Towing with a 99 Subaru Legacy

I’m planning to move across the country in a few months. I currently have a 99 Subaru Legacy; my parents think it’s inadvisable for long-term car maintenance reasons (specifically brakes) to pull a trailer with my car. I’m looking at renting a 5x8 u-haul trailer, weighing about 900 lbs empty. The owner’s manual says that my car can tow up to 2000 lbs. Is it ok to tow a trailer with my car? If so, do I need to modify my car in any way, other than attaching a trailer hitch? Thanks!

Parents are RIGHT…In my very humble opinion, Subarus are excellent tow vehicles. Mine was for me. They are rated for 2000k but; older vehicles, regardless of their tow ratings, should be inspected and respected before towing much and NEVER tow near it’s original weight. IMO, on a ten year old Subaru, I’d out the limit at 1000Lbs assuming it was inspected and passed with flying colors. Metal fatigue does not often show up, clutches are near the end of their life, cooling systems are compromised as are old brakes and motors. I’ve been a victim myself of breakdowns in older vehicles while towing less than half their rated weight. Just my opinion. In your case, you don’t have much load weight room to safely spare.

The manual states it can tow 2,000 lbs. But does it say anything about stopping with 2,000 lbs in tow?

When you have 2,000 lbs in tow in a small vehicle, and if you suddenly have to hit the brakes, the vehicle will try to stop but the 2,000 lbs behind the vehicle will continue to push the vehicle unless the trailer itself has brakes. It’s here when things can get very dangerous.


I agree with both your parents and with dagosa.

No matter what your car’s original towing capacity may have been when it was new, it has now been in service for…at least 11 years. Those years have taken a toll on the transmission and the cooling system (as well as the engine and the brakes), thus reducing both the practical towing capacity of the vehicle as well as its reliability.

I don’t want to be the voice of gloom and doom, but driving cross-country in an 11 year old car with a trailer in tow is the perfect formula for breakdowns. And, when a breakdown occurs in an area where you are not familiar with the local repair shops, you will have a difficult time finding a competent and honest shop when (not if) the car breaks down.

The car might make it cross-country without incident if it is not burdened with the added load of towing a trailer.
It is VERY unlikely to make it without incident with a trailer in tow.

I would rent a truck and tow the Subaru on an auto transport trailer. Your Subaru is a 4-cylinder and was not designed for towing. I plugged your info into a couple of tow hitch manufacturers and had no luck finding one. I don’t believe the Legacy has a frame and the bumper is not strong enough for a bumper hitch if you could find one. Your parents are right.

Drive the car but ship your things. This is what moving companies are for.

If all you had to tow was the empty trailer it would probably be OK, but a loaded trailer can weigh almost as much as the car, and the brakes are not designed to stop TWO cars.

I have a Legacy wagon of similar vintage, and I wouldn’t tow with it.

I’m planning to move across the country in a few months.Is it ok to tow a trailer with my car?

I guess the consensus is; “only if you presently live in Luxembourg”.