Real World Towing with the Pathfinder

trailerguytrailerguy Member Posts: 9
I have a 2005 Pathfinder LE and want to tow a travel trailer (I already tow one at 2800 lbs.). Does anyone have any real world experience (including the Rocky Mountains) pulling 4000-4500 lbs. loads for long distance and periods (yes, I know the manual says it will pull 6000!)?

Also does anyone know of a good, sturdy set of extension mirrors that can be had for this thing?


  • prof2prof2 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2006 Pathfinder and would like recommendations for a travel trailer that matches its ability.
  • trailerguytrailerguy Member Posts: 9
    I never got any response to my question on towing with my 2005 Pathfinder. I have decided to role the dice and bought a Surveyor TT by Forest River. It is an inch shorter than 24 feet and will allow me to two with a total towing weight of 9000 to 9500 lbs. We are taking delivery on the day after Thanksgiving so I have no experience as yet.

    I suspect the 2006 capacity is the same as 2005 (max of 11110lbs or 6000 lbs tow). I will try to post something once I have tried it for a while.
  • boda47boda47 Member Posts: 3
    Looking at a 2006 Pathfinder SE, any experience on towing your Surveyor TT? Any suggestions regarding 2 wheel or 4 wheel drives for towing.
  • trailerguytrailerguy Member Posts: 9
    We finally got out in mid-January and again this past week. This was all dry camping and much of it was on poor back roads (i. e. unpaved). Since we also use the "Pathy" in pretty real outback, I am in favor of 4WD and use the LO range a bit. For pulling the TT 2WD would by just fine on the highway and any paved or level unpaved roads. it will also free up a few lbs. of towing capacity I understand although I do not see that Nissan makes a distinction.

    Our Surveyor is 4100 lbs. unloaded and proably pushing 5000 lbs. loaded ( we seem to empty the house into the trailer since it has so much room compared to our last TT, a Casita - a great trailer but too small for us!).

    The Pathfinder does not like this much but if you keep your speed to about 60 mph you can still get almost 12 mpg. Besides, if you watch all of the other things passing you on the interstate, you get some idea what everyone else has!

    I do not think we are going to cause any damage pulling at this 80-90 % of the towing limit and prefer to try to leave a 1000 lbs. margin. We also chose a low profile TT to stay within the 60 Sq. Ft. front area limit. We had high head winds going west this past week and it really causes a lot of problems.

    I recommend a combination anti-sway and equalizer hitch. I am using the Equal-I-Zer brand it seems to work well.

    While I would really like more capacity I have problems driving a something called and "Armada!" (and besides, it won't fit in my garage!).

    Check if if you have more questions.

  • richkarlrichkarl Member Posts: 1
    I am in the same boat so to speak.
    Please let me know how you feel about pulling your new TT.
    I am on the verge of purchasing a surveyor sv291 which is a 29 footer. Weighs 4800lbs dry. I have a 2006 pathfinder.
    In theory, it should be okay but I would love your feedback.
  • trailerguytrailerguy Member Posts: 9
    You would be pushing things a bit further than I have with the sv291 but I suspect you will find it very nice to use. Even my 24 ft. of trailer is a good deal more sail behind me than I am used to but the equalizer hitch seems to keep things under control. Hooking and unhooking took bit of getting used to but seems to work fine.

    If I may, I would like to comment on Forest River product quality. While I don't think they are worse than others in the industry for these light weight trailers they do have some room for improvement. I would be happy to share details but suggest you contact me directly at [email protected] and avoid all this web site login business.

    John T
  • boda47boda47 Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the input, I will take your advice regarding the tow equipment. Anything bad to say about the Casita? I am looking at the 17'. Also, another question. The Nissan Pathfinder brochure states that it is 6,000 lbs. rated with a 7 pin wiring harness. The Pathfinder SE has a 4 pin harness. The dealer says that all I have to do is use a 7 pin plug that plugs into the 4 pin. Will this work?
  • trailerguytrailerguy Member Posts: 9
    We loved our Casita and wept when we sold it. Unfortunately it was too small for use (2 adults and 2 standard poodles). If Casita made a dual axle, 21 or 22 ft by 7ft trailer we would buy it in a flash. their quality an customer support are excellent and the resale value can't be beat (we got 80% of purchase price after 3 years).

    On wiring harnesses: The dealer is all wet! You need six wires or the seven pin harness to tow even a Casita 17 ft TT let alone some thing like the Surveyor you mentioned - one for ground, one each for left and right turn signals, one for tail and running lights, one for battery charging, and one for the electric brakes. So, you will not be able to use the Pathfinder until you run and extra two wires from the engine compartment. I recommend a good RV service dealer to do this when you have the electric brake controller installer. Good luck.

