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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 3 Two Inch Trailer Hitch Receiver. So I know personally whenever I'm driving down the road, I see these Subarus getting used for a little bit of everything.

Whether there's a big bike rack on the back here, a cargo carrier, or even pulling a trailer. Whether it be a small utility trailer or maybe you wanted a couple kayaks on there, these Subarus really do get the job done.So if it we're me, I would want a hitch that would be able to handle pretty much anything that you would want to throw at it. And that's exactly what this hitch is going to do. So it's a good choice, good all around hitch regardless on what you plan on using it for. And honestly, I think the hitch looks really good on the back of the Subaru as well.

It does sit a little bit further back and you are going to be able to see it. But personally, I kind of would prefer that on my Forester.These Subarus really do a great job of accepting those types of accessories and really kind of playing off that. So honestly, I kind of like the look of it and really wouldn't want it another way. So since this is a Class 3 hitch, it's going to give us that two inch by two inch receiver tube opening. That's a very common size and you can use a ton of different types of accessories with it.

So should work out real well there.It's going to have a reinforced collar for extra strength. I'm just going to use that standard 5/8ths pin hole. Now keep in mind, a pin and clip does not come included, but if you need one, you can pick it up right here at etrailer. This is going to have plate style safety chain openings, which they do sit a little bit further back, but they are going to give us more than enough space to use just about any size hook that we might have.Now, as far as the hitch's weight capacities go, they're going to give us some pretty high numbers. As far as the maximum gross tongue weight rating goes, it's going to be 525 pounds, and that's going to be the amount of weight that's pushing down on the hitch.

That's a pretty high number and you should be able to use just about any size bike rack or cargo carrier that you would want to, 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. So it is the 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. And if towing is something you do plan on doing, I would also suggest picking up some trailer wiring. That way the lights on your trailer will sync up with the lights on the back of your Subaru. You'll be safe and legal. So now let's go ahead and take a couple of measurements and these are going to help us figure out which accessories will work the best.So if you go from the center of the hitch pin hole to the edge of our rear bumper, that's going to be about four inches. And that really does give us some good clearance. So even though you shouldn't have any issues, if you think you may, what you can do is use that measurement to figure out exactly if any folding accessories you might have can indeed be stored in that upright position without contacting the bumper. We go from the ground to the top inside edge of the receiver tube opening. It's going to be right at 14 and a half inches. So if you do plan on doing some towing, chances are pretty good you're going to need to get a ball mount that slide rise.So at the end of the day, a hitch you really can't go wrong with. Not only is it going to look good, but it's going to be able to handle pretty much anything you want to throw at it. Now, as far as the installation goes, really not too bad. It does take a little bit of time, but as long as you stay focused, you should have no problem getting it done at home in the garage or maybe even in your driveway. Speaking of which, let's go ahead, pull it into the shop and put it all 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. So 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.So 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. So you can spray them down with some soapy water or some penetrating oil that really helps make the process easier. We can just take a pry bar and kind of pry that hanger off of the metal portion. So I'm going to 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.Now 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 kind of 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 lowered 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. So we're going to have one in each corner. So I'll grab my socket and pull those out.I'm going to kind of just lower our heat shield down and then 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 as bottom edge. And the way to get those out, you can take a Flathead screwdriver, you're going to pry underneath the head of it, and then you're able to completely pull it out. I'll do that for these. And once I have these out, we kind of 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.And we're just going to have a couple more along this edge of the panel, kind of just behind our rear tire. 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. So we remove that one first and see. But you can take what head again, going to pry out on it. What I'll do is kind of 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.We should be able to kind of 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. So you can just take a screwdriver kind of pry underneath the plug itself and pop them out. Now 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 there'll be set up the exact same way.Now, what 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. So we want to make it just big enough that we're able to slide our spacer block inside as well as our carriage bolt. So 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 am 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.So every now and again, it's a good idea to stop and check the size of the hole. So as you can see right there, it's just big enough to get my spacer block, but not our carriage bolt in. So I'll come back, just open it up a little bit more, and I think we'll be in pretty good shape. So once you verify that the hardware can indeed go inside of the frame rail, not a bad idea to take some spray paint. Just kind of 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.So we're going to have three on each side and we're going to be using these three holes here. So the way they're going to work is we're going to take a fish wire, put our hardware inside of the frame. 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. So we'll take the coiled end of our fish wire. We're going to feed that towards the front of our vehicle and we want that end to drop out of that hole that we enlarged.So we'll take our spacer block, put that over the pull wire, take our carriage bolt and thread that on and we're kind of feed the hardware inside, pull on the other end of our wire, 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 just kind of eyeball the length, the distance between our attachment point and our access hole, and 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 kind of reach up there and assist it a little bit, but all the attachment points are going to receive that same hardware combination.Now what we're going to do is drill a hole. They're 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 our bolts can pass through there. And we can take our heat shield and get it re-installed. So 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.And this'll 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. So not going to be putting that. We just take our factory hardware, get this started. I'll come back and snug them all down. Now with an extra set of hands, we can grab our hitch and raise it into position. So you want to make sure to take your pull wires and put them through the corresponding holes in our hitch. So once we have all of those through there, we can raise it up where it sits flat, and we can remove the three pull wires.We're going to take a flange nut, and we want to get a least one started on each side hand-tight. That way the hitch will support itself while we work on the rest of them. One thing you can do if that bolt wants to push up, you can take your finger and apply some side pressure to it, to help get that nut started. Or you can also come in with a flathead screwdriver and kind of put some side pressure on the bolt as well. It makes it a little easier. Do the same thing for all of our remaining hardware.Now that we have all of our hardware in place and hand-tight, we can come back with a socket and snug everything down. Now, what we need to do is come back with a torque wrench and tighten down all of our hardware, the amount specified in the instructions. Now that we have our hitch secured, we can raise our exhaust back into position. Again, you want to spray it down and you can just use your hand to kind of guide the rubber hangers back into position. Once you have this center one back in place and the exhaust is pulling itself, we can go ahead and remove our strap.At this point, we can grab our underbody panel and get it re-installed as well. And these can be a little bit tricky to get back in place. You kind of have to sneak it in between your wheel well liner and the body of your vehicle there. Kind of just work it and eventually it'll kind of just fall right into position. Now this is going to get secured the same way as it originally was with one exception, and that is we're only going to be using one bolt in the frame rail instead of two. Because as you can see, the hitch is blocking that other bolt hole, which really isn't a big deal.With all of the other fasteners, this thing's going to stay nice and secured. We're not going to have to worry about it falling off or bounced around or anything like that. Just go ahead and get that bolt in and re-install all of our push pin tight fasteners. And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the CURT Class 3 Two Inch Trailer Hitch Receiver on our 2021 Subaru Forester.


Info for this part was:

Employee Joshua S
Video by:
Joshua S
Employee Jacob T
Video Edited:
Jacob T
Employee Chris R
Video Edited:
Chris R
Employee Ryan G
Test Fit:
Ryan G

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