We are in the process of purchasing a Suburban. We are using this
mostly around metro DC and travel but no real off road. Having come
from Miami we are not that used to snow/ice and think the 4WD will add
some extra safty and help to get up the hills when it is icy.
What we are aiming for is a 4x4 Suburban with STABILITRAK. Our
understanding is that this provides full-time all Wheel Driver (AWD)
in addition to the stability control. This configuration does not
have "High 4" becuase the stabilitrack "takes care of it". Some other
people suggested it was better to have "real" 4x4.
The sales litrature is VERY thin on exactly what this does or how it
relates to the 4WD. Does anyone know if it is correct that this is
essentialy the same as AWD? Is this car driving all the wheels all
the time? Is this the best configuration?
Thanks in advance!
On 5 Sep 2004 20:08:30 -0700, email@example.com (John) wrote:
The systems in general, use a variety of sensors that can tell when a
vehicle is headed for a potential spin or spill.
The systems will apply the brakes automatically to individual wheels
while reducing engine power to forestall disaster
Most important, regardless of # of tires being driven, is the
condition of the tires. Good tires on a 2 wheel drive will work
better than 4 hard or bald tires on a 4 wheel drive.
Thanks for the thoughts - so as far as 4 driven wheels - that would be
I amy buying a new car - bald tires are not an issue. I understand
waht Stabilitrack does and why it is good, but not how it effects
4wd/awd. If Stabilitrak diables 4wd i'm not sure it is a plus over
"automatic" 4wd. Also, why pay for 4wd if it is going to be off? The
sales stuff does not make the interaction begtween these options
As far as I know, you cannot have Stabilitrak with a regular 4x4
system. Stabilitrak needs to be able to independently regulate
wheel speed at each corner, and mechanical devices that regulate
torque would simply interfere with it's operation. If you get a
vehicle with AWD, nothing can "disable" it. It's in permanent
4x4 mode, but with no mechanical means to control torque
output at the wheels. This is where Stabilitrak comes in, it
uses the ABS system to control wheel spin. You can actually
get the AWD system on full size vans, but what they do
in this case (because Stabilitrak is not available on the full
size vans) is simply insert a silicone based viscous coupling
in the same t/case that is used with the Stabilitrak system.
And you can also get the regular old locking diff in the rear.
I realize snow is not on the ground yet, but in my view, the
very best thing would be to be able to road test both
systems and attempt manuevers that will test both systems.
My only complaint about the Stabilitrak/AWD systems is
that it seems to be slower to control wheel spin and you
can actually get the truck sideways before the system "catches"
By the way, I still think that for a combination of low
maintenance and good useability, the manual style of
4x4 is the best. I know that you can get this on regular
trucks, I'm not sure you can order that option on the
Suburban. You might not like the idea of having to
pull a lever on the floor, but believe me, very low
maintenance. You get the versions with all the fancy
buttons and electronics....big money when the
components go south.
The 'burb is very stabil and capable. If you get the pushbutton 4wd there is
an "auto" setting. IT works well. However, the weight and handling even in
snow will mean you'll almost never need the 4wd. Add stabilitrack and imo
while nice it's overkill. Drive the 'burb for what it is and you won't miss
it. Drive it like some people I see and you might NEED it.
StabiliTrak does not contain or add 4WD or AWD (all-wheel drive - I
full-time AWD is an option only on the Escalade and Denali).
StabiliTrak just brakes individual wheels and/or adjusts engine torque
to help keep you going in the direction you want to go - it does not
add power to the front wheels if in a 2WD vehicle.
Now can you add the StabiliTrak option to a 4WD model? Not sure ... I
think in the past you could get StabiliTrak on AWD models (ie,
Escalade, Denali) but not 4WD.
Are you sure that you can get AWD with Stabilitrak on a plain
Suburban? I've only seen the systems on higher end trucks like
the Denali, Cadillac Escalade, and the Avalanches. Perhaps you
can get it now on the Suburbans.
