Towing with Outback Limited 2.5i, 4 cylinder
Is the 4 cyl rated for 2,700 lbs of towing truly capable of towing 2,100 lbs 5-6
times yearly on 400 mile long trips of continuous driving (2,500 of 12,000 mi.
annually)?? Or will such towing shorten the useful life of a vehicle otherwise
capable of over 200,000 miles??
That would be a good assumption.
What would be a "good assumption"??... That I cannot get 200,000 miles towing 2,500 miles a year with EITHER a 4 cyl or 6 cyl??
Yeah I know it says Legacy in the link but Chapter 8 Page 21 -22 covers Outback. From Subaru -- decide after reading that
From what I have read, towing with the CVT can cause transmission issues. If you are going to tow a lot, get a real tow vehicle like a SUV or pickup.
Drmuskie, well, with respect for the other responses, I have to disagree on the towing issue and here's why, Subaru has migrated to the CVT transmission in 2015 exclusively since they first introduced it on the 2010 Outback, which is precisely the car I have with the 2.5 Four. And, I've towed my car and teardrop trailer all the way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, that's almost 9,000 feet with no problems. My advice is this, if you are towing 2,100 pounds, just be certain not to overload your car. And, if Subaru didn't have confidence in the CVT, they would have never introduced it and continued to advertise the tow capacity of 2,700 pounds. Also, get the CVT transmission fluid changed at recommended intervals, consult your manual or talk with the dealership. Yes, I know people will disagree with me, spare your comments, but, they could have just left the old 5EAT transmission in the new vehicles and they chose to move forward with the CVT transmission. I'm no expert, but, in conversations I've had with some friends who are engineers, they told me that the CVT transmissions are superior, less complicated and more efficient for the power, the engine is always in the right power band. My two cents. Happy towing, I say go for it, just take it easy on take offs. Once you are rolling, do whatever you want.
Drmuskie, if you properly maintain your car, I see no reason why you can't go 200,000 miles. By the way, the 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6 , H6, had the old 5 electronic automatic transmission. They must have known something moving forward with the CVT for both H4 and H6 in 2015. They only offered the CVT transmission on the Four cylinder Outback for 2010 -2014 models.
All I did was point to owners manual Mark. "Your vehicle is designed and intended to be used primarily as a passenger-carrying vehicle.Towing a trailer puts additional loads on your vehicle's engine, drivetrain, brakes, tires and suspension and has an adverse effect on fuel economy. "CVT MODEL "When towing a trailer without brakes. 1,000 lbs (453 kg) When towing a trailer with brakes. 2,700 lbs (1,224 kg) When towing a trailer on a long uphill grade continuously for over 5 miles (8 km) 1,350 lbs
The CVTs are now starting to enter statistically significant failure rates. Is it stress related or related to dirty fluid? Time will tell. Subie was VERY afraid to offer the CVT initially with the H6, but very poor fuel eco forced their hand...perhaps sensibly. I am being VERY ginger with my clients re stressing the CVT, including keeping towing loads under the "old" 1500lb limit. Additionally, the poor suspension of the modern OBs doesn'tt lend itself to dragging anything approaching an equal mass behind it, eh? Vomitorium, anyone?
I believe the CVT's are VERY expensive to replace so keep that in mind when making a choice. CVT's are hardly a proven choice for a towing vehicle, if they were you would be seeing them in Ford Super Duty trucks.
TheSubaruGuruBoston ,-- so, at what mileage are you starting to see these CVT transmissions starting to fail?
I asked what mileage, not year.
Subaru is pushing the limits on mechanical reliability with the CVT and the 0W-20 oil they specify in order to make small gains in mileage in order to comply with ludicrous government demands for ever increasing fuel economy. As always it is the customer who ends up on the losing end of things. As far as the CVT and economy I can tell you that I have driven both the manual and the CVT and there is a small increase in mileage on the highway with the CVT but none at all in mountain driving.
Based on what Ford posted, I would not tow a row boat with a CVT. 1350 pounds up a hill is virtually useless.
I'm of two minds on this, Towing 1500 lbs with the 2.5i CVT is similar to towing nothing with the 2.0i CVT in the Impreza. The result is that the latter has to rev up much higher in order to overcome inertia via the CVT. MAY be ok...if indeed stressful. Mark, 2010 (sic)
TheSubaruGuruBoston, thanks, but, again , give us a mileage estimate. Are we talking about over 125,000 miles or more? You just can't say 2010.
So far it's been 2010's.
Ernie, so , you don't want to state the mileage? Why is that?
Ernie, yes, I find it's interesting that the 2011( 9 %) and 2014 (12 %) Subaru Outbacks according to True Delta, have a correspondingly higher percentage of repairs than the 2010 (6 %) model for transmission problems. Are you getting your information strictly from anecdotal evidence in your personal encounters with your clients? If you are, that's not a fair representation? See this, http://www.truedelta.com/Subaru-Outback/reliability-253
By the way, your favorite years, the 2005 to 2009 have shown many failings especially with the suspension problems, with most of those cars having over 25 percent repairs and problems to their suspension. Sorry, the record speaks for itself.
Mark, $50 sway bar end links and $10 bushings are dirtying up your analysis. Wait until the floors rot out on the 2010+ OBs to see where owners' pocketbooks REALLY get hit! The real data is with the NorthEast indies who service hundreds of these each month. Learn something about specialized population sampling technique before you throw meaningless broad stat data at me, please. Happy Holidays.
Ernie, Happy Holidays to you as well! Listen, I understand it might be different in your region of the USA? And, the statistics I cited are from True Delta, I understand that they're pretty reliable folks there. Anyway, you know I'm in Southern California. We don't see cars with rotted out floors here, oh, maybe when the car is over 50 years old, LOL . And, I would never keep the car that long under any circumstances. Peace.
Man, come here to learn about Subaru towing capacity, and learn more about Men Got Snark.
kackle, it's 20-seventeen! To your point, SOA has always played games w/ towing cap recs. It's been interesting to watch them raise the limits from 0 to 2500lbs in steps over the decades without meaningful changes to the bolt-on nice Draw-Tite et al rear hitches used. Here in the NE we're used to seeing Legs and OBs tow OTHER Legs and OBs since 1990. The limiting factor is NOT the torquey 2.5i nor the rear unibody subframe, but the condition of the transmission fluid! Seriously...just ensure your ATF/CVTF is clean and have at it up to 3000lbs. Keep tire pressures up at 35psi too. The only caveat I suppose is that the newer Imp/CT 2.0 is NOT recommended for towing much, as its pretty wimpy. As well, towing is better performed with the slushboxes as otherwise it's clutch-eating behavior.
