Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

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Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby willrothfuss » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:07 pm

Hi, newbie here with the teardrop bug ( it really is a bug isn't it?). Before I venture any further down this rabbit hole, I'd like to know if towing a trailer with my Subaru is really practical. I have a 2014 Forester- standard 4 cylinder engine with automatic transmission. The manual gives a maximum trailer weight of 1500# with brakes and 1000# without brakes. The maximum tongue load is 175# and should be between 8-11% of the total trailer weight. It goes on to talk about GVWR and GAW, and distribution of trailer weight in front of and behind the trailer axle, but I'm not sure how important any of this is. I have never towed anything and am getting a little leery.

First, I'd like to hear from anyone with a Forester and a teardrop. I would be grateful for any advice from non-Forester owners as well. Should one stay well below these maximums to avoid excessive wear on the car? I would think that getting a trailer hitch from the dealer would be the way to go, and they could answer a lot of questions as well.

Thanks, Will
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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby GuitarPhotog » Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:48 pm

willrothfuss wrote:Hi, newbie here with the teardrop bug ( it really is a bug isn't it?). Before I venture any further down this rabbit hole, I'd like to know if towing a trailer with my Subaru is really practical. I have a 2014 Forester- standard 4 cylinder engine with automatic transmission. The manual gives a maximum trailer weight of 1500# with brakes and 1000# without brakes. The maximum tongue load is 175# and should be between 8-11% of the total trailer weight. It goes on to talk about GVWR and GAW, and distribution of trailer weight in front of and behind the trailer axle, but I'm not sure how important any of this is. I have never towed anything and am getting a little leery.

First, I'd like to hear from anyone with a Forester and a teardrop. I would be grateful for any advice from non-Forester owners as well. Should one stay well below these maximums to avoid excessive wear on the car? I would think that getting a trailer hitch from the dealer would be the way to go, and they could answer a lot of questions as well.

Thanks, Will


Will, I towed my 1100-1300 lb (depending on how it was loaded) behind my 2005 Forester XT for several years with no issues. The '05 XT was a little under powered and heated up pretty quickly on long grades in hot weather, but it always got us there. I had a tow package installed by a local camper dealer and ended rewiring the Subaru myself after their wiring caused an electrical fire in the trailer ;-(

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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby pchast » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:44 pm

My 2012 outback, with the CVT auto, a hair larger than yours, has no problems.
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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby willrothfuss » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:48 pm

pchast wrote:My 2012 outback, with the CVT auto, a hair larger than yours, has no problems.


I'v had a couple of people mention the Outback, but it has a bigger engine and a tow capacity of 2700# I think, as compared to 1500# for the Forester. If I have known I would want to tow a trailer when I bought the car, I might have gone with the Outback, but I do like the height of the Forester.
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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby willrothfuss » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:50 pm

Chaz, maybe I will go to the dealer for the tow package! :o
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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby GuitarPhotog » Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:11 am

willrothfuss wrote:Chaz, maybe I will go to the dealer for the tow package! :o


I didn't want to pay the dealer price ($300+) for something I could have done for <$100. In retrospect, a poor choice.

In reality, they did a good job with the hitch installation, and the 4-pin connector wiring (plug and play). It was just when I upgraded to 7-pin (for continuous 12V power) that they screwed up.

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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby exminnesotaboy » Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:04 pm

We sometimes tow our 4x8, approx 1k lbs teardrop with our 2011 Forester. Automatic trans, but it’s the older 4spd automatic, not the newer CVT trans. Tows like a champ.

I am building a 5x10x5high teardrop and will not be using the Forester to pull that one. Just more weight and definitely more wind resistance. Actually, I was at the Subaru dealer today looking to see if the new Ascent was there, but it won’t be available until June.

I installed hitches myself on our 2011 and our previous 2002 Foresters - they were both some of the easier hitches I’ve done. I really loved how Subaru made it very easy for the plug & play hitch wiring.
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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby pchast » Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:44 pm

Etrailer.com. Its actually rather easily installed on most cars.
You might look yours up and watch their video........
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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby willrothfuss » Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:28 pm

I did see the etrailer video. Still may be beyond my limited mechanical abilities. And I don't have a lift and am probably too old to crawl under the floor now. :(
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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby QueticoBill » Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:37 pm

Always interesting to compare US tow capacities vs overseas. Heres a link to an Aussie review noting 1800 kg. or nearly 4000 pounds. https://www.caravanworld.com.au/tow-veh ... l-tow-test

I think we havr lawyers and tort law to thank.
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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby crttaz » Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:42 pm

QueticoBill wrote:Always interesting to compare US tow capacities vs overseas. Heres a link to an Aussie review noting 1800 kg. or nearly 4000 pounds. https://www.caravanworld.com.au/tow-veh ... l-tow-test

I think we havr lawyers and tort law to thank.