Anyway, the AWD versions with Stabilitrak has a transfer case
and front diff that is always engaged. There are no mechanical
components to limit torque (like posi-trac, or viscous couplings)
the system relies on the ABS system to stop wheels from spinning
as it occurs. The Stabilitrak system also uses the ABS system
to apply the brakes at each corner as necessary to keep you from
going into a spin. I've only had a chance to road test the feature
on a Cadillac car (STS), but it really is quite amazing. Especially
in low traction conditions....I threw the steering wheel all over the
place and you couldn't get the car to go into a spin.
The other system, the Auto4Wheel drive, probably responds
quicker and better when you need 4 wheel drive. It uses a clutch
pack in the transfer case that applies torque to the front wheels
as needed in low traction condition. You also have the option of
just sticking it into 4 wheel drive on a permanant basis, which should
only be used in really low traction conditions. The only con to this
system is that it will require more maintenance and repairs then the
AWD system. We see lots of mechanical failures with this system.
You can avoid this by, changing the diff and t/case fluids on a regular
basis (every 30K miles) and leaving the vehicle in 2Hi at all times and
only using the Auto4Hi feature when you absolutely need it.
A good summation, as usual. John, it appears that Autotrak and
Stablitrak have been confused. The Autotrak would be very worthwhile
purchase, but run it as noted, in 2HI except when roads are slippery,
then use the Auto mode. Ask the dealer or one of the web sites about
the availability of Stabi with Autotrak. Depends on the trim level
(options) of the vehicle. It is available on some configurations of the
4WD. Remember that 4WD will not help you stop any better, lots of
people learn that the hard way.
As far as what is available, here is an abreviated listing from the
Chevy web site of a similar vehicle;
2004 Suburban 1/2-Ton 4x4 <<<<<< 4x4 <<<<<<<<
VORTEC 5300 V8 FLEX FUEL ENGINE
4-SPD AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
SPORT RED METALLIC
17" 5-SPOKE ALUMINUM WHEELS
SUN SOUND ENTERTAINMENT PKG
DVD REAR ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
POWER GLASS SUNROOF
SUBURBAN LT PREFERRED EQUIP.
SAFE AND SECURE PACKAGE
SIDE IMPACT AIR BAGS
STABILTRAC VEHICLE STABILITY <<<<<<<<<
So this is a 4x4 with Stabilitrak and is not a denali. On the console
there is a "4 low" button, a "wavy wheels" button and a stabilitrak
button. There is no "4 hi" button (One of the sales guys thought this
was bad-he didn't like AWD). No where does it say that this is AWD
(But the sales guy does). This is not autotrac. If this is
AWD+Stabilitrak it is a good deal - perhaps overkill but my family is
in the car.
You would think that if it was AWD they would make a big deal about it
- unless they don't want to kill Denali sales. Because of the options
packages adding and subtracting things ($2k discount for the safe and
secure package), this costs $800 extra - like I said, good deal if
thats what it is, bad deal if I have useless 4x4.
... Note 4 says:
"Open differential transfer case replaces Autotrac when available
StabiliTrak is selected."
... so that does seem to suggest something more than just 2WD (but
probably not 4WD or AWD)
What it means is that if there were no Stabilitrak on
a vehicle with an open transfer case diff.....you would
only have power flowing to all the wheels as long as
each wheel was on a high traction surface. As soon
as wheel began to spin, it would simply spin, as there
is no mechanical mechanism like a clutch pack, viscous
coupling, or antilock diff, to limit wheel spin. This would
be a useless system. But if you add Stabilitrak that uses
the ABS system to apply the brakes individually to each
wheel when necessary, then you don't need mechanical
devices to perform the torque limiting part of this whole
Let's say that you start to spin the left front wheel, Stabilitrak
applies the brake at the left front wheel.....because of the
open diff at the front, power will flow to the right front wheel...
then it begins to spin.....Stabilitrak applies the right front
brake system.....now power has to flow thru the t/case (open
diff in it) back to the rear wheels. Of course, all this happens
quite quickly...but not as quickly as the mechanical systems.