Very helpful, Guru! Much appreciated.
Hi, I have a 2014 Outback and am looking at a trailer the weighs 1575#. Whats safe in terms of the tongue weight? Guy says tongue is 300#'s on this T@B trailer. May be going from Mass to Calif and back. That means over the Rockies. Any thoughts? Bad idea? thanks
I'm very concerned about that 300lb tongue weight, as that will severely compress the rear struts/springs and leave you nil for at- speed pothole compression; imagine it as two guys sitting on the bumper all the time! Just too risky....
I've been inclined to believe the tongue weight can weigh 10% of the towing weight which for my 2016 Subie should be 270 lbs! There's also no possibility of a cooler for the transmission! What was Japan thinking when they designed this car I was so anxious to buy? I want to be able to pull a Aliner LXE! Someone please tell me what direction to go from here.. I need an RV with a bathroom. The LXE only weighs 1800 lbs dry weight.
...and the tongue weight of my car is 200lbs.. not enough to tow much more that a hardside tent with no imenities.
At best Subaru's are for light duty occasional towing. Any real towing should be done with a SUV with an actual frame or a full sized pickup.
Keep in mind that towing capacity is linked to the amount of stuff you have in your car. Deduct for luggage, passengers etc. You can't max out your cargo and the trailer weight at the same time!
FOR: what is your basis for "At best Subaru's are for light duty occasional towing."? And if you base that on solid data or experience, what is your definition of "light duty"? I tow 2500 once every month for a weekend on average in my 6 cyl and have had nothing but great experiences.
2,500 pounds is light duty and once a month is occasional. Subaru's specs don't allow much load and the CVT is known for not liking loads.
Guru9BWPY - I do not know what transmission you have but if it is a CVT have the fluid changed regularly and if it is the automatic keep an eye on the ATF and make sure it has a nice, healthy red color. If I were towing with a Subaru automatic I would install a transmission temperature gauge and upgrade the transmission fluid cooler.
Rose- good morning...I see that based on what you've said above..you have a 2016 Subaru Outback with the 3.6 H6 engine.... and YES...by 2016.. Subaru started using the CVT transmission.. I actually have a 2010 Subaru Outback Limited with the 2.5 Four and the CVT..... I have NO problem pulling my 1,000 pounds teardrop trailer and have taken it to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.. about 9,000 feet.. uphill is slower, but, the car and trailer made it fine.. You CAN load up to 825 pounds in your car.. people, luggage, gear..and still pull an additional 3,000 pounds maximum with your H6....the H4 2.5 can pull a maximum of 2,700 pounds.. interesting how that is just 300 pounds difference.... I would say that if I were you, I would try and pull your trailer without any fluids that weigh things down..try and keep it as close to the base weight as possible..it's easier for the car and you to control.. then, when you get to the campsite, stop and fill up the tanks.. and use the dump station when you depart....this way you'll get the best mileage and performance for your car. ..As far as "adding a transmission cooler".. listen, this is NOT ADVISED...how do I know this...I talked directly with Subaru..yes, I actually make phone calls.. the nice folks at Subaru explained to me that they engineered a cooler into the transmission..and by adding an aftermarket device, you are creating another single point of failure, you don't want that.. I would just advise you to take it easy on acceleration. As you start from a dead stop, realize that every 10 MPH or so above zero will take about half the amount of energy to get rolling.. think of it like a train..once you get going..the momentum will make it easier for the car to pick up speed.. there's a clear difference of opinion between some of us on the forum... I believe in taking my car to the Subaru dealership for transmission fluid changes... others say that you should only drain the fluid and refill with new fluid.... I'm more inclined to believe that the dealership knows what they're doing... your choice.. more expensive, yes...do they know the car.. of course.. Unfortunately, there's a lot of people who will tell you every way from Sunday how to cut corners and "save money" (how much money are you really saving, if the job goes south??) You obviously purchased this car "new" or as a very late model.. and want to keep it nice..so, go with the dealership or your trusted mechanic.. good luck with your camping... One more thing, be careful with the tongue weight..I don't know what that is for the Aliner LXE.. those folding campers are much heavier than they look... Here's a picture of my teardrop trailer..
Rose, maybe you have the 2.5 Four??? I see that you didn't write the message about the H6 after all...no matter, it's still 2,700 pounds..like my car.... The additional 300 pounds is not that significant if you keep your trailer weight below 2,000 pounds.
Grasshopper (aka Mark1952), you're wrong again, thinking that a necessary internal fluid cooler is ALWAYS suffiicient for towing loads. Just because a "dealer" told you that there's a cooling capacity within the box doesn't mean that you get to interpret that as precluding the usefulness of an auxiliary trans cooler for high load apps; again, a grossly incorrect conclusion after making a "real phone call". Wow...you're an expert now...again! Rose, the real poop: despite the STRENGTH of the transmission, its real fragility is from overheating its (cooling) fluid...no matter how it's originally designed. Inexpensive (under $100) aux coolers can be easily plumbed into existing systems to effectively effect about a 20F temp reduction across all loads. This can make the difference between ruining internal rubber valve and bearing seals over time. Using synthetic CVT fluid (the only kind, really), helps keep this fluid from cooking off over time, but only keeping the temp down preserves the soft inner guts. So the answer is: it depends! The professionals who either tow loads or boost engines often first attach a physical AT temp gauge to the fluid, then proceed as necessary. In my case I was unhappy with the ATF temps in my boosted Miata, so added a sturdy inline cooler that acts to drop temps 20-30F both by adding one quart of total capacity AND its cooling fins behind the grill. It's useful to note that sustained highway use is NOT necessarily the highest thermal stress on a tranny, as the torque converter is locked up at steady speed. It's when the combination of high ambient temperature and sustained frictional losses combine to raise the fluid temp. That's where extra cooling is REALLY useful to prevent both short term failure and premature lifespan loss. Additionally, "tongue weight" is the actual down force on the towing vehicle's tow bar, and greatly affects how the entire package feels on the road. Much more than 100lbs on a Subaru's bumper IS going to upset handling significantly...especially on the softer sprung 2010-2012 and 2015+ Outbacks. 2000-2009 OBs, despite what you read (or what Grasshopper jumps around about), tolerate a towed load more imperceptibly. I'm not too worried about your towing an 1800lb trailer occasionally, but try to redistribute its balance so that the down (tongue) weight onto your towbar is miniimal. So you get that we're talking about two different criteria here: total weight affecting AT fluid temperature, and compromised handling from weight imbalance (tongue weight). An example is that we here in New England have used Subies to even tow OTHER Subies in a pinch. Since the "tobgue" weight is near zero, handling is ok. But imagine what happens when three people sit on a rear bumper (500lbs togue weight): handling goes to crap. So balance your trailer so it's almost an even see-saw with minimal front downforce and you should be ok. Just be careful on long climbs on hot days. And if you find yourself dragging this 1800 load frequently then DEFINITELY grab an aux cooler. It'll cost you only about $200-300 installed and certainly extend the life of the CVT's soft guts. Watch out for the grains of salt around here....
