('14-'18) My ¯17 OEM hitch install experience (the good, the bad, and the ugly) - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-27-2016, 08:24 AM Thread Starter
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My ’17 OEM hitch install experience (the good, the bad, and the ugly)

Yesterday I installed the Subaru OEM trailer hitch (L1010SG611) onto our 2017 2.5i Premium. Because I encountered QA problems, I want to review my detailed experiences and observations that I hope will help out others!

KIT BOX/INVENTORY: The box had labels for BOTH the prior obsolete revision (L1010SG610) and also the current revision (L1010SG611). The first issue I encountered was lack of any installation instructions, so I printed them out from Subaru’s site: http://techinfo.subaru.com/proxy/119...L1010SG611.pdf.
HEADS UP: If you print out instructions like I did, be sure that the template sheet for cutting your bumper is printed actual size!
I immediately did an inventory and discovered 3 parts missing specific to cable dressing for the new 2017 RAB (Reverse Automatic Braking) option for Limited and Touring models. Fortunately, our Forester 2.5i Premium doesn’t have RAB.
In essence, I was shipped an older revision kit (i.e., no RAB support) without installation instructions.

Another odd kitting thing I encountered was that the muffler gasket, nuts and bolts are NOT included in the core trailer hitch kit! Indeed, the installation instructions says “these are sold separately”, even though step #7 of the instructions requires removal and discard of this hardware in order to remove and modify the heat shield. It seems that Subaru chose to put the replacement muffler hardware in the trailer hitch wiring harness kit, and offer that wiring harness kit in a turbo version (4 bolts, 4 nuts, 2 gaskets) and non-turbo version (2 bolts, 2 nuts, 1 gasket). This is really screwy –the wiring harness installation/instructions don’t have anything to do with the muffler.
HEADS UP: Subaru did this strange thing as a kitting convenience for themselves, assuming that everybody would be buying one or the other versions of the harness along with the hitch. Even though I only use my hitch for carrying a bike rack, I’m glad I went ahead and bought the wiring harness (another $86) too!

INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS vs. PARTS: The thing that REALLY tripped me up were the lower brackets with spacers that are installed underneath the chassis channels for reinforcement. There is a Left-hand version and a Right-hand version of these brackets, where I believe the design intent is to avoid any bracket contact with the muffler’s heat shield(s) by having the holes off-center and also having a bit of a side-jog to the brackets. Contact/interference between brackets and heat shield would mean annoying buzzing noises!
Here’s where things get funny… In 3 places (Page 1 exploded diagram, and the two larger diagrams in Step#13 on Page 9), the brackets are correctly shown with a hole offset that diverts them away from the heat shield. In the newest version of these instructions (L1010SG611) Subaru inserted another new small diagram in Step #13 with exclamation point intended to clarify bracket orientation for LH vs. RH that contradicts the other 3 diagrams. To make matters worse, the metal brackets have “L” and “R” stamped on them that agree with this new contradictory diagram. OK, so now what do I do?
After staring and trial-fitting things for quite a while, I decided to ignore that new small “clarifying” diagram, and also ignore the ‘L’ and ‘R’ metal stampings on the lower brackets (see photo) – not doing so would have caused the lower brackets to smash/interfere with the heat shield and to violate what I believe is the design intent. Perhaps what happened here is that Subaru realized the metal parts were stamped incorrectly, and instructed somebody to fix that problem by “clarifying” things in the diagram. Oops – try again!

KIT PARTS QUALITY: In general I found the quality of the hitch’s metal parts to be solid and well-made. The one exception to this was the RH side bracket that inserts into the chassis channel which was bent somewhat – it did not contact the cross tube until the bolts were fully torqued down (61 ft-lbs).
Upshot – I’m really happy with end result, but the QA problems (kit inventory, instructions, bent part) are something to be wary of. Anybody know where at Subaru to send email to let them know where they’ve messed things up??!?

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-15-2016, 03:52 PM
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I'm glad I got a Torklift!

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My car is not my hobby, it gets me there.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 04:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clbpdxcom View Post

Another odd kitting thing I encountered was that the muffler gasket, nuts and bolts are NOT included in the core trailer hitch kit! Indeed, the installation instructions says “these are sold separately”, even though step #7 of the instructions requires removal and discard of this hardware in order to remove and modify the heat shield. It seems that Subaru chose to put the replacement muffler hardware in the trailer hitch wiring harness kit, and offer that wiring harness kit in a turbo version (4 bolts, 4 nuts, 2 gaskets) and non-turbo version (2 bolts, 2 nuts, 1 gasket). This is really screwy –the wiring harness installation/instructions don’t have anything to do with the muffler.
I looked at the instructions but I didn't understand this step. Why are these nut and bolts taken off only to be replaced by different ones? The after market hitches do not require a step like this and some of them have muffer removals.

Does this mean you have to buy the harness if you want to install the OEM hitch yourself?

