NISSAN PATHFINDER 2013 R52 / 4.G Towing Guide
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NISSAN TOWING GUIDE
Table of Contents
What Is Right for You
Preparing Your Vehicle
The 2013 NISSAN Towing Guide provides information for currently available 2013
NISSAN vehicles. This publication will be amended as new vehicles are introduced.
For important safety warnings, please read and follow your vehicle owner’s manual.
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2013 NISSAN Towing Guide 1
SAFETY IS PRIORITY ONE
Obviously, your first concern should be safety. Your vehicle was designed to be used primarily
to carry passengers and cargo. Always remember that towing a trailer places additional loads
on your vehicle’s engine, drivetrain, suspension, steering, braking, and other systems.
Therefore, be certain that your vehicle can meet the demands of the towing application you
have in mind.
Rent or purchase towing equipment that complies with established industry standards and
state and federal safety regulations. Reinforced tow hitches designed especially for certain
NISSAN vehicles are available from your NISSAN dealer. Hitches for other NISSAN models –
If Nissan recommends towing with that vehicle - should be bought from and installed by a
professional supplier of towing equipment.
Finally, it is important to follow the towing capacity limit set for your specific vehicle, and to
ensure that your vehicle is in top mechanical condition, especially the tires, brakes,
suspension, and engine cooling system. See your vehicle owner’s manual for details.
NEVER EXCEED THE ESTABLISHED TOWING CAPACITY
Towing capacities vary from vehicle to vehicle. See the towing information in your vehicle
owner’s manual to confirm the towing capability of your NISSAN vehicle and it’s towing
capacity. Use this data to help select the proper NISSAN vehicle to meet your anticipated
towing needs, and refer to it when renting a trailer or other piece of towing equipment.
EQUIP YOUR NISSAN FOR TOWING
The frequency and type of towing should influence the manner in which you equip your vehicle.
If you plan to tow often, either for recreation or work, select the engine size, transmission type,
suspension, and towing capacity that are best suited to your requirements. This guide can
help you select that equipment.
If, on the other hand, your towing will be infrequent, choose the NISSAN vehicle and
equipment that best meets your day-to-day needs. Be careful not to exceed the towing
capacity on those few occasions when you do tow.
READ THIS GUIDE BEFORE YOU TOW
This guide was designed to provide an overview of safe towing practices. Here, you will find
information on towing equipment, safety, proper loading and driving techniques, towing tips,
and much more.
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2013 NISSAN Towing Guide 2 It is also a good idea to discuss your towing requirements with either your NISSAN dealer or a
professional supplier of towing equipment before you equip your NISSAN vehicle for towing.
Finally, there are state and local laws on towing that you should review to ensure compliance
with all regulations.
Special Note: Do not use your new vehicle to tow a trailer or haul a heavy load for
the first 500 miles (800 km). Your engine, axle or other parts could be damaged.
For the first 500 miles that you tow a trailer, do not drive over 50 mph and do not
make starts at full throttle. This helps your engine and other parts of your vehicle
wear in at heavier loads.
The first thing to keep in mind when renting a trailer is to rent only from professional
companies that specialize in towing and towing equipment. More than likely, specialized
companies hire professional staff that can assist you in selecting and installing the proper
towing equipment for your NISSAN vehicle.
When renting, make sure you have your vehicle owner’s manual on hand so that you can
reference the towing capacities for your specific vehicle. Never rent a trailer that exceeds
these capacities, and make sure that any related towing equipment you rent will be sufficient
for the loaded trailer.
While you are there, ask questions. How much does the empty trailer weigh? How much
weight will the trailer hold? What is the trailer’s tongue load? With what type of brakes is it
equipped (if any)? All of these factors have an effect on whether your NISSAN vehicle is
capable of safely pulling that type of trailer or piece of equipment.
Make certain that the trailer stoplights, taillights, turn signals, and brakes (if equipped) are
connected and are operating correctly, and that all safety equipment is properly installed.
Check the safety chains/cables, tie-downs, etc.
For safer operation, carefully inspect the condition of the trailer and towing equipment.
Specifically, check to make sure the tires are not worn excessively and are properly inflated.
Make sure there are not any broken welds, missing bolts, and that the hitch components are
Towing safety should be a high priority when choosing and renting towing equipment,
including hitches. NEVER RENT A CLAMP-ON-TYPE HITCH. Your vehicle’s bumpers are
not designed for using this type of hitch. Using it will damage your vehicle and could even
result in the trailer separating from the towing vehicle; this can cause death or serious injury.
To avoid this, use only a permanent-type hitch.
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2013 NISSAN Towing Guide 3 PURCHASING
If you are buying a travel or boat trailer, be sure that your NISSAN vehicle has the towing
capacity to pull it. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for detailed information regarding the
towing capacity of your specific vehicle. Your vehicle owner’s manual should ALWAYS be
referenced before making any towing decisions.
