load capacity NISSAN PATHFINDER 2015 R52 / 4.G Towing Guide
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2015 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. Carefully review all information and literature
provided with any hitch you purchase for safety and proper use information.
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 whether your NISSAN vehicle can be used to tow and if so, what
its towing capacity rating is. 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
EQUIP YOUR NISSAN FOR TOWING
The frequency and type of towing dictate the manner in which you equip your vehicle. If you
plan to tow often, for either 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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2015 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.
CAUTION- Do not use your new vehicle to tow a trailer or haul a heavy load for
the first 500 miles (800 km) of use. 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 any type of tow equipment, trailer, or tow dolly, 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. Make certain that the tow equipment
and components you rent does not exceed your vehicles maximum towing capacity. Make sure
that any related towing equipment you rent has the proper weight class rating for your
maximum intended towed load weight, and do not exceed the maximum Gross Combined
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? What type of brakes is it
equipped with (if any)? All of these factors have an effect on whether your NISSAN vehicle is
capable of safely pulling that type of trailer, dolly, or tow equipment.
Make certain that the trailer stoplights, taillights, turn signals, and brakes (if equipped) are
connected and operating correctly, and 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
not damaged. Towing safety should be a high priority when choosing and renting towing
equipment, including hitches.
WARNING: NEVER RENT A CLAMP-ON-TYPE HITCH. The hitch should not be
attached to or affect the operation of the impact-absorbing bumper. Use only a permanent-
type hitch properly attached to the vehicle to help avoid personal injury or property damage.
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2015 NISSAN Towing Guide 3
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. Moreover, 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 trailer, tow dollies, or towing equipment you intend to tow.
In addition, keep the following in mind:
WARNING -Never modify the vehicle’s brake or exhaust systems or its body
structure/frame when installing the hitch. Modifying the exhaust system structure on a vehicle
could result in improper vehicle operation not covered by the vehicle’s warranty. It may also
lead to carbon monoxide leaking into the passenger compartment. Altering the brake system
can adversely affect vehicle handling, braking and performance and could increase the
likelihood of an accident or personal injury.
* Refer to your owner’s manual for the equipment class information specific to your vehicle.
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2015 NISSAN Towing Guide 7 stamped on the top of the ball. The required hitch ball size is stamped on most trailer
couplers. 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. In addition,
removing the hitch ball when not towing, or protecting it with a special cover 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 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 and capacity of the tow vehicle. Refer to your vehicle
owner’s manual to view the maximum conventional trailer tongue load listed for your vehicle.
Trailer tongue weight is the amount of downward pressure exerted onto the hitch ball. Keep
the tongue load between 10-15% of the total trailer weight. DO NOT exceed the maximum
tongue load specification. If the tongue weight is below the recommended amount, you must
move some of the load forward or add weight to the front frame of the trailer.
Always use suitable safety chains/cables
between the tow vehicle and the trailer. If
the hitch should break or become
disengaged while towing, these
chains/cables will help provide an
emergency connection between the vehicle
and the trailer.
When installed properly 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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2015 NISSAN Towing Guide 14
For example, to determine the proper trailer tongue load for a 1,500-lb. trailer, multiply the
weight of 1,500 lbs. by 10% to arrive at a figure of 150 lbs. 5th wheel and gooseneck trailer
king pin load must be kept between 15-25% of the actual trailer weight, within the limits of
the king pin load allowable.
Some trailer types may require different trailer tongue loads for safe towing. Always follow
the trailer manufacturer’s recommendations for proper trailer set-up and trailer tongue load.
Keep the trailer tongue load within the maximum trailer tongue load allowable. Additionally,
make sure the vehicle has the payload capacity available for the trailer tongue load.
Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual to view the maximum conventional trailer tongue load
listed for your vehicle.
WARNING – DO NOT exceed any of the individual vehicle weight ratings (GVWR,
GAWR, GCWR, etc.), regardless of trailer or hitch type. Overloading or improper
loading of a trailer can cause unsafe vehicle handling, braking and performance and may
lead to a serious accident and personal injury.