I was going to do this myself but this is making me consider getting the dealer to install it, esp since the price difference isn't that much if the harness is required.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clbpdxcom View Post
Another odd kitting thing I encountered was that the muffler gasket, nuts and bolts are NOT included in the core trailer hitch kit! Indeed, the installation instructions says “these are sold separately”, even though step #7 of the instructions requires removal and discard of this hardware in order to remove and modify the heat shield. It seems that Subaru chose to put the replacement muffler hardware in the trailer hitch wiring harness kit, and offer that wiring harness kit in a turbo version (4 bolts, 4 nuts, 2 gaskets) and non-turbo version (2 bolts, 2 nuts, 1 gasket). This is really screwy –the wiring harness installation/instructions don’t have anything to do with the muffler.
HEADS UP: Subaru did this strange thing as a kitting convenience for themselves, assuming that everybody would be buying one or the other versions of the harness along with the hitch. Even though I only use my hitch for carrying a bike rack, I’m glad I went ahead and bought the wiring harness (another $86) too!
I am also confused by this. If the gasket, nuts, and bolts are already on the vehicles, can't you just not throw them away and put them back on? Then you wouldn't need the wiring kit. Or are the nuts and bolts different, which also doesn't make sense to me. Any ideas?

Thanks for sharing btw! very helpful even a few years later!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 08:32 PM
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ok, I took the dive and installed the OEM hitch. Dealer said it would be $400 for installation! That's after $350 for the hitch itself. It's not super difficult, just time consuming. Subaru estimated time of install is 3 hours. I did it in about 4.5 hours, but I was going slow and I am not very mechanically inclined, so many could probably do it faster. I wouldn't hesitate to do it if you have the time and a few tools. A few notes and pictures:

#1 Muffler: Regarding my earlier comment, I don't know why the instructions say to throw away the muffler nuts and bolts - i think this is a mistake. clbpdxcom thinks you need to buy the wiring kit, but I took the advanced maneuver of not throwing away said nuts and bolts and simply re-using them to put the muffler back :) No issues. In fact, I think you can do this install without even taking off the nuts and bolts. Just take the muffler off the mounts and push it out of the way.

#2 clbpdxcom is absolutely right about the underside spacers. i think they are labelled incorrectly and I swapped the L and R.

#3 Once everything is in place, the hitch has a solid feel. I went OEM because most of the aftermarket hitches don't mount to the frame. In addition, they are not crash tested with the rest of the vehicle. The OEM has you replace the bumper bar with the hitch so that the rear crumple zone is not affected. Adding more metal back there could make it too rigid and direct energy to the cabin.

I looked at the torklift and it also looks pretty solid, but the price was about the same as OEM and the install didn't look much easier, so I saw no reason to get it, especially since I was ok with a 1.25" hitch
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7200rpm View Post
ok, I took the dive and installed the OEM hitch. Dealer said it would be $400 for installation! That's after $350 for the hitch itself. It's not super difficult, just time consuming. Subaru estimated time of install is 3 hours. I did it in about 4.5 hours, but I was going slow and I am not very mechanically inclined, so many could probably do it faster. I wouldn't hesitate to do it if you have the time and a few tools. A few notes and pictures:

#1 Muffler: Regarding my earlier comment, I don't know why the instructions say to throw away the muffler nuts and bolts - i think this is a mistake. clbpdxcom thinks you need to buy the wiring kit, but I took the advanced maneuver of not throwing away said nuts and bolts and simply re-using them to put the muffler back :) No issues. In fact, I think you can do this install without even taking off the nuts and bolts. Just take the muffler off the mounts and push it out of the way.

#2 clbpdxcom is absolutely right about the underside spacers. i think they are labelled incorrectly and I swapped the L and R.

#3 Once everything is in place, the hitch has a solid feel. I went OEM because most of the aftermarket hitches don't mount to the frame. In addition, they are not crash tested with the rest of the vehicle. The OEM has you replace the bumper bar with the hitch so that the rear crumple zone is not affected. Adding more metal back there could make it too rigid and direct energy to the cabin.

I looked at the torklift and it also looks pretty solid, but the price was about the same as OEM and the install didn't look much easier, so I saw no reason to get it, especially since I was ok with a 1.25" hitch
Thanks for the update on the nuts and bolts!

Mind if I ask what you're using the hitch for? I was leaning towards the OEM hitch but I want to use it for a bike rack and there are reports that the OEM pin hole is too close to the edge (like this: https://www.subaruforester.org/vbull...-racks-641185/)

Edit: where did you end up buying the hitch from?
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 07:14 PM
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Sure, I'm using it for a bike rack - the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 to be exact (2 bikes). I did read about the OEM pin hole, but I had absolutely no issues. The Kuat has a crank that expands a ball to tighten the connection. This made it VERY snug and the bolt didn't really do anything. I just got back from a 800+ mile round trip drive with no issues. But I wouldn't put more than 2 bikes on this thing.

I bought the hitch from the dealer. If you search online, the prices are often times a bit lower than showing up in person. I hate going to the dealer, but didn't seem like a lot of options.
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