Mark you clearly have NO idea of basic physics. Going faster takes less energy? Momentum helps you go faster? You really are revealing your abject ignorance of basic science and mechanical principals. Just a note - Any hydraulic system will benefit from cooling for the reasons Ernie explained. Even manual transmissions can be cooled but for any hydraulic system the fluid is the life blood of the system. Fluid oxidizes at a rapidly increasing rate as the temperature goes up - not linear. Then there are all the seals.
Mark - your reading comprehension as usual is below par. I did not suggest that CVT's could benefit from additional cooling even though I believe that. My comments were confined to automatics.
Ernie - is there a port on the CVT where you can add a temperature sensor? Is the optimal operating temperature for a CVT the same as an automatic - 180 degrees F?
Just a note to those that tow. Do not get your trailer tongue weight too low which can introduce fish tailing and a rude introduction to the road side ditch.
The top fill plug is of course safer, but a bit small to set a conductive copper sensor probe... but that's where I'd try before using the larger lower drain plug. Works great on my Miata, where the ATF ranges from 160F at low stress to 210F max. Used to touch 240F before the aux cooler! I have currently no idea where the CVT temp sits in the Subies. Obviously, as you state, keeping it well under 200F is advised. Good point on not having ANY tongue weight. I'm hoping that clean fluid helps these CVTs ,but the failure rate of the 2010-2012s is getting alarming, and as I said, may not be related to fluid degradation, as that's not terribly well corellated with torque converter and bearing failures, eh?
Clean fluid sure cannot hurt! I was wondering if there was a spare sensor port on the side like some automatics have. Just filing information for future reference. My truck has an aftermarket transmission pan with a sensor port so I put it there. Temps run 160 to 180 without the fan assisted cooler that I also bought but have not installed. Low speeds seem to cause the temperature to rise no doubt due to low air flow through the stock cooler.
I may buy one of those OBD2 port gauge pack set ups but the specs I have read indicate that transmission temp protocols are not standard so you may or may not be able to read a CVT's operating temp that way.
I have a 2005 Impreza outback sport special edition wagon. I am moving from PA to TX in December. I want to put a hitch on so I can tow a small travel trailer. I understand it can tow 2,000 lbs (automatic). Any suggestions or opinions. Car is in good shape and the head gaskets were replaced at 80,000 miles and it has 102,000 on it now. I have a loan on it and can't get a loan to purchase another vehicle. Can't sell it because I owe more on it than it is worth.
You have the previous gen 2.5i with 4EAT automatic. If you haven't drained and refilled (3.5qts) your ATF in the last two years (and you probably haven't, as it's often ignored) DO IT BEFORE YOUR TRIP! The relatively big 2.5i and rugged 4EAT will be fine.
Is it okay to put a cargo carrier on an Outback?
Of course. Just mind low bridges and tunnels, eh?
A cargo carrier is OK but the weight limit is around 200 pounds. Check your owners manual for the exact weight limit.
...and try to secure your rig as close to the corners as possible to effectively increase actual load stability; you want to avoid centered loading and its trampolining effects.
Q. What about towing considerations for a 2005 manual transmission 4cyl - 2.5 OB station wagon?
ANY increase in load, whether via added mass or uphill angle, very soft tires, etc., will increase the inertia required to be overcome by the clutch's friction disc, spelling earlier death. Don't do it unless you're a wrench willing to replace the clutch pack yourself...or you're rich.
Actually aliner trailers are designed to be light weight I have have the largest model the expedition. Tongue weight is about 270 lbs. it is a2016 model. It weighs only 1850 lbs. Just bought a 2017 3.6 touring model outback. The teardrop is almost nothing to tow around don't think you could even gauge any damage at all. I now tow with my honda 3.6 van. Can go 80 mph not a problem. Going up a 9000 ft mountain road very little resistance. The engine just doesn't get hot either. If anyone is towing one ☝️ of these things around or if anyone has any information about late model outbacks or if anyone is towing around a aliner please respond. Of course the dealer said it was under rated at 2700 lbs But what do they know thanks Matt
Your 3.6 will of course have no problem with the total mass load. The concerns are the heavy load on its CVT internal bearings and the high tongue weight upsetting the handling balance. Not sure if SOA is covering the 3.6's CVT for 5yr/60k or the extended 10yr/100k. Be careful, as most repondents may tell you that everything's ok, but the longterm CVT failure rate may be very high. NO ONE knows....
