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Robert, I'm concerned that all my questions are driving you and many on this forum nuts. I feel like I'm a guy that walked into your forum with sh*t on his shoe and there is no ventilation. You all have been very clear on your advice on not using a WDH on the Ascent so please be patient with this newest query.

I called up Can-Am RV Center today and asked them for advice on towing my Airflyte with the Ascent and the man that I talked to, Marshall, unequivocally said that I need a WDH. I explained that the Ascent's owner's manual warned against their use and it was most likely because of the unibody construction and how it can't trasfer the stresses imposed by the WDH through the Ascent. He disagreed explaining that unibody construction is far superior to body-on-frame and it can handle the stresses of a WDH. He said that if there is any stress point on the TV it's most likely the factory installed hitch itself and it would simply need to be strengthened. He said that they do these modifications all of the time. He was also familiar with the Shasta Airflyte and had no doubt that it should be towed with a WDH.

Trust me. This advice is not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to have them confirm your advice and go figure out how to properly balance my trailer to shave off the excess hitch weight.

So I guess my question to you all is how reputable is Can-Am? According to their website, they've been matching tow vehicles and RVs for 45 years and from what I can see online they are highly respected. They also seem agnostic about brand names so they aren't pushing one type of TV or trailer.

Here's their website:


Here's a video of them running a Mercedes towing a trailer through their test course. (Take a look at 2 minutes and 39 seconds in.)

https://www.youtube.chttps://www.canamrv.ca/om/watch?v=Q4b28Fkiubg&feature=emb_logo

They really seem to know what they are doing. I can't believe they run a towed trailer through those kind of maneuvers and I have to admit, I'm impressed.

You guys have been very generous with your time and my intention isn't to annoy all of you with this. I'm just trying to find some kind of consensus. Maybe it simply doesn't exist which seems crazy to me considering what's at stake.

Tim
 

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He's horribly incorrect, and, sadly, if the tongue weight cannot be adjusted, then, that particular trailer and the Ascent may simply not be a suitable combination. I'd be glad to go through the Ascent design and the body weld and repair manual with him, and explain to him why crumple-zone-unibody is absolutely lesser than body on frame for weight distribution. Sorry, but that claim from him is not just absurd, but, as I noted in my "Don't Do" document, the actual experts are where I got that information.

So sorry you're going through this.
 

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These are from the experts who make some of the hitches the salesperson will try to sell you:
I called my contact at Progress Manufacturing (creator of Equalizer and FastWay Weight Distribution products) to pick his brain on this topic. He explained that weight distribution (WD) and sway control products rely on leverage to work properly, which requires the body of the vehicle to be rigid enough to withstand the force. Unibody vehicles are typically not as strong or rigid and therefore cannot typically handle the same loads and stresses of a body-on-frame or ladder-style frame vehicle when it comes to towing and using WD or sway control.
The "I" in that is E-Trailer.

The trailer sales guy is hardly the first person to get it horribly backwards, but, for whatever reason it's happening, the car manufacturers and hitch manufacturers disagree with him. They know their products far better than the guy trying to make a buck selling a WDH to band-aid the problem.

And, regardless, it's still over 600 pound tongue weight. A WDH doesn't change the tongue weight - it just changes how it's loaded on the frame/axles.
 

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IMO, the trailer dealers are not necessarilly bad guys. A WDH can be a very good thing, so recommending one isn't necessarily wrong or deceitful. It's just that Subaru prohibits the use of one on the Ascent. Period. I'd rather it was permissible, but for various reasons it isn't. That said, you can reasonably tow a properly balanced trailer within the Ascents limitations without one.

Tongue weight must be less the 500 lb and should be 10-15% of the loaded trailer weight for best stability while towing. Adjust the loading of the trailer (including water tanks) to achieve this.
 

