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So, here in about a month, I am (or was) planning on towing a 5x8 uhaul cargo trailer from Denver, CO to Oakland, CA... At first research, it appeared that the capacity of my 2007 Forester 2.5L 4 cyl automatic was 2,400 lb, but after further research, it is sounding like anything over 1,000 lb (and the trailer itself weighs 900 lb) would need a trailer with trailer brakes. I know some of the bigger trailers come with hydraulic surge brakes, but I am having trouble finding any info on if the smaller cargo trailers have the brakes that it sounds like I would need to safely make this trip. I called uhaul and talked to 3 people, none of which could give me any kind of answer about which, if any, brakes the 5x8 trailer has. They kept mentioning the 'brake controller' which would lead me to assume that there is some sort of brakes on the smaller trailers, but I couldn't get any specific info about the brakes themselves...I also have read horror stories about catastrophic accidents because a trailer weighed too much for a car. I am kind of a noob when it comes to this kind of stuff, and would be greatly appreciative of any tips or help!
 

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When we moved from Northern Va. to here in 1981, just at most maybe 130 miles, we pulled a 5x8 Uhaul with my wife's 1976 Toyota Celica GT, 5 spd transmission. No trailer brakes on that trailer then, maybe now? Had one good long uphill grade on I-64 west between Lexington & Clifton Forge …. I was wound out in 3rd at top. Few months later, transmission started making noises in all but 4th gear, (straight through power flow, no reduction or OD). I suspected front countershaft bearing. Pulled the trans one weekend, pull apart, sure enough it was front countershaft bearing howling. I fixed it, put together, perfect but it was a chore even then. The 5x8 doesn't look that big, but that's some air to move aside. Only had flowers and stuff in the trailer, no furniture, etc.

I should have used my '67 Chevelle then.
 

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First I’d suggest going to the Uhaul place yourself and looking at the trailers. Some have surge breaks. You should be able to tell by looking the the tongue of the trailer. It usually will have something that looks like it slide in and out. This should be connected to a pretty normal looking master cylinder with breaks lines running to the wheels. Those are trailer you don’t need your own controller for. Some trailers need to have a controller in the tow vehicle that apply the brakes when you press on the pedal.

Second if you’ve never towed anything ever you should try to learn a lot before taking a trailer on the highway. If they are not loaded properly they can affect the way that car handles A LOT and that’s why people end up crashing.

Lastly if you’re really not sure about the brakes and what the car can handle I’d play it safe. (I had read 2400 for my ‘07 also). I’ve driven west on I-70 from Denver to Hanging Lake and Glenwood Springs in my friend’s Audi A4 and I would not want to risk not having the proper braking or towing power going up or down those hills.
 

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Does your Forester have a Transmission cooler? If not, you will need one. Make sure all your fluids are topped off and you have meat left on your brake pads and rotors before the trip.

You are right, Anything close to 1,000Lbs or more will certainly want trailer brakes to be comfortable. In the UK you can go to 750Kg (1600Lbs) without trailer brakes but anything more and you need them, regardless of the tow vehicle - Speed limits for towing are a max of 60mph on multi lane arterial type roads (Interstate type roads etc)

I've towed 4400Lbs for ~350 miles with my 2005 2.5 XT 5MT which had a transmission cooler from factory and it did the job well. The head gaskets did go a few months later though. - I would never do this again and would hire a bigger vehicle to do this in the future, even though the UK 2005 Forester 2.5 XT 5MT is rated to tow a full 4400Lbs

When I collected the empty trailer, it weighed 500Kg (1,100Lbs) empty and it towed beautifully, with its own brakes, almost forgetting it was on the back at times. I've since towed around 500-600Kg with an unbraked single axle trailer and would not recommend it for a new-to-towing driver.

When loading your trailer, try and keep the weight on the axle or slightly forward and evenly loaded weight wise. You certainly don't want the majority of the weight behind the trailer axle as it will get very lively on fast straight sections, let alone on curves.

If you feel the trailer beginning to sway, do not use the brakes, gently accelerate and it will calm any sway down, then ease off the gas and the whole setup will gently slow down. If you do hit the brakes while the trailer is swaying, it is very possible to jack-knife and end up making the local traffic news. If you're coming to a big downhill section, make sure you approach it gently and in full control as you will gain speed by the time you get to the bottom.

Make sure the load in the trailer is secure and tie/strap it down if you think it might move on a cambered road sections - You don't want the load moving and suddenly throwing off the balance or causing sway mid cambered corner section.

Starting from a standstill was the hardest part on the Forester, so I would suggest if you have toll roads, to get some kind of toll-pass so you don't need to stop to pay them, instead driving on through at slower speeds

Don't forget the break-away chain/cord. I believe there are huge fines if you are caught not using it properly.

Good luck with any reversing you do - Try to keep the steering input gentle and slow - It is harder to correct big steering inputs. There's a little saying that might help "Everything you put on, you'll need to take off" in regards to steering input when reversing if you want the setup aligned straight at the end.

Oh and keep an eye on the fuel gauge - When towing, my XT gave disgusting mpgs :eek:
 
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