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Will towing a trailer damage a new car?

We are planning to buy a Subaru Forester and have decided on a new one simply because, around here at least, the prices of used Foresters with low miles are so high. We are also planning to drive across the country (west to east coast) and back with, in one direction, a 4x8 loaded U-Haul trailer, probably about 1,500 lbs total weight. The question is, will towing a weight like that be a damaging way to break in a new car?

Yes, it will. That’s the way you have to be thinking if you care about the break-in period. You should wait until 2,000 miles at the very least.

It’s harder for the engine to move all those new parts. That’s why almost all cars get less fuel economy before things loosen up. You own more of those new parts with an all wheel drive car.

If you bet that the car will survive a brand new tow, you have a good chance of betting correctly, but you should not want to be the owner of the car involved with the bet.

I’m betting that you will put some miles on it before the trip; somewhere near those 2,000 miles at least.

Price. Those used prices come from people on drugs. If you buy a new car for $24,000 and put 20,000 miles on it in two years, a dealer will offer you $11,000 on a trade-in. So, don’t hesitate to offer what a used car is really worth, even at a dealer. You might get your car at the price you want to pay.

Are you towing the trainler during the first half of your cross-country trip (west to east) or during the second half?

I wouldn’t do it. How certain are you about the 1,500 pounds total? It’s easy to underestimate that.

1,500 lbs U-Haul trailer loaded…NOT GOING TO HAPPEN…Unless you load it with empty boxes.

The lightest 4x8 U-Haul trailer (It’s actually 4x7) weighs 630lbs EMPTY…

But as you can see from the link it’s an open trailer. Not very useful for hauling your belongings across country.

If you want a Cargo Trailer (4x8) it’s weight is 830lbs EMPTY…

You’ll be more then max what the Forester can safely haul it no time…Sorry…but you’re unrealistic in your expectations.

Your best bet is to rent a U-Haul truck and tow the Forester behind it.

A loaded 4x8 will almost certainly end up weighing more than 1500 lbs. An empty one weighs 850. Its pretty unlikely that you’re only carrying 650lbs of stuff, unless you are just carrying a few pieces of furniture and nothing else.

A loaded trailer is going to be closer to 3000 lbs.

“Your best bet is to rent a U-Haul truck and tow the Forester behind it.”

Doing this will result in very expensive damage to the AWD system.
AWD vehicles like this cannot be towed.

Get that one.

Towing 1500 lbs will not damage the vehicle, but you do want to put on a couple hundred miles first before you start towing. In a way, towing the trailer will actually help you with the break in.

The trip itself is not particularly good. A new engine does not like the constant steady load. A variable load helps break in the engine. Before you start the trip, either do at least 100 miles of city driving or find a road that will allow you to safely vary your speed from 30 to 50 mph a dozen times or so.

If you do the city driving, do it aggressively, but safely. Don’t go “pedal to the metal” but do accelerate aggressively, do not speed (within reason). You want to put the rings and bearing under a load to get them to seat.

Towing the trailer will also help keep the engine loaded for break in. You will need to watch your speed. Towing the trailer at 55-60 will not subject your engine to any greater load than going 75-80 without it. Pulling up the mountains will add a lot of load, but again, slow it down and you will be ok.

You might also look at buying a trailer instead of renting one. I have a pretty light weight 4x8 flat trailer that I got new for around $400. It is considerably lighter than the U-haul, but it isn’t designed for that kind of commercial use. I can pick up one side (barely) so it must weight less than 300 lbs (not much less though). It is only rated for 1000 lbs max.

You might find a used trailer for less, but check the tires. Small utility trailers like mine sit around a lot, so even if the tread is good, the tires could be rotten.

Don’t even THINK about towing a trailer like that cross-country with a Subaru…

It could be done.
They tow relatively large trailers over in Europe.
Just stay off the interstates. Don’t cruise at a steady speed for the first 500 miles. Don’t go over ~50mph.

But most of the vehicles doing the towing in Europe are diesels.

Bottom line, if the vehicle is rated to tow 1500 lbs. and you don’t exceed that amount, you are covered under warrantee.

I vote: “DON’T DO IT!”

I wasn’t going to vote when there was a consensus, but after seeing some people say it will be okay, I must speak up.

Bottom line, if the vehicle is rated to tow 1500 lbs. and you don’t exceed that amount, you are covered under warrantee.

That’s only PART of the issue…

You also can’t exceed GWRV. Which is the combined weight of the vehicle (passengers and cargo) PLUS the weight of the trailer.

And I stated before…Unless you fill a cargo trailer with empty boxes it’ll easily reach 3000lbs. You’re already starting at 800lbs…Just 700lbs to go.

I didn’t say it would be okay, and I don’t recommend it.
I just wanted to present a different viewpoint.

I’m not surprised I drew fire for not being in lockstep with the “regulars”.

Foresters are rated at towing 2400 lbs with a 200 lb tongue weight when configured with the Subaru supplied receiver. As stated earlier, you should break the engine in first before this trip.

What good is having a vehicle with a trailer hitch that the manufacturer states is capable of towing 2400 lbs if you can’t use it?

circuitsmith, you didn’t say it. You implied it when you said “I could be done.” (sic.)

silvergg, my main objection is that layman estimates of loaded trailer weight are often wrong.

I did say it and I stand by it.