2012 Nissan Xterra

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GMJohnny
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:56 am
Location: Auburn Twp, Oh

Re: 2012 Nissan Xterra

Postby GMJohnny » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:58 am

I hope your wiring for your trailer lights is as easy as you think. I had struggles with both the Saab and
the new Regal. Basically, there are five wires that need to go into four and the unit that does that requires
12v power to the back of the vehicle. It was a 12 gauge wire also. It was worse on the Regal because the
cabin area was sealed so well. I'm not sure that your application requires that, but I'm sure you'll let us
know. While you're waiting for parts to come in, you should make a point of it to roll under the truck two
to three times a day to get in better shape.

GM

AKROVER
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:49 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: 2012 Nissan Xterra

Postby AKROVER » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:49 pm

The rest of the parts arrived and of course the temperature dropped for the bulk of the work. It at least warmed back up for the finishing touches. The remaining wiring was also stupid easy. There were three connectors to simply snap in, although all were in complicated locations.

The project wasn’t without challenges, though. The biggest was my lifelong frustration with setting up a vehicle for towing, where to put the plug on the vehicle. This one was particularly annoying as the hitch already ate up a ton of my departure angle and the normal location that the ‘professional’ installers use is below the hitch. Sorry, on an off-road capable vehicle the lowest clearance point should never be electrical. The hitch can take a hit or two, but a plastic electrical plug is doomed. I decided to drill the bumper.

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I wanted to put the plug more toward the center, next to the license plate, but the plug was too big to fit above the license plate light so I was forced to put it on the flat part further out. A two inch hole saw made quick work of the old-school metal bumper, but left me with major concerns for rust prevention in salty Buffalo. I used a halogen work lamp as a heat lamp to heat up the bumper prior to spraying some Rustoleum on my new holes, but it probably will need revisited in the spring. I will also be looking for some black hardware as those bright screws look bad on the black plug. I was a little tired when I went to Home Depot so I just grabbed something to make it work.

I figured I should test everything. The first attempt was a disaster. It turns out that you shouldn’t believe everything you find on the internet. Someone had the pins all wrong in their diagram. I found a more trustworthy source of information and my testing then went smoothly except for the one issue known going into this. Some Nissans had two wires reversed in the factory wiring and mine turned out to be one of them. The fix was relatively easy, reversing two pins in a connector, but some idiot popped the pins out before noting which was where to begin with. With a 50-50 chance actually going my way, the wiring all checks out except for the brake controller, which I can’t completely test on my own. The minimal testing implies that things are good there. Hopefully there will be no troubleshooting to be done when picking up the trailer.

I also bought a wireless hitch camera. The camera has a magnetic base and runs on a 9 volt battery. It communicates wirelessly to the small display that hangs on a flexible arm from the cigarette lighter in the vehicle. By sticking the camera to the tailgate and pointing down at the hitch, I should be able to hook up without any assistance. The specifications imply that it also works as a backup camera when stuck on the rear bumper of my trailer. The wireless communication has trouble with aluminum trailers, but is supposed to work fine with fiberglass trailers like mine. I thought about installing some permanent cameras, including some lane change assistant cameras, but the trailer is much shorter than my old one so I really shouldn’t need that. A temporary camera for hitching and for backing into camp sites should be all I need to limit the stress on my marriage.

AKROVER
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:49 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: 2012 Nissan Xterra

Postby AKROVER » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:51 am

Last week was my journey to Dayton to pick up our new trailer.

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The Nissan was mostly a pleasant surprise as a tow vehicle. The Nissan drivetrain handles this trailer much better than my van handled my old trailer and I was loving having a manual for towing, again (I always towed the Mustang with a manual). The 4.0L V-6 is good enough to climb hills at 2500 rpm at 65 mph in fifth gear. Sixth gear is mostly useless, but I can drop the rpm while going down long hills and I rarely need any engine braking with the trailer acting like a parachute. Fifth is a 1:1 ratio with a rear axle ratio of about 3.70. Sixth jumps to 0.769:1, just too steep for this load.

Gas mileage was easily 20% better than my previous travel trailer experience, a little over 11 mpg for the first two tanks, but running well over 12 by the numbers on the trip computer during the last leg as I was driving slower speeds. This trailer does have about 14% less frontal area than the old one and the total rig weight is about 30% less so better mileage was to be expected, but it was still good enough to make me quite happy. The Nissan fuel tank isn’t very large, but stopping for fuel every three hours isn’t a bad thing when trailering.

