Curt Trailer Hitch for 2009 BMW X3
My wife wanted a nice bike rack for the back of our X3. I found a 2-bike Thule on Craigslist, slightly used. So now to find a hitch. Many options exist, but I'd rather spend a little more for a lot better. For the most part, I don't trust reviews very much, unless there are MANY, MANY that consistently say the same thing. Also, I asked a couple reputable independent BMW shops. Their first choice was BMW, but the dealer's quote was 5 times more expensive. Yeah, I'll spend a more, but this is only holding bikes, not towing a boat. The shops both said Curt was a solid aftermarket hitch that they installed on X3s and X5s, and that they would recommend it. I shopped on Amazon and found SuspensionConnection, their price was reasonable, so I ordered it. It came via UPS 3 days later. No problems, no damage.
There are a few videos on line regarding installation. If you are a DYI'er like me, watch ALL the videos you can at least twice, become familiar with their tutorials, because each as a little more than the others. Unfortunately, the videos are lacking in some information, specifically, how to put things back together.
There is the wheel flap that is partially unbuttoned with sheet metal screws, then the bumper cover screws in the wheel well corners. A few more screws and the bumper cover is unfastened, but removing it is a bit of a challenge. The bumper cover is PLASTIC and is painted to match the car color. There are plastic retaining clasps that hold onto the existing body, in my case I have the proximity sensors, so I had to disconnect 4 electrical connections. You have to carefully muscle I this off. Difficulty for me was about 5 of 10; not easy, not really hard. Make sure you protect the painted surface to not scratch the paint job.
With the cover off, removing the stock bumper structure and installing the Curt hitch was simple and easy. One video mentions that they used the old BMW hardware nuts to fasten the hitch. As a mechanical engineer, I disagree; the nuts have already been stressed and should be discarded. Use the new nuts provided in the Curt package. Torque to the proper amount using a torque wrench. The COOL way to do the torque is in 1/3 increments, meaning if the final torque is 75 Lb-Ft, then torque to 25, then 50 and finally 75 in a cross-pattern. Do this dry, without lube or lock-tite. If you insist on using thread locking fluid, be advised, you need to reduce the torque to compensate the the reduced friction or risk stripping the threads. Usually the torque is reduced by 40% if using grease, and 30% for lock-tite. (REALlY!!).
Next was cutting a notch to clear the hitch receiver. I used some masking tape, off-white, and a large Sharpie marker with the dimensions according to the instruction sheet. I intentionally went a bit smaller knowing I could always remove more later, but of you cut too much out you're stuck with the mistake. Afterward, I did remove a little more. My cutting tool was a long hole saw for rough cutting. Final trimming was a pocket knife of the jagged sawed edges.
Now the HARD part -- getting everything back together.
Yeah, the part that the VIDEOs fail to instruct you on.
Some web sites list the difficulty on this job as 10 of 10, or very difficult to the point that they recommend a professional mechanic perform this task. Reinstalling the bumper cover is the hard part of this job. HINT: I used Dawn dishwashing detergent (the BLUE stuff that comes in a bottle). A few ounces with water in a spray bottle. This was the re-assembly lubricant. I sprayed the joints liberally and went to work reinstalling it. The first side got aligned and just SNAPPED into place. The opposite side was more of a challenge. It took me 20-30 minutes to properly align, check that everything was right and tried to push and hopefully snap this side in as easily as the first. I finally hit the cover with an open hand like a hard slap. 4-5 slaps and it went in.
Final screws where ever they needed to be, and the job is DONE.
It fits properly, looks like it's stock from the factory and holds the bike rack perfectly. The rack tilts away so we can open the rear door easily.
Recommend this Product: