Best Hitch Setup for a Thule T2 Pro XT Bike Rack on a 2018 Subaru Outback Wagon

Question:

I am currently using a Thule T2 Pro XT TH9034XT with a 2 inch etrailer Hidden hitch on a Toyota Tundra. When the rack is tightened there is no play between the receiver and the hitch. I would like to use this rack on a new 2018 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited. For the Outback, I am looking at the Draw Tite 75673 Hitch and Tekonsha 118467 wiring harness vs the Curt C13206 Hitch and Curt C56040 wiring harness. I have read all your reviews of all these products and watched all the videos. The video of the Draw Tite and rack shows that when the rack is folded up, a rack front wheel holder is close to the tailgate in fact, one of your reviews of that setup says the spacing is ¼ inch. That’s close. For the Curt that spacing would be about 2 inches. The drawback of the Curt is the requirement for the stabilizing strap. I don’t want to use a stabilizing strap and there is no place to connect one on the Subaru. Structurally, I don’t see there is much difference in these racks. Since this rack will fit both these hitches without play, I don’t see why a stabilizer strap would be needed other than the warranty issue. I have a friend with a Curt on a Subaru and he does not use a strap. I don’t see his bikes jumping around. Help me decide.

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Expert Reply:

I'd recommend the Curt Class III hitch, part # C13206 with wiring harness, part # C56040 in this case because of that added clearance that the Curt offers.

The stabilizing strap is indeed required for non-trailer loads if you want to maintain the warranty of the hitch. The basic requirement for this according to Curt is that some method of stabilizing the load beyond an anti-rattle device is used.

Generally our customers will use the Curt Strap, part # 18050, and in the case of the 2018 Subaru Outback, it can be tricky to do this. I've spoke with Curt about this before and they consider the safety chain holes on the hitch a valid and useable location to tie the stabilizing strap to. Even if you had the Draw-Tite hitch, I'd still recommend using a stabilizing strap for any rack because of how effective it is. I've included a video of our team installing and using it on a cargo carrier and bike rack to demonstrate how much of a difference it makes on racks without an anti-rattle feature.

That being said, the Thule T2 Pro XT, part # TH9034XT has an excellent integrated anti-rattle device. When using the rack folded down, I would still install the stabilizing strap to keep within the warranty requirement.

The better use, and what I think you'll appreciate having the stabilizing strap in the long run, is to secure the rack while it's in the folded up position. The anti-rattle doesn't extend to the rack in this position because of how the weight's location changes, and by using the strap to stabilize the rack while it's folded up and you're driving will be where the strap becomes an all star. Now it's a Thule rack so I'm not worried about it folding itself down or into the vehicle, but just that added level of protection can make the difference in preventing damage to your bumper when you encounter a particularly nasty pothole or bump.

I have included an installation video of the Curt hitch onto a 2017 Subaru Outback as well as the video showing the stabilization strap's performance, plus our review of the Thule T2 Bike Rack on a 2017 Subaru Outback Wagon so you can see a little more about its features.

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