Can You Flat Tow A Subaru? [Everything You Need To Know]

Whether you're traveling across the country or down the street, improper towing can cause both mechanical and cosmetic damages. This is why knowing how to properly tow your vehicle is so important. If you have a Subaru, you may be wondering what method of towing will be best for you. Flat towing doesn't involve any trailers and might be your preferred method of towing, but is it okay for your Subaru? We've done the research and can tell you whether or not Subaru vehicles can be flat towed.

Subaru does not recommend any of their vehicles be flat towed. Doing so anyway can void the warranty on your vehicle. 

Now that you know whether or not flat towing a Subaru is possible, let's get some more information. Keep reading to learn which Subaru models can be flat towed and whether they can be towed behind a motorhome.

Different trims of Subaru parked outside a dealership, Can You Flat Tow A Subaru? [Everything You Need To Know]

Types of Towing

There are three common ways that you can tow a vehicle behind you. The first is on a trailer. With trailer towing, none of your vehicle's wheels will touch the ground; only the trailer wheels touch the ground.

The second is with a tow dolly. A tow dolly will have two of the vehicle's wheels on the ground. The other two wheels are supported by the dolly.

Finally, you have flat towing. Flat towing, dinghy towing, or four-down towing will keep all four of the towed vehicle's wheels on the ground.

Flat towing has been one of the easiest ways to tow because it doesn't involve any large or bulky equipment. Trailers and dollies can be difficult to store and maintain. When using a trailer, you have to ensure that the towing vehicle can handle the extra weight without going over its towing capacity. Many states also require that you register your trailers and dollies. While trailers are allowed on major highways, you'll have to check towing laws and trailer registration requirements for your state.

Despite the ease of flat towing, there are not many cars that are capable of being towed in this manner. Subaru states that the best towing method for any of its all-wheel-drive vehicles is by using a flatbed truck. This is similar to trailer towing as none of the towed vehicle's wheels are in contact with the ground.


Dangers of Flat Towing

Despite the overall ease of flat towing, it isn't the recommended method for towing many vehicles. If done incorrectly or when not recommended, flat towing can cause serious damage to the moving parts of your vehicle. Improper towing can also void the warranty on your car, leaving you to pay the damages out of your own pocket.

When utilizing flat towing or a tow dolly, your vehicle still faces wear and tear from being on the road. Additional miles will be put onto the suspension, and the wheels will still wear down. In certain cases, towing miles will also be counted on the vehicle's odometer. With flat towing, you also have to keep your keys in the ignition instead of on your person.

Anytime you flat tow an automatic vehicle, you run the risk of damaging your transmission and driveshaft. This is in addition to the wear and tear from towing. Automatic cars need to keep all of their moving parts lubricated. When flat towing a vehicle the wheels turn, but the engine is off. This prevents the output shaft from getting the proper lubrication, which causes damage.

When to Flat Tow

subaru car vehicle on the river cross off road wild forest

While Subaru recommends flatbed or trailer towing its vehicles, there are times when flat towing is possible. In an emergency, it's possible to four-down tow your vehicle as long as you travel at a speed less than 20 miles per hour and a distance that's under 31 miles. This is true for all of Subaru's automatic and CVT (continuously variable transmission) cars.

It is never recommended to flat-tow a vehicle that can't start or is otherwise seriously damaged. The best option in those cases is to use a flatbed truck tow or to trailer tow that vehicle. This will give you the best chance of restoring the vehicle and is less dangerous.

Can you flat tow a Subaru Crosstrek with automatic transmission?

There are three current models of the Subaru Crosstrek that come with a continuously variable transmission, which is a type of automatic transmission. The models that come standard with this transmission are the 2021 Crosstrek Sport, Crosstrek Limited, and Crosstrek Hybrid. Flat towing is not recommended for any of these vehicles.

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek and Crosstrek Premium can be flat towed as long as they are not the options with Lineatronic CVT. When flat towing, ensure your vehicle is in a neutral position and the ignition is switched to the on position. For any CVT models, avoid traveling further than 31 miles.

Can you flat tow Subaru Forester?

subaru car vehicle on the middle of the forest off road


The 2021 Subaru Forester comes with a symmetrical all-wheel drive and its signature Lineatronic continually variable transmission. The recommended method for towing a Subaru Forester is by using a trailer or a flatbed tow truck.

Flat towing is not recommended for the Subaru Forester. If it is necessary, ensure your parking brake is off, the car is set in neutral, and the key is in the 'ON' position. Even then, don't travel further than 31 miles.

Can a Subaru WRX be flat towed?

The 2021 Subaru WRX has five different trim types. These trims are the standard WRX, WRX Premium, WRX Limited, WRX STI, and WRX STI Limited. While Subaru does state the best method for towing these vehicles is by using a flat-bed truck, it is still possible to flat tow 2021 Subaru WRX. When flat towing this vehicle, ensure that the parking brake is disengaged and the transmission is in a neutral position.

Can you flat tow a manual Subaru?

While Subaru recommends that none of their all-wheel-drive vehicles be flat towed, it is possible to flat tow Subarus with manual transmission for longer distances.

In manual cars, before flat towing, ensure that your vehicle is in a neutral position. While Subaru does not list any limitations in the distance or speed for its manual transmission cars, they still highly recommend opting for a flat-bed truck tow for its vehicles. This is to prevent any damages from occurring to the all-wheel-drive systems.

What Subaru models can be flat towed?

subaru car vehicle on the middle of the field sun set, Can-You-Flat-Tow-A-Subaru-[Everything-You-Need-To-Know]

Subaru vehicles that have a manual transmission are capable of being flat towed for longer distances. These manual transmission models include:

  • 2021 Subaru Crosstreck Manual SUV
  • 2021 Subaru WRX STI and WRX Sedan
  • 2020 Subaru BRZ
  • 2021 Subaru Impreza

Whenever you flat tow your vehicle, it is very important to make sure your parking brake is disengaged and the transmission is in neutral. You'll also have to leave your key in the ignition and have it switched to the 'ON' position. If you switch your ignition to the 'OFF' position, you lock your steering wheel and wheels in one direction.

Subaru does recommend using a flat-bed truck for long distances, on downgrades, or on steep slopes. Always drive carefully when towing a vehicle.

Can a Subaru be towed behind a motorhome?

close up subaru brand car vehicle logo

Whether or not you can tow a Subaru behind a motorhome will depend mostly on the motorhome and its towing capacity. Since Subaru recommends using a flat-bed truck, the best method for towing behind a motorhome would be to put your Subaru onto a trailer. If your motorhome can tow the combined weight of the trailer and vehicle, then your Subaru can be towed behind the motorhome.

In Closing

subaru car vehicle on the middle of the field sun set


While there are some Subaru vehicles that can be flat towed, the recommended method for towing is by flat-bed truck or trailer. It is never suggested to tow your all-wheel-drive Subarus on a tow dolly as that could cause the towed vehicle to spin away. Overall, when it comes to towing, the safest method isn't to flat tow; it is to trailer tow.

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