HITCH & TRAILER HEIGHT
It is important that your trailer floor and tongue ride as level as possible. This will help prevent
over-angling, bottoming-out, and improper tongue load and load transfer. Therefore, the hitch
or trailer tongue must be adjusted during the initial vehicle/trailer fit-up to ensure a level ride.
Ball mounts are available in different configurations to adjust the hitch ball height.
When towing a trailer, ensure that the tow vehicle’s tire pressures are inflated to the
recommended cold tire specification. You will find these figures in the vehicle owner’s manual
and on the tire pressure chart located in the vehicle. Trailer tire condition, size, load rating, and
inflation pressure must be in accordance with the trailer and tire manufacturer’s specifications.
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2015 NISSAN Towing Guide 15
Towing can significantly have an effect in altering the handling and performance
characteristics of your vehicle. Moreover, 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. Buy or lease only quality
equipment. You should follow a more frequent maintenance schedule and check fluid levels,
proper tire pressures, tire condition, etc., more often when on the road to protect your vehicle.
WARNING - Always make sure your vehicle’s towing capacity is adequate for the trailer
you intend to tow. Be certain that you have all of the proper equipment needed for safe
towing, such as safety chains/cables, electric trailer brakes, electric trailer brake controller,
breakaway switch, and extended rear view mirrors to help ensure against the possibility of a
serious accident and personal injury.
LOADING YOUR TRAILER
WARNING- 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 which could result in a serious accident
and personal injury. Careful loading and balancing can help eliminate these problems.
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.
WARNING - Excessive tongue/king pin load
can actually push down the tow vehicle in back,
lifting the front wheels to a point where traction,
steering response, and braking may be severely
reduced. Too little tongue/king pin load can
cause instability, which may lead to swaying, “tail
wagging” or jackknifing which could result in a
serious accident or personal injury .
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, adjust the load until the proper tongue/king pin load ratio is achieved.
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2015 NISSAN Towing Guide 16
WARNING -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 unsafe situation, loss of control or
● Do not carry flammable materials, such as
gasoline, in your trailer. In the event of an accident,
an explosion or fire could occur.
PROVIDING FOR VEHICLE/TRAILER STABILITY
WARNING - 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. Vehicle instability may result in loss of vehicle control and cause an accident,
personal injury or death.
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
the trailer. 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 cause.
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 emergencies.
WARNING- Never allow passengers to ride inside a trailer while it is being towed
are not any passenger restraints in a trailer. Not only is this unlawful in
most areas, passengers could be seriously injured or killed 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.
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2015 NISSAN Towing Guide 17
CAUTION - DO NOT modify your vehicle beyond those required for proper hitch
installation, wiring hook-up, or adding extended mirrors on any NISSAN vehicle being used
for towing purposes. Changes to the drivetrain, suspension, exhaust systems, frame
structure/unibody, or other vehicle components are not necessary for towing within the limits
described in this guide. These changes may diminish the reliability and longevity of your
vehicle, void warranty coverage or possibly result in loss of vehicle control and cause an
accident, personal injury or death.
When towing, bring tools including, flares, a flashlight, emergency reflectors, jumper cables,
extra fuses, extra radiator coolant, oil, and easily replaced spare parts such as taillight bulbs.
You should also carry spare tires for your tow vehicle and trailer, as well as a jack suitable for
use on the trailer. A trailer jack is an important part of safe towing. Choose a jack that can
raise and lower the trailer so that you can connect the coupler to and disconnect it from the
ball of your hitch. Choose one with a weight capacity that matches or surpasses your trailer
WARNING - Be aware that your automotive jack is designed for lifting only your vehicle
during a tire change. Using an automobile jack to lift a trailer bearing load, may be unstable
possibly causing it to fall off the jack stand which may result in property damage or serious
BEFORE STARTING OUT
Before starting out on a trip, make one last inspection of the tow vehicle and the trailer. Are
the tire pressures correct? Are the safety chains/cables securely in place? Has the cargo
been tied down securely? Do all the lights work? Is the coupler properly attached over the
hitch ball and secured using a locking pin? Is the breakaway switch hooked up and
functioning properly? Are vehicle and electric trailer brakes working properly?
