2013 DMAX Automatic

Submitted: Sunday, Sep 08, 2013 at 17:56
ThreadID: 104242 Views:12978 Replies:7 FollowUps:9
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We are thinking of purchasing a new DMax automatic. We want to do a trip up to the Kymberleys, NT, Simpson Desert etc towing a camper trailer. Later on a dirt road 21ft caravan. Has anyone out there taken the DMAX on the Gibb River Road, the Simpson etc. rough stuff. Any problems? We have a 2010 manual Nissan Patrol but want to purchase an automatic. Any suggestions would be appreicated.
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Reply By: Ross M - Sunday, Sep 08, 2013 at 19:21

Sunday, Sep 08, 2013 at 19:21
I'm not sure the Dmax will like towing a camper trailer through the Simpson. Just the vehicle OK but towing will be an extra challenge. Don't go alone if you are going there.

A Dmax with a lifted suspension and suitable tyres would be an advantage in some spots.
AnswerID: 517832

Reply By: Member - D&G SA - Sunday, Sep 08, 2013 at 20:01

Sunday, Sep 08, 2013 at 20:01
Took our 2011 D max on the Gibb last year - towing a camper trailer -- no problems. On return we did change the rear springs and fitted heavy duty with military wrap - raised the rear quite a bit. We went along the Tanami and Cape Leveque before the Gibb.
AnswerID: 517839

Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Sep 08, 2013 at 21:18

Sunday, Sep 08, 2013 at 21:18
David - I don't own a D-Max, but I'm actually thinking of buying an auto D-Max as well.

I believe the D-Max is a very robust and well built vehicle (I have nothing to do with Isuzu, and I'm speaking as an individual here).

Isuzu specialise in building trucks, and they build good trucks, and they claim the D-Max is built with truck-design components.

Every component I've examined on them, appears to be built well.

I can tell you this much - any Isuzu component - particularly engines, that I've had apart, I've been impressed with the inbuilt design strength.
However, the auto transmission in the D-Max is built and supplied to Isuzu by an outside transmission manufacturer - it's not an Isuzu transmission.

The transmission is built by Aisin-AW in Japan and its nomenclature (model no.) is TB50-LS.
Aisin have a long and distinguished history of designing and producing auto transmissions for many dozens of manufacturers. They have a very good reputation.

This tranny is listed on the Aisin website as being rated for 450Nm torque and up to 4.5L engines. The D-Max engine produces 380Nm torque, so there's a good % of safety margin in the design.


As to automatics in 4WD's - I owned a Toyota HZJ80 turbo diesel with an auto, for 5 yrs. I bought it new and did 170,000 kms with it - including a moderate amount of towing, pulling a tandem trailer. The HZJ80 auto was a 4 speed (3 speed with lock-up on 3rd for 4th gear).
The HZJ80 and the auto, never once gave me an ounce of trouble, and I'd have another one tomorrow, if I could find a new one.

However, there are a number of things to bear in mind with an auto.

1. They produce more heat than a manual transmission - particularly at low speeds under load, when the torque converter is slipping.

2. Autos are great for smooth power application, without shock loading. In general, auto trannys (and drivetrains) last longer than manual transmissions, because there is little shock loading, as happens regularly with a manual clutch.

3. For extended towing purposes, a transmission cooler is an excellent addition to an auto. Not only because they prevent overheating of transmission oil and therefore potential tranny damage - but because they also add another 2-4 litres of oil to the tranny total, and thus spread the heat buildup over a larger quantity of oil.

4. I personally wouldn't have any hesitation in purchasing and using a D-Max auto for the use you have in mind - but I'd be fitting the tranny oil cooler as a matter of course.

Just my .02c worth, I trust this gives you something to chew over.

Cheers, Ron.

