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Oddly, probably not. When I did the 48hrs of Tristate #SubaruEnthusiasts Charity Drive through the blizzard MLK weekend, I had mine off and my tow hook in. Just about everywhere else got frozen over, but not the opening or hook.
Up here you don’t have to drive to get the hitch hole filled with snow. When a Nor’easter comes in, everything fills with snow.
 

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Live in Maine. I would think any hole in the panel would cause the entire hole to fill with snow from driving. Then freeze up to form one chunk of ice. Probably why it’s designed the way it is.

You don't need a hole in the cover to get stuff inside the bumper. When I removed the cover the first time - after 10K miles - I had rocks and all kinds of debris. I have done some easy off road stuff and it was evident. So having a hole in the front doesn't seem like a big compromise.:tango_face_surprise
 

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I believe I've found an excellent solution for those who require the use of safety chains but do not want to cut large holes in their hitch cover. I have a low-cost custom part on order that should resolve the problem entirely. If it works, you will only need the hole for the hitch receiver and nothing more. The part will be here this Saturday (3/23) and I will install and test it on Sunday. If it fits and works I'll report back here.

So please don't cut any large holes in your cover just yet if you require safety chains until you hear back.
 

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I own three trailers and each requires safety chains, but I didn't want to cut a large hole in the hitch cover in order to accommodate the chains. I found a relatively low-cost device that solves this problem. It's called Hitch-Up Safety Plate System and it's available on eBay for $15 + $8.00 shipping for a total of $23.



It attaches to the hitch receiver and adds an external location for the safety chains. Is it safe? It's made in the US of 3/8" thick steel plate which is thicker than the 5/16" Ascent OEM safety chain plate. It uses the receiver hitch for support and the receiver hitch must by default be strong enough to pull the trailer, so there is no issue there. The only caveat is that it would not work if the receiver hitch pin failed. But that's a 5/8" steel shaft and highly unlikely to fail. Still, you can decide for yourself if you feel this is an issue.

With this device, you do not need to cut a large hole for the chains. You can just cut the U-shaped hole and be done with it. Here is what it looks like installed:



I didn't care for the machine grey color of it so I powder coated mine black. If you don't have a powder coat gun you can simply spray paint it.

There is an issue with the hitch receiver that comes with the OEM hitch. The hole for hitch receiver pin is too close and doesn't leave sufficient room for the Hitch-Up device. I had to drill another hole in the hitch receiver an inch and a half farther outboard. It's unusual for a hitch receiver to have the hole for hitch receiver pin is so close, so if you're using a different hitch receiver, this probably won't be an issue for you.

So here's yet another option if anyone's interested.
 

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pro10is, perhaps the solution to allow Hitch-Up device to be effective if the hitch pin fails is to get it welded to the vehicle hitch receiver. That might also reduce noise. I like that it's heaver steel...it appear to be more substantial than the "normal" safety chain loops on hitch receivers.

Safety chains are pretty much never optional so making the connection more accessible is nice.
 

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pro10is, perhaps the solution to allow Hitch-Up device to be effective if the hitch pin fails is to get it welded to the vehicle hitch receiver. That might also reduce noise. I like that it's heaver steel...it appear to be more substantial than the "normal" safety chain loops on hitch receivers.

Safety chains are pretty much never optional so making the connection more accessible is nice.
I need to be able to use different hitch receivers with different drops for the three trailers I have, and when I get an RV, that will also require a different hitch receiver. Really good adjustable drop hitch receivers cost between $400-600 so it's less costly just to use multiple drop receivers.

I'm not worried about the hitch pin failing, I've never had one come even close to failing, they're pretty fail proof. I purchase high-quality locking hitch pins so that also helps.
 

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The hitch receiver is the square hole. :) The ball mount is what you change for each trailer situation. So welding that alternative chain plate to the hitch receiver wouldn't affect your ability to change ball mounts to suite the towing need of the day.

I haven't had a hitch pin fail, but I do have two friends/acquaintance who have had that occur. In once case it was a defective pin and in the other is was the user's fault for not locking it and then driving on a bumpy road.
 
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The hitch receiver is the square hole. :) The ball mount is what you change for each trailer situation. So welding that alternative chain plate to the hitch receiver wouldn't affect your ability to change ball mounts to suite the towing need of the day.

I haven't had a hitch pin fail, but I do have two friends/acquaintance who have had that occur. In once case it was a defective pin and in the other is was the user's fault for not locking it and then driving on a bumpy road.
Okay, sorry, now it makes perfect sense and you have an excellent idea. I do own a welder so I may do just that. Thanks!
 

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This seems like so much hassle to allow your Ascent to tow trailers legally. SUV's should let the towing be left to trucks. On a serious note though, wouldn't the chains scratch up the hitch cover?
 

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This seems like so much hassle to allow your Ascent to tow trailers legally. SUV's should let the towing be left to trucks. On a serious note though, wouldn't the chains scratch up the hitch cover?
Trucks are definitely better for towing, but SUVs have many other advantages over trucks. We all buy vehicles depending upon our primary preferences. The Ascent can haul 6-8 people very comfortably and is better at towing than many other vehicles other than full-size trucks, so it's a good balance.

The chains won't scratch the cover, they're far enough away that they won't rub up against it. It really doesn't matter anyway because I use another, uncut hitch cover when I'm not towing. They're only about $20 so anyone can buy a second one.
 

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Thanks for all the ideas. I've been wanting to do this since we got the vehicle. The rear end looks pretty awful without the cover, and my bike rack spends the whole summer hanging back there.
 

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Thanks for all the ideas. I've been wanting to do this since we got the vehicle. The rear end looks pretty awful without the cover, and my bike rack spends the whole summer hanging back there.
I cut mine this past week and did a video showing how to do a really clean job. I ordered a third hitch cover to do more video to show a better view, which I pick up tomorrow. So, some time this weekend, I will have the whole video posted.
 

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Hey, anyone have a source for the little plastic twist locks? I see a part number of "W140007" in the forum but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere that I've found. Like others I'm lookng at cutting a hole to use with a hitch carrier and a bike rack. Don't need chains or lights with either of those.
 

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Hey, anyone have a source for the little plastic twist locks? I see a part number of "W140007" in the forum but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere that I've found. Like others I'm lookng at cutting a hole to use with a hitch carrier and a bike rack. Don't need chains or lights with either of those.
Might be this although the photo looks a bit different. 909140007 - Genuine Subaru CLIP BUMPER
 

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Hey, anyone have a source for the little plastic twist locks? I see a part number of "W140007" in the forum but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere that I've found. Like others I'm lookng at cutting a hole to use with a hitch carrier and a bike rack. Don't need chains or lights with either of those.
Yes, I do. You need to buy two of them - they come one set in a package.

Part Number: L101SXC700
My friends at Competition Subaru have it on sale as of 04/16/2020, for 27% off ($5.76 each one).

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YOU MUST ASSEMBLE IT:
Here's a video that shows some tips on assembling the twist lock pieces. It's a quick, horrible, unedited video, that I filmed really quickly for a dealership in Alaska that needed a quick answer for a hitch install, so, sorry about the quality and moving camera.

 

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There is a great pic on one of the threads of a larger cut out that allows the use of chains and access to the lighting wires. I use the hitch for my kayak trailer ofter during the summer. I had a truck hit my back bumper and so I had an extra cover with a small gash in it. I bought a new one for the winter and took the old one and created a summer cover. I used the amazon link for the edge dressing that I had previously found on the forum. Thanks to that poster!! It looked empty without the trailer hitch so I bought a shackle to dress it up...

The hole is square if not viewed at an angle :)

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