Towing BT with 3 ltr auto Nissan dsl?

Submitted: Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:12
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Hi I’m new to this site, and a recent Bushtracker owner (and love it). We have a 3.0 litre turbo dsl auto. Nissan brochure says the auto can tow to 2500 and the manual 3200. 4.8 dsl and 4.8 petrol including auto can tow 3500. Anyone know where we can find real facts (Nissan website didn't help) on why? We have purchased an 18’ Bushtracker, lic. at 2200 - will probably go over the 2500 fully loaded. Is the risk to the auto gearbox? We averaged 7.65 litre WA to QLD driving quite fast without the van, and only 4.83 (taking it quite a bit slower) bringing the Bushtracker home. Need to be sure before we decide to tour with the Nissan, or go back to Cruisers. Debate also about using overdrive or not when towing. Any feedback welcome on BOGgers experiences, fuel usage rates, etc. welcome. Looking forward to regularly visiting this website and reading where you have taken your BTs as we plan for our next adventure.
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Reply By: Luvntravln - Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:14

Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:14
Hi Can't tell you anything about a Nissan, but when you plan your next adventure don't forget Copeton! tgintl/jay
AnswerID: 562320

Reply By: Deleted User - Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:15

Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:15
Welcome to the group Motherhen. Plenty to read around the BOG site !! Now dont shoot the messenger here but I think you've answered your own question ... trade up to a Cruiser. My BT18 delivered weighed 2420 kg on a weigh bridge. In running trim for camping it weighs around the 2850 mark with only two tanks of the 4 available full of water. An 18fter in "live in" trim would be well over 3000kg (you should have 3500kgATM). At 2750 you are 10% overloaded and at 3000kg 20% over what Nissan will allow. They state these things for very good reason .... safety !!! You will be flatout trying to stay under your vehicle weight (GVM) limit let alone tow limit. The ballweight must be included in the vehicle GVM and for a BT18 should be between 240-300kg. Three things affect tow capacity and put very simply .... Driveline component reliability. The ability to brake at Gross Combined Mass and chassis/body strength for towbar attachment for application of ballweight. Towing over the specified limit set down by the manufacturer can affect any one above if not all three. The biggest killer of auto transmissions is HEAT ! Most heat is generated by the torque converter. The more weight you tow the more the torque converter slips and more heat is generated. If you want to tow with this vehicle at its limit I would at least fit a transmission temp gauge for two reasons. 1. To see the real temp of the auto and add a cooler if necessary. 2. If the auto still gets to a dangerous temp you can take steps to cool it. As an example of some common temps most autos like to run at 80-90 deg C. for every 10 degrees over 90 C the trans life is halved. My F250 will go into limp mode and warn me to pull over NOW before trans damage results. This is done by the Trans Control Indicator Light and the temp it does this is 132 degrees C. The F250 trans runs fully synthetic oil for better heat protection. The most I've seen on my trans temp gauge is 104 degrees for a short period up the Toowoomba Range towing my BT 18. The trans in the F250 is massive as is its cooler system and 7.3 litre engine. The baby Nissan auto might struggle at 3000kg. Does it have a auto over heat lamp on the dash ? You might be able to test it on a few trips and see if the light comes on ?? Regards Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
AnswerID: 562321

Reply By: Jaunty Jordans - Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:16

Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:16
Hi Motherhen, I would suggest trading up to a Cruiser also. Friends of ours are towing 18'BT with 80 series and according to them if there is an accident or problem they will tell you you have no claim as your policy is voided because 80 series are not rated to ow more than 2500. We had an 80 series all set up for off-roading but when we ordered BT (18') we decided to trade up to the 100 series, (having spent that much money you don't need to have probs with insurance co.), and had to set everything up again!!! Ours is a std diesel model 2002 and we have an Aussie Traveller roof top tent as well as the full kit-out for 4x4 driving. Had OME suspension added plus CB radios (one handheld for reversing of van: saves a lot of arguments), hydraulic winch, Engel fridge etc. Didn't go for the air bags as we have had them before and found them to be unreliable. Prue and Peter Jordan
AnswerID: 562322

Reply By: Deleted User - Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:17

Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:17
With the Nissans the Towball Download is not included in the is additional to it as shown on the Nissan Website: "Towing capacity is subject to towbar/towball capacity. The capacity
may be reduced if a non genuine Nissan towbar is fitted. The permitted
download is directly related to the laden mass of vehicle. At the
maximum laden mass of the vehicle (Gross Vehicle Mass - GVM**) the maximum
towball download is 200kgs. ** GVM includes the driver, 6 passengers (ST and Ti models), full fuel
tanks and luggage. Towball download Loaded vehicle mass 200kgs GVM (all models) 250kgs Reduce loaded vehicle mass below GVM by 150kgs 300kgs Reduce loaded vehicle mass below GVM by 220kgs 350kgs Reduce loaded vehicle mass below GVM by 290kgs If the loaded vehicle mass is reduced as shown in the table, the
towball download can be increased correspondingly. Accordingly, if the laden
mass is 290kgs less than the GVM, a towball download of 350kgs is
approved." A bit of a pain to work out but they are the legalities that must be complied with. The explanations as to why the towing/load capacities are specified, for any vehicle, have been well covered above. Unfortunately to remain legal towing the BT you may have to get another vehicle. If you do, and without wishing to start a Nissan / Toyota debate, consider the 4.2 TD Intercooled Nissan with its 3,500 kg towing capacity (although it doesn't have an auto option). The Toyota diesel engine is 'newer' and a very good motor whereas the Nissan has an older technology but well proven engine. The Nissan has a 19% power and 25% torque advantage over the non turbo Toyota and pricewise the ST model sits between the Toyota Std and GXL. If you doing some 4WDing then by the time you added a rear wheel carrier and diff/gearbox breather extensions to bring the vehicles to similar specs, the Std Toyota is getting close to the same $$ as an ST Nissan. The Nissan drivetrain has proven to be essentially bullet proof and quite superior. The Load Capacities are essentially the same however the ballweight effects the vehicles differently - the Nissan loses effective load capacity as seen in the table above once the ballweight increases above 200kg (e.g.ballweight increases by 100kg then load decreases by 220kgs) whereas the Toyota has the ball weight directly included in the GVM so there is no loss of load capacity as the ballweight increases. The Toyota has 20l more fuel capacity. Larry
AnswerID: 562323

