Towing a trailer with a Subaru

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 at 21:53
ThreadID: 22245 Views:7075 Replies:8 FollowUps:6
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I own a 2000 model Subaru Liberty 2.5 auto and would like to tow a smallish trailer to carry camping gear, water etc. Although my owners manual states that towing is ok provided an oil cooler is fitted I'm concerned that I may be placing too much strain on the vehicle possibly leading to mechanical damage and costly repairs. Just wondering whether any other members out there that own a Subaru (particularly a Liberty auto) have used their vehicle for towing and if so your experiences, good and bad.

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Reply By: Member - Blue (VIC) - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 00:43

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 00:43
Hi John

don't have first hand experience but... Last year met a bloke at Cape Paterson who was on the final leg(Melb to Sydney) of his round Oz trip. He had towed his 12ft pop top caravan the whole way. I'm certain he was in a liberty and it was definately an auto(he prefered manual but his wife could only drive an auto). He couldn't speak highly enough of the vehicle, was his retirement gift to him & his missus. I guess you just have to be mindful of the vehicles capabilities and drive accordingly.
AnswerID: 107627

Reply By: Redback - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 07:26

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 07:26
John there's a guy on the campertrailer forum who has a forester and tows a pop up camper, from memory it's a goldstream similar to the Jayco and he said it tows it fine i had a pic of it but for the life of me i can't find it.

Have a look in here at this
and go to the campertrailers forum they should who they are.


campertrailers forum
AnswerID: 107631

Reply By: Paul from Ozroamer Camper Trailers (Hire & Sales) - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 07:33

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 07:33
Hi John

OzRoamer are the National Distributors for the Cape York Camper Trailer range.

Our Wedge hard floor CT has a Tow Ball Weight of only 60kgs and a Tare of 770kgs but still offers a full bodied Ct with Queen bed, 130lts water, S/Steel kitchen and Independent trailer arm suspension with Pedders Foam cell shocks, 3300kg rated parallele bearings and 12inch Electric Brakes.

The Wedge has been specifically designed for the Outback, Liberty, Rav4, X-Trail, CRV and similar smaller 4WD and AWD vehicles also your medium 2WD sedans.

Email me with your contact details and I will forward the recent review completed by Caravan World for the Camper Trailer Guide and the Trailer spec's.
AnswerID: 107633

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan - Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 12:23

Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 12:23
We stuffed the rear springs on an Outback towing (and not for very long) a CT with very similar specs - weighed in at 750 kg and TB weight of 75 kg (BTW, the recomended tb weight is between 10% and 15% of the trailer's weight).

I'd suggest the stock springs aren't designed for, or up to the task (for very long).
FollowupID: 364682

Follow Up By: Paul from Ozroamer Camper Trailers (Hire & Sales) - Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 17:30

Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 17:30
I think you would agree that 75kgs as against 60kgs is 25% more!!

Perhaps you needed to go with a lesser Tow Ball Weight than 75kgs which is why the Wedge was designed.

FollowupID: 364717

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan - Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 18:12

Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 18:12
Perhaps Paul, but I was going by the safe, universally recommended numbers. If you don't have sufficient weight on the tow ball, comparative to trailer, you can get a very unstable trailer.

I assume the wedge was specifically designed to overcome exactly that issue. The problem is that it would be the only trailer designed that way so, unless John buys your Wedge trailer, he is stuck with the recommended safe tow ball weight.

Of course, a "smallish" trailer fully laden will probably only weigh in at about 600 kg meaning 60 kg on the tow bar anyway. However, I still don't think, with a fully packed cargo area, that the Subaru's OEM suspension will put up with it for long.
FollowupID: 364726

Reply By: Ray Bates - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 07:47

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 07:47
AnswerID: 107637

Reply By: trendy - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 09:17

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 09:17
John my father owned 3 liberties all good towing vehicles as long as you respect their capacities. he felt the best one for towing that he owned was with pump up shocks about 93 model if i remember right. All vehicles done 200k before they were sold . hope this helps.
AnswerID: 107644

Reply By: Disco200Tdi - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 10:17

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 10:17
Our second car is a Forester 2.5 auto. We did a trip to Kangaroo Island from Melbourne two christmas's ago and the car was fully loaded with camping gear for 3, but we did not tow. We have an oil cooler fitted.