Make a checklist of key items to inspect. Before towing, always check the tow vehicle’s
engine oil, transmission oil, and coolant before starting out. Finding a potential problem while
in your driveway is better than discovering it miles from home.
TOWING TIPS/ CAUTIONS & WARNINGS
If you have never towed a trailer before, be aware that it does take getting used to. To begin
with, towing noticeably affects your vehicle’s performance:
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2015 NISSAN Towing Guide 22 1 Maximum Trailer Weight values are calculated assuming a base vehicle with driver and any
options required to achieve the rating. Additional passengers, cargo and/or additional
optional equipment will add weight to the vehicle and reduce your vehicle’s maximum
towing capacity and trailer tongue load.
2 Use of a weight-distributing hitch system is re when towing over 5,000 lbs.
3 The Maximum Trailer Weight and Gross Combined Weight ratings for 5th wheel and
gooseneck trailer towing are the same as specified for conventional trailer towing.
4 Most states require a separate braking system on trailers with a loaded weight above a
specific amount. Check local regulations where you plan to tow. 7-pin connector trailer
wire harnesses are required for use with trailer brakes (available separately).
Other Recommendations and Information – Towing performance and speed are affected by
vehicle payload, tow weight, road grades, and weather conditions, including high
temperatures. See your vehicle owner’s manual for details.
HITCH Located just forward of the rear axle centerline, this hitch uses a king pin to
serve as the pivot point for the trailer.
BALL MOUNT A bar that holds the hitch ball and is inserted into the hitch receiver. Also
commonly called a drawbar.
BREAKAWAY SWITCH A safety device using a trailer battery that automatically applies the trailer’s
brakes if the trailer accidentally becomes separated from the tow vehicle.
A breakaway switch may be used with both electric or surge trailer brake
BUMPER HITCH A reinforced bumper designed to accommodate a hitch ball.
BRAKES When the brakes on a tow vehicle are applied, an electric current is sent to
an actuator, which applies the trailer’s brakes.
BRAKE CONTROLLER A device that controls the electric trailer brakes.
GOOSENECK HITCH Located just forward of the rear axle centerline, this hitch uses a ball to serve
as the pivot point for the trailer.
WEIGHT RATING (GAWR) The maximum amount of weight each vehicle axle (front and rear) is
designed to safely carry.
WEIGHT RATING (GCWR) The maximum allowable combined weight of the vehicle and trailer,
including passengers and all cargo.
WEIGHT RATING (GVWR) The maximum allowable weight of the vehicle, including passengers, cargo,
fuel, hitch, trailer tongue load, and any optional equipment.
LOAD The amount of trailer (5th wheel or gooseneck) weight pressing down on the
tow vehicle hitch.
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2015 NISSAN Towing Guide 23
A ball that connects the trailer to the tow vehicle hitch that provides the
means by which the trailer pivots during cornering. Available in a number
of sizes and weight capacities, it must correspond to the trailer coupler
size, and have a sufficient capacity rating for the trailer being pulled.
RECEIVER HITCH A frame- or structure-mounted hitch with a receiver that allows removal of
the ball mount.
SAFETY CHAINS/CABLES Provides an emergency connection between the tow vehicle and the trailer,
should the trailer become disengaged for any reason.
Hydraulic-type braking system activated by inertia. As the tow vehicle
begins to brake, the trailer pushes against the hitch ball, consequently
activating the trailer brakes.
TRAILER TONGUE/COUPLER The part of the trailer that extends forward to meet the tow vehicle, and
carries the coupler assembly.
LOAD The amount of trailer (conventional) weight pressing down on the tow
HITCH SYSTEM Type of hitch system that helps shift the trailer tongue weight to all trailer
tires and the tow vehicle front tires. Strongly recommended when towing
trailers with a Maximum Trailer Weight greater than 5,000 lbs.
WIRING HARNESS Provides an electrical connection linking the tow vehicle’s electrical system
to the trailer’s system.