Thankful for the information . Just read the owners manual and wow . The main tell that i found here is that it says in the owners manual that you can not drive continuously for over 5 minutes up a uphill grade with outside temp above 104 degrees. Wish I knew Wish the salesman stopped me. Waited 20 years to buy a all wheel drive. You are so correct. Think of it this way You can't drive up a hill for more than 5 minutes forget about the temperature.My father was toyota transmission mechanic. Think about driving for 1 hour up a grade @ 80 degree temperatures. I could keep going here . The bottom line here is that a tongue weight of 200 lbs On this vehicle is really about the maximum. Any kind trailer hitch should be considered almost cosmetic. The dealer even sells 2"adapters for the oem hitch. The point is i bought this car assuming that it could tow a tent ⛺️ trailer that weighs 1850 lbs. I paid extra for the 3.6 touring oops. Both Subaru and the Subaru salesman know that this is not a car for towing. The dealer knew my intent was to tow I was told it was under rated at 2700 lbs. Tongue weight is the most important thing I missed 200 lbs . I would not recommend buying any kind after market hitch Stick with factory. Do not listen to the after market. My suggestion is if you are going to tow get the oem hitch And buy the 2" adapter from a dealer. The owners manual claim towing is hard on the engine first as they go down the list they also finally include the transmission. In my opinion the transmission is the only concern here. Really anything beyond a utility trailer on flat ground is pushing it. And don't think a disingenuous co.like this is going to going to honor your warranty especially if you have a after market hitch I have a special bit of of hate for deceptive marketing. I will never forgive Subaru for this. And most important the dealer. I will spend the rest of my life telling people my story. I will also be the first in line for the class action that will follow. No No No towing anything even a small teardrop trailer up mountain roads is just gambling. My plan was a trip to the sierras. I guess I'm not a happy camper
Again (alas), NO ONE KNOWS what the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) rates will be for the CVT's...especially as a function of load. Given the high failure rate just toting their 3500lb mass I wouldn't tip the curves too much by adding appreciable mass...especially uphill or at high temperatures. We're all guinea pigs here....
Subaru knows the answer and they give it to you in the owners manual. One more time to me the answer is simple. If drive more than 5 miles up hill and it's hot outside your screwed and you warranty is void. Imagine going to the sierras like I was going to do never ending inclines . One big problem here is that the Subaru is not being honest and telling buyers. What is really unforgivable is when give the information to the Subaru salesman and they still sell you the car
Looks cool doesn't it seems like they belong together NOT
Yet people will ignore all this good advice and then curse Subaru because they blew up their CVT.
Maybe all is not lost: I'm assuming that the 3.6i especially uses a CVT fluid line to a portion of the main coolant radiator for cooling the CVT. If so, you can fairly easily add a simple transmission cooler to drop fluid about 20F. That will substantially help keep fluid temp down on hot ascents...somewhat! I prefer the finned heat-sink type that has more flexibility in mounting,as it doesn't have to sit in the airstream (front of the main radiator), and is much more rugged than the common foil "tanks". There should be room somewhere underneath the front to hang it. A decent long one will also add about 1 qt heat sinking capacity to the system. If your committed to this trailer it's worth a shot...along with an extended warranty purchase!
I have a 2010 legacy cvt as a company car which has now done over 200,000km. I have been towing a 1000kg boat (often filled with camping gear) all over NZ. Regularly changed cvt fluids as only precaution. I have never had a problem and have climbed some decent mountain ranges. The only thing I recommend is to put the transmission in manual mode before a long ascent and manually select the best gear to be in for the climb. This seems to not make the cvt work too hard and keep the car and cvt at a better tempreture. Previously I owned a H6 2003 legacy with 5AT. The 2010 CVT I believe is as good, if not a better all round gear box. Currently, I am looking for my next legacy or outback and am considering the 2014 2.5 Outback with CVT.
Greetings, Lewis. You've enjoyed good service from your Subies. The 2013-2014 OBs have better native handling (like your 2003) than the 2010-12 or 2015+, so are a good choice. If you do get one of these "softer" iterations, I recommend Subaru's own 19mm rear anti-swaybar as a very inexpensive mod to control body movement and improve handling...especially when loaded. Not sure what "not make the cvt work too hard" and "keep at better temperature" mean. The CVT's "cones" don't know their specific ratio at any time, so I'm not sure there's any thermal load variant. I DO recommend dialing up the motor's rpms manually when descending a slippery or steep hill to prevent brake overheating, but I'm unsure that artificially controlling the revs...except by throttle depression....is effective uphill. But following your comment I'm now curious if the actual torque converter's temperature is kept lower uphill via keeping the revs up...or vice versa!? Did you put a direct fluid temp sensor on the CVT's drain plug? Then again, I'm not sure that torque converter nor internal bearing failures are necessarily correlated with either load, temperature, nor chosen driven rate (manual control of rpm). Maybe we'll know as time marches on....
Further, the DOHC 2,5i introduced in the '13 OB certainly has the necessary torque for towing moderate loads, with adequate passing ability at speed. It's a better choice than the previous SOHC 2.5i it replaces. Just be sure to use 5w30 synth instead of 0w20. It's just the CVT we worry about.
I have not seen any mention of aerodynamics. For the same weight trail, a tall (or flat nosed) trailer will be a larger towing load than a short (or rounded) trailer. The same idea applies to carrying cargo on the roof rack. I also did not see any recommendations to reduce speed while towing. That seems obvious from a mechanical point of view. When you consider aerodynamics, it is a huge factor. The load due to aerodynamic drag increases rapidly with higher speeds (I think the drag increases by a factor of 4 when you double the speed).
Although Cd plays a very important role, with the just-adequate 2.5i a large increase in drag will result in a self-limiting highway speed. When I load my pair of 18' sea kayaks, for example, I find myself automatically maxing about 70mph (and garnering 27mpg) rather than 80- 85mph at 30mpg. Same thing happens with a trailer.
Some states and maybe all of them limit trailer towing to 55 mph.
TSGB, I have not towed with my 2014 Outback yet, but plan to get a small utility trailer for occasional light-weight, local hauling. I did not realize that the drag would have that much effect on speed. It seems that is would be good to discuss aerodynamics with the people who are deciding which trailer to buy. F_O_R, I did not know the legal restrictions on towing speeds. This site, http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/trailer-speed-limits/, lists some of the restrictions. As I remember, U-Haul trailers are marked that the maximum speed is 45 MPH. However, we can see every day that drivers don't obey speed limits, so I don't think that lower speed limits will slow drivers with trailers.
SB, Cd will not necessarily reduce speed potential in the normal highway cruising range except to require more energy, as more power is required...and hence more fuel consumed. 90mph on an unloaded OB 2.51 is pretty easy, but much above 80 w/ a higher Cd is certainly more difficult.
Who's driving 90 MPH?? Exhibition of speed is a very EXPENSIVE and you could lose your license. My advice, don't do it.
Grasshopper, you sound like Ricky Ricardo....
Well this thread has me worried. I'd all but settled on a 2014 Outback 3.6R because of the 5EAT, but was then considering a 2015 model because to me the dash looks 100x better. Bottom line, i plan to tow a 1250lb A-frame camper around the relatively flat midwest. Should i even bother with any outback model or just buy a friggin truck?
Buy a Ford. Leave the friggn' trucks at home.
