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Old 06-26-2012, 11:38 AM   #1
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Serious question about Pathfinder towing Vibe 6504

Hi, everyone. I'm new here, and believe me, I've spent many hours online trying to figure out whether my 2002 V-6 Pathfinder will tow the Vibe 6504. I called Vibe dealers across the country and every one of them says, "No problem." Famous last words.

I'm going to order the 6504 without the bunkbeds and dinette, if it won't affect the weight distribution in the trailer. I want to put an office desk and chair in the slide section, because I'll be working on the road. (The dinette takes up too much space.) The dealer said removing those fixtures will subtract about 350 pounds from the TT weight. Forest River's published stats say unloaded 3192 lbs for the 6504. To be conservative, I estimate the weight will drop by 250 lbs.

Here's the stats:

Nissan Pathy auto transmission: 5000 lb towing capacity
Max tongue load: 500 lb
Gross combined weight rating: 9500 lb
Payload weight capacity: 970 lb
Wheelbase: 106"
Vehicle on Fairbanks scale: 4205 lbs (no occupants, no cargo)

Vibe 6504 - 2942 lbs w/fixtures removed
Dry hitch weight: 333 lbs
GVWR w/brakes: 4025 lbs
CCC: 640 lbs
Exterior length: 20' 4"

Me: 125 lbs
My dog: 50 lbs
Our stuff: (Depends on how much weight can be added)

My mechanic will install a tranny cooler on my Pathfinder, and an Equal-i-zer hitch.

The weight will go up when I add my office desk and chair and computer, by about 200 pounds. The hitch should probably still be okay at 333 lbs, or maybe I should ask them to replace it with their 298 lb hitch?

The numbers look okay in my newbie mind, but numbers aren't everything. I'll be driving mountain roads, and will also be taking long trips, like three months at a time. This will include campsites as well as boondocking. I have to be sure. I don't want to buy another rig for a TV if I don't have to, but safety on the road is first and protecting my Pathfinder from damage is also very important.

I've been looking at a 2002 Silverado 1500 Extended Cab (V-8) for a tow vehicle, but that's 9 or 10 grand plus insurance plus continued maintenance. (I'm stubborn about not giving up my Pathfinder. It's simply the best car I've ever had, so a trade-in is not an option for me.) Another potential TV is a 2003 Dodge Durango SLT, which will tow 7300 lbs with a towing package installed. I can get one of those for about 8 grand. The Silverado offers more versatility, but the Durango might be more comfortable for me and especially for my dog, who is 12 years old. I don't think the MPG will be much different for any of the TVs. I'll keep it to 60 mph unless I'm holding people up and then might bump it up to 65.

Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated. It might save me making a 10-hour round trip to look at a Silverado.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:15 PM   #2
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I towed a huge Coleman Sun Ridge (~3500# when loaded for a trip) for several years with my 2000 PF. And I have a family of 5 (I added an aftermarket 3rd row). With the exception of a large tailwind or a long downhill run I drove with O/D off running at 3000+ RPMs in order to drive 62-65 mph. I got 10-12 mpg.

We took this setup from Ohio to the UP (10 hour trip, several times) and to florida twice. And multiple 2-3 hour trips in between.

No issues. I never added an additional cooler. I did have to add a brake controller. I just used friction sway control.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:17 PM   #3
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You might tow it, but you won't be happy. Gas mileage will be horrible, and you will eat transmissions towing in the mountains. My opinion.

Also you made this statement about bunk removal in the beginning, "I estimate the weight will drop by 250 lbs." Then you added a statement, about your office, "I add my office desk and chair and computer, by about 200 pounds."

Now in the end, it's a wash. You have to add food, clothing, dishes, towels, and the list goes on. Personal stuff will 500 pounds or more. Also add 100 pounds to the tongue weight for a battery and propane. Now if boondocking, might need two batteries, or a generator, where is that going? Also boondocking requires water, 40 gallons of fresh water is another 320 pounds.

