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  1. #1
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    Why so few hitch receivers on sedans?

    Now that my family car is fully ready with hitch receiver, an adapter and a wonderful Thule bike rack, all I see as I drive around in town is hitch receivers at the back of family cars. But at the same time, I wonder why people have so few hitch receivers on the sedans. Surely some people must have just one car - likely a sedan - in the family and still like to bike. Are sedans less amenable to hitch-type bike racks?

  2. #2
    absent Ferrous Bueller's Avatar
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    Lots of cars don't have appropriate bolting/clamping spots under the back.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    I think you may be overestimating the number of people who bike. And of those who do so casually, a strap rack is a heck of a lot cheaper.

    I installed a hitch on my Civic, but had to use the rear tow hook bolt, so it's very limited in the weight capacity.
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

  4. #4
    Senior Member cderalow's Avatar
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    it has a lot to do with the current unibody sedan trend, and the fact that they're not designed to tow.


    not designed to tow, no need to a tow hitch, ergo no availability of trailer hitch, ergo no hitch receiver racks.

    given the laziness of people, and the fact that they tend to leave the strap racks on year round, i'd expect most people don't want to expend the effort to find a hitch receiver that will work for their car, have it installed and then get the appropriate rack, when they can just buy the $80 strappy type and walk away from it.

    hell a lot of LBS's will even install them for you for free to demonstrate how easy it is.

    tie into that the potential for a warranty claim denial from an auto manufacturer for having a trailer hitch receiver on a vehicle explicitly detailed as not having a towing ability, and they run for the hills.

  5. #5
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    I recently looked into putting a hitch on the wife's car -- the "good" car -- a 2011 Honda Insight. Hitches were available, even for this hybrid, and obviously they would only be for the purpose of mounting a bike rack. It was going to require cutting some sort of plastic or sheet metal underneath, and we're still paying on this thing, so we didn't do it.
    Last edited by Ol Danl; 05-07-13 at 09:41 AM. Reason: left out a word

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    Cost of receiver hitch: $100+
    Cost of hitch mount rack: $100+
    time to install: ~ one hour

    Cost of the trunk mount rack that I've used on quite a few different cars now (incl. rentals) without any problems: $30

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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Cost of receiver hitch: $100+
    Cost of hitch mount rack: $100+
    time to install: ~ one hour

    Cost of the trunk mount rack that I've used on quite a few different cars now (incl. rentals) without any problems: $30
    I understand the cost differential. But if the cost was the most significant factor, we should see more trunk mount racks on station wagons and SUV's as well. But we don't.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by cderalow View Post
    tie into that the potential for a warranty claim denial from an auto manufacturer for having a trailer hitch receiver on a vehicle explicitly detailed as not having a towing ability, and they run for the hills.
    I wasn't aware of the warranty implication of having a trailer hitch receiver on a sedan. It's interesting because U-Hauls seems to have hitch receivers for every imaginable sedan. I wonder if they let their customers know that installing a hitch receiver may adversely affect the warranty coverage of the vehicle.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Cost of receiver hitch: $100+
    Cost of hitch mount rack: $100+
    time to install: ~ one hour

    Cost of the trunk mount rack that I've used on quite a few different cars now (incl. rentals) without any problems: $30
    This is true, but I'm considering installing a hitch receiver on my Toyota Matrix and buying a hitch rack for the following reasons:

    - The hitch rack should be way quicker to install/uninstall than my strap rack.
    - The hitch rack should transfer between two vehicles without readjusting the rack. My strap rack needs an angle adjustment and length adjustment for four straps, which is a hassle.
    - Hitch racks typically have a feature that allows them to tilt away from the vehicle so that you can access the back. (Granted, they generally can't have bikes loaded when doing this). The strap rack has to come all the way off both of my vehicles to access the back.
    - I have a 2-bike rack now, but I want to transport 3. I'm going to have to buy another rack anyway.
    - The hassle factor on my strap rack has been enough to limit my desire to use it except when I *really* need it. Now my kids are getting bigger bikes that won't just fit in the back of the car, so I think I'll want to use a rack a lot more. I want it to be quick and convenient.

    As an aside, there are manufacturers that make 4-bike hitch racks for 1.25" receivers, but others only make 4-bike and up racks for 2" receivers (which is what you need for Class III and up). I'm leery about putting 4 bikes on a Class I or II receiver. Theoretically, Class II is good for 250 pounds tongue weight, but the construction visually seems a little skimpy. I'm thinking of limiting myself to 3 bikes on a hitch rack. Any thoughts?

