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Towing with a Forester



  • jogousajogousa Posts: 402
    Well, 2010 Forester has a rubber grommet large enough for flat plug to pass through.

    Flat plug also has a rubber seal/cap that seals the contcats from elements.

    Flat plug and harness can be attached to hitch with plastic straps so that it does not wiggle.

    Cutting rubber grommet does not compromise water getting inside the spare tire well when properly taped with a duct tape. Most cars nowadays are designed with motto: water comes in - water comes/drips out. As a matter of fact, some cars have "one-way" rubber grommets that allow water to drip out (say, for example, when you put snowy flat tire in a spare tire well and snow melts...water then just drips out of the well).

    In my 40-some years wiring hitches on my new cars I never had any problem with water getting in or rusting while running wires through rubber grommets....
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Thanks - I'll have to take a closer look at those plugs. I did locate three of them, but did not think they were large enough to allow the massive T-One flat-4 connector to pass through. If it was of a smaller size, like is typical for a flat-4, it would be no problem. I also do not mind cutting and splicing the cable inside the car - I just need to get some more connectors.

    It will have to wait for now, though... too many other projects! :P
  • jogousajogousa Posts: 402
    I am not familiar with T-One flat 4 but a regular 4 flat connector easily goes through on of those holes and it can be easily attached to the hitch with one or two black plastic ties.
    You only slice half-way the rubber grommet, replace it and then cover it with duct tape. Works for me.
  • Hi everyone! New to the forum, but already finding it useful!
    A few questions...Has anyone towed more than 1000# with a non-turbo Forester? I was thinking this was Lawer induced, as I have many times pulled near max loads with other vehicles and without brakes...Just some planning when stopping.
    I will be pulling about 1500# in ATVs from NH to W.VA. I need to purchase my hitch, wiring etc. Class III? Any recomendations? Also, If there are transmission lines to the radiator as i read in this post at some time, then isin't that in fact a heat excanger? (no need for cooler as well?) I have been looking into the Scan GaugeII to be able to monitor coolant and ATF temps while towing. Anyone else?
    Thanks everyone!!! :)
  • jogousajogousa Posts: 402
    I bought mine at U-Haul (Class III - model # 78182) - paid $ 149.95 plus tax $ 11.25 total $ 161.20.

    I had it installed by U-haul in less than 30 minutes for 32.50 plus tax of 2.44 - total $ 34.94 installation labor.

    I bought wiring harness T-One Vehicle Wiring harness at
    Model# 118467 for $ 34.95 plus $ 4.99 shipping - total 39.94. It plugs into existing Subaru hitch harness plug next to the spare tire (4 pole trailer connector).

    So, the complete hitch, installation and wiring came to $ 236.00

    Subaru part number L101SSC000 for above lists at $ 390 plus installation labor - appx cost, if done by Subaru, is appx $ 500.00.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    I'll second that. Class-III works great! I purchased mine (Curt 13147) on Amazon for $137.20 and installed it myself - it took about an hour and the only "specialized" tool it required was a Dremel with a grinding stone to enlarge the frame holes from Class II to Class III. I picked up my wiring harness from eTrailer as well ($39.99... even to Alaska!).

    If your total weight is 1500#, you'll be just fine without trailer brakes, but be sure to leave more distance between you and whatever you might hit if you don't stop in time because your braking distance will increase, from what I can tell, by probably 30%. I tested out my trailer, partially loaded, last night (probably 900# total at that point) and it pulled flawlessly. Braking was not noticeably impacted, but I did not do a panic stop from 55-60 mph.

    The transmission does have cooler lines into the radiator. If you plan to tow regularly and for long distances, an additional cooler as always a good idea. If not, you likely do not need one. A friend of mine towed 2000# on a 2000 Forester from Washington DC to Wasilla, AK several years back. They had no problems on the trip, but about six months later the transmission went out. It was under warranty and, since they were within manufacturer spec for towing, it was replaced under warranty (though I'm still convinced that it was that trip that killed the tranny).

    I start my trip tonight, and so far the car pulls the trailer very well, so we shall see how it does when fully loaded. Of course, there will be photos!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Love that hitch mounted cargo tray. Color me jealous.

    I'd use it for beach gear - sandy chairs, things like that. Keep the inside sand-free.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Shoot, AJ, don't be jealous, just get one! They are great! I purchased everything I needed at Amazon, free shipping! The hitch was $137.20 and the tray was $102.xx. Just do it.... :P

    I hope your trip to Brazil continues to go well!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    My car has now been initiated into the Towing Brotherhood... in style! :P

    The fuel economy was painful for an 1100-mile trip (I estimate 17 mpg based on the computer's typical optimism, but have not entered all the refueling data to determine the exact number), but the car pulled the load (1100 to 1500 # trailer, I - probably conservatively - estimate) respectably well at speeds mostly between 60-65. Add to that another 600# of cargo and three guys, and it was a good load for that little 2.5L engine.

