warning NISSAN VERSA 2015 1.G Towing Guide
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NISSAN TOWING GUIDE
Table of Contents
What Is Right for You
Preparing Your Vehicle
The 2015 NISSAN Towing Guide provides information for currently available 2015
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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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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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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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 axles of the tow vehicle and all trailer
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 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 temporary
hitch clamps onto the bumper assembly.
WARNING-DO NOT USE a clamp-on
bumper hitch on any NISSAN vehicle
because using it may result in the trailer
separating from the towing vehicle. If the
trailer separates from the vehicle, it could
cause a crash, resulting in property damage
and personal injury, or death. Use of this type
of hitch can also damage the towing vehicle.
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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 equipment. At this time, Titan is
the only NISSAN vehicle approved for 5th
wheel and gooseneck trailer 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. Only,
professionals should do this installation.
WARNING- It is very important to
mount the hitch correctly to distribute the
king pin load for the proper load carrying
and to control sway. If the trailer sway is
not controlled, it could result in unsafe
vehicle handling which could cause an
accident, property damage, personal injury,
A ball mount (also known as a drawbar) is a bar that holds a hitch ball and is then 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.
Choose a proper class ball mount based on
the trailer weight.
A hitch ball is bolted through a ball mount or
hitch hole in the tow vehicle’s rear bumper.
The coupler on the trailer tongue attaches
over the hitch ball. Like ball mounts, hitch
balls are available in a number of weight capacities and sizes. Most hitch balls have the size
5th Wheel Hitch
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will allow the chains/cables to drag on the ground.
WARNING- Do not use S-hooks for attaching the safety chains as they may become un-
hooked while towing. If the emergency chains/cables are detached and the tow hitch breaks
or becomes disengaged, it will allow the trailer to completely break away causing property
damage and possibly personal injury or death. The use of S-hooks is illegal in many states.
CAUTION- 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
WARNING- In many cases, a trailer can block your rear vision when you are using only the
standard NISSAN rear view and outside mirrors. Be careful when changing lanes or turning.
Using only these mirrors could cause an accident as they were not designed for towing.
Trailer tow mirrors specifically designed for trailer towing can be adjusted for better visibility
when your rearward vision is obstructed while towing a trailer. Trailer Tow Mirrors are available
as an accessory for certain Nissan vehicles. Before using these mirrors, make certain that
they comply with state and local regulations. 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.
WARNING-A breakaway switch relies on the power of a trailer battery, so make sure to
maintain the battery’s charge. 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, which may cause property damage, serious injury or death. 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 towing equipment.
** Armada, Frontier, Pathfinder, and Titan, vehicles are pre-wired for trailer lighting and do not require a converter.
If your trailer is equipped with a 4-pin connector, an adapter will be needed to connect the trailer lights to the
vehicle. Vehicles equipped with the optional trailer tow package are equipped with a 7-pin trailer harness
connector. A NISSAN 7–pin tow harness kit is available from your dealer
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trailer, and their contents. This will help ensure that the total weight does not exceed any of
your vehicle’s tow weight ratings.
There are four weights to consider when towing:
Gross Vehicle Weight
Gross Axle Weight (Front and Rear)
Gross Combined Weight
Trailer Tongue/King Pin Load
These ratings are based upon normal highway driving and may be reduced if operating in
reduced-traction situations, (for example, slippery boat ramps).
WARNING – Attempting to tow loads greater than the GVWR, GAWR, GCWR,
overloading and/or improperly loading the trailer tongue/king pin load specified could
adversely affect vehicle handling, braking, and performance. This may cause unsafe vehicle
handling and longer braking distance which could result in a serious accident and personal
injury. Failures to your vehicle caused by overloading are not covered by your vehicle’s
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT (GVW)
The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is the actual weight of the fully loaded vehicle or trailer,
including passengers, cargo, fuel, hitch, trailer tongue/king pin load, and any optional
The best way to determine the GVW is by having the vehicle — loaded and ready to
tow — weighed at a public scale. That figure must include the combined weight of all
passengers and cargo that are normally in the vehicle when towing a trailer.
The GVW you come up with must not exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
for your vehicle.
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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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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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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.