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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve been trying to research ways to “upgrade” my Xterra for more durable towing (for lack of any better term).

What I’ve seen is swap differentials, and add a leaf and/or air bags. What interested me is swapping to a beefier rear differential but not even sure where to really begin looking.

I’m a rookie with car modifications and abbreviate terms for parts or mods. So checking out some other topics here left me no better than I came in. Apologies if in the wrong place and I seem as green as I am.

Also don’t do forums at all for anything, so I’m branching out in my quest for knowledge.

2007 Xterra X M/T RWD

thanks
 

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There's a lot to unpack there...

So are you looking to increase towing capacity? Smoother ride when you tow?

The rated towing capacity is 5000 lbs. That's with a class 3 receiver and trailer brakes/brake controller. If you've got a stock hitch, you probably have the wiring kit and relays, but you can check. IIRC, they're behind the passenger kick panel. With the short wheelbase and the brakes as they are, I wouldn't push past 5000 lbs, personally. I'm sure others will chime in with their opinions as well.

If your rear leafs are flattened, you have three options:

1.) New leafs
2.) Add A Leaf (AAL)
3.) Airbags

If your rear leafs are flat, the best option is new leafs. Also the most expensive. You get new leafs that can handle the extra 500lbs tongue weight that you'd see with a properly distributed load.

The bandaid approach is AAL. It'll give you a little more support, but it's only a matter of time. If you don't really tow much, maybe that's ok.

Airbags work best if your leafs are in good shape and don't want a lift. You pump up the airbags and load up your trailer. You get the extra support of the bags when you need them and deflate them when you don't.

Either of the rear diffs should tow the 5000lbs fine. Since you have a RWD xterra, I believe you have the C200. The M226 is mostly considered an upgrade if you want a factory e-locker which you won't need while towing. You shouldn't, anyways.
 

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In factory form, a 2nd generation Xterra is rated for 5000lbs.

My question to you is "How much weight are you wishing to tow?"

When looking at a tow rig, I tend to focus on three things.
1. Safety
2. Power
3. Reliability

Safety: There is a reason why safety is first on my list. Clearly, doing something stupid increases your chance of killing yourself or someone else.
  • Upgrade your brakes to improve your stopping distance
  • Upgrade your rear leaf spring ( Your X is no longer new and fatigue to your leaf springs can affect your towing capacity)
  • Consider using something such as a Sumospring to help level your load, reduce sag, sway and prevent bottoming out.
Power: The 4.0 in our vehicle is a rather stout engine. Tune it up and if needed add a bullydog tuner. For what it's worth, Nissan did a rather good job of tuning our engine for optimal power and reliability. With this in mind, cold air inductions along with cat back exhaust dont provide a great deal of performance gains.

Reliability: simple enough. Change your fluids....all of them
Oil, transmission, transfer case, differential, coolant, power steering.
Check your manual and make sure your up to date with recommended service.

Do not exceed the maximum towing weight/ restrictions recommended by Nissan.

There's an old saying which should be followed.
"Just because you can dont mean you should"

This is still a short wheelbase vehicle and should be acknowledged as such when towing.
 
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You really can't do much. The drivetrain can do 6000-7000 pounds in other chassis (frontier and NV van). So there really isn't any room to improve there. So there is a 5,000 tow capacity, that is set by the wheelbase and center of gravity. Nothing you can do to improve that.

If the trailer is setup correctly, you might have a sagging rear end. But if it is really sagging, you don't have the trailer setup correctly. How much are you trying to tow? How often will you be towing this much?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
After I posted, I realized I excluded the current towing info.

Travel trailer is 4000lbs dry. We have it right at the max capacity for the Xterra. Rarely doing any driving with any tanks filled to any capacity.

Class 3 hitch with a weight distribution hitch as well. I know this needs to be fine tuned a bit more to get the car a bit more leveled, but it’s about 95% there.

Sway control kit as well.

Me, the wife and kids have to move back to the US from Northeast BC Our eventual endpoint will be Northeast Alabama. Right now we are right at the US-Canada border, so we’ve already cranked out right about 1000miles.With about 3500 miles to go in the rest of our journey.
Ideally, we’d have a bigger, more powerful vehicle. But the reality is, we had the Xterra and the trailer we got was priced well enough in the area in Canada we lived without getting ripped off too much.

So not really looking to get an increase in capacity since I don’t need that risk and we knew that before moving what the likits were. But if parts swaps would yield a little more longevity? Or things will just wear down regardless with how much I have to drive?

Changing out rear leaf springs was on the to-do list...but moved it up now.

I like the car. It’s not amazing, but it has served me well so far and I’ve learned a decent amount of maintenance on it thus far. So I’d like to keep it running well as long as possibleand at least keep learning more and more on it.

I realize it’s not entirely clear and apologize. Been on the road awhile now. I appreciate all the help and suggestions so far.
 

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Putting a little more thought into it, won't add any power but if you get some 18" wheels (factory Frontier LE trim) it will take an inch out of the sidewalls. That should help with lateral stability. 265/60R18 is the factory Frontier size and should be a match for your stock size as well. Not something to go running for, but keep an eye out for those wheels. Swap them around next time you need tires. Might even work for you having 2 sets of tire/wheels. Aggressive Canadian winter set and the cross country towing highway set.

The rest of it sounds like you have it dialed in pretty good.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I appreciate the help! Don't interpret my delayed response for a lack of that. Finally made it to Sacramento area from NE BC. New problems have arose...or made themselves more apparent. Thanks again and I will be getting some of those helpful tips done soon as well!
 
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