  • boda47boda47 Member Posts: 3
    Sounds like my situation, my wife and myself, plus two dogs. What was it that became too crowded in the Casita? We are thinking of using the Casita to replace motels. About the 7-pin wiring harness, you have confirmed my worries. The dealer obviously did not have a clue, it makes one wonder about the quality of other types of service.
  • trailerguytrailerguy Member Posts: 9
    We wanted to have a both a bed and dinette available at all times and found we were tripping over the dogs whenever we did anything. What we have now is proably too big (even though the bed is smaller than the King in the Casita) but it does give us the extra elbow room we wanted.

  • jfranojfrano Member Posts: 6
    I own a 1999 Pathfinder LE. I want to pull a 17' aluminum V Hulled boat with 100hp engine. The total weight boat/engine/trailer is about 1200lbs. Is this something I need a transmission cooler added or will the stock cooler be sufficient?

  • dudenbosteldudenbostel Member Posts: 4
    Please be aware the wiring harness can burn. We had a brake sensing unit put in a year ago right after we bought the vehicle. Our sensor lights came on a month ago and we took it to our dealer, Hampton Motors in Fort Walton Beach Florida, after diagnosing the vehicle they downed our vehicle as being unsafe and then determined the whole wiring harness in the vehicle had completely melted. Now a month later, Hampton's determined because of the brake unit our warranty was void and are charging us $3000.00. The mechanic informed us the brake system was properly installed but other than the unit they cannot determine why the wiring harness burned.
  • trailerguytrailerguy Member Posts: 9
    I assume you are referring to a Pathfinder of the 2005-2007 variety on the wiring harness problem. Sounds bad! I had not heard about this but one of the things I liked about Casita was they insisted on rewiring my brake controller when I got to Rice to pick up my trailer. They added separate fuses to each line where my dealer in Denver had only one. I have little confidence in most RV dealers so there is an advantage in dealing directly with a factory even if you have to drive over 1000 miles to get there!

    I have several hundred miles on my Surveyor now and we are leaving for a full summer in the northwest and Canada day after tomorrow. I built a carrier for a Honda generator that sits on the back bumper so we are fully self-contained (as long as the holding tanks don't get full).

    This will be our first real trial in real mountains so I expect to be moving rather slowly once I leave the flat land. Anyone who wants to follow along with my picture log should contact me directly at [email protected]

  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    Anyone who wants to follow along with my picture log ...

    Consider posting your pics right here in your very own CarSpace!

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • twopathstwopaths Member Posts: 3
    Not the stupidest thing I've done, but on the list. Drove about 1.5 miles in '06 Pathfinder towing boat w/ parking brake engaged (probably 20-30 mph). Trailer squeaks at times anyway and did not notice that brake was engaged until pulling into launch area. Brake was smoking at that point and I immediately realized what had happened. Any guess as to potential damage? (Will have brakes inspected ASAP...just trying to get idea of what to expect.)
  • fnaticfnatic Member Posts: 7
    I hope I can ask about the previous generation pathy as well. I would purchase this car because i would be buying a trailer in the near future. My alternative is getting my first choice- an 06 impreza or outback wagon- which is only no more than 3000.

    Not like I know very much about the subject, but I didn't see anyone mention this stuff and seeing one guy just bought a 24 footer or something- the following is some info I have learned on various info websites.

    Keep in my of the following because it seems extremely important.

    When you count the maximum tow capacity- make sure the max is the DRY weight or unloaded weight- meaning

    You must remember to add the car you are driving- your (driver), passenger- AND any cargo weight as well.

    One more thing- don't forgot the amount of people you would ever want to be riding in the trailer- their weight- lets say 200 lbs per person plus their cargo.

    Chances are the new weight is much, much more than the max which you may just be reaching.
    The person who said they want to save 1000 lbs to be safe- sounds good but you may be forgetting completely all your luggage which may be 1000lbs easily itself. I think it makes more sense AFTER you factor in all weight- give whatever the weight is ITSELF- an extra say 5-10%.

    The length of the trailer really just depends on the amount of room you need to move around as upon researching them- many smaller ones- and larger ones have similar weights- me I think at least to begin with I would feel safer turning- maybe reversing (yiiiiikes) in a 16-19 inch trailer.

    I have NEVER towed before and although the thought makes me anxious, it isn't for any other reason than I hope to be cautious and to it correctly then after getting the hang of it- there should be no reason to be- scared because I took all the necessary steps.

    Any advice for a first timer?

    Ie: more mirrors?
    driving at a given speed depending on the amount of total weight.

    Any advice involving hitches- and weight distributions, brakes (upgrades) i know NOTHING!

