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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m looking for ideas to eliminate the bumping & jarring we get from towing a new 3100 lb, Tab 400 camper, with our Subaru Ascent hitch. Other Camper owners note hitch weight around 460lbs, camper mfg brochure states 405 lbs.

My husband barely notices the bumping of the trailer against the hitch but it gives me a sore back & feels like whiplash to me and it that makes the journey unpleasant to impossible when we have towed it, especially on roads that are patched (most of the roads around here!). I experience no back pain when driving all day when not towing the trailer.

I will be sad to give up our trailer, but if we don’t find a good solution it will be disappointing but necessary decision for my health - disappointing as we just purchased the Ascent as a tow vehicle.

Thoughts?
 

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Sask,

Not sure exactly what you are feeling, but if it's from play in the hitch mount (which can result in a big bump as it extends through the play or compresses into it), I have one of these clamps to take up slack in the pinned hitch mount.


Mine looks just like this, and barely fits in between the vehicle's 2" receiver and the hitch mount that comes with the 2019 Ascent option. I read that another forum member's hitch mount did not allow enough room to fit - it's that tight in there. My other (different drop height) hitch mount fits this clamp very nicely.

Not sure where else to take up play.

F.S.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi FS I am curious if a hitch tightener will help with the bumping & jarring I experience. do you have a picture is this? My husband doesn’t think they will fit on the Subaru hitch the way it’s designed. We do better with a visual than written description.

Saskgal
 

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Milling Machine tool Machine Tool accessory Tool

Here it is with my Subaru long-drop ball hitch mount (with one nut not installed yet, for illustration). You can see how it's (a) a really tight fit, and (b) upside down from how it would mount to more logically pull the mount down against the bottom of the 2" hole:

(a) may be a problem, as that other forum member's welds were slightly different and his would not allow the u-bolt to get in there.

(b) upside down has been fine for me, with a ~2000 lb-ish / ~250 lb tongue U-Haul cargo trailer, and then a ~3500 lb-ish / ~400 lb tongue camping trailer. The former used the Subaru ball hitch mount (tight fit but worked for mine), and the latter used a U-Haul ball hitch mount (shorter drop and longer reach, and had plenty of space for the clamp).

There are other clamp designs too. In any case, if what you are feeling is like a lurch and wham! when the trailer either gets pulled or catches up to the car, then maybe removing free play will solve some of the wham! part.

Ooooo, here's an idea. Stick a camera back there pointed at the hitching system, and see how much it moves when slowing down, how much slack there is at the trailer, tongue, ball, ball hitch mount, and hitch receiver. Actually, the backup camera looks down on the ball...

To access the backup camera while driving (passenger can do this, not the driver!), hold Home button (house) while double clicking the tuning knob just low and right of the home button. Press the tab for Camera, and scroll to the bottom to manage the Camera centering. Thie camera view will stay on the display until you click back arrow etc.

That should help diagnose what has the most play, and what is smacking into what.

F.S.
 

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If you wish to use this hitch tightener or one like it, and there's barely or not enough room, you can drill another hole in the Subaru ball mount. This will extend the ball mount out farther. For some reason, the existing hole is too close.

I had to do this for my Ascent for my boat trailer. Drilling a hole of this size requires the right equipment such as large drill bits and a drill press. If you can't do this on your own, you can take the hitch to a local machine shop and they'll be able to do it for a modest cost. Or you can try to find a friend or a relative who is able to do it.

Or you can simply purchase another ball mount which will work with a hitch tightener.
 

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If you're experiencing back pain from bumping & jarring, you may wish to seek medical advice. Back pain from such movements may be indicative of an underlying back or spine issue which should be examined by a doctor before it gets worse. I've had such issues in the past. It's better to treat them at the first sign of pain rather than to wait.

Also, the passenger seat on all trims of the Ascent lacks a lumbar support. You can buy aftermarket lumbar support products for car seats. This may help.
 

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I’m looking for ideas to eliminate the bumping & jarring we get from towing a new 3100 lb, Tab 400 camper, with our Subaru Ascent hitch. Other Camper owners note hitch weight around 460lbs, camper mfg brochure states 405 lbs.

My husband barely notices the bumping of the trailer against the hitch but it gives me a sore back & feels like whiplash to me and it that makes the journey unpleasant to impossible when we have towed it, especially on roads that are patched (most of the roads around here!). I experience no back pain when driving all day when not towing the trailer.

