Towing with vehicle with a 1,500 lb tow capacity

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by GlamperGal, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. GlamperGal

    GlamperGal New Member

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    Just joined and am trying to get more information about those that tow PUPs with SUVS that have 1,500 towing capacity. My 2014 Subaru Forester Touring came with towing package installed and has a towing capacity of 1,500. I didn't care much about the hitch at first because we've been tent campers but now I'm hoping to purchase a 1987 Palomino Pony from a friend to renovate and I want to feel confident about towing it. The dry weight of the Pony is 950 lbs and seems to pretty lightweight. I've talked to two Subaru dealerships that say I'll be fine, but then I've read some posts on here that make me second guess that. I'm brand new to towing so maybe I'm just a bit timid.

    I'd really like to get some feedback and hear from those of you out there that are towing a similar PUP with similar vehicle to put my mind at ease. Plus any tips are appreciated. I just want to make sure I'm not purchasing something that is going to ruin my Forester. I am in the mountains of NC so there will be some hilly terrain, but nothing too crazy.
     
  2. edh

    edh Active Member

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    The other two issues to consider are tongue weights (pressure on your hitch) and loaded weight (camping gear, water, propane, etc). If that camper weight is correct, it's the dry weight--i.e. the weight before any supplies are added to the camper. Figure on several hundred extra pounds for its loaded weight. Even load (unless you go crazy with supplies, clothes, etc) you should be well below your tow vehicle's limit.

    Check your tow vehicle's rating for tongue weight, it's likely 150lbs unless your tow package included a load leveling or heavier duty rear suspension. Your Palomino should be under that (I think my Palomino Colt clocked in around 125lbs).
     
  3. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    My Vibe is rated in the USA at 1,500 and in the UK at 2,200 if the trailer has brakes. My Aliner weighs just under 2,000 fully loaded and ready to travel. After around 15,000 towing miles have had no problems.
     
  4. GlamperGal

    GlamperGal New Member

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    Thanks for the great feedback! It's definitely making me feel more confident. My tongue Max is 175 so sounds like I'm pretty good. We will traveling pretty light and don't anticipate more than a few hundred lbs in cargo.

    Question: should I have breaks on my trailer? I've also heard about add ons to my transmission to help when towing. I don't know much about cars and transmissions, so please excuse my lack of proper terminology. [?:~{] My sub dealership told me the towing capacity dropped on newer foresters because the transmission is different from past models, but the engine is the same.
     
  5. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    Couple of things. .

    1) Don't use the dry weight of the trailer. . Nobody tows a dry trailer when camping. . While not the most accurate weight to use the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the trailer is a better weight to use.

    2) Remember that you are living in the USA and have to go by the tow ratings for the States not Europe like others keep quoting. ..

    3) You can figure you'll add at least 100lbs of gear and stuff for each person..

    4) Yes if possible get brakes added to the trailer. ..
     
  6. edh

    edh Active Member

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    A different opinion: trailer brakes are helpful but on a lighter trailer are not essential. I have towed trailers 800-1500lbs for years, none with trailer brakes, without problems.

    That being said, you do have to be careful, esp. on slippery surfaces (including your basic wet roads). Even on dry roads you will have a longer stopping distance, and things can get squirrely in a full emergency stop. So plan to lengthen your following distances considerably, and be an esp. defensive driver. I do not tow over 55-60 mph, for example.

    What you have heard about transmissions is that a transmission cooler is helpful if one tows very much, esp. if one tows in mountainous areas or anywhere where there are long upgrades. Ditto for those towing significant weight. The reason is that towing under those circumstances raises transmission temperatures and can shorten transmission life. You should be able to add a transmission cooler for under $300 but check with your Subaru dealer for their advice given the type of towing you'll be doing. The safe bet is to add the cooler--much cheaper than a transmission rebuild or replacement.
     
  7. speckhunter80

    speckhunter80 Well-Known Member

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    IMO, if the dry weight is 950 then the real world as equipped weight is 1100 and then you put 100lbs of stuff in it and you are now at 1200lbs..
     
  8. westlake ace

    westlake ace Member

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    I would invest in a trailer brake controller and transmission cooler. The transmission also has a viscous differential that sends more power to the rear wheels when hot and that could feel and handle different than normal agter a long hill.
     
  9. mcbrew

    mcbrew Member

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    Only in the manual transmission. CVT automatics have a multiplate clutch in the center diff.
     
  10. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    You should definitely have trailer brakes and a transmission oil cooler. It is even more important as you are closer to the tow rating.

    Back in the old days before the lawyers got involved it was common practice to assume that any vehicle could tow its own weight at a minimum. ie, a 3,000 pound vehicle could tow 3,000 pounds.