AnswerID: 517845

Follow Up By: David C32 - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 17:44

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 17:44
A big thankyou Ron for all your help and time replying to me. Sounds like I might be purchasing one after your comments. I am going to wait until the 3.5 tonne towing capacity comes out Oct/Nov this year.
FollowupID: 797640

Reply By: Member - Scooby (WA) - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 08:31

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 08:31
Hi David C32,
We did a 10000k trip from Perth to Darwin via the Gibb with a new DMax auto last June towing a one tonne camper.
It is a fantastic tow vehicle with with plenty of power to pass road trains and pull up long hills.
We averaged 12.5k/l towing at 105k/hr as indicated by the GPS, the speedo indicated 10k/
hr faster. (odometer is reading spot on as measured between highway "mileposts" placed 10k apart).
No problems on the Gibb with the Dmax on std tyres. I did break the rear canopy window as I forgot to cover the glass.
I have fitted a large trans oil cooler with a fan and I monitor the trans temp with a Scangauge 2. I have not seen trans temps over 61 degrees C which should go well in extending the life of the transmission.
AnswerID: 517857

Reply By: Dion - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 10:15

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 10:15
As a suggestion, make sure you have sufficient battery capacity.

Auto's are too damned hard to push start.

AnswerID: 517861

Reply By: Isuzumu - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 13:22

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 13:22
We have not long returned from a 15, 000 k trip to the Kimberley, GRR and the Gulf in our new LST D.Max. It was a great trip and the D.Max did it easy and very comfortable no problems. Our D.Max is set up with Sax susupension which has improved the ride greatly.
We towed our camper trailer and averaged 7.5KPL, we are now towing aJayco 17.55 Outback which it does easy.[gi]84736[/gi
We have now done 35, 000 Ks and it has just turned one, would we buy another if this one was stolen you bet I would.
AnswerID: 517868

Follow Up By: Isuzumu - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 13:28

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 13:28
PS it is an auto and a good one as well, this same auto is used in the Pardo as well.
FollowupID: 797610

Follow Up By: David C32 - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 17:45

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 17:45

Thanks for the photos. Can't wait to do the trip myself.
FollowupID: 797641

Follow Up By: David C32 - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 17:47

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 17:47

Would you mind telling me what you actually did to your Dmax to take it into these locations.

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Follow Up By: Isuzumu - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 18:53

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 18:53
We replaced the HT original tyres with Yokohama ATs. Other than the Sax suspension up grade you do not need anything else.
We have the canopy, roof rack, draws and drop down fridge slide.
FollowupID: 797646

Follow Up By: David C32 - Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 at 18:54

Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 at 18:54
Well I have decided to definately buy the DMax. Just talking to a guy this afternoon near where we live that is leaving to go around Australia. He has the current automatic DMAX and is towing a 24ft caravan. Loves it, no issues.

Just another couple of questions - does your canopy or tail-gate area suck in any dust? Have you pressurized the canopy area in any way.

Do you have a solar panel on top of your vehicle. Does that charge your second battery?

Now I need to sell our manual 2010 Nissan Patrol. Hopefully won't take too long.

FollowupID: 797725

Follow Up By: Isuzumu - Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 at 20:22

Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 at 20:22
We have a vent put in the canopy but also put some round foam rubber around the tail gateit worked ok say 90%.yes we have a solar panel on the roof bars and it is hooked to the second battery in the tub.
You will love your new D.Max we keep getting asked how nice yours looks.
FollowupID: 797734

Reply By: Bill D - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 22:32

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 22:32
Very interesting and reassuring reading as we have a new DMax automatic arriving next week. I did my homework online and around campfires and heard many positive comments like those in this thread.

This will be my first 4WD auto. The boss has a crook left leg and prefers autos now, but I'm also happy because I've just travelled the whole Canning in a friend's auto Prado and it didn't miss a beat, didn't overheat that we noticed and was (I have to admit it) actually easier to get across the softer dunes than my own manual Prado (which is being traded in on the DMax).

On the negative side, diesel consumption on the Canning was around 14L/100KM and I'm sure my manual Prado would have done considerably better than that. As an interesting sidelight, there was a new V8 Toyota troopie in the party (manual, of course, as they don't come in auto) and it also achieved about 14L/100KM!
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Follow Up By: Bill D - Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 22:36

Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 22:36
Sorry, I forgot to add - please don't take a trailer across the Simpson. Even if you get it through without damage, it will cause you to cut up the track for everybody else as you attack the steeper dunes.

We saw some terrible things that had happened to trailers on the Canning the other day - hopeless bogs, broken drawbars, abandoned units, etc. Many of the Simpson dunes are more difficult than those on the Canning.

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Follow Up By: David C32 - Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 16:34

Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 16:34
Thanks for the reply Bill - also we won't be taking the Camper accross the Simpson, we just wanted to know whether the car would be good enough to do that.

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