How to Correct Noise from Exhaust Rattling Against a Trailer Hitch

Occasionally a newly installed hitch will make contact with a vehicle's exhaust system, even if the hitch was installed properly. The exhaust-to-hitch contact can result in a rattling noise. So long as the hitch is the correct model for your vehicle and it is installed properly, there are solutions available to correct the problem while retaining the hitch.
Trailer Hitch on Vehicle
These images illustrate a muffler before and after it was repositioned to stop it from rattling. The first picture shows the muffler too close to a newly installed hitch, which can cause a rattle. The second image shows the muffler in a new position after adjustment.
Muffler close to hitch
Muffler with enough clearance to prevent rattle

Reasons for Occasional Contact between the Hitch and Exhaust

  • Manufacturers have loose tolerances for mounting the hangers that suspend exhaust systems, which means that the final placement of an exhaust system can vary slightly from vehicle to vehicle
  • The flexibility of a rubber isolator connecting an exhaust hanger to the vehicle frame allows for more movement of the exhaust system relative to other vehicle components. An isolator can also stretch over time.

Solutions for Contact Between Hitch and Exhaust

Depending on your situation, there are a few solutions that can be employed to correct exhaust-hitch contact. NOTE: You can employ one or all of the following solutions to manipulate the position of your vehicle's exhaust so that it does not come into contact with your hitch.
Repositioned hanger and replaced isolator at front of exhaust

Solution 1: Bend the Hanger

Using a pair of vise-grips, a cheater bar or pliers, create more clearance by manipulating the hangers that are welded to the exhaust and/or to the vehicle frame.Because the hangers dictate how the exhaust system hangs, bending the hangers at various points can allow you to raise or lower the exhaust. This can move it away from the hitch.
Bolt-on hanger

Solution 2: Reposition a Bolt-On Hanger

If an exhaust hanger is bolted to the vehicle frame, it can be unbolted and repositioned to adjust the exhaust so that it is not coming into contact with the hitch.This can be achieved by unbolting the hanger, flipping it and bolting it back to the frame. This can also be achieved by adding washers or spacers to lower the position of the hanger or to move it to the left or the right.

Solution 3: Replace the Rubber Isolator

Replace the rubber isolator that serves as the link between the hanger welded to the exhaust system and the hanger attached to the vehicle frame. Because the connector is made of rubber, the weight of the exhaust can stretch it out over time, causing the exhaust to hang lower. Replacing your isolator with a shorter one will raise your exhaust's position. Replacing your isolator with a longer one will lower your exhaust's position.Replacing the rubber isolator is an easy and relatively inexpensive solution. You can purchase replacements at an auto parts store or a dealership.
Original hanger and isolator on front of exhaust
Repositioned hanger and replaced isolator on front of exhaust

Solution 4: Contact Us at etrailer.com for More Help or Take Your Vehicle to a Muffler Shop

A mechanic at a muffler or exhaust shop will have the tools and knowledge to accomplish any of the above solutions, as well as some other techniques. This is the best option if you are not comfortable manipulating or replacing components of your exhaust system.

Questions and Comments about this Article

William

Great write up. I have been experiencing this issue with my 2017 Patriot vs the Etrailer hitch. Took me a few weeks to figure out the cause (possibly as the heat cycle stretch on the pipe running the length or the car closing the ^1/4 inch gap. I have wedged an isolator and tried longer adjustable bracket hangers. The noise re-appeared last night. I will have to check on bending the hanger studs, or possibly cutting the tailpiping and installing a spacer to widen the gap.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Les D.

Good Troubleshooting.

D W.

I installed a trailer hitch and now the muffler noise on a 2010 Lexus RX 350 is very loud.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Have you tried using any of the tips that we mentioned in this article?

Don A.

I installed one of the plug and play t connectors and the car lights are working fine but the 7 pin wiring carries no current 2020 Explorer

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

What exact parts did you install? If you installed a t-connector with just a 4-Way and then connected a 7-Way adapter then that would be why you're only getting the trailer lights. You would also need wiring to finish out connecting all of the functions of the 7-Way like what you see with our wiring kit # ETBC7 .

Reply from Don A.

@JonG I installed a T harness with wires for a seven pin receptacle. My car lights work as they should. However I don’t have any lights on the trailer. Should I change it to a 4 pin.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@DonA It sounds like you may have some fuses or relays that need to be installed. Check out your owner's manual and it should tell you where these fuses are located.

First N.

Had trailer hitch installed and there is a rattling coming from the rear “Driver” side of the exhaust & hitch... With the engine running I listened and verified the rattling as I looked under rear of vehicle at the exhaust in relation to the installed hitch and noticed the exhaust rattling up against the hitch... Please advise...

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Have you tried any of the tips in the help article above yet?

Ryan K.

I just installed a Curt hitch on a brand new Hyundai Palisade and noticed a rather loud hum/vibration sound on the right side of the car when I hit around 40 mph. I checked the muffler and exhaust and it all seems to be well away from the hitch. However the hitch does make contact with a sheet of metal that is bolted above the muffler assembly, presumably a heat shield. Not the heat shield attached to the muffler, but one attached directly to the body of the car above it. Because of the bolt connection, there would be no way to move this shield out of the way. I'm thinking about wedging a piece of rubber in the small gap between the shield and the underside of the car to eliminate any vibration. Any thoughts on this or other ideas?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

A small piece of rubber might do the trick actually. I believe it's a heat shield because we show something that matches your description in our install of that hitch on a 2020 Palisade (see attached). Aside from that the only other thing I can think of is to maybe bend part of that heat shield out of the way some more but that would probably mean that you need to lower your exhaust again I'm guessing.

Reply from Ryan K.

I’ll give it a try. Thanks.



Departments

Towing

Sports and Recreation

Trailer Parts

Vehicle

What our customers are saying:

"very easy to shop"

Mike
Richmond, CA

Popular Vehicles