Towing with a manual

Discussion in 'On The Road' started by Hockeybjj, Jul 11, 2017.

  1. Hockeybjj

    Hockeybjj Member

    Jul 11, 2017
    My tow vehicle is a 2010 Subaru Outback with a little 2.5i 4 cylinder and manual 6 speed transmission

    Trailer capacity is listed at 2700 pounds, but tongue weight at 200 pounds and so the 10% rule should put me at an actual limit of 2000 right? My pop up we just bought is 1750 pounds empty, and we plan on leaving it mostly that way when pulling it, having camping tubs of gear kept in the Outback.

    Anyway, on the highway I leave it in 5th gear instead of 6 and go 60-65 tops which is 2800-3000 rpms. When shifting, instead of shifting at 3k I'm letting it climb a little higher to 3500 so that it drops down to 2k after the change instead of ~1600

    Does this sound right? I'm very used to pulling but this is my first with a manual and I've only been driving a stick for a little over a year anyway and wondering what the best method to minimize the extra strain on engine and drivetrain is with pulling something on the upper end of its pulling limit. Thanks
  2. giadiep

    giadiep Active Member

    Sep 5, 2015
    Syracuse, NY
    Sounds like a good plan. Keeping it in 5th should help protect the transmission. The 6 speed is so much better than the cvt
  3. Strikeouthhh

    Strikeouthhh Member

    Jun 11, 2015
    St. Paul
    That's about what I did with my TDi - giadiep's right - wouldn't do it with the DSG automatic either.
    Hockeybjj likes this.
  4. Lloyd B

    Lloyd B Member

    Nov 3, 2016
    Columbiaville, Michigan
    I agree with the others, you got this. Just don't lug the engine.
  5. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    One of my TVs is an underpowered 4 cylinder 5 speed. I have towed at it's near Max capacity for over 20 years. On a steep grade, I just downshift and let the engine scream. It's got 206k miles on it and still has the original clutch.
    jnc and Hockeybjj like this.
  6. GreatBigAbyss

    GreatBigAbyss Active Member

    Apr 12, 2017
    I wouldn't worry so much about it. As long as you're not lugging the engine, you should be okay. 4-cylinder engines are quite torquey at low rpm's, so running it in 6th (especially on the highway) shouldn't be a problem. Remember, when you're on a flat highway, you're not so much worried about weight, but rather with windage. Since pop-ups are usually under the roofline of the tow vehicle, windage isn't too much of an issue.

    You'll know if 6th gear is geared too high because you won't be able to maintain speed on the highway. IF that is the case, then drop it down to 5th. I doubt it, though. 6th should be okay.

    If you're in the hills, definitely rev the engine a little higher than you normally would in order to take advantage of the powerband.

    I towed a 1000lb dry-weight pop-up complete with stuff inside it, and the whole family and a full trunk in a 4-cyl CVT Altima. The CVT would drop into its highest ratio on the highway, and I never noticed any undue strain on the engine. In hills, it would simply pick a lower ratio than normal, and it never felt underpowered.

    You'll be fine.
    Dietrich Kanzler likes this.
  7. seldomseen380

    seldomseen380 Active Member

    Jan 12, 2007
    Canton, Georgia
    1. Manual Transmission...[8D]

    2. Regular Shifting Automatic Transmission W/ External Oil Cooler...:grin:

    3. CVT Transmission...[XX(]
    NothingsChocking likes this.
  8. petefuller

    petefuller New Member

    Aug 27, 2017
    shift it when the tach and engine sound says shift, dont over rev or lug the engine and you should be fine for years.

    Dont forget to get the transmission oil changed at spec'd intervals, somehow they seem to get forgotten.
  9. Lug_Nut

    Lug_Nut Member

    May 29, 2016
    Mt. Wachusett area, MA
    "Lugging" is subjective. What some might consider lugging is considered by others to be a 'sweet spot'.
    One can be 'lugging' an engine at 1200 rpm, or at 4200 rpm.
    In a nutshell: Drive the manual in the highest gear that allows you to travel at your desired speed. If you can't maintain that speed, even though your right foot is on the floor, then you are "lugging" no matter where the tachometer needle is pointed and should shift down a gear.

    Oh, my screen name? It's quite appropriate.
    Dietrich Kanzler likes this.
  10. BelchFire

    BelchFire I speak fluent vise-grip

    Mar 29, 2012
    SE Georgia
    My favorite vehicle of all time was a 1988 Jeep Cherokee with a 5 speed (T-5). That thing was gorilla strong! I had a 23' SeaRay on an enormous galvanized trailer and it would pull it anywhere I wanted to go. When it got too many miles (or so I **thought**), I sold it and bought a '93 with an automatic. Worst mistake I've ever made. The auto with 4.0HO wouldn't pull nearly as well as the manual.

    As others have said, it's all in the use of the engine RPM. I mostly towed in 4th unless I was in Florida on a flat road or interstate, then I would use 5th judiciously. You've gotta know your engine's torque curve and stay in the middle of it.
  11. Adam Connolly

    Adam Connolly New Member

    May 18, 2018
    Should be fine just remember never rest your foot on the clutch pedal as it can cause wearing of the clutch. You shouldnt have to raise the rpms while towing and shifting unless your going ip a large hill. Try not to feather the clutch pedal as you take off it should either be all the wayin or all the way out. You dont want your engine revving at 3000rpm and your clutch barely grabbing thats how you wear out your friction disc or scorch the flywheel.
  12. NothingsChocking

    NothingsChocking Active Member

    Mar 7, 2017
    Ahhh, the CVT bandwagon -- I bought a 2014 3.6r Outback instead of a new one just because it was the last 6-cyl outback with the 5 speed traditional automatic tranny... would be scared to tow with the CVT. Subaru lowered the 6-cyl tow limit with the CVT as well.
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
  13. Adam Connolly

    Adam Connolly New Member

    May 18, 2018
    We are towing with a 2017 pathfinder and it has cvt. The raised the towing capacity from 5000 to 6000 for 2017.
    I find it tows great. Lots of power no hunting when you put it in tow mode. It even helps slow you down when you take foot off the gas on down hills.
  14. Wrenchgear

    Wrenchgear Near Elmira, Southern Ontario

    Aug 5, 2010
    5 Star Eagle Camper
    As others have said, drive it in 6th. An automatic is a whole different breed, and you don't want it shifting and hunting for a gear that it's comfortable with. All that shifting builds heat in an automatic, and thats a killer. But, a standard is a much different, solidly built beast. Not saying that it likes heat, but it simply doesn't make heat like an automatic does. If the engine will pull it, leave it in 6th, if the engine is struggling, slip it down into 5th. You don't want to be revving the crap out of that thing on a super hot July day, you'll over heat and be sitting on the side of the road.
  15. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Active Member

    May 23, 2018
    South Carolina
    I had a 1980 something B1600 Mazada 5 speed truck towing to the coast. It didn't have a
    enough power to get past the pressure wave coming off the front of a semi on the interstate. I towed in 4th initially. I tried it in 5th one time for a while and had to replaced the transmission. When you get into the taller gearing, the gears get smaller and there is not a lot of material between the teeth and the key slot.

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