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We have a 2019 Ascent Limited with the hitch and will be soon towing a 4K lb travel trailer with 300lb hitch weight and 26ft total length. Once we load up we will be at about 4500 total and 400 hitch. The Ascent manual states no weight distribution hitch but what about anti sway bars? Has anyone towed with either one or both? My thought is to try without first.
 

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I asked Subaru Customer Service about this very thing just this week.

I tried to find the exact reply, but can't find it right now.

To paraphrase: Subaru does not test 3rd party accessories. There was then a warning about using them as they might, or might not, void the warranty, if there is a problem.

The most interesting thing was that if the item was not the direct cause of the problem, then the warranty would still be in affect.

I'm sorry that I've misplaced that email. I asked specifically about the Curt sway controller product. It would have required a different ball mount or a bracket welded to the provided ball mount to work.

Ken
 

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Their recommendation is don't use a sway reducing hitch assembly since the car will be already trying to make sway corrections (and does very well at it) and such an assembly may make things worse when used in conjunction with such things.

Additionally, hitch experts like EcoHitch suggest against using weight distributing hitches (which various "anti-sway" hitches are) because the car is designed to have load on the hitch in a certain way - and those hitches force the weight where it does not belong.

Anyway, 4,500 is a bit much for long hauls, in my opinion. Personally, I prefer keeping at 80% of rated tow load on any vehicles I tow with. But, we just re-calculated our load from our tow test, and it was 4,288 pounds in our 4,395 GVWR Heartland Edge (thanks @Ken Myers for all the details on your page and for the spreadsheet).
 

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Thank you Robert for all the great info you've provided on your towing experience and elsewhere through out this forum! :)

I did find my response from customer service. As Robert points out, it is really a moot point, but thought that I would share it just for reference.

"November 29
Regarding the Curt sway control bar
Hi Ken:

Thank you for contacting me. I am glad to learn that you love your 2019 Ascent Premium.

We do not research or test aftermarket products. As such, we cannot recommend this Sway Control Kit. Now, installing it or any aftermarket product would not negate any warranties. Warranty would only come into question if an aftermarket product is a direct cause of an issue. Then the repair may not be covered by warranty."
 

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I have to agree with Robert regarding the hitch equalizer/ sway controls. Many are combo units and the load equalizer systems are basically bend point limiters meaning they prevent the trailer vs tow car joint/hitch point from bending downward ie suspension sag at the hitch. It can pose a really complicated load dynamic on the rear of the tow vehicle and impact how the front and rear suspension reacts to various road conditions.

I have seen sway damper devices that are not load equalizers.

In the end you need to realize the whole point of these bandaids is to try and make a unstable trailer slightly more stable without addressing the actual stability issue, so you can tow at higher speeds hopefully with no surprises and no costly trailer modifications be it weight or more drastic physical modifications to the trailer.

I will add to Roberts comment regarding RV weight vs tow rating of tow car. When you tow your boat across town to the lake on known roads going 80+% of max capacity is probably going to be a non issue for decades.

Most RVs get dragged to new unfamiliar places under every imaginable condition that you could find. So by not having your tow vehicle maxed out your padding your safety margin and capability so the unkown worst conditions are less likely to cut your trip short in a bad way, be it cooked tow vehicle, wrecked tow vehicle etc.

The trips I do with our family not only is weight/performance a factor but retained ground clearance, steep climbs in hot temps and controlled down hill sections are important. Not only that but our Yellowstone trip was 12 hours of 75-80mph in 85-100+ degree heat highway driving. I currently use our 2.5 2010 OB and our 2005 V8 Sequoia for these trips depending on the stuff or people we are taking. My trailer by design is anywhere between 1200-1700lbs given I wanted my OB to go anywhere with it.

My truck 5600lb max tow rating I would only target between 2500-3500max for the places I like to go. Anything bigger/heavier I would want a 7500lb or more rated tow vehicle. Simply to have good towing power and enough cooling and stability to give the trips I do a high probability of being troube free.

A vacation trip that ends in vehicle failure is the worst and most costly kind of trip you can ever have.
 