  • trailerguytrailerguy Member Posts: 9
    I am hardly more than a novice myself but here goes (be sure to continue to try to find experts): I think the tow limits specified for cars and trucks are designed to allow the transmissions and other running gear to survive the stress. Pulling a heavy weight causes the automatic transmission (I would not want to use a manual one) to shift often and under load. If you leave margin below the load limit you will lighten the stress - lighter is better.

    That said, you would be surprised what you end up carrying especially if the trailer you select has a lot of room. Mine is a (Surveyor 24 ft. model) weighs about 3800 completely empty. I weighed it at a landscaping materials place the other week when it was fully loaded (all gear and tanks about 3/4 full) and I found I had added 1500 lbs of stuff! this meant that I missed by desired margin of 1000 lbs by about 5000 lbs.

    Everything works fine as long as I don't try to go too fast uphill but I am still not pleased with what it must be doing to my Pathfinder.

    Other things to consider beyond weight are frontal cross section (for wind drag) and length (to handle cross winds on the highway). Sometimes the owners manual specifies these and sometimes not. There is a lot of advice on the Internet on both of these.

    Good luck.
  • fnaticfnatic Member Posts: 7
    Yo trailer guy,

    thanks for the heads up. It seems the pathfinder considering I am in a city the small size plus its capability to tow 500 lbs (pre 05) is amazing is perfect but I am a car person and i am still not sure I would be happy with the car. I may just make do with a the lightest trailer cruiser 130x at 2600 pounds and use a 2007 impreza rs wagon, 2005 outback wagon, even pacifica!

    If you put it your way it's scary to think no matter what you cannot in essence use the strength of the car and pull something without damage meaning the car can pull it with ease. I can't help but think that must be possible, because I do not want to take ANY chances and frankly anyone who does is just plain stupid and careless. No I won't be getting a pickup and certainly fuel economy will suffer but I will simply go smaller, or ensure there isn't any strain - unnecessarily...
  • sphisssphiss Member Posts: 7
    I just purchased a 2007 Pathfinder SE and am adding the brake controller and 7-pin connector today. I was surprised to learn it already had a transmission cooler since that wasn't indicated on the edmunds site.

    I will be towing a 3200-lb (dry) 26-ft. Trail-Cruiser 26QBH trailer to Bristol for the NASCAR race next week. 4 big guys, lots of beer and gear - should be a good test for the Pathy over mostly level ground.

    I'm curious whether anybody has experience adding a K&N intake kit to a vehicle to increase performance (and presumably MPG as well). The kit I'm considering is the Air Charger Performance Kit (part #63-6014), and it will allegedly add about 14 HP to the 266 that is provided by the stock Pathy. Might be worth it for $270, especially if fuel mileage improves. I can't tell that it creates any warranty issues with Nissan, either.

  • wohlyzepwohlyzep Member Posts: 2
    Hello Everyone,

    Great forum... I have a 2006 Pathfinder SE, which is a rare sight in SE Michigan. In the past month, I have added a brake controller, 7-pin connector, weight distribution hitch, and a K&N air charger intake kit (63-6014) to pull my ~4000 lb hybrid travel trailer. So far, so good.

    We just returned from a long weekend trip out of the flatlands and into the rolling hills of Kentucky. With the exception of the poor roads in SE Mich, the trip was great. The Pathfinder had no problems pulling the trailer at 65 mph on the expressways and through the rolling hills of Kentucky, averaging ~ 10.5 mpg for the entire trip. Does anybody else have experience pulling a 4000 lb trailer with a 60 sq. ft. frontal area with the Pathy. I am curious how my mpg compares to others that have not done the cold air intake upgrade yet.

  • kipkkipk Member Posts: 1,576
    Did the Nissan dealer install or supply the 7 pin connector and/or the brake controller or at least the pig tail for the controller?

  • wohlyzepwohlyzep Member Posts: 2
    The RV dealer installed both the brake controller using a Nissan specific pigtail and the 7 pin connector. This took them about 2.5 - 3 hours in labor, so it wasn't cheap at their rates.
  • m93117m93117 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 Pathfinder. I need to add a brake controller. A. are there any pre existing connectors under the dash to connect the controller? B. Where can I find a how to wire a brake controller in guide or video?
  • hmpl809hmpl809 Member Posts: 2
    I'm looking to purchase a boat with the idea of staying reasonably within my towing capacity. With a GCWR of 11,133 and curb weight of 4716 plus a tank of fuel and a few passengers, it appears that I'm left with 5500 to 5600 left over despite the listed 6000 towing capacity. Does that seem correct? A decent sized family boat and trailer with fuel and water will come in right around 5000. Is this too close? Anyone with similar experiences? Thanks
  • dieselonedieselone Member Posts: 5,729
    You should be fine. I have a 21' 4500lb boat/trailer combo and a 25' travel trailer that weighs about 5500+lbs. Towing a boat is a walk in the park compared to a TT. I used to have an '01 Pathfinder that had a 5000lb capacity and it towed my boat fine. Suspension wasn't up to the task, but I was borderline overloaded with wife, kids, & gear.