    Edit: Looking at the specs for some racks on etrailers.com, they recommend a maximum of two bikes for a class I and three bikes for a class II receiver. These are for the hanging-type hitch racks - haven't looked at the platform-type racks. The other rack vendors I have been looking at haven't provided this information....
    Last edited by Spld cyclist; 05-07-13 at 06:58 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
    This is true, but I'm considering installing a hitch receiver on my Toyota Matrix and buying a hitch rack for the following reasons:

    - The hitch rack should be way quicker to install/uninstall than my strap rack.
    - The hitch rack should transfer between two vehicles without readjusting the rack. My strap rack needs an angle adjustment and length adjustment for four straps, which is a hassle.
    - Hitch racks typically have a feature that allows them to tilt away from the vehicle so that you can access the back. (Granted, they generally can't have bikes loaded when doing this). The strap rack has to come all the way off both of my vehicles to access the back.
    - I have a 2-bike rack now, but I want to transport 3. I'm going to have to buy another rack anyway.
    - The hassle factor on my strap rack has been enough to limit my desire to use it except when I *really* need it. Now my kids are getting bigger bikes that won't just fit in the back of the car, so I think I'll want to use a rack a lot more. I want it to be quick and convenient.
    This list goes a long way toward answering the OP's question. My trunk-mount rack isn't all that convenient on the back of our Pontiac Vibe (same as your Matrix with minor sheet metal changes), but it's very convenient on the back of our Toyota Camry:
    - it goes on and off in about 15 seconds
    - has been on a variety of sedans without needing any adjustments (but they're needed if converting it for the Vibe); this has been very handy when using it on rental cars
    - I can open the trunk without touching the rack and can do this even with one bike loaded.

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    New Dad, people have to go outside of the dealer to get the hitch reciever installed.
    \
    Its just not available any other way.. never on new cars fresh off the trailer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by New Daddy View Post
    I understand the cost differential. But if the cost was the most significant factor, we should see more trunk mount racks on station wagons and SUV's as well. But we don't.
    I think it's the Cool Gear Factor. I have a bunch of racks, from the $19.95 bolt-on bumper mount I used in college (back when cars had bumpers) through several strap-ons to a $700 Yakima roof setup. They all work fine; they've all gone thousands of miles with from one to four bikes on them. But the cheap ones don't LOOK cool, and a lot of cyclists are very image-conscious.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BruceHankins's Avatar
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    Cars don't tow and people don't waste their time. If you need to tow get a truck, if you have a truck you have a bed, put them in the bed.

  14. #14
    Senior Member cderalow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by New Daddy View Post
    I wasn't aware of the warranty implication of having a trailer hitch receiver on a sedan. It's interesting because U-Hauls seems to have hitch receivers for every imaginable sedan. I wonder if they let their customers know that installing a hitch receiver may adversely affect the warranty coverage of the vehicle.

    If there's obvious violations of the owner's manual, auto dealers can choose to deny warranty coverage.

    For example, the owner's manual of my Honda Civic LX sedan says it can be used to tow up to 1,000 lbs of combined trailer & load weight, with a 10% tongue weight rating.

    This equates to putting 100lbs on the back bumper.

    Now, say you show up to the dealer for some potential warranty item repair with over 100lbs of rack + bike mounted to a 3rd party trailer hitch. could they deny the warranty claim? if it's something inside the car or electronic, probably not. if it's something rear suspension related? potentially, as you've exceeded the potential rating for the suspension.

    people never read them, but your vehicle's owner manual says a lot of important stuff. For instance, the owner's manual of my previous Honda Civic Si Sedan specifically prohibited towing. Show up to a dealer with a tow hitch on the car, and they could deny whatever they want, regardless of if you say it's only ever been used for a bike rack.

  15. #15
    Senior Member GordoTrek's Avatar
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    i had the same problem, i went to Harbor Freight, bought an ATV 2" hitch, grinded my tow ring off and welded it right to the bare metal, centered it as best as i could and covered the whole thing in rubberized undercoating, after that i had a perfectly good hitch to carry a bike rack, i had to buy a reducer to fit a 1 1/4 bike rack, so there is a little slop in the joints but its no biggie.. PS my car does have a hitch available for it... 130 dollars!! .harbor freight parts? 30 bucks total.. easy win...
    My Bikes- http://imgur.com/a/WHSUo "You should ride a bicycle for twenty minutes every day, unless you're too busy; then you should ride for an hour"

  16. #16
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    I put a hitch on my Subaru Legacy GT. Installed it myself. Easier to load bikes and no risk of the $20k accident where you trash your bike/car/house all at the same time.

    The big reason is cost. Many SUV come with a hitch as a factory/dealer install prior to purchase so its already in the sticker price. For a sedan its an extra $150-200. That's a lot more expensive than the standard trunk mount.

  17. #17
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    Someone already said it but a lot of people don't tow anything because they have a truck / SUV to do it.

    That being said there is a hitch for damn near ANY car out there, just look online. As far as a type II hitch I had one on my previous Kia Optima and it was fine for a bike rack, felt nice and sturdy. It was fairly beefy and bolte don in several places, took a 2" receiver as well. There are a lot of HIDDEN hitches out there too, once you pull the bar / receiver they are dang near invisible, so that may be the case for SOME of the sedans you see without a visible hitch.

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