2001 S-10 Crew Cab 4X4 towing questions

I'm hoping that someone can give some advise on what to do next. I'm trying to get better gas mileage, currently it's averaging about 14mpg city driving
~ 20 miles each day. I'm also trying to get my truck set up to pull a camper, (approx 16' travel trailer or tent trailer). I know the max towing capacity for this truck is listed as 5200 lbs. I intend to be below that depending on which trailer I can borrow/rent but the travel trailer could be pushing 4500 lbs easily when loaded.
The few mods I've done have made a slight difference in mileage and in the seat-of-my-pants-dyno. I wish it had more low end torque. The engine seems to grunt and rpms are slow to climb until about 2500 and then pulls pretty hard and rpms climb fast.
The first likely place I would venture out with this rig is a fairly steep climb/descent. I'll only be going about 40-45 miles but a 15 mile stretch climbs ~ 5000 ft.
Other information: This truck has the 4.3L V-6, 3:42 gears, stock tires and rims. The front of the airbox has been cut off and K&N filter installed Modified throttle plate (about half of deflector removed with Dremel) 160 thermostat installed Trailer brake controller, a Tekonsha PRIMUS, currently in progress of being installed
Things considered... a) I've thought about a cat-back exhaust, both Magnaflow or Flowmaster are both carried at the local exhaust shop. b) I've considered Hypertech Programmer but not convinced it's worth the investment. c) Will the engine/transmission handle this with a 3500-4000lb trailer in tow? d) Thought about Airlift bags to prevent rear-end squat... I need to check the truck with a realistic load in the back to simulate a trailer and loaded with equipment/supplies/passengers. I already know that a load of gravel will push it down to the bumpers. e) I know that 3:73 or 4:10 gears would be better for towing and possibly for mileage but can't afford to replace both ends so I'm leaving it alone.
Am I progressing on the right path? Can anyone answer the questions/concerns I have? Any thoughts on which way to go next?
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wrote:

I'm guessing you are running an automatic transmission. I would sure get a auxiliary transmission cooler installed.
I think a 160 degree thermostat is too cold for that truck...I would go with a 180 or even back to the stock 195.
You might think about installing a better radiator. I don't know what you can do about the brakes...that would be my biggest concern!
It would be good to run a "free-flowing" exhaust... I personally like magnaflow, sounds good under load and full throttle, reasonably quit otherwise.
I think you are going to be really limited with the S-10. You might be able to install an auxiliary electric fan to assist in cooling. Since I think the s-10 engine compartment is pretty crowded you might be able to install an electric fan that would blow air through the radiator from the front. Might ask around if anyone has done this? Some people might recommend a high performance electric radiator fan to replace your stock belt driven fan...? I think that would require a little R&D on your part to see if it performed any better (for towing). I do know an auxiliary electric fan can be a hell of a good asset since it cools at 100% no matter what the speed of the truck.
If you start to push the upper end of the towing range I would be very concerned about the brakes like I said above. On an S-10 I don't know what you can do to address that, other than to have trailer brakes like you suggest.
Cooling, transmission, brakes...biggest issues... rear end sag could be helped with air-bags or spring inserts (I guess they make them for s-10). ----------- Elbert snipped-for-privacy@me.com
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I decided not to even respond to Marsh Monster.
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Low end torque can't really be fixed with add on's or external mods. A cam suited for your use is probably the only real way out. Pull that 160 thermostat back out. Reinstall what your ECM is calibrated for. Go to http://www.moates.net/ Forget Hypertech, youll see why when you go through this web site. Spend a couple hours reading and checking out the links. Don't tow in overdrive. Don't tow in overdrive. DON'T TOW IN OVERDRIVE. A tranny cooler is in order. Your tranny can handle it if you keep it cool and don't drive all the way up that hill on the floorboard. Tow capacity and trailer hitch weight are two totally diffrent things. Don't exceed them. I need to go through some old digital pics. I have one of a S10 Blazer that was pulling a large U Haul trailer up I-75 North of Chatanooga,Tn. Trailer was through the guardrail and his load was scattered for 500 feet down the interstate. The bumper was still attached to the trailer but not the truck.Your engine driven fan will move more air than any electric fan can. Maybe add a pusher to the front but don't discard your engine driven fan. A thermostat clutch don't take away but a couple HP. The exhaust will help but if $ is tight it would be better spent elsewhere. That 2500 RPM pull you feel can be but down in the 1000 RPM range with a proper cam but you will loose top end pull. But if you use your truck as a truck you shouldn't need anything above 4000 anyway. If I put together a motor for a truck I don't build it to turn beyone 4500. Actually just putting one together with a rev limiter set at 5000.

