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Old 07-02-2012, 09:46 AM   #1
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Suggestions and Experience Wanted on Towing

Hi,

We have a 2010 Nissian Pathfinder that is rated for 6000 lbs. Our trailer, 1994 25' Airstream dry weight is 5100 pounds. Our goal: Not to pull it with full tanks ever and not to put so much stuff inside that it gets over 6100-6200 pounds. (I'm sure that is not a lot of stuff either) Actual Goal would be 5800-6000 lbs just trying to be realistic. We have a good hitch, sway bar etc already installed.

We would like to keep our Pathfinder, as we love this vehicle. We plan on getting a transmission cooler installed this week. Have pulled it a bit from dealer to storage and out to RV park, and it tows like a dream. Less than 100 miles one way and mostly flat.

We stumbled upon this way before we had planned on buying our RV. We will do some traveling in it over the next few years, but nothing major. Eventually, we will buy something that pulls a lot more weight, just wanting to put that off for a few years.

Various information we've been told and need experience on from you all:

1. You'll be fine, as long as you don't try to drive to Colorado with constant hills. AND no longer than 300-500 miles one-way trips before a good rest.

2. The 6000 pound rating is really more, because the manufacturers have to minimize what it will pull....you'll be fine.

Any experience out there would be appreciated. I just want to be able to enjoy our experience as we drive somewhere vs worrying about the transmission the whole time. Thanks! Angel
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:50 AM   #2
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Load your car and trailer for a trip and go to the nearest truck scale to find out what they both REALLY weigh!
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:29 AM   #3
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If your Pathfinder is rated to tow 6000 lbs, if probably has a transmission cooler installed.
If not, the may not have the tow package option and you should check if anything else is needed to tow a maximum load.
Check the combined gross vehicle weight limit of your vehicle. Usually, with a maximum tow load, there is very little extra that can be loaded in the vehicle to meet or exceed the combined vehicle weight limit. The previous poster is correct, weigh your rig on a truck scale when you get it set up. When you get a full tank of gas, two passengers, the family dog and camping gear and the trailer all provisioned, you will be heavier than you think
To the contrary, vehicle manufacturers are aggressive in setting tow limits for their vehicles and sometimes advertise them extensively. In fact, until recently there was no uniform measure of vehicle makers' claims. Although your Pathfinder may tow what you have, you are at its limit.
You are doing the right thing by lightly loading your trailer.
Tow with what you have, rather than buy a new vehicle. Performance on the road will tell you. If there is squirrely handling, long braking distances and sluggish acceleration, you know you are pushing it.
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:34 AM   #4
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Thats right, truck scales are free...they will have a fellow come out and tell you when to stop and at each point they will write down at the desk what your weight is. Then you will really really know the factual truth.
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:40 AM   #5
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The closer you get to maximum loads, the closer you are to the limits of the vehicle... so, the easiest thing to do is drive smoothly, go a bit slower, and create more buffer in case something goes wrong (sudden braking etc.)

If you are towing on grades, and are adding a tranny cooler, have them add a temp gauge if possible. That will tell you a lot more about what is going on. You might not be rocketing up the hills, but your Pathfinder will do fine dropping a gear or two and going a bit slower up the hills. That's what passing lanes are for.
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:22 PM   #6
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CAT scales do charge a little for the first weight but additional times over the scale the same day are free. The scales I have used around here did not have an attendant outside but when I went in and explained that I was going to get several weights they were most helpful. You really need to weigh the Pathfinder, and the trailer. After weighing the whole rig, come back through and leave the trailer wheels on one pad and the trailer jack on another. Unhook from the vehicle so all the trailer weight is on the two pads. You will have total weight, trailer weigh and tongue weight. You really must know these numbers because it sounds like you are right on the limit of capacity for your vehicle. Personally I would say get a bigger TV. The rule of thumb that I have alway heard is limit your towing weight to 80% of the max stated in the manual. This give you a margin and also puts a lot less strain on the TV. If you are going to tow with the Pathfinder a good brake controller unit is a must.
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Old 07-02-2012, 01:57 PM   #7
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Update and Thank you!

Thank you all for the information. I did find out that yes we have a tranny cooler already, due to the towing package. Yes we have a braking kit already, which is a must for sure.

Our next plan is to get the weights done. The transmission place here in Austin, Carter's, suggested we go over to a salvage yard and to ask if we can find out our total weights etc..and they are usually good about not charging for that service. We will give that a shot here soon.

Please feel free to keep the comments coming.