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Weight distribution and sway control on a 20ft plus camper are not “bandaids”. They are safety measures and if anyone tells you towing a 4000lb camper without any is ok they are not very educated in towing much beyond a small utility trailer.

Sway control at the hitch will not interfere with vehicle sway control. They are two entirely different systems. The vehicle sway control senses sway and compensates with applying braking to the trailer. There are many sway systems that mount to the trailer and draw bar to limit or help prevent sway.

Weight distribution hitches work by distributing weight over the trailer axle(s) and both tow vehicle axles. Meaning you don’t wind up with your headlights pointed in the sky and you keep weight on your front axle for steering.

Why Subaru does not advise using weight distributing hitches I have no idea. It may be something to do with the AWD or that the hitch is not able to handle it.

I’ve been towing equipment and multiple camper trailers for over 15 years. Any RV site would suggest sway and weight distribution for a trailer the size the OP is looking at. With proper loading the tongue weight would be close to 500lbs before you even add much stuff to the camper.
 

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This is not quite accurate when it comes to the Subaru system. In making the car and trailer combination more rigid, you're affecting the way the computer responds, and pushing the sway assist system in a way it is not designed to handle. I'll go with what the engineers said.


Additionally, the subframe is not designed for it and the vehicle is not body on frame.

Regardless, I've relied on the Subaru system with no special hitch, with gusts to 40 and steady winds of 20mph, with a trailer that was very near its 4,395 GVWR.

Sway control at the hitch will not interfere with vehicle sway control. They are two entirely different systems. The vehicle sway control senses sway and compensates with applying braking to the trailer. There are many sway systems that mount to the trailer and draw bar to limit or help prevent sway.

Weight distribution hitches work by distributing weight over the trailer axle(s) and both tow vehicle axles. Meaning you don’t wind up with your headlights pointed in the sky and you keep weight on your front axle for steering.

Why Subaru does not advise using weight distributing hitches I have no idea. It may be something to do with the AWD or that the hitch is not able to handle it.

I’ve been towing equipment and multiple camper trailers for over 15 years. Any RV site would suggest sway and weight distribution for a trailer the size the OP is looking at. With proper loading the tongue weight would be close to 500lbs before you even add much stuff to the camper.
 

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Ugh. Now I’m confused. Can we reach a consensus on this? Before I head to VA (12 hrs, mountains etc.) towing my 3200 lb Taylor Coach travel trailer. ?
 

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I've towed a 3,500 lb pop up trailer up and down the mountains near Phoenix with no problems at all, not even heavy braking downhill.

I've towed a 4,500lb trailer + Mustang almost 1,000 miles at 65-70mph with no issues at all.

I've read that the Subaru has it built in to the onboard electronics to help prevent sway and such and that seems to be the case. My load with the Mustang matches my vehicle weight yet I have no issues. In fact it towed so easily that except for the Big Blue Mustang in my rear-view mirror, sometimes I forgot the trailer was there!
 

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I've towed over 4,000 pounds big tall trailer in sustained 20mph wind with gusts up to 40mph, and the Ascent has dealt with them and prevented sway. Others who've followed suit have felt the same experience.

If it gets windy, don't over-correct. The car will squat against the sway and prevent it. It was rather seamless. Just a regular hitch here.

 

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If I may, I have seen these debates on this forum in more than one thread on why a WDH is not recommended. To me the obvious answer is the ECM probably calculates compensation for sway by the hitch load maybe through a level sensor of some kind, using a WDH would negate any rear end drop and may not allow the system to react appropriately.

The body on frame argument is a terrible one especially given how much more rigid the unibody on these cars are compared to even some body on frame vehicles. There is very nearly zero flex in Subarus unibody when on an off camber footing, transferring a few hundred pounds of force via the chassis wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface of what this chassis can handle. If a honda odyssey/pilot/ridgeline can use a WDH there is no reason the structure underpinning the Ascent wouldn't also work with one.

In my opinion load the trailer correctly and try it before sinking money unnecessarily into a WDH. But if you are already have a really good system like propride or hensley, eliminating sway mechanically is just as good as doing it electronically if not better since the sway system isn't reactive.

