Subaru Outback + Scamp 16?? Doable, or a mistake? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-16-2010, 03:57 PM   #1
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Name: Elizabeth
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Subaru Outback + Scamp 16?? Doable, or a mistake?

All,

My husband and I are interested in buying a 16' Scamp with many of the options (A/C, etc). We'd tow with our 2005 Outback, which is rated at 200 tongue weight and 2700 trailer weight.

We've posted to the Scamp forums and have gotten lots of helpful advice -- but ultimately, we're still confused. Some people seem to indicate that we will be absolutely fine towing a 16' with our Subaru. Others say we won't. The biggest concern seems to be the tongue weight. I plan to call Scamp (again) to try to get more concrete numbers on the weight on these things -- they say 1750 and 165 tongue empty, but that's sans options ... and so far they haven't given us a number that I feel is reliable.

I've looked elsewhere in these forums and see people reporting an amazingly wide variation in weights for a 16' -- anywhere from 150-350 tongue and 1500 to 3000 trailer ... so we are hopelessly confused.

Does anyone out there tow an Outback with a 16'? Experiences? Advice?

Are there other trailers out there that are comparably sized but even lighter that we should consider?

HELP!

(and thanks in advance!)

~e
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:54 AM   #2
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Hi Elizabeth,
One important thing to remember is your tongue weight needs to be at a minimum of 10% t0 14% of your total trailer weight in order to tow safely.
I have a 16' side dinette Scamp with a bath that I tow with my 07 Toyota Tacoma 4 cyl.
With double propane tanks and a group 29 battery I know my tongue weight is more than 200 lbs..
You might consider a weight distributing hitch which transfers some of the trailer forward to the front of the TV.
John
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Old 08-17-2010, 06:23 PM   #3
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Hi Elizabeth,
When we bought our 1995 Scamp 16 (side bath, no a/c, hot water heater or gray tank) I towed it home with our 2005 Outback. It weighed in at 1930# on the scale near our house with 220# of that on the tongue.
It pulled and stopped fine on the 15 mile trip.

My plan was to have a 2" class 3 hitch installed to replace the Subaru installed 1 1/4" class 2. I figured this would have given me a 350# tongue weight rating and allowed for the use of a weight distribution hitch.

After ordering the parts, I had a change of heart and found a lightly used 2006 Chev Trailerblazer 2wd with an extended warranty and bought it.

My thinking:
  • Trailers get heavy when you move into them. I'm lucky to have a highway scale close to home - Our 1900#(empty) Scamp weighed 2340# in 2008 and 2420#(320# on the hitch) in 2009 loaded for our trips to Bandon - there's a lot of storage in these little trailers and its hard to keep thinking like a backpacker.
  • The TB cost me about 1/2 of what a new Outback goes for and is made for towing - weighs 4600# with a 5100# tow rating.
  • I really like Subarus and tend to keep them a long time - I have a 1998 Outback with ~300k miles that I drive when the weather is too dicey for the truck or I want to save some gas money. I don't think I would get that kind of longevity if I'd towed with it.
  • I was pretty sure the Scamp wouldn't be our last trailer and I wanted a little wiggle room size wise if the right deal came along.
Anyway, that's my experience with the rig you're thinking about and my choice...
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Old 08-17-2010, 08:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perry J View Post
Hi Elizabeth,
One important thing to remember is your tongue weight needs to be at a minimum of 10% t0 14% of your total trailer weight in order to tow safely.
I have a 16' side dinette Scamp with a bath that I tow with my 07 Toyota Tacoma 4 cyl.
With double propane tanks and a group 29 battery I know my tongue weight is more than 200 lbs..
You might consider a weight distributing hitch which transfers some of the trailer forward to the front of the TV.
John
Those numbers may be true for American cars, but Subaru's manual states the tongue weight should be 8% to 11% and that any kind of weight distributing hitch is not advised.
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:18 PM   #5
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weight distributing hitch and Subaru

