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  1. #1
    Chief Petty Officer relocyo's Avatar
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    Default Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    '04 chevy silverado 5.3l v8, I need to tow my boat about 15 or so miles, ive never towed it this far as the launch is right down the road never getting over 30mph, ive always used the "trailer" or "tow" function that is engaged by pressing the button at the end of the shifter... Now I need to tow the boat 15 or 20 miles soon on the highway where ill be going around 45 mph... so my question is should I use the tow button at these speeds? To be honest im not entirely sure what all the tow function does, although ive read something about it not changing gears as fast? Pr some thing.. . Any ideas or suggestions? I sure dont wanna burn up my trans... Boat is a 1976 glastron gt-150 with a 1978 85 hp johnson, if that matters and the truck has always pulled and stopped it fine... Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Commander Tyme2fish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    I'm no expert so please wait for others to reply, but I think all that button does is lock out the overdrive. I see you are in Destin,Fl so I don't think you have many hills to contend with. Don't worry about it.
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  3. #3
    Chief Petty Officer relocyo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyme2fish View Post
    I'm no expert so please wait for others to reply, but I think all that button does is lock out the overdrive. I see you are in Destin,Fl so I don't think you have many hills to contend with. Don't worry about it.
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  4. #4
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    Thumbs up Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    The tow button makes your engine shift at a a higher rpm. I have a 05' silverado and have messed around with this a bunch. If your boat+trailer is under 10,000 (duh) with decent brakes you could get away with the move- however anything over 8,000 max generally is "illegal" to tow with a silverado unless you have at least a 3/4 ton. As for burning out your tany, it was made to handle the engine that was put in the truck- just don't floor it to start moving- and the tow button will give you a bit better performance, but at 45mph, unless you live in a hilly area (No duh? Florida?), you probably won't notice. As for your short 30mph trips you really don't need the tow/haul on unless you want. Better to ask then make a $3,000 error. And to tymefish- it doesn't lock out overdrive, just keeps the transmission for shifting for 5 seconds just to switch back out of overdrive.

    Personal; moving my 21ft tri-haul open bow v8 around- yes I use the tow/haul, I lucked out living in the 1 hilly area in Illinois. Guessing my whole set up is about 4,000 pounds looking at similar boat's weight and similar trailer's weight.

  5. #5
    Lieutenant Commander 109jb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    GM trucks have two buttons. Well actually one button that does 2 functions.

    A quick press and release puts it tow mode which optimizes the shift points for towing. It also prevents the trans from upshifting and downshifting all the time which is what is hard on a transmission.

    A press and hold for a couple seconds puts the transmission in overdrive lockout. All this mode does is prevent the trans from shifting into overdrive.

    For your boat, which isn't all that much of a load, you should use the tow mode, but just using the normal mode (not tow mode and not overdrive lockout) would likely be fine too.
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  6. #6
    Chief Petty Officer relocyo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    So your saying YES use the tow button right? It wont destroy anything going 45-50 mph right...

  7. #7
    Commander BonairII's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    You'll be fine with the "tow" button on. The truck has a "tow button" cause the truck is made for towing. If it were me I'd lock-out the OD (if indeed your tow button allows it). No need for OD at those low speeds.
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  8. #8
    Seaman whitecrystal1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    Quote Originally Posted by maproy99 View Post
    The tow button makes your engine shift at a a higher rpm. I have a 05' silverado and have messed around with this a bunch. If your boat+trailer is under 10,000 (duh) with decent brakes you could get away with the move- however anything over 8,000 max generally is "illegal" to tow with a silverado unless you have at least a 3/4 ton. As for burning out your tany, it was made to handle the engine that was put in the truck- just don't floor it to start moving- and the tow button will give you a bit better performance, but at 45mph, unless you live in a hilly area (No duh? Florida?), you probably won't notice. As for your short 30mph trips you really don't need the tow/haul on unless you want. Better to ask then make a $3,000 error. And to tymefish- it doesn't lock out overdrive, just keeps the transmission for shifting for 5 seconds just to switch back out of overdrive.

    Personal; moving my 21ft tri-haul open bow v8 around- yes I use the tow/haul, I lucked out living in the 1 hilly area in Illinois. Guessing my whole set up is about 4,000 pounds looking at similar boat's weight and similar trailer's weight.
    The newer trucks do have a higher tow rating than 8K. I know some of the 5.3L are rated up to around 9K, my 6.2 is rated for 10,400.

