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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This question keeps coming up over and over again. So, here's the answers and explanations.

  • To NOT damage your Ascent, don't use a WDH.
  • Otherwise, if you want to damage your Ascent, get the WDH.
The Ascent Unibody

is NOT designed for a WDH.


Subaru says not to:
4350


E-Trailer says not to:
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.
Everyone but unknowledgeable salespeople says not to.

Do NOT let some unknowledgeable salesperson make a few bucks on you and damage your Ascent's unibody.

MORE INFO:
  • SUBARU ASCENT:
    If a vehicle is a unibody frame design, it does NOT have a separate frame at all. It has a subframe built into the cabin body (uni-body, unified frame and body), and maybe some frame support pieces for drivetrain. Unless it is SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR a Weight Distributing Hitch, one should NEVER EVER be used on it. Subaru uses a unibody design that is NOT designed for a WDH or any type of sway/wdh setup. And, YOU DON'T NEED ONE because of the anti-sway and loading designs of the Ascent.

    The rear axle (GAWR-R) load rating is higher than the front (GAWR-F) even though the Ascent at the curb is front weight biased (54%/46%), because it's designed to carry tongue load on the rear.

    Photo of Subaru Global Platform Unibody design platform base. There is no end to end singular frame piece from front to back.
  • BODY ON FRAME:
    If a vehicle is a body-on-frame design, it means it has a full frame, from bumper to bumper, that can transfer weight from front to back.

The Ascent is literally designed to have tongue weight loaded onto the back. Other vehicles (such as big pickups) are designed to have the weight distributed across as much of the vehicle as possible, which is the other reason why the recommend weight distributing hitches.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
This is where the OEM frame rails slide in and bolt into place. It's not designed to transfer load to the front axles.

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I know how the Subaru Global platform is designed and your implication is flat-out wrong. I have the entire weld manual for the Subaru Ascent and no one should ever use a weight distributing hitch on it. Anything else is very bad advice.

Please do not advise people to misload or misuse a car because you think your experience with vastly different Subarus applies to a brand new car, on a brand new platform, with a vastly higher tow rating than any other Subaru, because you think or want to imply that their engineers are incorrect and you are correct.

View attachment 406
How about using an Reese Friction Sway bar on my regular hitch? I've used on past tow vehicles, but nothing as sophisticated as the Ascent
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How about using an Reese Friction Sway bar on my regular hitch? I've used on past tow vehicles, but nothing as sophisticated as the Ascent
Still an anti-sway system. The Ascent has a Trailer Stability Control system built in. A mechanical system will not be in sync with it, and can even possibly cause an increased undulation/sway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks SO MUCH! You save me a real mess and a lot of work to install the set up on the hitch.
So, a follow up. Kevin Williams tows a Mustang, and his total is near max. He's put a lot more towing miles on his Ascent than me, no WDH and no anti-sway system (except the Subaru's).

There's another person who recently towed a heavy trailer, and experienced the same thing as me on a windy day.

As for me, I towed this on a day with steady 20mph winds, and gusts up to 35mph. The Trailer Sway Control was ingenious and handled the wind easily at speeds between 60-70mph (as well as of course lower speeds). It felt weird at first. The Ascent will "squat" (best way I can describe it) a corner against the sway to prevent or mitigate the sway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I am going to ask here since I can't find this on the web, if Subaru specifically says not to use a sway control system, would that apply to an electronic trailer sway control?

I believe this is the system installed on a trailer we are looking at:
https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories-and-Parts/Hayes/HA81775.html
That's an interesting one. From having towed a lot of weight (well over 4,000 pounds) in sustained 20mph (gusts to 35 mph) winds, I wouldn't even bother hooking it up.

Personally, since the Ascent's Trailer Sway Control activates the Ascent's brakes to do the same thing, I'd be worried that the Hayes unit will end up conflicting, causing excessive anti-sway action. It's the one that looks like it can be turned off, so, personally, I simply wouldn't activate it. Especially because I found absolutely no need under my tests.
 

