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Recommended 2-Inch Class III Hitch to Replace 1-1/4-Inch Factory Hitch on 2018 Subaru Outback

Question:

out dealer installed an OEM hitch with a 1.25inch receiver. we were told since we have the 4 cylinder not to use a 2inch receiver. the one installed has the center of the pin hole distance to the face of the receiver of only 1. most bike racks require a minimum of 1.5. is it safe to still use this hitch? do we need to find a bike rack designed specifically for this 1inch distance? should we have a 2inch hitch receiver installed instead?

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Expert Reply:

The guidance you received about not using a 2-inch hitch on your Outback would apply if you were towing a trailer. Most 4-cylinder vehicles are generally not as towing-friendly as those with a V6 or larger engine. While this caution makes sense for towing applications it dos not really apply for use with a hitch-mounted bike rack.

You are correct that Subaru's OEM hitches are not great matches for accessory applications like bike or cargo carrier use, and for the reason you stated, and you will have many more rack options and also higher overall weight capacity by installing an aftermarket 2-inch Class III hitch. We have a great many customers who have installed one of our 2-inch hitches on their Outbacks, so have no fear.

We have three hitch models for your Outback, shown on the linked page. There is one no-drill option among them, the EcoHitch # 306-X7601 made from re-cycled materials and is made in the USA, but note this hitch has a lower (but still adequate) weight rating of 535 pounds and will take more time to install. It also costs considerably more.

Among all options I suggest the Draw-Tite # 75673 because it offers a moderate cost, high 600-lb tongue weight capacity and does NOT require you to use a hitch support strap (part # 18050) as the Curt hitch # C13206 does. An installation video, the written instructions and a helpful article all are linked for your reference.

With your Draw-Tite hitch bolted on you can use any of a wide variety and capacity of 2-inch Class III hitch bike racks. I linked our main page for such carriers. If you care to tell me about the number and types of bikes to be transported I will be delighted to make targeted recommendations for you. But for now I will be happy to point out some of the carriers preferred by our team and by our customers. You can also refer to the linked bike rack article for ideas and general guidance.

For a biking family one of the better options is the Yakima FullSwing # Y02465. This rack can swing over to the passenger side to give you clear access to the cargo area even when it is fully loaded up with bikes; please see the linked photo. This makes grabbing helmets and other biking gear a whole lot easier.

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