I've been looking at getting a new daily driver vehicle that was able to tow 2000-2250 lbs on occasional road trips and was considering a 2018 outback. Reading over the responses here it seems many think its a bad idea but appears "on paper" that the OB should handle it. It is interesting to note the OB 2.5 w/ CVT in the UK is rated for 2000 KG.
Stop worrying, folks. You'll be fine.
65,000 miles on my 14 Crosstrek (Mostly flat highways) and control body valve went bad. ($3000 fix that Subaru covered out of Warranty. "We never have problems with the CVT transmission" Subaru said. I'd be a little scared to tow anything with my Subaru!
We never have problems with .................. Funny that I have been told the same thing about all the other problems with my Subaru.
Again, I wouldn't tow with the Imp...especially with the overweight CT version.
Subaru guru. I'm a Subaru Mechanic and 5w-30 in the FB motor sets codes bad advice
C'mon...that's nonsense! If you look at the manual you'll see that 5w30 synth is recommended in all countries except North America, where manufacturers care about whole-digit rounding for fuel eco numbers...and cold-start timing chain rattle, and thus jumped on the too-skinny 0w20 bandwagon.
5w-30 in FB 2.5 and 2.0 raises oil pressure and sets cam timing codes. The only thing it says about using 5w-30 is if you can't get 0w-20 you can add 5w-30 untill you can change oil with all 0w-20.
Read the manual. 5W30 for all other countries.
G'day All. Currently towing a Cub Traveller camper trailer and gear, approx 1200kg +/-, with a 2015 Outback 2.5 Premium. We also have a Thule travel pod on the racks. We've driven from Cairns in Far North Queensland to Outback South Australia, approx 3900km in temps ranging consistently from 32-42 degrees celsius. We've overtaken on the flat and up slight hills and maintained an average speed of about 108kph. Mileage on the dial reads at 12.8/100km. I've always taken off nice and slowly from a standing start, and have found that we can keep up with traffic. I've left the transmission in 'S mode' which appears to give better performance. While the RPMs have occasionally risen above 5000, this has been up hill with Cruise Control on - turn it off and she settles down to about 2500 up hill. So far, no issues in performance, and while transmission issues would likely be inperceptable until failure, I don't believe the car has struggled, in spite of the considerable Australian summer heat, aerodynamics and load out. The vehicle was serviced a few days before we departed Cairns, and will be serviced in a few months. I was concerned about towing, as was the Subaru service dept! The trailer is fairly light, and I have not pushed it, apart from the odd immediate need to overtake a slow mover. Will keep you guys posted if anyone is still following.
Your description of "fairly light" is a bit of an understatement.... that 1200 kg is 2,646 pounds...and the car is rated for 2,700 pounds... Plus, your description of 42 degrees Celsius is nearly 108 degrees... Look, it's your car and trailer.... good luck with that....and RPMS of 5,000 .... hope you are lucky and have no issues... Looking at the picture it really doesn't look that heavy, but, I don't know.... I'll take your word on it.... I wouldn't do that... I would consider a stronger tow vehicle if I were you..... Just saying that you are really pushing the limits of your Subaru. Up hills are even more taxing....
G'day Mark, total load out with gear and trailer would be around 1200kg. The trailer is probably only about 800-850kg. The uphill stretches have been fairly short, and we've been running with a fair about of momentum, so its not as though we're always accelerating uphill - where I have accelerated up hill, it has been from 80kph to 100kph at a gradual rate, or maintaining 100kph till the crest. The higher RPMs have only been while Cruise control is engaged, so I've left it off during the undulating stretches of road. We've generally been on the plains, so nice easy flat terrain, albeit very hot! :)
I would add an inline transmission fluid cooler. Your roof-mounted cargo bin is increasing drag too.
Thanks for that. Out of curiosity, what does CVT failure feel like in the lead up?
I've heard tell that Australian CVTs are fitted with an additional or different CVT cooler. I've queried Subaru direct. Will be interesting to see the answer. It would make sense though as it's pretty much hot everywhere:)
According to Subaru Australia, there's no need to fit an inline cooler, even while towing a 1000kg ATM trailer. Maybe the Aus OBs are different. Hope the fellow chatting to me was correct:) She'll be right
Increased inner bearing noise is a gray area; same with stalling when stopping. Eventually you can't stand either.
Thanks Subaru Boston.
My fear is that inner bearing failure is more a function of design weakness rather than operating temperature. But if I were routinely towing in hotter climates I'd look into an aux inline cooler. They usually drop fluid temp about 20F.
Wow, I got here by searching for what defined Subaru "tow package" on Outbacks, but I have gotten an education from the journey! I am/was planning on shopping for a new (used) Legacy Outback tomorrow! I'm in Wisconsin and I do want to tow a 14' fishing boat I got last fall with it from time to time-no great distances, and minimal grades, but now I'm questioning my short list of 2010,'11 and '12. I had found some 2006- 2009 OBs as well. Maybe they're abetter choice?I'm not attached to having a newer car... coming from a 2003 2.5 OB that's down this some tranny issue and looming rust at 170,000 which I'd rather not deal with (*it came to me with a 'tow package' at 120,000 miles, though I pulled the boat only a handfull of times before winter) Also, I'm not averse to installing a fluid cooler. The boat isn't real light, but it isn't a tank either-modest tongue weight and I think safely under 2000#. Didn't weigh it before storing it for the winter, but will this spring. @TheSubaruGuruBoston... A question, if I may: What is the best year(s) for towing? Sounds like the 2005-09. Also, is there anything to the "tow package"? Is it merely a hitch, or is there some other hardware? I want to stick with the 2.5, so any additional guidance toward vehicle choice, and better equipping it, will be gobbled up. Many thanks!
Hey Johnny. Hmmm...probably the safest, but almost impossible to find path, is to get a deal on a 2008-2009 OB with a NEW 4EAT in it! That way you'll get the sturdiest tranny that's NEW enough to not clog up with old ATF gunk nor have dried out piston seals. I think that all 2005- 2009 4EATs will follow the lead of the prev gen (2000-2004) model and fail due to seal degradation and resultant pressure losses; they're just aging out.... Next best is probably a 2013+ CVT...yet I've seen a few bearing failures---but NOT correlated with tow bar presence. The worst choice is invariably the 2010-2012 OB as its CVT is more problematic, and the soft handling in those years really makes towing a sloppy affair unless serious mods are applied (at LEAST a drop to 225/55R17 tires and the fatter rear anti-sway bar; but it still won't equal a stiffer 2013-2014 stock OB). There are several sturdy towbar options extant for the OB: Draw-Tite is the most common I see. Easy installation, too.
