Author Topic: Bent my hitch- can it still tow safely?  (Read 9514 times)

innkeeper77

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Bent my hitch- can it still tow safely?
« on: October 22, 2014, 12:00:29 PM »
Through an unintelligent trial and error learning experience, I learned the tongue weight limit on my (Class I) trailer hitch- less than four bikes on a carrier over a big bump! It now tilts down by about ten to fifteen degrees, but the frame itself is not bent, only the hitch receiver.

My car is a 2007 Subaru Impreza, manual. (It's pretty new, I know..) and I am wondering, can I still pull a trailer locally? Should I get out a mallet and start putting it back to level, replace the hitch, or just keep using it as is? We just bought a fixer upper house and I was looking into buying a cheap trailer for all of the hauling we are about to start doing, or at the very least we need to pull a uhaul trailer a significant number of times.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Bent my hitch- can it still tow safely?
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2014, 12:10:10 PM »
You might be okay forever, but if 4 bikes bent it, I would not trust it to pull much of a trailer.  A few more bends back and forth and it will probably snap off.  I would upgrade to a more substantial receiver. 

innkeeper77

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Re: Bent my hitch- can it still tow safely?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2014, 12:18:02 PM »
Thanks!

I'm not exactly surprised they bent it- to much weight too far out caused a LOT of leverage for something designed to be strong for pulling, not holding up. (only a 1000lb trailer rating, 2000lb with trailer brakes (and automatic- apparently the manual is weaker. Yes I have towed over 1000 lbs... oh well. I'm keeping the car till it is dead)

Plus it's just a class 1 hitch- I can't find a more substantial hitch for my car. If anyone knows a good way to put a class II or III hitch on an 97 Impreza I would certainly consider that.

I mostly didn't know if the angle itself would be a safety issue.



GoodStash BadStache

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Re: Bent my hitch- can it still tow safely?
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2014, 12:28:17 PM »
Once a receiver has been significantly bent, don't tow anything you'd be upset about losing behind you.  My personal experience was almost losing a U-haul trailer filled with basically everything I owned after college due to a rusted out receiver (so glad I stopped for breakfast when we did, the chains were dragging, cross-bracing broke, etc.).

So Close is right about not bending it back since it will induce more metal fatigue.  If you are really attached to it, you might be able to have cross-bracing welded onto it, but I don't think the liability issues would be worth it.

guitar_stitch

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Re: Bent my hitch- can it still tow safely?
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2014, 02:48:14 PM »
Even with a class 1, most of those have a 250 Lb hitch weight.  How far out did the 4 bikes sit?!?

innkeeper77

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Re: Bent my hitch- can it still tow safely?
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2014, 10:06:52 PM »
I think it was more of over 100lbs of bikes + getting tossed up and coming down HARD over a large bump.

I'll post a photo of it soon showing the damage.. Thanks for the input!

MikeBear

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Re: Bent my hitch- can it still tow safely?
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2014, 12:29:19 AM »
I saw a hitch break on a mini-van that was hauling one of those "Scotty" type trailers behind it at 70mph highway speed. The mini-van sort of jack-knifed which skinned the rear tires, the trailer sort of jumped in the air and then the trailer basically exploded into confetti. That ruined their trip heading up north!

I have since checked my hitch very carefully every time before I use it. I doubt you'll ever find a Class 2 or 3 hitch for your car. You could replace your bent hitch for around $200 or less, which would probably end up cheaper than trying to repair it and the damage it could end up doing if it ever failed on you.

As for the future, maybe you can find a way to put a small axle and wheel under your bicycle rack (sort of like a 1 wheel mini trailer) that gives support to the bikes weight, and keeps it from bending the hitch. I have seen that done with somebody hauling an electric wheelchair on a weaker hitch.