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Author Topic:   Towing 18' outrage with Forester?
george nagy posted 09-22-2003 02:57 PM ET (US)   Profile for george nagy   Send Email to george nagy  
I was wondering if anyone has or does tow an 18' outrage with a subaru forester?

The car is rated for 2,000 to 2,400 # max. I think my total combined weight of the outrage is near 2,600# with a galvanized trailer. For short trips to the boat ramp I wonder if this would be ok or will the car even be able to handle the ramp slope?

Does anyone know the approx. weight for a single axle galvanized float on type trailer vs. an aluminum trailer?

Bigshot posted 09-22-2003 04:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
It will tow fine for non-highway trips. I would not recommend the 5spd though, especially with the XT turbo model. The AWD will get you up any ramp. I looked into this and the WRX a few months ago towing a montauk and I am only 350lbs lighter than you...maybe 450 with fuel, etc.

My Allum single axle weighs about 450....I would imagine a galv coming in about 750-800lbs. My dual axle is about 500 lighter than a galv.

JBCornwell posted 09-22-2003 04:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
I wouldn't do it, George.

The weight and structure of the Forester is okay for 2,000#, max. Over that you are exceeding design stresses on the chassis, brakes and drivetrain.

The Subaru doesn't have a 2 speed transfer case. Though it will probably pull the Outrage 18 up most ramps it would be very stressful on the drivetrain.

I would want a vehicle rated to tow at least 3,500# and settle for one rated for 3,000#. . . but not 2,000-2500#.

Red sky at night. . .

Clark Roberts posted 09-22-2003 06:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
George, JB gives good advice!
jimh posted 09-22-2003 08:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A great place to post articles what seek advice on the performance of particular Boston Whaler boats and associated devices is the forum whose topic and title is:

CLASSIC WHALER: PERFORMANCE-- What prop, what motor, what trailer, etc., works best?

We'd welcome the towing vehicle under the umbrella of things covered by the "etc." in the title.


GAwhale posted 09-23-2003 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for GAwhale  Send Email to GAwhale     
Hi George,

I used to own a 1986 Subaru wagon. She was a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder which put out approx 90 horsepower.

I now have a 1999 Ford Taurus Wagon with a 3 liter 6 cylinder 24 valve engine which puts out 200 horsepower. Pulling my Montauk 70 mph down the interstate is pushing the limits of this car (I usually run 60-65 mph).

Please tell me you Forester is a 6 cylynder.

george nagy posted 09-23-2003 01:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for george nagy  Send Email to george nagy     
I don't own a forester yet, I'm shopping for a fuel efficient car/suv and will not consider a car with less than 20 mpg city.
The forester is a 2.5 opposed four cylander all wheel drive platform which seems very capable for a car based suv, however I would agree that towing slightly over 2,000# capacity at speeds over 45mph wouldn't be the best of ideas. I might have to keep the explorer around longer just to tow the boat.
Tom2697 posted 09-23-2003 02:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
As it has been said on many threads about towing an Outrage, towing is not your problem. Stopping the rig is. Most vehicles have more than enough power to pull more weight around than they were designed for. Most do not have adequate brakes for the additional weight. Heck, I've used a garden tractor to move a boat around on a trailer in our back yard.! I almost lost it going down our driveway though!
jimh posted 09-24-2003 08:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Moved thread to PERFORMANCE forum from GENERAL forum. I don't think that how well a specific automobile can tow a specific Boston Whaler boat is a topic that is of general interest to owners of Boston Whaler boats. Articles which pose questions about how well particular boats or related devices (motors, trailers, accessories, etc.) perform should be posted to the PERFORMANCE forum.]
whaling away posted 09-24-2003 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for whaling away  Send Email to whaling away     
I agree with a previous post about stopping. The trailer better be a tandem axel and equipped with brakes that work great, if not, it will be a disaster waiting to happen. The weight of the Forrester is a bit on the light side and will get pushed around. Perhaps you should consider a Montauk. I pull my Montauk with a newer 4Runner and feel that is as large as I would safely towing the boat around. The 4Runner gets 15 mpg towing the boat and about 18-19 mpg when not.
Moe posted 09-24-2003 10:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
I won't go into how "tow rating" is derived, but will say that the weight of passengers and cargo in the vehicle has to be subtracted from the tow rating, to determine how much the vehicle can PULL. If a vehicle has a 2000 lb tow rating, a 150 Sport would be a good size for it, as long as there's not more than one 150 lb person in the tow vehicle.

Tow rating DOES NOT address how much the tow vehicle can CARRY. There is a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) that the sum of the two tow vehicle axles should not exceed, and there are individual axle ratings as well. The tongue weight (10-15% of the total loaded trailer weight), as well as the weight of the hitch, come out of the GVWR.

The only way to actually know your weights is to take the rig to a certified scale, such as a CAT scale. . Weigh the rig once, drop off the trailer, and go back again and just weigh the two tow vehicle axles.

