Dodge Nitro: Trailer towing - Starting and operating - Dodge Nitro Owner's ManualDodge Nitro: Trailer towing

In this section you will find safety tips and information on limits to the type of towing you can reasonably do with your vehicle. Before towing a trailer, carefully review this information to tow your load as efficiently and safely as possible. To maintain warranty coverage, follow the requirements and recommendations in this manual concerning vehicles used for trailer towing.

Common Towing Definitions

The following trailer towing related definitions will assist you in understanding the following information:

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

The GVWR is the total allowable weight of your vehicle. This includes driver, passengers, cargo and tongue weight. The total load must be limited so that you do not exceed the GVWR. Refer to “Vehicle Loading/Vehicle Certification Label” in Starting and Operating” for further information.

Gross Trailer Weight (GTW)

The GTW is the weight of the trailer plus the weight of all cargo, consumables and equipment (permanent or temporary) loaded in or on the trailer in its loaded and ready for operation condition. The recommended way to measure GTW is to put your fully loaded trailer on a vehicle scale. The entire weight of the trailer must be supported by the scale.

WARNING: If the gross trailer weight is 3,500 lbs (1 587 kg) or more, it is mandatory to use a weight-distributing hitch to ensure stable handling of your vehicle. If you use a standard weight-carrying hitch, you could lose control of your vehicle and cause an accident.

Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR)

The GCWR is the total permissible weight of your vehicle and trailer when weighed in combination.

NOTE: The GCWR rating includes a 150 lbs (68 kg) allowance for the presence of a driver.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)

The GAWR is the maximum capacity of the front and rear axles. Distribute the load over the front and rear axles evenly. Make sure that you do not exceed either front or rear GAWR. Refer to “Vehicle Loading/Vehicle Certification Label” in Starting and Operating” for further information.

WARNING: It is important that you do not exceed the maximum front or rear GAWR. A dangerous driving condition can result if either rating is exceeded. You could lose control of the vehicle and have an accident.

Tongue Weight

The tongue weight is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer. In most cases it should not be less than 10% or more than 15% of the trailer load. You must consider this as part of the load on your vehicle.

Frontal Area

The frontal area is the maximum height multiplied by the maximum width of the front of a trailer.

Trailer Sway Control

The trailer sway control is a telescoping link that can be installed between the hitch receiver and the trailer tongue that typically provides adjustable friction associated with the telescoping motion to dampen any unwanted trailer swaying motions while traveling.

Weight-Carrying Hitch

A weight-carrying hitch supports the trailer tongue weight, just as if it were luggage located at a hitch ball or some other connecting point of the vehicle. These kind of hitches are the most popular on the market today and they are commonly used to tow small- and mediumsized trailers.

Weight-Distributing Hitch

A weight-distributing system works by applying leverage through spring (load) bars. They are typically used for heavier loads to distribute trailer tongue weight to the tow vehicle’s front axle and the trailer axle(s). When used in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions, it provides for a more level ride, offering more consistent steering and brake control, thereby enhancing towing safety. The addition of a friction/hydraulic sway control also dampens sway caused by traffic and crosswinds and contributes positively to tow vehicle and trailer stability. Trailer sway control and a weight distributing (load equalizing) hitch are recommended for heavier Tongue Weights (TW) and may be required depending on vehicle and trailer configuration/loading to comply with gross axle weight rating (GAWR) requirements.

WARNING:
• An improperly adjusted weight distributing hitch system may reduce handling, stability, and braking performance and could result in an accident.
• Weight distributing systems may not be compatible with surge brake couplers. Consult with your hitch and trailer manufacturer or a reputable recreational vehicle dealer for additional information.

Without Weight-Distributing Hitch (Incorrect) Without Weight-Distributing Hitch (Incorrect)

With Weight-Distributing Hitch (Correct) With Weight-Distributing Hitch (Correct)

Improper Adjustment of Weight-Distributing Hitch Improper Adjustment of Weight-Distributing Hitch (Incorrect)

Trailer Hitch Classification

Your vehicle is capable of towing trailers up to 2,000 lbs (907 kg) without added equipment or alterations to the standard equipment. Your vehicle may be factory equipped for safe towing of trailers weighing over 2,000 lbs (907 kg) with the optional trailer tow prep package. See your authorized dealer for package content. The following chart provides the industry standard for the maximum trailer weight a given trailer hitch class can tow and should be used to assist you in selecting the correct trailer hitch for your intended towing condition. Refer to the Trailer Towing Weights (Maximum Trailer Weight Ratings) chart for the Max. GTW towable for your given drivetrain.

