Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Tow Vehicle

2008 Nissan Pathfinder
My 2008 Nissan Xterra has been a great tow vehicle and more than up to the task of pulling the 16' Bambi (GVWR 3500 lbs.) through the mountains for several camping trips this season.  However, it struggled more than I liked towing over some of the higher Colorado passes.   So, I did some research and decided to replace it with a 2008 Nissan Pathfinder.
  This vehicle should be a more capable and safer TV with a longer wheelbase, heavier frame, V8, and 2000 lbs more towing capacity.  

The Pathfinder came with a flat, 4 pin towing harness, so this had to be swapped out and replaced with a round, 7 way towing harness ($66).  With a few rudimentary automotive repair skills and the help of some excellent installation instructions, I decided to try this as a do-it-yourself project.  It took only about 45 minutes.   Everything tested out well except that the charge wire does not seem to be active.   This, of course, is needed if I want to be able to charge the trailer battery while towing - a good idea for extended camping trips.
Towing relays for lights, power, etc.

Turns out that the Pathfinder also needs a couple towing relays installed near the tow vehicle battery to activate the lights, trailer braking, etc.  One of two are already there - presumably for the running lights, signals, and brake (those systems are all working). From what I've read on the Web, the other is for trailer power and charging.   So, I hope to pick up a relay at a Nissan dealership in Boulder tomorrow, and install it under the hood near the battery.  After that, I should be ready to tow again.