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I’ve spent the last 5 hours reading posts on this forum realizing we’ve made a big mistake. We own a 2012 platinum 4x4 armada and just purchased a 2021 Dutchmen kodiak ultra lite 313RLSL TT. I thought we were doing good keeping the trailer weight (6799 dry) lower than the 9000 tow weight but I’m seeing now we have bitten off more than the armada can handle. I’m literally so sick to my stomach as a new vehicle wasn’t in the picture. Everyone’s saying just get a truck… I thought that’s what we had… 🤣 anyway, just looking for advice. I never thought the 35’ long trailer would be an issue. Do you think we can get by for shorter distance treks and perhaps rent something for longer drives until we can get another car. I know I’m having buyers remorse now. I just want to vomit. I’m not a car guy so I wouldn’t even begin to know what a good truck would be… any insight would be super helpful. We just paid both of our cars off which allowed us to buy the camper in the first place. I usually research all these type of things before buying but I failed miserably on this one.
 

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Let me ask, what makes you say that your armada can't tow the trailer? You may need to be judicious about what you pack into your trailer so that you aren't adding much weight, but you shouldn't really have a problem...The only issue I can foresee is that the cooling system on an older truck doesn't have the capability it did when it was new, but if you stick an aluminum radiator in with an auxiliary transmission cooler, along with some high-performance coolant, you should be fine. Your Armada is a "truck" in that it is based on the Titan pickup truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Let me ask, what makes you say that your armada can't tow the trailer? You may need to be judicious about what you pack into your trailer so that you aren't adding much weight, but you shouldn't really have a problem...The only issue I can foresee is that the cooling system on an older truck doesn't have the capability it did when it was new, but if you stick an aluminum radiator in with an auxiliary transmission cooler, along with some high-performance coolant, you should be fine. Your Armada is a "truck" in that it is based on the Titan pickup truck.
Well I’m not exactly sure. I posted about our new camper in a ky camping forum and immediately got pounced on (in a good way) about not having the proper tow vehicle. I never dreamed we had bought over our head. My thoughts were…. Travel trailer.. ultra lite branding. Our truck will haul 9000. This is 7800 loaded. I never dreamed. Never thought about length. I’m normally a good researcher. I spent days looking for a “lighter” camper with a floor plan we liked. So Im literally just trying to sort it all out. Thanks for replying. I will definitely be looking at getting some transmission upgrades until I can get a more suitable tow vehicle. I just don’t want to be the cause of an accident due to Inexperience
 

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I think most of the "pouncing" you got is because you have a foreign truck and not something made in Merica', but that is just my personal opinion from having lived in the "south" for a little while. While you are coming close to the tow limit for the vehicle, and yes if you have no experience towing, a 35' trailer is a big first bite, but not necessarily unsafe if you are careful. I personally have over 30K miles towing under my belt, towing everything from small single axle cargo trailers weighing a few thousand pounds to 35'+ tri-axle equipment trailers that tipped in at about 20K lbs loaded. It just takes some practice to get used to and do safely. I would pay close attention to your gauges and temps, upgrade your cooling system, invest in a good weight distribution hitch, and learn how to use it properly, but I think your truck will be fine (you'll probably also want to switch over to the Titan tow mirrors). Start with small trips, and work your way bigger. If you do decide you want a "truck" look at a Ford F-250, Ram 2500, Silverado/GMC 2500 with a diesel engine...None of those trucks will even know the trailer is behind it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
jb… thanks. I definitely want to tow safe. I’ve towed a different trailer with the brother in laws Silverado and have definitely towed 16’ utility trailers with small tractors. But yes I kinda went overboard. My initial plan after getting weight distribution installed with brake controller is to just drive it around town. Take it slowly on the highway. See how it handles. I have a buddy who drives semis and we’re going to take it to a scale to get a true weight on car and trailer. I don’t mind in the next year looking at a bigger truck but right now even used are going for crazy amounts of money. Thank you for your reply.
 

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I've been towing for 45 years, and ... you MIGHT be able to do it okay, if you stick to some old-fashioned rules.

