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Towing with XT

16509 Views 45 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  OCRentAPopo
I'm hoping to tow a Spec3 racecar (spec weight w/ driver 2900lbs) on an aluminum double axle trailer with brakes (1300 lbs) with a 2005-2009 Outback XT manual. So, I'm looking at 4200lbs loaded trailer weight with a corresponding tongue weight of roughly 420lbs (10%).

The US towing specs are 2700lbs gross trailer weight and 200lbs tongue. Apparently, European models (self-leveling suspension?) are rated at nearly 4000lbs though I haven't found tongue weight.

I figure I can stiffen up the suspension and get that at least as good as Euro spec with King Springs, maybe stiffer struts of some kind, and upgraded swaybars. I'm not sure how to increase max tongue weight, though.

Long story short, any thoughts on how to increase the max tongue weight? What's the weak link?

I've done tons of searching on this forum, legacygt and subaruforester etc. with no luck. I'm aware that this might be dangerous. Please don't respond with safety first, buy a truck, think of the children etc. Thanks for any responses.
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Ocrent - you ever see that pretty famous video on Youtube? A BMW 5series wagon towing exactly what you just described? It ended up in a pile on the side of the road.

Also 420lbs tongue weight would make my 5000lb rated Landcruiser unhappy I know because I've done it. NO WAY in **** would I drop 420lbs on the legacy car frame first off you will tweak the unibody with that. Not to mention your trailer will dump you in a heap on the side of the road before you can say Oh Sh-t

Get a beater Yukon thats what my buddy hauls his track miata to the track with. He paid $10,000 bucks for a few years back we even took it from SF to Dillion Co two years ago worked fine not counting the failed fuel pump in Elko NV
Thats the one

I have towed many different types of trailers with many different vehicles over the years.

Lots of miles and 10+ years of towing various trailers with my 2001 legacy which is the same platform as your XT minus the wagon and a few minor body updates and suspension changes etc. #1 Your largest issue even with the XT is the cooling capacity not power! Even the non turbo 2.5 had plenty of power and ran short on cooling when hauling a large heavy trailer.

Your tongue weight will 100% bend the car no doubt about it. We have a well known city employee who must use a power chair which he puts on a lift mounted to a hitch. He uses legacy's and outbacks for this however this set up is 300lbs and every car gets bent after just a couple of years. He keeps them as long as he can and simply buys another used one and runs it till the trunk is nearly dragging on the ground. Your tongue weight will not work for the legacy platform period.

The XT will move that trailer but you will be wasting your money on the XT given #1 it will destroy the car #2 your a prime target for a lawsuit if you take out a family in a mini van.

Get the proper rated tow vehicle and get your kicks on the race course.
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I would love to see someone try and find a load distributing hitch on a unibody car - the rear frame on the legacy is designed to crush its not a body on frame vehicle. I have zero idea how a load distributing hitch frame can be built for a Unibody vehicle unless you build a under body frame that runs nearly half the length of the car.

Either way not even worth trying given no sane person would find this workable however there are plenty of insane people on the roads which is part of why car accidents are one of the single largest causes of premature death in the US.
If your a Sleazy lawyer then just ratchet up the hours billed during the 8hr work day and pick up a tow vehicle - then get your DD ride.

If your running track days and can't afford a beater tow car for the track rig then all I can say is pick another hobby and take a finance class.

I replaced the old Landcruiser this summer with an 07 mint condition 4.7L limited Sequoia we have two grand parents who live close by, two kids and two parents and it generally is full of asses sitting in seats every weekend. The 4.7L toyota V8 is nearly a carbon copy of the V8 in the Yukon but the toyota name commands a higher price tag.

Paid 22K for single owner all records 64,000 mile ride good friend paid $10,000 for a single owner all records Yukon with 98K on it. He got the better deal.
He gets around 17-18mpg non towing as do I. Towing we both run between 12 and 16mpg pending how fast and how heavy we are.
LOL well thats what you call a dilemma. I have family in DC right around the corner from Georgetown spent many days in DC and your traffic it fits quite well with the 405 in LA on a normal day. Get the full size tow car your going to need it.
As mentioned, the problem is the tongue weight. The rest can be made up for by simple mods. Getting a better radiator to deal with the heat, rear springs, making sure your trailer brakes are up to the task.

I had heat issues when towing similar weight with my xt. It was only an issue when going up mountain passes below a certain speed due to excessive transmission heat. It was also below 50F almost the entire trip. If I dealt with higher temperatures and hills or mountain passes, it would have been a very different outcome! Have you taken a good look at the oem radiator? I had to laugh when I saw how thin the core is.

IMO, look into modding the trailor or trading it in for another one and then reconsider.

