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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Need to do a little towing, so I bought a Draw-Tite Class III hitch for my 09 Tribeca.

It cost about 145 from etrailer.com, also picked up a receiver ball mount (for the 2" receiver) and wiring harness that they specified for the Tribeca (about 35). Also have a transmission cooler, OEM, bought separately. I'll just cover the hitch here.

Only 4 bolts to install the hitch, no drilling, 45 minute install time, right? Piece of cake.

Well....

First off, if you intend to do this yourself, make sure you download the install instructions from etrailer before buying the hitch, and read through them to make sure you're capable. The hitch itself is 32lbs, and moving it around under the car is not easy, getting it in place and on the bolts and nuts started to hold it up, is quite a feat. It's possible to do it by yourself, but even having help it will still be a chore.

So a few problems to note. First, there are 2 carriage bolts that you fish into exiting slots in a channel on the rear bumper. Not hard to fish them in, I didn't even need the metal thread thing that they include, but on the 09, only one hole is slotted, the other is just a round hole, so the carriage bolt didnt' seat, and I didn't want it to spin when tightening. Only option I could come up with is to use a dremel and try to square off the hole so that the bolt would seat in properly. There may be better options, but you are forced to use a carriage bolt because there is no way to get a wrench in that channel to hold a conventional bolt.

Second, the tolerances are very tight, even though the hitch has slots to allow for play and positioning, on my car, the bumper bolts were so tight that the carriage bolts were pulled out of position (angled down), and being short bolts, I couldn't get the nuts started. I ended up using the dremel to round out the slots on the hitch further so the bolts could sit horizontal when the hitch was set over them.

The two large frame bolts went in fine, those you have to fish in with the thread wire and pull along a metal block which has the square hole for the carriage bolt. Make sure you have the block facing the right way on the wire, otherwise you could end up pulling it in upside wrong way and have to re-thread it through the frame channel. If this doesn't make sense, it will when you see the install kit.

Last step was to pop those plastic fasteners back on the lower bumper fascia (you do need to remove them so the fascia can flex out of the way when installing the hitch). Surprise, the fascia is tight up against the hitch now, so I had to notch it a bit with a utility knife. Not very noticeable unless you are peering under the bumper.

Finally, getting everything tightened and torqued, it seems pretty solid, I'll know more when I get the trailer and check the bolts after a few stops and starts.

Next was the wiring, not too hard, take out the tray (in the 7 passenger, big foam thing-waste of space). and on the driver side close to inner bumper you will see a 6-pin connector hanging off an existing wiring harness. The wiring kit attaches there, then I just made a channel in the foam to rest the cabling in the tray when not in use.

I wanted to bring it throught the floorboard, but the cable is fully assembled and the connectors are too large to fit through any existing holes. For as infrequently as I will be towing, that's fine to dangle it out the hatch.

Pictures attached of the finished install and cable.

--sigmead
 

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Nice writeup and thanks for the pics.
 

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Nice write up and pics. If we had to tow, we'd just send the B9 to the dealer to have the OE parts installed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I thought of that, it does cost more for the parts (400 vs. ~200), and your bumper will have to be cut. I liked the option of removing the hitch if I find I'm not using it. Uhaul would install basically the same thing if you don't want to get your hands dirty. --sigmead
 

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I installed a Draw-Tite hitch and aftermarket wiring harness (both from e-trailer.com) on my 09 Tribeca today. It was more time consuming than I anticipated – unfortunately, I had not seen Sigmead’s terrific post beforehand. Tomorrow I will install the Subaru trans. cooler.

Here are my impressions of the Subaru vs. Draw-Tite/Hidden Hitch vs. Valley hitches. I’m also giving my impressions of the Subaru vs. aftermarket wiring harnesses.

Hitches:

The Subaru hitch costs twice as much as the aftermarket brands, but only offers a 1.5” receiver and requires cutting a hole in the bumper fascia. The aftermarket brands have a 2” receiver, which rests under the fascia (but some do this better than others – see below). I see no advantage to buying the Subaru hitch.

If I were to do it over again, I would get the Valley hitch instead of the Draw-Tite/Hidden Hitch (the latter two are essentially identical) for two reasons: (1) the Valley hitch has better hardware, i.e., the Valley has four frame inserts, not just two, and two of the carriage bolts are slightly larger (7/16 instead of 3/8); and (2) the Valley hitch appears better designed, insofar as the vertical face plate is located behind the receiver box and clear of the bumper fascia, whereas the vertical face plate on the Draw-Tite and Hidden Hitch has a forward location that pushes it against the bumper fascia, making it difficult to install the fascia fasteners without trimming the fascia as Sigmead noted. You can find photos showing the differences between the hitches at e-trailer.com. I was able to re-attach the two fascia fasteners without trimming the fascia, but on each side I had to push hard on a fascia bracket toward the fascia with one hand while holding the fascia and pushing in a fastener with the other hand. The Valley hitch is $20 more than the Draw-Tite/Hidden Hitch (at e-trailer), and the extra expense is worth the better hardware and design in my opinion.

Harnesses:

If I were to do it over again, I would get the Subaru harness. The Subaru harness comes in segments, which enables you to locate the converter box inside the cargo area instead of underneath the car. In addition, the Subaru harness can fit through the access hole in the cargo area without slightly enlarging it as the aftermarket harness requires. Finally, the Subaru harness appears to have an integral plug for the access hole. I used PL construction adhesive to fill in the gap between my aftermarket harness and the access hole.