I really appreciate your informed and timely response! Living where I do, and it being winter, the Subarus are not on the market often, or for very long. It's a bummer because I was looking forward to having a bit more clearance, and I imagined newer models would have progressively improved, but as stated above, OBs are not designed to be beasts of burden. 2013-14 are a little over my current budget... and there were a couple nice 2010 and 11s in my neck of the woods, too. Dammit. But I will continue to search. Stranded at home, looking for cars is not exactly how I wanted to spend 5 days off, but if I want to get to work on Wednesday, I suppose I'll have to. Thanks again TSGB.
Not to derail the thread, but could I pose one more general question to you TSGB? Aside from towing, would you say the 2010-2011 models should be avoided altogether? i.e. Given the same 140,000 miles +/-, and other factors and appropriate maintenance being relatively equal, would you say a 2008 is likely to be a better/more trouble free vehicle than a 2010? I have narrowed my search down; to two very nice, well maintained vehicles; an '08 and a '10. I like the safety features, taller stature and better mileage the 2010 reportedly gets, but along with the towing issue do you feel that 2010 is just a more trouble-plagued model year? I will be buying a car in the nest 3 days.
Johnny, your last msg was rec'd at me email, but NOT posted here. Hmmm.... Re: 2008 or 2010 OB, with some towing. More facts needed. I'd certainly prefer a LATE (2008.5-2009) OB with a clean 4EAT trans over an early 2010 CVT for towing, for example. Both are old enough to eat wheel bearings and minor suspension bits, and the '08-09 will need rear exhaust "Y"-pipe, whereas the 2010 has mediocre handling. The only benefit of the '10+ is +3mpg, but that's small potatoes if the CVT fails. Another big caveat is to assure that the '08-'09 has a completely dry head gasket. There's a much lower risk of that in a late (but not early) 2010. Note that ground clearance are nearly the same, even though the 2010+ looks bigger and taller. If you had the benefit of time I'd look for a very clean '08.5-'09 for less money than any 2010. Good luck. Note that if you DO get a '10 at least put a thicker antisway bar on it ($125 + $80 end links) from Subaru, and consider dropping to the better- handling 225/55R17 tires that were on the venerable 2006-2009 era. You'll get the '10 halfway there to being as good handling as an older one (or a '13-14, of course). Good luck. Ern
Again, thank you very much. You have informed my search and I am examining VIN #s for more information about manu dates before pulling the trigger. Mahalo!
At the risk of re-asking what has been answered several times above...2015 Outback base model 2.5 with CVT. 84,000 miles. No, I had not even thought of towing when I bought it. But way leads on to way and now I have an after market Class 3 hitch and brake controller. I've towed a Taxa Cricket (1,450 lb empty - assume 1,650 full, 2 auto passengers ~ 400 lbs, plus another hundred in supplies plus hitch) a few hundred miles in flat south Texas, so far, but summer is coming and so is Central Texas. Not the Rockies any time soon. The first 40 miles was without brake controller. I would not do that again. Otherwise it handles and brakes well. I read the manual with its cavalcade of caveats, then had the dealer change CVT and both differentials fluid. Yes there was a leaky gasket so he says he did a full gasket repair and fluid change-out. I even searched for the ATF Temp Light for the first time, so I would know what it looked like. Long term plan is buy a capable pickup, but I really need the OB to last at least a couple years of maybe 1000 miles per year of towing. I commute round trip 80 mi/day empty, so V8 truck is not happening. So...is there any value to using manual transmission and dropping down to 5th gear while flat towing? Same for hill towing? Is there more wear and tear and overheating leaving it in D and letting the CVT figure out what it wants? Or am I just micro-managing deck chairs on the Titanic? Will running the AC (absolutely necessary except in emergencies) cost me anything other than speed and gas? Any value to premium fuel while towing? Thank you for your patience.
No. No. No. Maybe. No. No. I would upgrade away from 225/65R17 truck tires to 225/60R17 next time in order to improve handling. I'd also add Subie's own 19mm rear antiswaybar to control body sway and significantly reduce fishtailing potential. These are relaitively cheap mods.
Thank you, very much.
A lot of opinions here by people that do not tow nor have really read the owner's manual. Keep in mind this is the internet. Anybody with a computer, tablet or cellphone can act like a knowledgeable person even if they do not know what they are talking about. Some are very impressive with their faux claims. The Subaru Outback 2013 tows 2750#. I tow a 16' tracker pro guide 16 wt that is rated at 2700 # as equipped. I would like to get an auxilliary transmission cooler but it does not get hot towing. Depending on the size of the tranny cooler you could conceivably tow a 4000# trailer. Be aware that many states require brakes on anything towed with wheels on it. Each wheel requires a brake on it. I higly recommend the brakes on trailers. Not only will the Outback AWD tow but it will tow the stuff across desert on dirt and even cross streams with it. It is a very capable vehicle. If you are going to go crossing streams and deserts get the Geolander All Terrain tires for it. Tow your trailer with brakes and don't worry about it. If it gets hot add a tranny cooler. Go by the manual and hot other people's interpretation based on their opinions and lack of knowledge.
A lot of opinions here by people that do not tow nor have really read the owner's manual. Keep in mind this is the internet. Anybody with a computer, tablet or cellphone can act like a knowledgeable person even if they do not know what they are talking about. Some are very impressive with their faux claims. The Subaru Outback 2013 tows 2750#. I tow a 16' tracker pro guide 16 wt that is rated at 2700 # as equipped. I would like to get an auxilliary transmission cooler but it does not get hot towing. Depending on the size of the tranny cooler you could conceivably tow a 4000# trailer. Be aware that many states require brakes on anything towed with wheels on it weighing over 2500#, some at 3000#. Each wheel requires a brake on it. I higly recommend the brakes on trailers. Not only will the Outback AWD tow but it will tow the stuff across desert on dirt and even cross streams with it. It is a very capable vehicle. If you are going to go crossing streams and deserts get the Geolander All Terrain tires for it. Tow your trailer with brakes and don't worry about it. If it gets hot add a tranny cooler. Go by the manual and hot other people's interpretation based on their opinions and lack of knowledge.
