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Old 12-26-2020, 10:17 PM   #1
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Frontier towing Casita

A guy at a campground was telling me my truck might be too small to tow my Casita, and now I am paranoid about it. My truck is a 2014 Nissan Frontier CrewCab 4x4 V6 with (I think) a 6100 lb tow-capacity. I thought it was 6500, but I guess CrewCabs tow less. My Casita is a 2015 Spirit Deluxe 17 that weights 3500. I have a 200lb truck shell, so 6100 - (3500 + 200) = 2400 lbs till I hit the limit.

Me, generator, and Yakima skybox, probably weight 300 lbs, leaving 2100. Assuming I want to be 1k under the limit, that leaves 1100 lbs of stuff I can carry.

I have no idea how much all my truck/rv related tools weigh, probably a lot. Jacks, stands, wrenches, etc. 16 gal of water would be 130 lbs. Another person said I should be using a WD hitch. Another said air-bags. Another said extra leaf-springs. A WD hitch would be another 100 lbs.

I guess I will have to get it all ready, and decide if I need a bigger tow-vehicle. As I've been moving around (infrequently), I've been towing the Casita empty, and getting all the other junk on a 2nd trip, so I haven't been towing with everything together. I really don't want to have to upgrade my truck.
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Old 12-26-2020, 11:45 PM   #2
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I think you are getting a lot of advice from folks that have good intentions but are not that helpful. We towed our Casita all over the county, literally, with a 2008 Ridgeline that had 5000 pound tow rating. Had the back and the trunk loaded with all kinds of gear. No sway bars, no WDH, no air bags. The back dropped about 2" when we cranked up the jack but the headlights were fine and we had no sway problems. We has about 350 tongue weight, which is lighter than most Casitas.

I would try it out and only add the extra features if you think you need them.
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Old 12-27-2020, 07:04 AM   #3
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The best answer is to stop at a CAT scale next time you are in transit with the trailer and all your gear on board. Truck stops have them. Expect to pay $15-20. Get an axle-by-axle weighing. The sum of the two truck axles is your GVW. The sum of all three is your GCW.

Then look on your door jamb and/or in your owner’s manual for the GVWR, GCWR, and front and rear GAWRs. If all are within specs, you’ll be able to answer with confidence. Anything else is just guessing.
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Old 12-27-2020, 07:05 AM   #4
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As a Nissan Frontier owner, (Since 2004,) with the Crew Cab and 3.3L V-6, I can say that mine is marginally capable at best. If you plan to travel up and down some mountain grades, you will notice very quickly that it is underpowered, even for pulling a Casita, on anything but fairly flat terrain. Pulling some of those mountain passes it always reminded me of the kids book about the little toy train. "I think I can, I think I can..." On trips to southern Oregon and northern Nevada, we run that poor little truck into the ground. A couple of times, (like on the Dougherty Slide on HWY 140 in OR and NV,) I didn't think it would make it to the top. Just the voice of experience from someone who has done it, and wished otherwise.
We now tow with my wife's 2016 Chevy Silverado Crew Cab, with a real engine (5.8L V-8) and it gains speed going uphill now. What a difference!
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Old 12-27-2020, 07:39 AM   #5
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It sounds like they are looking at your rear squat. Aren't Casitas notoriously heavy on the tongue?

It also sounds as though you're conflating tow rating with GCWR and/or payload. Your cap, passengers, cargo in the truck bed, and tongue weight all count against payload, not tow rating.

Frontiers have the second lowest manufacturer payload rating among midsize trucks (Tacoma is the lowest). The PRO-4X I believe has the worst payload capacity of any V6 midsize at around 1,000 lbs. I want to say the lower trims top out around 1350 lbs before options. So 200lbs cap + 500 lbs tongue + 300 lbs stuff and you've already used 900 lbs of payload. You get the driver for "free," but the driver's weight is calculated at 150lbs so adjust accordingly.

Andersen makes a lightweight WDH, and if you can set aside their questionable personal behavior, it's a cheap alternative to a new truck.

In 2005 Nissan switched to the 4.0L engine used until 2019 which makes about 100HP more than the old 3.3L Greg is using.

I like the Frontier for its simplicity and reliability, but not for its ride or performance. I have seen that the new 3.5L is much sportier, but reliability is unknown. I do know that Nissan changed from port injection to direct injection with this engine and some Frontier enthusiasts are up in arms over the long term performance implications.
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Old 12-27-2020, 07:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Justus C View Post
It sounds like they are looking at your rear squat. Aren't Casitas notoriously heavy on the tongue?
...
Andersen makes a lightweight WDH, and if you can set aside their questionable personal behavior, it's a cheap alternative to a new truck.
Good post.

