Long Road Trip with Subaru Forester and 13 Foot Burro - Fiberglass RV

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Old 06-28-2015, 07:20 AM   #1
Name: John
Trailer: Burro
New Mexico
Posts: 91
Long Road Trip with Subaru Forester and 13 Foot Burro

I just came home from a wonderful trip from Albuquerque to Yellowstone National Park. My Burro 13 foot weighs less than 900 pounds. I was concerned about pulling it up over two mountain ranges without trailer brakes so I did a lot of research and discovered that as long as the loaded weight with all gear does not exceed about 1200 pounds, brakes are not needed.
My trailer followed and tracked perfectly and I never got up over 65MPH for safety. I took it slow down hills and steep grades and used my gears to slow down instead of the brakes when possible. My Forester pulled the trailer up the steepest grades with very little effort. I was very impressed. I averaged about about 21 MPG for the entire trip. I don't think I'll face steeper grades or more acute curves than I just faced and the Subaru handled it perfectly.

I still may put brakes on this unit because I think it's worth the cost and effort given that in an emergency braking situation it would be critical. I ran out of time before my trip to get this done. I did pull the wheels and my 1983 13 foot Burro does have the axel with the mounting plate with the four places to bolt on the new hubs and brakes.

For those of you wondering if it is possible to pull a 13 foot fiberglass RV with a 4 cylinder SUV, I am here to tell you...........YES YOU CAN! Subaru rates the Forester to pull 2000 pounds. I am well at HALF of that. The key is not to load the trailer with extra cargo weight. Less is more.

If any of you have any suggestions regarding good brake controllers I'm all ears. I am shopping for a good model now.
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:01 AM   #2
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Name: Norm and Ginny
Trailer: Scamp 16
Posts: 7,079
I certainly believe a 4 cylinder can pull a small trailer. We towed a Scamp 16 or equivalent with a 4 cylinder Honda CRV for 7 years. However, though it's possible to tow a small trailer without trailer brakes, I suggest you add brakes to your trailer.

First it will reduce wear on your vehicle brakes but more importantly should you have a trailer problem like sway you can instantly stop it by 'manually' activating 'just' your brake controller.

As well the most common, though rare issue is the trailer coming off the ball, With trailer brakes and an inexpensive 'break-away switch' you can be protected against a runaway trailer.

Though I believe light trailers can be towed with an appropriate 4 cylinder, I also believe in trailer brakes.

Norm and Ginny

2014 Honda Odyssey
1991 Scamp 16
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:23 AM   #3
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
North Carolina
Posts: 1,251
Be sure you get a proportional type.. From the reviews I have read, the Tekonsha line of controllers was a no-brainer. I choose this model because there was limited area to mount it in a Sienna Van (so many airbags!) and this one allows more flexibility than some cheaper Tekonsha models. Choose the model that has the features you need. etrailer is a good resource for you.. lots of good instruction on installs, etc.

It sure was a bear to install (at least to my satisfaction).. I hope you have a brake controller harness in your car, that makes it a lot easier.
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:53 AM   #4
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Name: Raz
Trailer: Trillium 2010
Posts: 3,555
I set my 2012 Forester up to tow my 1700lb Trillium. I had no problem with the mountain grades but a big problem getting started. My car came with a hill holder clutch. On older Subaru's this feature was mechanical and could be disconnected but after 2010? It was programmed into the ABS. system. It made hill starts challenging and hard on the clutch. One outing and I went back to my pick up.

Here's my installation. Hope its useful. Raz

Subaru Forester Wired and Hitched
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:06 AM   #5
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Name: Glenn
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
British Columbia
Posts: 3,422
Ask your dealer what it costs to install new rotors and pads on the Subaru. I think you'll find that adding brakes to the trailer is a bargain.
What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:03 AM   #6
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Name: Walter
Trailer: 2002 BigFoot 17'
SW Virginia
Posts: 831
I towed a 13' Casita Patriot Deluxe with a 2000 Forester for about two years. I agree about installing brakes and I also added a transmission cooler. Otherwise it was an easy tow and a lot of fun.

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Old 06-29-2015, 06:34 AM   #7
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Name: Wayne
Trailer: Nest fan, Airstream owner
Posts: 2,000
Sounds like you are enjoying the Forester combo. FYI there is a guy on the Airstream forum towing a heavier 16' Bambi with a Forester. He is using a WDH. Works great.

RE brakes.... there is only a benefit by adding trailer brakes. Thinking you will like the mod.
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:10 AM   #8
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Name: Walter
Trailer: 2002 BigFoot 17'
SW Virginia
Posts: 831
Regrettably about three years ago, Subaru dropped the tow rating on the Forester from 2000 to 1500 lb, so the newer ones apparently are not as capable.

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Old 06-29-2015, 07:16 AM   #9
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Name: Frank
Trailer: 2012 ParkLiner #006
New York
Posts: 2,047
We have the Tekonsha P3 and love it compared to earlier Tekonsha's we've had.


Thanks for the post, and best of luck to you!


2012 ParkLiner #006
2013 4wd Escape 2L Ecoboost with 3500# tow package
2001 F-150 XLT 4wd Super Cab 4.6L
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