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EcoHitch Hidden Trailer Hitch Installation - 2022 Subaru Forester

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How to Install the EcoHitch Hidden Trailer Hitch on a 2022 Subaru Forester


Hello, neighbors. It's Brad here at etrailer. And today, we're taking a look and installing the EcoHitch trailer hitch receiver on a 2022 Subaru Forester. Now, this is what our hitch is gonna look like when it's installed. And one of the first things you may notice or may not notice is gonna be the fact that this is a hidden crosstube. So the only thing that's gonna be visible is the actual receiver and the safety chain loops, giving it a really nice, clean look but still getting that usability of the hitch.

This is also a two-inch-by-two-inch receiver tube opening, and that's gonna be a huge, great option for a lot of different accessories. This is the most common one. So finding a bike rack, cargo carrier, or even a ball mount for your hitch is gonna be nice and easy because this is pretty common. You're also gonna have a 5/8 hitch pin hole, and that's so you can actually keep your accessories in place. Now, the hitch doesn't come with the pin and clip, but at times your accessories will have them with them.

But if you do need to pick one up or you wanna pick up a locking one to keep your accessories locked in place, we have plenty of options available here at etrailer. You're also gonna have a plate-style safety chain loop here, and they're quite large to be able to fit your standard-sized hooks or even a larger clevis style is gonna be no problem for when hooking up to your trailer. Now, speaking of trailer, you're probably wondering what this is capable of towing, and it's a decent amount at 3,500 pounds for your gross trailer weight rating. And that's gonna be the weight of the accessories plus the trailer loaded up. And that's going to be a decent amount to pull a reasonably sized trailer.

You also have a tongue weight rating of 525 pounds, and that's gonna be the downward pressure that's put on the receiver tube opening. So some of your suspended accessories, that's kinda what you're looking at as far as that weight capacity goes. Now, this cannot be used with weight distribution, so you're limited to those numbers. And I do recommend before towing a trailer, checking your vehicle's owner's manual to see what the vehicle is capable of towing before actually hooking up. You're gonna wanna compare that with the numbers of the hitch and take the lower of the two just to stay safe.

