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'11 Outback 2.5i CVT - '06 Forester X 5MT
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Discussion Starter #1
Here is a write up my Hidden Hitch install. I installed it using the "oem method" of removing the rear bumper. Using time stamps on my pics, it took me 22 mins to remove the bumper. Well worth it IMO. I can't imagine drilling two holes and fishing bolts would save much time.


Here it is on Amazon with free shipping.

Here are links to the installation instructions for both.


OEM Hitch
http://techinfo.subaru.com/proxy/59718/pdf/059718-L101SAJ000302389.pdf

Hidden Hitch
http://www.hiddenhitch.com/content/downloads/installation/N87568.pdf

Here are the torque specs:

Bumper Beam Studs - 55 ft-lbs
Hitch Mounting Bolts - 50 ft-lbs

Step One: Remove Bumper Fascia

If you have the side molding, you'll need to remove the rear fender flares first. There are 4 screws holding it on, no adhesives. They must be completely removed to allow the bumper to pop out.

First remove the taillights - there are 2 plastic retainers to remove the plastic trim, then 2 10mm screws holding the lights in place.




Remove the bulbs, I taped them up out of the way.



Then remove a total of 9 plastic retainers
3 - under center rear of bumper
2 - on each side bottom near the splash guards
1 - on each side in the fender well near the top of the bumper

Then pull straight out on each side of the bumper. It's a bit unnerving, but pull hard straight out and it will just pop right out. Work your way around one each side and remove the bumper



Step Two: Remove Bumper Beam

There is a thin foam piece on the bumper beam, it just pulls right now. It’s held in place with a couple foam tabs. Set it aside.

There are 8 nuts total holding the bumper beam on. You will need a deep socket and a long extension. Remove 3 nuts from each side, leaving one nut on each side to support the beam. Steady the bumper beam and remove the final two nuts.



Step Three: Remove Muffler Hangers and Heat Shield

There are 2 muffler hangers. I just forced them off, but I’m sure a little lube would help things. I read a good tip to use dish soap, as it will just rinse right off. Once you remove the two hangers the muffler will hang there on it’s own.

Next remove the heat shield. There are 4 10mm bolts holding it on. A swivel socket would help things immensely, but I got them with a small socket. They’re on fairly snug. You’ll need to trim the rear corner off the heat shield to allow the rear bolt to come through. It’s rather apparent once you take it off.

If I had it to do again, I’d debate getting a new gasket and remove the muffler altogether. It really gets in the way.

Sorry, no pics here.

Step Four : Install Hitch Bolts

If you crawl under the car you will see 4 rubber plugs where the bolt holes are. Remove them.

Feed two bolts each into the frame rails using the exposed openings. There are 2 different size bolt spacers. The longer one goes to the farthest away bolt (front of vehicle), as the frame rails widens towards the front of the car.

I improvised a tool to slide the bolts back. I used a yard stick and a piece of duck tape. It held the bolt well enough to slide it back, but released easily when I held the bolt from underneath.


Step Five: Install Hitch
2 people would surely make this step easier. But I’m guessing most of us do this alone ;)
I crawled under the car with the hitch and slid the hitch up over the muffler on the driver’s side and used a brick and block of wood to support that side. Then I lifted the passenger side up and slid it on the rear bolt and held it in place with a nut. Then I attached the front bolt loosely and went to the passenger side.
There is a washer that goes BETWEEN the hitch and frame on the furthest bolt (front of car). I slid the bolt up a little, and slid the washer in. Then went back to the passenger side and did the same.
DO NOT TIGHTEN ANY MORE BOLTS

Step Six: Finish up
Reinstall bumper beam and fascia in reverse order of removal. I didn’t do it in this order and installed it last. There is one plastic retainer pin that you cannot put in with the hitch tightened down.
Next tighten the hitch bolts up snug. Then reinstall the trimmed heat shield.
Torque the bumper bolts.
Reinstall the muffler hangers and enjoy :)




I haven't bought a ball mount yet. Need to take some measurements and figure out what height would be best. I'll post back once I do that.

Feel free to ask any questions.
 

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Just a side note - I just dropped the muffler off the rear rubber hanger using hand soap did not need to remove the muffler plenty of space to get the tow bar in place. Also I left the bulbs in the tail light fixtures and simply taped them up high using painters tape to the rear of the car to get them out of the way.

If you remove the bulbs make sure you wear cotton gloves and avoid getting grease or finger prints on the bulbs or this will shorten their life and you'll be replacing them soon after your hitch install effort.

