Subaru transmission cooler

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?


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.

@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.

I’d like to know more about the CVT 2.5 for towing. I’ve been towing with my 03 2.5 automatic with an tranny cooler since new. Now have 131,000 mi. Yea I did the usual head gasket, timing belt and water pump at 120,000 but cylinders still had cross hatching. No, don’t use synthetic just change @ 4000 mi ish. I’ve towed 1800# boat 300 mi 18 mpg stretches many times and 1200# from Wi to Aspen twice at 75mph using cruise on flats 20mpg. No problems but dont try to keep your speed on hills. Just change tranny fluid more often. Oh yea break pads too but it handles it well