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Registered
2008 Forester 2.5X
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,

I’m really glad to have found this forum. I’ve spent a lot of time on here reading about towing; many hours by now. I’ve been finding different opinions scattered across the forum and, even though these questions have been answered in some way elsewhere, it would be great if I could get some answers specific to what I’m looking to do.

I have a 2008 Forester 2.5X (non-turbo) automatic transmission and I’m looking to start towing with it. I bought this car, because in its class, nothing else seems to compare. From what I’ve seen on the forums, the OEM hitch receiver isn’t worth the price. In fact, I wound up talking to a service consultant at the dealership (he seemed liked an honest guy) and he agreed; at $500 it’s better just to get one installed for $180 at Uhaul.

So in my mind I want a 2” receiver. But it doesn’t looking like anyone does a 2” receiver for a Forester. I’ll be towing within the limits…should I really care about a 2” receiver over the 1.25”?

I’ll be using the Forester for two towing applications. The first will be a long cross country move from AZ to NH (2700 miles with a 5x8 enclosed Uhaul). Other than having to drive through the mountains in northern AZ, the trip will be all freeway and all flat. I plan on taking it slow and distributing the weigh appropriately. Now for the questions:

Do I need a transmission cooler? I’m hoping not to have to make the trip in the middle of summer, but it might happen (keep in mind there are some mountains in northern AZ).

Do I need trailer brakes? The trailer weight (empty) is 900 lbs. I’m estimating loaded it will be 1500 to 1900 lbs. I hope the answer to the trailer brakes is “no” because who rents a 900 lb trailer with trailer brakes? I haven’t found any.

What’s with the European vs American tow capacity rating? I’ve heard a couple different theories; legal reasons or because in the US they want us to buy bigger vehicles. Are the Foresters sold in the UK really different than the US? They do have a different number (2.0 vs 2.5). But seriously, the capacities are so much higher in the UK... 1600 lbs without trailer brakes in Europe vs 1000 lbs in the US. For the manual transmission it's 4,400 lbs (Europe) vs 2,400 lbs (US). That's one ton difference!

Now the other application; I’ll be towing snowmobiles in NH short distances (200 miles) up into the mountains. Snowmobile trailers are around 500 – 800 lbs and the machines will be around 1000 lbs (1500 to 1800 lbs total). Again, no one makes 600 lb snowmobile trailers with trailer brakes. Did I buy the wrong vehicle for this or will I be alright? I really do love this Forester and I bought it thinking I’d be able to tow this stuff with it. But the more I read, the more I wonder.

I want to be smart about this and do the right thing. I guess in the end I just need a little encouragement that this is well within the ability of the vehicle (even though the manual says not really). If the Forester can't handle what I'd like to do, please let me know and I'll start looking at other cars. Thanks in advance for your help,

Kevin
 

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Registered
2007 2.5X L.L. BEAN
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151 Posts
I just got a 1.25in UHaul hitch for christmas, I havent installed it yet, waiting for it to get warmer. It appears to be built very well and has a nice powder coated finish for about $150. You're wiring harness connector is hidden under the foam tray on the right side if you are looking at the back of the vehicle, subaru sells the extension to plug to the trailer with their hitch, but im sure you can get the same thing at a trailer place or an auto parts store, alothough you may need to cut and splice some things together.
Hopefully someone will chime in that has experience towing with the forester, I wouldn't think you'd need trailer brakes as far as I know UHaul only has brakes on their tandem axle trailers. From my experience towing with outher vehicles, towing 2 sleds up a mountain with a 4 cylinder could be very taxing, it is not something I'd want to do very often.
 

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The Sub kit guy
2005 Forester X & XT VF39
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13,100 Posts
I have a 5x9 utility trailer that I use a lot. It can hold almost 3 cu yard of playchips or bark, which when you add in the trailer gives me a load of between 1600-1900 lbs, depending on how much moisture is in the chips. My 05 X tows it just fine, even up the large hill to our place, but you do need to brake much sooner as the stopping distance is greating increased. Powerwise and handling the car tows very well. I can maintain the speed limit no problem on flat, and on hills it is a bit of a strain, but the speed limit is still possible. My trailer does not have brakes, and the braking is ok. My XT has upgraded brakes and stops the trailer MUCH better. It also tows 2,000 lbs like it is nothing, but it is also double to power of my X.


If I was towing longer distances than the 15 miles I do now, I'd definitely add a tranny cooler. They are cheap, and worth the added protection.

The US has much tougher regulations than a lot of countries, so that is why the Forester has a much lower tow rating. I believe in South Africa and a few other countries the Forester is rated for 4,500-6,000 lbs.
 

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Premium Member
2008 2008 2.5i-2018 XT
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13,235 Posts
Go with U-Haul and pocket the 300 bucks. Get it installed for the few extra bucks. Find out from Subaru which U-Haul to go to. Your salesman should tell you, even if the dealer won't.
 

