How to Install a Hitch for a Bike Rack

How to Install a Hitch for a Bike Rack
Bike racks are available in different configurations including trunk racks, roof racks and hitch-mounted racks. As of January 2010, hitch racks are available from several manufacturers including Yakima and Thule and are designed to carry from one to three or more bikes. Hitch-mount bike racks require a receiver hitch to be attached to the vehicle. The rack is designed with a 90-degree angle at the bottom with the end fitting into the receiver of the hitch.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Vehicle
  • Receiver hitch
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Socket set
  • Box-end wrench
Step 1
Determine that the correct model of receiver hitch is being used for a particular vehicle. Choose a hitch specifically designed to fit your vehicle. For the easiest installation, purchase a no-drill hitch model which will use existing bolts or holes.
Step 2
Carefully read through the manufacturers included installation directions. Make sure all parts are accounted for in the packaging and that the instructions are completely understood. This is the time to decide if the installation job is too big and needs to be done by a professional.
Step 3
Remove any included nuts, bolts and washer or other mounting hardware from the hitch. This will allow for easier installation later on. Also make sure all parts are accounted for. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions.
Step 4
Remove any mounting bolts from mounting points on the car which may used to attach the hitch. Refer to the directions for specific information based on car model.
Step 5
Raise the hitch into position and insert a mounting bolt into the mounting holes of the hitch and the vehicle. Make sure any mounting plates are attached by following the manufacturer's directions. Just use your fingers to tighten nuts and bolts at this point.
Step 6
Securely tighten all bolts and mounting hardware using a box-end wrench, adjustable wrench or socket wrench. Make sure all bolts are tightened to manufacturer's specifications.
Step 7
Inspect the hitch to make sure that it does not interfere with the exhaust system or make contact with any parts of the vehicle which may be damaged. Attempt to reposition the hitch to fix issues such as these.

Tips & Warnings

Install a wiring harness if the bike rack features a stop light or other accessory requiring power. Quick-connect power harnesses are available which work with existing connections for the stop lights.
Securely tighten all bolts and hardware. Failure to do so may result in damage or personal injury.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.