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EcoHitch Hidden Trailer Hitch Installation - 2016 Subaru Outback Wagon

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How to Install the EcoHitch Hidden Trailer Hitch on a 2016 Subaru Outback Wagon


Hi there, Outback owners. Today on our 2016 Subaru Outback wagon, we're going to be taking a look at EcoHitch's class two one and a quarter inch trailer hitch receiver and what I really like about this hitch in comparison with others is that it's environmentally friendly because the entire thing is constructed of recycled steel. So the whole process is going to be greener than any of the other hitch manufacturers out there. Beyond it's eco friendly design, it's also going to be great for hauling bikes. A bike rack could easily fit in here with a 350 pound tongue weight on our hitch. You could easily load up four bikes on it.

Thule's hitching post pro is a great entry level bike rack that can hold four bikes and it'll hang behind your Subaru Outback. Other things you could use your hitch for is a cargo carrier to help get items that's in your vehicle out of them on the back here so you can free up space inside for passengers and since it is only a one and a quarter inch hitch, you don't want to do too much towing with it.But you can do some light towing. So if you want to hook on a small utility trailer to help bring along some extra gear or maybe just a small jet ski trailer and bring a jet ski with you, you should be good to go and this is what our hitch is going to look like when it's installed. The cross tube is going to be completely hidden behind the bumper so you're only going to see the receiver tube here out the back. One of the things I like about the look and design of this hitch is the very large and thick reinforced collar around the one and a quarter inch receiver.This adds to the robust look of it and it really makes it look like it's a bigger receiver on there than a one and a quarter inch.

From a distance, people might even think that this is a two inch receiver. That's just going to add to the confidence on how strong this one and a quarter receiver is going to be for all of your tasks that you're going to make it to. Our hitch uses a half inch hitch pin and clip. Now one doesn't come included with our hitch. But you can pick one up here etrailer.com.

On the bottom we have plate style safety chain loops and they do have a fairly small opening. So it'll work best with your smaller safety chains. But since this hitch is one and a quarter and its primary uses on your Outback is more for cargo carriers and bike racks. But if you did need to throw a small trailer on the back, it does have the capability of hooking up those safety chains so you can be DOD compliant in all states. But it does have an impressive 350 pound tongue weight.That's the force going down on top of the receiver.

