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Using the automatic transmission vs the manual for towing


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#1 OFFLINE   brc19761

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 03:34 PM

Hi, my Dad bought a brand new small camper trailer weighing approx. 3,000 lbs. The camper has electric brakes and he had the brake controller hooked up on Friday.  He is going to use the camper this week. He will be driving about 5 hours. Some of the terrain is pretty hilly. He has a 2008 Pathfinder SE

 

I was wondering when towing the camper in the hilly areas of the trip should he use the automatic or manual feature on his Pathfinder. I have read the owner's manual regarding the manual transmission. It does not give what speeds you should travel to change to the next gear. For example 1st to second (0-20), second to third (20-35), etc, These are just examples I do not know the correct speeds.

 

So, this forum has never failed me before. Should the manual transmission be used for towing especially in hilly terrain and what speed are the mph shift points for each gear? Should you just use the automatic transmission and let it up shift and down shift for you?

 

Thanks


Edited by brc19761, 09 October 2017 - 03:35 PM.


#2 OFFLINE   Citron

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 04:14 PM

Shift points are more based on RPM instead of speed for manual. If it has a tow mode, just use that and let the auto work.

#3 OFFLINE   brc19761

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 04:45 PM

Thanks for the reply. It does not have a tow mode.

 



#4 OFFLINE   boothill2008

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 05:05 PM

Hi, my Dad bought a brand new small camper trailer weighing approx. 3,000 lbs. The camper has electric brakes and he had the brake controller hooked up on Friday.  He is going to use the camper this week. He will be driving about 5 hours. Some of the terrain is pretty hilly. He has a 2008 Pathfinder SE
 
I was wondering when towing the camper in the hilly areas of the trip should he use the automatic or manual feature on his Pathfinder. I have read the owner's manual regarding the manual transmission. It does not give what speeds you should travel to change to the next gear. For example 1st to second (0-20), second to third (20-35), etc, These are just examples I do not know the correct speeds.
 
So, this forum has never failed me before. Should the manual transmission be used for towing especially in hilly terrain and what speed are the mph shift points for each gear? Should you just use the automatic transmission and let it up shift and down shift for you?
 
Thanks

Hi!! I drive a '93 Pathfinder that has been modified for towing, but your 2008 should be setup better right out of the gate. Since you have the SE, you probably have the 266hp V6 unless you opted for the V8. As the SE is rated for 7000 lbs, you should have no problem. Since the WD21's like mine have a more delicate transmission, I always make sure that it has had a trans fluid change yearly at a minimum. Looking at your shift selector, it appears on the left side just below the release there is a button. On my WD21, this is red and keeps it from popping in and out of overdrive when you are towing. I would check this out, and use it when you are towing if I am right.

Since I have toasted 2 transmissions on different cars over the year, I would make sure that you have a trans cooler installed, the larger the better. Nothing kills your transmission like hear. In line with that, if you notice your transmission is shifting frequently, try adjusting your driving habits and speeds to minimize that. If it continues to shift often, I would consider one or two rest stops along the way to allow the trans to cool. Make sure you install a quality electronic brake controller, and try not to "ride the brakes" whenever possible.

Hope your Dad enjoys his trip!!

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#5 OFFLINE   boothill2008

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 05:07 PM

Hi!! I drive a '93 Pathfinder that has been modified for towing, but your 2008 should be setup better right out of the gate. Since you have the SE, you probably have the 266hp V6 unless you opted for the V8. As the SE is rated for 7000 lbs, you should have no problem. Since the WD21's like mine have a more delicate transmission, I always make sure that it has had a trans fluid change yearly at a minimum. Looking at your shift selector, it appears on the left side just below the release there is a button. On my WD21, this is red and keeps it from popping in and out of overdrive when you are towing. I would check this out, and use it when you are towing if I am right.

