How to Install a Trailer Hitch on a 2018 Subaru Forester

Share |

Installing a trailer hitch on a 2018 Subaru Forester requires a few tools, a Draw-Tite 76182 trailer hitch and about 60 minutes to complete the installation. Follow these basic steps to start hauling with your Subaru Forester today.

About the Draw-Tite 76182

The Draw-Tite 76186 is a class 3, bolt-on trailer hitch designed for the 2018 Subaru Forester. It has a 3,500 lb. max trailer weight and 525 lb. max tongue weight, capable of hauling a variety of hitch-mounted accessories, like bike racks, cargo carriers or ball mounts.

Tools needed:

  • Air saw 
  • Exhaust pliers
  • Safety glasses
  • Torque wrench
  • Socket wrench
  • 10mm long socket
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • 11/16 in. socket
  • 5 in. extension
  • Stability strap
  • Power drill
  • Tin snips

2018 Subaru Forester hitch installation steps

1. Support the exhaust

Attach the center exhaust pipe to a sturdy engine component under the body, like a crossmember, using the stability strap. You can also support the exhaust system with a jack.

2. Lower the exhaust

Remove the isolator rods from the rubber exhaust hangers using the exhaust pliers. For single exhaust, there are two rods above the muffler on the passenger side and another in the center of the vehicle behind the rear axle. Dual exhausts have rods on the driver side muffler as well.

3. Remove the heat shield

The heat shield is found above the exhaust muffler. Use a 10mm socket or Philips screwdriver to remove it. Once removed, use the flat head screwdriver to remove the three hole plugs on the bottom of the frame. If there are two exhaust mufflers, repeat this step on the driver side.

4. Trim the heat shield

Using the tin snips, cut away the small squares on the top of the heat shield labeled “M” and “R.” This will allow the hardware to come through the frame. Repeat this step if there are two heat shields.

5. Thread the carriage bolts into the frame

Start by feeding a piece of fish wire coil end first through the rearmost frame hole and out of the access hole toward the front. Attach a bolt and spacer to the coil, and pull the wire back through the access hole until the bolt drops through the rearmost frame hole. Repeat this step for the next frame hole, and again for the other side of the vehicle.

6. Remove the bumper push tabs

Remove both rubber push tabs found on the bottom of the bumper fascia using a flathead screwdriver. Once removed, pry the metal push tabs up until they at about a 90-degree angle.

7. Cut a square out of the bumper

Using the air saw, cut away a small square from the center of the rear bumper where the hitch will be exposed. The cutting dimensions are in the instructions that came with your hitch. You may want to mark the dimensions with masking tape or a marker for a more accurate cut.

8. Attach the hitch

Lift the hitch into position and remove the fish wire from all six bolts. You may need a second pair of hands to assist you. With the hitch in position and fish wire removed, attach the nuts and conical washers with toothed side facing toward the hitch. Tighten the bolts with the 10mm socket.

9. Replace the heat shield(s)

Return the heat shield(s) to the frame using the 10mm socket or Philips screwdriver and the same bolts that were in place previously.

10. Tighten and torque the bolts

Tighten the carriage bolts using the 11/16-inch socket with the 5-inch extension. Use the torque wrench to torque the bolts to 50 ft. lb. You should hear a clicking sound after the correct amount of torque has been applied.

11. Raise the exhaust

Return the isolator rods to the rubber exhaust hangers using the exhaust pliers. For dual exhaust, be sure to replace the rods on the driver side. You may need to lubricate the hangers with soapy water. With the exhaust back in place, you can remove the stability strap.

12. Bend the push pin tabs back into place

Bend the metal push tabs back into place underneath the rear bumper. Return the rubber push tabs to secure the bumper.

You should now have your Draw-Tite 76182 trailer hitch installed on your 2018 Subaru Forester. Whatever vehicle you drive, we have a trailer hitch for you. Don’t have the time to install yourself? Schedule a professional installation at uhaul.com and we’ll do the work. If U-Haul doesn’t have a hitch for your vehicle, nobody does!