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Old 05-13-2014, 12:41 PM   #1
DriveShaft OP
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transmission cooler for a GM 1500 series truck?

I'm curious if anyone's got a good recommendation for an aux transmission cooler to fit on a 5.3L Chevy Avalanche ? I figure it'd be nice to have a thermostat controlled fan on it for handling the the inevitable logjams on i-95. ideas?
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Old 05-13-2014, 12:53 PM   #2
troidus
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etrailer.com.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:39 PM   #3
steven1955
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What year Avalanche?

I have a 2003. In 2003 the Avalanches had only the transmission cooler built into the radiator. At the same time the Suburbans, whose frame and bodywork the Avalanche is based on, had an air cooled transmission cooler plumbed in series with the cooler built into the radiator.

That cooler from the Suburban can be added as a bolt in kit from GM. It cost me just over $100 shipped from (I think) GMPartsDirect.com. The same kit fits from 2003 (maybe 2002) until the body was changed in 2006 or 2007.

There are bigger coolers available, but this kit yields a very clean installation that also will not freak out dealers. Mine has been installed since 2004 with nary a leak.

I installed it myself. It was a pain because the OEM clips that retain the cooler's connections into the transmission are tiny, hard to reach, and love to fly off into the darkness. All I needed were ramps and whatever I used to undo the clips. The clearances where the metal tubes connect to the transmission are very tight.

Search the Chevy Avalanche Fan Club or North America (http://www.chevyavalanchefanclub.com/) and you should be able to find more details.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:43 PM   #4
urbanXJ
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my only advice is get the largest capacity one that will fit.
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Old 05-13-2014, 02:58 PM   #5
DriveShaft OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steven1955 View Post
What year Avalanche?

I have a 2003. In 2003 the Avalanches had only the transmission cooler built into the radiator. At the same time the Suburbans, whose frame and bodywork the Avalanche is based on, had an air cooled transmission cooler plumbed in series with the cooler built into the radiator.

That cooler from the Suburban can be added as a bolt in kit from GM. It cost me just over $100 shipped from (I think) GMPartsDirect.com. The same kit fits from 2003 (maybe 2002) until the body was changed in 2006 or 2007.

There are bigger coolers available, but this kit yields a very clean installation that also will not freak out dealers. Mine has been installed since 2004 with nary a leak.

I installed it myself. It was a pain because the OEM clips that retain the cooler's connections into the transmission are tiny, hard to reach, and love to fly off into the darkness. All I needed were ramps and whatever I used to undo the clips. The clearances where the metal tubes connect to the transmission are very tight.

Search the Chevy Avalanche Fan Club or North America (http://www.chevyavalanchefanclub.com/) and you should be able to find more details.
It's a 2011. They changed chassis in 2007. A bunch of parts change as well, including the engine, transmission, and cooler lines. You're now looking at 5.3 l 6-speed and a 3.08 gearing at the tail end. It comes with a TOC, which is essentially a trans oil reservoir at the bottom of the radiator. Since I have the *worst* gear ratio setup for towing, i'm expecting to need the aux cooler. Gmdirect does have the bolt-on oem option, but the aftermarket installation of it is a bit of a handful for the shadetree mechanic, since you have to do a little transmission lifting to get the hardliners routed. The hardliners are nice to have. But I would save time/energy just acquiescing to the notion of aftermarket pieces, rubber hoses, and possibly increase the cooler size beyond what oem offers.
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Old 05-13-2014, 03:05 PM   #6
troidus
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If you don't go with the GM option, one piece of advice I'd offer is to plumb the aux cooler after the factory one. Let liquid/liquid heat exchange pull the bulk of the heat out of the fluid, then finish it off with the aux unit. Unless the radiator is undersized and needs the help, then let the aux unit pull most of the heat to reduce the load on the radiator. Unless the aux unit is mounted in front of the radiator, in which case it'll dump the heat right back into the water anyway.

