How To Install Hitch Bike Rack? (With Pictures)

Hitch Racks are great equipment for transporting your favorite bike to places on a road trip or bike trekking. But not knowing how to install a hitch bike rack properly can cause your car or bike to face accidents.

Installing a hitch rack on the back of your car requires minimal special tools and accessories. It works like the “plug and plays” method for some models. But you need to know some basic installing sequences because all hitch racks are not the same. 

Depending upon the brands and manufacturing company, the installation procedure is different. This article will explain the benefits and downsides of using a Hitch rack, as well as how to install one properly.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Installing Hitch Bike Rack

Like every other piece of equipment, hitch racks have definite benefits and drawbacks for the user. It is important to learn about these for safe and secure bike transportation.

Advantages of Hitch Rack

There are enormous advantages of getting and using a Hitch rack for carrying the bike around. Some of these are stated below.

  • Keeps The Vehicle’s Roof Intact

Using a Hitch rack means you do not have to put the bike on the roof anymore. Hence, the roof remains from unfortunate dents caused by bumps from the bike.

  • Keeps The Bike Safe

Transporting the bike on the roof often causes damage to the frame and wheels of the bike, which can be easily avoided. Since the hitch rack keeps pressure stably on the bike frame only, no harm is done with sudden bumps while driving on the road.

  • Enables Enjoying More Intense Natural Scenery

Your car or truck cannot go through intense wildlife, mountains, hills, lakes, or riversides. But you can easily pass through these places using your bike. Hence getting into nature becomes easy and sustainable.

  • Allows You To Stay Fit

If you have a very busy schedule in the office or at work, it becomes difficult to get some exercise. Using the hitch rack, you can carry your along and ride on the bike, taking a short break from work.

  • Allows You To Carry More Than One Bike

If you want to transport a bike on the roof, there would be space for only one or two bikes. But you are allowed to carry up to four bikes depending on the hitch rack model. This gives you more versatility.

Drawbacks Of Using a Hitch Rack

Though the disadvantages of the Hitch Racks are negligible against the benefits, it can be beneficial for you to know these while getting one.

  • Not Budget Friendly

The Hitch racks do not come in cheap. This rack can be expensive if you have a limited budget to transport your bike.

  • Damage The Trunk 

Your vehicle’s trunk may get damaged if you do not load and unload the bike properly. Moreover, the pressure points of the vehicle may get over-stressed if you use heavy bikes.

  • Blockade while opening the Back door

The hitch rack is mounted on the back of the car; hence it creates a blockade when you want to open the back door. 

It becomes difficult if you are carrying heavy things in your hand and requires disassembling or leaning the rack to get access to the trunk.

Tools And Materials Required To Install Hitch Bike Rack

Installing some older Hitch Racks Requires some basic tools for the installation purpose. These are as stated below.

  • Torque Wrench
  • Socket
  • Allen Key Set
  • Ratchet
  • Car Jack
  • Working Gloves and Safety Glasses

How To Install Hitch Bike Rack?

Installing a bike hitch rack becomes simple and easy if you have the required tools and know the correct way of installation.

Step 1: Inspect The Hitch Receiver

Not all vehicles have a hitch receiver for adding extendable racks behind. But most SUVs and Trucks have pre-installed hitch receivers. If your vehicle has a hitch receiver, inspect the size and type.

Most hitch receivers are classified into Class1-5 hitch receiver types. And the hitch racks come in clas 2-4 type. Thus, get the most compatible hitch rack according to the receiver type.

Step 2: Mounting the Hitch Rack

Most hitch racks are made with an automated spring lock mechanism. Align the hitch and insert the hitch rack inside the receiver till the lock holes are visible.

Step 3: Locking The Hitch Rack

Inter the bolts and washers inside the hole through the hitch and receiver. Use the socket or wrench to tighten up the bolt in place. 

Step 4: Adjusting The Loading Arms And Stabilizing

You can open the security pins and adjust the loading arms according to your demand. It can also be used to get access to the back door. Reinsert the security pins in place after you have adjusted the arms.

Step 5: Loading The Bikes

If you have only one bike to transport, you should place it in the innermost loading area of the rack. Use the integrated securing methods such as Velcro or rubber tie downs. Adjustable clamps are also used in some hitch racks for securing the bike.

How Much Does It Cost To Install Hitch Bike Rack?

There are two major cost-related to installing the Hitch bike rack. These are the product cost and labor costs. You can easily eliminate the labor cost by knowing how to install a hitch bike rack.

Product Cost

Two types of products are required for the hitch rack installation. These are the Hitches and racks. Depending on the model and weight, if your car does not have the hitch, it may cost you more than $400.

Again, the hitch racks are of different types depending upon many variables such as carrying type, weight, number of bike accommodations, etc. You can get hitch racks for around $60 to over $900.

Labour Cost

The service charge for installing a hitch in your vehicle can be around $200 to $330. If your vehicle possesses a pre-installed hitch, you need not pay this expense.

Do Hitch Bike Racks Damage Your Car?

The hitch bike racks can cause damage to your car if the rack weight is beyond the capacity of the hitch. Moreover, the additional weight of the bikes can put pressure on the hitch. Therefore driving on rough terrains can cause the hitch to break down due to being overweight.

Are Hitch Bike Racks Worth It?

If you are an adventure lover and have the budget to own a hitch rack, getting one is worth it. This makes your journey by bike and riding it very easy and comfortable.

Here are the two most popular hitch racks for your vehicle.


You cannot just buy a hitch rack and expect it to work perfectly with your vehicle. All the criteria for a friendly installation and safety should be maintained. 

Because using an incompatible hitch rack and incorrectly installing it will cause damage to your car and bike.

That is why you should keep some factors in mind while getting a  hitch rack and installing it on your vehicle for transporting your bike. We hope this article helps you understand everything about hitch rack installation.

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