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2016 3.6R Limited
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347 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
The good news is the 5th gen hitch installs are practically identical to the 4th gen installs.

I ordered a Hidden Hitch class 3, 2" receiver (87568) along with the lighting module (118467) from CarID for $178 shipped.

I decided to pull the bumper to avoid drilling the frame.



I put the car up on ramps for more working room.



Lots of plastic pieces to take off first. I started with the wheel arches. There's one screw towards the back of the car, and then 4 metal clips.



You just push the metal clips off with a screwdriver.



Then comes the mud guards. They're held on with 3 screws in the wheel well, plus one trim clip on the bottom, and one clip in the inside of the wheel well. That last one is in an awkward position to get to.



Next the tail lights - A quarter turn with a screw driver will pop out these clips. There is a single plastic catch in the middle of the cover. You have to depress it to get it to come out cleanly.



With the cover gone you can unbolt the tail light housings. Two 10mm bolts hold the tail lights in. After you remove the bolts, slide the tai light housing straight back.



Remove bulbs and connectors. A quarter turn removes the bulbs and one harness you just depress the tab. Remember to unhook the cable bundle from the channel first.



Tail lights gone.



Pop open access door for the bumper bolts. There's two. One on each side. Remove the lone bolt.



The bumper is held on with trim clips on the bottom of the car. 3 on the back and then 2 on each side. In my case, I had to remove the bottom trim clip of the mud flap before I could get to the last one for the bumper.



One more small clip hiding in the top. This is a weird one. It sits flush, so in order to release it you have to take something pointy and push it in even further. You'll hear it pop open and then it comes out easily.



Start pulling the bumper. Now that all the clips are gone, you can start pulling on a side. The outback bumper came off pretty easily compared to other vehicles I've done this on. I switch between left and right popping clips free.

The motion is up and out.



You'll see where the clips are engaging closer to the center of the vehicle. The last row which is right below the gate latch, took a bit more force than the sides. Still comes out the same way.



Car is starting to look a bit more naked.



This is all so we can get access to the frame rails, so we can feed the hitch bolts through the opening and avoid drilling the frame.

The bumper bar is hold on by 8 nuts, 4 on each side. The studs are part of the frame.

I used a deep socket (no extension) on a 3/8" ratchet.



Odd - one of the studs became cross threaded as I was removing the nut. This was annoying to find out. I ended up cleaning it and the nut up with a tap and die.



With the bumper bar gone, time to focus on the mufflers. In my case I decided to remove both mufflers to have more working space. The mufflers are hanging from 2 rubber hangers.

Unbolt the muffler from the midpipe first. There are 2 bolts for each muffler. 14mm for bolt and nut. You'll need something to hold the bolt while you turn the nut. Another ratchet or wrench.



Here's the second hanger. Best way to remove these is spray them with soapy water. I tried lubricating oil and WD-40 first, but those just got my hands oily. I forgot that soapy water works wonders for mounting tires as well.

If you get them soapy they slide right off. For each side, completely remove the rubber hanger closest to the frame rail. If you don't, the hitch won't be able to mount as the rubber hanger can't fit through the slot.



Mufflers in their natural habitat.



With the mufflers gone, it's time to remove the heat shield. 4 small bolts hold the heat shield on. Remove both left and right side.



Finally a clean work space. It's time to put the hitch on.



Here's the hardware that came with the hidden hitch. The hitch mounts with 4 bolts to the car's frame. The bolts closer to the front of the vehicle used the larger pieces of metal as well as a set of flat washers.

The bolts closer to the rear of the vehicle used the smaller metal pieces and no flat washers. Just the conical washers.



I taped the bolts to the metal jam blocks. I then taped it to a crowbar to push it into the frame and get it seated properly.



Hitch is loosely bolted here.



Here's what the hitch looks like. Pretty standard.



The last piece is now trimming the heat shield(s). Here's one of the heat shields prior to trimming.



Here's the same heat shield after the corner has been cut out to make room for the hitch mounting bolt.

Now just put the pieces back in reverse order.

