Top 10 Tips for Buying a Car Hitch for a Bike Rack

Top 10 Tips for Buying a Car Hitch for a Bike Rack

PTC Teammate Kyle Brown dropped some knowledge bombs in a Discord conversation on car hitches as members were exploring options for new bike racks. We asked for some tips and he went above and beyond with this TOP 10 List. Thanks Kyle for this thorough TOP 10 things I wish I knew before buying a tow hitch!
  1. Don't get too stuck on the dot with what to buy
    Most hitches come in the industry standard 2" receiver with a class 3 weight capacity. If you're buying any 2" hitch, the weight capacity will almost always exceed whatever your car is able to haul so don't pay that too much attention.

  2. Always buy a concealed crossbeam!
    Concealed means the supporting cross beam that the receiver itself is attached to is hidden behind your vehicle's bumper giving the installation a much cleaner look with extra ground clearance. All this is as opposed to an exposed crossbeam that sits below the bumper cover.

  3. Skip the electrical harness
    The majority of consumers purchase a hitch for the purpose of transporting a bicycle and other recreational gear. The wiring harness that can be installed with it is only used for trailer lights.

  4. Research your car's hitch options
    Most cars have pre-installed mounting points for a hitch making installation very plug-and-play. However, some cars do require drilling to create mounting points.

  5. Do your due diligence with installing
    If extra work like drilling and such is required, it's best to let a qualified tech take care of it for the extra cost.

  6. Be patient if installing it yourself!
    Assuming your car has pre-installed mounts, most of the work is already done but don't relax yet. The threaded mounting holes may have been exposed to moisture, corrosion, rust, etc for a number of years making threading a bolt seem like it's the wrong size. Be sure to clear and prep the threads first to clear out any built-up corrosion.

  7. Uhaul is great but not the only option
    It's tough to beat the price of just running up the street to have Uhaul throw a hitch on. Uhaul isn't the only option, however. Etrailer and many dealerships have accessory installers. Expect $2-300 for parts and labor with some cars costing more even.

  8. Make sure your bike rack fits!
    Not all bike racks are 2". Not to worry because there are many hitch adapters that can solve this.

  9. Buy a locking receiver pin
    Added security never hurts especially with the risk of somebody potentially walking off with your bike rack with your bike still attached worst case! Locking pins ad that little extra piece of mind.

  10. Know your terms!
    If the hitch you're looking at is labeled as an "activity mount" it most likely will be a smaller receiver size (often 1 1/4 inch) and rated for no more than a regular bicycle or 2. Very good to keep in mind if you're transporting an E-bike that may exceed the activity mounts weight capacity.