The first weigh will show you the weight on the tow vehicle front and rear axles, as well as the trailer axles. The second, when compared to the first, will show you how much weight the trailer leverages off the front tow vehicle axle and how much that, and the tongue weight, put on the rear axle. You can subtract the tow vehicle total weight from the second weigh from that of the first weigh and find the trailer tongue weight. Add that to the trailer axle weight from the first weigh and you have the total trailer weight.

Besides the problem of a small tow vehicle not having sufficient braking, another problem is that too much tongue weight (without a weight distributing hitch at this level), leverages weight off the front tow vehicle axle, and causes understeering... i.e. you turn the wheel and the vehicle doesn't want to turn. This can be especially bad on wet pavement.

george nagy posted 09-25-2003 12:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for george nagy  Send Email to george nagy     
I think the forester would be a little under duty for the task of towing the outrage. I don't usually like to max out the trailer weight capacity of any vehicle seeing as my explorer is rated for a 6,750# trailer weight I'm using less than 50% of its' total capacity. As of right now I can't find a vehicle on the market today rated to tow half of what the explorer can tow that gets nearly double the gas mileage. Hopefully there will be some more light utility diesels introduced to the US market soon.
Bigshot posted 09-25-2003 01:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
I'm waiting for the diesels to hit our shores in 2005. Mercedes is coming over with a 230hp in the E-class. If they put that engine in the ML, I will be first in line. Jeep keeps threatening to bring over the Liberty Diesel, but nothing yet. I also wish I could get the 4 door Toyota Tacoma with a Turbo diesel 4WD like they have outside the US but again.....DOOF!
gnr posted 09-25-2003 01:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for gnr  Send Email to gnr     
What about that new VW suv? I thought I saw the tow rating for that at around 7000lbs. It's a VW so it must get decent mileage.
brisboats posted 09-25-2003 03:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for brisboats  Send Email to brisboats     
Yep, VW is rated at a stout #7,000 and word is a torquey diesel version is coming soon!


andygere posted 09-25-2003 04:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I think the Jeep Liberty may be more up to the task. It won't get the fuel economy of the Subaru, but it will be better than a full size SUV and won't put you in the poorhouse at the dealership.
quattro20vt posted 09-25-2003 06:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for quattro20vt  Send Email to quattro20vt     
I've been following this (and other) threads on towing with some amusement (?)...

For some reason, conventional wisdom in the US is that we can't tow much with a uni-body vehicle, or we'll destroy the car. Many posts here on the car can't do it, can't stop the rig due to insufficient brakes, etc. The other concept that pops up regularly is to get a tow vehicle with substantially more tow rating than what you plan to tow.

What are people's actualy BTDTs? For all who've chimed in in this direction, who has in fact broken a uni-body vehicle by towing a moderate-size boat? Who has had a towing incident due to insufficient brakes, and if so, what were the circumstances?

I strongly feel that we in the US have been brain-washed by litigation-shy manufacturers into what our cars can or cannot do. Their attitudes are reactive and pessimistic to what we can do. On the other hand, they may be reflecting society's general malaise toward careful (or even just minimal) thinking and planning...and a willingness to accept some compromises (more below)

Take a trip to Europe sometime, especially during the trailer camping is amazing to see what people use as tow vehicles there, for some good size trailers. My first thought was, these folks here are nuts...but go surf some car manufacturer's websites in other'll be surprised

Why do cars available in the US and also other countries have different tow ratings? Sure the cars have differences...usually we (US) get bigger engines and other upgraded equipment. Take your pick of conspiracy theories :) one probable answer lies in our litigious society and vehicle manufacturer's attempts to minimize their risk exposure. And they do that by artificially limiting the tow ratings on cars in the US, reasoning that a light trailer behind a car will cause less damage... another possible answer lies in the profit margins the car makes make on a big SUV or pickup vs a compact car...

In the case of the Forester that George is asking about, the 2.0 X (2 Liter base car, not available in the US) is rated at 1500kg (3300#) in the UK (I chose to compare to the UK site site as it's in English and I can read it :) The 2.0 XT (turbo) is rated to tow 1800kg (3960#). In contrast, the US-spec 2.5 X thru XT is rated to tow only 2000#, 2400# if a manual tranny. All weight ratings here, BTW, require trailer brakes. Other car manufacturers will show the same differences (for years, Volvo and Jag have been exceptions, giving the same rating in the US as in Europe)

As to tow ratings and a vehicle's pull vs carry ability, the UK Subie site shows GCWR (combined tow vehicle plus trailer weight) as GTW, and in this case, is the sum of the car's GVWR and max trailer rating--that isn't always the case, though.

So yes, to answer the original question, a Forester should be just fine to tow an 18 Outrage, though I must admit I don't have a BTDT with this exact setup...

My BTDT was an 18' Searay 180 (1750# hull+motor, 2000# wet) on a braked single axle trailer (600#), total towed weight 2600#. I think this is quite comparable, towing-wise (not boat-wise!) to the 18 Outrage on a braked single axle trailer. I towed this behind an '87 Audi 4000 quattro (AWD) for five years without problem, though the car was tow-rated for only 2000# here in the US. When I got rid of that car, I used my wife's '94 Volvo 945 turbo wagon for many more years (tho w/ just RWD, not as good as AWD for pulling out of wet ramps).