    Braking was just fine without trailer brakes, but frequent shifting was required because fifth gear could not handle any sort of incline without losing speed. Shifts down to third gear were rare as it was very happy, on most grades, in fourth. Anything over about a 6-7% grade would require third.

    I will say that if my car was an automatic, I would *definitely* put an auxiliary transmission cooler on it to make this trip as I was frequently downshifting and running 3500-4000 RPM on the engine. I cannot really comment on coolant temperature since this goofball car has no gauge, but the high-temp warning light never came on.

    All-in-all, it was a fun trip and I look forward to doing it again next year... after I route the wiring harness through the bottom of the spare tire well! :sick:


    About 2/3 to the fishing site:

    At camp:

    Oh, the horror!

    Arrival at home:
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,675
    I'm impressed. Making that Forester work for a living. :)

    Is that the car's spare under the front wheel of the 3-wheeler?

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Yes, it is a full-size from a 2008 Forester. I figured I would much rather have that than the donut in the event I needed it. I also had two spares for the trailer. Happily, I did not need to use any of them.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,675
    edited July 2010
    As I recall you're from Alaska, correct? How's the Subaru situation up there? Are there a lot of them on the roads? Are there enough dealers? I would assume that winter tires are recommended up there; maybe even year-round, due to the iffy roads?

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    edited July 2010

    Yes, I am in Fairbanks. Subaru is extremely popular up here. If the brand was so popular everywhere in the US, it would rival the big auto makers in annual sales! There are definitely not enough dealers, but you wouldn't hear the dealers say that!

    There are three in the state (one in Fairbanks, one in Anchorage, and a third in Juneau), and the best price you will find on an in-state car is MSRP unless you have a personal connection to the store's brass. Actually, the Anchorage store shifted gears at some point in the past three years and went from being a dealer that negotiated between invoice and MSRP to adding a $2,000 dealer markup to the cars! Depending on the time of year, you might be able to negotiate as "low" as MSRP, but it's pretty sad. I would not even consider buying a car here; the only thing the local dealers are good for is warranty work and test drives.

    Winter tires are recommended, but certainly not necessary. I have a set for my '10 Forester, but did not use them before that and never had any problems with my '96 Outback. The '07 and '08 Outbacks were somewhat iffy in their all-season rubber, but that was because the RE-92A is such an awful tire. With their rear limited-slip differentials, though, they were quite a bit of fun on those tires! I will say that winter tires make a huge difference in traction on snow/ice, so I personally do recommend them.

    I don't see how using winter tires year-round would be helpful at all. If anything, keeping a good set of struts on the car is the ticket to safe summer driving.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    I ran the numbers last night on fuel/distance:

    1105.1 miles, 62.9 gallons of fuel, 17.56 mpg average fuel economy, and $217 in fuel (at average price of $3.45 per gallon). My share of the fuel and food came to about $120, so my fish cost me about $1 per pound of meat. :shades:
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,675
    Incredible. Only 3 Subaru dealers in all of Alaska...

    No wonder Joe Spitz (Cars.101 in Seattle) is trying to woo Alaska customers.

  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... 1500 # trailer... Braking was just fine without trailer brakes..."

    The Forester has good brakes and does not need trailer brakes for stopping distance unless you need a panic stop. Trailer brakes are for a completely different problem - jack knifing when braking in a turn.
    I towed an unbraked 2000-lb boat with a little Mazda pickup truck for years with no problem. Until one rainy day on a twisty country road I braked to slow down in the middle of a curve, and the unbraked trailer tried to go straight and pushed the back end of the truck around.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Yeah, that's one of those lessons chalked up to experience. I did that once in my younger days as well, and it is not hard to do at all.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    And don't laugh ... I have $1000 in free Subaru Bucks to buy a hitch, harness, whatever. It's just that it's my wife's car and I don't think she wants me doing all the dirty work in her nice new ride! :D
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    edited July 2010
    Hahahahah, mine feels the same way, but I think we were a single-vehicle family long enough that she understands the give-and-take that goes along with "owning" the primary vehicle.

    To my credit, I do go to great lengths to ensure that her car is kept pristine, even if it is worked hard from time to time. :P
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I had to teach the kids to sit first, then kick off the sand/dirt before putting the legs in the car. ;)
  • We are looking to tow a small pop-up camper with a 2009 Forester 2.5X with manual transmission. We've never towed before so want to be completely safe for ourselves and everyone else on the road!

    2 Pop-ups we had in mind are new Colemans with breaks. One is the Sedona with an unloaded vehicle weight of 1470 lbs and unloaded tongue weight of 190 lbs. It is the smaller of the two and is an 8 foot box.

    The second is the Yuma with an unloaded vehicle weight of 1645 lbs and unloaded tongue weight of 165 lbs and it is a 10 foot box.


