2002 Subaru Outback - Towing limits

Submitted: Monday, Mar 17, 2014 at 22:24
ThreadID: 106771 Views:3028 Replies:8 FollowUps:6
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Hi Folks

I don't know too much about towing limits, so wanted to check with the group on a few things.

I have a 2002 Subaru Outback and according to the tow bar its says the tow ball weight is 90kg, and the towing limit is 1400.

We are looking at purchasing a jayco camper trailer and trying to work out if the vehicle can cope and if not what the alternative solutions are.

There are 2 camper trailers we are looking at
1st one - has a tow ball weight of 99kg, and a tare weight of 1270kg
2nd one - has a tow ball weight of 109kg, and a tare weight of 1275kg

it looks like I might be short on the towing limits. This may sound like a stupid question but what are the significant things to be worried about if you are just over the limits.

Does anyone know if it is as simple as upgrading the tow bar to a better weight. If this is not an option would it work if I upgraded something on the car like its suspension to deal with the heavier ball weight?

Any insights or solutions on this would be really great - fingers crossed the car can handle the load, with minor changes if required.

thanks
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Reply By: Dave(NSW) - Monday, Mar 17, 2014 at 23:05

Monday, Mar 17, 2014 at 23:05
Che`C

Legally I think you will have to up grade your car.
Cheers Dave
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AnswerID: 528568

Reply By: Ross M - Monday, Mar 17, 2014 at 23:33

Monday, Mar 17, 2014 at 23:33
Che C
If you go back to page 4 of this forum and look at

ThreadID: 106672
Date: 12 Mar 2014 18:05
Truck drivers view of a caravan rollover you will see some bad effects of poor choices in towing.

You seem aware and finding out first, that is good.
Pushing your vehicle to the towing limit probably isn't a wise thing to do, mostly you get away with it, sometimes not.

When the towed mass and also size of that mass can begin to control the tow vehicle then it can have negative effects.
Camper trailers aren't going to catch as much wind effect as a caravan but the weight aspect for stopping/braking ( need electric brakes) and the weights effect on suspension movement is worth looking into.

Std suspension is going to struggle to control properly when the towball loading is high.

Cheers
Ross M
AnswerID: 528570

Reply By: gbc - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 07:11

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 07:11
A good place to start is your owners manual. It will have the recommended maximum tow weights for your vehicle - these would not be able to be changed no matter what you did to the car.
The camper weights you've posted seem modest enough, but I would imagine they would be dry weights. You'll lose another 500k.g. plus in food, water, gas clothes, bedding, toys, spares etc, so make sure your car is well legal when loaded for camping.
You don't mention if your outback is the 3.0 or the 2.5 which will make a difference in towing ability.
If you joined a Subaru specific forum, you'll find plenty of people who tow with them, and plenty of real advice, as opposed to the bog standard 'I think you'll need another tow vehicle' that the old boys come up with on this forum.
The video link you were given is indicative of a number of things - most of which have no relevance to you - wind loading, overloaded single axle sets etc. It is still a good learning tool when viewed as such, but it isn't an indication of what will happen when a Subaru tows anything.
Good luck with your research.
I would have no problem hooking up 1.2 t to an outback.
AnswerID: 528573

Follow Up By: gbc - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 07:13

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 07:13
Sorry- assuming it was loaded correctly, the brakes all work and the owners manual says I can.
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FollowupID: 811146

Follow Up By: gbc - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 07:18

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 07:18
Sorry again, didn't see the bit where the towball loads are already bigger than allowable. Not looking good prima facie now.
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FollowupID: 811148

Follow Up By: Dave(NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 08:57

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 08:57
Hence the reason "The old boy's" said I think you might need another tow vehicle.
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FollowupID: 811153

Follow Up By: Member - Chris_K - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 09:11

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 09:11
...and if you happen to have an accident while you are towing something heavier than the manufacturers limits, you may be left without cover. Something else to check.
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FollowupID: 811154

Follow Up By: Ross M - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 12:39

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 12:39
GBC

It isn't a problem of hooking up the legal limit or near it to a vehicle which matters, it is the ability of that vehicle to be in charge of the towed trailer.