Other than that its really not that hard and just takes a little time and patience.
 

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'11 Outback 2.5i CVT - '06 Forester X 5MT
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Discussion Starter #4
Thank You, if it can save someone 30 mins and the aggrevation of missing a step (like me) then I have succeeded ;)
 

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Thanks for the write up, I just installed mine.

One additional note, check that the heat shield threaded holes are aligned with the holes in the hitch before you torque up the hitch bolts. My hitch required a little persuasion to make them line up so that I could get the heat shield screws in.
 

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2011 OB 2.5i limited
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Excellent write up!

To anybody interested, the guys at etrailer (from link above) did a video of the process. They drilled the access hole in the frame instead of taking off the bumper like the OP, but all of the rest of the steps are the same.

I'm a visual person, so the pictures were great, and the video is just added help.

Thanks again for the write-up... I plan on adding a hitch to my '11 Limited soon!
 

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'11 Outback 2.5i CVT - '06 Forester X 5MT
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks!

The e-trailer videos are great, but I don't like the idea of cutting an unneeded hole in my frame rail, when it can be avoided. Plus, IMO, you make up the time it takes to remove the bumper in saved aggrevation and frustration trying to fish bolts through a blind hole.

Good Luck with your installation. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
 

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Thanks!

The e-trailer videos are great, but I don't like the idea of cutting an unneeded hole in my frame rail, when it can be avoided. Plus, IMO, you make up the time it takes to remove the bumper in saved aggrevation and frustration trying to fish bolts through a blind hole.

Good Luck with your installation. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
Didn't see this reply until just now.

I agree 100% about not drilling holes in my frame. I liked the video just to see how everything else worked. My hitch came in the mail this week and I plan to install it this weekend using your method.

I just liked seeing how it was supposed to look before I crawled under my own car.

Thanks again!
 

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I finally got around to doing this yesterday... I couldn't have done it w/o the write-up in this thread. Thanks!

BTW, I removed the muffler b/c even after I took it off the hangers it wouldn't come down enough to give me room to work. The gasket was in good enough shape that I was able to re-use it w/o a problem.
 

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I finally got around to doing this yesterday... I couldn't have done it w/o the write-up in this thread. Thanks!

BTW, I removed the muffler b/c even after I took it off the hangers it wouldn't come down enough to give me room to work. The gasket was in good enough shape that I was able to re-use it w/o a problem.
Glad I could help :29: It sure was a perfect weekend to do a project like this.

If I were to do the install again, on a newish car, I'd drop the exhaust in a heartbeat. As you mentioned, odds are the gasket will be fine to reuse and the bolts should still be clean and rust free.
 

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Thought I'd throw in an instagram of my installation in progress... This is just before I removed the muffler.

 

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Thought I'd throw in an instagram of my installation in progress... This is just before I removed the muffler.

Good for you in removing the mufflers. I did not do this and was so sorry afterwards for not having done so. I had to remove the left side one AFTER the fact because I could not get the exhaust hanger on the muffler after the hitch was in place!

As far as I'm concerned, removing the mufflers is a mandatory step and not just something the factory recommends in their instructions for hitch install.
 

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I just picked up my hitch a couple minutes ago. The plan is to do the job tomorrow.

It sounds like muffler removal is best?

Also, I really need to wash the winter road grime off before I do anything.
 

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Muffler removal gives you all kinds of room to work. I advise removing the bolts before taking it off the muffler hangers. Then, when re-installing, hang it before trying to bolt it back on the exhaust pipe.
 

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Thanks for the tip. I'll be doing this myself, unless one of the neighbors wanders over to see what I'm up to. Anything that makes it simpler for a one-person operation is appreciated.
 

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I'm still leery of popping off that bumper cover without messing something up. Might as well find out - I'll take some detailed pix of that.
 

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I was worried about taking off the bumper cover, too, but it worked out.

My wife helped hold the hitch against the frame until I could put the four bolts on and have the bolts hold it up. It would have been a real PITA to have done that alone. I'd ask a neighbor for 5 minutes of help (lying on their back holding the hitch) for that part. Otherwise, it's a pretty easy one-man job.
 

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I was worried about taking off the bumper cover, too, but it worked out.

My wife helped hold the hitch against the frame until I could put the four bolts on and have the bolts hold it up. It would have been a real PITA to have done that alone. I'd ask a neighbor for 5 minutes of help (lying on their back holding the hitch) for that part. Otherwise, it's a pretty easy one-man job.
I have a couple of jack stands that I hope will help with that.
 
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