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IMO, the trailer dealers are not necessarilly bad guys. A WDH can be a very good thing, so recommending one isn't necessarily wrong or deceitful. It's just that Subaru prohibits the use of one on the Ascent. Period. I'd rather it was permissible, but for various reasons it isn't. That said, you can reasonably tow a properly balanced trailer within the Ascents limitations without one.

Tongue weight must be less the 500 lb and should be 10-15% of the loaded trailer weight for best stability while towing. Adjust the loading of the trailer (including water tanks) to achieve this.
Right, it's definitely not that they're bad guys.

But this is hardly just the Ascent. It's most unibody cars, especially those with such high tow limits, that are not suited for WDH. For him to literally state the opposite of reality is absurd (though likely him not being a bad guy).

My intent wasn't to characterize him as a bad person - it's just he literally used the structural descriptions of one body type on the other, and vice versa (and sells trailers and hitches).
 

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6 years ago, before unibody cars became even more crumply, this guy received answers from Acura, Honda and Richardson RV and an unnamed WDH manufacturer. Other than those people who keep getting things the opposite, the car manufacturers and WDH engineers all say the same thing. You can damage, break or twist the unibody by using one.

Key takeaway: the car manufacturers and hitch manufacturers say the same thing.

Today, I spoke with an Acura factory rep; hitch mfg. guy; Acura regional service rep; Richardsons' RV; and a hitch distributor. Here's the deal as I now know it:

There are several overlapping issues:

1. The MDX has a 5k# towing capacity, but the hitch is limited to a Class III (4K# capacity) only. As you all likely know, if you add a WDH to Class III hitch, it increases its rating to 5K#. BUT, Acura "recommends" that you not use a WDH and that gives you a big disconnect between their advertised 5K# capacity and their "approved" 4K#. To me, this seems to be an issue of false advertising, but someone else will need to fight that battle.

2. According to Honda, the issue with the WDH install is twofold. The underframe of a Unibody constructed vehicle has nowhere near the strength of the old fashioned frames most of us grew up with. This means that a WDH could possibly add enough leverage to twist the frame. Acura says that the second issue is that the MDX pulls more from the front (even with AWD or 4WD) and that, too, can cause issues with the WDH. (I don't know . . . I think I stopped listening after the part about the frame twisting.)

BTW, the Acura factory rep said that he has photos to prove the twisting, but is not allowed to share those. The conversation was recorded with full ID given on both sides (including my VIN) and documented with a case #, so I have no reason to doubt him.

Acura also says that the installation of the WDH in itself does NOT void the warranty, BUT if there is an incident that causes the frame to twist, then that would not be covered by warranty.

3. Acura dealerships can install Class III (2" receivers) only. If you decide to go the Class III with a WDH route, it will need to be done by another shop.

4. Then there is the issue of the Acura tow package component of the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) which I mistakenly called TSA in an earlier post. The manufacturer says that the Equalizer with 4 pt. sway control will eliminate the sway that causes the VSA to engage. There is also a switch that can turn it off.

All of the above was confirmed by the hitch distributor, etc. Richardson's double checked my research and confirmed what they could and were surprised at some of it; the Acura service guy was a bit clueless but knew they could not install anything other than what is listed above; and the Acura factory guy listened, understood, had experience with, and was able to explain all of the above from their POV and their policy.
 

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^^^
Interesting about the pulling from the front percentage with AWD. The Ascent is a 60/40 front/back split until the computers redirect things off the readings they get. That info makes it seems like there is more than one factor for no WDH.
 

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^^^
Interesting about the pulling from the front with AWD. The Ascent is a 60/40 front/back split until the computers redirect off the readings they get.
While the rear squats under tow or cargo load, I kinda have a feeling that the actual axle loads stay near even when towing. It starts 54/46 front biased. Probably shifts to 47/53. So, the power balance probably works well.
 

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sadly, if the tongue weight cannot be adjusted, then, that particular trailer and the Ascent may simply not be a suitable combination.
I agree with this strongly. As I mentioned in the other thread, this particular trailer appears to be front biased with weight and if you can't balance it farther back, you're going to be in a bad place.
 