Having said all that, I have loaded the trunk of my Legacy with over 500 lbs of tile/grout/supplies and it didn't squat much at all, my real thinking is 500lb hitch weight is never going to overwhelm the Ascents rear axle and drop should be minimal at that weight.
 

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The sway system IS reactive and can't be turned off. And Subaru actually loads the weight in a specific way on the sub frame.

The Ascent is very different that the Outback in how it tows.
 

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I guess my question, Robert, is when the tongue weight gets "up there" toward max, how does the steering and braking feel compared to unloaded? A WDH's primary function is to rebalance weight between the rear and front axles of the tow vehicle to insure that there is no compromise in steering and braking. I don't anticipate towing with the Ascent as I did with my Grand Cherokee (the original reason I bought the JGC back in 2012...a small horse trailer)--it will only be my 5'x8' utility trailer picking up materials for my shop, but I very much became sensitive to the whole weight-balance thing from scary personal experience. 'Just curious about this since you clearly have "real" towing experience with your Ascent and that travel trailer.
 

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Nevermind rowing. Just carrying an unbalanced load in the back seat will cause the ascent to rock a bit. Not to mention strong wind forces. Subaru needs to seriously design a better aero body kit for the ascent to improve air flow channeling
 

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Etrailer answered a specific question (number 351070) about a 2019 Subaru ascent and whether or not it needs an anti-sway system. According to them, it does. However, Robert actually towed a trailer about the same weight as mine without any extra hardware and had no experience with sway.

Is the Subaru Ascent so different that etrailer doesn't understand it?

Please help. I called Subaru support and they just read the manual back to me. I called my dealer and they told me to call Subaru support.

I know very little about this stuff and want my family to be safe.
 

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You can tell E-Trailer I said they are wrong.

Etrailer answered a specific question (number 351070) about a 2019 Subaru ascent and whether or not it needs an anti-sway system. According to them, it does. However, Robert actually towed a trailer about the same weight as mine without any extra hardware and had no experience with sway.

Is the Subaru Ascent so different that etrailer doesn't understand it?

Please help. I called Subaru support and they just read the manual back to me. I called my dealer and they told me to call Subaru support.

I know very little about this stuff and want my family to be safe.

E-Trailer is absolutely wrong. You can tell them I said so. Better yet, tell them Subaru said so (left column, third bullet point). :tango_face_wink:



The Ascent is NOT a body on frame design, and is thus not designed for a weight distributing hitch. Weight is designed to be loaded onto the rear sub frame, via the OEM and Eco Hitch's sub frame support beams. The Ascent is NOT designed for E-Trailer to suggest ripping apart part of the sub-frame by trying to put the weight on the wrong end of the small sub-frame section.

The Ascent has no frame.

Side note: They're also against drilling into the sub-frame as Curt's Ascent hitch requires.

And finally, unless you're just using it for a bike rack, I would not get the Drawtite hitch that E-Trailer is selling. It's simply bolted to where the bumper bolts attach. I'd get OEM, or, failing that, EcoHitch.

 

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I did some digging and even E-trailer's experts agree with Subaru and I

I did some more digging, and, AS A MATTER OF FACT, you can tell them that THEIR experts agree with me and Subaru.

https://www.etrailer.com/question-241876.html

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.
So, since Subaru specifically says the Ascent's unibody is not designed for it, then, it's not designed for it. Unless a unibody vehicle is specifically engineered for a WD hitch, general rule of thumb is it probably isn't. When the manufacturer specifically says it's not (like Subaru does), then, it is not.

https://www.etrailer.com/question-241876.html
 

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I pulled my new 3200 lb. trailer (trailer UVW weight, propane, battery and 6 gal. water heater full).
The pull was over 100 miles in extremely windy conditions, well over 20 mph at most times. The route was extremely hilly and curvy.

The full report is here:
https://www.ascentforums.com/forum/127-towing/7759-ken-myers%92-first-travel-trailer-tow.html

I used no WDH or anti-sway device. Everything felt fine to me, and as I reported, on the short freeway drive, semi-truck bow wave was no problem.

I'm just reporting what happened on that drive, on that day, and in those conditions. The Ascent behaved itself well, as did the Coachmen Apex Nano 187RB.
 
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