    First, is this a "reasonable" weight to tow? We are only two people, used to primitive tent camping, will not be adding much more to the camper weight. (Maybe 300 pounds?)

    Why is the tongue weight more on the smaller camper? After adding the propane tank and battery, do we just try to adjust by packing more at the back end of this camper? I believe the maximum tongue weight is 200 lbs with a class 2 hitch?

    While the bigger camper is only 175 lbs more, it is our preference. How will the added 2 ft in the box length impact the tow driving? More chance for sway?

    Thanks for any replies.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    edited September 2010

    Weight-wise, either of these pop-ups is fine. The car will pull the weight okay, and they are low profile so they won't buck much wind (and therefore are not likely to sway unless they are poorly loaded with too much weight near the back). If the 10' unit has a longer wheelbase, it may actually be more sure-footed than the 8' unit.

    I highly recommend that you install a class-3 on the car - it is much more versatile than the C2 and will not cost you any more to purchase & install (take a look at If you already have the C2, then never mind the suggestion!

    If you prefer the 10' unit, get it! Any weight you add to the trailer in front of the trailer axle will be apportioned between the trailer axle and the hitch, so even if you add the propane and battery, much (depending on exactly where they are located) of the weight will be born by the trailer.

    My car is a manual transmission as well; it handles towing admirably for such a small car.
  • Thank you so much for the reply.

    We have NOT installed the hitch yet, and I have been trying to glean info on forums as to reasons why to install class 2 versus class 3 hitch. If the maximum weight to tow on a Subaru is 2400 lbs, I had thought that the class 2 would be enough.

    I've read so many forums lately and there are so many differing opinions. I've read a few postings that say the Subaru dealership only installs certain hitches, that money is to be saved by having someone else do U-haul. We live in a rural area and are limited in our choices. If it's a few hundred bucks more to have the Subaru dealership do it rather than drive an hour away to a bigger city, it would be worth it to us, it seems.

    Again, thanks for the info.
  • jogousajogousa Posts: 402
    You should be fine with either of the "pop-ups" that you have mentioned.

    I believe 2000 lbs is the max tow weight on Forester.

    Tongue weight of 200 lbs is max for Forester - you can check the weight by using a bathroom scale and resting the front end of pop-up tow on it.

    Length should not be a problem as long as you keep the max speed weight rated for that particular pop-up. I would not go over 55 MPH and avoid sharp quick turns.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    The Class-II hitch is "enough" to pull the trailer you want, but the Class III is much more versatile. If you are looking to have it installed for you, there are a variety of places that can do this work. Even if you are in a "small town," it can't be *that* small if it has a Subaru dealership!

    The cost of a hitch should be about $140 delivered to you, with the wiring another $35-40. The total install takes about an hour for a class three (which requires slight modification to the holes in the frame rail to accommodate the larger bolts) hitch. I would think it should take 30 minutes or less for a class II.

    I suspect you will spend at least $400 at the dealership for the Subaru kit (class-II) installed; anywhere else, the total cost should top out at about $300. If you do want a class-III and are concerned about finding a reputable installer, call your dealer and ask them if they will install a class III unit that you provide them.


    Keep in mind that my recommendation is just another opinion. I base my recommendation on my experience with both types and "severe duty" applications of all types including towing and auto recovery. The car is capable of short-term severe-duty work, but a class-II hitch is not up to the task.

    Some general points that may be worth pondering:

    1. Classes I and II use a 1.25" adapter; Classes III, IV, and V use a 2" adapter.
    2. Cargo trays, which mount directly to the receiver, are a very useful tool for carrying small amounts of dirty/awkwardly sized/overflow cargo outside the car. They come in 2" only (as far as I have found, anyway).
    3. Class I/II balls are not compatible with Class III/IV because they use a smaller shank. The smaller the shank, the less shear strength.
    4. You can get a 1.25" to 2" adapter for using 2" attachments, but total system strength remains limited by the 1.25" receiver.

    I am a big fan of versatility (which is why I like Subaru!), so I favor the choices that allow me the greatest future flexibility. You can scroll through images of my Forester's hitch and various uses of it on my CarSpace page, if you're interested.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    I would not go over 55 MPH and avoid sharp quick turns.

    Good advice. I have seen people get themselves in trouble with pop-ups, especially when not on asphalt most likely because, although compact, they are heavy for their size and will try to resist shifting directions.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Older Forester could tow 2000 lbs but newer ones are rated higher.

    She's got room to spare.

    I would make sure the wiring harness is compatible with the braked-trailer. Class II only comes with a 4-plug connector, and you may need the round 9-plug type, or an adaptor.

    In fact, you may want to see if the trailer folks install hitches, then you know it'll match up.
  • Thanks to all for the helpful messages.
This discussion has been closed.