Curious how much strain adding up to 1000 pounds on the back of my 03 v6 altima would cause and if it's even worth rigging up. I've got a practically new manual Trans and would be doing around 3-5 hour trips at a time.
IMHO Class I hitches for Altimas are solely for bike racks, that said...
Your VQ will laugh off that extra weight and the manual drivetrain will handle it, however, it's less about the strain, than the weight distribution on top of the WEAK rear brakes and suspension our grocery-getters have.
Your 2000lb 3.5 Alti was designed to handle a good chunk of it's gross weight forward of the rear wheels. Adding a 1000lb trailer...probably adds 100lbs or so of tongue weight behind the rear bumper and a 1000lb pendulum centred about 6' back from the rear bumper. Your other 1000lb pendulum is the engine which sits forward of the front wheels. I'm guessing the car will largely be empty otherwise...so not much inbetween. So, heaven forbid, in an emergency braking situation, you now have two large masses each separated 6' back from a 360' capable joint with >80% of your braking power directly under the front mass and nothing under the rear mass...think tractor trailer jacknife. Another analogy might be a barbell with a univeral joint in the middle of the shaft...can you haul it straight across the floor, sure! Can you push it back across the floor without it randomly bending, hell no.
If you were going short distances on dry roads with light traffic you'd probably have no issue at all. A five hour trip covers a lot of different geography and meteorology and if any of that involves seriously wet or snowy roads and urban (insane) drivers, well, there's just more risk. At the end of the day, as long as you are aware of the physics and drive super defensively and forget what the car is capable of without a trailer attached, you should make it. Would I do this regularly because I had to...hell no, I'd use my 4000lb SUV with Class III hitch because that's what it's made for.
Thanks for the detailed reply. I've driven with plenty of trucks that had heavy duty trailers carrying bod cats and what not. I just wasn't sure of how the altima would handle itself as those were work trucks and have no other option till I can afford a more suitable vehicle to tow. The 5 hour drive would consist mostly of highway down south which the only weather to worry about is heat and rain.
I'm only going to be carrying a 400 pound motorcycle with roughly a 300 pound trailer.
700lbs is already a lot better than 1000lb, do your best to centre (yes, I'm a Canuck) the bike on the trailer, so that most of its mass pushes straight into the hitch receiver when braking and also secure it well so that it cannot shift in an emergency...last thing you want is 400lbs behaving randomly behind you with a big lever effect--but sounds like you have experience tying things down already Good luck!
No worries, if you like syrup with your mac and cheese, you've got no judgments here! But with all seriousness I'm not worried about tying the load down or worst case scenario's as far as emergency braking. I'm more worried about the car holding up in terms of suspension and trans/ engine strain.
I know the car is rated for 1000 pounds towing, but I'd like to hear from first hand users, or the yay or nay opinion of the worth of rigging up.