Now I have my 22 Revenge WT WD...guess what...the Volvo can pull the Revenge just fine, but the compromise word comes up..."just fine" was limited to a 35 mph local road for 2 miles to the nearest ramp. pick/choose your trip time carefully to avoid major traffic so you can maintain space in front of you. From 35 mph, braking was not an issue. Farther/faster road? I went and borrowed a truck. Compromises now exchanged: I bought a '99 Yukon last month, so towing is no longer an issue, but my car club friends are giving me *&*&^%$ about driving an SUV. And gas mileage...'nuff said. The things we do for our whalers :)

As for what % of a max tow rating to use, this is another one of those compromise points. Exactly what compromises you must make need a little thought. Clearly if you max out your (realistic) tow rating, you have no margins for extra performance. So perhaps you tow at 60mph instead of 70mph. Or perhaps you increase your following distances.

Point is, towing is not an everyday activity (for most of us) so a little extra thought & preparation ought to go into it--don't just blindly accept "conventional wisdom" out there.

Arch Autenreith posted 09-26-2003 09:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     
Good and concise post. I agree with what you wrote.

I was thinking of how to word what you said when I delivered the Montauk to Bill ( this week. I used my ex's 1996 2.2 liter Impreza to tow her. (1800# total) . It's rated for 2000# towing. BTW my new Grand Marquis is only rated for 1000#!!!! Figure that one out. Must be the litigous thing I think.
Anyhow, the Impreza pulled it just fine but I don't think I'd take it on a 2000-mile journey. Mostly of the cramped quarters. I drove a little slower and gave more thought on stopping distances. Cross-winds made the Impreza shake just a little too. Not sure it was dangerous but made me think a little more.

I don't know who also said similar things (Bigshot?) but a lot has to do with what/where/how/who. If you're just pulling it a couple miles to a ramp it almost doesn't matter what you have or if the trailer has brakes, etc, etc. But if you're going an extended distance more thought might be given to a lot of variables. And sometimes you have to make do with what you have.


gnr posted 09-26-2003 10:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for gnr  Send Email to gnr     

Hard to argue with most of what you said. However your argument is based on being able to "avoid major traffic so you can maintain space in front of you" What happens when you are forced to stray outside of these parameters? What happens when you are forced to perform an emergency stop or an evasive maneuver due to circumstances beyond your control? That Forester will pull the Outrage "just fine" in ALMOST all conditions. When the S hits the fan though that Outrage will push the Forester around like its a toy.

Greg who has thousand of miles of BTDT and who towed his Guardian 17 behind his wives Forester ONE time and knows exactly how the vehicle handled it.

It's not just you on the road and if making due with what you have means putting others at risk...

Tom2697 posted 09-26-2003 10:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
I work with saftey systems in the auto industry (US and foreign). I've talked with friends who work for the vehicle manufacturers and who come up with the specifications for tow ratings about this issue before. Specifically, I was talking about the Crown Vic platform (EN114) and why the tow rating was so much lower than it had been. I don't remember his exact wording but I'll try to paraphrase.

There were basically three reasons. (1) Marketing - The profits on the Explorer are much higher than on other vehicles. (2) Cost - by lowering the tow rating from 5000# to 1000#, they could get away with using lower cost components (brakes, steering gears, etc) and hence maintain a lower selling price. (3) Construction - the sheetmetal cannot take the loads that trailering will put on the vehicle over a long duration. The joints will weaken too much and vehicle integrity suffers. Most people do not tow often. However, there are many (think about retirees) who spend a good percentage of their driving time with a trailer. These are the people that will have problems.

As for the differences in the North American and European auto markets, the most basic difference is that most North Americans want their cars to remain pristine for years after. The automobile is a status symbol. In South America, Europe, or Asia, a vehicle is a mode of transportation.

jimh posted 09-26-2003 02:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Recent trailer trip:

Miles Towed = 4,920 Miles
Temperature = High of 107-F; low of 43-F
Elevation Range = Sea Level to 6,000 feet
Grades = Max 6-percent

The trailer weight was about 4,500#
Tow rating on vehicle was 7,000#

My conclusion: If I do this again I will get a bigger truck!

Gep posted 09-26-2003 02:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gep  Send Email to Gep     
I was following this thread and was wondering what does BTDT mean?
Arch Autenreith posted 09-26-2003 02:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     
Me too.
SuburbanBoy posted 10-01-2003 09:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
BTDT = Been There Done That. See

Having spent much time in Europe observing Euro's tow, several thoughts come to mind.

1. Their tow ratings are for vehicles that are essentially identical to ours, yet they are usually much higher rated in Euro. Their higher ratings are for trailers with brakes.

2. They drive much slower when towing. (This can not be overstated). They are not flying down the autobahn or autoroute in the left lane, chowing a BigMac, sucking a Frosty and talking to their buddy about bass lures on their cell phone.