First, I don't see any kind of sway control mentioned here. You need to have a superior sway-control system, not those little friction brakes; not with a huge tail like that to wag the dog. There are lots of really good systems out there; I don't think you need to go all the way to a Pro-Pride or Hensley.

That said, what's the tongue weight we're dealing with, here? One of the biggest limiting factors (and often overlooked) is tongue weight. I don't have the figures in front of me right now, but take a good look at the tongue weight you have going on. Add 100# for propane and batteries; manufacturers typically post tongue weight without this. Compare that to the MAX that the Armada shows for your year, and that will tell you a lot about if you need to trade. Meanwhile, remember to keep the weight of the trailer in the front, that goes far in keeping the nasties from happening.

One of the big factors is road speed. Often, a rig will get unstable above a certain speed. When the combination is new-to-you, check your mirrors frequently to see if the trailer is tracking well. Typically, staying under 60 is a good safe place to start.

When driving, keep in mind all the weight you have in motion. When you accelerate, don't just slam the gas to the floor, ease it down over the time of several seconds to give the truck time to 'shoulder the load'. Drag races are NOT your friend; they're a way to break stuff in a hurry. Likewise, be patient with slowing down when going up steep hills. That's what the passing lane is for, for people who don't want to wait behind you. They're the ones having a bad day, not you. And give yourself plenty of following distance and plenty of time to stop, so that every stop doesn't become a panic stop.

Hope that helps get you started.
 

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Its pretty normal for the people in a TT group to 'pounce' on anyone with less than a 1 ton diesel dually. Granted, you are probably pushing the limit on length. We plan to do the same, and have a Jay Flight 30QB on order. GVRW of 7500, but about 36' from hitch to bumper. We do a seasonal campsite though, so I only pull it 2 or 3 times a year.

Our current rig is a 2008 Keystone Passport 280BH. Its 33' from hitch to bumper, has a 450lb tongue weight (dry), 4600lbs dry, and GVRW of 6050lbs. The Armada pulls this thing like its not even there. We get 12-15 MPG towing even! (of course wind dependent!)

I used to pull this TT with my 2005 Pathfinder. We got some pretty strange looks over the years (14 years, never had 1 incident), and got some pretty funny comments. My pathfinder now has almost 400k kms on it, all original powertrain (engine and trans are still like new!). I know we were definitely pushing limits of the truck. However, we just made sure to take it easy. Made sure everything was dialled in (WDH, brake controller, ensure all maint is up to date, etc). If you are driving too slow, pull over every so often to let all the cars behind you by.

BUT if you are looking for something you'll be able to barrel down the interstate at 70-75, you will need to upgrade your truck.

You need to find out what you are comfortable with, and what you need to get out of your rig.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Its pretty normal for the people in a TT group to 'pounce' on anyone with less than a 1 ton diesel dually. Granted, you are probably pushing the limit on length. We plan to do the same, and have a Jay Flight 30QB on order. GVRW of 7500, but about 36' from hitch to bumper. We do a seasonal campsite though, so I only pull it 2 or 3 times a year.

Our current rig is a 2008 Keystone Passport 280BH. Its 33' from hitch to bumper, has a 450lb tongue weight (dry), 4600lbs dry, and GVRW of 6050lbs. The Armada pulls this thing like its not even there. We get 12-15 MPG towing even! (of course wind dependent!)

I used to pull this TT with my 2005 Pathfinder. We got some pretty strange looks over the years (14 years, never had 1 incident), and got some pretty funny comments. My pathfinder now has almost 400k kms on it, all original powertrain (engine and trans are still like new!). I know we were definitely pushing limits of the truck. However, we just made sure to take it easy. Made sure everything was dialled in (WDH, brake controller, ensure all maint is up to date, etc). If you are driving too slow, pull over every so often to let all the cars behind you by.

BUT if you are looking for something you'll be able to barrel down the interstate at 70-75, you will need to upgrade your truck.

