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Towing with a Forester

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  • 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.

    Questions:

    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: 8,391
    edited September 2010
    Nancy:

    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 eTrailer.com). 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 it..like 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: 8,391
    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: 8,391
    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.
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