3. Their equipment and cars are much better maintained, their drivers are better trained.

Could a Forester drag a 18' Outrage around the USA? Yes, but not without significant changes in driving style. I would guess the new Liberty is equally adept as well.


Techmage posted 10-01-2003 10:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Techmage  Send Email to Techmage     
I tow my Sport 150 with my 2002 Forester 2.5L automatic. It will pull the boat up a steep unpaved mud ramp with no problem in first gear, like its not even back there (hell ive pulled it up the bank to the road using the drainage ditch before...). Dont tow in Drive, shift manually and let the engine take the load instead of letting the transmission shift early. I always drive in the right lane and accelerate SLOW, and stay under 55 mph. U-HAUL will put a good CLASS II hitch on the vehicle, dont do it yourself, let a pro do it. The Forester would probably be fine for short range florida style towing on the 18 if you stay under 3000#. I would say that an over sized Transmission cooler would be a must in this case. Its heat that kills the tranny in most cases. I would also recomend a trailer with brakes, you will need it for safe stopping. Oh and dont forget that tire pressure on rear wheels needs to be higher when towing! read the manual, suberu has tire pressures tables for tow/non-tow.
KVT posted 10-03-2003 07:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for KVT  Send Email to KVT     
The man that thinks everything will always go as planned is a fool. I wouldnt base my decision on the thought process that things willo always go as I want them. I would base it on things going the exact opposite. You know , margin of error.... You cant control other drivers on the road and you certainly cant plan what they will do. You tow with a little toy car and sooner or later you will get bit in the ass....


Techmage posted 10-03-2003 08:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for Techmage  Send Email to Techmage     
Power has nothing to do with safe towing when it comes to other drivers. A long wheel base, and the ability to brake quickly and safely are what matter there. as long as you dont percrastinate on brake jobs, and have a self braking trailer if its a big one, your fine. All a big powerful engine will get you is faster acceleration from the light once it goes green. transmission is more important in towing than the engine, as long as the transmission can handle the load, the vehicle will usually tow it fine. I have towed 2 ton trailers offroad with a Jeep (less horsepower than my subaru), only problem with those is the short wheel base.
george nagy posted 10-03-2003 11:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for george nagy  Send Email to george nagy     
After sorting through these posts and viewing the subaru international websites I have come to some enlightening conclusions. Just to show you guys I am still "tuned in" I will share some of them with you.

1. I think that it would be safe to assume that the boat and rig does not exceed 3,000#. The gvwr on the matched trailer indicates such.

2. The towing ratings in the US might be artificially lowered for a number of reasons including but certainly not limited to marketing strategy.

3. Driving a "daily driver" at 13 mpg is EXTREMELY wasteful when towing occurs with that vehicle probably less than 25 trips per year and no more than 50 trips. So 86% of the the year I do not need that extra "horsepower" to tow the boat.

4. My explorer can tow up to 6,xxx# or so resulting in a 50% Capacity to Necessity ratio. The UK version of the subaru with a slightly smaller engine is rated for 3,300# so its' ratio is higher at 90%, but still less than 100% and no where near the before belived 150% indicated by the very understated US rating of 2,000#.

5. The all wheel drive capability and 2.5l engine has been suggested to be ample power to pull the boat out at the ramp where power is most needed. These suggestions seem to have credibilty since the 2.0l subaru can tow 3,300# in the UK.

6. It has been suggested and I would agree that braking IS the MOST important capability in AVOIDING accidents. Equiped with trailer brakes and accounting for the 4 wheel disc brakes on the car I think that the car would be able to handle an avoidance manuever compitantly.

7. The subaru seems to be a very compitant vehicle and I would NOT consider it a "TOY".

In comparison consider a ford expedition towing a loaded up 25' revenge wd with all the "bells and whistles" weighing probably over 8,000#. Maybe even some sort of 27' or so travel trailer with a larger surface area and wind resistance.

Then compare it to the subaru with an 18' outrage weighing in somewhere under 3,000# equiped with trailer brakes.

Ask yourselves, If you where driving in a mini-cooper and slipped through a stop sign which one of these "rigs" would you rather see coming at you from the other direction?

Arch Autenreith posted 10-03-2003 01:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     
Toys are plastic play items for kids.

I don’t know why people who drive a vehicle that is ‘rated’ to tow # 10,000 – or 2x the tow vehicle weight - feel that’s safer than anyone else towing a #2000 boat with a #3100 pound vehicle? Must be that pickup truck or monster-SUV “I can do anything!” mentality I often encounter.

I know I’m a far safer driver towing ANYTHING with ANYTHING than any 18-wheeler ripping around with 40 tons going 75 and are riding everyone’s bumper 10 feet behind.

Drive responsibly. Others have said it better here…you don’t necessarily drive the speed limit (or over) or follow too closely just because it’s rated as such.

knothead posted 10-03-2003 01:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for knothead  Send Email to knothead     
Mr. Nagy,

One item you might want to explore before changing vechicles is your auto insurance policy.