Not speaking to the feasibility of towing with the Subaru but as to the weight distributing hitch. I suspect the reason for Subaru, and some other smaller SUVs recommending against weight distrubiting hitches, may have to do with the unibody construction and concerns that towers might apply enough torque to the body with the hitch to create problems. I have no confirmation of this but it is my thought. Lee
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:47 AM   #6
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Not being familiar with Subarus I was not aware of not using a WDH.
I was an accident investigator for a while during my career in Law Enforcement.
Almost every trailer accident I investigated could be attributed to not enough tongue weight. A minimum of 10% to 14% tongue weight is recommended for safe driving.
Less than 10% you are an accident waiting to happen.
John
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:29 PM   #7
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OK here is real world weights and the opinon of someone who has actually towed a 1992 Scamp 16' Standard side bath for over 3 years with an 07 Outback.

The 07 tow cap is 3000lbs with trailer brakes and max tongue 200. Been up and down the US coast a number of times and over mountains etc here in B.C. Have towed in a snow storm over the Cascade Mts. been in a wind storm with 70 mph gusts. Never had a problem or concern whats so ever providing I keep the speed under 80mph on the highways - over that I you can start to feel it wag just a tab if it hits a bump. Never had it wag to a point that I was overly worried though and a light tap of the breaks corrects it fast. There are times when it would be nice to have a bit more power on hills but honestly I have been able to pass *a lot* of much larger tows on hills. Had many look at me in shock when I do it! :-) Do I slow down traffic due to lack of power - NO - the Outback is very capable of doing the speed limit in normal travel - only time you might find yourself having to go over to the slow lane is on a very very long steep hill.

The most recent real world weight I have was done last month in Oregon when the trailer was *full* of stuff and I mean full! LOL I do not have AC but have pretty well every other option. Was only carrying in the tanks about 10 gals of water total (bathroom and some in hot water tank) at the time of weighing. 20lb propane tank on tongue along with a battery - propane tank was about 3/4 full at the time. Total axel weight 2280lbs Tonque 240lbs = total trailer weight of 2520 lbs. note the tonque weight was to the next 20lbs so it could have been lower than indicated.

Previous weigh in the trailers axel weight had been about the same but tongue was lower. The change? Use to carry bikes inside the trailer but this trip had bike on a roof rack on the car and I was carrying a couple of large items up front in the trailer that I do not normally put up front -lazy pack up from the camp the night before - as a result the weight distribution in the trailer had changed. After the first Oregon weigh in I did a bit of a shuffling of things in the trailer and weighed it again. Same axel weight but the tongue was down to 200lbs. Suspect if I was to do a real clean out of the trailer and shift a few more things arond I could get it down a touch more. :-)

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-18-2010, 07:37 PM   #8
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We pull our 13' Trillium with a 2000/200# rated 2000 Subaru Outback.
I had the trailer weighed at a local coal co for free and it weighed 1700# total with some few things in it.
The Subaru does require electric brakes on a trailer over 1000#.
We have had no problems with the rig. We even took a 4000 mile trip last Feb. I do keep the speed down to about 50/60. I find that makes it easier driving because I don't have to 'compete' with the other drivers, they just pass me. (In CA the speed limit for ANY tow is 55.)
That is all I can tell you. Would I pull a 16' with our Subaru? No. If I had the 2700# rating you have, I might, but still requiring the 200# max hitch limit seems strange to me. That would limit the tow weight to 2000# which is where I am at now.
Hope this helps.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perry J View Post
Not being familiar with Subarus I was not aware of not using a WDH.
I was an accident investigator for a while during my career in Law Enforcement.
Almost every trailer accident I investigated could be attributed to not enough tongue weight. A minimum of 10% to 14% tongue weight is recommended for safe driving.
Less than 10% you are an accident waiting to happen.
John
It seems that in the USA the tongue weight percentage recommendation is higher than in Europe. I wonder if that could be because most European cars are FWD, and having too much weight on the tongue adversely affects handling due to loss of traction at the front wheels that do all the acceleration and all the turning? For years all American cars were RWD rather than FWD, so I wonder if the 10-15% recommendation is just a holdover?
I can understand why a negative tongue weight would cause severe problems, but why would having 100-200 lbs on the tongue cause any problems even if it was only 5-10% of the total weight of the trailer?