Since I have toasted 2 transmissions on different cars over the year, I would make sure that you have a trans cooler installed, the larger the better. Nothing kills your transmission like hear. In line with that, if you notice your transmission is shifting frequently, try adjusting your driving habits and speeds to minimize that. If it continues to shift often, I would consider one or two rest stops along the way to allow the trans to cool. Make sure you install a quality electronic brake controller, and try not to "ride the brakes" whenever possible.

Hope your Dad enjoys his trip!!

Take care - Boothill2008

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PS - Excuse the typo, I meant heat not hear, and if I didn't mention it, for towing I think auto is the way to go!!!


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#6 OFFLINE   brc19761

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 06:58 PM

Thanks for the reply Boothill2008.  I have a 1997 Nissan D21 reg. cab 4x4 I bought new. When my nephews starting getting older I wanted a way to take them places so I needed 4 doors. I love my Nissan truck. The D21 is the only pickup I have driven since high school ( I have owned 5).  So, I started looking for a wD21 the only thing close to the D21 with 4 doors. Took me a while to find one in decent shape. That was about 5 years ago. I found a 1994 4x4 LE with 73,000 original miles it had all the bells and whistles, great shape, and no rust. Since my Mom and Dad got their 2008 Pathfinder I started taking it when I took my nephews places. I started driving a lot of hwy miles where I needed a truck. So, I kept my Nissan D21 and bought a 2004 Ranger 3.0l v6. So, I had to get rid of the 1994 Pathfinder last December because it was to many vehicles to keep up with. I had the 1994 almost five years and sold it with a little over 99,000 miles.

 

Yes the 2008 Pathfinder has 266hp and even comes with a towing package made into the rear bumper. My Dad is worried that when the camper is loaded with water and the Pathfinder is loaded with gear, two adults, and a 10 year old the hills he has to travel up that it may put a strain on the transmission. I don't even know if the manual mode is used for towing. It does not have a tow/haul mode. So, I thought regular automatic would be the right choice. I have never used the manual feature and don't know how to even operate it.

 

About how many pounds can you haul with your 1993 WD21?

 

thanks



#7 OFFLINE   Citron

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 08:14 PM

The owners manual should have all the information on towing.

#8 OFFLINE   Slartibartfast

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 10:09 PM

+1 on the trans cooler. If you really want to play it safe, you could install a trans fluid temp gauge as well for an early warning if you're driving it too hard.

 

Shift points are determined by engine speed and load. The AT section of the WD21 manual has a chart for when it'll shift charted against throttle position and speed. If you're just barely on the throttle, it'll go for second at around 10 mph, third at maybe 15, and overdrive in the low 30s. If your foot's to the floor, it'll hold each gear to redline, holding first to 30, second to almost 60, and hitting overdrive in the high 90s. (The R51 manual may have a similar table, if it's not all instructions for playing with the scan tool.) You can watch the tach while you drive an auto to see this in action, and it may help you get a feel for where to shift manually if you decide to give that a go.

 

If the R51 gives you an option to turn overdrive off, do it. Overdrive's a pain in the ass when you're struggling for power. I turn mine off in my WD21 any time hills are involved, even if I'm not towing; otherwise it tends to go for overdrive when I lift for a corner and then struggle when I get back on it because it can't climb a hill in OD and apparently nobody ever bothered to tell it that. Assuming Nissan did a better job programming the R51's trans than they did on the WD21, O/D off may be all you need. If you notice the computer's holding it in too high a gear (low revs and struggling to maintain speed), or hunting like Boothill said, consider using the manual mode to lock it in a lower gear where the engine can hold enough revs to keep you going.

 

I've heard some trailers handle better with empty water tanks (less weight behind the rear axle)--might be something to consider if you can fill up when you get there.



#9 OFFLINE   brc19761

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 02:24 AM

Would changing the transmission fluid be a good idea before my Dad leaves for his trip. The Pathfinder was very well maintained by the previous owner. But my Dad has owned it for four years and has put around 40,000. The Pathfinder had around 69,000 miles on it when he purchased it. Now it has around 108,000 miles.