All trailer hitches should be professionally installed on

All trailer hitches should be professionally installed on your vehicle.

Trailer Towing Weights (Maximum Trailer Weight Ratings)

The following chart provides the maximum trailer weight ratings towable for your given drivetrain.

When Towing Trailers with Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) between 3,500 Lbs (1

When Towing Trailers with Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) between 3,500 Lbs (1 588 kg) and 5,000 Lbs (2 268 kg)

The following chart provides maximum trailer weight ratings towable for the following engine/transmission combinations, ONLY if using a weight distributing hitch.

Trailer and Tongue Weight

Trailer and Tongue Weight

Always load a trailer with 60% to 65% of the weight in the front of the trailer. This places 10% to 15% of the Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) on the tow hitch of your vehicle. Loads balanced over the wheels or heavier in the rear can cause the trailer to sway severely from side-toside which will cause loss of control of vehicle and trailer. Failure to load trailers heavier in front is the cause of many trailer accidents.

Consider the following items when computing the

Consider the following items when computing the weight on the rear axle of the vehicle:
• The tongue weight of the trailer.
• The weight of any other type of cargo or equipment put in or on your vehicle.
• The weight of the driver and all passengers.

NOTE: Remember that everything put into or on the trailer adds to the load on your vehicle. Also, additional factory-installed options or authorized dealer-installed options must be considered as part of the total load on your vehicle. Refer to “Tire Safety Information/Tire and Loading Information Placard” in “Starting and Operating” for the maximum combined weight of occupants and cargo for your vehicle.

Towing Requirements

To promote proper break-in of your new vehicle drivetrain components the following guidelines are recommended:

CAUTION:
• Do not tow a trailer at all during the first 500 miles (805 km) the new vehicle is driven. The engine, axle or other parts could be damaged.
• Then, during the first 500 miles (805 km) that a trailer is towed, do not drive over 50 mph (80 km/h) and do not make starts at full throttle. This helps the engine and other parts of the vehicle wear in at the heavier loads.

WARNING: Improper towing can lead to an injury accident. Follow these guidelines to make your trailer towing as safe as possible:
• Make certain that the load is secured in the trailer and will not shift during travel. When trailering cargo that is not fully secured, dynamic load shifts can occur that may be difficult for the driver to control. You could lose control of your vehicle and have an accident.
• When hauling cargo or towing a trailer, do not overload your vehicle or trailer. Overloading can cause a loss of control, poor performance or damage to brakes, axle, engine, transmission, steering, suspension, chassis structure or tires.
• Safety chains must always be used between your vehicle and trailer. Always connect the chains to the frame or hook retainers of the vehicle hitch. Cross the chains under the trailer tongue and allow enough slack for turning corners.
• Vehicles with trailers should not be parked on a grade. When parking, apply the parking brake on the tow vehicle. Put the tow vehicle transmission in PARK. Always, block or chock the trailer wheels.
• GCWR must not be exceeded.
• Total weight must be distributed between the tow vehicle and the trailer such that the following four ratings are not exceeded: 1. GVWR. 2. GTW. 3. GAWR. 4. Tongue weight rating for the trailer hitch utilized. (This requirement may limit the ability to always achieve the 10% to 15% range of tongue weight as a percentage of total trailer weight).

Towing Requirements – Tires

− Do not attempt to tow a trailer while using a compact spare tire. − Proper tire inflation pressures are essential to the safe and satisfactory operation of your vehicle. Refer to “Tires – General Information” in “Starting and Operating” for proper tire inflation procedures. − Check the trailer tires for proper tire inflation pressures before trailer usage. − Check for signs of tire wear or visible tire damage before towing a trailer. Refer to “Tires – General Information” in “Starting and Operating” for the proper inspection procedure. − When replacing tires, refer to “Tires – General Information” in “Starting and Operating” for proper tire replacement procedures. Replacing tires with a higher load carrying capacity will not increase the vehicle’s GVWR and GAWR limits.