Naturally, you will want to select the towing and safety equipment that adheres to your
state’s and federal safety regulations. And if you plan to tow often, consider convenience.
Quick-disconnect trailer light connectors and ratchet-type tie-downs, for example, make the
job go faster and easier and are usually worth the extra small investment. Purchase towing
items such as hitches and hitch balls only from your NISSAN dealer or a professional supplier
of towing equipment.
If you are intending to use your vehicle to tow a trailer you already own, you must ensure
that your loaded trailer remains well within your vehicle's towing capacity as specified in the
vehicle owner's manual. In addition, you should purchase the right type, style, and class* of
hitch and towing equipment to properly adapt the trailer to your vehicle.
RIGHT FOR YOU
TYPES OF EQUIPMENT
Towing requires a variety of equipment, and, depending upon the application, there can be
several types or styles of each piece of equipment. Working with your NISSAN dealer or a
professional supplier of towing equipment, it should be relatively simple to determine the
proper type of equipment for your specific vehicle given the intended application. This section
explains the most common pieces of towing equipment available.
Whichever type of hitch you use, it should be firmly bolted to your vehicle, and should be of
the appropriate weight class for the equipment you intend to tow. In addition, keep the
following in mind:
Š Do not modify the vehicle’s brake or exhaust systems or its body structure/frame when
installing the hitch.
* Refer to your owner’s manual for the equipment class information specific to your vehicle.
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2013 NISSAN Towing Guide 4 Š Installing an aftermarket hitch may affect the rear crash performance of your vehicle.
Š Be sure that the hitch does not interfere in any way with the vehicle’s impact-absorbing
Š Regularly check to see that all hitch-mounting bolts are securely fastened.
Š For receiver-type hitches using a ball mount, the ball mount should be removed when not
Š If you install a hitch yourself, remember that it must be securely attached to the frame or
underbody, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Never attach a hitch or towing
device to the vehicle axle housing. This may damage the housing, wheel bearings,
wheels, or tires.
Bumper Hitch – This is a special reinforced
bumper designed to accommodate a hitch
Receiver Hitch – A receiver hitch is bolted
directly to the vehicle structure for added
strength and durability. NISSAN bolt-on
receiver hitches are designed specifically
for NISSAN vehicles and include the
necessary reinforcements, with ample
clearance around bumpers, frame members,
etc. These hitches allow for the removal of
the ball mount when not towing.
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2013 NISSAN Towing Guide 5 Weight-Distributing Hitch System – This
type of system uses a “load-leveling” or
“equalizing” hitch. The weight-distributing
feature helps shift trailer tongue weight to
all trailer tires and the tow vehicle front tires.
For Armada, Frontier, Pathfinder, Titan,
and Nissan NV vehicles, a weight-
distributing hitch ball mount (Class IV) is
recommended if you plan to tow trailers
with a maximum weight over 5,000 lbs. This ball mount includes a 2
5/16” hitch ball rated for up
to 10,000 lbs., and is available through your NISSAN dealer.
NOTE – A weight-distributing hitch system may affect the operation of trailer surge brakes. If
you are considering use of a weight-distributing hitch system with a surge brake-equipped
trailer, check with the surge brake, hitch, or trailer manufacturer to determine if and how this
can be done. Follow the instructions provided by the equipment manufacturer for installing
and using the weight-distributing hitch system.
Clamp-On Bumper Hitch – This is a
temporary hitch that clamps onto the
bumper assembly. DO NOT USE this type
of hitch on any NISSAN vehicle because
using it may result in the trailer separating
from the towing vehicle; this can cause
death or serious injury. Use of this type of
hitch can also damage the towing vehicle.
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2013 NISSAN Towing Guide 6 5th Wheel or Gooseneck Hitch –
Mounted in the bed of a pick-up and
designed for heavy-duty applications,
these types of hitches are not available
from NISSAN but can be purchased from
a professional supplier of towing
A 5th wheel or gooseneck hitch is
usually installed and adjusted to meet the
requirements of a particular trailer, but two
basic rules hold true in every case. First,
the hitch should be mounted a minimum
2 inches forward of the rear axle centerline.
Second, it should be securely attached
directly to the truck frame. This installation
should be done by professionals only, as it
is very important to mount the hitch
correctly to distribute the king pin load for
the proper load carrying and sway control
A ball mount (also known as a drawbar) is a bar that holds a hitch ball and is inserted into a
receiver-type hitch. Ball mounts come in a number of weight capacities (3,500 lbs., 5,000 lbs.,
etc.) and sizes (1
1/4”, 2”, etc.), and can be
weight-distributing or non-weight-distributing.