I read on another forum about a fellow who was towing his 4,500 lb. rig with a '97 Crown Victoria. Apparently Crown Vic's were tow rated for 5,000 lbs from 1992-94, from '95 to present the tow rating decreased to 2,500 lbs. No real changes in the car or frame, just a decrease in the towing capacity.

Upon renewal, the insurance company would not cover the boat and trailer while being towed because it exceeded the rated towing capacity of the towing vechicle.

While this may not happen in your case, you might want to read the fine print of your auto policy just to be sure.


gnr posted 10-03-2003 04:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for gnr  Send Email to gnr     
"I don’t know why people who drive a vehicle that is ‘rated’ to tow # 10,000 – or 2x the tow vehicle weight - feel that’s safer than anyone else towing a #2000 boat with a #3100 pound vehicle?"

I sincerely hope you never find out Mr. Autenreith.

"Must be that pickup truck or monster-SUV “I can do anything!” mentality I often encounter."


"Toys are plastic play items for kids."

My favorite "toy" is made mostly of fiberglass and gelcote. I'm guessing yours is too...

Arch Autenreith posted 10-03-2003 11:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     

Find out what? What are you talking about?

And you quoted me 3 times without offering a dessenting view. What point are you trying to make?

Your profile of '' and 'fighting arrogance wherever it lives' leads me to believe you're always on the lookout for someone or something to take issue with.

While all my posts are not always correct or always come out the way I intend they are for the most part an attempt to give a side as I see it.

And you again chimed in right after my post above having to do with referring to my 'making do with what you have' belief. Is this a habit of yours?

I've noticed you attacking others needlessly at times. If you want to contribute and offer another view lets hear it. Don't just slam. Otherwise I don't care for your criticism of anyone because you don't agree with their post.

Arch. Not Mr. Autenreith.

Arch Autenreith posted 10-03-2003 11:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     
And to clarify...I've had pickups and one SUV over the years. I like them as much as anyone else. I was meerly stating that they are not the only safe vehicle(s) to tow with. Often-times it's the driver that makes the difference.
KVT posted 10-04-2003 08:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for KVT  Send Email to KVT     
Well I am not attacking needlessly , in fact , I am not attacking at all. Simply stating that if you keep towing with toys you will get bit in the ass. You know , "The tail that wagged the dog" syndrome ? Its should be painfully obvious to you that the more the tow vehicle outwieghs what its towing , the more control you have over what is being towed (Provided you are working with suficient grey matter). Your comment about being safer then a professional truck driver is vey telling and says allot about what you know and what you dont. Also says its pointless to continue this conversation with you....

p.s The part about SUVs and superiority ? Well have you ever thought that maybe there is some truth to that ?


gnr posted 10-04-2003 11:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for gnr  Send Email to gnr     

I meant that I hope you never find out why some people think that a much larger tow vehicle is safer to tow with then a vehicle barely rated for the load it is towing. Which further breaks down to; I hope you never lose control of your rig on a crowded highway and learn this lesson the hard way.

If you look a few posts up you will clearly see my dissenting view.

I chimed in after your previous post because I thought your statement was selfish and irresponsible because it is not just your well being that is at stake when you are on a public highway.

I have never attacked anyone needlessly and I was not "attacking" you. It seems to be an "issue" in this forum that many members feel they are being attacked if someone disagrees with them whether it is about Mercury outboards or tow vehicles or what have you. This is exactly why I recently changed my profile. The fact that you view my post as criticism of you just bears this out. My post was no more or less "critical" then yours was.

I don't post much to this board but I cannot keep quiet when it comes to subjects like towing because my family and friends use the roads and I don't want them getting killed because someone is to arrogant or to cheap to use some simple common sense and do things right.

I'm gonna go play with my toys and leave you folks alone...

Play safe.

Buckda posted 10-04-2003 02:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
There are several points to consider for people considering going "over" the rating that is specified by the manufacturer of their tow vehicle. The one I try to think about in advance, to save myself potential heartache and financial ruin, is "what if?"

Life is a set of decisions:
It's not about you. Given that you've chosen to purchase a great boat (18 Outrage), we'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you're a smart and capable individual. We'll cut the "idiot operator" factor out completely, though that certainly is a concern for some people!

No...let's talk about the what ifs....what if you get cut off on the highway and have to swerve (this happened to me last weekend on the way back from Charlevoix). My 15' Sport doesn't really faze my 2002 Explorer...but when I had to swerve to the shoulder in heavy traffic in Grand Rapids to avoid an accident (on a rain-slick road) I definitely felt the boat back there, tugging on the back of my truck. What would that feel like in a Ford Escape? What about an Expedition? An Excursion? Now make the boat grow to an 18 Outrage...which vehicle would you want to be in?

What if there is an accident, and out of no fault of your own your over the mfg specified weight rig hits and kills someone's wife? Bad enough that it happened..even worse..guess what your insurance company is going to say? Guess what else the new widower's lawyer is going to say to the jury? Might you bring charges if you were an aspiring Assistant DA? (I might...) Would you convict if you were a jury? How about award damages?

What if you were in the widower's shoes? Would you sue for damages?