And you can see it's pretty well-flushed, giving it a nice, clean look. But when picking accessories that fold up, you're gonna want to see from the center of the hitch pin hole to the furthest point of the rear fascia. And on this vehicle, it's about 3 1/2. So that's important to note because as you put some of those in and you fold up, you wanna make sure it doesn't make contact with the rear fascia, scuffing it up, or just making sure you have clearance. And I think with this, you shouldn't have too many problems with most accessories. Now, as far as your ground clearance goes, from the top of the receiver tube opening to the ground, we're looking at about 15 1/2 inches. So pretty good ground clearance. I don't worry about the hitch making contact, but some of your suspended accessories like your cargo carriers or bike racks, they actually extend past the vehicle. So when you go up an incline, those will tilt closer to the ground. But again, this is pretty good ground clearance. I don't worry too much, but it is something to keep in mind when you are going up inclines or maybe on some rough terrain. Now, as far as the installation goes, this is a little bit more in depth than some of the other standard hitches that may be available for this. And it does require pulling off the rear fascia. And although that may seem pretty scary or daunting, it's pretty straightforward. It's pretty easy to do. But I do recommend having someone handy that can help you not only get the hitch in place but also take off your fascia. So I'm gonna walk you through every single one of those steps and that way, you can get your hitch installed. So let's take a look at that now. For this installation, we are actually gonna be taking off the rear fascia of the vehicle to get the hitch in place. And that's kinda the nature of a lot of the EcoHitches, and it's not gonna be too terrible as long as we move step by step. And our first step is going to be opening up our hatch, and we're gonna reveal two plastic pins that we're gonna need to remove. Now, these have a Phillips head screw in the center section. Sometimes, these can be a little bit tricky. So putting a little bit of pressure around the outside ring to keep it from spinning is gonna allow that to kinda pop up. And once that's popped up, you're able to get a nail or a flathead under there. Or I'm using a trim panel tool here. These are really helpful for these plastic pushpins, and we can just simply pull this out. Now, we're gonna wanna hold onto all of our hardware. It's gonna make installation later on a lot easier. So we're gonna have two on this side and two on the other. So make sure, all those steps I'll make sure to repeat on the other side if it does need to be done over there. But this is going to allow us to pull this plastic cover off. Now, you might have to kinda pry at it a little bit here 'cause it is kinda popped into the taillight. And kind of in this section here, we might be able to pry this out. And these generally have some plastic clips that just kinda keep them retained in place. But you can see, I'm gonna just work my way down here, and we should get this popped out. Here we go. So now, we're gonna need to remove our taillight. And first thing we're gonna do is unclip it from the wire harness. So I'm gonna just push on this tab, and this should separate just like that. And now, we're gonna have two Phillips, it looks like a 10-millimeter. Let's check real quick. It is. So either a 10-millimeter socket or a Phillips should be able to get these out. And now, we're gonna kinda just wiggle that back and forth, and that's gonna pop this clip out. You'll see that kinda pops in and these slide in. So if it is fighting you, just kinda wiggle it, kinda loosen it up, and giving it backward pressure should allow us to pop that off. So we'll go ahead and do the same on the other side. So now, we're gonna come to each wheel arch on the back portion by the rear fascia. And we're gonna want to find the plastic clips that go along here. Now, this is a touring model, so it doesn't have the mudflaps. If you have mudflaps, you probably do have some mounting points here that you're also gonna need to take out. But it looks like we have this plastic pushpin here. This one's a slightly different style. You're gonna push in the center portion just like that. And then, this outer ring to get that to pop out, you can kinda just peel on the plastic, and that's gonna leave that to be able to pull out a little bit easier. So with this, I can see that I can already start to pop the rear fascia off. So it looks like that's our only points of securing on the wheel well. But again, if you do have the mudflap, you're gonna wanna remove that as well. So we'll go ahead, hop on the other side, pop that out. So now, you're gonna wanna hop under your rear fascia, and you're gonna see some plastic pushpins along here. And this is just attaching our fascia, again, to the bottom portion of where the securing mounting points are on the frame. So we're gonna wanna pop these out, and these are a slightly different style. And you're gonna see that there's slots here. That's gonna allow us to put a flathead in there in any of those and just kind of, once you get that flathead in there, a lot of times, I'll just do a twisting motion and that'll pop that enough to get the rest of it out. So we'll go ahead and just work your way on this outer edge and any of those plastic pushpins you're gonna wanna take out. So we're getting ready to pull the rear fascia off. And this is a good time, you might wanna grab an extra set of hands and set a spot aside to actually put the fascia to rest on so they won't get scratched. But going along with that, I'm also gonna run some painter's tape along the seams here. This is gonna make it to where these edges