I will be sad to give up our trailer, but if we don’t find a good solution it will be disappointing but necessary decision for my health - disappointing as we just purchased the Ascent as a tow vehicle.

Thoughts?
It sounds to me like you need to increase the power of your brake controller. The trailer does have electric brakes right?

If so, then the trailer should not be bumping against the car if you have enough brake force dialed in to the controller. The trailer should be pulling slightly against the car so they are both slowing down at about the same speed.

Also something like this can cushion the hits too.

I had a similar device on my fifth wheel and it really reduced the shock of the trailer hitting into the truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
View attachment 1600
Here it is with my Subaru long-drop ball hitch mount (with one nut not installed yet, for illustration). You can see how it's (a) a really tight fit, and (b) upside down from how it would mount to more logically pull the mount down against the bottom of the 2" hole:

(a) may be a problem, as that other forum member's welds were slightly different and his would not allow the u-bolt to get in there.

(b) upside down has been fine for me, with a ~2000 lb-ish / ~250 lb tongue U-Haul cargo trailer, and then a ~3500 lb-ish / ~400 lb tongue camping trailer. The former used the Subaru ball hitch mount (tight fit but worked for mine), and the latter used a U-Haul ball hitch mount (shorter drop and longer reach, and had plenty of space for the clamp).

There are other clamp designs too. In any case, if what you are feeling is like a lurch and wham! when the trailer either gets pulled or catches up to the car, then maybe removing free play will solve some of the wham! part.

Ooooo, here's an idea. Stick a camera back there pointed at the hitching system, and see how much it moves when slowing down, how much slack there is at the trailer, tongue, ball, ball hitch mount, and hitch receiver. Actually, the backup camera looks down on the ball...

To access the backup camera while driving (passenger can do this, not the driver!), hold Home button (house) while double clicking the tuning knob just low and right of the home button. Press the tab for Camera, and scroll to the bottom to manage the Camera centering. Thie camera view will stay on the display until you click back arrow etc.

That should help diagnose what has the most play, and what is smacking into what.

F.S.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
View attachment 1600
Here it is with my Subaru long-drop ball hitch mount (with one nut not installed yet, for illustration). You can see how it's (a) a really tight fit, and (b) upside down from how it would mount to more logically pull the mount down against the bottom of the 2" hole:

(a) may be a problem, as that other forum member's welds were slightly different and his would not allow the u-bolt to get in there.

(b) upside down has been fine for me, with a ~2000 lb-ish / ~250 lb tongue U-Haul cargo trailer, and then a ~3500 lb-ish / ~400 lb tongue camping trailer. The former used the Subaru ball hitch mount (tight fit but worked for mine), and the latter used a U-Haul ball hitch mount (shorter drop and longer reach, and had plenty of space for the clamp).

There are other clamp designs too. In any case, if what you are feeling is like a lurch and wham! when the trailer either gets pulled or catches up to the car, then maybe removing free play will solve some of the wham! part.

Ooooo, here's an idea. Stick a camera back there pointed at the hitching system, and see how much it moves when slowing down, how much slack there is at the trailer, tongue, ball, ball hitch mount, and hitch receiver. Actually, the backup camera looks down on the ball...

To access the backup camera while driving (passenger can do this, not the driver!), hold Home button (house) while double clicking the tuning knob just low and right of the home button. Press the tab for Camera, and scroll to the bottom to manage the Camera centering. Thie camera view will stay on the display until you click back arrow etc.

That should help diagnose what has the most play, and what is smacking into what.

F.S.

Thanks FS for your photo - it helps me to see how we may be able to put an anti-rattle tightener on the hitch - with the plate on top & the bolt secured at the top. The available space available to securely position it is very tight as you mention, which I can also see from your photo, so I think it will require trying it out before determining if we need to modify it to secure it.

I am optimistic that this may be the solution to the “lurch & wham” when the trailer gets pulled or catches up to the car & bumps up against the hitch. The Liberrway 304 seems to have some good reviews on Amazon.com.

Thanks again for your detailed comments as a newbie trailer owner we work to find a solution to this annoying problem.

Saskgal
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you wish to use this hitch tightener or one like it, and there's barely or not enough room, you can drill another hole in the Subaru ball mount. This will extend the ball mount out farther. For some reason, the existing hole is too close.