Is saving 8 mpg worth that possibility? REALLY? I can't see how. You can pick up a perfectly capable tow vehicle and park it out back or in someone's barn for like $5-6K - and just use it for your tow can still save the planet by not wasting gas, but you can also save your financial security by not putting yourself in a position to lose everything.

This is a serious question, and worth the thought...sure the car companies put us in the position in the first place, but the lawyers and insurance companies are going to go by the tow-rating - you should exceed that rating at your peril.

George - for your situation, I'd say consider the risks...if your ramp is on a quiet street down the block from you, and you're towing when the sun is shining and the winds are fair you may decide that the risk is worth the savings. The weight probably won't hurt the vehicle - but for the Love of God, rent a TRUCK if you're gonna tow it a long way.

alkar posted 10-04-2003 10:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
I can't remember if I already shared this. If I have, I apologize...

My wife uses a Ford F-150 4x4 for her small landscaping design business. From time to time I use her truck to tow my 22'Outrage - a job well within the vehicle's listed tow rating.

I used her truck to get the boat after it was put on a new trailer I ordered. Unfortunately, when the dealer set up the trailer the axels were too far forward, so the tongue weight was set WAY too light. Of course, I didn't have any way of knowing that when I took off for home.

On the way home on the interestate the trailer suddenly started to wag violently. I was in the middle of a corner at the time, and the "whip from the wag" forced me into the next lane. It scared the heck out of me - and it might well have caused a serious accident.

I think that I likely would have lost control if I had been towing my boat with a vehicle substantially smaller than my wife's truck - like the Toyota that fellow was asking about several weeks ago.

When I got home I hooked the boat up to my big truck to take it back to the dealer so the trailer could be adjusted properly. (The big truck is a diesel Ford F-350 4X4 crew cab.) On the way to the dealer I experimented with turning, cornering and braking. No problem. The trailer just didn't have the leverage or weight to adversely effect the much bigger tow rig. The difference between tow vehicles was enormous.

Everything that Arch said was right on the money. Judgment and preparation are most important. But I've had plenty of driver training, I tend to be very conservative, and I've been towing trailers for many years. I still very nearly had a bad accident because of the introduction of an unexpected variable. A flat tire can produce a similar situation. That's why I like to use a vehicle that's more than the minimum required. I need all the margin I can get.

Techmage posted 10-06-2003 08:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Techmage  Send Email to Techmage     
Alkar, your little story just demonstrates the main problem with towing, poor knowledge in what your doing.

Your mistake was not reviewing the weight ratios on your tow, before towing it. Its mistakes like THAT that get people killed.

KVT posted 10-06-2003 09:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for KVT  Send Email to KVT     
You bump your head Tech ? Re read his post.


george nagy posted 10-06-2003 09:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for george nagy  Send Email to george nagy     
Ok,Ok, please no personal attacks on each other. I think this discussion could be of some benefit to others so I will continue.

Buying another vehicle to leave out by the barn might be a viable solution for some living in rural areas however I and many others don't have such luxuries.

That extra 8mpg which really is more like 9mpg costs around $641.75 a year and the extra insurance costs more than $500.00 per year and don't forget to tack on the extra vehicle maintenance, tax, tag & reg. I might end up keeping the explorer around and buying a really efficient car to help offset these costs. Then again why if it might not be necessary.

In no way does my desire to save money, eliminate waste, and help reduce environmental loads outweigh my desire NOT to endanger myself or others while towing my boat. I will not get into the discussion on this forum of if these "mamouth" sport-utility vehicles are safer than passenger cars because there is enough factual documentation out there to get an accurate answer.

If I only "buy into" the 2,400# USA towing rating for the forester and belive that the 2450# gvwr listed on the trailer that came with the boat and is recomended by the trailer manufacturer is correct, then I think the forester will do fine. I would also upgrade to a trailer with brakes to make towing even safer. The all wheel drive capability of the subaru might also contribute to better handling while trailering.

Bigger is not always better but I sure wouldn't want to undersize the towing vehicle. It is my conclusion, given the facts presented thus far, that the forester would be a capable tow vehicle for a lightly loaded 18' outrage with a properly equiped trailer. Now if I could only convince my better half that we should buy a subaru forester, but that is a whole other topic.

alkar posted 10-06-2003 10:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
Techmage, I'm not quite sure what you were trying to say when you said "poor knowledge in what you're doing". Exactly how do you propose that I "review my weight ratios" before towing?

If you're suggesting that I don't understand the proper balance between the weights of the tow vehicle and the trailer, you're wrong.If you're suggesting that I didn't understand the proper balance between trailer weight and tongue weight, you're wrong. If you're suggesting that you would have brought your portable scale to put under the trailer tongue when you picked up the new trailer, you're a remarkable guy.

I mistakenly assumed that the dealer knew how to properly set up their trailers. When I picked the package up I DID check the tire pressure, and the functioning of the brakes. I DID check the functioning of the lights. But I failed to remove the trailer from my hitch so I could measure the tongue-weight. (Since it weighed about 100 lbs, and the proper tongue-weight was close to 500, I would not have been able to set it properly by guessing at the weight.) If only you were there with the portable 500 pound scale you take when you go to pick up a boat...

