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All,

I recently bought a 2012 Frontier S with the 2.5L. The manual was not with the truck but I have been looking and it seems that max towing weight is 3500 lbs. I see no evidence that it has a towing package so I really don't know if it does or not and not sure if they are saying the truck with towing package is rated for that or if 3500 lbs is for the truck with towing package. We want to buy a pop up camper and I am unsure of what weight it will comfortably tow. I need to add a hitch as well so any suggestions on which to buy is welcome as well. The campers I have looked at so far are in the 1600 to 1850 lb range. Anyone with the same truck pulling anything in that range or bigger? I appreciate any information anyone can provide.
 

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I tow up to 2000lbs. no problem, my truck came with the factory tow package. Just be aware that you won't be able to maintain freeway speeds in hilly, mountainous terrain. 6% grades mean 3rd gear 45mph behind the semi-trucks.
 

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You are smart to get a pop-up. I tow a teardrop type tiny camper and the wind drag is ferocious. The camper is lightweight but I can feel any grade and steep grades are a chore.

Tt, 4 cyl. 5 spd.
 

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It is very important to get a transmission temp gauge. You can plumb it into your trans test port, or you can use a Scangauge which now is supposed to tell trans temps.
The 4 cyl auto trans (which I think is the same trans as the 6 cyl truck) only has torque converter lock in 5th gear, not 4th and 5th, so you will be driving in 4th on the highway a lot, not 5th except downhills with an unlocked torque converter which will generate a lot of heat. you need to manage the heat and back off if temps get too hot.
I would put an aftermarket water temp gague in for that matter (or scangauge).
When my 6cyl with auto trans drops to 3rd gear (unlocked TC) the trans temps climb rapidly on a climb.

The 6 cyl trucks are rated to tow 6,000lbs, and it is the same truck other than motor, so it is your motor that is your limit, towing heavier than 3,000lbs is not a safety issue, but a motor issue I bet. I am not aware of any differences in the chassis that would make the 4 cycl truck version less robust..

Towing on flat ground is all about wind resistance, and the pop-up will have little. On hills/mountains weight matters a lot, your speeds will drop so low that wind resistance matters less than the weight on mountain passes.

If the 4 cyl trans would lock in 4th I would have considered getting one and just lived with the weak motor when towing...
They both need to lock in 3rd, not sure why Nissan missed this so poorly.

Also, is there a tow package? I think all tha means is you get a receiver hitch and the relays to feed a 7-pin trailer plug. That is not really a tow package but some stuff to tow with. Frontier's do not have a tow/haul mode.

For hitch get one from etrailer.com They are a great price, ship fast and great service.
Consider getting any kind of brake controller. Not a big deal for a 2,000lb trailer, but it is a lot safer, will stop better and save a little wear on your truck brakes.

You can splice in some running light and turn signals from the wiring going to your trucks light, but if you tow a lot it is so nice ot have the 7-pin. It will give you reverse lights (if trailer has it) and a 12 volt power feed to your camper battery to charge it slowly. For brakes you will need the 7-pin. Many post on doing that. I like, and did cut a hole in the bumper and put the 7-pin plug there, clean and neat. Round circular hole saw for your drill might cost $20 or so from hardware store. Get one for metal of course.

There is a kick panel on passenger's side by the right foot, in front of door. remove that and you will find the wires for a trailer plug. Buy the set of 3 relays and just plug them in to the already run wires. Replace kick panel. At the rear behind the spare tire, or right above it is the other end of the wires, If you bought a wiring kit then this is where the 7-pin plug just plugs in. It is nice that the wires are already run on these trucks at least. It is a simple job. 6 out of 10 difficulty. 4 of 10 if you do not cut a hole in bumper.
 

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When my 6cyl with auto trans drops to 3rd gear (unlocked TC) the trans temps climb rapidly on a climb.
Tell me about it. I tow a car on a flat deck about twice a year. Going up the Grapevine on I-5, the truck will only pull that weight in 2nd gear. Just depends on how fast in 2nd gear you want to go!

First time I went, I held a steady 55mph which was around 4000 RPM. Truck still had a little bit left so I probably could've accelerated to 60mph. I backed off after the water and the trans temps both shot past 225F.

