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#4609347 - 12/20/17 01:40 PM 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires
Fitz98 Offline


Registered: 03/17/11
Posts: 318
Loc: Florida
Not sure if this is the right topic forum location.

I have a 2003 Suburban 1500 with 16" rims. I have the ZW7 suspension package.
I am looking to increase ride height to increase my clearance between the bottom of my tow hitch and the ground.
Options I am looking at:
1) Bigger tires on 16" rims
2) Bigger rims and tires
3) 2"-4" coil spring and torsion bar lift kit with bigger 16" tires.

Any input that would not sacrifice ride quality and allow me to use my existing Nivomat rear shocks? Shocks are self adjusting load leveling (but not air ride>

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#4609467 - 12/20/17 04:22 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
CapriRacer Offline


Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3369
Loc: Somewhere in the US
According to Tire Guides, A 2003 Suburban came with P265/70R16's on 7" wheels. Assuming there is enough room (I know of no one who publishes a guide as to how big the fenders are, but there is likely room for at least 2 steps in size), then you can go as large as P265/75R16 or P275/70R16 - that's a single step. There are more options in LT's but those are going to hurt the ride.
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#4609485 - 12/20/17 05:02 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
rubberchicken Offline


Registered: 07/07/08
Posts: 399
Loc: Maryland USA
Anything changing the tires outer diameter to get more clearance will alter the effective gear ratio, which is something you may not want. What about a different hitch, draw bar etc ? etrailers.com is a good site for info.

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#4609496 - 12/20/17 05:18 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
Traction Offline


Registered: 06/04/13
Posts: 980
Loc: iowa
The brakes are already marginal on those vehicles, and a taller, heavier tire is not going to help, including acceleration among other things, like handling. A 265/75-16 would be the best option. 285's would be max, but should on an 8 inch wide wheel.


Edited by Traction (12/20/17 05:19 PM)
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#4609497 - 12/20/17 05:22 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
Dave9 Offline


Registered: 08/28/17
Posts: 176
Loc: Cincinnati, USA
What height increase do you "need"? What height increase do you "want"?

AFAIK, you can't keep using the Nivomat rear shocks with a spring lift, would have to increase height with larger tires or both tires and wheels which as rubberchicken mentioned will alter gear ratio, which unless geared lower than needed already, will not be optimal for towing.

Any option will sacrifice ride quality, though this depends on what ride qualities you prefer. The least impactful for handling would be larger wheel diameter instead of taller tire sidewalls on the existing 16" rims, but of course the highest cost both for buying the rims and the larger diameter tires, specifically in a size for larger diameter rims. You also can't go much larger in tire size without wider than 7" rims. Well maybe someone makes an oddball size like that.

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#4609521 - 12/20/17 05:48 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
krismoriah72 Offline


Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 1518
Loc: wv
Originally Posted By: Fitz98
Not sure if this is the right topic forum location.

I have a 2003 Suburban 1500 with 16" rims. I have the ZW7 suspension package.
I am looking to increase ride height to increase my clearance between the bottom of my tow hitch and the ground.
Options I am looking at:
1) Bigger tires on 16" rims
2) Bigger rims and tires
3) 2"-4" coil spring and torsion bar lift kit with bigger 16" tires.

Any input that would not sacrifice ride quality and allow me to use my existing Nivomat rear shocks? Shocks are self adjusting load leveling (but not air ride>


I have the same vehicle..mine is a Z71. A useful forum if you should need it is at http://z71tahoe-suburban.com/iboard/


I dont want to oversimplify things but why dont u get an adjustable hitch? pic below is from amazon.


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#4609536 - 12/20/17 06:03 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
Fitz98 Offline


Registered: 03/17/11
Posts: 318
Loc: Florida
I appreciate all the input,
I am a little confused, since I have seen the same vehicle as mine with 17" rims and larger tires. I am not sure about the Z-71, but I thought those were also on 17" rims.
Are the Z-71 and other similar suburbans possibly a different drive train package to accommodate bigger rims and tires?
So with regards to the towing performance and gear ratios, I appreciate that and do not want to change if it will have an adverse effect on the vehicle and would probably just use an offset hitch, but to get the clearance I need for pulling my boat out at ramps, I will need about an 8"-10 rise...seems like a lot.
I am due for new tires and wanted to consider options before just replacing with stock size. They also look under-scaled for such a big vehicle.

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#4609586 - 12/20/17 06:59 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
Nick1994 Online   content


Registered: 02/19/13
Posts: 10104
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
I'm not understanding 8-10" of rise, that's crazy talk. Is that to make it pull level or? What are the conditions here?

It'll probably clear 285/75-16 tires with a suspension lift, take some measurements first to make sure there's room from lock-to-lock. Power will go down slightly with larger tires and the speedometer will be slightly off, but likely not enough to be drastically different.
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#4609806 - 12/20/17 11:59 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
rubberchicken Offline


Registered: 07/07/08
Posts: 399
Loc: Maryland USA
Originally Posted By: Fitz98
I appreciate all the input,
I am a little confused, since I have seen the same vehicle as mine with 17" rims and larger tires. I am not sure about the Z-71, but I thought those were also on 17" rims.
Are the Z-71 and other similar suburbans possibly a different drive train package to accommodate bigger rims and tires?
So with regards to the towing performance and gear ratios, I appreciate that and do not want to change if it will have an adverse effect on the vehicle and would probably just use an offset hitch, but to get the clearance I need for pulling my boat out at ramps, I will need about an 8"-10 rise...seems like a lot.
I am due for new tires and wanted to consider options before just replacing with stock size. They also look under-scaled for such a big vehicle.


