How to Install Trailer Hitch Subaru Outback (1999-2021)

Last Updated on January 13, 2023 by Will Sabel

If you own a Subaru outback and wondering about the installation of a trailer hitch on your Outback, then this article is for you. I’ve outlined various hitch installation techniques for various model years in the following sections. 

         Subaru Outback Hitch installation (1999-2003)

1. Lower the carbon canister

The carbon canister can be removed from the passenger side by removing the three bolts. After lowering the canister you will need to remove the brackets that hold the frame with two bolts. 

2. Lower the exhaust 

Push a large pry bar to the hanger to lower the exhaust.

3. Remove the rubber plug 

First, identify the place where your hitch will be installed. Installing a hitch requires using both of the tow hooks on both sides. The two rubber plugs can be removed with a flathead screwdriver.

4. Insert the carriage bolt

Take carriage bolts, spacer blocks and flange nuts to insert them into the location. You will need a fish wire to insert the bolts. Follow the instruction below to insert the carriage bolt.

  • Slide the spacer through to the fish wire using the coiled end of the fish wire.
  • Attach the carriage bolt to the coiled end of the fish wire.
  • Put the carriage bolts through the hole.
  • Use the same procedure on both sides.

5. Place the hitch 

Lift and position the hitch. Make sure the hitch passes through to the outside of the tow hook on the driver’s side and the inside of the tow hook on the passenger side. Place all of the nuts and hardware in place.

6. Raised exhaust and reinstalled carbon canister

Raised the exhaust and put the carbon canister back in place.

          Subaru Outback Hitch installation (2004-2009)

1. Lower exhaust 

To secure the bottom exhaust, place a strap underneath the vehicle. To lower the exhaust to each side, remove the four hangers.

2. Remove rubber plugs and bolts

Remove the rubber plugs at the two attachment points on either side. Bolts on each side’s tow hanger should be removed.

3. Insert the carriage bolt into the tow loop 

Attach the flash washer to the carriage bolt. Place the carriage bolt through the spacer. Attach the carriage bolt and spacer to the hole in the tow loop

4. Place the hitch

Lift the hitch and place it over the exhaust. Align the hitch hole with the tow loop’s hole. Attach the nuts to the carriage bolt of the tow loop. Attach the four bolts with spacers to the vehicle’s frame.

5. Reinstall the exhaust 

Install the exhaust after confirming the hitch is properly installed on the vehicle.


Subaru Outback Hitch Installation (2010-2019)

1. Lower the exhaust 

Wrap a rope or strap around the exhaust pipe’s center to keep the bottom exhaust secure. Utilizing the exhaust pliers, remove the isolator rods from the rubber exhaust hangers. 

2. Remove the heat shields

Remove the heat shields located above each muffler with a 10mm socket or Phillips head screwdriver. After removing the heat shields, remove both rubber plugs from the holes on the frame’s bottom. 

3. Insert carriage bolt 

You have to insert the carriage bolts using a fish wire. On the driver’s and passenger’s side frames, drill an access hole. The access holes will be utilized to fish-wire the carriage bolts that are provided into the hitch attachment holes.

Follow the steps below to insert the carriage bolts,

  • Take a fish wire and pass it through the hitch attachment hole and out the access hole.
  • Attach the carriage bolt and the big spacer to the fish wire coil.
  • Pull the fish wire back through the access hole so that the bolt thread falls through the attachment hole.
  • Follow the technique on both sides.

5. Place the hitch 

Before lifting the hitch, tape the included flat washers over the forward attachment holes on both sides of the hitch. Lift the hitch into place, aligning the bolts and attachment holes. You must pass the fish wire through the hitch’s holes. Remove the fish wire and attach the washers and hex nuts to the bolts and tighten them by hand.  All bolts should be tightened and torqued.

6. Cut the heat shields

The heat shields must be cut to fit above the exhaust mufflers. Cut the heat shield and put it back in place. Reposition the heat shield after cutting it.

7. Raised the exhaust 

Attach the isolator rods to the rubber hangers to raise the exhaust system. Remove the support-related strap or rope.

           Subaru Outback Hitch Installation (2020-2021)

1. Remove plastic push pins

There are seven plastic pins wrapped around the rear of the vehicle. Remove them using a flathead screwdriver. If the pins are stuck in their position, you can use a trim tool.

2. Remove the bumper cover 

Start pulling from the corner of the bumper cover and pull it to remove it from its position. After taking off the bumper cover, you might have some wiring. By pressing the connector’s center, the wiring can be disconnected.

3. Remove the bumper beam

The bumper beam is attached to the vehicle using three bolts on either side. To remove the fasteners, use a 14 mm socket.  The bumper beam will come out if you slide it straight.

4. Pop the rubber caps

In the interior of the frame rail, a few plugs are poking from the bottom. Put them out by using a screwdriver.

5. Place the hitch 

Attach the hitch to the position. Insert the factory nuts temporarily to allow the vehicle to hold the hitch.

6. Install the fish wire to the attachment point

Two holes are located beneath the inside of the frame rail. Insert the coiled end of the fish wire through the attachment hole. Pull it through the hitch hole until it comes out. Take the fish wire and fasten the carriage bolt to the end coil. Pull the carriage bolt and the fish wire down from the frame’s bottom. Place the flange nuts after removing the fish wire.

7. Reinstall the bumper beam

Remove the nuts that you have temporarily attached before. Put the bumper beam back and attach all the nuts. Tighten and torque all the nuts and bolts.

8. Trim and reinstall the bumper cover

Cut the bumper fascia according to the instruction manual. Now, reinstall the bumper cover by reconnecting the electronic connector.


The installation technique for all Subaru Outback model years is not the same. I hope this post helped you understand the differences in hitch installation so that you can easily install your hitch based on the model year of your outback.

Subaru outback hitch install

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Author: Will Sabel

Will Sabel is an avid car enthusiast. When he's not writing for RidersWant, you'll find him cruising the country in a new car. People are always wondering how many cars he has!

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