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Subaru transmission cooler

edited August 2012 in Repair and Maintenance
I have a 2012 Subaru Outback 2.5i with CVT. We live in Washington state and tow an 1800 lb trailer over the passes in all seasons. Do you think I need a transmission cooler?


  • Yes.

    Actually, I'd never tow that much with an Outback, regardless of what Subaru says is acceptable and what the hitch installers recommend. Aside from transmission issues and braking, I can't imagine the handling to be very good with that load.
  • Ditto to what asemaster says; and a CVT to boot.
    You might call the Subaru dealer and price a new CVT unit. That might discourage any ideas of towing completely.
  • I agree with both asemaster and ok4450. You are damaging your vehicle by towing this trailer.
  • rajraj Duct Tape Specialist
    edited August 2012
    @asemaster. Not sure on CVT however towing with Outback makes a fine vehicle oddly. I know folks who two 2000 lb boats behind a 2005 Outbacks (smaller) rated for 2700 lbs. They have no issues(110k) with weekly tows of a boat and launches into local tidal river. I believe Subaru's AWD full-time comes into play. It is like getting a RWD vehicle which handles this fine.

    This gives the info>>>>

    Looks like CVT has less rating and make sure you have trailer brakes.
  • Those are some pretty strong statements, despite the 2700lb rating by the manufacturer. If anyone has a good example where something broke it would help the conversation.

    I haven't seen anything on a transmission cooler in there. Does anyone think a transmission cooler is worth the effort?
  • No, I don't think I've ever seen a Subaru damaged by towing, but then I don't think I've ever seen one used to tow anything more than a 6 foot utility trailer. Overheated fluid kills transmissions, I'd definitely have one installed--a few hundred vs. thousands for transmission repair/replacement seems like pretty cheap insurance. I also think that 2.5 would work pretty hard to keep highway speeds.

    You've got electric brakes on the trailer, right?

    According to the website raj posted above, the weight limit is reduced to 1350lbs for hard towing. I'd consider towing over Snoqualmie or Stevens and pulling the hill at Vantage to be hard towing. And knowing what a 2000lb trailer feels like behind a half-ton pickup I can't imagine the handling and braking in your Outback to feel very safe. Admittedly I've never tried it and you have, so if you feel safe enjoy!
  • Your CVT has a cooler. Maybe you need a higher capacity cooler maybe not. But, the last thing you want to do is compromise your CVT's warranty. Whatever you do make sure it is done with the Dealer's blessing. Which means the cooler should be Subaru or Subaru approved, and the work done by the dealer.

    Recall for 2010 Outback and Legacy CVT cooler hoses.

  • Factory recommendations to the contrary, my feeling is that the transmission is going to have a short lifespan and not just due to the weight; it's moving that mass uphill on a regular basis.

    Another factor to consider is just how much weight is being added to the car itself due to passengers and gear.
  • Statements in the owner's manual would have me renting a truck for towing.

    An additional transmission cooler would help but I don't have enough faith in the CVT transmission to use this vehicle for towing.

    SUBARU warranties do not apply to
    vehicle damage or malfunction caused
    by trailer towing.

    . When driving uphill in hot weather, the
    air conditioner may turn off automatically
    to protect the engine from overheating.

    . When driving uphill in hot weather, pay
    attention to the coolant temperature high
    warning light (for all models) and AT OIL
    TEMP warning light (for AT and CVT
    models) because the engine and transmission
    are relatively prone to overheating
    under these conditions. If the coolant
    temperature high warning light and/or the
    AT OIL TEMP warning light illuminates,
    immediately turn off the air conditioner and
    stop the vehicle in the nearest safe

  • Aside from above postings, I think a transmission cooler is a most excellent idea, ask Subaru about warranty issues, if they hum and guffaw ask would I have any warranty issues if you put it in.
This discussion has been closed.