You need to find out what you are comfortable with, and what you need to get out of your rig.
Disallow,

That's sort of where we are. We realize we aren't going to be going crazy. Our plan is this weekend to get the weight distribution and sway bars all installed and readied. Maybe take it down the road and get a feel. Eventually easy my nerves into taking on the highway for a short trek. I know it's baby steps and we were just talking tonight... Doing 65 down the highway just isn't going to happen and probably shouldn't happen in any RV really... So if we kinda do this in baby steps... We're going to do shorter trips... Couple hours or less. I've also got a back up idea that I"m working on. I own a retail business and sometimes the need for a larger transport comes into play. I also do several art shows a year and could use the increased ability to tow. Someone in the KY camper forum said they have the same trailer and pull with an E2500 Van with 6.0L. So my thought is to find one (used of course, but in good shape) and change the "cargo" area into a nice bed area for our dogs. I can put my business logo on the side of it and get the extra exposure when we head further out. It's not that I don't want a bigger/better truck... It's just that we don't need it except for this trailer. So going out and buying a 40-60K truck just so we can have the ability to tow a trailer is really kinda silly. I either need to 1.) Get rid of the camper and find something smaller/shorter; 2.) find a reasonable alternative to my situation and make it work. I plan to try option 1 and then if not go to option 2. I think the Armada will work for the early spring since we're not planning many big trips. Our first "big" trip will be up north (2500 miles) and through some steep mountains. So I'd like to maybe find the other alternative before then. Thanks for replying.

Steve
 

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Problem I see here is more with the hitch weight than the total trailer weight although fully loaded it will be close even there assuming you do not have an Armada full of passengers and other items in the back which would put you over for sure. What weight distributing hitch do you have and was it set up using scales to insure proper axle weights and hitch weight? Cat scales are perfect for this. Like others have said if you are carefull and keep the speed down you should be OK but yea this is a big unit for a first trailer and really less than ideal with the Armada. I towed a Grey Wolf 26DBH with no problem and now have a 25RKS Flagstaff. I use a Equalizer 4 way sway control WD hitch and I put in the coil spring air bags in the rear. The other thing is the Armada is shorter than a pickup wheelbase wise so a bit of the tail wagging the dog compared to a pickup. It will do it if set up properly but it's certainly not ideal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Problem I see here is more with the hitch weight than the total trailer weight although fully loaded it will be close even there assuming you do not have an Armada full of passengers and other items in the back which would put you over for sure. What weight distributing hitch do you have and was it set up using scales to insure proper axle weights and hitch weight? Cat scales are perfect for this. Like others have said if you are carefull and keep the speed down you should be OK but yea this is a big unit for a first trailer and really less than ideal with the Armada. I towed a Grey Wolf 26DBH with no problem and now have a 25RKS Flagstaff. I use a Equalizer 4 way sway control WD hitch and I put in the coil spring air bags in the rear. The other thing is the Armada is shorter than a pickup wheelbase wise so a bit of the tail wagging the dog compared to a pickup. It will do it if set up properly but it's certainly not ideal.
nprario,

Thanks for replying...

We are only planning to put me and my spouse and (2) dogs. When I ran the numbers through a tow calculator the only red flag that came up was the weight of the armada. I added 700 lbs for us and the dogs (i'm not a small guy). I figure if we put all of our belongings in the trailer it will be better than in the armada which seems backwards, but according to the numbers. We bought an E2 Eqaualizer weight distribution with the camper. Probably overpaid, but we didn't know.

I have a new query. I am seeing the armada is "Doable", but no ideal. Especially for long trips and mountainous trips. I had someone in a Ky Camping group suggest finding a E-2500 Chevy Van with the 6.0L V8 which has a 10000 towing capacity and wider wheelbase. They said they pull the same camper with it and have no issues. Plus they have extra storage. Well I got to thinking... I own a retail business and the Van would come in really handy for my business... PLUS I could get graphics put on the van with our logos for added advertising outreach. So I did a bit more research and there's a guy and his wife who do Youtube videos and they've been living in different RVS over the last 6-7 years full time. One of their campers was a 9000 lb airstream (I think it was 31' long). Anyway, they bought a 2500 Savannah (GMCs Version of the E2500) and did the exact same thing with no issues. So just curious on what everyones thought would be on doing this..

