DEAR CARS: I bought a 2022 Subaru Forester in December. I also paid for the dealer to install a trailer hitch.

Well, all these months later I’ve been getting prompts from Subaru of America and the dealership that they don’t know when the 2022 Forester hitch will be available.

So, do you think it would be safe to have U-Haul or another tow company install a hitch, or would it be better to wait and have the dealer install a Subaru approved hitch?

The rep claimed the Subaru towbar would be safer because they remove the rear bumper to install it and then put the bumper back on after installation. — Brian

DEAR READER: The dealer is correct that the best way to install a trailer hitch is to remove the bumper and bumper beam and install the hitch between the bumper beam and the frame (or body) of the vehicle. This makes it part of the structure of the car.

Subaru’s proprietary trailer hitch is designed to be installed this way. But not all stumbling blocks are like this. There are good towbars for aftermarket parts that simply screw into the frame on the underside of the car. They are much easier and faster to install. And they might be good for what you need. You can check the maximum capacity of each hitch and see if it meets your needs.

For example, if you’re just putting a bike rack in there that requires 300 pounds of tongue weight when loaded, a spare hitch might be fine. But if you’re hauling your house or cabin around, you’d probably want a heavier setup.

U-Haul tends to install the simpler, replacement parts. But if you can find a Subaru hitch—online or from another dealer—most reputable body shops can install a Subaru hitch using the bumper method.

If you hear the shop guy yell, “Hey, have any of you ever installed a trailer hitch on a Forester??” keep looking. But if Subaru’s tow bar just isn’t available anywhere right now, then you’ll have to decide between a tow bar mounted under the car’s frame or waiting, Brian.

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DEAR CARS: My 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid with 70,000 miles was a wonderful car. It has never needed repairs. New brakes and tires only. But for the last year it has been making a clang-clunk sound that comes from the very back of the car. I hear it every time I go over a bump in the road.

I grabbed everything in the back of the car and made sure nothing was loose. I screwed everything that could be making the noise, checked the rear window and tailgate, and even replaced the window dampers and tailgate dampers – to no avail. What could be making that rattling sound with every bump or turn? — Robert

DEAR READER: Seventy thousand miles and never needed a repair? Well, that’s about to change, Robert.

I’m guessing you’re not on a bowling team, so it’s not your spare ball rolling back there. I also assume you have checked to make sure the spare tire is protected if you have one.

But from my vast experience (or what my late brother called my semi-rich experience), I guess you’re looking too high, Robert. You are looking for something in the cargo area. I think the sound is more likely coming from under your car.

If you’re lucky, it’s something as simple as the exhaust hitting the bottom of the car. On a car that is 12 years old, one or more of the hangers that hold the exhaust pipe in place may be broken or rotted. This will allow the muffler to hit the undercarriage or anything else near it.

If not, the noise may be coming from a worn part of the suspension. A bad strut or strut mount can cause such a noise. So can a worn sway bar bushing.

But start by having your mechanic put it on the lifter and give your muffler a “shake test”. Hopefully it will fail this test and your problem will be solved quickly and easily. Luck.

Ray Magliozzi gives car tips on Car Talk every Saturday. Email him by visiting