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And, regardless, it's still over 600 pound tongue weight. A WDH doesn't change the tongue weight - it just changes how it's loaded on the frame/axles.
Further...the WDH adds to the tongue weight...outside of the Anderson, they are darn heavy things!
 
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TimGee,

I don’t really tow with my Ascent, I have a pickup for that, but if I needed to I would not hesitate. But if I was in your situation I would ask myself is it safe and if something goes wrong with the Ascent while towing with a WDH how bad can it be and who has to pay for the repair.

Subjecting the Ascent to forces and loads it is not designed for sounds not so good to me. What’s the worst that can happen? Stress cracks and perhaps catastrophic structural failure while driving with a trailer in the structural components. I did say worst case and let your imagination run with what happens in this one. So what is the likely hood of the worst case scenario? Unknown. So we have a huge consequence and an unknown risk. Considering the down side I would want to gamble and take a risk like that.

Now let’s say you let the trailer sales guy talk you into it. If something goes structurally wrong with your Ascent, will the trailer company fix or replace your Ascent. Not likely. Will Subaru say oh well you used a WDH and you were strongly warned by Subaru not to but no big deal we will fix your Ascent under warranty. Not likely. So now your stuck with a repair bill.

You might get a few folks on forums telling you it’s no big deal but it can get ugly quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
TimGee,

I don’t really tow with my Ascent, I have a pickup for that, but if I needed to I would not hesitate. But if I was in your situation I would ask myself is it safe and if something goes wrong with the Ascent while towing with a WDH how bad can it be and who has to pay for the repair.

Subjecting the Ascent to forces and loads it is not designed for sounds not so good to me. What’s the worst that can happen? Stress cracks and perhaps catastrophic structural failure while driving with a trailer in the structural components. I did say worst case and let your imagination run with what happens in this one. So what is the likely hood of the worst case scenario? Unknown. So we have a huge consequence and an unknown risk. Considering the down side I would want to gamble and take a risk like that.

Now let’s say you let the trailer sales guy talk you into it. If something goes structurally wrong with your Ascent, will the trailer company fix or replace your Ascent. Not likely. Will Subaru say oh well you used a WDH and you were strongly warned by Subaru not to but no big deal we will fix your Ascent under warranty. Not likely. So now your stuck with a repair bill.

You might get a few folks on forums telling you it’s no big deal but it can get ugly quickly.
Thank you guys. I appreciate all the advice even though it's not what I wanted to hear. Safety is paramount.

Tim
 

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Further...the WDH adds to the tongue weight...outside of the Anderson, they are darn heavy things!
And in the name of making lemonade out of lemons:

Jim in PA! I just found you over at the Jeep Garage forum as I'm seriously considering moving up to a Jeep Grand Cherokee with it's 6,200 lbs towing and 620 lbs tongue weight capacity. Does Jeep still require the use of WD Hitches over a tongue weight of 350lbs? Also, which trim level would you suggest considering all the challenges this trailer has presented me? 12 trim levels is just mind boggling.

I was also considering switching over to the Ford Explorer but I don't see that SUV getting me much more than the Ascent in terms of GVWR, tongue weight etc. Still, it's a cool looking SUV so if anyone thinks it's an option with my battling a tongue weight of 600 lbs dry please let me know.

Thank you in advance!
 

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I was also considering switching over to the Ford Explorer but I don't see that SUV getting me much more than the Ascent in terms of GVWR, tongue weight
I don't suggest that. I DON'T own a travel trailer. The Heartland Edge I regularly tow is my best friend's. His tow package equipped Explorer didn't even make it back to Long Island from the trailer dealership in Pennsylvania. It didn't even make it out of PA, actually. Towing the Edge toasted the Explorer transmission, even with the transmission cooler, OEM tow kit, and the Explo having been just checked to make sure everything was up to the task of towing the Edge.