I agree the the rear axle is usually the first thing to be overloaded. I also agree that if a weighing confirms the rear axle is marginal or overloaded, a lightweight WDH like the Anderson would be a good alternative to a new truck. It will transfer some weight to the front axle, so make sure there’s margin there.

I would not spend a penny on anything else until you have spent the $15-20 for an accurate weight.
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Old 12-27-2020, 08:22 AM   #7
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I have never towed a travel trailer with a Nissan Frontier but I have towed a utility trailer full of firewood with one (3000+ lbs)
The truck was okay on flat terrain , sluggish but okay . The handling ,braking and rear end sag left a lot to be desired.
We hauled the same trailer full of firewood with a Ford F150 V8 , totally different experience
We owned a 17 ft Casita SD for 6 years and our average tongue weight when loaded for travel was 425 to 430 lbs
I would not have attempted to tow our Casita with a Frontier based on my experience
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Old 12-27-2020, 08:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoot View Post
A guy at a campground was telling me my truck might be too small to tow my Casita, and now I am paranoid about it. My truck is a 2014 Nissan Frontier CrewCab 4x4 V6 with (I think) a 6100 lb tow-capacity. I thought it was 6500, but I guess CrewCabs tow less. My Casita is a 2015 Spirit Deluxe 17 that weights 3500. I have a 200lb truck shell, so 6100 - (3500 + 200) = 2400 lbs till I hit the limit.

Me, generator, and Yakima skybox, probably weight 300 lbs, leaving 2100. Assuming I want to be 1k under the limit, that leaves 1100 lbs of stuff I can carry.

I have no idea how much all my truck/rv related tools weigh, probably a lot. Jacks, stands, wrenches, etc. 16 gal of water would be 130 lbs. Another person said I should be using a WD hitch. Another said air-bags. Another said extra leaf-springs. A WD hitch would be another 100 lbs.

I guess I will have to get it all ready, and decide if I need a bigger tow-vehicle. As I've been moving around (infrequently), I've been towing the Casita empty, and getting all the other junk on a 2nd trip, so I haven't been towing with everything together. I really don't want to have to upgrade my truck.
Hi: whoot... Here's a pic of the "Little engine that could" and did!!!
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 12-27-2020, 09:17 AM   #9
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As others have mentioned, look for payload on your door sticker. Below 1000# I'd suggest you get actual weights as it will be close. If your sticker is 1200# or above, I wouldn't worry.
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Old 12-27-2020, 09:31 AM   #10
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Just as an example, I recently looked at 4Runners as a replacement tow vehicle. The plain SR5 had a payload of 1100# which isn't great for my Casita but not beyond consideration. The cool TRD Off Road was only rated at 840#, a non-starter for a 17' Casita.
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Old 12-27-2020, 09:51 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Alf S. View Post
Hi: whoot... Here's a pic of the "Little engine that could" and did!!!
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
I love the little FG 5th wheels. I wish Casita made one. They are the only other trailer I would consider getting.
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Old 12-27-2020, 10:01 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by ShelbyM View Post
As others have mentioned, look for payload on your door sticker. Below 1000# I'd suggest you get actual weights as it will be close. If your sticker is 1200# or above, I wouldn't worry.

The sticker says occupants and cargo should not exceed 1213 lbs.
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Old 12-27-2020, 10:03 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
I have never towed a travel trailer with a Nissan Frontier but I have towed a utility trailer full of firewood with one (3000+ lbs)
The truck was okay on flat terrain , sluggish but okay . The handling ,braking and rear end sag left a lot to be desired.
We hauled the same trailer full of firewood with a Ford F150 V8 , totally different experience
We owned a 17 ft Casita SD for 6 years and our average tongue weight when loaded for travel was 425 to 430 lbs
I would not have attempted to tow our Casita with a Frontier based on my experience

I'm expecting to only be on flat roads, but it would be nice to have the option of going through them. When I go to AZ/NV, I was going to take I-10 along the border, and go under the Rocky Mountains. I'm guessing that is pretty flat.
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Old 12-27-2020, 10:07 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
The best answer is to stop at a CAT scale next time you are in transit with the trailer and all your gear on board. Truck stops have them. Expect to pay $15-20. Get an axle-by-axle weighing. The sum of the two truck axles is your GVW. The sum of all three is your GCW.

Then look on your door jamb and/or in your owner’s manual for the GVWR, GCWR, and front and rear GAWRs. If all are within specs, you’ll be able to answer with confidence. Anything else is just guessing.

