Last post on May 01, 2013 at 9:15 AM
You are in the Subaru Crew
What is this discussion about?
Subaru Impreza, Subaru Outback, Subaru Forester, Subaru Legacy, Coupe, Sedan, Wagon, SUV
Go to NHTSA to file a safety complaint.
Or call Monday-Friday (8 am to 8 pm ET) (888) 327-4236 TTY: (800)424-9153
Your Community Leaders are ateixeira and rsholland.
#18857 of 19283 Re: Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester? [ateixeira]
Oct 29, 2010 (10:58 am)
Do NOT tow a Subaru with an automatic transmission - just don't do it! A trailer that can handle that small car will cost you about the same as a remanufactured transaxle, so why take the risk? The fuse simply engages a solenoid to disengage a clutch pack, but it still creates wear inside the center differential and it will more than likely make your car a permanent FWD after one trip behind the RV.
I had a friend who towed his 2002 Impreza up from Anchorage several years ago (~360 miles) using a dolly and the fuse (he turned his ignition on, if I recall correctly, to make sure the solenoid circuit was engaged but I am not sure if this is necessary or not). A few months later, during the winter, he was headed up his driveway when a Chinook blew through town (making temperatures very warm and the snowpack extremely slippery) and his car could not make it up. He realized that while his front tire was spinning, he was getting nothing out of the back. So, he put it up on jack stands and sure enough, the rear portion of the AWD was not working at all because his center differential's clutch packs were shot. That tow was the only likely thing that would have caused it.
The manual transmission system can be towed with all four on the ground with no problem.
#18858 of 19283 Re: Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester? [foamy59]
Oct 29, 2010 (11:37 am)
Sorry - not a professional mechanic, just a reasonably good shade tree one! But I think I understand enough to further cloud the issue and confuse you!!
The owners manual covers some of these scenarios in the towing section. You can download one in .pdf form from the Subaru web site.
With a manual, everything is immersed in gear oil, so the wheels forcing shafts to turn is usually OK.
With automatics, without the engine running the pump, bearings get cooked. ATF isn't a very good lube, and without it circulating and being cooled, it quickly cokes and turns to grit. Therefore towing with 4 wheels down is limited to very slow speeds, and short distances. I'm not convinced that the fuse thing for the automatic's electronically controlled center diff fully disengages the link between front and rear. My owners manual doesn't talk about the fuse in towing situations, and simply says never tow with 2 wheels down or you will cook the diffy. Thinking about it, that does make sense, as the center diff uses ATF pumped thru passages from the main tranny section. Without it running, the rear bearings in the tail diffy section would cook even if the electronic clutch pack didn't attempt to couple and drive the rest of the tranny.
Net, I believe that you have to disconnect the drive shaft if you want the rear wheels on the ground (with fronts on a dolly) and you want to tow at speed.
Hope this helps.
#18859 of 19283 Re: Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester? [xwesx]
Oct 29, 2010 (11:43 am)
And as usual, while I spent my time carefully composing and constantly being interrupted, Wes jumped in and answered the question ahead of me!
Well, actually I learned as well. So in your friends case, towing with fronts up, rears down & electronics disengaged still damaged the clutch pack, but did not completely seize the unit as I suspected it might.
#18860 of 19283 Re: Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester? [fibber2]
Oct 29, 2010 (1:15 pm)
No, it did not. He had it in neutral, too, so I don't know if the results would have been more catastrophic had he not.
What you were saying makes sense. I was thinking about it strictly in terms of friction surface wear, but overheating that fluid would wreak havoc in there too.
#18861 of 19283 Re: Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester? [xwesx]
by steve_ HOST
Oct 29, 2010 (1:27 pm)
I was perusing Outback ads on various Craigslists, and found this gem:
- 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback, 2.5, 4 cylinder, 175000 miles
- Has toggle switch to change from AWD to Front Wheel Drive, very nice in summer time
Hm, I do have a blank spot in the dash for my '97 that could handle a switch.
#18862 of 19283 Re: Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester? [steve_]
Oct 29, 2010 (3:00 pm)
It's not really meant for long-term use, though.
This is one of those "at your own risk" situations.
#18863 of 19283 Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester?
Oct 30, 2010 (6:47 pm)
OK everyone, thanks for your input. Although I did not get a definitive answer from a certified Subarua tech person I think there is enough evidence here for me to make a decision.
1) A Forester with manual transmission can be towed all wheels down, it can't be towed with the front Two wheels on a dolly.
2) No way shape or form can an Automatic transmission Subaru be towed for long distances (Unless ther drive shaft is physically un-coupled).
So I got a 2007 Manual shift Forester with 29,500 miles on it - guess what? on my first trip out today I find it has a transmission noise when I gently touch the gas at above 55 mph. Kind of a growling, or high speed knocking noise. The noise is not there if I go into neutral and touch the gas pedal, only when I am in gear (3rd, 4th, or 5th).
Anyone got any thoughts on this ? Yes I am going to take it back to the dealership where I bought it.
#18864 of 19283 Re: Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester? [foamy59]
Oct 30, 2010 (7:26 pm)
Car Talk had a person report, that he was towing an AWD vehicle. After 50 miles going up hill in the heat, the car caught fire. It started in the transmission area.
#18865 of 19283 Re: Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester? [foamy59]
Oct 31, 2010 (11:28 am)
What rpm and throttle input is causing this noise? Is it turbocharged (xt) or not?
#18866 of 19283 Re: Can I tow a Manual or auto Forester? [colin_l]
Oct 31, 2010 (7:39 pm)
RPM's can be anywhere from 2500 - 3500, throttle is just barely open.
I am sure it's not engine related because when I go to neutral at say 65 mph the noise goes away and if I put on a touch throttle the noise does not appear, if in gear 3,4, or 5 under exact same conditions the growling/rattling noise appears. Loudest when driving at 65 - 75 mph with very little throttle.
Frequency seems to be about same as wheel/drive shaft speed. I feel that is is a worn gear somewhere because when no power is transfering from the engine (Coasting) noise is not there, but when just powering on noise is worst (Back-lash between some gears??), and when hard powering noise is there but not so bad (Power overcoming gear back-lash ???)