This is mainly intended for yuppies, pimps, rap artists...etc
who want to drive a big fancy truck and don't want to pull
levers or push buttons....just want to drive....and have the
vehicle make sure they don't end up in the ditch.
StabiliTrak is not 4WD, it is AWD, meaning that all four wheels are
engaged at all times. It is impossible to put it in 2WD Hi, and you
get about 3MPG less than a 4WD in 2WD Hi. Tire wear is also increased
on the front tires.
The window sticker on my Suburban states that it is 4WD, and nowhere
suggests that it is actually AWD. The Chevrolet dealer in Columbia IL
who sold me the vehicle also did not know that it was AWD until I
brought it to their attention. Although this is the thirteenth
Suburban I have owned, neither the dealer nor Chevrolet will do
anything to address this.
Anyone buying a GM vehicle with Stabilitrak should make sure that he
understands what he is getting.
Yep, that's the AWD version. I forgot that you can select 4 low, all
that happens is that the front and rear axles are locked together thru
the transfer case. I discovered this one time on an Escalade...had
to remove the front diff and front driveshaft. Normally, on an Autotrac
version, you can just drive it out on the rear driveshaft....on this one,
you have to shift into 4 low to be able to move without the front
diff in there.
I must not be explaining things very well. It's AWD.....it will work....
just differently then your normal 4x4 system. You will not get stuck
with it.....you will be able to run around in the snow just all the
trucks with regular style 4x4.
Well, I'm still trying to figure out if we are yuppies, pimps, rap
artists... or.. etc. I think I'm an etc. :)
From the descriptions here (A lot more than anything on the Chevy
site) I think that 4WD+Stabilitrack is a valid technology to improve
safety (have the
vehicle make sure my kids don't end up in the ditch and "you will be
able to run around in the snow") - I will be picking up the vehicle
After I get it and find something slippery to skid about on I will let
you know how it really works.
Thanks for your input.
Sorry, that probably wasn't the best way
to describe who is looking for these types of
systems. There isn't anything wrong with people
wanting what I would refer to as a "set it and forget
it" type of system. Many more people these days
seem to want their driving experience to be something
where the vehicle just does what they want without
the need for all sorts of personal intervention.
I read all of your correspondence here, and am wondering if your conclusion
was that in a suburban, if you get a 4wd version (non z71) with
stabilitrac, what you are really getting is the same as the Denali AWD
system? It makes sense, I don't think GM has engineered 2 different
systems but they want to be vague as to keep the Denali up on a pedestal
as something just a bit better. It's a bit frustrating that they don't
(at least i haven't found it yet) put out anything that explains the
system a bit more technically so you know what you're getting! How are
you liking it? Your question was basically the same thing as mine, so
basically i was wondering what your conclusion was after having the
vehicle? I drive a ML 320 mercedes and i love the esp (their version of
stabilitrac) it's in an awd version, i "played" on some snow and ice and
could not lose control if i wanted to. I need a bigger car, don't really
like the denali's "customized" look and want to know i'm getting the same
thing in a suburban.. any help would be appreciate. Thanks
As far as I know, any GM truck that uses Stabilitrak with a 4 wheel
drive system will automatically be using an AWD system with an
open transfer case. Since the Stabilitrak system does all of the
torque management by applying the brakes independently at each
wheel, there is no need for any torque management inside the
t/case. There are two different styles that I've seen, one is a
one speed system, completely open t/case....the other has a
provision for low range, but in high range the t/case is open,
in low range the t/case is basically mechanically locked front to
rear. So in low range, torque management is handled by the
t/case (makes sense at those low speeds) and in high range,
it reverts back to Stabilitrak to manage the torque.
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