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Curt Trailer Hitch Installation - 2021 Subaru Forester

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How to Install the Curt Trailer Hitch on a 2021 Subaru Forester

Ryan: Hey everybody. My name is Ryan and here at etrailer, we install, test, fit, and review a lot of different parts. That way we could try to answer any questions those of you might have. And that's exactly what we're doing here today on our 2021 Subaru Forester. We're going to be taking a look at and showing you how to install the CURT Class 2 trailer hitch receiver.Now I will say probably the first thing I noticed about the hitch is the fact that it is somewhat visible. However, it does sit quite a ways back.

It really don't stick out like crazy or anything like that. And honestly, I think accessories that you can see actually look good on the back of Subarus, really matches that appearance that most owners are looking for.Since this is a Class 2 hitch, it is going to have that inch and a quarter by inch and a quarter receiver tube opening. This setup should work best for those of you that already have those smaller inch and a quarter accessories, or primarily really only plan on using your hitch for those accessories, things like bike racks, or maybe a small cargo carrier.The hitch is going to have a reinforced collar for extra strength. And I think it looks pretty good to kind of give Z Hitch a more complete or finished look. It's going to have a half inch size pin hole.

Now keep in mind a pin and clip does not come included, but if you need one, you can pick it up here at etrailer.These safety chain openings are a plate style. And even though they're tucked a little bit further back, they still give us more than enough room to use just about any size hook that we might have. Now, as far as the hitch's weight capacity goes, it's going to have a 350 pound maximum gross tongue weight rating.And that's going to be the amount of weight that's pushing down on the hitch. That's good for those one to three bike racks for example. As far as the maximum gross trailer weight rating goes, it's going to be 3,500 pounds, and that's going to be the amount of weight that's pulling on the hitch.

Set a inaudible 00:01:55 weight of your trailer plus anything that you might have on it.Now I do always like to suggest never a bad idea just to grab your Forester's owner's manual. That way you can make sure your Subaru can pull that much weight safely. Now let's go ahead and take a couple of measurements and these are going to help us figure out which accessories will work best.If you go from the center of the hitch pin hole to the very edge of your rear bumper, that's going to be right about four inches. And that's pretty good clearance actually. So you can use that measurement to help figure out that if any folding accessories you might have, can be stored in that upright position without contacting the bumper.