John
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulw View Post
My plan was to have a 2" class 3 hitch installed to replace the Subaru installed 1 1/4" class 2. I figured this would have given me a 350# tongue weight rating and allowed for the use of a weight distribution hitch.
This is a popular But False assumption that many trailer-tow-ers make. Total weight and Hitch weight ratings are determined by the weakest one of multiple factors, and not by what hitch receiver you install. If Subaru publishes that their Outback tow rating is for a 200 pound tongue weight, installing a Class III receiver WILL NOT increase it to 350 pounds. The normal maximum rating for a Class II receiver alone is already 350 pounds! Subaru must have downgraded it because of of some other component of the car.
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:52 AM   #11
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There are no weight distributing hitches that work with class I or II hitches.
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:18 AM   #12
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There is one thing that I have always found intreasting about the tow caps for the Outback here in N/A vs Austraila. My model in Australia has a tow cap with trailer brakes of 1500kg (3300lbs) and the tongue 150kg (330lbs). Have talked to our local dealer and they tell me there is no difference between my NA model and the Australia model other than different option packages. This is one of the reasons I don't worry to much about the car being able to handle my tonque weight if it creeps over the NA limit of 200lbs by 40 pounds or less providing it is within the hitch limits. Would love to know the real reason for the difference between here and Australia though.

I like Paul like keeping my Outbacks for at least 5 years - which I have done in the past (this is my 3rd one). Admit that I wonder if this one will stand up as long as the previous ones due to the towing - never towed with the others. 3.5 years into ownership and so far no issues whats so ever. Only thing I have noticed is I went through front brakes faster on my current Outback than on my old Outbacks - service manager suggested that although towing would be a factor the lower milage on the front brakes had more to do with this being the first automatic I have owned and the steep hills that I drive on daily. My old Outbacks were manual. For me living in a big city and on the side of a mountain with steep roads and snow that stops a lot of more expensive SUV's at the bottom of the road in winter - my Outback is the best all round car I could own and has never failed to get me home. Only time will tell if the wear of towing means a shorter life with me.

I realize fully that having a bit more tow cap would not be a bad thing so I have been looking around at what my options are for a replacement to the Outback in the future. Need something that works for parking in a big city and gives me smooth handling and ride which so far I have not found as most other options for increased tow cap have a truck based frame and the ride and handling is not as good not to mention the gas consumption. Need a tow that is really good in snow. Owning two cars is not an option. So far I haven't found the a good replacement option but will keep looking.
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:02 PM   #13
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Carol, this is something I have been discussing for years. Australia is not the odd ball here... The USA is. I like to check out other English-speaking car site, like Australia and the UK. Outside of the US cars almost always have a much higher tow rating. There are little, if any differences in the cars themselves. In fact, they often have smaller engines outside the US.

I have heard a few reasons why this may be the case. The first is that the US is full of lawyers. When people get into trouble, they like to pass the blame... Sue, sue, sue.

Also, Americans tend to have a slightly different outlook on cars and driving than most of the rest of the world. Driving a car is the US is a God-given right handed down by George Washington himself. I think Abe Lincoln mentioned that every American should be able tom drive any car he or she wants, however he or she wants to. (I joke, of course, but you'd think it was in the constitutiom). In other words, people don't want to slow down and be more careful with a trailer in tow. They want to hit the interstates and run 80 MPH all day long.

Another reason is that we have EPA standards. Would a bigger GCVWR bump a small car into a larger category? Would that matter? I don't know. I have heard arguments, but I don't know enough about it to comment.

Trailer laws are also very different from state to state. Here in Maryland, trailers don't need brakes unless they are over 3,000 pounds. I'm thinking that trailer brakes should probably have more to do with the ratio of trailer weight to curb weight on the car. In England, for instance, the curb weight of the car dictates how heavy of a trailer you can tow. That's what I've been told, anyway.

