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Hey folks, first time towing this past weekend with this vehicle. Warm-ish day. Fairly hill route. Boat and trailer weight about 4k. 2009 LE, with the tow package. Tow switch ON.

On some of the steep grades, the temp would reach up to the tick mark, 3/4 way to H. Is this normal? While the grades were somewhat steep, none were particularly long. Temp would quickly return to the middle, or only slightly above, as soon as the grade lessened and of course going down hill, and repeat again on the steep slopes.

Thanks for any insight.
 

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Did you downshift manually, or rely on your truck to downshift for you? If you're letting the truck shift itself, I wonder if you were driving with the torque converter unlocked. If that is the case, you might see some temperature increase on the gauge. With my trailer, shifting manually, I can pull relatively long grades (I-5 Tejon Pass going south, I-15 Cajon Pass going north, Hwy 395 Conway Summit going north) without seeing any movement. I keep a close eye on the tachometer, and when it drops to 2000-2200 rpm, I will manually downshift to a lower gear. I stay in that gear, even if it means slowing down a bit to keep the revs down, until the grade levels out. I very seldom leave it in D when towing, staying in 4 most of the time. If the grade causes me to drop down to 55, I will downshift to 3. If 40, downshift to 2. I very seldom have to drop to 2. My trailer weighs a bit more than yours, plus not nearly as aerodynamic as your boat.

Also, may be obvious, but need to bring this up anyway....how fresh is your fluid, and is it at the right level?

Keith
 

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Hi Keith, thanks for the note. I was towing in D the entire time, and not doing any manual shifting. So, maybe a technique issue? In 25 years of boating, this is the first I've had to trailer, having always lived on the water, so I'm new at this part.

The vehicle is also new to us, but was a single owner before me, and I have the service history since new. I'll check the trans fluid history.

Thanks,

Mark
 

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Our first trip with QX80 2015, I drove in D for a while and let it get to 5 and 6th gear just once at about 60 on flatter ground, and it was ok. Never saw a temp spike then, but I do prefer to drive in manual as the 7speed QXs tend to be very shifty.

I did two ATF drain and fills this weekend which was a total PITA as I had to pump new fluid in from under the ATF pan and made several messes. Also, if not done at precisely the right temp of 104F, it's very hard to get the levels right when refilling. 2015 QX states it's non servicebale, but that is nonsense for a car with 125K miles and likely never had a change of fluid according to how brown it had gotten.

Like you, I am curious as to what else to do to manage the ATF temps especially as we are heading on a 3k mile vacation very soon. Add-on coolers recommended or no for a QX?
 

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After you've towed for a while, you'll get a sense as to what the transmission is doing, whether it is downshifting, or whether the torque converter has unlocked. Both cause a rise in RPMs, downshifting a bigger difference than the TQ unlock. The key to keeping the transmission temp down is to ensure the TQ doesn't unlock for long periods of time. That really generates a lot of heat.

Here's what I do. If I notice that the RPM has changed a bit, and I haven't done a manual shift, I will downshift to the lower gear. if the TQ is unlocked, the downshift will cause another change in RPMs. Once you've done this, the TQ will usually lock in the lower gear. Once the grade lessens enough, or your speed goes up enough, that you're having to feather the throttle to keep the RPMs from going way up, upshift back into the higher gear. Then, repeat as necessary as the grade changes, or you are slowing down and the engine is beginning to lug again. If you're on a steep grade, and your RPMs are below about 2250 or so, you should probably do a manual downshift. These engines love to rev, and keeping the revs up will also help with cooling. Sounds difficult, but it really isn't, once you learn to pay attention to it.

BTW, my experiences are all with a 1st gen Armada, with the 5-speed transmission. But I'm going to guess that the 2nd gen Armada / QX will behave similarly.

