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Towing with a Forester

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Comments

  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    I don't suppose that installing the self-leveling suspension is a financially feasible option?

    -Frank
  • xtopxtop Posts: 29
    I imagine that I will load up the storage at the rear of the trailer itself to cut the load on the back of the Subaru. A simple and effective method, thank you. The battery might end up being moved as well to help.

    The self-leveling suspension would be lovely but not an option for me.

    What would be an optimum hitch weight on the tongue, does anyone have an idea? It's common knowledge, I'm sure, but I don't know it.

    Thank you, everyone, for your help.

    Fred
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Hey where's Bob, our resident towing expert and champion of all things towing related :P
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Ideally w/o the leveling you'd want less than 10% tongue weight of the trailer and not less than 6%.

    On my peformance boat trailer I run about 600lb tounge on a 10,000lb trailer and this works out well to keep it balanced.

    -mike
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Mike,

    I'm curious. How does one actually determine the tongue weight?

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • kavoomkavoom Posts: 181
    First, Subaru's tow great. 2004's are better than the newer ones IMHO as they softened the ride when they added a half inch of height in 06. I had to retro "Pinks" springs into my 07. I had 200 lbs on my tongue weight and my base model sagged less than an inch so try it. Do not use the OEM hitch go for a retrofitted Class II hitch like a hidden hitch.

    You could beef up the suspension if you wanted but, for example, the load leveling struts (standard in Australia only available in auto LL Beans in U.S.) will run you around 800 bucks for parts alone in the U.S. At a dealer, count on another 3 to 400 for labor.

    You will need a seven pin hook up for electric brakes but Subaru's already have a four pin built in (look in your spare tire well/see the rubber grommet in the bottom?) and installers say they are easy to convert to 7 pin.

    Tongue weight is figured by looking at what the manufacturer says tongue weight is, and then adding the battery weight and the propane tank weight. So, generally, you are looking for around a 150 lb tongue weight to stay under the Subaru 200 lb rating. Don't worry about a few pounds over.

    And Subaru North American tow ratings are low compared to other countries. Many are convinced it is fear of lawyers as to why. In Australia they are rated at 3200 lbs for example and around 240 lbs tongue weight (remember load leveling struts are standard down under except for the absolute 2.0 base model.

    Forester's are still the highest rated (at 2400 lbs)relative to size/engine in the U.S. A manual transmission is preferable IMHO and with the turbo, you will have NO problems going anywhere. You don't need to add a tranny cooler with a manual either. But you will need to change out tranny fluids more often.

    I tow an 1800 to 1900 lb pop up with electric brakes and between my two Foresters (I have an 07 Premium Package manual now) I have put close to 20K in trips over mountains hills and dales. I've seen T@Bs on many a Subaru.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They're basically fancy struts, so a swap may not be hard, but they are PRICEY! :surprise:
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    You will need a seven pin hook up for electric brakes but Subaru's already have a four pin built in (look in your spare tire well/see the rubber grommet in the bottom?) and installers say they are easy to convert to 7 pin.

    There is no such thing as a "conversion" from 4-pin to 7-pin, at least not easily. For a 7-pin you'd need to put in a brake controller and brake controller connections to the rear where the 7-pin connection goes. It's not plug-and-play so to speak.

    Tongue weight is figured by looking at what the manufacturer says tongue weight is, and then adding the battery weight and the propane tank weight. So, generally, you are looking for around a 150 lb tongue weight to stay under the Subaru 200 lb rating. Don't worry about a few pounds over.

    That's actually incorrect.

    Tounge weight is actually calculated by putting a scale under the tounge at the hitch-height with a fully loaded trailer. You can use a bathroom scale but make sure to put a rod or something so that it's at the correct heigh of where it will be when hitched.

    -mike
  • xtopxtop Posts: 29
    The T@B trailers have a 7-pin plug so I am using an adapter. I notice the 4-pin to 7-pin adapter has has some extra wire pigtails and I assume they are for electric brakes, etc. The T@B uses surge brakes which eliminates the electric brake connection. Now I have to figure out how to hook it up so that the car alternator charges the battery in the T@B through the 7-pin plug. The manual shows this but I will have to investigate this feature further when we get the trailer home. The manual shows the bathroom scale method of checking tongue weight. It should work well for what we are doing.

