maintenance NISSAN ALTIMA COUPE 2011 D32 / 4.G Towing Guide
Page 8 of 27
2011 NISSAN Towing Guide 7 Like ball mounts, hitch balls are available in a number of weight capacities and sizes. Always
make sure the hitch ball selected has the proper shank diameter and weight rating for the ball
mount as well as the coupler on your trailer. Using a 1
7/8” hitch ball in a 2” coupler, for example,
could result in the trailer separating from the tow vehicle.
The diameter of the hitch ball shank must be matched to the ball mount hole diameter. The
shank should be no more than
1/16” smaller than the hole.
To keep the hitch ball in top condition, a simple maintenance routine is recommended.
Coating it with light grease will minimize wear of both the coupler and hitch ball. Also, by
removing the hitch ball when not towing, or by protecting it with a special cover, you will help
prevent rust from forming on it.
The tongue is the part of the trailer that extends forward to meet the tow vehicle, and it also
carries the coupler assembly. Knowledge of the trailer minimum and maximum tongue load
(conventional trailers) and king pin load (5th wheel and gooseneck trailers) is critical as it can
have a significant effect on the handling of the tow vehicle. Refer to your vehicle owner’s
manual to view the maximum conventional trailer tongue load listed for your vehicle, and
always maintain no less than a minimum of 10 to 15% of the total load.
Always use suitable safety chains/cables
between the tow vehicle and the trailer. If
the hitch should break or become
disengaged for some reason, these
chains/cables will provide an emergency
connection between the vehicle and the
The chains/cables should be crossed
under the trailer tongue and attached to the
hitch or vehicle frame. Crossing the
chains/cables under the tongue will help
prevent the tongue from hitting the ground
should the trailer become disconnected.
Be sure to leave enough slack in the
chains/cables to turn corners without
binding; however, note that excessive slack
Page 11 of 27
2011 NISSAN Towing Guide 10 NOTE – Improper or poor quality trailer harness wiring may affect your vehicle’s electrical
system. Use only a NISSAN approved wiring harness, or consult your dealer or a professional
supplier of towing equipment for compatible equipment.
SWAY CONTROL DEVICE
Sudden maneuvers, wind gusts, and buffeting caused by other vehicles can affect trailer
handling. Sway control devices may be used to help control these effects. If you choose to
use one, contact a reputable trailer hitch supplier to make sure the sway control device will
work with the vehicle, hitch, trailer and the trailer’s brake system. Follow the instructions
provided by the manufacturer for installing and using the sway control device.
GENUINE NISSAN PARTS AND ACCESSORIES
Whether you will be towing occasionally or on a regular basis, NISSAN offers a full range of
Genuine NISSAN Parts and Accessories to help you tow with confidence.
Every accessory is thoroughly tested and inspected for fit and workmanship. Therefore, you
can be certain that every item is designed to be compatible with the standard features of your
vehicle and designed to assist you with your towing needs.
Contact your NISSAN dealer for more information on accessories or towing-related parts
for your NISSAN vehicle.
BREAK-IN AND MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE
NISSAN recommends that you allow a sufficient “break-in” (500 miles) of both the engine and
drivetrain before towing with your new NISSAN vehicle. In addition, for the first 500 miles that
you tow a trailer, do not drive over 50 mph and do not make starts at full throttle.
Keep in mind, too, that towing places higher demands and added loads on vehicle
components, so more frequent maintenance is called for. Your NISSAN Service &
Maintenance Guide provides the accelerated maintenance schedule for towing purposes.
Engine oil, filter, transmission oil, and possibly other fluids should be changed more frequently
Page 16 of 27
2011 NISSAN Towing Guide 15
Towing can significantly alter the handling and performance characteristics of your vehicle.
Plus, it puts increased strain on the engine and drivetrain. Therefore, it is always a good idea
to approach towing from the standpoint of safety — whether you are purchasing equipment or
actually pulling the trailer.
Always make sure your vehicle’s towing capacity is adequate for the trailer you intend to
tow. Buy or lease only quality equipment. In addition, be certain that you have all of the
equipment needed for safe towing, such as safety chains/cables, electric trailer brakes,
electric trailer brake controller, breakaway switch, and extended rear view mirrors.
You should follow a more frequent maintenance schedule and check fluid levels, pressures,
tire condition, etc., more often when on the road. See your vehicle owner’s manual for details.
LOADING YOUR TRAILER
Taking the time to load and balance your trailer properly will improve overall handling and
minimize the strain on your tow vehicle. Incorrectly loaded trailers tend to sway or swing from
side to side, upsetting vehicle handling. Careful loading and balancing can help eliminate
As mentioned earlier, conventional trailer tongue load must fall between 10-15% of the
total trailer weight, or within the limits of the maximum trailer tongue load specified by the
trailer manufacturer. King pin load — if using a 5th wheel or gooseneck trailer — must be
between 15-25% of the total trailer weight.
Excessive tongue/king pin load can actually
push down the vehicle in back, lifting the front
wheels to a point where traction, steering
response, and braking are severely reduced.
Insufficient tongue/king pin load can cause
instability, which may lead to “tail wagging” or
With this in mind, proper loading is extremely
important. When loading a trailer, 60% of the
total cargo weight should be positioned in the
front portion of the trailer and 40% in the back. Then, the load should be adjusted until the
proper tongue/king pin load ratio is achieved.
Page 17 of 27
2011 NISSAN Towing Guide 16 The trailer load should be balanced equally from
side-to-side. Unequal side-to-side loading can
negatively affect handling and braking. Once in
place, all cargo should be firmly secured to
prevent shifting. If the load should shift abruptly
during braking or cornering, it could quickly affect
the handling of your vehicle and cause a very
Finally, do not carry flammable materials, such
as gasoline, in your trailer. In the event of an accident, an explosion or fire could occur.
ENSURING VEHICLE/TRAILER STABILITY
Improper loading, excessive or insufficient trailer tongue/king pin load, overloading, excessive
trailer weight, poorly designed trailer suspensions, crosswinds, and poor maintenance are all
things that can affect the stability of your vehicle and trailer combination.
If swaying does occur, check the cargo load for proper balance and distribution to ensure
proper trailer tongue/king pin load. In addition, check the condition of the suspension and
shocks, as well as the tires, tire pressures, and wheel bearings on both the tow vehicle and
If the swaying continues and your trailer is suitably balanced and within the towing capacity
limits of your vehicle, discontinue towing and consult your NISSAN dealer or trailer
manufacturer to determine the problem.
Please note that some states have specific regulations and speed limits for vehicles that are
towing trailers. Remember to reduce your speed in unsafe or less-than-ideal road conditions
or weather. When towing a trailer, braking distances increase while handling agility decreases.
Always leave yourself an extra margin of distance to respond to emergency situations.
Never allow passengers to ride inside a trailer while it is being towed. Not only is this
unlawful in most areas, passengers could be seriously injured during sudden trailer movement
or in an accident. In addition, trailers may allow fumes from the tow vehicle to leak inside. This
could result in carbon monoxide poisoning from the engine exhaust.