He briefly owned an F150 King Ranch and even briefer owned a Suburban... (one got totalled in an accident, and the other was well used when he got it and died), and now owns a Prius and Model S...

So, my friend doesn't own a tow vehicle, hence my Ascent has been the tow vehicle for the Edge for years.

The F150 Ecoboost did great. But we'd never consider the Explo for towing the trailer again.
 

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Jim in PA! I just found you over at the Jeep Garage forum as I'm seriously considering moving up to a Jeep Grand Cherokee with it's 6,200 lbs towing and 620 lbs tongue weight capacity. Does Jeep still require the use of WD Hitches over a tongue weight of 350lbs? Also, which trim level would you suggest considering all the challenges this trailer has presented me? 12 trim levels is just mind boggling.
Yes, I do there what Robert does here, although I no longer own a JGC...my Ascent Touring replaced it. I originally bought the JGC because I had an occasional towning need for a small horse trailer. (no longer have that need). Live loads are a completely different "animal" than a travel trailer, too!

Jeep does require a WDH for MY11-MY19 JGCs, regardless of engine or trim level. And you must have Factory Towing to get the 6200 lb limit for the V6 and 7200 lbs for the V8 or EcoDiesel. JGC's setup is different than the Ascent relative to weight balance and it gets squirrely without a WDH when the tongue weight gets north of 400-450 lbs. And that's with the V8 which has more weight up front than the V6. I honestly don't recommend the V6 JGC for this trailer as your tongue weight plus the weight of a WDH is going to be at or north of the limits and it's never a good idea to push things like that for towing, especially for travel. That means a few thousand dollars more for the V8 to regain some breathing room.

Honestly, that particular trailer you have is probably better suited to being pulled by a 3/4 ton pick-em-up truck simply because of how it's balanced. IMHO...for what that's actually worth. Perhaps the better solution would be to look at a different travel trailer so you don't take a major financial hit on trading an essentially new and very capable tow vehicle for something else. The trailer you have has nostalgic appeal and I would think that it's marketable for that reason.
 

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I don't suggest that. I DON'T own a travel trailer. The Heartland Edge I regularly tow is my best friend's. His tow package equipped Explorer didn't even make it back to Long Island from the trailer dealership in Pennsylvania. It didn't even make it out of PA, actually. Towing the Edge toasted the Explorer transmission, even with the transmission cooler, OEM tow kit, and the Explo having been just checked to make sure everything was up to the task of towing the Edge.

He briefly owned an F150 King Ranch and even briefer owned a Suburban... (one got totalled in an accident, and the other was well used when he got it and died), and now owns a Prius and Model S...

So, my friend doesn't own a tow vehicle, hence my Ascent has been the tow vehicle for the Edge for years.

The F150 Ecoboost did great. But we'd never consider the Explo for towing the trailer again.
Thanks. I thought as much. Consumer Reports wasn't a big fan either. It's too bad, for some reason I think it's the coolest looking SUV out there.
 

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@TimGee, please don't trust RV dealers with your safety, I can't tell you how much bad and misleading advice I've received from some in the year that I've been researching RVs, even from factory reps. Some may intentionally mislead to make sales while others may think they know what they're talking about but really don't. I've never experienced so much questionable advice from any other types of dealers. It's been eye-opening and I now do all my own research and do not listen to these dealers no matter how authoritative they may sound. These dealers and salesmen are not automotive engineers, some may have never graduated high school. Always carefully consider the source whenever anyone gives you advice especially when you get conflicting advice. Do your own research and trust the preponderance of the facts rather than any individual source.

In the case of WDH's they're applying decades of dealing with frame-on-body vehicles to the latest unibody vehicles which is basically malpractice in my opinion. They won't take responsibility if you develop stress cracks in your frame that won't be covered under warranty if you use a WDH. Newer unibody vehicles have frames carefully and specifically engineered and optimized for lower weight, flexibility, better mpg, and crash safety via crumple zones. These may not be compatible with WDH's designed primarily for frame-on-body vehicles.