aren't gonna rub against each other, or if they do, they're at least gonna have protection from the painter's tape. And that way, you're not stuffing or nicking your paint. So this is a nice, easy step to do that's gonna save, again, any damage from occurring or at least help prevent it on your vehicle while putting this up. A lot of times, your clips can kinda rub against the paint and then scratch it. So I'm gonna go ahead and get these on the seams here, follow this along, and then do it on the other side. And then, we can get this pulled off. Now, something you're gonna want to check, I do believe we're gonna have a clip here on the driver side that we're gonna have to separate. So during this process, just make sure you're not pulling too terribly hard and just walking away with the bumper. You don't wanna damage the wiring harness. So as we kinda work our way towards the middle here, this is our wiring here. I'm just gonna go ahead and separate that. There's a little push tab here. And now, we can set our rear fascia somewhere safe. So now, we're gonna want to remove our impact bar. And the way we're gonna do that is there is going to be a bolt and then a nut here. And this is gonna be a 14-millimeter socket for both of them. So you can actually run this through with an extension, and we'll go ahead and get this removed. It might be a little tight. Whew. So it is gonna fight you a little bit there, but now, once broke loose, I can go ahead and get these taken out. Now, there's also gonna be a bolt under here, so each side will have two bolts and one nut. So we'll go ahead and get these all removed and then pull our impact bar off. Now, for our next step, we're gonna be lowering the muffler down, and that's gonna gain us access to the heat shield and also be able to bolt the hitch up. So lowering this down is not too terribly hard to do. There's gonna be some exhaust isolators. But before we do that, we're gonna wanna support this. Now, if you're doing this on the ground in your driveway or in your garage or whatever it may be, you can use a block of wood or something just to support the exhaust from really just holding itself up. That can cause damage downstream. So I'm gonna be using a cam buckle strap here, and I'm just gonna cradle our exhaust, you know, just mounting it kind of two secure points. And I'll just cinch this up. And that way, when we lower this down, there's gonna be something at least holding that weight so it's not just fully suspended. Now, as far as getting the exhaust isolators off, they're not too terribly hard to get on these. We have one here. There's also gonna be one on the backside here. And then, there's gonna be one up here. I'm not sure if we have to remove this, but I'm gonna go ahead and do it anyway. It's gonna just give us a little bit more room to work with. Now, sometimes these rubber isolators can get a little bit tricky and they might not wanna slide around. So using a penetrating oil or even a soapy water solution is gonna help lubricate this. So I'm gonna go ahead spray these down, and I'll get my pry bar so we can get these off. Now, using either a long screwdriver or pry bar, it should be pretty easy to use the loop here on the muffler as leverage to kinda get this off. And these isolators are pretty strong. So if it does seem like you're putting a lot of pressure in, it's kinda moving and contorting around, that's okay. These are pretty easy to be flexible here. So using this top one, I'm gonna try to loop it in there. And it doesn't matter if you get the top or the bottom one off as long as we get the isolators separated. That's our main goal here. So using that top hanger here, I'm able to kinda just wedge this back. And at this point, I could probably use my hands to just pop off the rest. So now, I'll get this back one here. So now, with the muffler dropped down, you can see we're gonna have enough room to get up here. You're gonna wanna use a 10-millimeter socket and either a ratchet. I have this 90-degree impact here, but we'll get these taken down. And there's gonna be a total of, looks to be four of these, so make sure you get all those removed. And then, we're gonna take the heat shield down, and we're gonna save that for later. We may be doing some trimming on that. So now, you can grab your hitch, and we're gonna be sliding this into the slots here. And we're gonna place the hole there where that stud is and make sure it slides over. And then, to hold this in place, you're gonna go to your hardware that's supplied in the kit, and you'll see a split washer and a flat washer. So make sure you have it in this orientation. And I'm gonna just go ahead right now and just get these hand-threaded in. And the stud's gonna hold the hitch up, but this is gonna make sure that it's not gonna fall down while we get the rest of our hardware in. So you can go ahead and do the same on the other side. So now that we have our bolts in place, we're gonna go ahead and on the stud, we're gonna put a flat washer, a split washer, and then this nut here. And now, if you need to gain a little bit more threads to get it started, you can kinda just push the hitch back and that should cinch it up a little bit more. Or even tightening these bolts is a good way to do it as well. But we'll go ahead and get this started here. And then, just make sure the other side has all the same hardware on there. So I'm gonna go ahead and just kinda tighten these up. I'm not gonna really crank 'em down 'cause we're gonna go back later with a torque wrench to make sure they're properly torqued down. But this is gonna help cinch this up and kinda get it into place. Now, there is a little bit of side-to-side lateral movements, very little, but it's a good chance to make sure that this is perfectly aligned. So just do a quick visual check