Towing Requirements – Trailer Brakes

− Do not interconnect the hydraulic brake system or vacuum system of your vehicle with that of the trailer. This could cause inadequate braking and possible personal injury. − An electronically actuated trailer brake controller is required when towing a trailer with electronically actuated brakes. When towing a trailer equipped with a hydraulic surge actuated brake system, an electronic brake controller is not required. − Trailer brakes are recommended for trailers over 1,000 lbs (454 kg) and required for trailers in excess of 2,000 lbs (907 kg).

CAUTION: If the trailer weighs more than 1,000 lbs (454 kg) loaded, it should have its own brakes and they should be of adequate capacity. Failure to do this could lead to accelerated brake lining wear, higher brake pedal effort, and longer stopping distances.

WARNING:
• Do not connect trailer brakes to your vehicle’s hydraulic brake lines. It can overload your brake system and cause it to fail. You might not have brakes when you need them and could have an accident.
• Towing any trailer will increase your stopping distance. When towing you should allow for additional space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Failure to do so could result in an accident.

Towing Requirements – Trailer Lights and Wiring

Whenever you pull a trailer, regardless of the trailer size, stop lights and turn signals on the trailer are required for motoring safety. The trailer tow package may include a four-pin and seven-pin wiring harness. Use a factory approved trailer harness and connector.

NOTE: Do not cut or splice wiring into the vehicles wiring harness.

The electrical connections are all complete to the vehicle, but you must mate the harness to a trailer connector. Refer to the following illustrations.

Four-Pin Connector Four-Pin Connector

1 — Female Pins. 4 — Park. 2 — Male Pin. 5 — Left Stop/Turn. 3 — Ground. 6 — Right Stop/Turn.

Seven-Pin Connector Seven-Pin Connector

1 — Battery. 5 — Ground. 2 — Backup Lamps. 6 — Left Stop/Turn. 3 — Right Stop/Turn. 7 — Running Lamps. 4 — Electric Brakes.

Towing Tips

Before setting out on a trip, practice turning, stopping and backing up the trailer in an area away from heavy traffic.

Automatic Transmission

The “D” range can be selected when towing. However, if frequent shifting occurs while in this range, the “TOW/ HAUL” button (if equipped) or a lower gear range should be selected.

NOTE: Using the “TOW/HAUL” button (3.7L engine) or “4” range (4.0L engine) while operating the vehicle under heavy operating conditions will improve performance and extend transmission life by reducing excessive shifting and heat build up. This action will also provide better engine braking. The automatic transmission fluid and filter should be changed if you regularly tow a trailer for more than 45 minutes of continuous operation. Refer to “Maintenance Schedule” for the proper maintenance intervals.

TOW/HAUL – If Equipped

To reduce potential for automatic transmission overheating, press the “TOW/HAUL” button when driving in hilly areas or shift the transmission to DRIVE position 2 on more severe grades. Refer to “Automatic Transmission” in “Starting and Operating” for further information.

Electronic Speed Control – If Equipped

− Do not use in hilly terrain or with heavy loads. − When using the speed control, if you experience speed drops greater than 10 mph (16 km/h), disengage until you can get back to cruising speed. − Use speed control in flat terrain and with light loads to maximize fuel efficiency.

Cooling System

To reduce potential for engine and transmission overheating, take the following actions:

− City Driving

When stopped for short periods of time, shift the transmission into NEUTRAL and increase engine idle speed.

− Highway Driving

Reduce speed.

− Air Conditioning

Turn off temporarily.

    Vehicle loading
    Certification Label As required by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations, your vehicle has a certification label affixed to the driver’s side door or B-Pillar. This label ...

    Recreational towing (behind motorhome, etc.)
    Two-Wheel Drive Models All Four Wheels On The Ground Recreational towing is allowed ONLY if the driveshaft is removed. Towing with the rear wheels on the ground while the driveshaft is connected ...

    See also:

    Cargo shade (if equipped)
    If your vehicle has a cargo shade, you can use it to cover items in the cargo area of your vehicle. To install the shade: • Insert the ends of the cargo shade into the mounting features loc ...

    Operation
    Voice commands can be used to operate the Uconnect™ Phone and to navigate through the Uconnect™ Phone menu structure. Voice commands are required after most Uconnect™ Phone prompts. You wi ...

    Passenger Sensing System
    United States Canada The passenger sensing system will turn off the right front passenger frontal airbag under certain conditions. The driver airbag, seat&-mounted side impact airbags, a ...