|Quoting Jetsgo (Thread starter):|
I'm considering having a trailer hitch installed on my 2013 Subaru Outback and feel like I have no idea what I'm doing
The first thing I'm going to tell you isn't what you are going to want to hear; the vehicle you have is NOT capable of towing anything other than a VERY light trailer; there's a whole lot more to towing than just sticking a hitch on a vehicle, hooking a trailer to it, and driving off;
The very first thing you have to consider is.......you don't have a truck; P/U trucks have frame rails under them, and you have something to bolt to that has enough strength to hold a load; your Outback, (unless I'm very mistaken), is uni-body construction, so what frame there is, is actually very light sheet steel formed into a square tube, and is actually spot welded to the body; (making it part of the body); what you need to understand is, the strongest, heaviest hitch you can get is meaningless if you attach it to something that has insufficient strength to carry a load.
" you get a decent hitch installed, you're going to be trying to pull it with an engine which is not rated to move much more load than the vehicle with a few hundred pounds in it.
Next.....regardless of whether your Outback is an automatic (which I'm assuming it is), or even if it's a stick shift, it's still only capable of moving a few hundred pounds more than the vehicle weight.
If all of that isn't enough to worry about, you need to give some very serious thought to one more problem you will have pulling a trailer; getting it stopped, once you you get it up to road speed. If you doubt what I'm saying, just remove any one of your wheels and take a close look at your brake pads; what you're looking at was never designed to stop (again) much more weight than the vehicle, plus a little bit of "cargo"l (like about 6 suit cases full of clothes.)
You mentioned you "only" wanted to pull a U-haul trailer; U-haul rents a whole bunch of different sized cargo trailers; some of the really smallest ones, they occasionally even rent you a bumper hitch, (assuming your vehicle has a regular bumper, (which almost no cars have any more), but most P/U trucks do.)
I hate to be throwing cold water on your plans, but if you get a hitch on your Outback, then end up burning up your engine, OR
your transmission, OR
if you get a bunch of weight moving, then have a big wreck because you don't have enough brakes to get stopped............I can assure you, you will wish you had never even thought about trailers.
BTW.......I'm not trying to "ruin your day"..............I'm trying to impart enough information from me to you, so that you can save your day ! You mentioned you have no experience with pulling trailers; I do. 41 years of experience when I retired in 1997, after putting roughly 2,000,000 miles in my log books. ( and I'm still pulling my own 22 ft, 14,000 lb rated tandem axle tilt deck trailer with my own 1 ton Dodge diesel dually P/U truck; ( I have "quite a bit" of towing experience.)
Do yourself a very big favor; look in the phone book under "trailers"; (NOT places that rent trailers, places that sell trailers ) go there......see who ever is the service manager; show him your outback; do NOT give him any indication that you may want to buy one of his trailers; you just want advice; I think what you're going to hear is about the same thing I'm telling you. Understand this; anyone who shows up at U-haul is a potential customer; their only interest is renting you a trailer; if you ask if them if your Outback is OK
to pull a trailer.....what do you think they are more concerned about.....your car, or their business ? They are going to say, "no problem", people do it all the time ! Yeah, he's telling the truth there.......people ARE "doing it" all the time! People are ALSO buying new transmissions and motors BECAUSE they tried to use their car for a truck ! ( People are getting drunk, running into trees and killing themselves "all the time" too, but it isn't helping you any.)
If you go to any Subaru dealer and talk to a service manager, he can either tell you, (or look up) what your Outback is rated to be able to pull; I'm going to guess.....not much more than possibly 500 pounds; maybe less; (most U-haul cargo trailers weigh more than that). Maybe a small light single axle boat trailer with a 12 ft aluminum fishing boat........maybe 20, 30 miles each way......that's about it. Here's the easiest way to find out how much weight you can put "in" or "on" your car (Outback) Take a close look at the sidewalls of your tires; some place on there it will say....XXX pounds @ 30 lbs. It's probably going to say something like maybe.......800 lbs. So 4 X 800= 3,200 lbs. How much does an Outback weigh? 2,400 lbs maybe ? 3,200-2,400= 800 lbs of people, "stuff", tank of gas, surf board on luggage rack....that's it ! And you may get by with pulling another few hundred. Believe me....this stuff was all worked out by VERY sharp engineers and designers before your vehicle was built; it's a very good vehicle.....for what it was designed for; which wasn't to be "tow vehicle". If you want to tow trailers, you need a truck.
While we're on the subject of towing trailers, and U-haul.........U-Haul is a very big, nation-wide business; they have "centers" in many big cities; (these actually belong to, and are run by U-Haul ); they also have about skatey eight thousand "dealers" that will rent you a U-Haul trailer, a truck, or a tow dolly; these are ALL
independent businesses; some may be "just great".......but MANY should be living in the reptile house at the local Zoo; (because these are the "snakes" ! Here's a typical U-Haul true story; I lived in Cincinnati; got a phone call from my niece in New Hampshire; her daughter (who was going to college in Chicago) had driven her car up to Wisconsin some place with some college boy, to go to a rock concert; (you know what happens at rock concerts) everyone got "stoned"; on the way back to Chicago, the college boy (who was "stoned" blind) was driving; he had a BIG wreck; My niece's daughter was in a hospital in Chicago, the car (somehow) was back in Evanston (N of Chicago, my niece needs it in New Hampshire; I'm "elected". The wife and I drive my 88 Ford extended cab F-150 (with 318 V-8) 300 miles to Evanston, rent a U-Haul tow dolly; load the front end of the full size Chevy onto the dolly; Piece of cake ! Couldn't even tell it was back there ! Plenty of power. we get about half way to Cleveland, now it's starting to get dark; Turned on the lights; all except the dolly; it had a "birds nest" where the wiring was supposed to be. To make a long story short........the U-Haul INDEPENDANT dealer hadn't done "diddly" to the dolly when it was returned; It was a VERY long trip to New Hampshire ! (Most of it was spent screwing around with trying to get lights on U-Haul's dolly; the dealer I turned it into in N.H. was a great guy ! ( Quite UNLIKE the SNAKE in Chicago that rented the piece of crap to me ). And so goes renting from U-Haul. ( My first, last, & ONLY "U-Haul experience".) ( That all happened about 1994 )
Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein