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Is My Hitch Cargo Carrier of Legal Length?

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I have a Subaru Outback. I just bought an Apex Cargo Carrier and 2 bike combo rack. The rack sticKs out 57” 4.75’ from my car. A friend mentioned that it may be too long to be legal in some states. Sure enough, in CA, legal code length is max 4 feet protruding away from car.. Why would a rack be sold by Apex that is illegal in some states? Do you find there are issues with racks being illegal? Could I have misunderstood the code? Have you heard of people being ticketed for racks that are too long? Do you know of any other Cargo / Bike racks that are legal in all states? Thanks!

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Expert Reply:

Many states have different regulations regarding towing and use of cargo carriers, ranging from visible tail lights to license plates. These regulations often change so I can't say with certainty that a cargo carrier is following ALL the rules for ALL the States. A bike rack and cargo carrier combo like the Hollywood Racks Sport Rider SE2 Bike Rack w/ Cargo Carrier for 2 Bikes # HR1450Z-85 sits at almost 50", but I haven't heard any issues about it being too long.

I'm not a lawyer, but you might want to check if that 4ft rule is for cargo carriers or for overhang? Four feet overhang is a common rule especially when it applies to lumber or cargo sticking out of a truck bed. Check if they use the word "support" since a cargo carrier can be considered support while overhang is considered "unsupported length." Again, this isn't legal advice, and I recommend checking with your local DMV for the latest regulations.

Most people have problems with their cargo, cargo carrier, or bike rack covering their tail light or license plate. That is a ticketable offense is some areas. For that reason, we have the License Plate and LED Tail Light Mounting Kit # e98943-44LED.

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Evangeline M

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