Installing the light module was stupid simple. Remove the foam and plastic panels in the back so you can get to the driver rear quarter panel. There's one tie down right behind the rear seats. Unbolt it and you will find a wire harness behind it that's wrapped in blue tape. Cut the blue tape and then pull the harness down so you can attach the light module to it. Tuck it in the back and put the panels back. Done.

Now to go rewire my trailer lights...

Have added some more photos of the car back together with trailer attached





 

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2015 Outback 2.5i Limited, Ice Silver/Black
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1,804 Posts
What a great write-up! I might opt to remove the bumper when I install, too, though I'm leaning toward the Curt hitch for looks alone (I prefer Marilyn's curves to Twiggy, too).
 

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2017 Outback 2.5i Limited
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1,108 Posts
Very detailed write up. Thank you for taking the time of taking all the pictures of the entire process!
 

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2012 Outback 3.6R
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505 Posts
One more picture. rear of car with everything put back together.

Also a measurement from the ground to bottom of hitch.

Very nice write up with good pictures. Thank You for taking the time to document the installation.
 

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2018 Outback Premium 2.5i
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95 Posts
FYI - I opted out of the Curt hitch because it sticks out the back and didn't need the extra shin basher. YMMV.

The Hidden Hitch, Draw Tite, UHaul hitch fits nicely and does the job well. I removed my rear bumper too, and things worked out very nicely.
 

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22,836 Posts
Nice write up Taiguy
Quick tip
You can leave the tail lights plugged in and use painters tape to just tape them up out of the way. I did that on both the Legacy and OB, less time involved.

Mufflers if you have smallish hands can be left bolted and using liquid soap on the rubber hangars slip two hangars you get enough wiggle room to move the mufflers out of the way to do the install, again just a time saver.

I used an old wood yard stick with duct tape sticky side out to fish the bolt/plate into the frame ends.
Same exact install effort as my 2 2010's. Zero problems so far. I keep my wiring harness in the trunk. I tow about once a month, the hatch holds the wiring up out of the hitch and keeping it under the rubber mat in the car keeps the plug gear clean and UV protected.
 

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2016 OB 3.6R, White/Tan, ES + PP5, & Side Mouldings
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72 Posts
Did the OP have a set of instructions to work from to dismantle the rear or??

And thanks for your sharing!
 

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2016 2.5i Limited, 2013 Tesla Model S 85
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1,042 Posts
Also a measurement from the ground to bottom of hitch.
To the inside top of the receiver would be a more useful number. That is where drawbars start measuring for rise/drop.

The EcoHitch requires a notch be cut out of the bottom of the bumper cover but doesn't require any work under the car. No trimming of the heat shield. No hassle with the muffler(s).
 

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2016 3.6R Limited
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347 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
One more picture. rear of car with everything put back together.

Also a measurement from the ground to bottom of hitch.

Very nice write up with good pictures. Thank You for taking the time to document the installation.
put back together and loaded up.





 

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2012 Outback 3.6R
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505 Posts
To the inside top of the receiver would be a more useful number. That is where drawbars start measuring for rise/drop.

The EcoHitch requires a notch be cut out of the bottom of the bumper cover but doesn't require any work under the car. No trimming of the heat shield. No hassle with the muffler(s).

I am more interested in the ground clearance to the bottom of the hitch.
 

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2016 2.5i Limited, 2013 Tesla Model S 85
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1,042 Posts
I am more interested in the ground clearance to the bottom of the hitch.
The lowest point of my EcoHitch is 13-7/16" above my driveway. That is the plate with eyehooks for safety chains. The reinforcing box surrounding my 2" receiver is 3" square. A safe guess would be the bottom of the 1-1/4" receiver will be 3/4" higher.
 

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White /Ivory 2015 OB Limited 2.5 Eyesight
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985 Posts
Very good write up...

loaded or unloaded?
And very detailed -- I am sure anyone wanting to add a hitch like this would be
very grateful:grin2:

Even if you have a radar detector--just kidding-- enjoy your Subie!!
 

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2015 Outback 2.5i Limited, Ice Silver/Black
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FYI - I opted out of the Curt hitch because it sticks out the back and didn't need the extra shin basher. YMMV.
Point taken.
 
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