I had to do this for my Ascent for my boat trailer. Drilling a hole of this size requires the right equipment such as large drill bits and a drill press. If you can't do this on your own, you can take the hitch to a local machine shop and they'll be able to do it for a modest cost. Or you can try to find a friend or a relative who is able to do it.

Or you can simply purchase another ball mount which will work with a hitch tightener.
Thanks pro10is - I appreciate your suggestion as we are not very mechanically minded & so this option had not crossed our minds! We may indeed need to drill another hole, depending on the anti-rattle tightener that we get & whether the plate may be too tight to fit with the way the Subaru hitch is currently configured. So thanks for the idea - I am (& my husband really is) feeling less stress that we can make this work!

Saskgal
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you're experiencing back pain from bumping & jarring, you may wish to seek medical advice. Back pain from such movements may be indicative of an underlying back or spine issue which should be examined by a doctor before it gets worse. I've had such issues in the past. It's better to treat them at the first sign of pain rather than to wait.

Also, the passenger seat on all trims of the Ascent lacks a lumbar support. You can buy aftermarket lumbar support products for car seats. This may help.

Thanks for your thoughts pro10is - I will be investing in a bit more lumbar support as you mentioned - as the Ascent seems to have less than our Outback or Impreza. It’s not something I have had to be concerned about for years - but as someone with a history of back injuries/pain I do take looking after my back seriously - as you probably understand back pain can be no fun at all! But as I previously noted I think most of the pain comes from the trailer bumping and lurching against the hitch & if the anti-rattle tightener can smooth out that movement I am optimistic that travelling with trailer will be so much more fun!

Saskgal
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It sounds to me like you need to increase the power of your brake controller. The trailer does have electric brakes right?

If so, then the trailer should not be bumping against the car if you have enough brake force dialed in to the controller. The trailer should be pulling slightly against the car so they are both slowing down at about the same speed.

Also something like this can cushion the hits too.

I had a similar device on my fifth wheel and it really reduced the shock of the trailer hitting into the truck.
[/QUOTE]


Hi Kevin - our trailer has electric brakes. I am not sure what a brake controller does exactly, nor when it is best to use it ?- it is a new idea that we have been reading about since purchasing the trailer but this is all new to us. I thought a brake controller was mostly to prevent the trailer from swaying, am I wrong?

The trailer bumps against the hitch mostly when the car and trailer are out of sync due to pavement seam sealant/patches, patched potholes, pothole, and up/down curbs and the like. Unfortunately a majority of roads that we travel in Saskatchewan are less than perfectly smooth! My husband has been really good at starting up slowly,and driving at a constant speed so the trailer has an opportunity to stay in sync when we are driving on smooth roads. It's all the other times when the road is not smooth, when the car hits a bump at a different time than the trailer that we get the bumping/lurching type of hitch action as the trailer gets out of sync with the Ascent.

The hitch with a cushion mount looks interesting from the Amazon reviews - I just don't understand the mechanics of how it works differently from the Subaru hitch. And as Subaru seems to be very specific about not putting other manufacturers products on the vehicle, I wonder if installing it would void the warranty - however I would love to know more about this type of hitch as it may be another possible option for us.

Saskgal
 

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Brake controllers have different features, but the general idea is that the trailer's electric brakes are applied when the tow vehicle slows down, so the vehicle doesn't do all the braking work.

On my Tekonsha P3 brake controller, it triggers braking when I touch my brakes (I think it knows via the brake lights) and also adds more braking based on accelerometers in the unit. The end result is that my Ascent's brakes are supplemented by the trailer's slowing, and in normal braking the Ascent's brakes don't work much harder than they would when not towing.

If you are feeling the trailer whack into the hitch when you brake, then the trailer brake controller might need a higher gain setting so that its brakes are working harder. Sounds like you don't have a controller unit in the car. Is there a controller on the trailer? Some trailers have a self-contained controller, connected to the brake light wiring and maybe with accelerometers as well, but without a unit in the tow vehicle. Wherever the controller is located, it should be adjusted so the trailer brakes do most or all of the trailer braking.

I'm speaking in generalities because the various trailer brakes and controllers all have their own features and instructions. Certainly follow their specific instructions.

If the trailer is braking correctly on flat road, and it's just the pesky intersections and dips and bumps, yes just need to go slow and time the accelerator/brake use. I drove a U-Haul cargo trailer with a piston Surge Brake in the tongue, and that's a good name because the trailer surged every time I drove across an intersection dip or bottom of a hill, until I figured out when it needed a brake or gas pedal jab to stop doing that.

