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Old 02-21-2017, 10:32 AM   #1
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X-Terra 2008 adequate for towing?

Hi everybody,

First up I am new to anything airstream and this forum. Interested in purchasing a Safari SE from 2007, or similar. I am wondering if my Nissan X-Terra will be able to tow this kind of rig.
Does anybody have experience with this car for towing? Is there a place, except the car dealer, to go to to get the right setup?
It seems that there is a lot of technical numbers and setups that need to be considered and figured out. Any advise on what threads to look at would be very helpful indeed. With anything new in the beginning it always seems a bit overwhelming to educate myself.

Thank you all for any advise. Happy camping,
Mario
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Old 02-21-2017, 10:56 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forums.
What is the towing capacity of the Nissan? How long is the Airstream, and how much does the Airstream weigh?
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Old 02-21-2017, 11:30 AM   #3
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Hello from central Kentucky and welcome to the forums.

I did a little research on your TV (tow vehicle) and you have a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. The highest cargo capacity for the 3 models is 1108 lbs. I don't know what the maximum tongue capacity is.

An older model AS (Airstream) might work but for 2007 you'll have to go with probably a 20' model (or less) or upgrade the TV.
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Old 02-21-2017, 12:33 PM   #4
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The Nissan is marketed as a comfortable off road vehicle. It is also a body on frame design with a 109 inch wheelbase.

Generally, the lower the CG and the longer the wheelbase, the safer the vehicle is for towing. Most trucks are 120-140 inches. You have a tall vehicle with a short wheelbase. As stated above it is rated for 5000lbs towing capacity, but no tongue weight specification was included in the search result. A 10%, which is minimal for tow stability, is 500lbs and likely. All elements point to a less than optimum tow vehicle, except for a small coach and limited travel speeds.

The frame design will allow a strong hitch to be installed. However, some frames twist under load, which may or may not be a good thing. The location of the spare tire may make this difficult. Check it out.

An off road vehicle is assumed to be rugged. It may also transfer more shock than necessary to the coach. The riveted design of an Airstream is better served with a smooth ride. That can be achieved with different rig setups, but a slower speed helps considerably.

You need to research quite a bit. There is a lot to learn about tow vehicles and trailers. Suggest you spend some time digging into the threads under this subject category. There is lots of controversy, but good info as well. Figure out what your tow vehicle can tow, and why. Figure out what compromise, modification, or change will best serve your RV goals.

Many folks just move on up to a 3/4 ton truck. Others find that a properly set up mini van works for them. Vintage coaches were towed with passenger cars. Some will never tow with a vehicle that does not have 20% or more headroom in the specification for tow and tongue capacity. Others heavily modify hitch attachment to improve capacity and use the force projection design weight transfer hitches to eliminate sway for white knuckle free travel.

Learn what works for you.

Also, spend some time with different Airstream coaches and see what works for you. Some folks like it small. Others need something more. The most expensive thing you can do is purchase the wrong coach and trade later, unless you are an effective DIY person, buy used, and can flip your way to perfection.

So research, research, research ..... and welcome to the forum. Pat
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Old 02-21-2017, 01:53 PM   #5
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all good advise!!!welcome to the forum and the air stream family...i would go to my local mechanic with all the info and ask them about towing your to be rig....what needs to be installed,like brake control,electric connection for light and battery etc....i think your model with propane ,pots and pans etc....will max weigh 5000....or less...best of luck with it all ..M.
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Old 02-22-2017, 11:06 AM   #6
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Mario
While the previous respondents agreed that you can probably tow just fine with the X-terra, I'm coming from the other end....control of the TV in sudden stops or evasive maneuvers. Given the fairly short wheelbase, you'll need to consider those scenarios as well. Safe travels in any case. jon
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Old 02-22-2017, 11:20 AM   #7
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check your owner's manual for tow capacity- ie trailer weight (loaded) and tongue weight (usually 10-15% of trailer weight)
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Old 02-22-2017, 12:02 PM   #8
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Staying well within your maximums is important but wheelbase isn't everything. The distance from the rear axle to the hitch is also very important. The longer the distance, the greater the chance for sway. The distance from the hitch to the trailer axle is also important, but I've never seen an AS with a short distance.

My 4Runner, also an SUV, has a short wheelbase, but my 23' AS rides very steady and stable behind it; heavy truck traffic, crosswinds, emergency lane changes etc.. It has been very easy to handle. But it's also a double axle trailer which pretty much eliminates any sway.

My AS GVWR is 6,000 but my TV capacity is 7,000. I would never dream of towing anything that was approaching the TV maximum. The information I have from Toyota also shows a maximum trailer weight that is below the maximum tow capacity. I like to leave plenty of room when it comes to maximums on a vehicle.

Properly loading the AS or any trailer is extremely important. This video has been posted before. If you haven't seen it, it is an real eye-opener about the effect weight distribution has on trailer sway. Same vehicle, same wheelbase, different trailer loading, very different effect.

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Old 02-22-2017, 12:06 PM   #9
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I have seen enough people happily towing smaller trailers with them that they must work just fine. Don't let all the doom and gloom get you down.
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Old 02-23-2017, 08:46 AM   #10
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Small....is the operative word for your TV. If you only want or need a 20' or under trailer and don't mind pushing your TV to it's limits then it might be OK. Keep in mind that if you are pushing it to the limits or just beyond the limit, your insurance company may have an out if you are involved in an accident. I am amazed at how many folks are OK with running on the edge. I would much rather have more TV than is needed than pull one mile on the edge....not to mention how much less stressful towing can be if all limits are over covered.
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Old 02-23-2017, 12:14 PM   #11
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I towed at max (4500lbs) with a Gen2 Honda Pilot for 3 years, it has the same wheelbase as the Xterra and simlar soft rear end as well.

Airstreams are typically not lightweights, so you'll have to chose carefully.

Tires and WDH selection become critical.

Run UHP or LT tires with a 1000lb/10000lb WDH and you'll be ok.

We were golden for in State trips. But for longer trips, you might get annoyed.
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