ESP NISSAN XTERRA 2015 N50 / 2.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 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 18
It will not accelerate as quickly — an important point to keep in mind when merging onto a
It will not stop as quickly. Leave more room than usual between you and the traffic ahead,
and brake sooner when coming to a stop.
Abrupt maneuvering can unbalance the load and reduce the handling and stability of your
tow vehicle. Always be aware and plan ahead to make lane changes and turns smoothly.
If possible, before you actually hit the open road, practice towing in a large uncrowded area
such as a safe, open place with minimal traffic. Become especially familiar with backing up a
trailer — the maneuver many people find most difficult.
The combination of your tow vehicle and trailer obviously requires a greater distance to stop.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that for each 10 mph of speed, allow yourself one tow
vehicle and trailer length of distance between the front of your vehicle and the vehicle ahead.
When braking, use firm but gradual pressure on the pedal rather than panic braking.
WARNING- Applying the brakes abruptly or with too much force can cause a sudden shift
in weight which can cause the trailer to skid or jackknife at its point of attachment with the
vehicle. This, in turn, can throw the tow vehicle out of control resulting in an accident, property
damage or serious injury. If equipped with an electric trailer brake controller, follow the
recommended operational instructions.
As mentioned in the introduction to this section, because of the added weight of the trailer,
acceleration capability is reduced and you will require a longer distance to pass another
vehicle. Be certain you have sufficient time and space to pass safely.
WARNING - Never attempt to pass on hills or when going around curves. This could
possibly result in loss of vehicle control and cause an accident, personal injury or death.
CORNER MORE SLOWLY
Know your vehicle and trailer capabilities.
WARNING - Entering a sharp corner too quickly or abruptly can “crack the whip,”
whereby the trailer can actually pull the tow vehicle off the road. Doing so could cause a loss
of vehicle control and result in accident, property damage or personal injury.
Therefore, when approaching a relatively sharp corner, begin braking sooner than you would
when not towing. Do your braking in a straight line prior to the corner, and turn smoothly into
it. In addition, remember to make a wider turn than normal to ensure that the trailer safely
clears the inside of the turn.
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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.