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Light trailer towing blues
#1
This forum has lots of success stories about pulling big loads with Frontiers. I'm trying to pull a light load, and I'm having a problem. My travel trailer is a 14 footer weighing only 1920 lbs with 240 lbs of tongue weight. I bought it to pull behind my wife's Mercury Mariner (aka Ford Escape). The Mariner has a 3500 lb towing capacity, but its only rated for 30 sq feet of frontal area. My trailer has 42 sq feet of frontal area, so the Mariner could only pull it over 50 MPH when there wasn't any wind. That doesn't happen much in this part of the country, so now I have a 2010 Fronty SE Crew Cab with the V6 and the factory towing package.
   
I am really enjoying this truck far more than I ever expected. I thought anything with a high towing capacity would be a oversized clumsy beast and a chore to drive. A 20 minute test drive changed my mind, and the Fronty I test drove now lives in my garage. I just don't know how anything so tall can get grip the road so well! I have no complaints about ride - until I hitch up the trailer. That's when the problem starts.

When pulling the trailer on a highway between 50 and 60 MPH, we get jerked by every last uneven spot in the pavement. I drive that the Fronty on that same highway to work each day and never noticed a thing until I tried it with the trailer. On a two lane asphalt road with patches, we really get pounded even at 30 MPH. I know this isn't normal for a Fronty, so there's got to be a way to solve this. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

What I think is happening is the trailer axle is bouncing around like a tin can on a rope, and all that bouncing is getting transferred through the frame hitch. (The trailer itself does not bounce significantly). Being a half ton truck, the rear suspension is much stiffer than the Mariner's, and the 240 lb tongue weight apparently isn't enough to dampen the ride.

One idea is to add weight at the rear of the bed. If 240 lbs of tongue weight isn't enough to dampen the rear suspension, I'm wondering how much weight one needs to add to make a difference. Has anyone else tried adding extra ballast for a similar problem? What did you use, and how well did it work?

Another possiblity is to add shock absorbers to the trailer. Suppose I find a way to do that. Does anyone have any experience to suggest that will solve my problem?

I really like this truck and the trailer (small enough that I can park it behind my house using a hand dolly). I just need the two of them to get along better!

Anyone got any ideas?
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#2
Seems like it should pull OK. However, I cannot help, as I don't have a trailer. I have a good friend near Nashville, TN that has a large trailer compared to Nissan Frontier standards. He pulled it to California and back 3 years ago with no problems, other than fuel mileage. I am sure somebody on here can help out.
06 nismo CC 4X4: SOLD and replaced with 2017 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon; Teraflex 3" lift, 315/70-17 Cooper STT PRO tires on Fuel Trophy wheels, JCR bumpers front and rear w/Warn 9.5cti winch in front, Ace sliders, GraBars, Weathertech window deflectors and floor liners
98 Jeep Wrangler in the garage, 2" lift, 33X12.50 BFG MTs on 15X8 MT Classic Locks, Pioneer/MTX/RF P3 Sound, Borla Header w/Flowmaster
63 and 67 Nissan Patrols (under construction)
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#3
Thanks, mdawg4x4. All ideas are welcome!

Monroe has a retrofit kit for putting shocks on trailers. The kit plus shocks would be about $100. I was just crawling around under the trailer, contemplating drilling holes through the frame and rebolting the spring brackets. It seems like a big project for a "maybe this might help" idea. On the other hand, it might extend the trailer life.

While crawling around under there, I saw something I hadn't noticed before. Our three month old trailer has no wheel weights on the tire rims! Is it possible that a misbalanced tire on a trailer could send that kind of shock waves through the Fronty's box frame, while not sending anything noticeable through the Mariner's unitized body? Anyone have any experience with unbalanced trailer tires with the Fronty? Hard to believe that could be it but...

