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Towing Impressions with the Xterra

49023 Views 117 Replies 45 Participants Last post by  Tlrtucker
Towing with the Xterra

I just got back from a trip which involved towing a 6x12 U-Haul weighing about 3500's. While no where close to the tow rating of the X, it gave me a pretty good idea of how the X handles towing.

Here's my impressions:

Power: There's plenty for towing at this weight. On the flats and slight inclines, 6th gear and cruise control worked at speeds up to 75mph.

On larger hills, a downshift to 5th was all that was required. Cruise control would hold up to 75mph with out any problem.

Accelerating up to speed was a snap, especially once the engine was above about 3000 rpm's.

Technically, I could have left it in 5th the entire time, but I wanted a little better mileage.

Mileage at speeds from 65 to 75mph varied from a high of 13.5 to a low of 11.8. This is a 6 speed manual that is just past its break-in period.

Brakes worked well. The U-Haul has hydraulic surge brakes. I didn't test full bore stops, but stopping power seemed adequate.

Handling was good. The very responsive steering of the X requires a bit of getting used to, but it's no different than when it's unloaded. There was no sway evident, except after my first attempt to load the trailer. I had temporarily loaded a Dana 60 and 14 Bolt axle in the back half of the trailer to transport them a short distance before I reloaded the trailer. Once I reloaded the trailer, all was good. Weight distribution ended up being about 70% front and 30% back, so it was a bit front heavy.

Suspension: This is the only thing I can find fault with. The rear of the Xterra sagged more that I would have liked, but this is not unexpected. Overall sag was about 2 at the hitch. It was not on the bump stops and did not bottom out very often. I would run a weight distributing hitch at tongue weights over about 300's but these are not recommended with U-Hauls.

Overall, this is a pretty good little tow vehicle within its limits.

-Old Army
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Look out for tongue weight. I tow a 3000 lb popup with electric brakes, so easy-peasy for the X. But the known softness of the X's rear springs causes the 400+ lb tongue weight to make the rear squat 2-3 inches. Not an issue with just the wife and I driving during day light hours on paved roads. But will be taking additional passengers and gear, so I added rear air springs to level things out.

(btw - the 400+ lb tongue weight is due to the layout of the RV, nothing I can do about it)
I'm towing a 5x10 cargo trailer half way cross country with my 2013 XTerra Pro. I'm concerned about sway in the rear. Not sure if the Pro has more leaf springs in the back than non Pro models. Any suggestions ?
I have a friction type sway control device. One end mounts to a swivel ball bolted to the side of your trailer tongue. The other end attaches to a swivel ball that is welded to the side of your receiver hitch near the ball. Works great to eliminate any sway.

Most repair shops can do the little bit of welding needed to attach the swivel ball to your hitch.
Looks like I will be picking up a Yamaha AR210- It says it is 3000lbs dry. I guess I will find out if my Xterra can tow it or if I will need a tow vehicle on the way home.
I tow a ~3000 lb popup RV, no problem but it has electric brakes.
It not that the Xterra brakes can't handle a lighter trailer. It's when the moron that runs the red light or pulls out in front of you. You want every bit of braking you can have. I was pulling a pop-up camper and had a guy pull out in front of me and freeze. I hit the brakes and the trailer about lifted the backend of the Xterra. I just turned hard left as quick as I dared without swerving and missed him by a few inches.

When it comes to brakes, you can't have too much. Also trailer brakes are awesome for trailer sway. Just blip the trailer brakes and usually it will settle down.
+1. It's in those iffy situations where it's obvious the trailer brakes are helping and needed. I've also had to use the electric trailer brakes to stop a uncontrolled sway situation but after that episode I installed a friction type sway control and no more sway. I don't think you can manually activate the surge type trailer brakes.
I have the firestone 2409s also. Great for handling my trailer's 400+ lb tongue weight. Make sure the air bags don't have folds in them. The installation instructions I got with mine are incorrect so the top of the air bags aren't centered with the bottoms and folds result. I had to turn them so the air valve is towards the outside of the frame rail. I contacted Firestone about it and included pictures. Firestone's reply was only that mine were opposite to their printed instructions.
If your rear springs aren't sagged, and the roads home aren't really bumpy, you should be ok.

My stock 08 S has no no spring sag and the 425 lb tongue weight of my camper made the rear sit 2-3 inches lower so it wasn't level but not bad. I towed like that until last year when I installed air springs because I started taking passengers with me. So it depends on the condition of your springs and shocks plus added load in your X.

So you are probably OK to get the trailer home but I do recommend upgrading your rear suspension for towing.
Do you use a brake controller?
Yes, a brake controller is needed to make the electric brakes function. There are a couple forums here that go into the details of wiring up our Xs for towing with a factory style wiring harness/relays. Don't recall if they include the details of setting up for electric brakes. Someone here please chime in. (I wired my X for towing from scratch back in 08. not knowing any better)
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