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I understand that there are limitations to the benefits that bolt-on parts/mods can provide. I have already looked at cam options. Maybe I'm wrong but I wouldn't get the full benefit of a cam without letting the engine breather better. I'm choosing to let it breathe better now and reconsider a cam later. Please explain the reason to pull the 160 thermostat. I'm living in Las Vegas, everything I can remember has let me to believe that cooler is better, maybe I'm not fully versed yet. I haven't found any information specified to ECM calibration points.... What temperature range is my ECM calibrated for? I admit I haven't spent much time looking at your website but I'm not racing this thing. I'm not looking to spend money on a custom tune. Yes, I know, 3rd gear. Can anyone tell me if the current cooling capacity of the stock tranny cooler through the radiator is sufficient for anything besides looks? Already have a Class III mounted. So, you're saying that an e-fan is the incorrect idea? I agree, a truck is a utility vehicle, and should only be mistaken as a high RPM racing machine on the 2-mile oval with high falutin' sponsors.
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A proper cam for your application would actually cost less than a full perfomance exhast system. Your exhaust isn't as restrictive as the after market exhaust people want you to believe. Yea you might gain 5-10 HP and maybe a little torque but for the price I could think of better places to put the money. Nearly every table in your ECM is based on engine temp. Its a whole lot to explain. The website info was not intended for racing info. There are links and discussions on every aspect of your ECM. Everything from racing, increasing fuel mileage and tuning for more HP and torque. Oh yea and properly tuning your ECM for a 160 thermostat and cam swap along with tranny shift points and anything else you can imagine. I wasn't leading you to a custom tune but you mentioned hypertech chip. You can buy the equipment, you obviously already have a PC, to custom burn your own chips cheaper than you can buy a hyperchip. Actually any hyperchip or other chip for nearly any vehicle has been read and the BIN posted on the net. If you like a hyperchip you can simply copy their bin to your chip. Modern ECM's are a pain in the arse when it comes to tuning a engine but with the right understanding and tools you can do things that were impossible with carbs and ignition curves in a mechanical distributor. The tranny cooler in your radiator is good. It cools and heats your tranny to proper temps under normal driving conditions. Normal being the key word. 4500 lbs up a 5000 foot climb in a 15 mile stretch aint exactly normal for a V6. By the way, youre not pulling up out of Bullhead City are you. If so I wouldn't want to take a small truck down that sucker pullin 4500 lbs. Youll find out why there are 2 runaway ramps on it. The electric fan is not altogether a bad idea but use it as a suppliment to your engine driven fan. As a pusher in front of your radiator it can give you additional cooling but I don't know of any electric fan made that will pull as much air as engine driven fan. I own a small trucking co and on class 8 semi's those big, heavily pitched fans that will cool a big diesel pulling out of vegas, dragging 80,000 lbs only draw about 18hp. Although Marsh Monster worded it pretty harsh you are trying to make a little truck do the work of a full sized truck. Your vehicle can probably be made to do the job better but it is not going to be as easy as changing a thermostat. Most of all be careful pulling that kind of load with that small of a vehicle. That combination can get away from you in a second. I got all kinds of ugly pictures running through my head. Beyond the uhaul deal I've seen campers, boats and all kinds of combinations tangled up in the road.
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