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Hello! I am the recent owner of a 2002 Subaru Outback. I'm looking into attaching a 4x8 Uhaul trailer, with Uhaul's hitch installation, for my drive from AZ to NY. The car has 210k miles on it, but got a new engine and transmission 50k miles ago. I'll need the trailer for two bikes and a thin (made cheap but still expensive) wooden tv stand & desk, maybe a few boxes of clothes/art supplies, so I don't expect the load to be that heavy. The current route plan is four days through the middle of the country and there will be a second driver.
Do you have any recommendations? I've seen vaguely some warnings about the car overheating and right now it's 100deg on a good day in Phoenix. I'm a bit nervous because I haven't done anything like this before, the towing, the move, or the posting in a car forum, so I'd love any advice/tips for the setup or route.
Also, if you have any other cost-effective suggestions for getting my stuff across the country I'm all ears. My original plan was to use a Uhaul Ubox ($1200ish), but the trailer installation/rental is only $300 and an excuse to get rid of some furniture. Just my two bikes combined already cost $1300ish, so maybe the Ubox is justified, but I'd rather not. Of course, $300 only means something if it actually gets me there in one piece.

Thanks in advance!
 

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2018 Outback 3.6 R Limited
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74 Posts
Be careful with UHaul and their estimate. Too many stories out there regarding price changes and availability once you've committed... Give yourself at least a day buffer on each end to deal with any hiccups.

As for the Outback, assuming all is in good shape and serviced properly, it'll tow what you have... Wouldn't hurt to have the oil changed before you go, as it'll give a mechanic the opportunity to check the brakes, coolant, windshield washer fluid, filters, etc. I believe your Outback is rated to tow 2,000lbs (that would include the trailer, and all you load in it). You will get worse gas mileage due to the enclosed trailer. They aren't particularly aerodynamic and can get pushed around a little due to cross winds if you drive through any. Nothing to worry about, just good to be aware of. You might not make as good time as you think due to extra fuel stops, so give yourself a buffer here as well.

Cover everything well inside the trailer to protect the items as they move around and against each other, and strap them down tight. Those blue/grey moving blankets and inexpensive ratcheting straps work well for this. The plastic cling wrap also works great to keep things tight. Check for movement each time you stop for gas. Get a pair of locks (for the car/trailer connection and for the trailer lift gate for the overnight stops. Place the items evenly inside the trailer, keeping most the weight centered between the trailer wheels and the front of the trailer. Too much weight (tongue weight) towards the front will have the back of the car sag low, and too much weight at the back of the trailer unsettles the car / trailer balance, making the car feel like it's wants to wander in the lane. If it doesn't drive like you expect, go with your feeling a rearrange the load. Being comfortable behind the wheel is the most important thing for a 2,500 mile drive.

Remember you have something tailgating you... so square off your turns a bit, avoid drive-through lanes if you can and don't park anywhere you'll need to back up if you can avoid it. Reset your mirrors to see the trailer wheels if you get in a tight spot so you don't run anything over you don't want to.

Look at it as an adventure and have fun! And don't forget the snax... :)
 

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2002 Pair: 3.0 VDC Wag & 2.5 Limited Sedan
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moved to the towing section. trailer or not, make sure to rinse off the radiator before leaving . AZ/ NM brown dust,...etc really eats at the cooling ability.

(do read back through the threads, @KansasMatthew types much of the cross-continental Uhaul experience.

I would consider putting the bikes on a bike rack behind the car. taking good pics and measurements of the wood TV stand / desk. (NYS has plenty,...or you can make em)

I would not put anything on the roof, and I would take the crossbars off if you have not already done so. (gain 1mpg in removing them,...and really loose some to carry bikes or a egg up there).
I have used my roof bars exactly 1 time in like 20 years of owning gen2 wagons.
 

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2010 2.5 CVT Premium
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1,226 Posts
My only add is to consider the smallest trailer that will suit your needs. Uhaul trailers are built like tanks so thay are heavy compared to other trailers but a smaller one will have less wind resistance which really sucks up power at highway speeds.

One other thing (though I'm not sure if it really matters) is some states require trailer brakes at ridiculously low weights. I don't know if that applies to anyone travelling through or just residents. Either way, the smaller trailer is less likely to trip that limit.

Best of luck and be safe.
 

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2019 2.5i Premium w/Eyesight, "Wilderness Green Metallic"
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591 Posts
I would suggest adding a day or two to your schedule and drive about 60 mph. Dropping a little speed makes a big difference in your mpg and a lot less strain on your engine and transmission.
 

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2002 Subaru Outback VDC
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36 Posts
You should be fine....I recently pulled a 6x12 trailer from Wisconsin to Colorado, full of stuff - it didn't pull as well as my old XC70, but it was more than comfortable - I do have the H6 though. Make sure your maintenance is up to date, and take your time...I was able to maintain internet speed limits, gave adequate distance for braking and turning...acceleration takes a hit so you have to do a little bit more planning. As suggested, give yourself extra time.
 
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