No we have idiot drivers and higher speed limits.
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2009 Forester with Manual Transmission

Postby Dusty Mark » Mon May 14, 2018 1:57 pm

I've towed for two seasons with my Forester. My trailer weighs about 1,500 pounds fully loaded and has about 200 pound tongue weight. I had a bit of sag in the rear, so I installed some racing springs. That fixed the sag and the ride is only a little bit stiffer now. We switched over to an axle with trailer brakes this spring. I don't treat my Forester very well and it seems to handle it in stride!

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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby bestclimb » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:35 pm

I had a 2004 foz and towed with it quite a bit, but it's a little different rig than the '14s. I have done a fair bit of other towing as well.

anyway GVWR is how heavy the tow vehicle can be. So curb weight of the car (that's the car fuel and oil) + you and anything you put in it + the hitch weight of the trailer (that 8-11%)

so without trailer brakes (And you should totally consider them even if the teardrop you get is 1000 or less as they can help sort things out if the trailer starts wagging the car) you get 1000lbs. So if the trailer weighs 1000lbs you get to put ~100lbs on the tongue.

That light without much else in the car and your GAW (Gross axle weight) and GVWR (Gross vehicle weight rating) should be ok.

get the hitch from etrailer or something like that, your dealer will have generic advice and overcharge you.

An automatic transmission can get hotter than it should when towing, you should consider a temperature sensor. I'm not sure if there is a diagnostic port on the transmission for a dedicated gauge or if something like a scanguage, ultraguage, or bluetooth OBD reader will give you that info.
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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby Tigris99 » Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:30 pm

bestclimb wrote:I had a 2004 foz and towed with it quite a bit, but it's a little different rig than the '14s. I have done a fair bit of other towing as well.

anyway GVWR is how heavy the tow vehicle can be. So curb weight of the car (that's the car fuel and oil) + you and anything you put in it + the hitch weight of the trailer (that 8-11%)

so without trailer brakes (And you should totally consider them even if the teardrop you get is 1000 or less as they can help sort things out if the trailer starts wagging the car) you get 1000lbs. So if the trailer weighs 1000lbs you get to put ~100lbs on the tongue.

That light without much else in the car and your GAW (Gross axle weight) and GVWR (Gross vehicle weight rating) should be ok.

get the hitch from etrailer or something like that, your dealer will have generic advice and overcharge you.

An automatic transmission can get hotter than it should when towing, you should consider a temperature sensor. I'm not sure if there is a diagnostic port on the transmission for a dedicated gauge or if something like a scanguage, ultraguage, or bluetooth OBD reader will give you that info.
if towing a lot with an automatic transmission in a smaller vehicle getting a diagnostics tool shouldn't be priority, get a proper transmission cooler installed should be.

Staring at a scan tool while driving is just as dangerous as texting and such. And it tell you the transmission is running hot does nothing but mean you have to slow down or stop to cool down then repeat the process.

Get a cooler that's rated for the amount of towing weight you plan to be doing regularly. If your decently mechanically inclined it's an easy job to install ( though a tad messy). I automatically go with 2000lb trans cooler.

After that if your towing in terrain with a lot of grades then a temp gauge on top of that is a good idea (again do not need a scan gauge or similar tool, aftermarket gauges tie into the output side cooler line).

Scan tools are good for checking things, not for trying to stare at while driving because it's not up in normal vision.

If transmission is getting hot after your transmission cooler choice then your towing well beyond what the vehicle can handle so get a bigger vehicle or at the very least a bigger cooler.

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Re: Anyone tow with a Subaru Forester?

Postby Shadow Catcher » Fri Nov 30, 2018 3:34 pm

We tow with an Outback and it is the H6 so more horses. It has a transmission cooler (the biggest I could fit). and rally springs in the rear, (I am way over 150#). The tear has brakes so towing capacity is 3000#.
YES you want brakes, period.
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