How To Keep Hitch Bike Rack From Swaying and Rattling

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Alright, so we all love the flexibility of a hitch bike rack. You’re able to load and unload your bikes in under 3 minutes without the heavy lifting, but what I cannot stand is the whole hitch rack system rocking back and forth making rattling and vibrating sound while I’m driving.

And worst of all, the feeling of insecurity that causes me to make a pit stop every other mile or constantly looking at my rear-view mirror to check if all the moving around would cause things to go loose – we don’t want that.

So, how do we keep the hitch rack from swaying and wobbling? An easy and inexpensive way to keep your bike rack from swaying and wobbling while you’re driving is to use a hitch clamp or an anti-rattle hitch device. With the hitch clamp installed, the rack should move with the vehicle and not independent of the vehicle.

Ahead, we’ll discuss more about what causes the hitch rack to sway and wobble, what is a hitch clamp, and how to install one. If you want to know how to properly prepare and secure the hitch rack to get rid of the rattle and vibration, this is the article for you, so make sure you keep reading!

What Causes Your Hitch Rack to Sway and Wobble and How to Stop It?

Because you want to be listening to your favorite road-trip music, catching up with friends and family while enjoying the drive to the great outdoors, it’s important that there are no annoying sound translating into the cabin or having to look at your rear-view mirror every second, which can drive you crazy, especially on long road trips. But is this normal and are hitch racks suppose to wobble?

Let’s begin by understanding what causes your hitch rack to sway and wobble…

Almost every hitch rack that I own have had some play in it. For those who doesn’t know what ‘play’ means, it’s basically the up and down, side to side movement you get between the connection of the hitch and the receiver – Some call it a slop. So, what causes it?

There has to be a little wiggle room in your hitch receiver in order for you to get the tow bar to slide into and out of it. Although when the hitch receiver is brand new, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room or play.

But over a short period of time on the road, excess free play is created when metal on metal contact starts to widen the distance of the receiver. And it doesn’t take much slop at the receiver to translate into inches of extra movement.

So, if your hitch is bolted onto the chassis of the car, all that metal to metal rattling sound translates straight into the cabin and would drive you crazy on long road trips, especially on bumpy roads.

How to Stop Your Hitch Rack From Swaying and Wobbling?

An easy inexpensive way to take the slop out of the hitch system and keeping your rack from swaying and wobbling is to use a hitch clamp or anti-rattle hitch devices.

With the hitch clamp installed, the rack should move with the vehicle and not independent of the vehicle.

Prior to installing a hitch clamp, I was always concerned with how much play was in the cargo/bike rack while I was driving.

I felt all the motion would cause things to go loose – of course it didn’t but I was still worried.

What Is A Hitch Clamp?

A hitch clamp is basically an add-on component to the hitch that’s made up of a U-bolt, a stainless-steel plate, washers, and nuts.

How do hitch clamps work? Every types of hitch stabilizer works in similar ways by limiting the freedom of the tow bar and the hitch receiver.

Will a hitch clamp fit into my hitch? There are many different types of anti-rattle hitch tightener/stabilizer available and most of them can be used on 2-inch and 1.25-inch tow hitch receivers for all hitch classes (1, 2, 3 and 4). I’d recommend measuring your hitch before buying.

Will hitch clamp affect the amount of weight I can tow? No, these devices will not increase nor decrease the amount of load you can tow. It is only designed to limit the movement between the tow bar and the hitch receiver, and not for raising the towing capacity. Please make sure you know how much weight your vehicle can tow as adding this device will not change this.

Tips: If you are using an adapter, say 1.25-inch to 2-inch adapter, we highly recommend using two hitch clamps at each connection points to keep the rack from overloading the adapter and prevents wobbling.

Our Favorite Anti-Rattle Hitch Clamps

The Rhino Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener is our #1 pick.

Rhino Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener

Rhino Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener 1024x899 1
  • ELIMINATES HITCH MOVEMENTS – Completely eliminating all hitch noise, rattle and wobbling
  • FITS ALL COMMON 1.25 INCH AND 2 INCH HITCH SIZES (CLASS I, II, III, IV)
  • RUST-FREE PROTECTION – Protective Anti-Rust Coating

I use the Rhino Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener when hauling my hitch rack (cargo carrier), and with a few turns of a wrench, everything is tight. No more leaning to one side or the other. No worries about too much weight on one side or the other.

This clamp snugs everything up as tight as you can get it. My rack no longer moves around inside the receiver. I don’t have to worry about everything bumping around every time I hit a pot hole.

The CZC Auto Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener is another one of our favorites.

CZC Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener

CZC Auto Hitch Clamp
  • ELIMINATES RATTLE AND MOVEMENT – Completely stops rocking, rattling, and noise when driving
  • FITS ALL COMMON 1.25 INCH AND 2 INCH HITCH SIZES (CLASS I, II, III, IV)
  • RUST-FREE PROTECTION – U-Bolt coated with appealing orange rubber and thick black powder coated plate to provide anti-corrosion protection under all weather condition

I am always looking for new ways to make my life easier. I have found that this clamp is the perfect solution to quiet the hitch down. I have previously wrapped my hitch with electrical tape to help quiet the noise down from rattling in the hitch receiver.

But thanks to CZC AUTO Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener, there are no more tapes and no more noise. It also completely eliminated the wobbling. It’s so easy and quick, as soon as you get your tube into the hitch receiver, all you need to do is lock it down with the U-bolt and plate, a few turns of a wrench in order tighten everything up tight! 

The LIBERRWAY Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener is another one of our favorites and was also recommended by one of our readers.

LIBERRWAY Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener

LIBERRWAY Hitch Tightener
  • ELIMINATES RATTLE AND MOVEMENT – designed to completed eliminate hitch noises, wobble, rattle, and hitch movement for a quiet enjoyable towing experience
  • FITS ALL COMMON 1.25 INCH AND 2 INCH HITCH SIZES (CLASS I, II, III, IV)
  • RUST-FREE PROTECTION – heavy duty 304 stainless steel U-Bolt combined with thick powder coated plate to provide rust-free protection

How To Install A Hitch Clamp?

Hitch Clamp Diagram
  1. Simply slip the U-bolt over the tow bar. Slide the U-bolt to touch the face of the hitch receiver.
  2. Position the hitch tightener plate onto the U-bolt with raised end away from the hitch receiver.
  3. Add the washer, lock washer, and nut to one side of the U-bolt. Hand tighten the nut and repeat on the other side.
  4. Tighten the nuts evenly until the metal plate is tight to the tow bar and hitch receiver.

Important Note: check the nuts periodically to ensure that they remain tight.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a weekend cyclist or an avid bike rider, having your hitch rack sway and wobble while driving can be frustrating. But there is a simple and inexpensive solution to keep the rattle (and headaches) at bay.

Do yourself a favor and get a hitch clamp or anti-rattle device installed at the connection of the hitch and your receiver. With these types of devices installed, any movement should happen with the vehicle instead of independently from it – so no more rattling and welcome to the quiet world of towing!

What other creative DIY ways have you tried to stop the wobbling and quiet your hitch down? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear the creativity of my readers.

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