OK to tow with Subaru - mixed messages - Fiberglass RV
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:55 PM   #1
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Name: VICTORIA
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OK to tow with Subaru - mixed messages

Hello, I am currently shopping for a trailer that I can tow with either a Subaru Forester or Outback (older model - mid 2000's). My Subaru mechanic advised me against pulling ANY trailer. The 2003 Forester manual states it can tow 2000 lbs, with brakes on trailer, or 1000 lbs without. I found a Compact Hunter JR that I was about to view, and hopefully purchase - but then I read about the trailer needing brakes, and the 1972 Hunter JR does not have brakes.

I read the promotional brochure available on this site - and the manufacturer states the trailer can be pulled with a VW!! Help!! I'm very confused now.

I'd appreciate some advice!

Thank you!
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:15 PM   #2
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CVT transmission-2014 Subaru Outbac - Fiberglass RV

There are several of us who are towing with Outbacks; 2700 lb llimit with brakes.

I just posted this today, and thus far have only one response, but others will be coming, I'm sure.

What is your engine/transmission combo?
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:19 PM   #3
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subaru Forester towing

The Forester is a 4 cyclinder, automatic transmission.

I also have a 2003 OUTBACK that is a V6, however, it has a bad head gasket.

Also, to clarify, the owner of the Hunter JR told me it does not have brakes. Is that the difference that allows other Subaru's tow? That your trailer has brakes?

Vikki
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:30 PM   #4
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Yes, brakes are the difference. The fact is, too many people look at the tow rating as an indicator of what the vehicle will pull, but that is only part of the equation. The ability to stop the TV/trailer combo is, I think, the more important part of the equation.

Years ago I ran an auto parts store. Young guys would come in all the time to buy performance parts to 'make that baby go!'. When they came in to buy brakes, many asked for our price brand. I always told them that, with everything they had done to go faster, they needed to invest more in the ability to stop.

Putting brakes on a trailer is not really that expensive, though you will have to buy a brake controller too. Money spent here will be saved by having to do fewer brake jobs on the TV.

If you look just behind the axle spindles and see a square plate with holes on the four corners, you are set up to add brakes. If you are handy with tools and have a bit of auto experience, the installation is pretty straight forward. etrailer.com and others are good sources for parts and information. etrailer.com also has some pretty good videos.

Some folks are driving with Foresters. You can check with them on the need to add a transmission cooler. Do be careful on this, as adding one may effect any warranty you may have.

As to you Subaru mechanics opinion, when most folks think of travel trailers, the get a image of a truck pulling a fifth wheel.
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:31 PM   #5
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You probably can tow any trailer with anything, but how willing are you to pay for parts and service?
I towed my tent trailer with a Subaru Loyale. Trailer had no brakes, and neither did the Subaru. I spent $600 in two months getting the brakes replaced twice after 'glazing' them and warping the rotors from the heat.
Just depends on your tolerance for repair bills ( as your mechanic indicated ).
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:45 PM   #6
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Even if the axle has no backer plates for brakes, you can still invest in a new axle with brakes. So if you want the trailer, go for it.
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:58 PM   #7
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Name: VICTORIA
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Help appreciated!

Thanks for the great advice. I'll think about adding the brakes myself (well, not me, but my mechanic, lol). I am very thankful that I attended a towing workshop at the Seattle RV show and learned what you all have said - its not the pulling, its the STOPPING!

If I can keep driving a Subaru AND get myself a cozy little trailer - I will be very happy.

Thanks again,

Vikki
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Old 07-15-2017, 01:20 AM   #8
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Excellent post #4 Clif. Just a tip Victoria, if it has anything to do with something marine or RV it's going to cost extra $. Like they say about a boat, "break out another thousand".
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Old 07-15-2017, 09:51 AM   #9
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Towing with Subaru