I have a 1997 Suburban, 2500, 454 4x4. A couple of points: There were a crazy number of gear ratios available in that Suburban platform. At least 2 on the 1500, and 2 others in the 2500 with 454- 3.73 and 4.10. Not sure on your model which I think is the next generation Sub, but I expect the same availability of gear ratios. You would have to do some calculations to see the end result due to tire diameter changes. I have a Hyperchip programmer for mine (no longer use it though) that had an option to change the effective gear ratio due to tire and wheel changes, so that you could correct for speedometer errors. Thats really just a cosmetic change, but I would assume newer reprogrammers could easily do this.

On the boat trailer problem: perhaps if you could describe why you need the clearance in more detail, a different solution might become apparent. One example already cited was an adjustable drawbar for hight. Another might be a different drawbar but with higher ball mount. If you take the drawbar and rotate it 180 degrees, you can get a lot more height. Also, a longer drawbar might gain effective height while pulling up the ramp, but not a radical change while in normal trailering.

I call them drawbars, but perhaps ball mount is the correct term.

https://www.etrailer.com/Ball-Mount


Edited by rubberchicken (12/21/17 12:00 AM)

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#4609917 - 12/21/17 07:42 AM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
krismoriah72 Offline


Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 1518
Loc: wv
Originally Posted By: Fitz98
I appreciate all the input,
I am a little confused, since I have seen the same vehicle as mine with 17" rims and larger tires. I am not sure about the Z-71, but I thought those were also on 17" rims.
Are the Z-71 and other similar suburbans possibly a different drive train package to accommodate bigger rims and tires?
So with regards to the towing performance and gear ratios, I appreciate that and do not want to change if it will have an adverse effect on the vehicle and would probably just use an offset hitch, but to get the clearance I need for pulling my boat out at ramps, I will need about an 8"-10 rise...seems like a lot.
I am due for new tires and wanted to consider options before just replacing with stock size. They also look under-scaled for such a big vehicle.


Mine had 17 inch rims when i got it but they were pitted and looked horrible and the tires were worn out. I already had a set of new 16" tires so i went with 16 inch rims (soft8) to match the government look. 245/75/16 on mine.

As for your need for 8 to 10 inch lift..no clue what to tell u there..



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#4610074 - 12/21/17 10:24 AM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
Fitz98 Offline


Registered: 03/17/11
Posts: 318
Loc: Florida
Regarding lift height:
My expedition is 17" ground to bottom of tow bar with a 7" more rise on hitch. That is about the least height I can have to tow my boat out of most ramps without the trailer cross member bottoming out at the apex of the ram.
The Suburban is 13" ground to bottom of hitch and the hitch is below the bumper (chrome bumper with license plate mounted in recess of bumper). It seems like the newer models have tow bar incorporated into the plastic bumper giving more ground clearance.
Regarding purpose:
80% to increase hitch height and ground clearance, 20% to improve the look, tires look too small on vehicle.

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#4610317 - 12/21/17 02:26 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
meep Offline


Registered: 02/20/07
Posts: 3552
Loc: Southeast
8"-10" rise will require a seriously-fabricated lift kit, and you will inherit the issues common with lifts - driveline vibes from shaft angles, limited suspension support from mechanics, vulnerability with stressed components, and loss of handling. That, and the vehicle will take on an image you may or may not want.

If the rear is sagging with the load, you can change tires, which compromise handling, add a lift, which will vary based on the kind of lift, add a helper spring, different spring, or air spring, which either stiffens the ride or requires at least a little care (air springs, or you may be able to reduce the tongue weight of the trailer if it's not proper. You need 10-15% of the trailer weight on the tongue.

In other words, unless something is just set up wrong, you're not going to get 8" of lift without significant investment and work. You might want to find a better-built boat ramp.
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#4610326 - 12/21/17 02:39 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
Nick1994 Online   content


Registered: 02/19/13
Posts: 10104
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
The problem is probably the loading dock at the lake. Is there another loading dock on the other side of the lake that doesn’t have as much dip?
_________________________
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2000 Toyota Camry 2.2L 228k M1 AFE 0w30 & Wix
1996 Jeep Cherokee 4.0L 146k M1 HM 10w40 & Fram Ultra

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#4610329 - 12/21/17 02:43 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
IndyIan Offline


Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 9092
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Get an adjustable hitch and add some sacrificial metal on the tongue of the trailer if it still grinds.
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#4610457 - 12/21/17 05:39 PM Re: 2003 Suburban Ride Height and tires [Re: Fitz98]
Fitz98 Offline


Registered: 03/17/11
Posts: 318
Loc: Florida
All I really want is 2-3" more lift to bring it to the same hitch height as my Expedition.
I can use an offset hitch ball to get the rest.
Larger tires and or rims might make them look a little more to scale with the vehicle size.
With all the potential problems and compromises, I may just stay with stock tires and rims and use a bigger offset/rise on hitch ball.
Thanks for all the feedback, I was hoping to hear that 17" rims with larger tires and/or a 2" lift would be a good solution to get another 3" ground clearance, but doesn't appear that way, without compromising the ride and or handling.

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