Be aware that, In the UK, the Outback is rated to tow 2000 kg or 4409.245 lbs.
I've personally had to deal with enough failed CVTs to simply recommend that they SHOULD tow anything. Subie's manuals' recommendations are just poppycock. It simply stands to reason that the MTBF will decrease with increased inertia.
Did you drop the "not" Ernie?
Wow! You are correct. Of course my real answer is "sometimes". I guess it's like speeding, or like dancing in heels for the other half: you can do it, but the risks elevate with speed and load. Better get more coffee....
Another person in need of some advice from the experts. I have a 2010 Outback, ~100k miles on it, 2.5i, 4 cylinder. No problems with the car so far. I'm looking into towing a trailer that, fully weighted, wouldn't be more than 1600lbs - curb weight, no more than 1200lbs. Initially, I thought I was quite safe here, since I'm well under the max load specified in the manual. Wading through all the comments above is educational, but I'm now I'm not sure if this is inadvisable or not. I would be towing the trailer around 600 hundred miles every month, I reckon. So, while the load would be lightweight, the frequency might not be. Thoughts?
And yes, the transmission is CVT. >_>
At 8-9 winters old, I'd drain and refill the CVT. Beyond, just know you're at increased risk for inner bearing or TC failure with load and time. Somewhere I've read there's been a 4%/yr failure rate for this first-gen CVT. Of course you'll be increasing that risk with towing...especially uphill. There's no other way to characterize the increased risk. Just live your life.
We have a '14 Outback 2.5i with 6 speed manual transmission. We bought it new and it doesn't have any issues so far except a little oil usage. I usually haul my 1400 lb boat (weight includes trailer and equipment) with my truck, but want to haul it with the subie in the next few months. I am not concerned about the trans, but more worried about the statement above regarding using 5W-30 instead of 0W-20. I currently use Pennzoil Platinum 0W-20 and it has worked fine. Will switching to a thicker viscosity hurt the engine? I guess I am worried about oil passages and the valve timing being affected.
Much appreciated - thanks, Ern! One question to add to this: would you add a transmission cooler in this scenario, or is the benefit in this case likely to be marginal?
That's an interesting concept. When I had to address this issue re my newly-supercharged Miata, I chose to use a "bullet" type inline ATF cooler that dropped temp -20F, and so far so good. Those Aisin 6sp autoboxes are robust. I don't know if the CVT failures, whether the TC or the inner bearings, can be mitigated by reducing fluid temp, as the culprit with the first gen CVT may be not temp-related, but simply lack of robust manufacturing engineering. They DID redesign to a 2nd gen not jjust to save a few pounds, I suspect. I'm not a fan of thin-film "radiator type" cheap coolers, but those cast aluminum ones are indeed robust, and less sensitive to orientation for heat sinking. Plenty of room to mount it cleverly, once you sort out the plumbing. Good luck.
B8: you may not be aware that the INTERNATIONAL spec for Subaru motors, inc this one, is indeed 5W30 synth. The VVT passages in 2006-2012 heads were subject to coking up, but only if the oil really became gritty...and they ran well on 10w40 dino. If you want to get fancy seek out Mobil1 0w40 for both ultracold-start quietness AND increased viscosity at very high temps. But trust me, you'll be just fine with 5w30, and notice lower consumption too.
Hey Ern, thanks for answering all the questions above. I would never have thought of draining and refilling the CVT. Appreciate you weighing-in with your expertise.
One of the best treads on the topic, thanks to EVERYONE. QUesting, anyone have any experience towing a 2000lb camper with a 2.5 Outback over vail pass/Eisenhower tunnel? Need to do this just once and I’m fine driving very slow. Thanks! 2015 2.5 outback limited 2018 T@b Outback camper Stored in Grand J. CO and need to go to Denver and down to Austin. Plan to buy a newer outback 3.6 or 4Runner in Austin - though I really love the outback.
You should be ok. If it's a hot day be especially careful to not overheat the CVT.
We have a 2018 outback and used it about five times last summer to tow a 1700 pound camper with 200 pound tongue weight. At 33,000 miles we discovered a cracked rear strut. It was just fixed under warranty. My question is whether this is tow related, and am I looking at the same repair at my expense after the next five trips? We did take two trips into the relatively mountainous western Maryland and North Carolina blue mountain regions
That's a tricky one. Did you actually suffer a cracked strut piston seal failure or an actual crack of the outer structure itself? The latter seems almost ridiculously unlikely just from towing stress, so would be unlikely to recur. The former might recur if you bounce a heavy tongue weight a lot over potholes and simply blow strut seals. I would STRONGLY recommend that you "tie" the left and right sides together, as well dramatically improving handling and body control, by replacing your wimpy (16m) rear anti-swaybar with the stiffer (20mm) STi one. That was any asymmetrical loads, like a pothole on one side, will be shared across both sides rather than traumatizing either single corner. The improvement in body stability and handling is very significant in all situations such that I easily (45min) retrofit this stronger OEM brace in ALL my 2015+ OBs, and it's certainly a no-brainer to see it as a critical prerequisite to towing. Just spend the $300 and do it before you tow again.
I found a 2008 ll Bean with a new engine and transmission! I have a small pop-up with trailer brakes. Loaded it's still under 2000 pounds. I honestly don't know it's behind the car, other than when I have the trailer brake sensitivity set a bit too high and it tugs on the car. I installed a 7 way connection and run a Curt echo Bluetooth brake controller. Seems to work great. I'll be doing some hill climbing this weekend but the temp up here in Maine isnt supposed to break 55 in the mountains. I tow my ATV on a utility trailer frequently and have had zero issues. My trans fluid is nice and red and the oil is never black at 3000 mile changes. The rear squat is minimal. In the pic it seems worse due to being parked in a gravel dip.
I have towed a 14' popup up mountains in Colorado multiple times fully loaded including water tanks, car loaded with maximum size rocket box, bikes on rack on top of trailer behind 2016 outback 2.5i cvt with uhaul rack in 100 degree weather, went up steep hills 60mph, no problem thus far. 55000mi on car. Have towed up and down dirt roads with potholes. Trailer rated 1650# gvwr. No idea if it was a good idea but so far so good. My question is if stepping up to a 2100-2500# a-frame would be too much. Do many people out there have actual experience doing so?