I've been towing my 16' 2000 plus on Scamp for five years with my 2009 Used Forester ( stick shift ). I go back roads mostly, rarely interstates but I am 75% of time Southwest, up and down mountains and often dirt roads. I get 20-21 MPG! My trailer and I have done well together. I've had to replace my clutch but that was likely going to happen when I bought a 160,000 mile car. I would never tow with an automatic, but that's me. At 73 and female alone, I am taking my last two month trip with my Subaru and Scamp before selling the Scamp for a lighter weight trailer. Not because it's not working it more because I've found in my five years on the road that I refer cooking outside, never use my heater, and rarely use the bathroom. (I camp only in public campgrounds but they mostly have nice bathrooms so why tow s bathroom I rarely use?). Overall I'm happy with my experiences with my tow. If you want to read about them, I give six books about traveling on amazon (under Lynn romaine).
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Old 07-15-2017, 10:52 AM   #10
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I am pulling my Burro 14 wide body with a Toyota Highlander V6, w towing pkg, rated at 5k lbs. I can really feel it back there and plan to add trailer brakes. I had a 2004 Forester with AT and pulled up to a 1500 lb load and could REALLY feel it. I would not pull a camper with one. Rated towing capacity aside, you are wagging a small dog/car with a large tail/trailer!
I now wish I had gotten a larger and heavier TV, like the 4Runner.
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:02 PM   #11
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We have a 2013 Outback that looks jealously at my K3500 GMC pickup when we leave for a camping trip. While an Outback could tow a 17 ft Casita, the CVT (transmission) would suffer an early death.
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Old 07-15-2017, 03:10 PM   #12
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And if you consider that axle on the Hunter Compact is probably 40 years old, replacement may well be more than warranted anyway. Might as well get one with brakes!

+10 Stopping is more important than "going".
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Old 07-15-2017, 03:32 PM   #13
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I towed for five years with my 2000 Subaru Forester but my Campster was likely lighter than a Hunter by a few hundred pounds and I did have manual transmission. I towed the Campster with my 2012 as well for four years. Now I'm towing an Escape 15 but it has brakes and I'm careful to keep the tongue weight at Subaru's limit of 200 lbs. I also drove my Mom's 2002 Forester quite a bit with an automatic and never thought it did as well as the manual as far as pep on hills so am not sure I'd want to tow with one.

On the other hand, I never felt any braking issue with the Forester and the Campster. With the Escape I can feel it if the brakes aren't working.
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Old 07-16-2017, 06:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete_britt View Post
We have a 2013 Outback that looks jealously at my K3500 GMC pickup when we leave for a camping trip. While an Outback could tow a 17 ft Casita, the CVT (transmission) would suffer an early death.
Not to mention that the average tongue weight of a loaded Casita 17 is more than double the 200 pound rating!
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Old 07-16-2017, 04:43 PM   #15
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Talking towing with a Subaru

I have a 2002 Subaru Outback 3.6 ltr pulling a Scamp 13 with bathroom, brakes, kayak on top of car...no problems, zips up mountain roads. But I keep vehicle in good condition and don't overload the trailer (canned goods, firewood, heavy stuff in back of car over wheels).
Your Outback should do fine, just keep engine well serviced. It's been my experience that Subaru mechanics are really unfamiliar with towing information; I had U-Hual install the trailer hitch equipment on the Subaru.
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Old 07-16-2017, 08:46 PM   #16
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We have a 2011 Forester 4 cylinder automatic and tow a Compact II.
I would like to point out that after ONE trip over the Rockies we now do our towing with a 4cylinder Tacoma.
IMHO the Subi/Compact combo did not belong on the interstate. We did 15 mph on long grades ( yes we downshifted, we aren't idiots !).
Not only was there the issue of stopping ( no trailer brakes) but having issues going as well; no dice
Having the little X cab truck also gives us room for all the chairs, shades, rugs, etc.
As always YMMV.
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:47 AM   #17
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I expect to upgrade in the next few years but am waiting for some new options. Subaru is coming out with a 7 passenger SUV and Honda reportedly is coming out with a 5 passenger Pilot. I'd prefer the latter, I think.
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Old 07-19-2017, 07:43 PM   #18
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I have a 2013 Subaru Outback LE with 3.6liter engine and tow package (minus the hitch). I added a torklift eco hitch. The tongue weight limit in the car’s manual says 200 lbs. The tongue weight limit for the torklift is 350 lbs. So which is my true limit?
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Old 07-19-2017, 08:04 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elinor in WA View Post
I have a 2013 Subaru Outback LE with 3.6liter engine and tow package (minus the hitch). I added a torklift eco hitch. The tongue weight limit in the carís manual says 200 lbs. The tongue weight limit for the torklift is 350 lbs. So which is my true limit?

200 lbs. The limit is based on the vehicle chassis and suspension. Otherwise, all Subaru would have to do is strengthen the hitch.
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Old 07-19-2017, 09:09 PM   #20
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Whatever is the least is the maximum. Otherwise, I could tow 14,000 lbs.
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