Reply By: Deleted User - Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:18

Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:18
We tow 18ft Bt with 4800 Patrol (petrol) and find it to be the best 'off the show room floor' tow vehicle (outside of the F-250). The crusier when fitted with the heavy duty tow pack sits extreamly low to the ground, rendering it useless for true off-road travelling. The 3ltr Patrol is no good for towing a 2500kg+ van, so go and have a test drive of the 4800. Trade up to a crusier, then you can trade further to a PATROL....
AnswerID: 562324

Reply By: Deleted User - Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:19

Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:19
Hi Motherhen, We has a BT16 which has a plated tare of 1780kg but would be closer to 2000kg I would think with additional solar modules etc. We travel light and tow with a GU 3lt Turbo Auto with no worries. A recent trip up Cummingham's Gap at the posted speed limit of 60 to 70km was done without drama. There is a transmission warning light that comes on if the transmission over heats but we've not seen it so far. We like to travel at about 90kph but the Nissan will happily do 100kph on the highway if asked. Based on the advice of the Nissan dealer, I leave it in D and let the transmission sort out the gearing except for decents etc. Fuel consumption depends on how fast you go. We always seem to mix a bit of local travel in without the van between fills so have yet to establish an average fuel consumption I can rely on. I would think it would be about 18L/100km (that's about 5.5L/km) when towing. While on the subject of fuel comsumption, I find working out consumption in litres/100km makes it much easier to predict the amount of fuel you need for a particular leg of the journey. (It's a bit hard to get the head around at first but it gets easier). eg if you are about to do 700km and you get 18L/100 then you need 7 times18 litres = 126L which tells you that you are close to the max range of the vehicle as you only have 135L in total as standard. You would need to add at least 10-15% extra to allow for head winds or poor roads etc. ie you need to carry a 20L jerry or fill up on the way. The maths for Litres/100km are Litres used/distance x 100 eg 36 litres used in 200km is 36/200 x 100 = 18 litres per 100 km. Having said how happy we are with the 3 litre turbo I would think that if you get close to the 2500kg limit but want to stay with a Nissan then maybe a 4.2 Turbo (available in manual only) would be a better vehicle for a BT18. Regards, Keep on Tinkering, Peter & Leigh
AnswerID: 562325

Reply By: Bushtracker42 - Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:20

Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:20
I wanted to go Nissan for the $ side and older but
proven/simpler technology, but it was wanting to stay legal, which made
me go Cruiser.

Getting the same GVM/towball weight was impossible.
Towbar + bulbar + barrier/bits in the back all add up. As Larry has nominated
there is a downgrading of GVM Nissan offer, but to get a good towball
with the Nissan 4.2 TD it could hold Jenny + Myself + fuel + a camera. I was
instantly illegal with the 3 litre.

Not that the cruiser is that good e.g. I have lots of
bits + by next year I am going long range tanks. It is marginal.

The other issues I had with the Nissan was
torque/power, with no intercooler at the time. I was told I could fit one and
get 125kW/20% more torque out of it, but I am glad I went with the Cruiser in
this area.

I actually had another issue as I did a lot of
research, checking resale values, maintenance costs, had the Nissan guy chasing
the downgrading data (not released at the time) etc, and finally drove it. Not
enough space in the driver area for me.

The newer technology does give you a few things
too, one of which is anti stall. I have not had to use it with the van
yet, but with 4WD trips the need to be in the right gear and just how low it
will go is surprising.

The independent suspension is great on open roads but
I suspect part of my problem in corrugations. I have not caught up if they have
an upgrade for the front torsion bar, but they did not 18 months ago.

I selected shocks which are great for open road
driving but again I am told are part of the corrugation issue.

Bought as a manual with rear diff lock.


Upgraded rear springs

Shocks all around


Winch capable bar/lights

Kaymar rear bar/wheel carrier

Cargo barrier

Air compressor

Aluminium roller drawers (40kg
lighter than some).


Satellite phone

Recovery/repair gear.


Cruise control.

Main items still on the shopping list

Air bags (so I don’t have to adjust
the lights as much).

3rd auxiliary battery
(for lights/fridge etc).

Long range tanks

Water bladder

Better seats (for the $ you expect

Engel fridge

Replace shocks?

As you can see with this investment, the difference
in costs, at least as a %, lowers (sounds good as an excuse anyway).


Gary Harding

TriSys Engineering/III

AnswerID: 562326

Reply By: Deleted User - Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:21

Monday, May 24, 2004 at 03:21
Just to pick up on a misconception from the jaunty Jordan's post. Their friends are wrong about the 80 series cruisers. Post Oct '96 they are rated at 3500kg tow capacity - same as 100 series. Pre Oct 96 rated at 2500kg, but can be up-rated to 3500kg with the appropriate suspension mod and Engineering Signatory's report in NSW & Vic (a bit more sus in Qld - no appropriate RTA Code for modification of passenger vehicle - though some have tried). Cheers Griff the LC80 Pilot
AnswerID: 562327

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