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I am purchasing a Travel trailer (~3300lbs). I've never owned one before, and am, to be completely honest, finding the whole hitch / anti sway / WDH topic a bit confusing. I was working with three different dealers, and each try to convince me to purchase a WDH. After I finally wear them down with the Subaru directive not to, they then push for the Anti-Sway.

It sounds to me like you are saying not to purchase any anti-sway or WDH, correct? What type of hitch do you recommend? I will be towing a Jayco Hummingbird 17RK
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am purchasing a Travel trailer (~3300lbs). I've never owned one before, and am, to be completely honest, finding the whole hitch / anti sway / WDH topic a bit confusing. I was working with three different dealers, and each try to convince me to purchase a WDH. After I finally wear them down with the Subaru directive not to, they then push for the Anti-Sway.

It sounds to me like you are saying not to purchase any anti-sway or WDH, correct? What type of hitch do you recommend? I will be towing a Jayco Hummingbird 17RK
Correct.

Absolutely NO weight distributing or anti sway hitch. Subaru engineers know how they designed the Ascent.

Using one WILL damage your Ascent.

Use the OEM receiver, and the hitch that comes with it, or a highly rated drop hitch.
 

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Correct.

Absolutely NO weight distributing or anti sway hitch. Subaru engineers know how they designed the Ascent.

Using one WILL damage your Ascent.

Use the OEM receiver, and the hitch that comes with it, or a highly rated drop hitch.
I had the tow package put on the vehicle at the dealership, but no hitch came with it. It was only the receiver. If I am using the correct terms... I have found that everyone refers to the different pieces differently. So, it sounds like I need to order the drop hitch.
 

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I had the tow package put on the vehicle at the dealership, but no hitch came with it. It was only the receiver. If I am using the correct terms... I have found that everyone refers to the different pieces differently. So, it sounds like I need to order the drop hitch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I had the tow package put on the vehicle at the dealership, but no hitch came with it. It was only the receiver. If I am using the correct terms... I have found that everyone refers to the different pieces differently. So, it sounds like I need to order the drop hitch.
Check under your rear cargo area floor. It should be stored there. Open the tailgate and lift the floor.
 

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Check under your rear cargo area floor. It should be stored there. Open the tailgate and lift the floor.
Exactly what I was going to say. A 6" drop ball mount is included with the OEM hitch accessory and it's usually in a nice, brown cardboard box in the cargo area storage compartment.
 
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Just stumbled upon this... Unfortunately AFTER I've used a weight distribution and anti-sway hitch on my 2019 Ascent.

I towed a 19-foot, 3500lb travel trailer with the Ascent on 4 different occasions for a total of roughly 400 miles.

Now, obviously I won't be using the WDH any longer (only the OEM hitch)... The big question is: how much damage have I done to the vehicle???
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
There's no way we could know, but that's not a lot of miles. Regardless, at 600 miles of towing, you're supposed to have the hitch bolts re-tightened, so, maybe just bring it in early.
 

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Like many things of this nature you're not going to destroy it using it once. Constant usage would weaken the frame though and possibly cause a failure. Good thing you caught it early.

I tow both my Mustang and trailer (4,500lbs) and a large pop-up camer (3,500 lbs) and I've been amazed that even in the mountains while descending it's stayed very stable.

The ONLY time it got slightly squirrely (and then corrected itself) was when we were going downhill at about 65mph with my 3,500lb trailer and someone pulled in front of me (in the fast lane) going 45! I hit the brakes hard and the trailer wiggled a little bit, then fell back in line.

Given that the Mustang on a trailer is actually slightly heavier than my Ascent it's been amazing how well it tows.

For a while I had a GMC 2500 HD and towed a 31ft fifth wheel (9800lbs). That was a very stable towing platform. Often it felt like the trailer wasn't even back there. I was worried about trading in my truck and giving up the towing capacity. I've been very pleased that the Ascent has given me a similar experience where the trailer is so stable I often forget it's back there until I look in the rear view mirror :D

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
@niclegs33 make sure you read Kevin's detailed response above... sorry, I was on my way to work. But, regardless, @Kevin Williams probably has the most experience of ANY of us, towing a LOT of weight on a regular basis, and is a fount of knowledge.
 
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