And that's a pretty good measurement, so I really don't see that being an issue.From the ground to the top inside edge of the receiver tube opening. That's going to be right at 14 and a half inches. If you do plan on doing some light duty towing, chances are pretty good. I would get a ball mount with a slight rise.At the end of the day, it's really just going to depend on what you're looking to do. If you really just plan on using those accessories and do some light duty towing here and there, it's going to be a great choice for you. If you're looking to have a little more versatility, use some larger accessories or do some more heavy duty type towing, a Class 3 type hitch may be a better solution for you.But with that being said, as far as the installation goes, really not too bad, you do have to get underneath the vehicle, take down a couple of things, but everything's straightforward and pretty easy to get to. It really shouldn't give you too many issues. Speaking of which let's go ahead, pull this into the shop and put the hitch on together now.To begin our installation, we're going to be underneath the back of our Subaru. And first thing we need to do is lower our exhaust down to give us some extra room to work. What we're going to do is take a strap and run it from side to side. That way it will give our exhaust a little bit of support and we can kind of control how far and how fast we let it down.If you don't have one of these straps laying around the house, you can always pick one up right here at etrailer. To actually get our exhaust lowered, we're going to have a total of three rubber isolator hangers, just like this one here we need to remove.You can spray them down with some soapy water or some penetrating oil that really helps make the process easier. You can just take a pry bar and kind of pry that hanger off of the metal portion and we'll do that same thing for the rest of them. We're going to have one right here on this side of the muffler as well.And then if you follow the exhaust forward towards the front of our car, we're going to have that third hanger right here, pop that off as well. And then what we can do is loosen up our strap a little bit and let our exhaust down a little ways to give us that room that we need. With our muffler lower down, we're going to have the room we need to get our heat shield removed. And this is going to be held in place by four, 10 millimeter fasteners.We're going to have one in each corner. I'll grab my socket and pull those out. Let me just lower our heat shield down and set it off to the side for the time being. If you move over here to the driver's side, we're going to have this underbody panel that we need to remove. We're going to have a handful of different fasteners. We're going to have three push pin style ones, along this bottom edge and the way to get those out, you can take a flat-head screwdriver and pry underneath the head of it, and then you're able to completely pull it out.We'll do that for these and once I have these out we move up to this edge, and as you can see on the bottom of our frame rail, we're going to have two 10 millimeter bolts. We're just going to have a couple more along this edge of the panel, kind of just behind our rear tire.It looks like we're going to have at least one push pin style fastener like this, potentially two, but this one needs to come out for sure. Remove that one first and see, but you can take a flat-head again, pry out on it. What I'll do is move this around and actually we are going to have to pull this one right here out as well, do the same thing, get that removed and we should be able to pull everything out. It may actually run up to this third fastener, it's a little hard to tell, but no big deal. We'll get that one out too just be on the safe side.You should be able to move around our underbody panel to get it released, that way we can set it off to the side. Now on each side of our frame rail, we're going to have a total of four rubber plugs that we need to pull out. You can just take a screwdriver and pry it underneath the plug itself and pop them out. I want to mention from this point on anything we do to this side of our vehicle, we're also going to do to the other side because they'll be set up the exact same way.Now we need to do is enlarge this hole right here, closest to the front of our vehicle on each side. That way we can get our hardware inside of our frame rail. We want to make it just big enough that we're able to slide our spacer blocks inside as well as our carriage bolt. I'm using this hole because it's already quite large and you don't need to open it up too much more, but the way I'm going to enlarge it is by using a step drill bit. These make it really easy, but you could also use some type of grinder bit or even a hand file.Every now and again, it's a good idea to stop and check the size of the hole. As you can see right there, it's just big enough to get in our spacer block, but not our carriage bolt in. I'll come back, just open it up a little bit more, and I think we'll be in pretty good shape.Once you verify that the hardware can indeed go inside of the frame rail, not a bad idea to take some spray paint, just cover up that bare metal. That way we don't have to worry about it rusting. And while that's drying, let's go ahead and go over our attachment points that we're going to use to secure the hitch.We're going to have three on each side and we're going to be using these three holes here. The way they're going to work is they're going to take a fish wire, put our hardware inside of the frame and our carriage bolts are going to drop down through these openings. We'll be able to put our hitch up, take some nuts and keep everything secure.Now let's go ahead and get our hardware in place. We'll take the coiled end of our fish wire. We're going to feed that towards the front of our vehicle, only want that end to drop out of that hole that we enlarged. We'll take our spacer block, put that over the wire, take our carriage bolt and thread that on. We'll kind of feed the hardware inside. Pull on the other end of our wired, and we want our bolts to drop down just like that. I'll do that same thing to get our hardware in these two attachment points and just kind of a tech tip, what I like to do is eyeball the length, the distance between our attachment point and our access hole, just put a bend in that fish wire and it makes it easier for it to drop out the majority of the time. If it don't fall right out, you may have to reach up there and assist it a little bit. But all the attachment points are going to receive that same hardware combination.Now we're going to do is drill a hole, or a couple of holes here in our heat shield. That way we can re-install it and our bolts and everything can pass through there. If you look, there's going to be two dimples, that's from the factory here in the heat shield, and we're going to use those as guides to drill out a small hole about five eighths of an inch. That way your bolts can pass through there. And we can take our heat shield and get it re-installed.You want to make sure to push your pull wires through the appropriate holes in it. That way it'll sit up nice and flat. This will just go on the opposite way that we removed it, except we will not be reinstalling this one bolt right here. If we put that one in it'll interfere with the hitch. I'm going to be pulling that, just take our factory hardware. Could get started and I'll come back and snug them all down.Now with an extra set of hands, what we can do is raise our hitch into position. You're going to want to take the pull wires, feed them through the appropriate holes in the hitch. Once you have them all through there, you can lift it up. Make sure all of your bolts drop through. Then we can remove fish wires and we want to get at least one nut on each side started hand tight. That way the hitch will support itself while we work on the rest of them.Just a quick tech tip. If you're having trouble getting the nuts started because that bolt wants to push back up into the frame rail. What you can do is just take a flat-head screwdriver, just apply a little bit of side pressure there and that'll keep it steady and allow you to thread that nut on much easier. Once we have all of our hardware in place and hand tight and can come back with a 19 millimeter socket and snug it all down. Now we need to do is come back with a torque wrench and tighten down all of the hardware to the amount specified in the instructions.Now we can go ahead reinstall our underbody panel, essentially the same exact way or the opposite way rather that we removed it. Slide that into position and work it up. These are kind of tricky to get back in there perfectly. Just take your time, get everything lined up the way it should and it should fall back into place. Now I will say we're only going to be using one of the bolts up here. We put it in there and that is because our hitch is blocking that other attachment point up here, but not a huge deal. There's quite a few fasteners and you won't have to worry about this under body panel coming off or moving around, anything like that.I got it in place. I'll just get all of our fasteners started and that'll keep it secure. At this point we can go ahead and re secure our exhaust. You just want to spray it down, put it back up into position. And I usually just grab the hangers with my hands and slide them back where they need to go. Once you get that center one on you can go ahead, remove our support strap.And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the CURT Class 2 trailer hitch receiver on our 2021 Subaru Forester.



Am considering a Curt Class III trailer hitch with 2" receiver. Excellent video but have a question.... After enlarging the hole through which you fished the spacer bar and carriage bolt, how did you seal it so water doesn't possibly get trapped within the rail and cause rust. Thanks!

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


We didn't. I don't think I've ever heard of needing to seal up any spacing under the vehicle when it comes to holes in the frame. If you wanted to add a sealer to help keep water out then I recommend checking out the Loctite # LT37467 .

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