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Old 06-22-2013, 01:54 PM   #1
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Default Newb towing questions

Hi all, first post here, we're about to purchase a 2003 T160 Shadow Cruiser Funfinder and I'm pretty new to towing. the trailer weight is ~3600 according to the current owner (that's supposedly actual weight with everything in it). We live in the mountains, lots of long climbs and descents.

TV: 2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab, with a towing capacity of ~6000lbs. I don't believe it has any special "tow package". I did have a 7 pin round connector installed for my last camper.

My only experience towing is with a small popup and a 13' Scamp, both of those we just hooked up the hitch ball and drove. So I know nothing of things I hear about like trailer brakes, weight distributing hitches, sway bars, etc. I do know that it's way more complicated than "3600<6000, so I'm good to go".

Questions:
  1. * Is my TV sufficient for this trailer?
    * Do I need a brake controller? Are these standard, ie whatever I get will be compatible with the trailer brakes, or do I need to get a certain kind? What do these cost, installed? How do they work: are they automatic, or do I operate it?
    * Do I need a weight distribution hitch and/or sway bar? Is that something that comes with the trailer or is it something I buy? Do I need to get it installed or is it just something that attaches easily (I'm not handy, so if it involves more than a screwdriver, I'm in trouble)?
    * What else do I need to know about pulling a heavy trailer like this (I realize it may not seem heavy to you)?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-22-2013, 03:25 PM   #2
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You don't say what year your trailer is, but I'm guessing the hitch weight will be somewhere around 200 lbs. so you'll probably want a weight distributing hitch. I'm not 100% sure, but I'd think it will also have electric brakes, so you will need a brake controller. Controllers aren't terribly pricey especially if you only have one axle. Check out some websites like etrailer.com to get an idea of available hitches and brake controllers.
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Old 06-22-2013, 03:33 PM   #3
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I think it's a 2003. Will edit the first post.
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Old 06-22-2013, 05:57 PM   #4
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Dan, I'm pretty much in the same situation you are. Towed pop-ups but now have a 2007 Fun Finder 189FBS. TV is a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac V6. I decided to do the over kill route and went with the full meal deal weight dis/anti-sway hitch all built into one. I also didn't go with the chain set up, instead went with the bars for the entire hitch. Again, I'm new at this, and I depended quite a bit on my dealer steering me in the right direction, but I also read a ton of stuff via Google on hitches, travel trailers, towing etc...
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Old 06-22-2013, 07:44 PM   #5
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Default Trailer Towing

Since you are towing through the mountains, there is also likely quite a bit of wind. Is that a fair assessment? A wt/sway hitch would probably be a good investment for you as it will help the trailer track better behind your TV and will help make the wind less of a factor. Would be pretty scary to get fairly severe trailer sway from wind on a steep, curvy mountain road. We are getting an EQUAL-I-ZER brand which does both wt/sway in one device. The mfg website helps with what size you need for your rig. Good luck!
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Old 06-23-2013, 03:16 PM   #6
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I have a 2006 189 FD, and a 2006 Nissan Frontier, so a bit heavier thant your 160 but haven't weighted it. I find it to be adequate but haven't taken it through the mountains yet (was supposed to this weekend, but with the flooding around these parts I don't think there is any chance of that any time soon now). I do have a weight dist. hitch and it makes a world of difference. I had the factory tow package on my frontier, so it was as easy as buying the adapter for my break controller and plugging it into a connector under the front dash, and mountain it. Little bit of adjusting the power level, but nothing hard.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:19 AM   #7
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I basically have the same set up: 2007 X160, 2002 Nissan Frontier King Cab. I have the weight distribution bars, brake controller, and I live in New England. It's pretty hilly here, but I'm not in the mountains. My Frontier is an automatic, so the manual tells you to never use overdrive while towing. The truck does strain pulling up hills, but it's doable. I have the anti-sway, but frankly, I really don't ever use it. It just doesn't sway that much.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:25 AM   #8
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Oh, as to "ease of use": the weight distribution bars are simple to use. Mine were installed at my local RV dealer as were the brake controller and anti-sway kit. The sway bar (if separate) is easy too, but has to be taken off before backing up. The brake controller wasn't too expensive (maybe $150--can't remember). They all work differently, but just keep reading the instructions until you're used to it--again not at all difficult.
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