While a lot of vehicles have the power to tow the load, that isn't what matters, it is the ability of the vehicle chassis design and mass combined with the brake system and suspension which is the telling factors.

Manufacturers do become optimistic and the laws of physics haven't changed but makers claims have.

One straw less than a camels broken back must be OK I suppose, if you believe all the guff about what constitutes safe towing.
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FollowupID: 811165

Follow Up By: gbc - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 12:57

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 12:57
To reinforce your point, I would have called 1400/90 k.g. quite a responsible tow figure for the vehicle in question - hence the op's inability to tow the camper they want. What was your point again?
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FollowupID: 811167

Reply By: Member - evaredy - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 13:45

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 at 13:45
As others here have said, you will need to look at upgrading your tow vehicle.

Nothing you do to the car will increase the GCM (Gross Combination Mass). This is the maximum weight of your fully loaded car including all passengers, luggage, add on's, like tow bar, roof racks, bull bar tow ball weight etc. Plus the maximum weight of the fully loaded caravan or camper.

I had my Dmax suspension upgraded, this allowed me to legally have the GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) upgraded from 2,950 kg to 3,220 kg.
BUT, the GCM remains the same, which is 5,950 kg It just means that when not towing I am able to carry more weight.

You CANNOT exceed the GCM.

IF you go over ANY limits and you are involved in an accident that is or is not your fault, you risk losing all insurance cover and leave yourself wide open for lawsuits that would probably ruin you, plus any other legal action that is taken against you.

Also remember that anything over 750 kg will require you to fit electric brakes.

Do the smart thing and tow legally.

A couple of sites that may help you understand it a little better...
Towing Guide and this one, it is for SA but is still relivent. Light Vehicle Towing & Trailer Regulations

AnswerID: 528600

Reply By: Wayne's 60 - Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 01:40

Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 01:40
Ché C

You are at the point where "the tail wags the dog"
We have seen the result of this on a number of occasions.
The result is NOT pretty.
You are trying to do the maximum, with the minimum.
When it turns nasty, .............................

You have asked the question, good for you.
Get a smaller camper.
Get a bigger vehicle.
Your two options.

Cheers,
Wayne & Sally.
AnswerID: 528649

Reply By: Shaker - Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 08:32

Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 at 08:32
Open the glove box & read the manual.
It may be as simple as upgrading the tow bar.

AnswerID: 528655

Reply By: Sigmund - Friday, Mar 21, 2014 at 15:29

Friday, Mar 21, 2014 at 15:29
For some years Subaru made two weights of towbar for Foresters but the bigger one still only had a max tow weight of 1400kg.

For two folk you should plan on at least 200 kg in gear.

Even if it was legal, you would be pushing a 2.5l to its max with that weight. It would be approaching the mass of the vehicle itself. And no matter what springs upgrade you did the rear end would still just work like a pivot and the front be lifted up making for sub-optimal steering and braking.

We tow with a 2.5l Forester a CT with about 850 kg gross and I wouldn't want more than that for long distances or on gibber or corrugated roads.
AnswerID: 528803

Reply By: Ché C - Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 22:20

Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 22:20
Hi Folks

Sorry about not replying sooner - I have been travelling the last couple of weeks. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their views and input.

I have managed to do a little more research. From what I can tell if I invest in a towing weight distribution system (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/towing/equipment/hitches/towing-weight-distribution-systems.htm) that this will give me up to 140Kg allowance on the towball/ tongue. (up from 90Kg) We could also look at a sway control.

One of the camper trailers we are looking at has a tare weight of 1165kg. If we allow for wet weight of 300kg this will make it 1465kg tare weight (vehicle weighted to 1400kg). So I am thinking if we ensure that we are not carrying liquids in the camper trailer and load the car up before the trailer, then we should be ok.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this approach?

Thanks again for sharing all your views
AnswerID: 529033

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