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Registered
2007 Forester XT manual
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1,503 Posts
The US has much tougher regulations than a lot of countries, so that is why the Forester has a much lower tow rating. I believe in South Africa and a few other countries the Forester is rated for 4,500-6,000 lbs.
The highest rating Forester (in fact of all Subarus) here in Australia is the manual 06-08 XT at 1800kg (3,968lbs) the auto XT is 1600kg (3,527lbs) and all 09 Foresters are 1400kg (3,086lbs). By law all cars towing over 750kg (1,653lbs) must have trailer brakes.
 

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Registered
2008 Forester 2.5X
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Go with U-Haul and pocket the 300 bucks. Get it installed for the few extra bucks. Find out from Subaru which U-Haul to go to. Your salesman should tell you, even if the dealer won't.
The local Subaru service center / dealership told me they do the installs themselves. Not that it matters, I already decided Uhaul was the way to go.
 

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Registered
2008 Forester 2.5X
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
The highest rating Forester (in fact of all Subarus) here in Australia is the manual 06-08 XT at 1800kg (3,968lbs) the auto XT is 1600kg (3,527lbs) and all 09 Foresters are 1400kg (3,086lbs). By law all cars towing over 750kg (1,653lbs) must have trailer brakes.
Are your Foresters in any way different than our (US) Foresters?
 

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Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,073 Posts
I would add the cooler even if it was just for the stretch going over the mountains. It will do no harm in the future to have it on there, even in town they help in stop and go traffic.

I am much the same as you, I want a 2". Is it needed, no. However all the other accessories I have are 2" for my truck.
 

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Registered
2008 Forester 2.5X
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Okay, it sounds like a cooler is a must. What about the other questions? Specifically the distance with the weight without trailer brakes (which doesn't seem to even be an option).
 

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Registered
2008 Forester 2.5X
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
From my experience towing with outher vehicles, towing 2 sleds up a mountain with a 4 cylinder could be very taxing, it is not something I'd want to do very often.
When I was a kid I remember my mom towing our two snowmachines with her minivan without a problem. I won't be climbing the Rockies. Just whatever mountains in NH. You really think it will be a problem with a Forester?
 

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The Sub kit guy
2005 Forester X & XT VF39
Joined
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13,100 Posts
When I was a kid I remember my mom towing our two snowmachines with her minivan without a problem. I won't be climbing the Rockies. Just whatever mountains in NH. You really think it will be a problem with a Forester?
Depending on how long ago that way, the mini-van probably had basically a truck body with a solid rear axle. That makes for a great towing platform.
 

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Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,073 Posts
The only thing I would add is when in the hills or even freeway if needed take it out of drive and leave it in 3rd so the transmission load is decreased enough to allow the torque converter to lock up. You can see this by a 200-500rpm drop as you reach a cruising speed with no load(trailer). This will help to keep the trany temps in check.

Trailer brakes are not a must, just stay aware of the situation and leave adequate stopping maneuvering room.
 

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Registered
2007 Forester XT manual
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1,503 Posts
Are your Foresters in any way different than our (US) Foresters?
No, the specs are almost the same now. The differences in tow limits are more to do with govt legislation. The 03-08 Foresters came with a choice of 40mm (1.5") or 50mm (2") hitches, the smaller having a 1350kg limit and not to be used with levelling devices, but the 09 Forester comes only with the 50mm hitch. Most of the hitches on the market were made by a company called Hayman-Reese and the aftermarket seemed to charge the same as Subaru did for the same product (Subaru used the Hayman-Reese too). They are considered top quality and certainly neater than anything I have seen posted on this forum but we pay for it too. They are now about $700 fitted with wiring and ball, but at least we get the larger size that takes all the accessories on the market. Subaru fit a transmission cooler if it is an automatic.
 

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2008 Forester 2.5X
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
No, the specs are almost the same now. The differences in tow limits are more to do with govt legislation.
I think that I should be just fine with what I'm looking to do then. If the vehicles are the same, then it should be able to tow up to the European limits. I can't imagine that anyone can disagree with that logic. Not that I'm looking to take it to the max, but you can get up to 2,000 lbs pretty quick.

I like to know I have some headroom. And even if I'm at 2000lbs, it sounds like I will. Thanks.

I really don't want to get another car. I like the Forester. But I'm going to be regularly at 1500 - 2000 lbs towing the snowmobiles and I was worried that would really be pushing it.

Do you think I'd still need a tranny cooler if I'm only towing in the winter?
 

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Registered
2007 Forester XT manual
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1,503 Posts
If it was mine it would still get the cooler, especially with the loads you intend to tow. I think the cooler is more about the stresses on the auto box and less about the ambient temperature.
 

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2004 Forester XT
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180 Posts
+1 on the Transmission cooler. It's a lot cheaper and easier to add one on now than to find out the hard way that you should have gotten one.
 
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