First Time Towing - Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+)
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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First Time Towing

Next week I have the opportunity to take my friends trailer out camping but I'm not sure what/if I need anything on the X to make this happen. I believe the trailer is 24ft 4800lbs so the X should be able to tow it; my friend tows it with a Ford Explorer. As I'm sure you've guessed, this is the first time I've towed anything, so hints, tricks, do and donts would be greatly appreciated.
I have a 2015 P4X with the towing package but do I need to purchase an electronic trailer brake? Any recommendations for brands and features?
He might have an anti-sway hitch that I'll ask to borrow.

Appreciate the help! Thanks.

Last edited by Old Navy; 08-20-2017 at 08:01 AM. Reason: Capitalized
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 01:11 PM
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That's a lot of weight for your first time, leave lots of following room for emergency braking and give yourself plenty of time to get where you're going. Sway control would likely be very beneficial too. Also, if that's 4800# dry keep that in mind with water in the tanks, your gear, etc.

I'd definitely get a brake controller. I have a P3 I'd buy again.

https://www.etrailer.com/Brake-Contr...BoCX7gQAvD_BwE

They have a pigtail they sell separate that will go between the controller and your X without having to splice anything.

Edit to add: you're right at the max for the X. A proper 10% tongue weight is likely to make your X squat like crazy. Lighter, smaller trailers have made my X wiggle uncomfortably without sway control. The tail literally wags the dog.

I'd agree your asking an awful lot of yourself and your X if you have no experience towing. This is one of those things when they go bad people can end up dead.

Last edited by Longboardr; 08-16-2017 at 09:12 PM. Reason: added pigtail url
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 01:15 PM
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Best advice I can give is to not tow it. Find another vehicle.
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 01:24 PM
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First time towing

Get a brake controller, use a weight distribution hitch, and take it easy. No quick movements, leave lots of room for braking. Take it easy and you will be fine. Tow in 4th gear for that much weight (assuming auto transmission).


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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Longboardr View Post
That's a lot of weight for your first time, leave lots of following room for emergency braking and give yourself plenty of time to get where you're going. Sway control would likely be very beneficial too. Also, if that's 4800# dry keep that in mind with water in the tanks, your gear, etc.

I'd definitely get a brake controller. I have a P3 I'd buy again.

https://www.etrailer.com/Brake-Contr...BoCX7gQAvD_BwE

They have a pigtail they sell separate that will go between the controller and your X without having to splice anything.
Thanks for brake suggestion. I'll have to take a look under the dash to see where the brake controller would plug in.

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Originally Posted by mtnbiker49 View Post
Best advice I can give is to not tow it. Find another vehicle.
Fair enough. Whats your reasoning for this? Too close to the max capacity or does the X not do too well with towing in general? I am kind of worried about the back end squatting.

Thanks!
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by secular View Post
Thanks for brake suggestion. I'll have to take a look under the dash to see where the brake controller would plug in
It's a white connector by your steering column under the dash.
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jsexton View Post
Get a brake controller, use a weight distribution hitch, and take it easy. No quick movements, leave lots of room for braking. Take it easy and you will be fine. Tow in 4th gear for that much weight (assuming auto transmission).
I have a 6 Speed Manual Transmission, but I understand what you're saying. Dont use Overdrive and keep it in 5th on the highway.
Thanks.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 01:45 PM
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You'll want to think about mirrors too.

https://www.thenewx.org/forum/23-exte...g-mirrors.html
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 02:48 PM
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Thanks for brake suggestion. I'll have to take a look under the dash to see where the brake controller would plug in.



Fair enough. Whats your reasoning for this? Too close to the max capacity or does the X not do too well with towing in general? I am kind of worried about the back end squatting.

Thanks!
Well, a weight distribution hitch would be mandatory for that much weight, which would also reduce sagging. Still, you'll be rear heavy and light in the front. Tongue weight is good to know.
Regardless of what the trailer weight is now, it'll be over 5000 lbs easy when you get it ready. You also aren't towing a popup. You are towing a sail behind you, which will make the rear end do some odd things. Keeping it in 3rd is the best bet for as much as possible. The xterra won't have issues pulling it, but there is an issue of stopping and controlling/maneuvering it with a short wheelbase that causes issues. There's a video of a crash on NJ turnpike or GSP from a few weeks ago that shows the end result.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 03:11 PM
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The thing about towing is the more overkill the tow vehicle is for the trailer, the less you have to worry about it.

At lighter weights and smaller trailers, you can be sloppy and bend the rules, it's not going to matter much. With a trailer this size, it's totally capable of pushing the tow vehicle around if things go sour. The typical Xterra weights somewhere around 4500lbs itself.

That maximum tow rating means you can pull that much if you have everything going in your favor and set up properly. I doubt you want to invest in the equipment to do it right for a trailer that is not even yours, and a week to do it is going to be nearly impossible especially if you don't have the trailer in your possession to fit and test everything.

I wouldn't say it's impossible, but it's not going to be pleasant or safe towing that thing without supporting equipment for someone used to towing, much less someone who hasn't done it before.

I've towed a 2500lb pop up trailer around, and while my Xterra can handle it fine, you won't forget it's back there. I'd hate to throw 2000lbs on top of that.

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