Towing a 16' Scamp with a 2009 Volvo S80 3.2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-17-2015, 08:34 AM   #1
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Name: Erik
Trailer: 2003 Scamp 16 Layout 6
Florida
Posts: 2
Towing a 16' Scamp with a 2009 Volvo S80 3.2

Hi there,

Brand-spanking new owners of a 2003 16' Scamp!

The one dilemma we currently have is that our current stable consists of the following:

- 2009 Volvo S80 3.2 sedan (FWD/I6)
- 2006 Toyota Highlander 2.4 (FWD/I4)

Currently neither has a tow hitch (the Scamp was moved to temporary storage with a friend's Jeep). The Toyota will be replaced within the next 12 months or so, most likely with a Subaru Outback 2.5 (4WD/H4) which we will buy with the factory-installed tow package.

Retrofitting the Volvo (which is rated at 3300lb towing capacity) with a tow hitch and adding a electric brake controller (looking at the Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF wireless controller - Robot Check) should allow me to comfortably tow the Scamp, at least on paper. Or should we consider bringing forward buying the Subaru and having a more ready-to-go solution?

Any advice or input gratefully appreciated!

Thanks,

Erik & Karen
(Orlando, FL)
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Old 06-17-2015, 09:51 AM   #2
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
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Welcome, Erik and Karen, and congratulations on your new Scamp. Hope you'll post some pictures soon.

The oft-discussed issue with Subarus and towing relates to hitch weight. It's limited to 200 pounds on many versions. That effectively restricts you to a 2000 pound trailer (in order to maintain the recommended 10% minimum hitch weight for stable towing). And that pretty much eliminates a 16' Scamp.

I'd check the fine print on the tow rating carefully before you jump in.
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Old 06-17-2015, 10:28 AM   #3
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Name: Norm and Ginny
Trailer: Scamp 16
Florida
Posts: 7,300
Subaru

In general I would say a Subaru is a reasonable choice except one of our members who's owned more than one Subaru. SHe used them to toe her Scamp 16 and had significant repair problems with her last Subaru.

As to the 200 lb tongue limitation, we towed a Scamp 16 or similar trailer for 7 years and never had an issue, we found it rather easy to meet the 200 lb limit.

A Scamp 16 loaded for travel has about 2400 lbs on the axle (and in our case, an additional 200 lbs on the tongue.)

I've never owned a Volvo but it appears to have the rated capacity. I would try what I owned first.
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Old 06-17-2015, 12:38 PM   #4
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Name: Carol
Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
British Columbia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAnalogKid View Post
Hi there,

Brand-spanking new owners of a 2003 16' Scamp!

The one dilemma we currently have is that our current stable consists of the following:

- 2009 Volvo S80 3.2 sedan (FWD/I6)
- 2006 Toyota Highlander 2.4 (FWD/I4)

Currently neither has a tow hitch (the Scamp was moved to temporary storage with a friend's Jeep). The Toyota will be replaced within the next 12 months or so, most likely with a Subaru Outback 2.5 (4WD/H4) which we will buy with the factory-installed tow package.

Retrofitting the Volvo (which is rated at 3300lb towing capacity) with a tow hitch and adding a electric brake controller (looking at the Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF wireless controller - Robot Check) should allow me to comfortably tow the Scamp, at least on paper. Or should we consider bringing forward buying the Subaru and having a more ready-to-go solution?

Any advice or input gratefully appreciated!

Thanks,

Erik & Karen
(Orlando, FL)
Hi Erik and Karen, I am the member who pulled a lightly loaded 16' Scamp side bath - no AC -no water in the tanks -no microwave, with an Outback for several years. Loaded up the trailer weighed regularly between 2400 and 2500lbs total (axle and tongue) so over all it was under the Subaru tow rating. As a result of my experience I would suggest the Outback makes a great tow vehicle for a 13' trailer not a 16'.