One thing I also noticed - as the driver, I knew when the trailer was going to wham! and lurch. If I were a passenger, I wouldn't quite know when the driver was successful in timing brake and accel on dips. So my final advice is... be the driver whenever possible!

F.S.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks! I can see we’ve jumped down the rabbit hole with our new trailer & I can see that learning about the ins & outs of brake controllers will be added to our list things to read & learn more about. Thanks for sharing your knowledge- it sounds like something we should at least know a bit more about!
 

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You absolutely need to get to know how to use your brake controller...your life could depend upon it. The brake controller senses when you are slowing the tow vehicle and applies the trailer brakes proportionally so both tow vehicle and trailer slow at an even and compatible rate, regardless of whether you are braking gently or severely. The controller needs to be adjusted/calibrated so that it's set up to work property with your specific trailer's characteristics, including weight, number of axils/brakes, etc. There is a process to this, often executed in a parking lot somewhere, etc. If your trailer isn't braking properly, the bumping you're being annoyed about will be nothing compared to a severe condition of "tail wagging the dog" if you have to stop suddenly from speed which can result in an accident with great potential for injury or death.
 
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Trailer brakes are actually required unless you're towing the smallest of trailers. Page 390/391 of your owners manual. If you don't have a separate controller hooked up, your electric brakes are not being used. The Ascent is pre-wired for one to be mounted near the driver's feet.

"Adequate size trailer brakes are required when the trailer and its cargo exceed 1,000 lbs (453 kg) total weight."

I'm currently in the market for a ball mount. I'd like to get an adjustable height but this cushioned type looks interesting. So it will slide fore-aft inside the receiver hitch? That seems odd and like it might cause excessive wear. Thoughts anyone?
 

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I'm currently in the market for a ball mount. I'd like to get an adjustable height but this cushioned type looks interesting. So it will slide fore-aft inside the receiver hitch? That seems odd and like it might cause excessive wear. Thoughts anyone?
Anytime you've got movement of either metal on metal or some other material you'll get wear, unless you fill it with grease which would quickly become a mess. The trailer tongue on the ball itself should be the only moving part. Even the clanking some have discussed getting rid of will cause some wear, which is why I like the idea of a mechanical tightener device. I have a bike rack that has either a set screw or tensioner at each joint that eliminates any rattle. Same idea for a trailer.
 

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The hitch with a cushion mount looks interesting from the Amazon reviews - I just don't understand the mechanics of how it works differently from the Subaru hitch. And as Subaru seems to be very specific about not putting other manufacturers products on the vehicle, I wonder if installing it would void the warranty - however I would love to know more about this type of hitch as it may be another possible option for us.

Saskgal
This would be fine to use on the Subaru. I added it to my Amazon list of things to buy when towing my Mustang on a flatbad trailer.
They highly recommend their own hitch as it is built specifically for the Ascent and crash tested. But you can use any hitch receiver as long as it is rated for the load and tongue weight.

Basically, the hitch is allowed to move back and forth a small amount with a polyurethane bushing on each end to cushion the movement acting as a shock absorber to lessen the "jarring" hits you're experiencing.

I would guess that the interior of the hitch mount is Teflon lined to reduce friction and prevent metal on metal rubbing. My 5th wheel had a teflon disk instead of grease to allow it to easily rotate, yet stay clean. Betting this has the same type of system inside the hitch.

Etrailer has a lot more info and a video here:
 

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Hi Kevin - our trailer has electric brakes. I am not sure what a brake controller does exactly, nor when it is best to use it ?- it is a new idea that we have been reading about since purchasing the trailer but this is all new to us. I thought a brake controller was mostly to prevent the trailer from swaying, am I wrong?
There should be a box about 5" x 3" or so mounted on your dash or under your dash but somewhere visible (for most models).

When you got your trailer hitch installed, did they also do some wiring and put something in the driver's area? If not, then you need to have a brake controller installed. The wiring is already there (down by the driver's left foot and hidden behind a panel). I installed mine in about 30 mins.
 

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The receiver hitch on my motorcycle has a nut welded to the underside through which I run a bolt up against the draw bar. This takes all of the slack out of the hitch when towing.
If you drill a hole through the hitch and drawbar you will be able to accomplish the same thing.
OOps I forgot I can't post pictures yet.
 
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