    I currently tow with a Suburban and while it handles the weight much better, I can honestly say it doesn't have any more towing power. Those Nissan powertrains just rock.

    What you'll need to watch is tongue weight. Most boats are in the 5-10% of gross weight for tongue weight. You'll need to make sure your not overloading the rear axle, which can cause some handling issues. Get the boat and have fun. Being that close to the GCWR, I'd recommend not towing real far.
  • hmpl809hmpl809 Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the insight. We think we have a good match and will be towing relatively short distances to begin with. Once we figure it all out we'll see what our range is. Thanks again.
  • ohioeagleohioeagle Member Posts: 18
    I've seen your reply on the forum so I thought I'd ask you this question (and anyone else who reads this). Will an older Pathy (3.0 V6) be able to comfortably pull a small boat (1,500 lbs)? I don't want to stress out the engine or tranny. I trying to decide if I need to get a vehicle with say a 3.8 or 4.0. As you can probably tell from this message, I am fairly clueless when it comes to towing requirements.
  • twopathstwopaths Member Posts: 3
    I think the Paths with the 3.0L have a tow rating of 5000lbs, so you should have no issues with 1500 lbs. I have an '04 3.5L and and have towed at the 5000lb limit with no problems. If you find the tranny "hunting" for the right gear, just hit the OD off switch (shouldn't have to at only 1500 lbs) - the engine will run comfortably at the higher rpms and you'll be in a better spot in the power band.

  • ohioeagleohioeagle Member Posts: 18
    Thanks a lot for the reassurance. I've read great reviews on the Pathfinder, but was a little worried I'd be over working it. Thanks for bringing back to reality!
  • kipkkipk Member Posts: 1,576
    Power wise you should be able to handle that light weight boat with ease.

    If you are going to be towing for long distances or hilly terrain, an auxiliary tranny cooler might be a good idea. Just a little extra insurance! ;)

    I don't know when Nissan started putting them on as standard equipment.

  • kipkkipk Member Posts: 1,576
    This guy has obviously done his homework Might be something to consider when purchasing a vehicle, camper, and so forth.

  • ckone0814ckone0814 Member Posts: 71
    I'll add my $.02 since there wasn't a whole lot of info when I was looking for it...

    My 2005 Pathy LE tows my 18' dual console boat/trailer @ approx 4k lbs just fine. Would rather have v8 truck but Pathy is more flexible for my uses.
  • dsumpdsump Member Posts: 1
    I know this is an old post but how did this camper work with your pathfinder. I am looking to buy this camper this weekend and tow it with my 2005 pathfinder. If the pathfinder couldnt tow it very well I will not buy the camper. Trail-Cruiser 26QBH
  • jwendel123jwendel123 Member Posts: 1
    We will be going down to Texas (from MN) in May and want to tow our son's Jeep Liberty back with our '06 Nissan Pathfinder. We would use a tow dolly, if that is what we need. Is this possible or is it too much for our vehicle? thanks for your help.
  • twopathstwopaths Member Posts: 3
    According to Edmunds, the curb weight on the Liberty is about 4300# and the rating on your PF is 6000#. So in that respect you should be ok. I've got an '06 and a boat that weighs around 5700# (including trailer). We have towed all over Florida and have never had an issue but, obviously, the terrain is very flat. I don't have any experience towing vehicles but I think you need some kind of transmission lockout device in order to avoid damage?
  • kokomoslowkokomoslow Member Posts: 2
    Does the 2005 pathfinder le perwired with the sixth wire for elec. breaks
  • kokomoslowkokomoslow Member Posts: 2
    I have new tires ,balanced. I still have a vibertion at highway speeds. Could it be the weaght my have come off the drove shaft? u-joint?, wheel bearing?
  • trailerguytrailerguy Member Posts: 9
    My 2005 pathfinder LE did not have a wire for electric brakes. I had to have that installed along with a 7 pin connector and a wire to charge the battery in my TT. Be sure to put them on separate fuses when you have it done.
  • nwfindernwfinder Member Posts: 9
    We pull our 2,500# pop-up with no problem and can still achieve 17MPG on the highway. Fully loaded with 4 passengers and you can't really tell it's behind us.
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