The load causes the rear to sag a lot and this then scubs rear tyres on the inside due to the independent suspension not up to the job. I can not recommend them for a lot of load carrying. The engine and gearbox might be upto it, but other bits appear not.

After talking to the dealer, funny tyre wear is a common trait for subaru's.

For occasional use you might be ok, but our forester is now definitely just a city run around and the old diesel disco (which is much noiser and slower) is used for all trips, even on the biti.

John D
AnswerID: 107650

Reply By: John F - Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 21:02

Thursday, Apr 21, 2005 at 21:02

Thanks very much for your advice and pointing me in the right direction. I'll certainly do a bit more research but sounds like a trailer might be the way to go.

Out of interest I recently hired a roof carrier (Thule) to carry gear, which worked well. While I normally have enough space to carry camping gear in the Subi the big advantage of the roof carrier is that I can carry all this gear safely and without obscuring rear vision. Big disadvantage however is that you still have a lot of packing to do before you leave home and then constant unpacking and packing to do during the trip which can be a real pain, particularly if touring. Hopefully with a trailer all the gear can be stored in the unit ready to go and I'll be able to minimise time spent unpacking and packing and more time relaxing. I'll either look at a lighweight CT or a kitted out trailer (kitchen, water tank, fridge etc).

happy camping
AnswerID: 107722

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan - Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 18:19

Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 18:19
John, in you're opening post you said "smallish" trailer. However, if you have one "kitted out" as mentioned above, you'll be lucky to come in under 700 kg when loaded. You may even hit 750 kg with the water tank filled and that means you'll need to fit brakes.

At that weight, and running 75 kg on the tow ball, plus whatever you still put in the cargo area, I would not recomend the Subi.

Whilst a good motor, the 2.5 litre manual we had struggled up medium the steep hills, the brakes faded badly when descending those same hills (the trailer wasn't fitted with brakes as it weighed in at just under the 750 kg mark) and, as I mentioned above, it stuffed the rear suspension.

You really need to keep the whole weight to something under 500 kg to seriously consider using the Subi (more than once).
FollowupID: 364727

Reply By: Member Colin - NSW Bungendore - Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 13:50

Friday, Apr 22, 2005 at 13:50
Firstly - my response to trailers is that they are like boat anchors and will do the same as a anchor !!

But if you have more than 2 people in the car they are sometimes necessary. If you go for a trailer make sure it is as light as possible - I think Cub are good in this respect.

In respect to the cars suspension - if it has self leveling suspension it is bound to fail - they don't like being abused.
The comment in regard to tyre wear - all my Subarus have done about 70 000kms on a set of tyres?

So if a trailer is the only answer for you - go for it - just treat the car and its extra weight with respect and you will be fine
AnswerID: 107811

Follow Up By: DD64 - Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 08:27

Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 08:27
"SLRS is bound to fail" Colin can you please elaborate on this comment. I currently tow a CUB which is about 950kg fully loaded (Drover) with a 3.0R outback which comes standard with SLRS. Only done about 2000k's with the trailer & about 150 on dirt with varying degrees of corrugations.
I'm careful not to overload the back axle & use weight distribution bars and so far so good.
I'd expect that if you stay within the vehicle's load specs you shouldn't have any problems.
FollowupID: 364880

Follow Up By: Member Colin - NSW Bungendore - Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 21:21

Monday, Apr 25, 2005 at 21:21
The suspension on a 3.0 Outback is different to that in a Forester - but I would think that the SLS would be similar. The problem whith the SLS suspension is that the springs are a lot 'lighter' than in a standard model - so that the SLS function is working all the time and can fail under stress.
It is hard to define what is 'harsh' road conditions, but certainly the WA Subaru Club has encounted several failed rear SLS suspensions in Forester's which have been used in these conditions - not towing!
Towing may actually be better than loading up the car - so as you say, providing you keep well within the tow ball weight specs there shouldn't be any trouble.
I wouldn't tow anyware near 950kg if it was my car.
Certainly there has been a big push by Subaru in using the Liberty's as a tow vehicle??
Good luck
FollowupID: 364953

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