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New Hitch Install Causing Traction Control on 2015 Subaru Forester to Engage On Gravel Road

Question:

Hi Folks, When I bought my 2015 Forester I had a factory hitch installed. At the time there werent any aftermarket options and the only hitch Subaru offered was a class II with a 1-1/4 receiver. Its performed admirably over the years, towing my 1200lb boat+trailer up and down country roads with confidence. I just replaced it with a draw-tite 2 inch hitch/receiver. It was very easy to do. The factory hitch came off without complaint and is still in very good shape. Based on my experience with the factory hitch I went for a straight ball mount, this new one beefier 2 and mid-ball to pin distance of 9 inches instead of the old 1-1/4 bar setup which was 7. Not sure of height, but it feels like the end result is slightly lower than what I had with the factory hitch but based on my trailer jack Id say not off by more than an inch or two. I was pretty happy with how this new setup looked until I drove up my first gravel hill with the boat on the back. Ive driven up this hill with boat in tow in all kinds of weather, hundreds of times, and never, ever had any kind of problem. This time was different. The Subarus traction control engaged and the vehicle and boat got slower and slower until finally it stopped and would no longer progress. This left me in the rather tense situation of having to back the boat and forester down a steep, curvy, 200foot gravel hill at night, which I did, but for which, though Im no sissy, Im still a bit traumatized by. : After I caught my breath, calmed down and analyzed the situation, I turned off the traction control and took a second run at it and with all four wheels spinning and gravel flying everywhere, made it up. I consider this to be very lucky and I truly dont want to have to do it again. Im also frankly a bit nervous about going the down the hill, which Ill have to do in the next week or so. I may have to use my wifes 2013 subaru outback which has apparently been fine as had my forester before installing the new hitch for the six years weve owned the boat. So, what the hell is different? Height a little bit .. length of ball mount a little bit .. frame attachment points are the same .. Given how much not fun this could be and how much is at risk here Id rather not experiment and so was looking for some expert advice. The vehicle is rated for 2500lbs with electric brakes so Im really not understanding whats up. Performance on highway, including braking, seems just fine - I trailered over 70 mi without noticing anything was different - until I was faced with our gravel hill and then the wheels almost literally, almost fell off. For reference I made this trip just two weeks ago with the old setup and everything was apparently fine then, too. Any advice you could suggest would be welcome. Im hoping that something as simple as going for a shorter-length ball mount, or adjusting the height, or both may make a difference here, Id happily buy something else to replace the draw-tite with the curt or whatever if theres a known problem/issue with 2015 Foresters, but at the least Id like to better understand what the hell just happened. : Best Regards, Andrew Atrens

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Helpful Expert Reply:

The occurrence you describe is certainly a new one on me, so I checked with one of my contacts in the technical support department at Draw-Tite. My friend was also baffled by what happened.

Between the two of us, we agree with the idea you propose, replacing your existing ball mount with one of the same length as the previous and with a bit less of a drop so the trailer is towed level. The only thing we could come up with is that the changing geometry of the connection of the trailer to the vehicle plus the angle of the hill all contributed to the traction control engaging and the ensuing difficulty.

I'll link you to our help article that shows how to measure for the correct amount of ball mount rise/drop as well as to our selection of 2 inch hitch ball mounts. Each product description provides the length of the ball mount.

helpful expert reply by:
1
Mike L

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