 

I changed the brakes, oil, and air filter yesterday. I change the oil religiously every 3,000 miles. I try to add lucas oil gas treatment to the tank as often as I can.

 

Would new atf and filter help?



#10 OFFLINE   Slartibartfast

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 06:59 PM

I doubt it's necessary but it couldn't hurt.



#11 OFFLINE   brc19761

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 11:16 PM

I did start searching the web yesterday mainly to find a video on just what was involved in changing the transmission fluid and filter. Seems like in my experience on different makes and models the procedure for how the filter is changed is a little different. So, I found a youtube video and it showed step by step and bolt by bolt on how to change the fluid and filter. It looked really simple to me. the filter happens to be metal and has a good many bolts holding it in. Some bolts were different lengths and when re-installing the filter you had to make sure the correct length bolts went back in the right place. The transmission was very easy to get to with nothing obstructing it (at least on 2wd models). 

 

I then looked online at the factory service manual on what intervals the fluid needed to be changed. Written in red was CAUTION: If you plan on towing with this vehicle the fluid has to be change at 30, 60, 96 thousand miles. I decided I would go ahead and change the fluid and filter b/c I had no idea if it had ever been changed in 108,000 miles. If we always diy or vehicles. Another thing I learned was that there was a design flaw on the 2005-2012 Pathfinders. The transmission cooler is placed in front of the radiator and over time it may allow water (I guess from condensation) or coolant to leak into the transmission and has caused a lot of transmissions to go out or have to be rebuilt.

 

I showed my Dad the video on how to change the fluid and filter and he said to call and see how much it would cost to let our local shop would to change it. I was surprised b/c he never, never, never pays for someone else to do something we are able to do in our own shop. I called and they said it would be $110.00. I assumed my Dad was tired because he has been preparing for this trip since last week and didn't feel like fooling with it. We dropped it off. We got a phone call from the garage (thinking it was ready). They said the Pathfinder only took factory Nissan fluid. Which I did read in my research, but there were other brands that would also work. The shop called back and said it would be over $256.00 to do the job and my Dad agreed to let them do it. I got angry and said that was over twice as much as they said it was going to be. I pleaded with him to go get the Pathfinder and let me do it or just don't fool with changing the fluid. To my surprise he said No.

 

I called the Nissan dealership and they said the fluid was right a $14.00 a quart and I knew it took 4.25 and the parts guy said yes between 4-5 quarts to fill it back up. The filter and gasket was $18.00 at Autozone.



#12 OFFLINE   Slartibartfast

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:25 PM

Jesus, that's ridiculous. I spent, like, $50 on generic dex/merc for mine and IIRC had enough left to do the transfer case.

 

And yes, the transmission cooler built into the rad on the R51 tends to break and let coolant in! Good thing to bypass and run an external instead; the cooler in front of the rad is a much better bet (and if it sprung a leak, no, condensation wouldn't get in; tranny fluid would get out).



#13 OFFLINE   adamzan

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:59 AM

With the newer automatics you really should run the OEM fluid. Yes it costs more, but a new transmission costs even more. They are more complicated and not like the old ones that will run forever on cheap generic @!*%.

 

I would consider 250 dollars cheap as I could probably not even have my WD21 auto serviced for that price.


Edited by adamzan, 12 October 2017 - 08:00 AM.


#14 OFFLINE   onespiritbrain

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 04:47 AM

https://www.ebay.com...3D1335627060857


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#15 OFFLINE   brc19761

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 10:00 AM

I apologize for not responding sooner to the above posts. I had cell and text service on my phone for the last 4 days, but no net service where I was at.  I ended up going on the trip with my Dad, Mom, and nephew. My Dad decided he probably needed an extra set of hands on this trip and asked me to go. The trip was to Talladega Super Speedway in Alabama. My Dad goes twice a year. The company I used to work for took me and some others back in 2001, I paid for my Dad's ticket and he got to go back then. We stayed on the infield that year and had pit passes and everything. My Dad had never even watched a Nascar race prior to that trip. But after that he became hooked. He has been twice a year every since 20001. Most of the trips he and I took together and we always took tents. He always said he would like to have a camper. Well this time 16 years later after retiring he did. His all time favorite driver is Dale Ernheart Jr. This was Jr.'s last race at Talladega b/c Jr. is retiring this year. We have never stayed on the infield again. You just can't see anything unless you have a camper and then you still couldn't see much of the race.