Stability was well controlled by the weight distributing hitch and the dual axles on the trailer, but I can really feel crosswinds. My return trip was over two days with a halfway stop at GM’s trailer-backing practice facility and guest house. The first day had me running a max of about 65 mph due to the moderate crosswinds. The second day was nearly a disaster as crosswind gusts were terrible through Ohio and then peaked at 47 mph as I passed through Erie. Oddly, the rig didn’t seem to move much in the lane, but I felt like I was getting hammered with every change in wind velocity. I think I was feeling some sideways movement in the squishy sidewalls of the Nissan’s tires along with quite a bit of body roll allowed by the Nissan’s soft suspension. I will definitely put on stiffer tires when I replace them and I could add cheap air bags to stiffen the springs for towing if this continues to be an annoyance. It was not exactly a fair test, though. Conditions were so bad that someone else lost their travel trailer into the median, rolled and totaled. It appeared to be a commercial driver rather than an individual owner. Most travel trailers are delivered to the dealerships by people with big pickups working as contractors and right now is not exactly camping season, but it is delivery season. Seeing someone else lose a brand new trailer in the wind ended my white-knuckle drive as I immediately got off the freeway and took the low speed roads home from there, dealing just with drifted over roads rather than the exposure to gusts on the often-elevated interstate while trying to maintain a non-hazardous speed. The slow road was actually drama free, once I calmed down. Overall, I am pretty excited by the Nissan as a tow vehicle, but I never want to be in crosswinds like that again.

The narrow Nissan didn’t provide much of a view out the back. I remembered being able to see more of the traffic behind me in the van. That was wider vehicle, but with a wider trailer. A quick search on side view mirror requirements reminded me that most states require having the view from both sides converge at 200 feet behind the trailer. I pretty much had parallel views down the sides that probably never converged. I needed wider mirrors just to be legal. I hate the strap-on extension mirrors so I did a quick search for something more custom for the Nissan. I was shocked to find that someone made replacement towing mirrors that fit the Xterra. The likely explanation is that it shares much of its sheet metal with the Frontier pickup which has a higher towing rating so the mirrors are probably primarily sold for the pickup. These are larger mirrors mounted on dual posts that can be extended outward when towing or slid inward for normal use. There is a separate blind-spot convex mirror across the bottom. They came with both black and chrome covers, but the Xterra is more of a black plastic kind of vehicle than a fancy chrome one. The mirrors were expensive at $260, but they even connect directly to the existing wiring retaining the ability to adjust the direction of the mirror from the control on the dash. The extension is completely manual, but that is much easier than putting on a goofy looking mirror attachment. The installation was perfectly simple. The old days of aftermarket customization with generic fitting equipment seem so archaic when compared to direct and precise fit like this. The only annoying part of the installation was that the electrical connection was hidden behind the door skin and the removal of the door skin involves several plastic clip in pieces that always sound like they are breaking as you take them apart. A couple of them did stress crack, but not enough to preclude going back together reasonably tight, this time anyway. The mirror, itself, only required removing a simple plastic panel to access the three nuts holding it on. The entire process would have taken only about an hour, but the first door skin took a bit longer to figure out (I was being too gentle). I am really excited about this upgrade so I think that makes me a real geek. The image below cycles through three frames showing the original mirror, the new mirror, and the new mirror in the extended position.

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GMJohnny
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:56 am
Location: Auburn Twp, Oh

Re: 2012 Nissan Xterra

Postby GMJohnny » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:47 pm

Your mirrors are a nice upgrade. I like how they look like a stock mirror. If you didn't
mention that you put them on, nobody but a Nissan expert would know. You'll like the
larger size mirror and they definitely will give you a better view while hauling. Plus,
you actually got to work on a vehicle again. That's how addictions start. What's the next
upgrade??

GM

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Basement Paul
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Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:27 pm
Location: In the 11's

Re: 2012 Nissan Xterra

Postby Basement Paul » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:02 pm

The winter tires on my Ram have a much higher load rating (they're for a 1 ton pickup) and although the ride is noticeably firmer, most likely due to the significantly higher pressure ratings, when I'm hauling a heavy load there's a big difference in the amount of sway from the rear. Normally I'll haul steel scrap for work, which is typically 1200-1800 lbs and it gets put almost completely to the back of the bed to make it easier to unload. That heavier ply tire will help with the sway a lot. I also have helper air bags in the back. They're inexpensive, and will fix the sag in the back of your Nissan when it's loaded without messing up the ride when it's not. A bit of caution though, the heavier ply tire will mess up your ride and hurt your mileage because the tires themselves are sooo much heavier than the standard tire.

Love the mirrors.

-BP


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