Techmage, I hope my point is still well taken. Most folks are not as well prepared as you are. Many of us just don't think to bring a scale with us when we pick up a new boat/trailer combo. There are other potentially disastrous variables that can be introduced to the lives of us average folks - that's why a little margin is a good idea.

Bigshot posted 10-06-2003 02:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Well there are flaws in all of your arguments to be honest. If you read the manual correctly on your "trucks & SUV's" you will also see that in order to tow the "Max" limit you need stabilizer or torsion bars attached....anyone running them? If a 3100 car is unsafe to tow a 2400lb pkg then why is a 6000lb F-250 Ok to tow a 9,000lb package? Why does my neighbor who hauls for a living and used to be a State trooper think it is Ok to tow 25000lbs with his Dodge dually rated at 17k? Why oh why does everyone think they are a friggin expert on towing? If he is going 3 blocks to the ramp, he could use a golf cart or a garden tractor. Is he endangering anyone's life if he goes 4mph down a back street? Use your head and you will be fine, no matter what you drive or tow.
HAPPYJIM posted 10-06-2003 02:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
If your only tow vehicle is marginally able to tow/stop your boat, at least have surge brakes installed on the trailer. Cost....about $700.


Even if it costs an extra $1500 a year in additional costs for a bigger vehicle, safety and piece of mind will be worth it.

I tow a trailer almost every day that I work. I had an accident one time when pulling a lawn mower on a single axle trailer(less than 1000 lbs.) I was pulling with a 3/4 ton GMC when the van in front of me slammed on brakes. I was doing about 25mph and was following at least 3 car lengths behind the van. I slammed on brakes and hit the rear corner of the van and could feel my trailer pushing me. Now that's with a 3/4 ton truck.

If the short trip to the ramp never exceeds 10 mph...I think you are OK. If it involves getting out in traffic with stop lights, pedestrian cross walks or school crossings, get a bigger vehicle or a fishing/boating buddy with one.

alkar posted 10-06-2003 02:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
Biggie, I see the discussion differently. You're comparing all the folks who violate the rules in different ways. In my book, none of those folks are being safe if they're towing beyond the tow rating of the vehicle and they're using public roads and highways. Nobody cares about a lawn tractor that is used to move a boat around a parking lot.

I'm just saying this: All things being equal, a heavy truck that is designed for towing, has a longer wheelbase, heavier brakes and more weight, is safer than a smaller passenger vehicle that is NOT designed for towing and is being asked to tow MORE than it's rated tow weight.

My truck has heavier brake rotors, a tranny cooler, heavier bearings, heavier rear springs and air bags (so the steering control will not be adversely effected by the weight being shifted off the front wheels), etc. Those changes were recommended by the manufacturer to improve towing performance and SAFETY. If they didn't improve handling and safety they wouldn't be recommended or, for the more cynical, they wouldn't be of any assistance in a law suit following a crash.

We are all adults, so we're each free to strike our own balance between safety, cost, convenience and other considerations, but I think it's irresponsible to suggest that a Subaru Forrester will tow an 18' outrage as well (safely) at highway speeds as a vehicle that is designed for that purpose.

george nagy posted 10-06-2003 03:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for george nagy  Send Email to george nagy     
Subaru Forester US Towing capacity 2,400#.

Subaru Forester UK towing capacity 3,300#.

GVWR on the trailer that my 18' outrage came with and estimated 2,450# max combined weight of boat, motor, gear etc...

I would also assume that the trailer towing ratings in both countries have a margin of safety added to them.

If my outrage trailer, boat, motor and gear weigh 2,399# than am I responsible towing it in a car rated for 2,400#? If it rains on the way home and the boat gets 1/2 gallon of water in it and it weighs slightly over 2,400# than am I irresponsible? Off course this is your opinion but come on someone rated the car for 2,400# in the US and 3,300# in the UK so what is really the difference? It could probably be ok for 2,600# or so.

I must have missed the part where I said I would race up and down interstate 95 at 70mph or more instead of my 3 mile trip to the ramp NEVER exceeding 40 mph.

I think I will trade the 18' for a new 11' and trade the explorer for an H2. yeah that works!

gnr posted 10-06-2003 04:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for gnr  Send Email to gnr     

Hook that 18 up to the back of a Forester. Take her out on a nice flat, wide road with no traffic. Get the whole package traveling 40 miles an hour and SLAM the brakes while attempting to steer a little one way or the other. Then report back on how it felt.


The general rule of thumb is keep the weight of the rig within 75% of the rated capacity of the tow vehicle. 75% of 9000lbs = 6750lbs which is just about what that F250 (which is designed and built for towing/hauling BTW) weighs.

The fact that the differences between the ratings in the US and in the UK are so far apart only points out that these ratings are as much marketing tools as anything else.

I love the save the planet argument coming from folks who are trailering their two stroke outboards to the water for a day of recreation.