Wheel balancing is cheap, so I will probably try it just to rule that out. We're about to get our annual winter storm here in North Texas, so it may be a couple weekends before I want to move that trailer. Meanwhile, all ideas and experience are welcome!
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#4
I have pulled different size trailers and have had that issue when the load was unbalanced. It got a lot better when I installed the " traction bars " to reduce the axle wrap when I was going to the track. Now I have not felt it anymore. Let me find the thread about the bars for $25 it is well worth a try for you.
http://www.frontyspot.com/fronty/showthr...ction+bars

Here it is
[Image: 3gears.gif]06 CC 4X2 6sp Avalanche White NISMO SPORT[Image: drive.gif]
[Image: 43d20b1b.jpg]
Click on the picture for my Frontier thread
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#5
(01-08-2011, 08:50 PM)Shift_Avenger Wrote:  I have pulled different size trailers and have had that issue when the load was unbalanced. It got a lot better when I installed the " traction bars " to reduce the axle wrap when I was going to the track. Now I have not felt it anymore. Let me find the thread about the bars for $25 it is well worth a try for you.
http://www.frontyspot.com/fronty/showthr...ction+bars

Here it is

Thanks, SA! That's an interesting angle I hadn't considered. I've been focusing on the trailer axle, and you're suggesting the problem may be on the truck axle. I certainly like the price of the helper springs. I just wish I could buy a tank of gas that cheap!

In that thread you referenced, you said "When you do a hard lunch the axle actually has a bit of a wrap, almost like winding a old fashion clock. Then it tends to hop when the wrap reflexes back. Thus action creates wheel hop which robs you of traction. The traction bars attempt to keep the axle put and therefore transferring the power to the ground quicker. "

Was the problem you were having limited to acceleration, or was it continuous when towing? My problem is continuous when towing and in fact, occurs even when coasting. I'm wondering if its really the same problem.

Given the price and ease of installation, it is a relatively painless experiment. Thanks for suggesting it.
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#6
I don't know if this suggestion is any help. Many years ago I pulled a trailer with a full size pickup. I didn't notice the trailer tongue was not level with the rear bumpers hitch on the truck. This gave the trailer a whipping motion when I was towing.
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#7
I had the helper leaf springs on since the truck was new but I have not had the bouncy feeling when towing at all.
[Image: 3gears.gif]06 CC 4X2 6sp Avalanche White NISMO SPORT[Image: drive.gif]
[Image: 43d20b1b.jpg]
Click on the picture for my Frontier thread
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#8
Gray Ghost nailed it - problem is solved!!!

(01-09-2011, 06:02 PM)Gray Ghost 2.5 SL Wrote:  I don't know if this suggestion is any help. Many years ago I pulled a trailer with a full size pickup. I didn't notice the trailer tongue was not level with the rear bumpers hitch on the truck. This gave the trailer a whipping motion when I was towing.

Summary: I lowered the hitch ball by 2" and drove the exact same route as last time (yes, all 62 miles of it). Last time, the ride felt like a 17' power boat crashing through 1 foot waves. This time, ride was normal at 50 MPH, tolerable at 60, and annoying by 70. I would normally pull this trailer between 60 and 65, so I think this is the break through I needed. Thanks, Gray Ghost!

Details: The top edge of the trailer frame is 15.5" from ground measured at the axle. Its a straight run to the coupler, then a 0.5" drop in the coupler. If there was such a thing as level ground, this trailer would sit level on it with the top of hitch ball at 15" from the ground.

The dealer-supplied hitch bar puts the top of hitch ball right at 17" but the hitch drops 2" when the coupled to this trailer resulting in a 15" ball height. That is exactly neutral for this the trailer, but apparently a slight downward angle is needed. My new hitch bar has a 5.25" drop, putting top of hitch ball at 14.75" uncoupled or 12.75" coupled. The hitch ball is 11 feet from the trailer axle, so I think we're talking about a difference in tongue angle of only 0.97 degres. Doesn't seem like it should matter very much, but it made a huge difference. I guess that's why they sell so many sizes of hitch bars.