    I am not sure how the tow-haul mode works on the 04's but in my 2010, it also downshifts the transmission when slowing down to help with braking.
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  9. #9
    Moderator Bob_VT's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    Not necessary for the tow button since you have a light load........ no hills and you will be fine. Using the tow button will also trash your mpg
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    As others others have said the tow/haul button just changes the shift points on the transmission to keep it from over working while under load. It keeps it from constantly shifting up or down, thereby creating less work for tranny and keeping it cooler. With that light of a load and short distance you will be finr. I have an 07 chevy 1500 HD rated for 10,000 lbs and I tow my 19ft. 02 Stingray 50 miles on highway with no problems. My truck also has a transmission temp gauge that is very helpful. My mpg are the same towing something or not, I get 12.5 mpg. Believe me I dont drive it much. I make up for it with an 06 corolla that gets 32 mpg in the city.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    Not that there are any stupid questions. I'm glad you asked for your own piece of mind. Did you really think that GM would install a switch that would somehow destroy your truck if you used it over 45 mph?? Most people tow at highway speeds and over. You're towing so use the tow mode. As other have said, it will improve your shift points which gives better performance and it will keep your trans from shifting back and forth which increased the life of the trans. On my work trucks which are always hauling and/or towing something I use the tow mode 100% of the time.

    By the way, I'm jealous of your only 15 mile tow to the ramp. My closest lake is 50 miles, favorite lakes are 100 miles, biggest lake nearly 200 miles. These are all one way distances.
    Enjoy that Chevy.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    You can use tow/ haul on off ANY time at ANY speed, it wont hurt anything! Often I use it around town and switch it off on highways... It doesnt matter. For your light weight you can probably use D and any mode you want.
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  13. #13
    Chief Petty Officer brianvolt7's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    Use the tow haul. I have a 01 z71 1500 and pull my Bayliner. You want the low gears to drive you higher in speed before shifting and the tow/haul does this and locks out your overdrive. I drive 55 to 65 with it activated, no problem. The overdrive is a much higher gear that is not designed to take the stress of towing. The tow/haul feature is designed for exactly that, towing and hauling loads.

  14. #14
    Petty Officer 3rd Class Knightrider2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    I have a 2010 Avalanche that has the tow button. I use it anytime I am towing my 20' Chaparral and find it responds better with it on. I keep my boat at the property near the lake so I only have a 5 minute drive to the ramp, but when I take it home for cleaning and maintenance I have an hour drive each way and travel 55 - 60 MPH with the tow button on.

    I would recommend using while towing.
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  15. #15
    Lieutenant Commander NSBCraig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    Tow mode is there to use when towing, not very deep there.

    It's a completely different computer program, not a lockout. Why would you have a switch that does the same as your shifter?

    04 2500 hd 4x4 6.0 max tow is 9,000 lbs so I don't know where you guys are getting your ratings from.
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    I have a pontoon boat, every weighs around 1800 lbs, and I don't use tow mode unless I'm driving in a hilly area where it would do a lot of shifting.
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    I`ve got the same truck in an `05. Using the tow/haul will reduce the tranny gear shifting, therefore reduce wear. You will still have overdirve available once it feels you get to the appropriate point. If you have lots of hills, use D3, it will keep your engine rpm`s up. If towing on the flat, D4 with tow/haul on is adequate. Your boat/trailer is probablly not going to be that big a strain for that truck.

  18. #18
    Cadet jamerson62's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    I have a 2006 5.3l HO, and the only time I use the "tow haul" is in traffic or where the truck is going to be doing stop and goes or a lot of shifting. Once I'm on a highway where I won't be changing speeds alot I turn it off and let the truck drive on it's own. I would advise to not use cruise control at anytime you are pulling. I know it is a common sense thing, but I have seen a few of my friends do it and badly damage the tranny.

  19. #19
    Fleet Admiral Texasmark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    I bought a '11 Silverado back in April, first GM for a long time (1984)...looks like it took the feds to get them to clean up the reasons I got tired of them in the first place....and they did a great job as far as I am concerned.

