Towing with a 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback Sedan? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-04-2013, 01:19 AM   #1
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Name: Jackie
Trailer: Trillium
British Columbia
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Towing with a 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback Sedan?

Hi,

I just purchased a 1973 Trillium as I was told I could tow it with my Subaru. I am wondering if others have had experience towing with a car and if you have any words of wisdom.

Cheers!
Jackie
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:01 PM   #2
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Name: Camper44
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Jackie,
I owned a 1997 Outback until recently ... virtually identical to the 99OBs. Never towed much with it, but it's OK as long as you are aware of it's limitations. Assuming your car has the same specs as here in the U.S., towing limit is 2,000 lbs with trailer brakes and 1,000 lbs without.

The thing to watch for on the 96-99 Outbacks is the cooling system and headgaskets. The cooling system is OK under normal conditions, but you really need to have the system in tiptop shape, i.e. fresh coolant, clean radiator, no leaking hoses, and a radiator cap that's not an antique. One piece of good news is that the Subaru waterpump and thermostat are near bulletproof. If you ever need to have those items replaced, be sure to use genuine Subaru parts.

The 2.5L DOHC engine is known to have head gasket problems. If your head gaskets have already been replaced by a quality mechanic, you're probably good to go. If you still have the factory original gaskets, it's probably only a matter of time.

Other things to consider, if not done recently, and assuming your car has an automatic transmission:
- Service the transmission and get some new fluid in there. A simple drain-and-fill is sufficient and better than a "flush".
- Replace the gear oil in both the front and rear differentials.
- I strongly recommend adding a transmission cooler, especially if you're towing in the mountains. Heat is the enemy of transmissions.
- Make sure the brakes are in tiptop shape with reasonably new brake fluid.

If you have a manual transmission, only the rear differential needs service as the front one shares gear oil with the transmission.

If you have any Subaru specific questions, head over to SubaruOutback.org. I've been a member there for 5 years and it's a really good source of info for all things Outback. Lots of DIY info if you or a family member are into that.

BTW, when I sold my 97OB, it was because I bought a 2014 Outback 3.6R for towing my Campstar trailer purchased last Spring. Love the car and hope to get it and the trailer out on the road soon.

Good luck.
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Old 09-10-2013, 01:25 PM   #3
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Name: Jackie
Trailer: Trillium
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Great info, thanks!

Thank you so much for all the great information. I really appreciate it and will follow your advice.

Cheers!
Jackie
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:28 PM   #4
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Jackie, I tow with an newer Outback Wagon so my comments are not the result of direct experience with towing with an older Legacy sedan but only based on personal observations of the Legacy and comments made here. Although the Outback and the Legacy have a lot in common and their over all ground clearance spec is pretty close (if not the same) the Outback Wagon has a very different rear design which allows for the hitch to be mounted a lot higher than that of the Legacy sedan or wagon and as a result the ground clearance at the rear hitch of the Legacy appears to me to be pretty low and one party here who tows with a newer Legacy has posted photos of their set up and has mention they have had the hitch make contact with the ground on speed bumps etc something that hasnt happened on towing with my Outback wagon. So when you get the hitch installed you may want to check the various hitches brands/styles offered to see if any of them can be mounted so they sit a bit higher under than another.

Camper44 has given you good advise regarding concerns with towing with the older Legacy. Another note of importance is that Subaru specs require brakes on any trailer over 1000lbs which your Trillium will weigh in over.
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
Although the Outback and the Legacy have a lot in common and their over all ground clearance spec is pretty close (if not the same) the Outback Wagon has a very different rear design which allows for the hitch to be mounted a lot higher than that of the Legacy sedan or wagon...
So when you get the hitch installed you may want to check the various hitches brands/styles offered to see if any of them can be mounted a bit higher under than another.
Good catch, Carol.

eTrailer usually provides a convenient overview of hitch options. Their 1999 Legacy selection does show that there are different hitches for sedan, wagon, and Outback wagon, although they all look generally similar. It is probably worth going through their photos for individual models that fit the Outback sedan.
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:07 PM   #6
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The link that Brian has posted and the photos of hitches look very much like the boxy & very visible from the rear Hidden Hitch I originally had on my Outback. Replaced it last year with a hitch from U-haul that is more round in shape and very little of it is actually visible when standing and looking at the rear of the car and it appears to be sitting up higher than the previous hitch.
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:50 PM   #7
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Hi Jackie... We have been towing with a mid size car for the past 7 years. Not a Subie but our Infiniti sedan really works great.

Generally speaking when set up right towing with a car gives you performance plus comfort. Those are two important items when considering road travel.
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:37 PM   #8
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Interesting. U-Haul doesn't make hitches, instead re-branding products obtained from the same major towing equipment manufacturers that we can buy from more directly, so there could be something out there that eTrailer is not offering.

U-Haul's trailer hitch search shows model 36234 for a 1999 Outback, but while the photo shows a round-tube (as Carol described) design, those are generic illustrations. The specific installation instructions for 36234 show a unit made by Towing Products - one of Cequent's brands - which has the same straight square tube as shown at eTrailer. This sheet shows it fitting all models, and while eTrailer shows the sedan and wagon separately, the very same model (identified by the same number when under the Draw-Tite brand, 90175 when Hidden Hitch, and 06020 when Reese) is again provided regardless of body style.

The ball mount specs in this sheet suggest that this receiver mounts 1/2" higher on the sedan than on the wagon and Outback... the idea of an Outback Sedan doesn't seem to fit with this, but I do realize this model variant existed.

Carol, is there a U-Haul part number on your hitch, or the paperwork from your purchase? What year is your latest Subaru Outback?
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