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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks, I am a newbie to this forum and would like your collective wisdom as to whether I can use my new, turbo-charged Outback to tow a 3000 pound camper. Issues that occur to me are:
1) will the car handle the load, both in terms of safety and in terms of not damaging the engine, the transmission, etc.?
2) will I be voiding my warranty by towing the camper and installing the legally required brake controller?
3) what other issues/concerns am I missing?
Many thanks in advance.

ON
 

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The 525 pound tongue weight limit also needs to be considered.
 

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2018 Outback Premium 2.5
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Definitely, and factor in what supplies etc you will be carrying to stay under.

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Regarding warranty: read the manual closely. It will probably say, “warranty does not cover damages from towing”, or similar. No, it doesn’t void your warranty, but Subaru won’t pay to fix something that breaks because of towing.

Note: I don’t have a copy of your manual to confirm this, but it’s probably in there.
 

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With passengers and equipment you will be at the limits of the OB's capability. That turbo will be working hard. Will this be level roads I hope?
 

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If you repeatedly tow a 3000 pound camper, your car will be under "severe service" according to the warranty and maintenance booklet, and will require CVT fluid changes every 24,855 miles to protect the warranty.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the info folks. I won’t be towing all that frequently, probably only 6 or so times per year.
 

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Just a thought. For those few times you will tow the camper, would it be wiser to rent something to pull it with? You will spare your OB and not have to install the brake controller.
 

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Just a thought. For those few times you will tow the camper, would it be wiser to rent something to pull it with? You will spare your OB and not have to install the brake controller.
Not a bad suggestion, but that does mean a truck or larger SUV with a towing package. Rental cars typically don't come equipped with a towing package, and the rental contracts forbid attaching one.
 

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Not a bad suggestion, but that does mean a truck or larger SUV with a towing package. Rental cars typically don't come equipped with a towing package, and the rental contracts forbid attaching one.
That's true. It may not be practical everywhere. I thought about selling my Suburban and renting a truck the two times a year I haul my sailboat in and out of the water, but it is paid for and comes in handy occasionally.
 

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2018 Outback Limited 2.5L - 100,000+ miles
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With passengers and equipment you will be at the limits of the OB's capability. That turbo will be working hard. Will this be level roads I hope?
If you repeatedly tow a 3000 pound camper, your car will be under "severe service" according to the warranty and maintenance booklet, and will require CVT fluid changes every 24,855 miles to protect the warranty.
Good things to take into consideration, I would also emphasize the strain on your engine oil. I would suggest shortening your oil change interval as much as half if you are towing. I am already leery about going 6000 miles between changes under optimum conditions with a 2020 OBXT, I would do 5000 miles max if towing and would consider 3000-4000 miles between an oil change a better practice. Also consider using a 5w-20 grade oil if towing (I recommend Valvoline Advanced Synthetic 5w-20 FWIW).
 

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2019 Subaru Outback
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Specs says 3500lbs so you should be fine.

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The max tow rating is just one limitation, and one that is largely sales fluff. For my pickup truck which has a 7,600 tow rating other numbers are pretty close to being maxed out with a trailer of about 4,400 pounds.

At a minimum you need to know max tongue weight allowed and max payload, the former of which counts against the latter. I'm having a hard time getting a payload number for the Outback, but I did see 1,200 pounds somewhere. Assuming it is that then with 350 pounds of passengers and 450 pounds of tongue weight you'd have some room left for other stuff in your vehicle. But if you had two teenagers too then you'd be really close to the limit, and that 1,200 was one of the higher numbers I saw.

Also, is the 3,000 pounds the dry weight or loaded. It all adds up, and the limits are low.

Finally your range between fill ups is likely to be pretty short, particularly if the turbo engine.
 

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2020 Abyss Blue Pearl Outback Onyx XT
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The max limit is 3500. 3000 is close. You need to be honest with yourself about the weight of your camper INCLUDING gear. anything packed in the rear of your Outback will also impact tongue weight. I would also want to have a brake controller and brakes on the trailer.

If you have that all under control you should be ok. If you tow 3k+ lbs every day, you might want to look into other vehicles. I'm looking into a teardrop myself, but even though I have the XT I aim to keep weight under 2k.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks all. I expect to haul the camper 6-8 times per year. In response to some of the questions above, my Outback weighs 3926 pounds, and the GVWR is 5026 pounds, so I believe my available payload is 1100 pounds. The Lance camper I am considering has a tongue weight of 245 pounds and a dry weight of 3020 pounds.

So, assuming 350 pounds of passengers, 200 pounds of luggage in the car, 110 pounds of gasoline, and a trailer tongue weight of 245 pounds, I should be under my GVWR by a couple hundred pounds. And assuming I don‘t put more than 480 pounds of additional camp equipment and water in the camper, I should be able to stay under the 3500 pound max towing limit for the Outback. As one person noted above, though, I definitely will be flirting with my max tow and GVWR limits. As suggested by another commenter, I have considered just renting a large pickup to tow with, but I don’t know how easy it would be to find a rental that allows towing and has a complete tow package (2-inch trailer hitch, a 7-pin connection harness, and a brake controller). My gut is that using the Outback to tow a camper half a dozen times a year should be okay, but I am still mulling it over. This discussion is very helpful, so thanks again.
 

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Thanks all. I expect to haul the camper 6-8 times per year. In response to some of the questions above, my Outback weighs 3926 pounds, and the GVWR is 5026 pounds, so I believe my available payload is 1100 pounds. The Lance camper I am considering has a tongue weight of 245 pounds and a dry weight of 3020 pounds.
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Not sure if you weighed to get your weight, but typically you don't need to add gas in to the weight. It's included in the manufacturer's numbers.

One other factor would be where you're towing. The flats of Kansas versus the mountains of Colorado.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Not sure if you weighed to get your weight, but typically you don't need to add gas in to the weight. It's included in the manufacturer's numbers.

One other factor would be where you're towing. The flats of Kansas versus the mountains of Colorado.
That’s very helpful info. In the aviation world, you need to add your fuel and oil to do a proper weight and balance calculation, but if auto manufacturers already include the weight of a full gas tank, that saves me around 100 pounds. And I appreciate your point about the topography of my intended destinations. I live in coastal California, so I will be dealing with both some hills but no 14,000 foot peaks. I plan to avoid tackling any mountains when it is hot.
 

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Another consideration is rear tire pressure. You may want to increase the rear tire pressure to up to 36-39 psi cold when towing with the rear axle near maximum, and check your rear tire pressure as you get under way. If the tire pressure rises to more than 10% above the cold pressure, as a rule of thumb that indicates your tires are underinflated.

For whatever reason, the Australian versions of Outback have clear instructions on increasing tire pressure as load increased, but the American versions don't have that.


2.7 bar = 39 psi
 
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