You are pushing the limits, but do as you wish. Again, my opinion.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:54 PM   #4
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Windrider, that's exactly the kind of opinion I'm looking for, as well as BackInAction's opinion. Per Forest River specs, the TT simply cannot be loaded beyond 4025 pounds, no matter what, as that's its limit.

I hadn't weighed my office equipment when I posted, and I apologize for overestimating, but it's actually a 30-lb office chair and a 25-pound table. Computer and accessories are 20 lbs. Actual weight is closer to 75 pounds

I do travel very light. A couple years ago when I was considering a different TT, all supplies, including clothing, added up to about 300 pounds (I weighed every single item.) Generator is about 80 pounds, same for battery (I think). I didn't purchase a TT because life just didn't turn out that way at the time.

I think the basic question is whether the Pathfinder will haul 4,025 lbs or not. I even contacted the folks at etrailer.com. They also say it's fine if a tranny cooler is installed. The Pathfinder forum has varying opinions about it.

If anyone has some sort of matching real-world experience towing 4000 lbs Forest River TT with a Pathy that has a tranny cooler, I'd love to hear it. I'm all prepared to buy another TV, but would much rather travel in my Pathfinder. I honestly don't know if the V-nose will make any difference in weighing pros and cons.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:07 PM   #5
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BackInAction, thanks for weighing in, no pun intended. It sounds like your family of five in a Pathy pulling ~3500 compared to me and my dog in a Pathy pulling ~4000 is just about the same overall weight. Unless of course you're talking about little kids.

It never hurts to have a tranny cooler installed anyway, and since your Pathy did okay in the UP, I suppose I could haul the TT from Ohio (where I'll purchase it) to Oregon. If I have any concerns whatsoever, then I can buy a dedicated TV when I return.

If I get a lot of "don't do it" comments, then I'll buy another TV and be done with it. Just don't like going into debt.
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Old 06-26-2012, 02:23 PM   #6
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My bad. I didn't bother to look up your camper model to realize it was a TT. Towing a 4000# PUP vs a 4000# TT at highway speeds is like night and day. The wind resistance is significant. Far more than I ever thought. I towed the Same PUP with my new Ford Expy and it was like nothing was there. When I towed home our new HTT (empty about 4000#) the difference is significant!

I would not tow a full height camper with my PF, maybe a t@b like camper. But never a full height camper regardless of weight.
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:41 PM   #7
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Thanks for following up, BIA. After posting on this forum, I went back and read through pages of posts on the Pathfinder forum "real world towing" topic. Lots of people towing 4000 lbs with a Pathy, but the bottom line is that my gut tells me it's too close a call.

Just got off the phone with one dealer and discussing a 2003 Durango with plenty of towing power. Had to call another dealer and cancel taking a trip to see a Silverado, because the back seat would not be comfortable for my dog, as she just wouldn't have a lot of room. I think she'll be happy in the Durango, and no worries about towing. Now I just have to resist the temptation to get a bigger TT
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:49 PM   #8
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Slingshot
Just an FYI on the weight distribution hitch. With the V nose on this trailer there is no room to put a bolt on L bracket. On mine Vibe 6501 (E2 WDH) we had to weld the bracket that the L bracket bolts to onto the frame. I don't know if forestriver has come up with a different method to attach the bracket yet.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:28 PM   #9
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Hi, Happy Vibe (great name!)

Thanks for the heads up. I have to travel to Ohio to get the TT and hopefully they'll know up there how to add that. Can't travel without the WDH.

Now that I'm getting a TV with more towing capacity, I'm kind of looking for a 22' TT with a V-nose. The Vibe goes from 20' to 28' 9", which that's just too long for me, and then I'd be looking for an even bigger TV to carry the extra weight.

I do like the looks of the Vibe, though, and will probably stick with it. Are you satisfied with yours? I've never owned a TT before, but have read online about them until I can't absorb much more. The Vibe just kind of "feels right" to me. It's hard to explain.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:07 PM   #10
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Yes we are happy with the Vibe. Just the right size for the two of us. We were looking for a smaller trailer with good storage and the vibe works. We had to watch the weight and size as we did not want to buy a new TV.
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