Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums banner
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

on line
634 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Having just installed my trailer hitch, I decided it was time to test it out on my CJ-7 with a little flat towing test.

Flat towing is a little challenging on any vehicle as very little hitch weight is added to the towing vehicle for the amount of towing weight. This allows the towed vehicle to influence the handling of the towing vehicle more than a conventional trailer does. Braking suffers and acceleration is hampered by the lack of weight over the rear wheels. This can be particularly troublesome on wet pavement or loose surfaces.

Disclaimer: The setup I used was for testing purposes only and is not optimized for high speed or long distance towing. I used it only for a low speed test around the neighborhood to test starting, stopping and handling issues at low speed.

Tow vehicle setup:
06 Xterra Off Road 6 speed manual transmission
Valley Class 5 hitch (rated at 5000lbs)
MasterLock adjustable ball mount (rated at 5000lbs)
MasterLock 2" Class 5 Stainless Steel ball (rated at 5000lbs)
Drawtite tow bar (rated at 5000lbs)

Vehicle Towed:

85 CJ-7 (approx 3500lbs)
On 35" MTR's


Starting off in the MT Xterra was much less dramatic than expected. There is no need to slip the clutch. Power is still plentiful. While you know that the engine is working harder than normal, it does not strain in the least. Shifting is easy and downshifting provides a fair amount of engine braking. Traction is plentiful enough that there was no indication of tire slippage from a standing start on dry pavement.

The only surprise was during turns around 25mph. If the turn is sharp enough, the CJ would resist starting the turn enough that the VDC system would kick in to attempt to bring the rear of the Xterra back where it should be. The situation is a result of the Jeep trying to force the rear of the Xterra to the outside of the turn. There is no skidding, but the yawing motion is enough that the VDC just starts to act before the Jeep obediently falls into the turn. This is expected at low speed as the Jeep turns more easily as speed increases. However, the concern here is that at highway speed, this trait may contribute to creating an over steering situation during emergency maneuvers. It should be noted that this situation occurs only at the initiation of a turn and decreases as the Jeep's front wheels move to match the turn. At the exit of the turn, the situation is repeated to a lesser extent as the Jeep straitens out after the Xterra.

Notes on the setup:

The ball mount is a MasterLock adjustable ball mount. For this application it is flipped to provide a raised mount and adjusted to its highest position. This is needed to meet the requirement that the draw bar be level when towing. Dispite the relative height of the Xterra, the lift and tires on the Jeep has moved the draw bar mounting points up to around 30 inches. The solution will be JKS leaf spring towing shackles which will move the draw bar mounting point down by about 6 inches.The safety chains will be connected from shackles on the Jeep's bumper to the receiver hitch. Currently they run from only the draw bar to the receiver. The safety chain tabs on the Xterra's hitch are fairly small and the existing chain hooks are too large.

The CJ will receive a RoadMaster EvenBrake braking system to assist with stopping. This is a requirement to legally tow the Jeep due to its weight. It will also help in emergency situations not only by reducing stopping distances, but by preventing the Jeep from pushing the Xterra around during braking turns.

I'll update as I get these additional items installed.

-Old Army

on line
141 Posts
I towed my friend CJ the same way few times...

One thing we learn about the CJs' steering:
  • The front wheels will steer when turning then, most of the time, they will self-center after.

    But sometime they won't self-center after a turn and you'll ear the CJ sream! (with Rubber marks on the pavement as a bonus).

    The only way we found to avoid that was to tie a bungee cord between the bottom of the steering wheel and the seat support. Long enough to let the steering wheel go a little more than a ¼ of turn in each direction but not more.

For Muzikman: Make sure you steering is UNLOCK!

Just my 2¢

Oh, btw, nice rig !

on line
2,717 Posts
I don't flat tow, so he's got me there! Real good info though! That's for sure, news we can use!
I like the draw bar set up you have! Adjust-ability!

The dealer told me the X don't need a tranny cooler, I have always had one, I have always added one. But, after talking to dealer and looking at the scan gauge while towing above recommended weights, I'd be comfortable going without it. Must be the type fluid and it is cooled anyways as all auto's are. If it were getting hot, you'd see a jump in the Coolant temp. You don't.

Just turn off that OD!


TNX Senior Administrator
20,757 Posts
S_e_X-Terra said:
It looks like old navy is going to give USMC a run for his money on useful information posted on this sight. (navy VS marines--- I smell a battle)

Excellent information. Something that most of us will use someday!!!!
Although I wish I wrote this thread, lets give credit where credit is due, it was Old Army who wrote this. Good job on idea/write-up/pics Old Army!!
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.