Here's the thing. I know I can go out tomorrow and trade my paid off avalanche for a big honkin truck that I really don't need except for when we go camping (which we want to do plenty of next year).... But along with that big honkin truck is a huge car payment. I'm not a car payment guy so for me it would really take the fun out of it because then it's become this big expensive hobby. We bought this trailer because all of our cars are paid off. So I'm trying to find another safe alternative. By getting the 2500 it could serve 2 purposes... Give me extra storage/transportation for my business and allow me to transport my trailer safely. Also, I feel if I keep looking I can find the right van for a decent price that I can pay off and not have a payment. I know I will need to have the 6.0L V8 and it has to be a "cargo van" type and not the passenger van type which won't tow as much. Anyway... Any thoughts??
 

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Lots of great ideas here. Another item that can make a huge difference is your tires. We bought a 2017 Armada with 21k in 2018 because we wanted to get back into RVing. I wasn't comfortable driving the rig without the trailer, seemed like the steering wheel had to be constantly tweaked to keep it in the lane and was worse when towing. The OEM tires (Cooper I believe) still had lots of life but weren't doing well in our Montana winter so I drove to Les Schwab and asked the sales lady what the employees with 4x4's used on their trucks and had those installed on my Armada. It was like an entirely different vehicle, tracked like it was on rails and finally felt solid towing our 24' Outdoors RV travel trailer (dry weight 6,650 and tongue weight 650) using a Blue Ox weight distributing sway control hitch. The tires are their AT2 10 ply and are still going strong 30k miles later. Don't know if those would be the best on your 1st gen Armada but I'm sure there is lots of info on what works best for folks on the forum. Full disclosure, my towing experience began in the Navy in 1970 with A-7E Corsair II light attack jets with a dry weight of 32 k;).
 

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I have a 2021 Armada and have been towing trailers, campers and boats for 30 years.

Before buying my current camper and the Armada, I did a lot of research.

I also learned that opinions on what a given vehicle can tow aren't worth the electrons the are written online with. You now the saying.... Opinions are like AxxHxxxs.. everyone has one.

That said there is good information available, and many folks here have said good things. Especially the issue of tongue weight, also referred to as hitch weight.

The Nissan Armada owners manual will list the towing capacity and tongue weight capacity. Find one online for your year/model.

NEVER MAX OUT any weights, tongue or capacity or overall gross combined weight of the tow vehicle and trailer.

Just because a given vehicle physically can pull a given trailer, doesn't mean it can do so safely and legally.

No matter what anyone says. If you have a collision and there are injuries or worse... The capacities and weights will come into play. If you exceed anything, insurance may not pay... And worse, you could be found guilty of motor vehicle offenses, or even death by motor vehicle.

The best information I found is in the below YouTube video. The video also refers to a formula that is very easy to use.

Watch "PAYLOAD PROBLEMS: HOW MUCH CAN I (REALLY) TOW? RV Truck & Trailer" on YouTube

A full standard propane tank weighs 38 lbs.
Battery, very dependant on size. Check yours.

My trailer brand, Grand Design, weights include empty propane tanks, no batteries and not weight distribution hitch, empty water, grey and black tanks.

Water is heavy.

And, don't forget to add in the weight of your "weight distribution hitch" to the weight of the tongue. Mine weighs 105 lbs.

Weight your trailer and tongue weight at a Cat Scale. It's easy and cheap Get the app from your app store.

You can also find a way on YouTube to weigh your trailer tongue weight yourself. One caution if you do this, be certain you are on a perfectly level location, as any forward or backward push/pull alters the accuracy substantially.

Length only fits into this equation as the weight. By example only, a 35 ft trailer weighing 4,000 GW with a to gue wgt of 400 lbs may be safe but a 20ft trailer weighing 11,000 GW with a tongue wgt of1,000 lbs may note be.