My remaining issue is that my driveway is a steep climb to street level, and I'm dragging the tongue jack when the truck starts up that ramp ahead of the trailer. I will probably experiment with an intermediate sized hitch drop. For now, I am really glad to know that there is a way for this truck and this trailer to get along together.
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#9
Glad I was able to help you with this problem. I'm sure you have balanced the tires on the trailer lately. Years ago I owned a 34' travel trailer and I know rims need to be checked ever once in awhile. When I owned the 06 Frontier V6 CC I once towed a 1400 lb. pop up trailer. At highway speeds I forgot it was back there, no problems at all. Is there any way you could fabricate a swivel for your tongue jack? It wouldn't have to travel more than a few inches. I had that set up on a 20' pontoon trailer, worked ok. Good luck on the remaining problems.
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#10
Tongue weight is also something to look at. It should be 10 to 15% of total trailer weight. I pull a 16 foot travel trailer with gross trailer weight of 3850. I have a lot of tongue weight, 580 lbs as I have dual propane tanks and dual 6 volt golf cart batteries. I went with a weight distribution hitch and the ride is very much the same as with no trailer. Owner's manual says my trailer tongue weight was 340 before adding propane and batteries.

I also have a 2010 SE crew cab with 4WD and towing package.
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#11
I haven't read all the post here but in case this issue is not solved I think I may have your answer. Make sure that your trailer is level. If the tongue is low or high, (usually low) it will do that.
2013 Crew Cab Pro-4X
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#12
1.) I am not dead. 2.) I am still enjoying my 2010 Frontier crew cab, 3.) I still really like Fronty Spot, but somehow three years have slipped by since I've succeeded log in. How embarrassing!

At the beginning of this thread, I had a 14' travel trailer weighing 2000 lbs which wasn't behaving quite right on the Frontier. I made some adjustments to the hitch height that improved it some. I read somewhere that shock absorbers don't make sense with trailer tires, so I didn't install the trailer shocks. Eventually, I traded the 14' trailer for a 24' trailer weighing 3800 lbs. The larger trailer was downright spooky in some turns, so I finally switched to an equalizing hitch. It has been a real pleasure to tow since then. Two years ago, my Frontier pulled that trailer up some 13% grades in SW Arkansas. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if I had the time to go back there.

I traded the factory radio for a big touch screen unit and I put a backup camera on the rear bumper. That worked awesome with the conventional hitch. With the equalizer hitch, all I can see with the backup camera is a giant hitch ball that blocks my view of the trailer. I plan to switch to one of those cameras that attach to the top of the license. It's been over a year since I've had time to tow the trailer much less do a truck upgrade, so that might be awhile.

I went with the Trifecta Tri Fold bed cover. I really like it, but I don't see any evidence of a mileage improvement with the bed covered.

My only other upgrade was Michelin tires. I thought the B. F. Goodrich Long Trail Radials were the best factory tires I ever had, and I almost bought them a second time. The Michelins are even better. 

I just saw the thread about the Frontier extendable towing mirrors, and I am really psyched. I'm hoping I'll have time for a truck project first quarter of 2015, so I will probably order a set then. If I buy them now, I will loose them before I get them installed.

So I do think about this forum from time to time, and I do appreciate the posts that came along during my extended absence. This is a great forum. I will try not to be gone as long this time.
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#13
Glad you made it back. 
I have a buddy at the Smyrna plant that towed his trailer all the way to the west coast and back.  He had a load equalizing hitch and said it makes all the difference in the world.

I'll be the 1st to admit my Michelins I had on my old Dodge (many many years ago) were the best riding tires I have ever run.  I have just been a fan of something a little more aggressive, and the ride quality is one of the sacrifices.  My dad's Titan has Continentals on it, and when they are ready for replacement, I'm going to buy him a set of Michelins.
06 nismo CC 4X4: SOLD and replaced with 2017 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon; Teraflex 3" lift, 315/70-17 Cooper STT PRO tires on Fuel Trophy wheels, JCR bumpers front and rear w/Warn 9.5cti winch in front, Ace sliders, GraBars, Weathertech window deflectors and floor liners
98 Jeep Wrangler in the garage, 2" lift, 33X12.50 BFG MTs on 15X8 MT Classic Locks, Pioneer/MTX/RF P3 Sound, Borla Header w/Flowmaster
63 and 67 Nissan Patrols (under construction)
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