fault if something happens and I am ignorant, but if I am in agreement with him after doing my research, the fault will be mine. I don't intend the fault to lie with anyone but myself, because the horses are my property and I intend to protect what belongs to me. I won't put my blind faith in my dad, and so I wanted to ask you people YOUR opinions, simply because I am a sponge and am absorbing information. I have been reading, and researching. I've read that article someone else posted a few times, but because I'm starting from the bottom up it's difficult to absorb this much information without actually seeing parts and trailers and all that other stuff that goes into it. I was simply curious as to what /your/ opinion was. I won't take that and go with it as if anyone here is a expert, because I don't know you, and if I don't trust my dad on this issue, chances are I'm *really* not going to trust some internet people. If I actually believed you without checking the facts, I'd be a special kind of dummy. Also, I don't want anyone to think I am a spoiled girl that is wanting as much from daddy as possible. I realize that a trailer and truck is no small amount of money, and I view it as an investment that I intend to pay back in full. I am not trying to say that he won't give me what I want and buy me a truck, but considering that I will be paying him back and I will be using it, not him, I think it's fair that he considers my opinion.

Don't think that I'm going to hunt you down and sue you if I take your advice and it results in an accident. I'm seeking information and opinions, but that is where I draw the line. Ultimately it's my choice, and no one else's.

So, if you don't want to say whether it's better or worse, would you mind explaining what exactly you meant by that little paragraph? I'm just trying to see it clearly in my head. You can omit any advice and just tell me what's going on with the vehicle and trailer weight wise, etc, all that mechanical stuff I don't understand. :) I would appreciate it.

Thanks for mentioning the insurance, by the way. I didn't realize that such a thing existed for towing.

Proud owner of Aurelius (PB Arab) and Oinky (Arab/Paint).
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