How to Install a Trailer Hitch on a 2008 Subaru Forester

Adding a trailer hitch to 2008 Subaru Forester requires only a few tools, a CURT 12038 trailer hitch and about 45 minutes to complete the installation. Follow these basic steps to start hauling all kinds of hitch-mounted accessories with your Subaru Forester today.

About the CURT 12038

The CURT 120380 is a class 2, bolt-on trailer designed for the 2008 Subaru Forester. The hitch has a max trailer weight of 3,500 lb. and a max tongue weight of 350 lb. No welding or drilling is required for the installation.

Tools needed:

  • Safety glasses 
  • Exhaust pliers 
  • Flathead screwdriver 
  • Torque wrench 
  • Socket wrench 
  • 10mm, 12mm, 14mm and 17mm sockets

2008 Subaru Forester hitch installation steps

1. Remove the tow hook

First lower the evaporation canister on the passenger side using the 12mm socket. Once lowered, use the 17mm and 14mm sockets to remove the three bolts holding the tow hook in place above the evaporation canister.

2. Remove the bumper clip

The bumper clip is held in place by a push pin fastener and two 10mm bolts. Use the flat head screwdriver to remove the push pin fastener and the 10mm socket to remove the two bolts.

3. Lower the exhaust

Locate the rubber exhaust hangers and hanger brackets on both sides of the exhaust muffler. Use the exhaust pliers to push the isolator rods out of the hangers.

4. Remove the tie down bracket

The tie down bracket is near the exhaust bracket on the driver side. Use the 17mm socket to remove the larger bolts and the 14mm socket on the smaller bolts facing the side of the vehicle. The exposed weld nuts on both sides of the vehicle are the hitch attachment points.

5. Position the hitch

Lift the hitch into position and line up the attachment points on both sides of the vehicle. Use the vehicle’s existing 17mm hardware to secure the hitch. There are four bolts on the driver side and three on the passenger side. Secure them by hand first, then with the 17mm socket.

6. Torque the hitch

Use the torque wrench to torque each bolt to 82 ft. lb. You should hear a clicking sound after the correct amount of torque has been applied.

7. Raise the evaporation canister

Reattach the evaporation canister to the bracket using the existing bolts and 12mm socket.

8. Install the rubber exhaust hanger

The hitch will replace the exhaust hanger bracket that was previously in place. Use the provided 7/16 hex tap bolt and hex flange nut to attach the rubber exhaust hanger to the driver side hitch bracket. Torque the nut to 70 ft. lb. Reinstall the isolator rods into the exhaust hangers.

Once installed, the hitch should measure:

  • 12 ½ in. from the top of the receiver to the ground 
  • 5 in. from the pin hole to the end of the bumper 
  • 3 in. from the end of the receiver to the end of the bumper

You should now have your CURT 12038 trailer hitch installed on your 2008 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 and we’ll do the work. If U-Haul doesn’t have a hitch for your vehicle, nobody does!

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