Mor often than not, a given car is rated to tow more outside the US. That is a fact. It seems that it is very rare for this to actually matter in the US. I have always gone by the Euro numbers on my cars. My VW Golf was rated at 1,200 pounds in the US, but was rated to 3,200 pounds in Germany where it was built. My Scion is rated at ZERO pounds in the US, but is rated for about 1,700 pounds in the UK. I installed class I hitches on both, so I will surely not go over 2,000 pounds... But I don't mind going right up to that. My car tows very well. The brakes are more than capable. The handling is confidence inspiring. It is easy to forget that a 1,500 pound trailer is back there.

Of course, I keep up on everything on my car. I use good synthetic fluids. I keep the brakes and tires in good condition. I have air lift bags in the rear springs tom help keep the car level. I check the condition of the hitch often. I also send samples of my engine oil to a laboratory for analysis at every oil change. Even though I often go past 10,000 miles on an oil change, the reports always come back very positive. The lab always recommends that I put more miles on the oil, but I like to change it every 10k because it is easy to remember. I also use a ScanGauge2 to keep an eye on the coolant temp (my car just has an idiot light) as well as other numbers.

I only have 40,000 miles on my car, but I have not replaced brakes or anything else other than filters and fluids. Speaking of which, brake fluid should usually be replaced every two years. This helps a lot to keep corrosion out of the brake system. I also use good brands here... I use ATE Super Blue Racing in most of my vehicles. Most other fluids are either RedLine or Amsoil. Out of 40k miles, about 4,500 of those were with a trailer of some sort in tow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
There is one thing that I have always found intreasting about the tow caps for the Outback here in N/A vs Austraila. My model in Australia has a tow cap with trailer brakes of 1500kg (3300lbs) and the tongue 150kg (330lbs). Have talked to our local dealer and they tell me there is no difference between my NA model and the Australia model other than different option packages. This is one of the reasons I don't worry to much about the car being able to handle my tonque weight if it creeps over the NA limit of 200lbs by 40 pounds or less providing it is within the hitch limits. Would love to know the real reason for the difference between here and Australia though.

I like Paul like keeping my Outbacks for at least 5 years - which I have done in the past (this is my 3rd one). Admit that I wonder if this one will stand up as long as the previous ones due to the towing - never towed with the others. 3.5 years into ownership and so far no issues whats so ever. Only thing I have noticed is I went through front brakes faster on my current Outback than on my old Outbacks - service manager suggested that although towing would be a factor the lower milage on the front brakes had more to do with this being the first automatic I have owned and the steep hills that I drive on daily. My old Outbacks were manual. For me living in a big city and on the side of a mountain with steep roads and snow that stops a lot of more expensive SUV's at the bottom of the road in winter - my Outback is the best all round car I could own and has never failed to get me home. Only time will tell if the wear of towing means a shorter life with me.

I realize fully that having a bit more tow cap would not be a bad thing so I have been looking around at what my options are for a replacement to the Outback in the future. Need something that works for parking in a big city and gives me smooth handling and ride which so far I have not found as most other options for increased tow cap have a truck based frame and the ride and handling is not as good not to mention the gas consumption. Need a tow that is really good in snow. Owning two cars is not an option. So far I haven't found the a good replacement option but will keep looking.
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:13 AM   #14
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Unfortunately we can't compare tow ratings from other countries to the U.S. when talking about a particular brand of tug. We don't just import a brand into the U.S., the vehicles have to first meet U.S. regulations in regards to everything from the safety glass to emissions. For instance a Volvo sold in Sweden or the Netherlands is really a different "car" than one sold in the U.S. even if it "looks" the same. Just ask Lex! We can't buy his Volvo here in the U.S. because it won't meet U.S. standards. Too bad, it's a five cylinder diesel that gets great fuel mileage pulling his BIOD.

There may be other political agendas with the auto makers, but that's for a different forum than FiberglassRV
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