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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all! We have a 2017 Outback 2.5 Limited with about 45k miles. We've had it since April 2019. We are now looking at buying a teardrop trailer that is about 1450-1500# empty with a tongue weight around 150-170#. It will also have electric brakes. For the most part we will be on highways and paved roads, but also some dirt or gravel roads. We won't be doing any real off-roading. We'll be doing short trips nearby and some longer trips in the 5,000+ mile range. We live in Alaska and would be driving down to the lower 48 (possibly as far as the East Coast) once every 1-3 years.

I've combed through the forums here to learn about towing and I've seen a lot of different opinions about the Outback's towing capabilities (or lack of) and how it can impact the car over the long term, even when far below the 2700/200 limits. I plan on being very gentle with the car, avoiding super mountainous areas, paying attention to RPMs, and giving myself a lot of braking distance. Even so, I'm hoping to get a little more insight into the upgrades I can do to help make my Outback last as long as it would if we didn't do any towing. I did some searching on here but didn't quite find all the answers I was looking for and I also just want to make sure I'm understanding things correctly so far. My knowledge of cars in general has a lot of room for growth! :geek:

Here's what I have pieced together so far. I'm curious if anyone has anything to weigh in on these or if I have any misconceptions.

CVT Cooler/Temp Monitor: I've read that the coolers can be a huge help but that they can also do too much cooling and that this is where a fluid control thermostat can be helpful. I've also seen people recommend against a cooler because it is another potential point of failure. At the very least, I plan on having a way to monitor the CVT temp. If it gets too hot, I would just pull over for a little while, make some coffee, and take in the sights. Anyone have experience with a CVT cooler and towing?

Suspension/Brakes: Would an "upgrade" here be to just get them replaced as needed with the stock ones (just more often) or are there beefier suspension kits and brake kits that I should consider getting? Can anyone suggest any? I'm also familiar with the rear sway bar and am considering that too.

Tires: I haven't been able to find much about this other than that you want to increase your tire pressure with a trailer, especially in the rear. Are there certain tires that would be worth considering?

Any other things we should consider doing that would keep our Outback happy while towing?

Thanks in advance for any input and for reading everything! I have a ton to learn still and I'm excited for the journey.
 

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'19 Outback Touring 3.6R
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I'm gonna be THAT guy . . . Swap for a 3.6R.

Have fun on your journeys!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
This is also something we've considered but there aren't any used ones (that I can find) for sale right now in Anchorage and I don't see them often. A new one would really put us over our budget and honestly I'd probably still want to consider doing some of these upgrades anyway. Thanks for your input 👍
 

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Trailer brakes / brake controller are what you need with a trailer. Trying to upgrade the brakes on the car will get expensive quickly. A trailer harness and a trailer brake controller.

For springs - in the back to keep things level, look for something like the Rallitek overload springs. More damping in the back with a heavier load is also nice... and as the OE struts/shocks get older, you’d maybe think about replacing them anyway. People seem to like the bilsteins... B4 or even more damping the B6. You could get away with only doing the rear shocks with overload springs as long as the front isn’t worn out (shouldn’t be at that mileage). Maybe start with overload springs if you find the rear sags too much with a trailer attached to the hitch. Longer trips often enough towing and carrying lots of weight make that upgrade worth it over other solutions.

Tires- should have a rating on the side for max inflation/load. Can air them up if you are carrying more weight. The tires spec’d for the car have a speed/load rating... they should be sufficient for the load you will be carrying. Tires should be in good condition for towing of course. Maybe look into carrying a full size spare for the car and not just the little full height spare... annoying to swap tires around if the flat is in the back and then you aren’t supposed to drive far on it anyway. Put the full size spare in the trailer, carry a trailer spare in the car in place of the full height one. Or use the space from leaving the full height one to store more stuff.
 

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For the CVT. You have an external cooler now, you can add capacity by adding another inline. @Brucey has a post around here somewhere where he did that... and he abuses his transmission more than you will towing. Zero problems with cold start up... no weird thermostat gizmos needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
@walker Thanks so much for the detailed response! You helped me get a sense of what's more of a priority here.
 

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2010 2.5 CVT Premium
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My only contribution would be that since you are in Alaska, an additional transmission cooler may need a bypass thermostat so the cooler is not used in the cold months. If the CVT fluid cannot get to operating temperature, there may be an efficiency loss and/or the torque converter may not go into lock-up mode when cruising. Something to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My only contribution would be that since you are in Alaska, an additional transmission cooler may need a bypass thermostat so the cooler is not used in the cold months. If the CVT fluid cannot get to operating temperature, there may be an efficiency loss and/or the torque converter may not go into lock-up mode when cruising. Something to consider.
Thanks for your advice! Like one of these?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Have you considered an Aliner? Under 2000 lbs and has a smaller profile. Sets up in 60 seconds.
That was definitely one we really considered for a while! We decided on a Vistabule. Comes in around 1500 pounds and as another owner put it, we like the idea of being "around" a trailer rather than in it. How long have you had the Aliner? You like a lot about it?
 

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I tow an Intech Pursue. I did Rallitek springs (1" lift). I had the thicker sway bar, but I took it off because it did spin once in the snow with the crappy worn OE tires. The car doesn't need the bar with the stiffer springs. I just got Toyo Open Country AT2's this winter which have a better load rating than OE and feel much better. I put a Redarc tow controller on also. It's really nice and low profile. I mounted the dial in the fuse door. I have probably about 4500 miles towing out of the 41,000 on the car and so far it's been good.


Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
 

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2.5 L CVT
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That was definitely one we really considered for a while! We decided on a Vistabule. Comes in around 1500 pounds and as another owner put it, we like the idea of being "around" a trailer rather than in it. How long have you had the Aliner? You like a lot about it?
We just picked it up 2 weeks ago. We took our first trip to Red River Gorge earlier this week. It has a lower profile than many teardrops and is quite usable inside. We spend most of our time outside and I think we will most likely leave the inside in a sleeping configuration. The 2.5L seemed to do a fine job holding 60-70 mph through the hills of KY.
 
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