Towing on subarus


Asked by Jan 21, 2018 at 11:45 AM about the Subaru Outback

Question type: General

Hi everyone,
My husband I and bought a vintage shasta trailer that weights 1200 lbs dry
weight. It does not have brakes installed on the trailer, so we are exploring
the best option for towing. We are doing a month long cross country trip in
June, but besides that, we would be using the trailer for occasional road
trips throughout the year. We are looking at either installing brakes so that
we can get a 4 cylinder vehicle, but are also interested in exploring the
towing capabilities of the 3.5 v6 subaru outback. Wondering if anyone has
the V6 and if so, any knowledge in towing small trailers without brakes? We
are new to the trailer game so we are trying to do as much research as
possible before making any decisions.

Thanks so much

10 Answers


Just so you know your car has a flat 6, not a V6. The engine has the power to tow the trailer. The weak link is the CVT transmission (assuming you have one). The loaded weight will probably be around 2,000 pounds plus the weight of passengers and things you carry inside the car. I highly recommend you have brakes installed on your trailer and take it easy when towing, if you overheat the transmission it will die. I would look into adding a transmission fluid cooler. The braking has Nothing to do with the engine size, the need is the same with a 4 or a 6.

2 people found this helpful.

Look up the owners manual at Subaru's website and read the towing information!

1 people found this helpful.

About your 4 cylinder inquiry, only use pickups with standard transmissions in your search, cars will be geared too high for towing even a light weight trailer. And F_O_R is right about putting brakes on the trailer, surge or full electric is up too you, personally I like electrics cause if it does start a fish tail you just manually tap the electrics and straighten it right out, surge brakes don't have that option. Also check the tongue weight of the trailer then get a hitch that exceeds that weight but matches the towing weight of the vehicle. If your current vehicle has a CVT transmission do not tow anything with it, these trannies are very weak and won't stand the added stress of towing, they barely stand up under normal usage. If your vehicle has a normal automatic a tranny cooler is highly recommended and service the transmission more often. Ohh and do not use overdrive while towing, tranny failure will result. HTH


^^^^ Absolutely correct. CVT's are the worst possible choice for towing.


Thank you both very much. This is extremely helpful information. It sounds like installation of brakes is a necessity- has anyone done this themselves or (for a rookie like me) is it best to get this professionally done? It’s sounds like we also need to do more research on vehicles that actually have a V6 engine on top of the brakes. I don’t want to put too much stress on an engine that is not meant to tow

1 people found this helpful.

I recommend that you have a professional do it, after all it is brakes and you don't want a failure, but if you really mechanically inclined you can do it yourself, most trailer supply stores can get everything you need from backing plates, hubs, servos and brake shoes to control modules and wiring. HTH

1 people found this helpful.

A light trailer like that can be towed with a car but I recommend a pickup or SUV with an actual frame and a tow package (hitch, extra engine/ transmission cooling, trailer hookups etc.).


Dissenting opinion. it's not necessary or recommended by Subaru to add an additional transmission cooler, it's another single point of failure, We took our teardrop trailer to the North Rim of the Grand problem... just take it easy... accelerate gently the car will be fine. Anything over 1,500 pounds, in California, you need electric brakes on the trailer... make sure they're coordinated and you have electronic control in your car... best installed by a professional. 2,700 pounds for the H4 and 3,000 pounds for the H6

1 people found this helpful.

It's more a matter of perception that CVTs can't tow... just make sure that you don't exceed the limits...


If you're getting a "canned ham"....get the SIX cylinder... plus, even though it weighs 1,200 have to figure more weight for the fluids, gear, etc... you're going to be better off..

1 people found this helpful.

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