I know Norm did not have a problem towing his 16' Scamp side bath with a tongue weight at less than 10% of the total weight which is the towing standard for a balanced tow but I sure did. No two vehicles are the same in design - so just because someone with such and such a vehicle found something to be fine someone with another make/brand of vehicle may not have the same results. If traveling at over 55 mph in an Outback with a 2500lb trailer attached and you go down hill and hit a little bump with the tongue weight at less than 10% it was not a nice stable tow feeling - felt way to wiggle for my liking. I had to put the tongue weight up over the 200lb Subaru rating by about 40lbs to get it to feel nice and stable when traveling at 65mph on the freeway. To composite for that I did not load much of anything in the rear of the car and never towed with passengers in the rear.

As far as power goes - well it was ok in most situations but on large long hills I was VERY aware I was pulling a trailer. Sometimes I would take the long road around - especially in warm weather due to that.

First 3 years the car was fine in regards to repairs - but I did go through tires and brakes faster than I had on my previous Outbacks even though I did have a good brake controller and new brakes put on the trailer that were adjusted often. By year 4 with 40,000 miles on it I started having to face repairs/replacement on items that I had never on any of the previously owned Outbacks had to repair/replace of that age, even though they had way more miles on them at that age but they did not tow. In fact I twice had trips interrupted while I had to stop and have emergency repairs done.

The majority of replaced/repaired items were items that the mechanics who worked on it (nope not all of them Subaru Mechanics) suggested where wear and tear items due to the towing - most probable due to excessive heat - no real major items but all pricey. An example would be power steering and axle boots etc. Some replaced more than once. I also don't think by the end of year 4 that there was an original rubber belt of any kind on the car.

In year 5 with less than 55000 miles on the car I did have a major pricey component failure - nope not the transmission which funny enough was/has been fine. Car was off warranty at the time but I did take it to Subaru and the dealer made a call to the big boys in Subaru land and due to the low miles on the car and my loyalty to Subaru over the years, they agreed to split the cost of replacing. Not sure they would have done that had they known the number of towing miles that were on the car though.

Have owned 3 Outbacks previously none of which had towed and all had way more miles on them when I sold them and none had the stack of repair bills the one I towed with did.

One could argue that perhaps the car was just a lemon... don't think that was the case. Subaru's are a very popular car in this area - about 6 of them on my street alone. None of those folks tow anything with them and have not had the same issues i had and some are much older vehicles now. Yet I have now meet two others who tow fiberglass trailers with their Outbacks for more than a few years and both have had to do many of the same repairs I had to do - that suggest to me it is in fact a wear and tear issue related to towing as my mechanics suggested it was.

LOVE the Outbacks as I am a skier so driving in bad weather conditions in the rockies in the winter and night time often.... so was very reluctant to have to switch vehicles.

Now that I had to suck it up and switch vehicles with more power and higher towing capacity I admit that not having to worry so much about the weight of every little item I load into the trailer & were to put it, sure makes towing a far more relaxing experience & questions myself as to why I bothered to keep towing with the Subaru as long as I did.

As you know Subaru 's are not known for their great gas milage . At the end of the day I actually only get about 1 mpg less while towing with a vehicle that is far more capable & comfortable towing a 16' trailer than I did with the Subaru. My truck was 3 years old when I purchased it so it does not have the great new fuel efficient engines found in many of the newer vehicles today so it is very possible to get a vehicle that has more power and towing cap & actually gets way better gas milage when towing & not towing than the Outback will. Ask Norm about that!

In regards to the tow package that Subaru puts on at the factory. As far as I am aware it is only a Class II hitch and 4 pin wiring only (no brake line or charge line wire).

If a new vehicle is in the cards I would seriously consider a new Highlander for towing a 16' trailer over a new Outback. Lots of folks I know pull larger/heavier trailers with the Highlander and are VERY happy with them. I am happy towing with the truck but it sucks in the snow & not great around town, hoping to replace with a Highlander in the not to distant future ;-)
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Old 06-17-2015, 01:28 PM   #5
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Name: Marcia
Trailer: '00 Burro 17' WB
Seattle, WA
Posts: 60
We pulled our 17' Burro with a 2004 Volvo XC70 for our first 6 months of ownership. Our Volvo had a tow rating of 3300 lbs and something like 280 tongue weight. The Burro weighed in at 2900 and 320 tongue. We realized that we were out of range on the tongue wt but did it anyway. The Volvo pulled beautifully, never had an issue, but we drove conservatively. That said, being over the speckified tongue wt can be a safety issue and we didn't want to ruin the transmission so we moved to a much better tow vehicle, a Toyota Sequoia. The Sequoia is overkill, as I say, we could pull the Burro uphill at 70mph if we wanted to (we don't ). So your Volvo will do the trick but I don't recommend it as a long term solution.
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Old 06-17-2015, 05:14 PM   #6
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Name: Wayne & Barbara
Trailer: Parkliner
Iowa
Posts: 621
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Originally Posted by TheAnalogKid View Post
Hi there,

Brand-spanking new owners of a 2003 16' Scamp!