I just bought a 2019 2.5i outback and in the process of installing a hitch to tow a small motorcycle style camper. It will not know its back there!
SCo: you'd be one of the beta-testers in a 2015-2019 2.5i CVT towing well over a ton. Keep the tongue weight down, and DEFINITELY install the rear STi 20mm swaybar! Keep in touch. Ern TSG/B
Great thread! Any thoughts on the towing capabilities of the new 2020 Outback Turbo XTI. I am purchasing a boat and trailer with a dry tow weight of 2000 Lbs and would be towing it 30 miles on flat terrain in Florida once a week?
Another guinea pig, but I think you'll be fine.
Thanks SuGuBo! Guinea pigs can be useful, so I’ll be happy to report any issues or success to this thread. This will be our 4th Subaru in 25 years and the second Outback (current one is 2010 w/130k) so obviously we love Subaru’s. Just wasn’t sure about towing, and I will admit some of the posts in this thread had me concerned, so I appreciate your reply!
ok. I have a 2005 outback 2.5i 180K miles, and am towing a teardrop with it 1550# fully loaded. Nevada to Utah and back again (Sierras and Rocky Mtns) I will be adding additional cooler to it. Thanks for all the info on this thread. But I wanted to know if there is anything I can do to help the suspension? as that seems to be a weak point for my '05 Subie. And is my OEM alternator heavy duty enough for my house battery? cus it's wired to recharge it while driving. Thanks in advance. Alisa
I'd be careful of overheating, as the HGs are fragile. To help the suspension replace the rear anti-swaybar with a fatter one. Probably ok re aux battery.
SO I am looking at a towing trailer ...for moving furniture 500 miles and a 52" riding lawn mower...I have a 2012 2.5i CVT Outback...any suggestions on a hitch?...the debate here is thorough..I like it but see two sides of a debate..and am confused...clean tranny fluid is clear...anybody?
I just purchase a 2020 Outback with the 2.5l. I am installing the Curt hitch and need to do a one time tow, I need deliver a boat I sold, from west coast of FL to Chapel Hill NC, ~800 miles. The tow load is a Boston Whaler 170 Montauk, certified scale weight is right at the vehicle max 2,670lbs, tongue weights is 250lbs. Call me guinea pig #3....
Draw-Tite, Curt. Installed prices from indies locally are under $300; good deals.
jo, I do NOT like that 250lb tongue-weight, as the rear suspension is too soft.
If I take my time and keep to the right lane - driving very conservatively do you think the 800 mile tow would still put to much stress on the suspension? As I mentioned this is a one way one time tow. I might be able to get the tongue weight down to about 8% or ~215lbs but anything lighter and will be asking for the trailer to fishtail.
I dunno. You can get some example of rear compression by having you and a friend balance yourselves up on the bumper (or sitting on it?) and bounce up and down in sync. You may deeply compress the rear springs; maybe that's correlative to your dynamic risks on smooth roads? Although rear aniti-sway bars don't change bilateral compression much, at least they balance asymmetrical loading when cornering very well, so the first thing I'd do is to replace the rear bar with the 2015+ STi 20mm one for vastly improved body control and understeering reduction. You'll be mightily impressed, and maybe it'll help secure your compressed rear...especially as you corner. I can't analyze your towed fish-tailing propensities as that's too complex, requiring data re wheelbase, track width, tire size, etc. Note that my major concern isn't damage to the OE suspension, as, after all, you can load a few hundred pounds in the rear cargo space without much concern (esp with the STi bar). The risks to me are handling the load with a compressed rear AND stress on the CVT going uphill. Get the STi bar mounted and let us know how it goes. You'll probably be ok. Just don't overheat anything! Ern
Thanks for the tip on the RSB upgrade. Question do you know if the STI RSB upgrade will work on the new 2020 Outback? The new 2020 Outback rear suspension renders a double-wishbone layout with subframe, coil springs and new 19mm hollow stabilizer bar.From the parts picture it seems different. Gen 5 curves back at the ends while 2020 Gen 6 is more of a right angle.
2020+ OBs use a completely different platform that unfortunately is also tuned for comfort at the expense of body roll and excess understeer. The rear bar is indeed a convoluted relatively skinny (weak) one, and no upgrade (a 22mm would be nice) is available that I know of. It's a shame! Will the next STi share this platform and perhaps arrive with a stronger bar? It's unlikely.... The 2015+ STi 20mm bar is a PERFECT, I think NECESSARY upgrade for all 2010-2012 and 2015-2019 OBs, and recommended for 2013-2014 also...although the benefit is less important. That the new 2.4t (and older 3.6i) don't have stronger bars is to my sporting mind almost criminal. My interest is in SPORT wagons, not Barcaloungers. Even the Audi Q5 is a roly-poly mess, unlike the X3...or even the CX-5, for example.
Heavier rear springs (if you can get them) would help alleviate the tongue weight issue. An anti sway hitch would also help reduce the tendency to fishtail.
I went for an hour or so test tow both in town and on the highway. On the highway at 60mph the oil temp was 223 degrees in town that number came down to 205 degrees. I was able to get the tongue weight down to 210lbs. The tongue weight didn't seem to overly compress the suspension, handling and braking were fine. I put on the Curt hitch and I am using a 3" rise aluminum ball mount with a stainless ball. Here is a picture.
Cute garage door!
As a follow-up. I completed tow the boat to Chapel Hill, NC, ~800 miles straight through only stopping for fuel. The Outback did well but I wouldn't suggest pulling anything heavier. Brakes did great zero issues with control and stopping power - this trailer did not have brakes - so stopping was all the car. Handling was fine and very controlled. I towed at about 65mph with some brief lane changes bursting to 75mph. Max oil temperature was 232 degrees (outside temp 93 degrees) with the majority of the time the oil temperature staying at 225 degrees. I averaged 18.8MPG.
Hi Joe. Glad you were successful. But don't do it often! That you averaged under 19mpg when you otherwise get 34mpg at 70mph unloaded is somewhat telling of the extra stresses involved, eh? Keep well and safe. Ern
Does anyone know if I can tow a GVWR 2,800 LB teardrop camper 1,200 miles in my 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5I premium (manual)? Or maybe just use an 07 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro (automatic)? Thc in advance!
The Audi is an Avant (wagon) 6 speed and I meant Thanks in advance, not that thc thing above...
?? You may eat the clutch.