    Tow ratings change in different countries reflecting the litigiousness of the country. Higher ratings in the UK prove that the vehicle is capable but the company lawyers in the USA superseded the engineers.

    In the case of my Pontiac/Toyota, the Uk tow rating is 1,400# without brakes and 2,200# with brakes. The manufacturer dumbed it down for the USA consumer by stating 1,500# with no mention of brakes. The manufacturer modified the tow ratings in the USA to protect themselves from frivolous claims, it has nothing to do with vehicle capability.

    Vehicle tow ratings are a warranty issue only. The manufacturer's tow rating has no legal status beyond warranty claims.

    I do not suggest that anyone exceed the capability of their tow vehicle. I only suggest that people research the vehicle capability and realize that the tow rating number in a manual may not be the actual capability.
     
  11. GlamperGal

    GlamperGal New Member

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    Such great info! Thank you all for the feedback.

    As far as brakes - electric or surge? This is a lightweight PUP, so which one of probably best? My Sub manual does state that towing anything over 1,000 lbs requires brakes.
     
  12. smadeen

    smadeen Member

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    Electric brakes and don't forget to install a brake controller.
     
  13. bldmtnrider

    bldmtnrider Member

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    Be careful with subarus, they are a sheep dressed up as a wolves. Don't get me wrong, I love Subarus and own one, and while it is probably the best engineered vehicle I own, (behind a Toyota and Honda) they are not as tough as Subaru has played them out to be. For getting good gas mileage and driving in the snow, I don't think there is a better vehicle out there, but I wouldn't hook up anything over about 1000lbs and try to go up a hill on mine.

    You also need to state what kind of transmission you have. If it is a CVT which most OB Touring models are equipped with you might want to do some side research on towing with a CVT. CVTs deliver power differently and most on this board have never tried to tow with a CVT. While PUs are significantly easier to tow than a TT, they still have a significant amount of wind drag compared to a light weight open trailer.

    As far as transmission coolers go, yes, you'll want to get one. You won't need it for 99% of your towing, but on a hot day going up hill you'll save yourself some extra wear and tear.

    I would say trailer brakes are optional but suggested. Maybe take it out for a drive on a quiet road before you install the trailer brakes. If you can feel the trailer pushing you when you brake then you might want to get them installed.

    You may also want to look at getting some air bags for the rear suspension. 175lb on the tongue isn't much, especially if you have a propane tank and a battery up there. 2 propane tanks and a battery and you are almost guaranteed to be over your tongue weight. Also remember than tongue weight is subtracted from cargo capacity (which includes occupants and gear).
     
  14. The Hillbilly Hilton

    The Hillbilly Hilton New Member

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    Just a note on the transmission cooler. I may be the only one towing a fairly heavy pup with a volvo, but my dealer advised against the cooler because it causes problems with the transmission when not towing.

    The transmission needs to hit a certain temperature to run correctly, when there is no load, the cooler can keep the tranmission below its normal operating temperature and cause different problems.

    May not apply to a Subaru but just throwing it out there.
     
  15. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't tow with a CVT
     
  16. Scotia 55

    Scotia 55 Member

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    Heat is the bigger villain and 9/10 failures are because of excess heat. Most of the better transmission coolers have a thermal bypass feature that assists in quicker warm up. Still, my dealer recommends an auxiliary transmission cooler for my Venza. Based on my research I have not seen "too cool" being a problematic factor when it comes to aux. transmission coolers. When it comes to auxillary oil coolers that might be a different story. I don't plan on getting one of those though.
     
  17. GlamperGal

    GlamperGal New Member

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    My Subaru does have a CVT. I've ddid a lot of research today, some saying towing with CVT is fine and others saying nay.

    Anyone out there towing with a CVT and a similar lightweight Pup?
     
  18. Scotia 55

    Scotia 55 Member

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    Ignore the naysayers, trust Subaru! Follow your Subaru manual, stay within your loads and limits, and you will be fine! If Subaru didn't want you to tow with your cvt, your manual would say that!
    As for an auxiliary transmission cooler " bldmtnrider" has some good advice in the post above!
     
  19. GlamperGal

    GlamperGal New Member

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    Thank you! That what I keep telling myself....if they didn't want me towing, why did they put a hitch on my cvt car and then tell me how to tow in the manual. I will also def looking into trig cooler and trailer brakes.
     
  20. The Postman

    The Postman You gotta love Camping!!

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    Our previous vehicle - a Jeep Compass - had the CVT transmission, and came with a tow package from the factory. Once the hitch, wiring, and brake controller were installed, it towed our Starcraft with a 12 foot box with no problems at all. We only had that trailer for two summers, but never felt we were over towing at any time.
     

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