The one dilemma we currently have is that our current stable consists of the following:

- 2009 Volvo S80 3.2 sedan (FWD/I6)
- 2006 Toyota Highlander 2.4 (FWD/I4)

Currently neither has a tow hitch (the Scamp was moved to temporary storage with a friend's Jeep). The Toyota will be replaced within the next 12 months or so, most likely with a Subaru Outback 2.5 (4WD/H4) which we will buy with the factory-installed tow package.

Retrofitting the Volvo (which is rated at 3300lb towing capacity) with a tow hitch and adding a electric brake controller (looking at the Tekonsha 90250 Prodigy RF wireless controller - Robot Check) should allow me to comfortably tow the Scamp, at least on paper. Or should we consider bringing forward buying the Subaru and having a more ready-to-go solution?

Any advice or input gratefully appreciated!

Thanks,

Erik & Karen
(Orlando, FL)
We pull our 2000, 16ft DLX SD Scamp with a '07 Highlander Hybrid. And before that with Honda Odysseys. I think you should stick with a TV with at least 3500 lb towing capacity. The V6 engine does an easy job.
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Old 06-17-2015, 06:53 PM   #7
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Arizona
Posts: 5,555
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mglyons View Post
We pulled our 17' Burro with a 2004 Volvo XC70 for our first 6 months of ownership. Our Volvo had a tow rating of 3300 lbs and something like 280 tongue weight. The Burro weighed in at 2900 and 320 tongue. We realized that we were out of range on the tongue wt but did it anyway. The Volvo pulled beautifully, never had an issue, but we drove conservatively. That said, being over the speckified tongue wt can be a safety issue and we didn't want to ruin the transmission so we moved to a much better tow vehicle, a Toyota Sequoia. The Sequoia is overkill, as I say, we could pull the Burro uphill at 70mph if we wanted to (we don't ). So your Volvo will do the trick but I don't recommend it as a long term solution.
A 16' Scamp will probably weigh in around 2500/250, and the OP's Volvo is a 6 cylinder, so it should be a reasonable match. An auxiliary ATF cooler would help protect the transmission.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Collins View Post
We pull our 2000, 16ft DLX SD Scamp with a '07 Highlander Hybrid. And before that with Honda Odysseys. I think you should stick with a TV with at least 3500 lb towing capacity. The V6 engine does an easy job.
Again, the Volvo is a 6 cylinder with 3300 pounds towing capacity, so I don't see a obvious mismatch here.

I think the real question is the mileage and overall condition of the Volvo. That will determine whether it is worth investing several hundred dollars in the necessary towing upgrades. This is one of those situations where a good independent mechanic is invaluable. If the vehicle is up to snuff for towing, I'd use the Volvo and hang onto the old Highlander for a year or two. Use the trailer a while and decide whether RVing is really your thing. A year or two of towing experience will help you make a better decision about a tow vehicle.

If you decide not to use the Volvo to tow, I do have to agree that a 6 cylinder minivan or SUV will make a much better tug for a 16' Scamp than a Subaru Outback. Highlanders are very popular (6 cylinder versions with the tow package).

I also like our Honda Pilot, and one advantage is that towing is plug-and-play (hitch, 7-pin wiring, and a brake controller port are standard). 4WD models give the best tow rating and some heavy-duty cooling upgrades. The 2016 redesign coming later this year looks like it might be worth waiting for.
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Old 06-17-2015, 07:57 PM   #8
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Name: Erik
Trailer: 2003 Scamp 16 Layout 6
Florida
Posts: 2
Well, I just traded in the Volvo for a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x2 with a factory fitted class III hitch. I should be good

Thank you all for the replies - we'll get some pics of the Scamp posted soon..!
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