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Author Topic: Can my Pathfinder tow a TT that's not just a popup? (lots of numbers!)  (Read 456 times)


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I have a 2001 Pathfinder that's rated at 5300 towing capacity and I installed a good hitch and brake controller at Uhaul last week. I am very comfortable driving in adverse conditions but don't want to damage my beloved Pathfinder. I am not going to upgrade my cars anytime soon.  Now I'm wondering if I can even tow the hybrids I was looking at!  Dealer says yes of course, but the Internet says mixed things...

The Pathfinder:
GVWR/PNBV 5300 lbs
GCWR 9500 lbs
GAWR/PNBE FR 2650 lbs
GAWR/PNBE RR 2850 lbs
Curb Weight 4299

The hitch:
Weight Carry Capacity 5000 lbs
Tongue Load Rating 500 lbs
Weight Distribution 5500 lbs

Travel Trailers I'm considering:
2017 Jayco X17Z - Dry Weight 3415 GVWR 4500 but it seems cramped
2017 Jayco 19XUD - Dry Weight 3595 GVWR 4500 ideal because the slide out gives it more room
Are these too heavy?

I like the hybrid option because it will give my mother and I some space if we camp together.  What else should I consider?  I want a bathroom and preferably a dry one.  Popups seem like a PITA but may be my only safe option.

I've used a bunch of online calculators and they say different things.  What do you think?

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Can my Pathfinder tow a TT that's not just a popup? (lots of numbers!)
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2017, 05:07:43 PM »
If it is truly rated for 5300, than you can probably tow a trailer with a GVWR about 10% less than that, i.e. about 4750 lbs. I won't claim you will like the performance and handling all that much, but it should do the job. Something a bit lighter, say 4200 lbs, would probably  be a better choice, but that's subjective.

Why 10% less? The max tow rating on that 2001 is for an empty vehicle with no options and no passenger. And it doesn't include the weight of the hitch either. Staying under the tow capacity by 10% hopefully keep you within the max limits.

Forget the trailer UVW (unladen or "dry" weight) - focus on the GVWR. Nobody tows an empty trailer and odds are you will be at or near the trailer GVWR. If not on the first trip, very likley on one not long after.
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

MN Blue Skies

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Re: Can my Pathfinder tow a TT that's not just a popup? (lots of numbers!)
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2017, 06:35:44 PM »
Welcome to the Forum!  I know very little about all the "numbers". We relied on the expert advice from the weight gurus on the forum.  One thing we we didn't take into account was "livability".  It's not pleasant spending two to three days confined in a TT during a rainy period. 

How often and how far are you planning to travel?  If you are planning to do any serious RVing for long trips the beloved Pathfinder will probably have to go. We learned the hard and expensive way.  We started with a Durango and a TT, upgraded to a 1/2 ton, and now have a have a one ton diesel and a 5th wheel.  It was an expensive learning curve but it has made a world of difference.  We now are comfortable planning two to three month trips.

BTW, the used 5th wheel in good condition was not much more that a new TT. 
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

2013 Cougar High Country 315 RES ( A 35' 5th Wheel)
"Big Blue" 2012 RAM 3500 Big Horn (Cummins Diesel 1 ton)


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Re: Can my Pathfinder tow a TT that's not just a popup? (lots of numbers!)
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2017, 08:05:05 PM »
First, WELCOME TO THE FORUM!!   Thanks for coming BEFORE the purchase.

Second, thanks for all the numbers!

Where did the curb wt come from?  A chart or web site (suspect numbers) or an actual weight?  The web site will have a fine print foot note that the weight of all options must be added to this number.  This may be 300 - 400 # for a well equipped Pathfinder.  If you can get it weighed with a full gas tank, that eliminates guessing.  My bigger, heavier truck with heavier options gained over 500# vs base wt.

Note also that marketing folks are HORRID at math.  A GCWR of 9500# minus a curb wt of 4300# = 5200#  They claim 5300# tow capacity?????

There are several numbers that must all be met.

GVWR is the max weight of the Pathfinder and everything it is carrying. 
Let's assume 200# of options and accessories.  That leaves 800# (5300# GVWR - 4300# curb wt - 200# options = 800#).  The weight of the WD hitch, hitch wt of the camper, weight of all passengers, pets and cargo in the Pathfinder can not exceed 800#

GCWR is the total weight of the loaded camper and Pathfinder.  NOTE  DO NOT simply add camper and truck GVWR.  This counts hitch weight twice.

