We are Pulling with a New Truck

We are pulling our trailer with a new truck now. It was an Avalanche but now it is a 2015 GMC Sierra 3500 HD crew-cab standard box. We traded the Avalanche in early 2016. What a difference in performance and the total cost of ownership is actually less.

new truck

GMC 3500 HD Crew to pull the Timber Ridge. We are pulling with a New Truck.

It looks a bit dusty … actually that’s ash from forest fires …

Why Trade?

Why trade in a truck that did the job and was paid for? Simple. It was working too hard. You’ve read my articles about making adjustments in an attempt to get the weight and balance right – we were pretty close. But, we were paying too much for maintenance.

That Avalanche was eight years old, had gone 200,000 km/120,000 miles, and was working over maximum capacity.

We bought the Sierra brand new, and it is running at 80% of capacity – GCVWR. The Avalanche was running at 104% of GCVWR.

The total cost of operation of the Avalanche was $0.66/km or $1.07/mile. For the Sierra it is $0.63/km or $1.03/mile.

The New Truck

In short, this is a 1-ton 4×4 on leaf springs. It gives an excellent ride, handles well, and has a roomier cabin. I added an Arrow canopy with flip-up opening windows all round and installed a custom-built metal frame to subdivide the storage.

With standard minimum traveling load, with full fuel and two adults, it weighs 8096 lb – 4092 on the front axle and 4004 on the rear. Gross (GVWR) weight rating is 10800 – we’re well under.

The 6-litre gas  engine burns 87 octane and returns 12 mpg (Imperial) in mixed driving.

The Important RPO codes

Of all the GM RPO codes for this particular vehicle, these are the most important (IMO) for towing:

G80 locking HD differential
GT5 4.10 axle ratio

KC4 engine oil cooling system
KG4 150 amp alternator
KNP auxiliary transmission oil cooler
L96 Vortec 6.0L V8 VVT (364ci) Flex-fuel
MYD 6 speed auto transmission HMD X16R

But I also like the UVC rear vision camera. It makes hitching up – in our case, by necessity a one-man job – a lot easier.

Maintenance and Repair

My old standard maintenance pattern was lube-oil-filter every 3,000 miles or three months – whichever comes first. With the new truck, I am going longer between changes. Probably, still more frequent than most drivers. Tire rotations and other routine maintenance is performed in accordance with the manufacturer’s schedules.

I spent $0.03/km or $0.05/mile on maintenance in the first 16 months.

Cost of Ownership

After 16 months, our Capital Cost (price paid minus present value) has been $1,497 or $93 per month and is still decreasing.  That Capital Cost includes almost $4,000 in additions to the truck we bought. Our Operating Cost (insurance, fuel, maintenance) has been $5,700 per year or $475 per month or $0.51/km or $0.82/mile and steady.


I had an Arrow canopy installed, and custom-built interior racks that I designed. I can reach most of the interior space while standing on the ground.

We installed Michelin MS2 Defender LTX 265/70R 18 (load range E) after exactly 5,000 km on the original Goodyear Wranglers. Well worth it.

windows and racks

new truck has racks and canopy with three windows that open – no need to leave the ground to get stuff – just reach through the window.

Planned Modifications for the New Truck

A new adjustable hitch to fit the 2-½ inch receiver without using a sleeve.

Something like a running board so that Mrs B can get in and out. Running boards don’t work for her and I have already run over the portable step that we use – only once so far.

If I can find something that works without looking stupid, I would like to add some marker lights along the side. Reflective tape in the right location might be enough. The truck colour is such that it is not easily seen at night.

I like the concept of a dash cam. Not high on the list yet, but on the list.

How is the New Truck better than the Old Truck

No more weight worries. All I have to do now is keep an eye on the tongue weight.

No more weight-distributing-hitch (WDH). I have no weight to distribute. The rig tows better and is a lot quieter without the WDH if you keep the tongue weight in the 10-15% range.

Bigger engine – more torque. More gears. Bigger running gear. Bigger capacity. Nothing is being overworked.


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