From then on, I duck behind a semi and climb up at a steady 30mph, which is around 2500 RPM. The temps never top 200F even on hot days.

Consider getting any kind of brake controller. Not a big deal for a 2,000lb trailer, but it is a lot safer, will stop better and save a little wear on your truck brakes.
I'd pass on the brake controller unless the trailer @Harleymac1 has or will be equipped with brakes. No point in adding a brake controller that won't be utilized. If you're building the trailer yourself, make sure you read the laws of your state as the maximum non-braked trailer weight varies.

You can splice in some running light and turn signals from the wiring going to your trucks light, but if you tow a lot it is so nice ot have the 7-pin.
I think all Frontiers have the OEM body plug tucked under the rear bumper that connects to the 7-pin trailer plug.

Regardless, I would not suggest the 4-pin kit that plugs in between the turn signals bulbs on the OEM taillights. The OEM turn signals are resistive, so adding additional load makes them flash very slowly.
 
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The engine-tranny cooling system is very well engineered, and if maintained well will cool your tranny in any circumstance. Spending money on gauges etc is pretty much a waste of good cash unless you just like to worry and stare at something. If by some chance your motor-tranny were to overheat it would automatically go into limp mode anyway. matic S ATF is good up to 240 degrees operating temp so at 225 you were still safe.
 

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The engine-tranny cooling system is very well engineered, and if maintained well will cool your tranny in any circumstance. Spending money on gauges etc is pretty much a waste of good cash unless you just like to worry and stare at something. If by some chance your motor-tranny were to overheat it would automatically go into limp mode anyway. matic S ATF is good up to 240 degrees operating temp so at 225 you were still safe.
Yes I am well aware. I save the racing for the track; I'm in no rush to get there/get home, so I take it easy on the truck.

I have a ScanGaugeII that I bought back in...2009? I think I got my money's worth out of it. The water and trans temp data isn't as accurate as independent gauges, but it's an improvement over having an arbitrary dash gauge or an "AT OIL TEMP" idiot light.
 

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Nice thing about measuring temps is that even if not accurate it is probably consistent. Can spot trends that way and be proactive rather than reactive.
I would hate driving blind with no gauges. Not monitoring anything is not smart when towing/pushing the truck a little extra. If anything, you will be able to help diagnose issues by knowing what the truck was doing before the issues (temps on water, trans etc). This will keep the mechanic from trying things that are not the issue...
I want gauges. If I do this and the temps do that then i want to know. OK, this raises temps, but that does not... is a good thing to know wether the truck is well designed or not.

I also disagree with not using a brake controller. To each his own opinion. I have towed over big mountains quite a lot, even with a 7,000lb truck and a 2,000lb trailer, I still like having brakes. Install is not a big deal, get a cheapo one for $36 if money is an issue; a cheapo one will be fine for a light trailer, but the proportional ones are so much nicer, and worth it IMO.
 

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2017 KC SV I4 4x2 5-speed M/T
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Decided to use(first time) my 4cyl/manual Frontier to tow my 6x12 today. Trailer varies from 1,600 to 2200lb total (depending what’s loaded.)

Mix of city / highway / hills. Definitely feel it (drag) on the freeway or any slight incline, but a downshift and no problem. Leaving stoplights and braking were good too including trailer lights working.

Tire Wheel Vehicle Sky Car
 

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From a towing durability standpoint, the 2.5L version has a lot going for it -

  • Same RE5R05A automatic transmission as the 4.0L version,
  • Has in-the-tank and external ATF coolers, just like the 4.0L version,
  • Has an engine oil cooler just like the 4.0L version,
  • Has a power steering fluid cooler just like the 4.0L version...

Basically, the only major difference between them is the amount of power the engine produces.
 

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2017 KC SV I4 4x2 5-speed M/T
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Ran almost a tank of gas through towing my 6x12 enclosed (above) this last week. Moved furniture and made runs to the garbage dumps. Same mix of city / hills / highway.
16.2 mpg (255mi/15.7gal.).

Not too bad. I certainly wasn’t pushing it and for my use it did just fine.
 
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