It also features a 3,500 pound gross towing capacity and that's how much it can pull behind it. You do want to verify in your vehicle's owner's manual and ensure that you don't exceed any of your vehicle's towing capacities. I've also got some measurements here to help you when deciding on your accessories. From the center of the hitch pin hole to the edge of our rear bumper, it's going to measure about three and a half inches. This is important when determining if any of your folding accessories can be placed in the upright storage position without contacting the bumper and from the ground to the top inside edge of our receiver tube, it measures about 16 inches. This is important when determining if you need a drop rise or ray shank on any of your accessories. We'll begin our installation at the back of the vehicle with our lift gate open.We're going to need to remove both of our passenger and driver's side tail light assemblies. To do so, we're going to need to remove the plastic trim cover here. There are two plastic fasteners that hold it in place. You use a Phillips screwdriver to pop out the center. Once you've turned the center and it's popped out, you can take your trim panel tool, get behind it, and then just pop it on out of there. We're going to repeat the same thing for the other clip here and the other two on the other side as well. Once you've removed those clips, you can then remove the plastic covering, get a little screwdriver behind it, pop it out, and then we'll just set that aside. This will reveal the two screws holding our taillight assembly beneath it. We're going to remove both of those bolts using a 10 millimeter socket. The assembly now it can be removed by pulling straight rearward. I do recommend that you use a trim panel tool to help pry it rearward because they can be difficult to remove.So we just kind of put it behind the assembly and just kind of help pry it back. This is a plastic tool. You don't want to use anything metal. Once it pops out, we can disconnect our taillight assembly by removing the bulbs. Just give them a twist counter-clockwise, pull them out, twist, pull it out and this last one here is a connector. So you'll press it on the release tab and then pull it away. We can let those hang there. We'll set our taillight assembly aside and we're going to remove the other one with the exact same procedure. Now just down from our taillight assemblies towards the inside here you're going to have a small plastic cover. We're going to remove that with a flat bladed screwdriver. There's a small notch here at the top for your blade to fit in and then just give that a little bit of a pry to pop that cover out of there and that'll reveal another bolt beneath. We're going to remove that with a 10 millimeter socket.There's another one on the other side in the same location, below the other taillight. We're going to remove that one as well. We're now on our wheel well. If you have mudflaps in this location here, you'll need to remove those mud flaps and any screws that's holding it into our bumper cover here. We don't have any mudflaps on this vehicle. So we don't have to do that. But you may on your model and then if we go further up, we are going to have a push pin fastener here that we're going to need to remove. To remove this fastener, you'll push in the center with a small screwdriver. Once you pop the center in, it can now be pried out. So we'll just use our flat bladed screwdriver at this point now to get behind it and then just pop that out of there.We'll do this on the other side as well. We're now underneath the rear of the vehicle. There are three push pins towards the center at the back and then two on each side that we're going to need to remove totalling seven. We'll use our trim panel removal tool to remove these. You'll take your blade and go into one of the notches around the center section. We're going to pry that out to remove our fasteners.We're going to go ahead and remove all of these. Now that all of our fasteners have been removed, we can start taking our bumper cover off. You're going to start on one side. We're going to reach in here towards the top and we're just kind of going to peel outward gently and it'll just kind of pop out. Once you've got one side popped out down to here, I recommend that you go over to the other side and then pop that side out just the same. Once we've got both sides popped out, we can kind of pull a little bit rearward and also a little upward towards the bottom until you get it to release. Then check underneath and on the inside here for any electrical connectors that may be present. Depending on your trim package, you may have connectors back there. If not, we're going to work our way towards the center to get the other side popped off as well.With no electrical connectors present on ours, we can go ahead and set it aside where it won't get damaged. Now back behind our fascia, we've exposed our bumper beam here. The foam panel here will just kind of pull off. So we're just going to take that and remove it and then if we go straight down towards the center, we're going to have this tab sticking out right here. This is going to interfere with our hitch. So we're just going to take it and bend it up out of the way. We'll now remove our bumper beam by removing all eight bolts that are holding it on. There's four on each side and we're going to use a 14 millimeter socket to remove those. With all the hardware removed, we're just going to take it off and set it aside. We can now grab our hitch, slide it over the studs on the back of the vehicle and then we're going to take our bumper beam now and we're also going to place that on over the studs.We're then going to use the new nuts that come in our kit to attach it. Once you get one started on each side, it'll hold the hitch up, making it easier to install the rest of your hardware. Now that we've got all of our hardware started, we can go ahead and tighten it back down. We're going to be using a 14 millimeter socket to tighten down our hardware. We can now go back and torque all of our hardware to the specifications found in our instructions. We'll now prepare our fascia for re-installation. But before it can go back on, we are going to have to trim out a section here in the middle towards the bottom. This is where those fasteners we're in the middle right here that we had taken out previously. Gone ahead and marked it out on there where we're going to need to trim. You'll find a diagram in your instructions with a similar pattern on it, showing what to trim out. Once you've got it all marked out, we're going to use a pair of snips to trim it out.Now that we've got our fascia all cut out, we can reinstall it following reverse order of how we removed it. I do want to note that the instructions say not to reinstall the foam pad here on the back of your bumper beam. However, I've test fitted it and it will fit with this on as it is a little bit tighter. The ear over here on the side, we can go ahead and just break this off and that'll give you just a little bit more clearance because this doesn't hook in to anything anyway. So it's your choice. You can either not reinstall it or just break that ear off and then you're ready to reassemble and that completes our look at EcoHitch's class two one and a quarter inch trailer hitch receiver on our 2016 Subaru Outback wagon.


Info for this part was:

Employee Joshua S
Video Edited:
Joshua S
Employee Chris R
Video Edited:
Chris R
Employee Dustin K
Video by:
Dustin K
Employee Jonathan Y
Video by:
Jonathan Y
Employee Michael B
Video by:
Michael B
Employee Shane H
Test Fit:
Shane H
Employee David F
Test Fit:
David F

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