A hitch ball is bolted through a ball mount or
a hitch hole in the tow vehicle’s rear bumper.
The coupler on the trailer tongue attaches
over the hitch ball.
* At this time, Titan is the only NISSAN vehicle
approved for 5th wheel and gooseneck trailer towing. See your vehicle owner’s manual for details.
5th Wheel Hitch
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2013 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 between 10-15% of the trailer weight or within the total trailer load
specification recommended by the trailer manufacturer.
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
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2013 NISSAN Towing Guide 8 will allow the chains/cables to drag on the ground.
Do not use S-hooks for attaching, as they may become un-hooked and are illegal in many
states. To avoid damage to the bumper and chains/cables when making a sharp turn, do not
attach the chains/cables too close to the coupler. Consult your trailer manufacturer for the
proper location of the chain/cable attachment to the trailer.
REAR VIEW MIRRORS
In many cases, a trailer can block your rear vision when you are using only the standard
NISSAN rear view mirrors. These mirrors were not designed for towing. “Extended” mirrors
specifically designed for trailer towing should be used when your rearward vision is
obstructed. Before using these mirrors, make certain that they comply with state and local
regulations. Telescoping Tow Mirrors are available as an accessory for certain Nissan vehicles.
Contact your NISSAN dealer for details.
On a trailer with electric brakes, a breakaway switch can automatically activate the trailer
brake system if the trailer becomes separated from the tow vehicle. Should the trailer become
detached, a breakaway switch may help prevent the trailer from wandering into another lane.
A breakaway switch relies on the power of a trailer battery, so make sure it is not
discharged. Never use the breakaway switch to “park” the trailer on a grade. The battery
would eventually discharge and release the brake, allowing the trailer to roll. Be sure to leave
enough slack in the tether on the breakaway switch to turn corners without binding. If you do
not, the electric trailer brakes will lock-up and not release. See your trailer manufacturer for
proper installation of a breakaway switch that is compatible with your trailer braking system.
Trailer lights should comply with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations, and should
be in proper working order at all times. A trailer’s taillights, stoplights, and turn signal lights
must be wired into the tow vehicle’s electrical system.*
Most trailers operate on a four-wire system in which the stoplights and turn signal lights
utilize the same wire. Most all NISSAN vehicles have separate wires for the stoplights and turn
signal lights, therefore a device called a “converter” is needed.** Specifically, a “powered
* Vehicles equipped with LED taillights require that wiring be connected at a specific location. For
assistance in hooking up trailer lights, contact your NISSAN dealer or a professional supplier of
** Armada, Frontier, Pathfinder, and Titan, vehicles are pre-wired for trailer lighting and do not require a
converter. If your vehicle is equipped with a 4-pin connector, an adapter will be needed to connect
the trailer lights to the vehicle.
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2013 NISSAN Towing Guide 9 converter” must be used, as a converter of this type creates only minimal additional electrical
demand (draw) on the vehicle lighting circuits, which helps to ensure protection for the
vehicle’s sensitive electronics.
Always check for correct operation of the taillights, stoplights, and turn signal lights every
time you connect a trailer for towing. Never replace vehicle fuses with fuses of a higher
amperage rating than the original.
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.
As with hitches, several types of braking systems are available. Most states require a separate
braking system on trailers with a loaded weight above a specific amount, therefore you should
check to ensure you comply with all regulations. Have a professional supplier of towing
equipment demonstrate proper brake function testing.
NOTE – Never connect a hydraulic trailer brake system directly to the vehicle hydraulic
Surge Brakes – The surge brake actuator is mounted on the trailer tongue with a hydraulic
line running to each trailer wheel. Surge brakes are activated by the trailer pushing against the
hitch ball when the tow vehicle is braking. Hydraulic surge brakes are common on rental
trailers and some boat trailers. In this type of system, there is no hydraulic or electric
connection for brake operation between the tow vehicle and the trailer.
Electric Trailer Brakes – Electric braking systems are activated by an electronic signal sent
from a trailer brake controller (special brake-sensing module). If electric trailer brakes are used,
NISSAN recommends all-electronic actuation because with this system it will not be
necessary to tap into the tow vehicle’s hydraulic system. For adjustment specifications, refer
to the brake controller manual for the controller being installed.
For your convenience, Armada, Frontier, Pathfinder, Titan, and NV vehicles are pre-wired to
accommodate most popular electric trailer brake controllers. A wiring harness* is either
included with your vehicle or available from your NISSAN dealer. This harness provides
electric trailer brake controller input and output connections to the vehicle wiring. See a
professional supplier of towing equipment for electric trailer brake controller availability.
* Contact a NISSAN dealer or a professional supplier of towing equipment for information on trailers
equipped with electric brakes and for Genuine NISSAN jumper harness availability for your specific