Extendable trailer specs

Supply chain throws a snag in the hunt for the trailer hitch

Dear Car Talk:

I bought a 2022 Subaru Forester in December. I also paid for the dealership to install a trailer hitch.

Well, all these months later, Subaru of America and the dealer are telling me they don’t know when the 2022 Forester hitch will be available.

So do you think it would be safe to have U-Haul or another trailer company install a hitch, or would it be better to wait and have the dealership install a Subaru approved hitch ?

The dealer says the Subaru hitch would be safer because they remove the rear bumper to install, then put the bumper back on after installation.

— Brian

The dealer is correct that the best way to install a trailer hitch is to remove the bumper and bumper beam and install the hitch between the bumper beam and the frame (or monocoque) of the car. This makes it part of the structure of the car.

Subaru’s trailer hitch is designed to be installed this way. But not all snags are. There are good aftermarket hitches that simply bolt into the frame under the car. These are much easier and quicker to install. And they might suit what you need. You can check the maximum capacity of any hitch and see if it covers your needs.

For example, if you just handed over a bike rack that requires 300 pounds of tongue weight when loaded, an aftermarket hitch might be fine. But if you’re towing your house or your cruiser, you’ll probably want a sturdier setup.

U-Haul tends to install the simplest aftermarket hitches. But if you can locate a Subaru hitch – online or from another dealership – most reputable body shops can install the Subaru hitch via the bumper method.

If you hear the shop foreman yell, “Hey, have any of you ever put a trailer hitch on a Forester? ” keep watching. But if the Subaru hitch just isn’t available anywhere right now, then you’ll have to choose between a hitch mounted under the car’s frame or wait, Brian.

Dear Car Talk:

My 2010 Ford Escape hybrid with 70,000 miles has been a wonderful car. It never needed repair. Only new brakes and tires. But over the past year it has been making a loud thud coming from the back of the car. I hear it every time I go over a bump in the road.

I grabbed everything from the back of the car and made sure nothing was loose. I screwed in everything that could possibly make noise, checked the rear window and the rear hatch, and even replaced the window and rear hatch dampers – to no avail. What could be making that thud with every bump or turn?

—Robert

Seventy thousand miles and never needed repair? Well, that’s about to change, Robert.

From my vast experience (or what my late brother called my semi-extensive experience), I guess you’re looking too high, Robert. Looking for something in the hold. I think it’s more likely that the sound is coming from under your car.

If you’re lucky, it’s something as simple as the exhaust pipe hitting the underside of the car. On a 12 year old car, one or more of the hooks that hold the exhaust pipe in place could be broken or rotted. This would allow the exhaust pipe to hit the car’s undercarriage or something else nearby.

If not, the noise could be coming from a worn suspension part. A bad strut or strut mount could make this kind of noise. The same goes for a worn stabilizer bar bushing.

But start by having your mechanic mount it on the lift and give your exhaust pipe the “jerk test.” Hopefully it will fail this test and your problem will be quickly and easily resolved. Good luck.

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(c) 2022 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.


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