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Old 03-18-2016, 01:59 PM   #1
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Nissan Frontier towing issue

I am looking for some insight from other Nissan Frontier owners in the group. I have a 2015 Nissan Frontier Pro4-X 4 x4, it is now fully broken in with over 16,000 Km on it.

I have an Escape 17B, which loaded weighs about 2800 lb and I had less than 200 lb in the box of the truck.

In normal driving conditions, non towing, the 4 litre V-6 and 5 speed automatic lives up to my expectations. In fact it is "the bomb".

When towing on grades I find the engine constantly shifts to the highest gear and starts to lug. I would like it to stay in a lower gear at say 2,500 rpm to stay within the torque curve sweet spot. Is this a modern engine management system characteristic? My previous vehicle, an 04 Pathfinder automatic revved well and pulled well.

An example would be Hwy 299 between Redding CA and the coast which I drove about a month ago on a very "dark, foggy, and stormy night". The road has several summits over 3500 feet with many short steep hills and curves. The transmission does not hold in 4th gear to the point I had to leave it in 3rd gear to hold reasonable speeds over the summits. Which means the engine is operating at 3,500 or more RPM which is extremely tiresome and noisy.

How do you other Frontier owners feel about your trucks abilities, are my transmission issues normal?
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Old 03-18-2016, 02:54 PM   #2
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My 2013 Highlander was pretty much the same as you describe when towing our 17B. Went to manual shift for grades.
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Old 03-18-2016, 03:33 PM   #3
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Is the truck refusing to shift down even though you have the accelerator pedal to the floor - so it is unable to maintain your desired speed even though a higher engine speed would provide more than enough power - or is it just running at a lower engine speed than you would like?

Based just on some previous personal experiences, this sounds more like Ford behaviour than Nissan. I was just about rear-ended while merging onto a freeway in a rented Mustang which was putting happily along in top gear at low engine speed while I tried to push the pedal through the firewall. If it just won't shift down when it clearly should, manually selecting a lower shifter position is the straightforward solution.

I suspect that although inappropriate shift behaviour has been around as long as there have been automatic transmissions, to some extent this is a recent preference in engine speed management. To maximize fuel economy many cars tend to make shift choices which lead to surprisingly low engine speeds, to the point that it feels like "lugging" to those of us who have been driving for decades.

On the other hand, I just had a look at the appropriate section of the owners manual (for 2011, but I doubt there has been any significant change since then), and this looks like a now-outdated transmission control system, complete with "overdrive lockout". I doubt there's much computerized intelligence behind this, so it's probably not deliberately keeping engine speed down, and I wouldn't be surprised if manual intervention is required.
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Old 03-18-2016, 03:56 PM   #4
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I towed our previous 17B with a 2014 Nissan Frontier with factory tow package, but not a 4x4. We have some pretty good grades going up to Flagstaff or the White Mountains and really never had any performance issues with it going up the grades other than the rear springs are a bit light. I do override and downshift on the downgrades.

I pull the 19 with it now (around 3000 mi so far) and added the WDH rather than put in bags or spring helpers and it pulls about the same as the 17B. No issues coming home from Chilliwack going over Snoqualmie pass, but back when I lived in CO we'd refer to that as a "bunny hill."

Couple of questions:
Equipped with factory tow package?
Do you have the Tow Mode button and if so, are you using it or not?
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Old 03-18-2016, 04:12 PM   #5
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Are you towing with overdrive "off" ...... you should be. With my 5 speed auto Ranger the same thing would happen if I left the overdrive on, turn overdrive off and it only shifts up to 4th and if I want a few more revs then I take my foot off the gas pedal momentarily and it unlocks the torque converter and this lets me go over virtually any mountain pass around here in 4th gear.

