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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.
 

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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-Controller/Tekonsha/90195.html?feed=npn&gclid=CjwKCAjw2s_MBRA5EiwAmWIac0JqsafUis1Bh_g5QeG5NZQcyccNepxmsz8TZ_RHqktkulQZkXmxHBoCX7gQAvD_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.
 

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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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Discussion Starter #5
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-Controller/Tekonsha/90195.html?feed=npn&gclid=CjwKCAjw2s_MBRA5EiwAmWIac0JqsafUis1Bh_g5QeG5NZQcyccNepxmsz8TZ_RHqktkulQZkXmxHBoCX7gQAvD_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.

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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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #12
What did the driver do wrong in that video? I doesn't look like he had a weight distributed hitch (same or better as anti-sway?). In this situation, if you noticed it right away would you attempt to slow down/coast till it leveled out?

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.
Looks like I should pass on this opportunity until I get a bit of experience and equipment. What other equipment should I get before attempting to pull a trailer?
Proportional brake controller
Weight distributed hitch
Air bags for the rear?

Thanks again!
 

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In this situation, if you noticed it right away would you attempt to slow down/coast till it leveled out?
I've read when the trailer starts swinging like that the driver should apply the trailer brakes with the lever on the brake controller (not using the brakes on the towing vehicle.) This is supposed to stop the trailer from whipping around. Thankfully I haven't found out first hand.

I added air bags to my X and really appreciate them, but I don't wheel. The air bags aren't supposed to be good for off-road if you do wheel your X.
 

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That horrible situation is an due to oscillation that can only be stopped by applying the trailer brakes. Almost happened to me when I hung 4 bikes off the back of my trailer (back in the 90s). Hit the trailer brakes when it started and stopped it instantly. Added a friction anti-sway bar after that and no more problems.

My trailer is about 3000 lbs and came with electric brakes so the 5000 lb trailer you are talking about has got to have brakes too. Also my tongue weight is over 400 lbs and I added rear air springs to level things out. Don't assume the tongue weight is 10%, it could be more.
 

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Looks like I should pass on this opportunity until I get a bit of experience and equipment. What other equipment should I get before attempting to pull a trailer?
Proportional brake controller
Weight distributed hitch
Air bags for the rear?
Depends on the trailer. For a 4800lb travel trailer, all of the above would be good.

For a 3000lb pop-up, maybe just a trailer brake controller. If you are careful and keep your speed down, might get by without it.

Something lighter than that, say a utility trailer rated for 2000lbs tops, nothing at all.

You can get by with things if you kinda know what you are doing and use common sense. But being on the highway with a large profile trailer at the upper limit, yeah you need all the help you can get.
 

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

https://www.etrailer.com/Brake-Controller/Tekonsha/90195.html?feed=npn&gclid=CjwKCAjw2s_MBRA5EiwAmWIac0JqsafUis1Bh_g5QeG5NZQcyccNepxmsz8TZ_RHqktkulQZkXmxHBoCX7gQAvD_BwE

They have a pigtail they sell separate that will go between the controller and your X without having to splice anything.
Second vote of confidence for the P3 + pigtail. Just test it out first and calibrate the gain before you go too far to make sure you're not locking up the trailer wheels.
 

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Everyone keeps bringing that U-haul model up. Trouble is it doesn't really explain the problem. It isn't the light tongue weight, it is excessive mass at the back of the trailer. Boat trailers are a great example. They typically have a light tongue weight, but they generally tow very stable. The mass is as the back of the boat and that is very close to the axle, add in a long tongue and things are stable. You can set up a trailer with that perfect 11% tongue weight, but if it is done with all the weight at the very ends of the trailer it will tow like crap. Take that exact trailer, and load, put the greatest mass centered over the axle, get the exact same tongue weight and it will tow completely different (and much better). According to the scales, nothing changed. But removing the mass from the back bumper of the trailer changes the game.

The 4800 LB trailer of the OP, guessing that is dry weight. So loaded up, it will be overloaded.
Also the Xterra isn't the greatest tow vehicle. Nissan even went so far as to limit the towing capacity from the Frontier and PAthfinder that shared the same platform. Nothing changed in the powertrain, it is the shorter wheelbase that hurts it.
Having never towed before, getting your first experience on a maxed out vehicle is not the best plan.
 

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It's the whole combination of things that can set off the instability. Many of the parameters that affect trailer stability are mentioned but I'll just point to why boats behave differently to show how complex this is. Boats are aerodynamically a hell of a lot better than square trailers. So trailering a boat with a tongue weight and mass distribution that would make a box trailer tow like crap is perfectly fine.

I like the uhaul video since it opens yours eyes to what can happen with a simple demo. In the real world it is much more complex.

But like it was said, not a good idea to start towing with a maxed out rig.
 
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