My other concern would be clutch wear! I would not do that with a manual xt, but that's just my opinion.
Seabass hes in DC you ever drive there? MT with wide over tow rating trailer would be a disaster in the DC traffic. "News at 7 Man's Ob goes up in flames on the bla bla bridge snarling traffic for 15hrs ha ha. Even the AT I wouldn't even consider it. Big radiator proper heavy cooling for AT type full size truck yes that will make it with AC on etc without shutting down a major DC road way LOL
Have not driven in DC. Also didn't realize he didn't already have the car. If looking for a good DD/tow vehicle, the xt is not it! Not even close.

You don't need a cooler for the MT.
No cooler for the MT but the clutch with 4000+lbs in 2mph stop and go DC traffic would be a disaster. LOL Heck even my old 600lb racing sailboat through a LA traffic jam with the 5spd MT took some effort to keep the clutch happy and smoke free.
The suspension is easy to modify. I'm already planning stiffer springs, thicker swaybars and, if need be, firmer struts. I'm not aware of any off-the-shelf struts that would work for the Outback, but I'd guess I can get some Koni inserts to work just fine.

It's really the unibody I'm concerned about. If that won't buckle, the rest can be modified to work.
#1 issue is the unibody you can always find a spring that will support weight what that spring and suspension is mounted to might have a different opinion on what it is willing to support.

Anything mounted to the car behind the rear suspension assembly is in effect levered off the main structure of the car which is rear wheels to front wheels everything beyond those is simply window dressing.

Regardless of weight you won't be doing MT towing with the XT for very long in DC given your clutch will go up in a cloud of smoke.
Towing with XT v2:

Spec3 Racecar: 2900lbs
Towing Dolly: 500lbs
Tongue Weight: 195lbs (((2900lbs / 2) + 500lbs) x 10%)

This seems more reasonable. Also the tongue weight calculation is a random guess and probably inflated; thoughts on the math there? I just have to hope I don't wreck/break the racecar such that it requires a flatbed. Even so, the risk of occasionally paying a tow company is better than owning a big dumb automatic SUV. Bonus: tow dolly will take up less room than trailer.
Unibody and tongue weight no longer an issue - weight behind car pushing car without contributing much weight ie traction to the rear of the OB - would be your primary problem the tail wagging the dog effect. However 2900lbs if your being very conservative ie heavy on your numbers is FAR FAR FAR better than the duel axle flat bed trailer + race car wagging the dog.

However! Can you trailer brakes on a dolly? I'm Asking given I have no idea but I would assume you can put brakes on anything with an axle and wheel on it. Which case with a good trailer brake set up on the dolly your only major issue is the tail wagging the dog due to reduced tongue weight from the dolly. Fixable by packing your 200lb track tool box in the back of the OB. So this might be workable however if your doing fairly long trips in traffic on a regular basis I predict your replacing the XT with a Yukon shortly given you would much rather go race than not.
That picture does a great job of illustrating how beefy that hitch is- and how insubstantial the back of the wagon was before the reinforcement plates went in.

Those plates look like they do a much better job of mating with a larger surface area than the aftermarket USA hitches I've seen.
The bent unibody cars I've seen all bend just behind the back door ie at the end of the safety cage / primary frame of the car. I have no idea what that hitch would do other than add weight to the back of the car. LOL

Thanks for the link. That hitch looks hardcore. I wonder if I could adapt one of the aftermarket class 3 hitches to use the same mounting points.

Can you describe the area of failure more? Do you mean just behind where the Aussie HD hitch mounts exit the frame rails? Do you mean further forward where the rear frame rails meet the main frame?
If you sit in the back seat your butt is the bend point beefing up the over hang behind the rear wheels doesn't do a thing to address where the unibody bends at the back of the passenger cage.
I see. So much further forward than the Aussie hitch goes. Still, unibody failure shouldn't be an issue if I keep my tongue weight down by using a dolly instead of a full trailer. I think the aftermarket class 3 hitches should be fine for dolly towing.
Correct-- and for the record the OB is a class II vehicle so it doesn't matter what class hitch you have bolted to it your still only Class II. They only started building 2inch receivers in late 09 for cars when bike racks for more than 2 bikes needed the extra strength a 2inch piece of framing could provide. The actual frame that 2inch receiver is welded to is identical to the 1 1/4 receiver the difference being the receiver size nothing else.
But, if you're using a weight distributing system, bending due to a down forced induced moment isn't an issue. Also, I assume that the wheel chair was attached to the back of the car all the time. I don't think he'd be towing this trailer more than once a week.

Keep in mind OC, you're still exceeding the Australian tow rating by 700 pounds. That's almost 20% of the Australian rating, and 160% of the US spec rating.
Find a hitch system that extends to the rear axle assembly and ties directly to the core passenger cage/frame of the car and your argument would be correct. I have never seen any hitch system that did this.
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