Lastly, my 2021 SL has a factory installed brake controller. If yours does not, you also need that.

Best wishes and welcome to Club Armada!

Be safe. Stay safe.
 

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nprario,

Thanks for replying...

We are only planning to put me and my spouse and (2) dogs. When I ran the numbers through a tow calculator the only red flag that came up was the weight of the armada. I added 700 lbs for us and the dogs (i'm not a small guy). I figure if we put all of our belongings in the trailer it will be better than in the armada which seems backwards, but according to the numbers. We bought an E2 Eqaualizer weight distribution with the camper. Probably overpaid, but we didn't know.

I have a new query. I am seeing the armada is "Doable", but no ideal. Especially for long trips and mountainous trips. I had someone in a Ky Camping group suggest finding a E-2500 Chevy Van with the 6.0L V8 which has a 10000 towing capacity and wider wheelbase. They said they pull the same camper with it and have no issues. Plus they have extra storage. Well I got to thinking... I own a retail business and the Van would come in really handy for my business... PLUS I could get graphics put on the van with our logos for added advertising outreach. So I did a bit more research and there's a guy and his wife who do Youtube videos and they've been living in different RVS over the last 6-7 years full time. One of their campers was a 9000 lb airstream (I think it was 31' long). Anyway, they bought a 2500 Savannah (GMCs Version of the E2500) and did the exact same thing with no issues. So just curious on what everyones thought would be on doing this..

Here's the thing. I know I can go out tomorrow and trade my paid off avalanche for a big honkin truck that I really don't need except for when we go camping (which we want to do plenty of next year).... But along with that big honkin truck is a huge car payment. I'm not a car payment guy so for me it would really take the fun out of it because then it's become this big expensive hobby. We bought this trailer because all of our cars are paid off. So I'm trying to find another safe alternative. By getting the 2500 it could serve 2 purposes... Give me extra storage/transportation for my business and allow me to transport my trailer safely. Also, I feel if I keep looking I can find the right van for a decent price that I can pay off and not have a payment. I know I will need to have the 6.0L V8 and it has to be a "cargo van" type and not the passenger van type which won't tow as much. Anyway... Any thoughts??
A van is a decent option. I've seen many people tow with larger cargo vans. The Chevy/GMC vans also offered a diesel option from 06'-16', which would be a great option for towing your camper. I think it comes down to your use. If the Armada was supposed to be an "everyday" vehicle that could tow your camper on the weekends, then the van might not be the best replacement option, as you will lose a chunk of comfort and convenience since your looking at a cargo model. If the Armada was mainly to tow the camper and do some work on the side, then the van is probably your better option...Either should be able to do the job, I think it will come down more to your mindset. I know personally for me, when I've been at the tow limit of a vehicle, every little thing worries me...where when I have a good bit a buffer between the truck's capacity and what I'm towing, I can relax a lot more.
 

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This may or may not help you feel better. I used to have an old 1989 Suburban 2500 2-WD with a 454 (anemic engine) that I used to tow a 6700lb 28ft boat + the trailer, so about what you are towing (probably not as much wind issue). I had a weight distributing hitch. It towed fine - even though the engine was weak. The 2003 QX56 I have now has way more power, much better control, etc, so I'd have no problem towing the same boat now if I still had it.
 

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I agree the van would be a good option here especially since it would fit with your business needs. Only thing I would say about the diesel option is that it may have a lower GVW than the gas motor due to engine weight given the same rated GVW. With your current hitch hopefully you have the 1,200 pound bars. Acutally the power of the Armada is very good compared to most non diesel pickups it's just the wheelbase, gvw and axle ratings that can get you. The independent rear suspension typically is just not as robust for towing as a solid axle but is a much better ride.
 

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I think you should be 100% as long as you have the weight distribution hitch set up properly
I always had the style of hitch that the bars ride on a flat spot to lift and control sway .
My last set are the chain style and I absolutely hate them , trailer sways to much for my liking .
Plans to switch back will certainly happen soon LOL
 
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