    I bought the LS with the 4.8L V8 and the 3.23 rears, trailer tow pkg, Crew cab, short box. I live in an area of gently rolling hills and my boat is pretty light. I bought this combo because most of my driving is non strenuous and with the truck still breaking in I get 16 to 18 mpg doing combo driving....not bad for this much truck.

    I found that I prefer the tow mode, upping the shift points if I am encountering a lot of hills before I get up to highway speed. Once up, I seldom use it unless I have the boat or a farm trailer in tow and then I really like it. As far as the tranny doing it's job, it WILL NOT let the engine lug and if you aren't paying attention you'll never detect the fact that it dropped a gear on you. The little 4 sp. hydra-matic is the smoothest tranny i ever had in a vehicle with upshifts and downshifts almost undetectable

    I love this truck and had a heck of a time with peer pressure from my Ram buddies and son when I brought it home. I've had it since April and a couple of days ago I was in the town where I bought it....stopped by the small town dealer, been in family owned business for 42 years there and told him how I felt about it. Ha!

    Might have a look at one if you are shopping for a truck. This is not a commercial, rather a guy that didn't know what the purchasing options out there were....I didn't like the new RAM...tried it first as I WAS a Ram guy.

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  20. #20
    Seaman whitecrystal1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    Quote Originally Posted by NSBCraig View Post
    Tow mode is there to use when towing, not very deep there.

    It's a completely different computer program, not a lockout. Why would you have a switch that does the same as your shifter?

    04 2500 hd 4x4 6.0 max tow is 9,000 lbs so I don't know where you guys are getting your ratings from.
    Check Chevy's website, the 1500 with the 6.2L MAXX Trailering package is rated up to 10,600lbs. http://www.chevrolet.com/silverado-1500/#performance
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  21. #21
    Lieutenant Commander 109jb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    The OP has a 2004 truck. It doesn't matter one bit what a 2011 can tow because his truck isn't a 2011. Tow ratings are year model, and equipment specific. The only place I trust to tell me a tow rating is the owner's manual.
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  22. #22
    Admiral dingbat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    Quote Originally Posted by 109jb View Post
    The OP has a 2004 truck. It doesn't matter one bit what a 2011 can tow because his truck isn't a 2011. Tow ratings are year model, and equipment specific. The only place I trust to tell me a tow rating is the owner's manual.
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    I advocate using OD. If you transmission isn't hunting for gears then there's no issue with not using tow mode. Purpose of tow mode is to protect the engine/transmission from lugging or slipping excessively which burns it up. For reference I've used my dad's 03 Silverado CC 1500 with the 5.3 to tow a 1949 Dodge coronet on a uhaul auto transport through the hill country in texas and it didn't have a problem. He's put 100K on it since then hauling stock trailers and it hasn't missed a beat. It used to be that towing in OD was bad for the trans because the pump in the trans wouldn't pump enough fluid which caused the trans to overheat but that problem was done away with years ago with the modern electronic transmissions and transmission coolers. Just my $.02
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    I have to agree with angry on the OD use. While I don't care what you do I'll give you my experience. I tow a 3,500 rig with my 2001 F150 with the 5.4L single valve engine. (260hp). I tow in OD all the time. I've been to Florida 3 times, (I live in Ohio- plenty of hills on that trip) New York 3 times, Tennessee many, many times and all through the summer to lakes/rivers around here. I currently have 133,000 miles on the truck and it has never given me an ounce of trouble handling that load. I service my tranny myself at 50,000 miles and do nothing else apart from regular maintenance. I routinely tow at the posted speed limits; 65 in Ohio, 70 in Indiana, etc. In fact I tend to run at 5mph over the posted usually. I only lock out OD when in really hilly areas like around Norris Lake in Tennessee because I'll coast against the tranny on the downhill grades there.
    I've towed Bobcats with my truck, scissor lifts, concrete hoppers, utility trailers and most everything else and even then I left the OD on. Never had an issue and don't plan on one.

  25. #25
    Chief Petty Officer relocyo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverado towing question, "tow" button....

    At the hitch it says 9k for towing.... And 1500 tongue weight if I remember correctly... Will be towing it sometime this week, ill be using the tow button, ill let u know how it goes... Thanks for the advice and knowledge... Greatly appreciated... Now I just have to find an adapter for a 7 blade circular to 4 pin flat...

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