Both campers have 4500# GVWR, so for these calculations, they are identical.

Hitch wt MUST be at least 10% of actual camper wt or the trailer will not travel well.  Bouncing, swaying, porpoise  and white knuckles.

With only 800# available Payload, 80# WD hitch, 450# hitch wt and 2 150# passengers, you are 30# over.  I would not panic over 30#.  Any reduction below the allowed camper weight will allow a bit more safety margin, as will any other weight savings.

SUMMARY  I would not want to attempt a cross country trip with this setup, but wonderful weekend trips of a couple hundred miles should work - unless I have missed a major weight item, like more passengers.

One other comment, even though you did not ask.  I strongly suggest buying used.  You can find a gently used unit from someone who did not have enough tow vehicle, or quickly discovered it was too small or the wrong style or floor plan or some other reason.  Save some serious cash.  Let the original owner get all the factory issues resolved.  You can use any tech you wish for repairs and not be a captive of the dealer.  If you choose to upgrade, it will not hurt the wallet as much.

I just bought a 8 year old FW.  The only "repair" I have made is $100 to replace the battery.  I paid 38% of the original sale price.

Keep asking questions!!
« Last Edit: December 17, 2017, 08:06:48 PM by grashley »
Preacher Gordon, DW Debbie
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS  Progressive HW50C
Andersen Ultimate hitch
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4   TST TMS  Garmin 760
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.


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Re: Can my Pathfinder tow a TT that's not just a popup? (lots of numbers!)
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2017, 10:03:23 AM »
my suggestion
you can learn a lot by weighing your pathfinder.
find a cat scale, or something like it.
Fill up your gas tank..... load the thing with your family and whatever stuff you figure would likely be in the car when you would be towing your camper.  Also consider if you'd be carrying stuff on the roof....bikes perhaps?  Load those up too.

With those numbers....steer axle and drive axle weights
you will then know by comparing to the gross vehicle and axle ratings to the actual loaded weights almost exactly what capacity you have remaining for the tongue weight and trailer gross weight

I'd assume the trailer would be loaded to it's gross weight and the tongue weight would be 15%-20% of that total (maybe?)

and then the only number that's a bit fuzzy is how much tongue weight would be carried by the drive vs the steer axles.....

regardless....this would give you a much better idea of what you have to deal with.

Also, keep in mind that you likely wouldn't want to tow with the thing maxed out.   It'll have sluggish performance and likely poor handling....so personally, i would target to get something under the max.
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
13 Thor Chateau 31L Class C on Ford E-450
'06 Silverado
'05 Rockwood Freedom 1910 (5-1/2 years)
former tent campers


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Re: Can my Pathfinder tow a TT that's not just a popup? (lots of numbers!)
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 10:44:05 AM »
Had that Pathfinder and I wouldn't personally tow anything over 3500lbs with it. I even had the engine over heat pulling a 3000lb pop-up on a hot day.

Have you looked at TTs like the Drop or Hummingbird?


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Re: Can my Pathfinder tow a TT that's not just a popup? (lots of numbers!)
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2017, 11:05:48 AM »
There is a big difference in wind resistance between pulling a popup and a TT.  The biggest factor I have in mpg is the direction the wind is blowing when towing. a TT exposes much more frontal area.

2005 Cherokee28A TT
pulled by 2009 Dodge 1500 Crew Cab 4X4

Tempe, Arizona


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Re: Can my Pathfinder tow a TT that's not just a popup? (lots of numbers!)
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2017, 12:50:23 PM »
I wouldn't build my plan on an tow vehicle that is pretty much maxed out. It may be ok if you're going a short distance but with any long trips or hills it may be a pain.

I'd find the rig you really want and size the tow vehicle to that. Just as an example I had a 2012 Chevy pickup rated at 9700 towing and pulled 5000 with it. It was nice to drive and would get up and go when needed and not white knuckle. I believe as a rough guide staying around 1/2 or so of the vehicles ability provides comfortable towing. On the other hand I noticed people towing 7k + with that truck and thought it was fine. We all have different perception and comfort level.

If you must keep the Pathfinder I'd try to stay a 1000 or so under. As mentioned, you may want to do some mocking up of the truck and weigh before committing. Perhaps even rent a trailer or simulate with a uhaul trailer etc