Originally Posted by TheAnalogKid
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!
Erik & Karen
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
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 ;-)