Hello All - New, seeking opinions and advice.

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wdsnider

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May 12, 2019
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7
Hello.  This is Wayne and Karen.  We're new to RVing and would like to present our setup and hopefully get a warm fuzzy.  See, we went out and bought a camper and set up our truck to tow it.  I'm afraid our truck has all it can handle.  I've read many posts here about Nissan Frontiers, but none quite like mine.  I want to present my case and get feedback.
TV - 2000 Nissan Frontier 2WD, 3.3L V6, Automatic.  5000lb towing capacity.  500lb tongue. Gross Combined WR 9500.  Truck weighs in around 4400 at the dump before hitch was installed.
TT - 2001 Tow Lite Hi-Lo 1901TL tandem axle. 19-22ft.  Dry Weight 3200.  Tongue 420.  Weighed in at 3400 loaded.
Hitch has weight dist, spring bars and sway control device.  We have the hitch adjusted well so everything is level and have learned how to pre-load the spring bars.
The truck seems to do fine (O/D off), until we start up a hill.  Then I start pressing the gas more, the RPMs rise, and it will downshift.  On the interstate with a 50MPH run (we had just entered) it climbed a mile long grade at about 3500RPM and maintained about 45MPH.  I was afraid to ask it for any more.  On a two-lane road with about a 40MPH start, it downshifted to 2nd, ran around 3200RMP and held about 35MPH.
Given the information here, is this normal behavior, or have we bitten off more than we can chew?
 

Arch Hoagland

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Jul 11, 2014
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4,029
Location
Clovis California
Good news!  I looked in my crystal ball and saw a brand new truck pulling your trailer.

I have a 2000 Lexus RX300 with a 3.0 engine. I recently rented a U-haul trailer to take some furniture to our daughters house 130 miles away. Loaded the trailer was about 2,000 lb.

Had to go over Pacheco Pass in central California and was down to 30 mph over in the truck lane. 

So I'd suggest a bigger truck. 
 

donn

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Nov 8, 2009
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Not bad for how underpowered you are.  There is no substitute for power.
 

wdsnider

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Joined
May 12, 2019
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7
donn said:
Not bad for how underpowered you are.  There is no substitute for power.

I was afraid that's what I would hear.  I appreciate the honest assessment.  Just wondering how far I'll go before the trans blows up.  A new $35,000 truck isn't quite in the budget.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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West Palm Beach, FL
Agree with donn - that's about what I would expect from your rig.  You need not be concerned about those rpms - they are nowhere near harmful. Just noisy, consuming more fuel than you would like, and of course some additional wear.  3500 is not dangerously high for a V6 engine. If your dash board has a tachometer, it is probably showing a "red line" at something like 6000 rpms, the max preferred rpms recommended by Nissan.
Yes, you really want a somewhat more powerful truck.
 

wdsnider

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May 12, 2019
Posts
7
Gary RV_Wizard said:
Agree with donn - that's about what I would expect from your rig.  You need not be concerned about those rpms - they are nowhere near harmful. Just noisy, consuming more fuel than you would like, and of course some additional wear.  3500 is not dangerously high for a V6 engine. If your dash board has a tachometer, it is probably showing a "red line" at something like 6000 rpms, the max preferred rpms recommended by Nissan.
Yes, you really want a somewhat more powerful truck.

One thing I try to wrap my head around is the pressure being placed on the Tran.  Not being an expert on the mechanics of it, I wonder just what it can take.  If I just keep applying more pressure with the pedal to increase the engine speed am I endangering the Tran?  I'm sure the 5000lb rating means "at sea level with a tail wind".  We're in Alabama and don't plan on going out west.  Just long weekenders within a few hundred miles.
 

Mark_K5LXP

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Nov 17, 2018
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2,448
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Albuquerque, NM
If you wanted, you could connect an OBD reader and run an app like Torque and monitor the various parameters related to the transmission if your vehicle supports that.  Key operating functions are shift times, slip and temperature. 

Transmissions anymore are "smart" and self compensate to some extent for clutch/band wear and adjust pressures and timing under load to minimize wear.  Generally speaking when going down the road you spend most of your time in a higher gear or overdrive so it's passing nearly all input energy through.  It's when you shift a lot under load or go up a long steep grade that puts the strain on the fluid and wears components.  So maybe watch it for a while to make sure you're not overheating then after that, it is what it is.  I know nothing about Nissan's but for domestic trannies you can get "performance kits" that modify the behavior of the torque converter, pump and sometimes alter the shift points for the various gears.  They don't make it more "heavy duty" really but might extend the life a bit by limiting periods they slip.  Aside from "breaking", not changing the transmission fluid is a cause of many failures so especially in hard use you're going to want to check it regularly and even replace it more frequently than typical because it does wear out and that can accelerate the demise of other components.  An aftermarket cooler probably wouldn't hurt either.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

wdsnider

Member
Joined
May 12, 2019
Posts
7
Thanks all for your opinions and advice.  And thanks for not being too hard on me.  ;)  I know I'm giving that poor little truck a big task.  We've weighed in and should be in the window on that.  I have always had the trans serviced and just did it before purchasing the camper.  It will definitely get attention more often now.  I've read that an aluminum pan dissipates heat better, and synthetic fluid is more durable.  Will consider that next service interval.  You all probably see 2000 Frontier and think it must have a million miles on it.  But it's always been the extra vehicle and only has 135k and still looks brand new.  That's about 7100/yr average.  We have to pay for the camper and a new AC for the house. (I know, right.  Yeah)  Once we've chewed out those debts, we'll shop for a gently used F150 sized truck or SUV.

So if you see a smoldering Frontier on the highway, I'd welcome a ride to the next exit.  Thanks again and Happy Camping.
 

Gizmo100

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Sep 28, 2018
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wdsnider said:
So if you see a smoldering Frontier on the highway, I'd welcome a ride to the next exit.  Thanks again and Happy Camping.

Welcome to the RV Forum Wayne and Karen..

If I see the smoldering Frontier.... I'll pick you up.....After I get some pictures for the forum ;D ;D
 
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