Keith
 
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I tested the QX's tow mode out with cruise control on, just to gauge what the tranny thought it should be doing, and it's not really great. It waits until it needs to jump from 5th down to 2nd to transition from a downhill to uphill section. Sometimes it will quickly for a 5-4-3-2 shift cycle. It's not much better when not using CC. I think the 7 speed may make issues even worse than the 5 speed
 

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I tested the QX's tow mode out with cruise control on, just to gauge what the tranny thought it should be doing, and it's not really great. It waits until it needs to jump from 5th down to 2nd to transition from a downhill to uphill section. Sometimes it will quickly for a 5-4-3-2 shift cycle. It's not much better when not using CC. I think the 7 speed may make issues even worse than the 5 speed
Yes, that matches my experience as well. Having owned several Nissan/Infiniti SUVs prior to our '08 QX, they all behaved about the same when towing with CC on. I think their engineers simply chose not to program the CC to behave differently under tow/haul mode, which is a shame. So, while I do utilize tow/haul, I also utilize CC when towing. However, I often manually drop down a gear when approaching a medium grade, and sometimes also "help" by adding gas pedal prior to reaching the grade, giving CC time to catch up. Color me a little OCD I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Okey dokey, so, manual shifting is the key. Hauled the boat on a plenty hot day. Kept the best in manual the entire time, and down shifted regularly. Trans temp stayed in normal range.
 

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I did two partial ATF drain and fills on my 2015 QX with Valvoline Maxlife ATF, and did a 3600 mile round trip to and through Colorado from Arkansas pulling about a 6000 lb 28foot travel trailer.

I lived in 4th gear most of the time going west through Kansas and again coming east through Oklahoma, using 3rd to maintain 60mph up most hills. Through Oklahoma, temps were about 105F outside, and never once did I see any engine or oil temp fluctuations.

I didn't realize it at the time, but did end up going through some of the most difficult passes in Colorado with the trailer. Once again, no issues on my QX which now has almost 130,000 miles on it.

I checked the ATF when we returned, and it looks as good now as when we left ( considering I could only do partial drain and fills).

Due to wind, rough highways that liked to porpoise, and weight of trailer, and how those all act against you simultaneously when hauling a laregeish travel trailer, I almost never used automatic, even on a single day's 14 hour haul back home. For hours at a time, I would go no higher than 4th gear except for a few seconds at a time while running 60mph.
 

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Campfamily is right. I had to learn that shifting to a lower gear cools the tranny with my Titan (same transmission) because it would do the same thing.
 

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Had the same experience with our horse trailer. Pulling it empty in D the temp gauge hovered near the tick mark quite often, but did come down quickly. Pulling trailer with 2 horses in it and in 4 and gauge barely moved out of its usual spot. Had the fluid changed as a precaution as we didn't know when in its 106k miles it was changed if ever. Thing was rock solid and never lost power even on some hilly areas.
 

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Thank you so much for this thread Mark and Keith! How has your adventuring been going? My family will also be traveling about every month with a 26' under 6200# tt. My main concern when I took the trailer home is how far down the back goes, such squishy springs! I would like advice on wdh and air leveling, how are you guys hitching to wdh, truck off after coupling and while setting wdh bars?

Justin
 

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My main concern when I took the trailer home is how far down the back goes, such squishy springs! I would like advice on wdh and air leveling, how are you guys hitching to wdh, truck off after coupling and while setting wdh bars?
I've been towing for 40+ years, all kinds of stuff. Sounds like you're NOT using a weight distributing hitch??? With the tongue weight from a 26' travel trailer, you REALLY need weight distribution / sway cancelling. To tow without, is dangerous and not a lot of fun. Some will suggest you may not need sway cancelling. I would suggest it's better to have it and not need it, than not have it and suddenly find out the hard way that you need it.

There are lots of different manufacturers of WDH/SC hitches; most popular are Blue Ox, Reese; members here will have suggestions. I've had the little add-on "brake bars", and my experiences with them were almost totally negative, so I suggest getting a hitch with integrated sway control / cancelling. I personally use an EAZ-Lift Trekker, have had it on two different trailers and really like the performance and ease of hitching up. (I will be transferring it to the new Armada, once it's been purchased. But my wife is disabled, and her health is compromised right now, so things just need to wait.)

Set the ball height on the hitch by levelling the trailer on level ground and then measuring the height of the hitch ball on it. Match this with the hitch ball height, vehicle unloaded. A bit lower is OK, higher is not. You then set the hitch up to transfer weight to return the front of the vehicle to its height in the unloaded state. This has to be done the first time on very level ground; you measure the unloaded height of the front wheel wells and then hitch up, adjusting the WDH to return the front to that first number. This is simplified; there are lots of videos and advice available.

Hope this helps.
 
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