before tightening. So now, we're going to grab our fish wire here, as well as our bolt, our star washer, and a flat washer. And what we're gonna do is take this second one towards the front. This little rubber plug here, we're gonna just pop that out. And then, we're gonna take this coiled end, and we are going to feed this back. And this should go to the outside of the frame. And we have that little access hole, so we're gonna kinda fish it through there. So you might have to get your fingers in there to find that coiled end. But once you do, you can pull that through. And leaving a little bit of the wire on the other side there, so don't completely pull it through. But then, we're gonna take our flat washer here, and I'm gonna go ahead and just kinda feed that in there. Same now with the star washer. And then, this coiled end, we're gonna take our bolt and then just thread that on there. And we can feed the bolt in there as well. And then, just kind of jostling this along, and we should be able to get them to all kinda line here to where we'll have that bolt come through, giving us a stud to mount our hitch. Now, at this point, you're gonna wanna take this fish wire. And holding the bolt, you're gonna wanna uncoil it, so we can use this on the other side. So just lightly untwist it here. And we're gonna go ahead, and do the exact same process on the other side. Now, when you we're feeding this through, you might have noticed part of that hitch there. And what this bolt is doing, it actually feeds in through the hitch, and this is gonna secure it to the frame rail further up. So just an added point of security. So to ensure that it's in place and holding tight, we'll put our plate washer there. And then, we're gonna follow it up with a split washer. And then, we'll take our nut here and just kinda get that started. And then, we can go ahead and do the same on the other side. Now, this can be a little bit tricky because that bolt's gonna want to spin. So what I do is actually pull down, and that's gonna put the head of the bolt against that star washer, allowing you to get this cinched up. Now, once you have it nice and in place, we're gonna go back with our torque wrench. Now, this hardware, the larger hardware, is gonna have a different torque setting than the other hardware that we fed up on our studs and on that crossmember where we mounted up the hitch. So just make sure you're using the instruction manual to make sure that you have the proper settings on the different hardware. Now, if you need a torque wrench, we actually have 'em available here at etrailer. And this is gonna be important because it's gonna make sure that it's gonna be tight enough to hold the hitch in place, but also not too tight to put stress on the studs. So let's go through, and we'll get everything torqued down. Now, I've gone ahead and taped out where we're gonna be trimming on our fascia. And this is just gonna give us that clearance for the hitch to fit in here. And I just used the instruction manual, and this will probably get us pretty close. Now, sometimes, once you actually get the fascia back on, you might have to do some minor trimming. But this, again, this will get us pretty close to where we need to be. And as far as cutting, there's a bunch of different ways you can do this. If you have a rotary tool or a power cutting tool, just be careful, this is plastic. So it's pretty easy to go through. You don't wanna overcut. But another good way is just using a pair of shears here. I'm able to cut through this pretty quickly and easily. So I'm gonna get this trimmed out. And then, right after this, we'll actually be trimming out our heat shield as well to make clearance for the bolt that's under there. So this is what it looks like trimmed out, and you can see that it's nice and clean with the edges being de-burred. I just used a knife blade and kinda run it backwards on it. And that should get any, if you do have any flashing here, that'll clean that up. So this should be pretty close to where we need to be. Once we get this up, if we need to, we can trim a little bit more, but I think we're good for now. So moving on to our heat shield, we're also gonna need to trim out this rectangular area here, and that's where our bolt has fed through. So we need to make access for that. So just using my shears, I'm gonna just go ahead and this raised portion, pretty much this area, we're gonna just follow these lines and get this cut out. Now, do be careful as this can get pretty sharp here. So I recommend if you are handling it to wear some gloves. So now, at this point, all that's left to do is put everything back in, in the reverse order that we took them off. Now, when you do put your fascia up, it is important you're gonna wanna get these center snaps in. So again, it is the reverse way, and then just work your way towards the edges, just being careful not to scratch the paint. And if you do have that painter's tape, that's gonna help a lot. But I'm gonna go ahead, and we'll get this put all back together. So with our fascia back in place, all of our plastic pushpins put back in, and our taillights back in, we're officially ready to use our hitch. And something I will remind you to do is make sure you plug that back in, the plug that we separated when taking the fascia off. Otherwise, you're gonna probably have to take the fascia off again. So make sure you're doing all those steps. And then, other than that, you're ready to hook up to your bike rack, cargo carrier, trailer, and start using your hitch..


Info for this part was:

Employee Joshua S
Video Edited:
Joshua S
Employee Jacob T
Video Edited:
Jacob T
Employee Dustin K
Video Edited:
Dustin K
Employee Ryan G
Test Fit:
Ryan G
Employee Bradley B
Test Fit:
Bradley B

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