Last thing – a tip for routing the aftermarket harness: After you’ve run the aftermarket harness through the (enlarged) access hole, the 10amp fuse will rest to the driver’s side of the spare tire, underneath the cargo floor. (It will remain visible and accessible from under the vehicle after the spare tire is put back in place.) You can locate the converter box on top of the driver’s side hitch mounting bracket (using the supplied 2-sided tape) and fold up and push the excess (there is a lot of it) wiring harness into the cavity that is created between the vertical face plate on the hitch and the bumper fascia.

Hope this helps.
 

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One more thing --

Valley is manufacturing a truly "stealth hitch" for a couple of vehicles (unfortunately, not Subaru at this time). The hitch is COMPLETELY hidden, because the receiver is located behind the bumper and faces down, unlike the usual receiver which is located under the bumper and faces out. This new hitch style requires the use of a special 90 degree hitch insert.

Valley, please make the stealth style hitch for the Tribeca!!!
 

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I used the Valley version of the Class III hitch for the very same reason: better hardware and installation instructions. I didn't have to remove the fascia at all, and there was no trimming required. One thing, though: there is drilling required for the Valley hitch, even though etrailer says there isn't. The (2) holes by the bumper need to be enlarged to 7/16" from the stock 3/8". Not a big deal, but it isn't mentioned until you read the instruction manual. Also, the access holes for routing the bolts and frame inserts aren't diagramed very well, and I had to find an alternative that worked. Good write-up!
 

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Good point that you need to enlarge the two bumper frame holes for inserting the Valley hitch 7/16 carriage bolts. However, you will also need to enlarge the driver side bumper frame hole for inserting the Draw-Title or Hidden Hitch 3/8 carriage bolt. So, as far as drilling the frame goes, they're all comparable.
 

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Must say thanks you for ALL you guys for your terrific write-up! Great insights and helped me a lot to make my decision!
 

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mmzelmo - do you know what class 1 1/2" carriage bolts you used? I am planning on installing a hitch soon onto my 08 and want to have all parts ready for the install.

Also.. How is everyone routing the wiring harness? From the install video's and pictures I have seen most just get the flat wire edition and hang it out the back of their lift gate. I would like to do a more stealth install where it is routed though the bottom of the car so I don't have to have a wire scratching up the paint on the back of the bumper.
 

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My 2cents, IMO the Subaru hitch looks better integrated and doesn't seem to protrude as much. You do have to live with the smaller receiver and the extra cost though.

Nice post regardless!
 

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Section-9 said:
mmzelmo - do you know what class 1 1/2" carriage bolts you used? I am planning on installing a hitch soon onto my 08 and want to have all parts ready for the install.

Also.. How is everyone routing the wiring harness? From the install video's and pictures I have seen most just get the flat wire edition and hang it out the back of their lift gate. I would like to do a more stealth install where it is routed though the bottom of the car so I don't have to have a wire scratching up the paint on the back of the bumper.
All the bolts came with the hitch i installed.

I routed my wire harness through bottom of cargo under jack and stuff. had to make one of the holes bigger for plug to fit through but used some metal tape to cover and seal. not most beautiful but u wont ever see unless the cargo tray is removed. and then i just tuck it in to the hitch above receiver and its totally protected and easily accessible.
 

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NatetheSkate said:
All the bolts came with the hitch i installed.

I routed my wire harness through bottom of cargo under jack and stuff. had to make one of the holes bigger for plug to fit through but used some metal tape to cover and seal. not most beautiful but u wont ever see unless the cargo tray is removed. and then i just tuck it in to the hitch above receiver and its totally protected and easily accessible.
+1 -- that's exactly how I did it, except I used PL construction adhesive (the gooey tan stuff that dries hard) to seal around the plug where it comes through the floor. I think this is the way the factory runs the wires except that the hole has to be enlarged a little bit. There's a lot of room to fold up and tuck the harness end above the receiver/behind the bumper.

Add a black receiver cap and it'll look good while the bigger hitch will offer a lot more functionality than the small factory receivers.
 

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just installed a Curt class III hitch on my 07 Tribeca this afternoon. The install was a breeze. some of the threads about holes not lining up properly, and dremeling out squares to make bolts fit properly had me a little apprehensive. I had no problems whatsoever. everything fit perfectly, the wire threading "procedure" was even a bit easier than i anticipated. start to finish, 25mins. i bought mine from ebay for 159.10 w/free shipping

http://www.ebay.com/itm/181041068992?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

Thanks for the awesome step by step
 

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Valley hitch model #

I'm about to order my hitch for the Becca, but want to make sure that I order the right thing. After reading these posts, I am more interested in the Valley hitch, but can't find which one goes with our cars. Looking on eTrailer's site, punching in the model and year of our vehicle, the Valley hitch does not come up as an option.

For those who have installed the Valley hitch, can you supply the model # for your hitch? Could you also tell where you got the hitch from?

Thanks!!!
mike
 

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Valley model number 81602- for 2006-2008 Tribecas.

http://www.vtowing.com/ISHEETS/81602.pdf

It's on amazon, but about $40 more than the price I paid.

http://www.amazon.com/Valley-81602-Class-Receiver-Hitch/dp/B001545D3Y

Looking at Amazon, there is an option from Reese that is $121 with free shipping right now, and it is the same as the 3) options from etrailer.

http://www.amazon.com/Reese-Towpower-44535-Professional-Receiver/dp/B000RUGIZE/ref=au_pf_ss_1?ie=UTF8&Make=Subaru%7C13&Model=B9%20Tribeca%7C2807&Year=2006%7C2006&carId=&n=15684181&s=automotive
 

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Just a note that a Subaru hitch can be had for around $200 from the usual discount sources, and that includes wiring.
 
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