What we know is that when we get ready to do some serious RVing in our new home, we will be upgrading to a larger TV for sure.

Have a safe and happy Fourth!
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Old 07-02-2012, 03:13 PM   #8
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I know this is totally irrelevant, but my first tow vehicle was a '65 36 hp VW bug and dad had a 60 hp Mercedes 190 diesel. We towed a 13' Shasta (with wings). It is amazing what you really can tow if you don't want to go fast up hills, or drive interstates. Now, just how safe we were is a little questionable. There were electric brakes on the Shasta at least.

I like my new Grand Cherokee Hemi V8 with some huge HP rating, but I towed the same Argosy 20' with older Grand Cherokee's with the straight six just fine, and this is in the West where we have high elevations and mountain passes.
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:47 PM   #9
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Give Andy Thompson at Can Am RV a call:

http://www.canamrv.ca/

He will almost certainly have customers towing with Pathfinders and will know that vehicle's strengths and weaknesses, especially in relation to towing Airstreams. He's normally very generous with his advice and may be able to recommend a local towing specialist if you need any work doing. As others have said, some real weights will help you.

Don't get too hung up on the manufacturer's tow rating; axle, tire and gross vehicle weight ratings are more important.
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:11 PM   #10
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You really have to get the rig to a scale.

If you are close to the limits, getting weight distribution really dialed in will be critical to a safe towing experience.

The most important thing is to find out what all the different capacities (limits) for your vehicle are:

Tow rating
Gross combined weight rating
Front and rear axle weight ratings
Trailer axle weight ratings might be important as well if you happen to load the trailer heavy.

With the W/D dialed in, I would be perfectly comfortable going right to the limit on any of the capacities. The caveat of course is that you have no margin for error. If you change the way you load the Pathfinder or the trailer, you may be above the limit.

Towing with a rig that exceeds any of the manufactures stated limits may be unsafe, will likely cause extra wear and tear and can certainly reduce your margin for safety if something goes wrong. At that point, you are relying on your engineering skills rather than Nissan's.

The owner's manual and the scale will provide the data points that are needed to really see for sure.

Wayne
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:10 AM   #11
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"5100lbs dry weight w/o options"

900lbs wiggle room..... agree with other's, actual weights are needed.

You may find that packing light just might not be enough. Especially for anything longer than a weekend outing.

Bob
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:30 AM   #12
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Thank YOU for the suggestion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrUKToad View Post
Give Andy Thompson at Can Am RV a call:

Can-Am RV Centre | New and Used Travel Trailers, Motorhomes and Fifth Wheels | Towing & Hitch Specialists | Top Airstream Dealer

He will almost certainly have customers towing with Pathfinders and will know that vehicle's strengths and weaknesses, especially in relation to towing Airstreams. He's normally very generous with his advice and may be able to recommend a local towing specialist if you need any work doing. As others have said, some real weights will help you.

Don't get too hung up on the manufacturer's tow rating; axle, tire and gross vehicle weight ratings are more important.
Thank you! Talked to Can-Am this AM and he reports that we should be fine, based on the Airstream we have, the weight distribution hitch, brake controllers, and of course being careful, as with any TV. Feeling much better about keeping what we have now and buying a "newer" TV down the road. We will probably tow this 3-4 times per year, as we are still working full time and not quite ready to be full timers just yet, unless we win the lottery anytime soon!

We will still get it weighed, as I think that's important! Happy Fourth!
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:37 AM   #13
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There are many towing vehicles from MiniCoopers to diesel trucks, none effective without common sense.

You have a light tow vehicle so need to load both truck and trailer lightly. Don't be concerned with power, be concerned with stability. Keep your speed down always, even more so in windy or wet conditions, and when climbing descending hills (shift transmission down as needed). Never use overdrive if the Nissan has it.

The Pathfinder must be equipped with a transmission cooler (and a temp gauge will tell how its doing) and a good weight distribution with sway control. Changing to stiffer sidewall tires such as XL (Extra Load) rated will take out much side-to-side movement of the tire sidewalls.

Weigh you combination so you know what you have.

You said it tows like a dream, that's hard to beat. But must be sure it can handle all conditions well; once properly equipped the rest is up to the driver.

doug k
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:27 AM   #14
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Don't be concerned with power, be concerned with stability.

Yup, neither travel speed or speed on an ascent are relevant factors compared to overall stability, braking distances (disc brakes on trailer highly recommended), and control on a descent (best hitch rigging).

Read the thread of 2Airishuman with the words "CAT Scale" in title in re how to set up the combination.
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