Oh and, Please lets be serious about what our boats REALLY weigh when all set up for our big adventures.

The above comments are not intended as personal attacks on any or all of this threads participants and are only intended to convey things the way I see them.

alkar posted 10-06-2003 05:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
George, you are, of course, free to do whatever you wish. When I participate in this forum I'm trying to be helpful. I apologize if something I said, or the way I said it, made you feel like you had to respond with your extreme 95 mph and H2 examples - obviously intended to suggest that those of us who advocate operating well within the rated tow capacity are somehow foolish. I'm sorry you feel that way, but I am confident that my choices make me LESS of a risk, and that's all I'm trying to do.

On my specifications list the 18' Outrage weighs 1250 pounds and carries 400 pounds of fuel. With a 350 pound motor the weight comes to 2000 pounds. I don't know what trailer you have under the boat your considering, but the King trailer for that boat weighs 640 pounds - bringing the total to 2640 pounds without batteries, coolers, tackle, or vehicle cargo, all of which effect towing ability. I'm willing to be that your proposes package will, on the average trip, be AT LEAST 10% over the vehicle's maximum recommended tow rating.

If I got a chance to go fishing at a new location 50 miles from my house, I would not want to have to worry if filling my fuel tank or adding a passenger to my car was going to push me ANOTHER 10% over the maximum rated capacity of my tow rig. Many of us believe that safety and liability concerns argue against that sort of choice - but do whatever you want.

If you don't want advice, don't ask for it.

cmarques posted 10-07-2003 11:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for cmarques  Send Email to cmarques     
Here's my .02
Not to create any more arguments or anything-common sense comes more into play than tow ratings and weight ratings, etc.
Take a look around driving on the highway at what's being towed by what and how many times have you said to yourself, "look at that ass!" It doesn't matter if you tow on the highway or on a little street if it's not safe.
My 'BTDT' is going through a stop sign 6 blocks from a friend's house with a uhaul full of furniture behind a Mazda B2200 with the brake pedal on the floor. Never exceeded 30 mph but the stop and go decided not to stop anymore. Or a panic manuever when a towed vehicle decided to seperate from a tow dolly behind my s-10 in rush hour traffic.(tractor trailers aren't the only things to 'Jacknife')
If you are "safely" towing in the right lane at 50 mph, keeping safe distance, etc, on a 70mph highway are you really safe?
I thought about putting brakes on my single axle trailer for my Dauntless 160 but instead bought a new F-150 I felt safe in, not just adequate in. My s-10 towed it fine until stopping and have never used my wife's Jeep Cherokee to tow with for same reason although it says 5500 lbs is o.k.
I've been a service advisor for 9 years and have seen my share of or torn up rear ends, clutches, trannies etc. because everyone is an 'expert'. That's been with GM,mazda,nissan,honda,audi and yes..subaru. Subarus are probably some of the best tow vehicles on the road- thats why they put the hitches on the front of them.
KVT posted 10-07-2003 04:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for KVT  Send Email to KVT     
Well the bottom line is that "Size matters" , legalities and ratings can get thrown all around as well as "Using your head" and all that good stuff. In the end , "Size matters". Do you want to just "Get by" or do you want to do it right ? Yes Big shot , you are right in some ways , wrong in others. I used to race every week end and trailer a 3600 pound car on a full decked car trailer back and forth to whatever track was happening. Funny thing is that I never saw a guy dragging his junk in behind a Subaru....
You seem like a pretty smart guy so you should know all to well that people dont use thier heads day to day. They will also start with the trip down the block to the ramp and figure they got away with that , so why not an interstate blast ? What could it hurt ? Advice was asked for and I think alot of accurate answers were given..
I also think your lawn mower would get dragged back down the ramp and into the water like a rag doll . I would like to take pics though :)


Bigshot posted 10-08-2003 12:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Tractor cart no. Bud uses a golf cart at his house and we have towed my 24' Baja with it. They are VERY heavy and tow exceptionally well....except on wet grass.
Gene in NC posted 10-14-2003 08:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gene in NC  Send Email to Gene in NC     
See post #15 in "Brakes on a Montauk Trailer?" this forum for true story re trailer control w/o trailer brakes.
CHRISWEIGHT posted 10-15-2003 07:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for CHRISWEIGHT  Send Email to CHRISWEIGHT     
It may be that the difference between us and uk towing capacities is that in the uk any trailer gross weight in excess of 750kg must be braked irrespective of the towing truck.

With regard to the forester which I have driven a number of times (both turbo and non turbo) I would not say that they are particularly stable cars and I feel that they would be too small and light-weight for a long and heavy trailer.

current advice in the uk is that the trailer gross weight should not exceed 85% of the towing car weight.

the forester is based on the floor pan of a small family sized saloon car (that is small by UK standards Not US standards, Imprezza)it is aimed at giving country folk a car to move around the countryside in comfort not pull great heavy trailers around. Please by the American/Japanese equivalent of a range rover,and fit brakes to the trailer so as we can sleep easy knowing everybody especially you and yours will be safe.

respectfully yours


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