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Old 03-18-2016, 04:40 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by barry View Post
Are you towing with overdrive "off" ...... you should be. With my 5 speed auto Ranger the same thing would happen if I left the overdrive on, turn overdrive off and it only shifts up to 4th and if I want a few more revs then I take my foot off the gas pedal momentarily and it unlocks the torque converter and this lets me go over virtually any mountain pass around here in 4th gear.
"Overdrive" (a fifth gear which is higher than 4th and has a reduction ratio of less than one) and the torque converter locking clutch are completely unrelated mechanical features; the 2011 Frontier manual doesn't even mention the lockup clutch (although it presumably has one, like any modern transmission with a torque converter), and it takes careful watching of engine speed to determine if it is locked or not. But yes, switching off overdrive keeps the transmission down in 4th gear (or lower), which is the first step in manually controlling the transmission. The button for this on the Frontier is on the shifter, below the button which you have to push to move the lever out of Park.

This transmission shifter and "overdrive lockout switch" setup is part of the outdated configuration of this transmission (if it is the same as the 2011 model year). A more modern setup would simply have five positions ("1 - 2- 3 - 4 - 5" or "1 - 2- 3 - 4 - D" corresponding to the five gears); this one has "1 - 2 - 3" for the bottom three gears, "D" with the overdrive off for the fourth gear, and "D" with the overdrive active (on) for the fifth gear. In all cases, since it is a traditional automatic rather than one with full manual control, the indicated gear is the highest which will be used - it will go lower if it "thinks" that it should. It resets the overdrive to active each time the engine is started, so "D" means 5th to start, and 4th only after the button is pushed.
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Old 03-18-2016, 06:03 PM   #7
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We tow a 21 with our 2014 Frontier Pro4X 4x4. As the manual states, always lock out "overdrive" (5th gear) when towing. We fully expect to be in 3rd gear, with RPMs around 3K, going up steep grades, and the Fronty seems to do this appropriately when we hit the gas pedal as we head uphill. It will even downshift to 2nd on occasion of the grade is really steep and our speed isn't too high... this takes the RPMs up to around 3500. To us this seems like normal behavior for modern engines, and I though (but I could be wrong) that this gives us the torque we need. But then what the heck to we know?

We go up the Snoqualmie Pass Bunny Hill with ease. We've been over Siskiyou Summit a few times... no problem. Anderson Grade (just south of Siskiyou)... tougher, but still no problem.

In the Rockies... watch for us in the slow lane. All part of that compromise thing, because... we really really love our Fronty.
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Old 03-18-2016, 08:47 PM   #8
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Go on you tube and put in " 2014 Nissan Frontier takes on the Ike Gauntlet " to see what the Frontier can really do under stress! I wish I could put in the web address, but I can't figure out how.
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Old 03-18-2016, 08:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escapist View Post
I am looking for some insight from other Nissan Frontier owners in the group. I have a 2015 Nissan Frontier Pro4-X 4 x4, it is now fully broken in with over 16,000 Km on it.

I have an Escape 17B, which loaded weighs about 2800 lb and I had less than 200 lb in the box of the truck.

In normal driving conditions, non towing, the 4 litre V-6 and 5 speed automatic lives up to my expectations. In fact it is "the bomb".

When towing on grades I find the engine constantly shifts to the highest gear and starts to lug. I would like it to stay in a lower gear at say 2,500 rpm to stay within the torque curve sweet spot. Is this a modern engine management system characteristic? My previous vehicle, an 04 Pathfinder automatic revved well and pulled well.

An example would be Hwy 299 between Redding CA and the coast which I drove about a month ago on a very "dark, foggy, and stormy night". The road has several summits over 3500 feet with many short steep hills and curves. The transmission does not hold in 4th gear to the point I had to leave it in 3rd gear to hold reasonable speeds over the summits. Which means the engine is operating at 3,500 or more RPM which is extremely tiresome and noisy.

How do you other Frontier owners feel about your trucks abilities, are my transmission issues normal?
Hi: Escapist... This year we towed north from Gulf Shores Alabama on I 65. as long as the revs stayed above 2000 rpm I could tow in OD. If they dropped then the trans started searching for a lower gear. I usually tow in 4th. at 2200rpm. Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
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Old 03-18-2016, 08:59 PM   #10
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Go to the address bar at the top of your page ( when open at that video ). Copy the address.
Come back here, and paste.


This the one?
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