I will try to do that. My current plan is to empty the truck, weigh it at a local landfill, then fill it with everything that will go in to the Casita, then re-weigh it at the landfill. Then put everything in the truck that will be in the truck, and weigh that at the landfill. I know the Casita is 3500 lbs empty, so I should be able to figure out all the various weights. I could still go by a truck stop and verify.
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Old 12-27-2020, 10:09 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dave Fish View Post
I think you are getting a lot of advice from folks that have good intentions but are not that helpful. We towed our Casita all over the county, literally, with a 2008 Ridgeline that had 5000 pound tow rating. Had the back and the trunk loaded with all kinds of gear. No sway bars, no WDH, no air bags. The back dropped about 2" when we cranked up the jack but the headlights were fine and we had no sway problems. We has about 350 tongue weight, which is lighter than most Casitas.

I would try it out and only add the extra features if you think you need them.

One of my fears is that my headlights will go too high and blind oncoming cars. That's how I got in to the whole, air-bag, leaf-spring, WD hitch, "your truck is too small", conversation.
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Old 12-27-2020, 10:24 AM   #16
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I will try to do that. My current plan is to empty the truck, weigh it at a local landfill, then fill it with everything that will go in to the Casita, then re-weigh it at the landfill. Then put everything in the truck that will be in the truck, and weigh that at the landfill. I know the Casita is 3500 lbs empty, so I should be able to figure out all the various weights. I could still go by a truck stop and verify.
You really aren't gaining anything by weighing the contents of the trailer separate from the trailer itself. You will be missing the tongue weight of your Casita which is going to be of more concern to you than the loaded trailer weight. While that info is still valuable, you are constrained by your payload (GVW), not GCW. Tongue weight is the only component of loaded trailer weight that contributes to GVW.
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Old 12-27-2020, 10:33 AM   #17
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With that payload I think you will be fine. Rear end sag is really a separate concern. Since your weights are OK, if you can fit the $100 air bags that would be a legitimate solution.
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Old 12-27-2020, 10:50 AM   #18
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I will try to do that. My current plan is to empty the truck, weigh it at a local landfill, then fill it with everything that will go in to the Casita, then re-weigh it at the landfill. Then put everything in the truck that will be in the truck, and weigh that at the landfill. I know the Casita is 3500 lbs empty, so I should be able to figure out all the various weights. I could still go by a truck stop and verify.
That seems like a waste of time to me. Weigh it just like you tow it. That's the only way you'll know how much is riding on each axle.

The Casita is around 2500# empty depending on options. 3500# is the trailer's GVWR.

Airbags can correct headlight aim, but they do not take any weight off an overloaded rear axle. If the axle weight is within spec, but there's too much sag, then airbags are a viable solution. If the rear axle is overloaded, a WDH transfers weight forward to the front axle and rearward to the trailer axle.

Off-road packages are good for off-roading but bad for towing. They add weight, which reduces payload, and they have softer spring rates, which increases sag.
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Old 12-27-2020, 11:52 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
That seems like a waste of time to me. Weigh it just like you tow it. That's the only way you'll know how much is riding on each axle.

The Casita is around 2500# empty depending on options. 3500# is the trailer's GVWR.

Airbags can correct headlight aim, but they do not take any weight off an overloaded rear axle. If the axle weight is within spec, but there's too much sag, then airbags are a viable solution. If the rear axle is overloaded, a WDH transfers weight forward to the front axle and rearward to the trailer axle.

Off-road packages are good for off-roading but bad for towing. They add weight, which reduces payload, and they have softer spring rates, which increases sag.
I found on Casita's site the dry weight for the SD17 is 2480, and the sticker says the max GVWR is 3500, so I could theoretically have up to 920 lbs of stuff in the Casita. I would guess I will eventually want to put maybe 200 lbs of junk, and maybe 130lbs for 16gal water, giving 330 lbs total. The weight for everything would be 2810.

Payload weight of me (200), generator (50), shell (200), skybox (50), would be 500lbs. The tongue weight would be 450? That's 950 of my 1200 payload used, and I haven't even gotten to my tools. It seems like my payload might be the limiting factor.

If I had to, I could remove the shell and use a light-weight tarp over the truck bed, but it would be easy for people to cut it and steal stuff, like the generator. I will have to test it all out, since I'm just guessing at how much junk I will really need.
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Old 12-27-2020, 12:26 PM   #20
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Our 2013 17ft Casita SD weighed between 3100 and 3300 lbs when loaded for travel ( weight varied depending on amount of weight in fresh / waste tanks
Jon in Az has the right approach ., load your trailer as you would for travel and then weigh it on a scale
If you guess the weight you will probably guess low
I have installed air bags on my last three 1/2 ton trucks but only to compensate for sag and to keep my TV level
I will admit from my experience that pushing anything to it’s absolute limit has never worked well or to my advantage
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