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Towing speeds/RPMs, AWD vs. 4WD, and other random questions

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Joined: 20 Nov 2017
Posts: 10
Location: West Michigan

PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:43 pm    Post subject: Towing speeds/RPMs, AWD vs. 4WD, and other random questions Reply with quote

I'm gearing up to retire my '03 Trailblazer EXT for a '08-'12 Pathfinder. I wanted something a little smaller, but still had a 3rd row (for kids mostly) and had a decent towing capacity. After test driving a handful of Pathfinders, I'm in love! I do have a few questions/concerns I'm hoping this wonderful group can help with.

First off is towing. I've read quite a few threads here and around, and most everyone says the Pathfinder V6 has plenty of power to tow anything within reason. I do plan on installing airbags as well as brake controls. I have a popup camper that is almost 3500lbs fully loaded (has electric brakes) that we towed with my current ride on a 5000 mile trek through the Badlands, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons last year. In looking at stats on paper, the inline 6 of the trailblazer has very similar HP, torque, and power curve specs as the V6 in the Pathfinders. On long 12hr+ stretches of driving, I was really hoping the Trailblazer would be able to tow in OD at 70. Sadly, it couldn't, and the TB has no tow/haul button to keep the torque converter out of lockup. I also didn't like seeing the tach hang out at 3300+ RPMs for long periods of time if I dropped it out of OD. Needless to say, highways were a constant source of frustration. That trip was sans kayaks and bikes. We are heading out east next year for three weeks with the kayaks and bikes. What I hope, is that at 235000 miles the TB is just super tired. What I really hope that you can tell me is what I might expect when towing this type of setup at 70(ish)MPH. Will I be able to tow in OD? What kind of RPMs will I see on the tach if I can't? Or... Should I be patient and be on the hunt for one with the V8? If I'm honest though, after test driving a handful of Pathfinders, I don't know how long I'll be able to hold out in search of the elusive V8. I really want one in my driveway right now...

Secondly, could someone shed some light on the differences between the AWD and 4WD systems on the Pathfinder? It is my (very general and rudimentary) understanding that AWD systems are easier on the truck overall when it comes to mixed driving (roads that are somewhat but not constantly snow covered).

Are there any bells and whistles to look out for?

I do know to look for an external trans cooler on the '08-'10 models.

My price point has me looking at Pathfinders that have anywhere from 125k to 175k miles on them. Any high mile issues to look for?

How long do I have to own a Pathfinder for before it can be referred to as a Pathy?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my ramblings, I'm very much looking forward to owning a Pathfinder and perusing the boards for mods and stories!

If you're interested, you can see my current setup here (just don't judge the kayak rigging. I now have a yakima rack that holds them a bit better):
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Joined: 22 Jan 2012
Posts: 5436
Location: Prospect, VA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The AWD or "Auto" mode transfer case came on the "LE" models only. It's similar to GM's SmartTrac II system. It uses a wet clutch to transfer power to the front wheels and can control the amount of power sent to the front wheels, or none at all. It can engage the front wheels when it detects a slip or it can engage the front when it "anticipates" a slip condition, like getting a wide open throttle input from a stopped position. It has both a mechanical and an electric pump; the electric pump supplies lubrication to the wet clutch during idle conditions, at speeds below 35 mpg and during reverse. Outside of those conditions, the electric pump is turned off and the mechanical pump handles the lubrication. The owners manual will tell you for maximum gas mileage, you can put the AUTO mode transfer case in 2WD, but I've never noticed any difference with it in 2WD or AWD, so I just leave it on all the time except in deep snow when I switch it to 4WD.

The V8 is nice and has plenty of power but does suffer from poor gas mileage and cracked exhaust manifolds aren't uncommon. That said, the V6 is a good engine and can handle most towing duties without a problem. A tuner like Superchips, for example, will open up even more power and has a tow mode program.

Some of the 05-10 models had problems with the radiator's trans cooler failing, so it's a good idea to replace the radiator if it's original to the vehicle. All North American R51's will have an external, auxiliary trans cooler in front of the A/C condenser. Some of the V6's during these model years (05-10) also had problems with the upper timing chains cutting through the tensioner faces, creating a "whining" noise. If you don't hear it, you are fine, but if you do, it's an expensive repair. Faulty fuel sending units is another common problem. If you can afford it, go for a 2011-2012 model as Nissan finally got the majority of the problems worked out of it by then.
2006 Pathfinder LE VQ40DE AWD, aftermarket radiator, Airlift 1000's, Bilstein HD rear shocks, Doug Thorley shortie headers and mid-pipes, Magnaflow 12580 muffler, aFe Momentum GT CAI w/ dry filter, XTP plenum spacer, Superchips Flashpaq tuner
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Joined: 12 Apr 2014
Posts: 689
Location: MA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Towing with the R51 V6 I have noticed little difference between being in OD and out of OD not much of a difference compared to the difference in several SUV's 06 Toyota 4Runner V6, 2000 Jeep Grand Cherkee I-6, Dodge Durango V8. All the other SUV's has quite a difference in RPM in and out of OD unlike the Pathfinder. On that note I do tow a 5,000 pound camper and I have learned from experience that towing heavy loads in OD is a bad thing.

You are towing 3,500 pounds of camper with a low or little front area so I dought OD will be an issue. The best way to tell is if you are shifting in and out of OD at 70 then leave it out of OD. Frankly the little bit of RPN difference will not make a hill of beans in your engine wear so I would leave it out of OD.
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Joined: 14 Jan 2015
Posts: 30
Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

smj999smj wrote:
The AWD or "Auto" mode transfer case came on the "LE" models only.

My 2008 "SE" has the AWD/Auto mode. I think it's because of the V8. I've had 2 '08 V8 SE's (totaled the 1st one) and they both had this set-up. Both had the same options as the "LE" except for the wood trim on the center console and doors. Leather, power heated seats, premium Bose 10 speaker sound, video, 18" LE wheels, etc.

Did have 1 of the manifolds crack on me, as you mention.

Question for you- I'm in the Pacific NW driving on wet roads 9 months out of the year. If I leave it in AWD mode most of the time, should I change the transfer case oil more often?

Thanks in advance.
2008 AWD V8 - loaded
2001 QX4 - previous
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