 

So, about pulling the camper. Well we used the manual mode. We just kept it in 4th which would mean we just took it out of overdrive. That seemed to be the best way to pull. The Pathfinder pulled the camper well even in hill country. My Dad use to get around 22mpg on the interstate. Pulling the camper we got on average 9-12mpg. There is not but around 40,000 campers at Talladega :). So, we got some feed back from our camper neighbors. They said that their diesel 2500 trucks and even some with gas burners suffered gas millage problems when pulling their campers. But naturally they had much bigger campers. We do know that we need the sway bar equipment on the trailer. 18 wheelers passing at high rates of speed caused the camper to sway quiet a bit (but we knew all of this before leaving). The camper even swayed a little with no interference.  My Dad never drove faster than 60-65 mph. That is as fast as he could go without the camper getting nasty with him.

 

It was a great trip and the Pathfinder did its job. But my Dad is worried about the strain on the motor and transmission on the Pathy. He said later on he will have to invest is a truck.

 

Thanks for all the wonderful info and comments you have provided so far



#16 OFFLINE   brc19761

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Posted 17 October 2017 - 08:53 AM

A little update to the cost of replacing the transmission fluid. I have the invoice in front of me. The actual price they quoted us was less than we thought. OEM fluid and filter plus, labor, taxes, came to $237.51. I always write down everything that is done to the Pathfinder such as oil changed, brakes, etc. and the date and miles things were performed in a book with receipts. I do this with all the vehicles I own and my Dad owns.



#17 OFFLINE   boothill2008

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Posted 17 October 2017 - 06:34 PM

Thanks for the reply Boothill2008.  I have a 1997 Nissan D21 reg. cab 4x4 I bought new. When my nephews starting getting older I wanted a way to take them places so I needed 4 doors. I love my Nissan truck. The D21 is the only pickup I have driven since high school ( I have owned 5).  So, I started looking for a wD21 the only thing close to the D21 with 4 doors. Took me a while to find one in decent shape. That was about 5 years ago. I found a 1994 4x4 LE with 73,000 original miles it had all the bells and whistles, great shape, and no rust. Since my Mom and Dad got their 2008 Pathfinder I started taking it when I took my nephews places. I started driving a lot of hwy miles where I needed a truck. So, I kept my Nissan D21 and bought a 2004 Ranger 3.0l v6. So, I had to get rid of the 1994 Pathfinder last December because it was to many vehicles to keep up with. I had the 1994 almost five years and sold it with a little over 99,000 miles.
 
Yes the 2008 Pathfinder has 266hp and even comes with a towing package made into the rear bumper. My Dad is worried that when the camper is loaded with water and the Pathfinder is loaded with gear, two adults, and a 10 year old the hills he has to travel up that it may put a strain on the transmission. I don't even know if the manual mode is used for towing. It does not have a tow/haul mode. So, I thought regular automatic would be the right choice. I have never used the manual feature and don't know how to even operate it.
 
About how many pounds can you haul with your 1993 WD21?
 
thanks

We have limited most of our tows to below 4500 lbs, the majority being either my son Nick's '68 CJ5 or my '66 CJ5. To improve the suspension and braking, we have Brenbo slotted and drilled rotors with upgraded brake pads that we ordered from Stillen, and Rancho 9000 air adjustable shocks. I just replaced the torque converter last year, but otherwise it has done a decent job.....739d098f8ea99f2a4afc9d586a13603c.jpg8ceb2c42136409f17b0bca42e6d6dbba.jpg6a397a71c4219c24ca3da790ccc07441.jpg

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