Confused yet?
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Old 05-13-2014, 03:32 PM   #7
James Adams
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paging Hondo to the cool transmission courtesy phone...
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Old 05-13-2014, 03:35 PM   #8
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Another bit of advise if going aftermarket. Make sure the soft line is "transmission cooler/power steering hose" and not fuel hose. Look about the same. I would guess more then half the parts stores don't even now the difference. But fuel hose in hot transmission fluid will go bad very quickly. Often turning hard, become brittle and leak. Dumping the transmission fluid causing the transmission to burn up. Now your preventative measure just became the source of the failure.
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Old 05-14-2014, 07:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by troidus View Post
If you don't go with the GM option, one piece of advice I'd offer is to plumb the aux cooler after the factory one. Let liquid/liquid heat exchange pull the bulk of the heat out of the fluid, then finish it off with the aux unit. Unless the radiator is undersized and needs the help, then let the aux unit pull most of the heat to reduce the load on the radiator. Unless the aux unit is mounted in front of the radiator, in which case it'll dump the heat right back into the water anyway.

Confused yet?
I follow. I'll take a peek this weekend at how the routing would need to go, routing the Aux after the factory toc reservoir. I'll likely choose...the path of least resistance.

It's almost certainly going to be mounted in front of the radiator, which means--now that I think about it --the radiator fan ought to provide at least some cooling in stop/go traffic. I think I could go w/ a simple stacked plate cooler, skip the fan.

what's the over/under on low temp bypass. I'm hearing that they're generally unnecessary unless you are dealing with sub-zero weather.
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Old 05-14-2014, 08:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveShaft View Post
5.3 l 6-speed and a 3.08 gearing Since I have the *worst* gear ratio setup for towing, .
I have a 2014, with the 5.3 and the Max tow pac. This includes the 3.73 and it was a bitch to find. While researching and shopping for this beast, I got feedback from several gearheads explaining that when doing the math on each of the first four gears with the newer six speed, they all get more power to the ground with a 3.08 than the old 4sp auto ever could when hooked to a 3.73. So, technically it is indeed the worst ration currently available, but overall amazingly competent. I pull an 8K+ travel trailer, and it's one hell of a tow rig.
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Old 05-14-2014, 10:03 AM   #11
Pajss
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Regardless of what cooler you go with (GO BIG!!!) Look at Sonnax.com for parts upgrades for the transmission. While Sonnax only sells to shops, they are about the best going for the enginerring or re-enginerring of the GM trans to work properly. You will find a wealth of information on their site, and find their parts on EBay and others...
A cooler is a start but......lots more to do, towing or not.
Kary
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Old 05-15-2014, 06:28 PM   #12
PaddedHat
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Originally Posted by Pajss View Post
Regardless of what cooler you go with (GO BIG!!!) Look at Sonnax.com for parts upgrades for the transmission. While Sonnax only sells to shops, they are about the best going for the enginerring or re-enginerring of the GM trans to work properly. You will find a wealth of information on their site, and find their parts on EBay and others...
A cooler is a start but......lots more to do, towing or not.
Kary
2000 Cagiva GC
To date, my personal and business fleet has included:

'99 Tahoe
'03 2500 Suburban
'06 Tahoe
'06 1500 Silverado
'04 2500 HD Silverado
'06 1500 Express
14' 1500 Silverado

The first five pulled medium size and weight travel trailers at least 10K miles a year, some years in excess of 20K. Not counting any flushing, or pan gaskets, fluids and filters as part of regular maintenance, my total cost of repairs to a transmission on any of these vehicles was......ZERO. Nothing, never need a drop added, never leaked, slipped, needed to be re-flashed, repaired or replaced.........nothing, zip, zero.

But some guys could fuck up an anvil with a rubber mallet, or destroy a truck in less that 1/4 of it's normal service life. Then they join other "experts" online to talk about what a piece of shit they own.
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Old 05-16-2014, 08:08 PM   #13
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Get a stacked plate design transmission cooler , not the tube and fin type . Tru-Cool LPD is a very good cooler , several different sizes make it easy to find one to fit your vehicle .
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:25 PM   #14
NDEBT
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As a tech I will say a aux cooler will cause more problems than they solve. get a gauge if you are concerned
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:31 PM   #15
troidus
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In this case, GM offers an aux cooler, so it's probably a good idea to use it. In my case, I feel much better about towing with an aux cooler than without one, and I have 50,000 miles on the cooler with nary a weep.
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