How to Correct Noise from Exhaust Rattling Against a Trailer Hitch

Installed hitch with cutout around exhaust

Occasionally a newly installed hitch will make contact with a vehicle's exhaust system, even if the hitch was installed properly. The exhaust-to-hitch contact can result in a rattling noise. So long as the hitch is the correct model for your vehicle and it is installed properly, there are solutions available to correct the problem while retaining the hitch.




Muffler with enough clearance to prevent rattleMuffler close to hitch

These images illustrate a muffler before and after it was repositioned to stop it from rattling. The first picture shows the muffler too close to a newly installed hitch, which can cause a rattle. The second image shows the muffler in a new position after adjustment.







Reasons for Occasional Contact between the Hitch and Exhaust



  • Manufacturers have loose tolerances for mounting the hangers that suspend exhaust systems, which means that the final placement of an exhaust system can vary slightly from vehicle to vehicle
  • The flexibility of a rubber isolator connecting an exhaust hanger to the vehicle frame allows for more movement of the exhaust system relative to other vehicle components. An isolator can also stretch over time.

Depending on your situation, there are a few solutions that can be employed to correct exhaust-hitch contact.

NOTE: You can employ one or all of these solutions to manipulate the position of your vehicle's exhaust so that it does not come into contact with your hitch.





Solutions


Solution 1: Bend the Hanger


Repositioned hanger and replaced isolator at front of exhaust

Using a pair of vice grips, a cheater bar or pliers, create more clearance by manipulating the hangers that are welded to the exhaust and/or to the vehicle frame.


  • Because the hangers dictate how the exhaust system hangs, bending the hangers at various points can allow you to raise or lower the exhaust. This can move it away from the hitch.




Solution 2: Reposition a Bolt-On Hanger


Bolt-on hanger

If an exhaust hanger is bolted to the vehicle frame, it can be unbolted and repositioned to adjust the exhaust so that it is not coming into contact with the hitch


  • This can be achieved by unbolting the hanger, flipping it and bolting it back to the frame
  • This can also be achieved by adding washers or spacers to lower the position of the hanger or to move it to the left or the right




Solution 3: Replace the Rubber Isolator


Repositioned hanger and replaced isolator on front of exhaust Original hanger and isolator on front of exhaust

Replace the rubber isolator that serves as the link between the hanger welded to the exhaust system and the hanger attached to the vehicle frame.


  • Because the connector is made of rubber, the weight of the exhaust can stretch it out over time, causing the exhaust to hang lower
  • Replacing your isolator with a shorter one will raise your exhaust's position
  • Replacing your isolator with a longer one will lower your exhaust's position
  • Replacing the rubber isolator is an easy and relatively inexpensive solution
    • You can purchase replacements at an auto parts store or a dealership




Solution 4: Take Your Vehicle to a Muffler Shop


A mechanic at a muffler or exhaust shop will have the tools and knowledge to accomplish any of the above solutions, as well as some other techniques.


  • This is the best option if you are not comfortable manipulating or replacing components of your exhaust system








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