Trailer hitch install on 2003 Mitsubishi Outlander

The 2003 Mitsubishi Outlander has the factory roof bars but lifting mountain bikes up there was going to be tedious.  We decided a trailer hitch was the next best option. A trailer hitch can accomodate a variety of bike racks as well as a small camp trailer.  On my 4Runner the trailer hitch is like a second bumper. For the Outlander I wanted something less conspicuous.

An email to the folks at etrailer.com confirmed that this hitch would be hidden from view and work well for our needs. Hidden Hitch Trailer Hitch Receiver with Drawbar – Custom Fit – Class I – 1-1/4″ # 60824.

The instructions are very clear, which is a refreshing change. It’s really only a 30 minute install with basic tools. Here’s what you need to do, complete with pictures.

First off, remove the two tie downs on the passenger and driver’s side. They are held in place by three 14 mm bolts. Two horizontally attach to the frame and one vertically on the side of the tie down. Remove the vertical one first and then tackle the two easy to reach ones. Just remember that gravity will take over so don’t lay directly under the tie downs! Safety goggles are a must because of the dirt that falls off.

Next I did a test fit of the hitch and found the heat shield on the passenger side needed to be trimmed. The instructions said so, but I wanted to verify first. I used a pair of garden snips to trim the thin metal away. Trim enough so you can see all 3 bolt holes and then beyond so you can maneuver the hitch into place. I filed the newly cut edges and applied duct tape so I wouldn’t cut myself while working in there.

Now it’s just a matter of lifting the hitch into place and bolting it down. You need two people or at least a floor jack to do this. Fortunately, I had help so I could hold it while she bolted it in.

Don’t tighten all the bolts yet!! Crawl out, look at the hitch and make sure it’s centered. A few gentle taps with your fist will move it either direction. Once centered, now bolt everything down securely.

The last bolt above the muffler was the most difficult because I had to fully hand tighten it before there was enough room for my ratchet and socket. Aside from that, it was an easy install and looks great.

Tools required: socket set, tin snips or similar, safety goggles (of course!), and a floor jack if working by yourself. Two people make it much easier so grab a friend.

It was truly only a 30 minute install and you can barely tell the hitch is there. The Outlander is now ready for a bike rack or small trailer.

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