The issue is moot because you simply don't need a WDH to safely tow as many here have mentioned before. I don't know why you think you do. No one here has anything to gain from giving you this advice and no one here would intentionally mislead you. We're just trying to help.
 

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Yes, I do there what Robert does here, although I no longer own a JGC...my Ascent Touring replaced it. I originally bought the JGC because I had an occasional towning need for a small horse trailer. (no longer have that need). Live loads are a completely different "animal" than a travel trailer, too!

Jeep does require a WDH for MY11-MY19 JGCs, regardless of engine or trim level. And you must have Factory Towing to get the 6200 lb limit for the V6 and 7200 lbs for the V8 or EcoDiesel. JGC's setup is different than the Ascent relative to weight balance and it gets squirrely without a WDH when the tongue weight gets north of 400-450 lbs. And that's with the V8 which has more weight up front than the V6. I honestly don't recommend the V6 JGC for this trailer as your tongue weight plus the weight of a WDH is going to be at or north of the limits and it's never a good idea to push things like that for towing, especially for travel. That means a few thousand dollars more for the V8 to regain some breathing room.

Honestly, that particular trailer you have is probably better suited to being pulled by a 3/4 ton pick-em-up truck simply because of how it's balanced. IMHO...for what that's actually worth. Perhaps the better solution would be to look at a different travel trailer so you don't take a major financial hit on trading an essentially new and very capable tow vehicle for something else. The trailer you have has nostalgic appeal and I would think that it's marketable for that reason.
Man, you guys hate my trailer! ;-) Honestly we're leaning towards ditching the car over the trailer. I purchased the Ascent back in July of 2018 and I have almost 60k on it. We may keep the Ascent and replace my wife's Odyssey but she's not too happy about the idea of losing the capacity to haul kids. (She wants a third row.). Sorry. This may be an awkward conversation to have on an Ascent forum. Let me know if it is and I'll stop.

Jim, If I could get the tongue weight down to 500lbs and used the Anderson hitch (weighs under 60 lbs) could I stay with the V6? That would be around 600lbs tongue weight. . . .
 

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Man, you guys hate my trailer! ;-) Honestly we're leaning towards ditching the car over the trailer
LOL, I love your trailer. It's hard to find quality interiors like that nowadays without spending serious money.

And, even though I am a Subaru Ambassador (actually, especially because I am a Subaru Ambassador), I'd rather see you have a safe towing combination, regardless of the vehicle that's doing the towing.
 

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@TimGee, please don't trust RV dealers with your safety, I can't tell you how much bad and misleading advice I've received from some in the year that I've been researching RVs, even from factory reps.

The issue is moot because you simply don't need a WDH to safely tow as many here have mentioned before. I don't know why you think you do. No one here has anything to gain from giving you this advice and no one here would intentionally mislead you. We're just trying to help.
Let me address your second point first. I truly appreciate all the advice that I'm getting on this forum and I am in no way discounting it and I am certainly not leaning towards putting a WDH on the Ascent. As you advised, I'm just gathering sources of information and trying to make the best informed decision possible and not taking anyone's word on this. The frustrating thing is I'm hearing diametrically opposed opinions and that just forces me to keep asking questions. Trust me. I wish I had a clear path forward.

As to your first point about RV dealers. Please check out the link I posted for Can-Am RV. I think it is a mistake to dismiss them as a bunch of sales guys just trying to sell product. These guys are in the business of matching trailers to tow vehicles. They do more than sell hitches and RVs but I'm not engineer or mechanic so that's why I started this thread to ask your advice on what you think about these guys. With my layman's eyes they seem to re-design tow vehicles to match the trailer and then test it out on their obstacle course. There the only ones that do it in N. Ameria as far as I know. I would really value everyone's opinion on what Can-Am does as I think they go beyond just selling product.

But the big point here is that I have no doubt that you all are giving me good advice. And it's something that I really appreciate.
 
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