    We are picking the trailer up tomorrow. It will be interesting.
  • kavoomkavoom Posts: 181
    They have to run wire from the battery to a converter box I can't think of what it is called but it is separate from the controller and is in line. They run the wire along the frame and then hook into the four pin connector that then goes out of the grommet.

    Perhaps I should have said "relatively" easy or "comparatively" easy as compared to a vehicle that has nothing. I can only comment on what two installers said to me.
  • xtopxtop Posts: 29
    Has anyone installed a battery isolater on their Subaru? Any suggestions as to brand, wire gauge use to go to the trailer, etc. would be appreciated. I have found several including kits using 8-gauge wire. The alternator is not over 70 amps in our Forester, I believe, which determines the wire size.

    We are picking up the trailer today and I will ask the dealer about this as well. Any first-hand experiences will be welcome.

    Fred
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... load up the storage at the rear of the trailer itself to cut the load on the back of the Subaru."

    But you should be sure that at least 6% and preferably 10% of the trailer's weight is on the tongue, up to the car's limit of 200 lbs. Otherwise the trailer will tend to wiggle and fishtail.
  • xtopxtop Posts: 29
    We have towed it home now. It tows wonderfully and stops perfectly. The mileage definitely dropped and I had to shift down to 4th for most of the hills but it pulls very nicely. I will be weighing the tongue load in a day or two to see where it is at present. I will probably load it to 150-200 lbs. which is around 10% of its weight. We had to run antifreeze into the water pump as it will be freezing here at 9100 feet of elevation tonight. We are delighted so far. I will be installing the battery isolater and power cable to the trailer from the car in a week or two. I really like the idea of charging the trailer battery as we drive. We also looked at the solar charging panels at Camping World. Is anyone using those?

    Thanks for all the good advice. We do appreciate it.

    Fred
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... As for the rear suspension, the easiest thing to do is to move anything inside the trailer to the rear to reduce the tounge weight."

    This page shows the tongue weight for the T@B trailers is 110 to 145 lbs.
    http://www.tab-rv.com/specs/dimensions.php

    T@B has probably balanced the trailers to have enough tongue weight so the trailers pull in a stable manner, and the weights do not seem excessive for a Forester suspension. I would be careful about loading the rear of the trailer to reduce tongue weight, as it might be dangerous.
  • xtopxtop Posts: 29
    Thanks for that information. I should have looked on the site myself, duh! It pulled perfectly off the dealer lot so I will try to maintain the tongue weight it has at this point. I would not change the tongue weight balance with loading and I will be weighing it soon. It has been snowing so much that I haven't been able to do that yet. We are taking it on an inaugural 1,000+ mile trip this week to get out of the snow for a bit. We hope the mileage improves as it only got 13.3 MPG on the trip home. I should mention that we gained 4,000 feet in elevation and passed over a near 11,000 foot crest to get here from the Colorado plains. Most of the trip this week is much flatter than that so it should be a good indicator of the fuel economy we will get in future.
  • xtopxtop Posts: 29
    The bathroom scales registered 225 lbs. I think I will try to balance it out at around 150-175 lbs on this first trip and see how it tows. There is lots of storage in the rear of the trailer so it should be simple to lighten the tongue load just a bit. I can see where the load is coming from as the heat pump is in front of the trailer axle along with the water tank, LP tank, and battery. After this trip, we are planning to store the trailer for the winter so we hope to find out a few things about it before that.

    Thanks to everyone for all your help.
    Fred
  • How did your trip go? What does a battery isolater do?
  • xtopxtop Posts: 29
    The trip starts in the morning.

    A battery isolater allows me to charge the battery in the trailer using the tow vehicle alternator without risking discharge of the tow vehicle battery. It's a one-way switch.

    Fred
  • Do you have to add an isolator, or does it come
    with the trailer connection?

    I thought the car's alternator automatically
    recharged the deep-cell battery on the trailer
    through the electrical connection that lit the
    trailer's exterior lights and activated the
    trailer's brakes.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Have a good trip, Fred! He's probably off already.
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