I have a 1996 Subaru Outback with about 60,000 miles on it. I want to tow a pop up Fleetwood camper with it.
The camper I have in mind weighs around 1500 lbs. Is this a realistic possibility? Is my Subaru too old to do this?
Should I pick up a “transmission cooler” too?
This should be spelled out clearly in your owners manual.
If the owners manual says it’s OK…it’s a very good idea to get a separate Transmission cooler.
1500 lbs is a lot for a Subaru. Now take one that’s how old ? 17 years ? I doubt that tow ratings are for perpetuity and the 1500 lbs would be enogh to decrease the life expectancy to about half way through the trip. Best of luck. The only thing harder on a car then towing at or over the rating of a car is doing it with an old car. I doubt too that at 1500 lbs where ratings are often with one driver and light load inside, you would have ANY reserve whatsoever. Getting another vehicle like a light truck or SUV with weight would be much safer.
I believe the Outbacks of that era were all 4 cylinders. Towing with a 4 cylinder engine is not advisable at all. Besides…your transmission and braking system is simply not up to the task of towing the 1500 pound camper with all the passengers and supplies thrown in.
From what I’ve read, if the camper has electronic breaks, then it can handle the camper. Is this accurate? Most light campers have surge breaks.
@Solly…surge brakes and electric brakes have to stop the exact same load. Your little Outback is simply not up to the task of towing and stopping a 1500 lbs camper safely. Call a large RV store in your area and run the question by them.
Missileman’s advice is off target, IMHO. You’ve heard now from spokesmen for the Union of Underemployed Pickup Trucks. Now, a word from someone who has actual experience with the question at hand.
I’ve towed a 2,000 lb Scamp travel trailer with an '04 Forester for at least 5k miles, most of it in the Colorado Rockies. Here’s my report, in brief:
– I never had a single white-knuckled moment. I did have trailer brakes.
– The Subaru engine is strong enough. Cylinder count matters little, and the 2.5L Subaru matches the displacement of many small V6s. You shouldn’t be towing at max legal speeds anyway, but we held 65 mph on level stretches. Everyone will rush to pass you, no matter how fast you’re actually going, just because you have a trailer and they expect you to be going 35 mph.
– Over eight years trailering with the Subaru, I had no mechanical problems unusual to the brand.
– Remember, a 1500-lb trailer does get heavler when you add cargo, coolers, etc. Know where your local truck scale is, and how to use it.
I found that Subarus are safe and dependable for this light level of towing. But they’re far from ideal. The weak link is the rear suspension. Past 150 lbs of tongue weight (you need 10% or more of total trailer weight for a stable ride), the rear suspension sags and squats. Your low beam headlights become high beams, and your high beams become owl-spotters. There are no good aftermarket fixes for this, due to Subaru’s rear suspension design. So go out to your car and watch while a normal American male stands on the rear bumper. That’s how your car’s gonna ride while towing-- that’s a big reason why I replaced the Forester with something else.
@NSUTT…I take the safe route whenever I can. Most cars and trucks can tow anything but when it comes to “safely towing” then your options are limited. No 4 or 6 cylinders, no FWD, and the most important…no small vehicles. I speak from 30 years experience in the RV world both as an owner and as an employee.