You need to know if the Subaru BRZ can handle the load of a trailer for light hauling. Here’s the answer to your question, what can a Subaru BRZ tow?
The BRZ is quick, agile, and glides down the road, but it is not as roomy as it is the smallest of the Subaru lineup. There isn’t enough space to pack yourself, let alone any extra stuff. While your buddy can quickly get all his possessions into his car, you are stuck, having to borrow somebody’s truck. The frustration of owning a sports car is more than a person should need to bear.
Subaru does not recommend the BRZ for any type of towing. The weight of a trailer would adversely affect the vehicle's operation and cause undue strain on the vital engine components and affect future value.
If you have to tow your Subaru BRZ, what are some things you should know? Could the car handle a scooter? Lawn equipment? Perhaps a tiny U-haul trailer? What exactly does towing do to the components of a vehicle?
Since towing decisions can impact the future health of a car, our research has consulted the experts on towing and manufacturer’s recommendations to find why it is not a function you should be doing with your new BRZ.
Why Is Towing With a BRZ not Recommended?
There are several reasons why Subaru prefers you not to tow with their sports car. Consider the effects of towing on the following components of the BRZ.
Anytime you add additional weight to a car, you force the towing vehicle's engine to work harder to pull the load. This strain compounds the ability of the moving parts inside your motor to function with ease. Too much exertion trying to move a trailer will shorten the life of your engine and create vast headaches for you and your car down the road.
Think of the engine as you would the heart of a pet. You wouldn’t ask your dog or car to tow a large wagon, but you could ask an ox to do it. The strain from the weight would wear out the heart of your favorite feline. An ox has a bigger heart, more muscle, and a better bone structure for being hitched to a wagon (in other words, it can handle loads). While your dog could outrun an ox in speed, its heart cannot do the things other animals can handle.
The BRZ is a small sports car built for peak performance on the racetrack and not for towing stuff to your next apartment. With a 2.4L Direct Injected Boxer engine, this motor has pistons that move from side to side, rather than up and down as a regular engine does. The pistons' unique movement means that the engine's weight is set farther toward the vehicle's rear and lower to the ground. This design allows for better traction and lowers wind resistance as the BRZ slices through the air. Car experts call this condition a coefficient of drag, meaning that the car can slice through the air rather than meet a lot of resistance. Scientists know that the lower the drag coefficient, the better as the car moves forward, which is what you want when you need to go fast.
Rear Wheel Drive
In most cases, an RWD vehicle is better for towing because the weight of the drive shaft is toward the back of the car. This rear weight combines with the heaviness of the trailer to “squat” the back end of the car downward, giving it better control and more stability. The BRZ’s engine is already adding to the weight of the RWD, and the weight of a trailer compounds the weight distribution of the BRZ to the point that ground clearance could be an issue.
Suspension and Transmission
The suspension of a sports car handles the forces involved with cornering and handling. The BRZ has a highly-tuned multi-link suspension in the rear. This system helps keep the rear wheels on the road while steering into and out of a curve. The heaviest part of the suspension components is found in the rear, adding to an RWD's weight. Any additional weight creates issues for the suspension to operate correctly.
Automatic transmissions often have larger towing capacities than manual gearboxes. The BRZ comes with an automatic option, but most Subaru sports coupes have a manual transmission. Any additional weight makes the transmission harder (particularly in lower gears). The primary problem with towing is that the transmission will overheat, causing the components to fail. At the risk of repeating, the transmission of the BRZ and the additional weight do not get along.
Torque is the ability of a car to haul a load. It measures a vehicle’s ability to exert a rotational force or pulling power. This ability is different from horsepower, which measures how fast a car can deliver energy. The BRZ has 228 horsepower and 184 pounds per foot of torque. It might seem to be a lot, but it isn’t. (An F150 has upwards of 430 horsepower and produces about 530 lbs/ft of pulling power - which means that it can haul up to 11,300 lbs).,
Damage to the Frame
Because the BRZ is a sports car, the frame does not have the structural integrity to tow anything heavy. Trying to haul too much weight puts stress on your car's underbody, and if damage occurs to the frame, the car becomes worthless. Most insurance adjusters will completely total a car with a bent or damaged frame.
Installing a tow hitch on the back of your BRZ will affect its performance and lower its coefficient of drag, but it will also alter your car's appearance, not for the better. The sleek, supple rear end will likely become bulky with the addition of a tow hitch. One thing to remember is that many people purchase sports cars not just because of performance but also because they like how it looks. Alter the appearance of a sports can, and you affect its future value. Since a car depreciates over time anyway, this is a genuine concern should you ever wish to part with the sports car.
Towing a trailer adds strain to an engine and degrades the car's stability on the road. Steering becomes more challenging as the trailer's weight works against the car's weight. A trailer could fishtail or force a car in the wrong direction if the speed gets too high, compromising a driver's ability to maintain control.
Many people are involved in accidents because of improperly towing a trailer. Studies have shown that over 300 people lost their lives due to the improper use of trailers in recent years.
When a trailer is hitched to the back of a car or truck, one of the forces that can impact a driver’s ability is trailer sway. Trailer sway is the side-to-side force that a trailer has as it moves down the road, and naturally, the heavier the trailer, the more sideways force it exerts. This phenomenon accounts for over 500,000 accidents per year and hundreds of serious injuries.
Why Do I Keep Seeing Tow Hitches Advertized for a BRZ?
If you scour the internet, companies will be willing to install a tow hitch on a sports car. (They know that some consumers will not heed the warning and go ahead with the installation anyway). Most accessory companies can order and install a tow hitch for your BRZ and may even tell you about the weight capacities.
However, you should probably be careful. Those same web pages often have disclaimers that read something to the effect of checking with your manufacturer, or your towing capacity might be much lower. Installers are always happy to take your money, but few will advise you to be careful about what you tow. They prefer to keep quiet and let you learn the hard way from your mistakes.
What Could I Tow if I Choose to Ignore the Warnings
Suppose you decide to proceed with the installation, tow only the lightest equipment. A small mower or bicycle is about the most you want to chance. Anything more than the simplest of items and you are asking for trouble.
In addition, minimize the length of the time you need to tow an object. The less time your sports car spends having to haul a load, the less damage you will inflict on the car. You should also pick a route that does not have a lot of hills or inclines. A car’s engine must work harder to produce the torque required to go uphill.
You will need to calculate not just the weight of the object you wish to tow but the trailer’s weight and the weight of the tongue connecting the trailer to the car. All of these figures contribute to what the towing capacity is. Many people make the mistake of only figuring out a load of an object without realizing that the tow vehicle must handle the weight of the trailer and tongue.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding