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HITCH UPDATE ...

I finally had a hitch installed, (there was a very long wait for the GLA hitch). Just as a side note, the hitch was installed to simply carry bikes.

I would like to start off by saying it just should not be this involved to install a hitch on what is supposed to be a SUV. As most of you know, part of the plastic bumper had to be cut away. If I had to do this again I simply would not. I would opt to spend twice as much to install a "stealth" type hitch so no cutting would be necessary. I am only staying this for any of you who are thinking about a hitch down the road for their GLA. However again, with the Stealth hitch you forfeit a lot of ground clearance. Thankfully you do not see any of the "cut" unless you crawl under the car.

The price was $350 installed as compared to a Stealth type hitch which was more than twice as much. I think the saddest part of the entire ordeal was we lost the hands free rear hatch release. I must have asked a dozen people if there would be any chance I would lose this ability and I was assured the sensors run across the entire rear of the vehicle and we would still be able to enjoy this option. Whatever the reason we no longer can extend our foot under the car to release the gate. I understand there are much worse things, however again, I paid for this option which is yet another option I can't use.

I did a lot of research before the installation and it was not until after install did someone tell me that "cutting part of the bumper" could cause some heat problems as this bumper deflects the heat. I have no idea how this small piece of missing plastic could deflect anything but it has me more than worried. I can only hope this is untrue, after all, a lot of GLA owners have had a hitch installed in this same manner.

As soon as I load the bikes I will take plenty of photos for any of those who are interested.

I would like to thank all the people who chimed in on this post as your time was greatly appreciated.
I wouldn't worry if it's just the bumper cover that was cut. There are heat shields under the rear bumper area. I know from looking at the stealth hitch instructions it is only a minor trim of the one heat shield.

I'm in a holding pattern until my new GLA delivers, so hopefully by then steal hitches has a solution for the 2021 model.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Thanks so much John. I feel much better. So you are saying even with the stealth hitch there is a minor cut?

P.S. the 2021 looks awesome! Very happy for you! Enjoy!!!
 

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Thanks so much John. I feel much better. So you are saying even with the stealth hitch there is a minor cut?

P.S. the 2021 looks awesome! Very happy for you! Enjoy!!!
Yes, it looked to be a trim along part of the heat shield edge to clear the hitch point. The mount itself attaches to the bumper mounts and the hitch part hangs down in the center. Here's a screen shot from the stealth hitch instructions for that part.
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The addition of a hitch comes up a lot. I've seen brochures from the UK showing GLAs with caravans. So it would seem MB has a factory solution to a hitch. Am I wrong about this? Can anyone from the UK chime in here? Thanks in advance for and insights.
 

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HITCH UPDATE ...

I finally had a hitch installed, (there was a very long wait for the GLA hitch). Just as a side note, the hitch was installed to simply carry bikes.

However again, with the Stealth hitch you forfeit a lot of ground clearance.
you sure about that? I thought the stealth hitch detatched so you lost NO ground clearance when not towing bikes? I’m ok with losing lots when towing bikes.

also, go visit a high end stereo shop. One that is used to working on 100k cars. Ask them if they can relocate the sensor for the hitch release. I don’t have this feature, but i wouldnt sacrifice it. Id move the sensor to one side and should be GTG.
 

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Mr Wayne, can you confirm what you meant by forfeiting ground clearance? Did you mean only when the lower hitch is installed?

My expectation with the stealth hitch was that, when the hitch is detached from the mount, you lost NO ground clearance. zero.

And that maybe, GC is lower with the hitch ON, compared to a "normal" hitch where GC is lost 100% of the time.

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My full intention was to use the stealth hitch, figuring CG is TERRIBLE when towing bikes, but zero impact when not towing bikes. I don't want that thing sticking out of the back of my car when I finally register for driver's training at my local track.

Stealth hitch seemed totally ideal for this. But not if you know something that I don't.
 

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OK, here's my hitch update:

I bought the stealth hitch. It took me about 3.5 hours to install, including a quick run to Home Depot because when they said I needed a Hollow Nut Driver, they did not mean a deep well socket, that sucker has to go down 4 inches.

It was mostly a 1-man job, needed my wife to come out and help hold stuff for a total of 3 minutes. I could have probably managed it all solo. The bumper comes off and on solo no problem. I asked for help holding the crumple panel when I slide it off far enough to get the hitch on. I had the weight held by jackstands, so it was just a balancing act.

The hitch, when detached, is 100% within the bumper of the car. My muffler sticks down farther than this hitch. Way cool.

The heat shield was supposed to be cut. I did that. But I realize now that it needed to be cut for hand access to manipulate the key to unlock the hitch. So, actually I didn't need to cut the heat shield at all because my hands can reach the keyhole without issue. But it's done now, and no big deal.

With the hitch attached, I DID have to cut the bumper for fitment. On MY CAR, I have a textured plastic panel section butting up against a painted panel. I DID NOT CUT the painted panel. Only the textured panel WAY under the car. You can't see any cut unless you are 4 feet tall and closer than 10 feet to the back of the car.

What this does mean is that the hitch contacts the painted part of the bumper. I am OK with this because for 99% of my life, the hitch will not be installed. The car looks pristine. If I had a permanent hitch installed, I would have to cut away the painted part of the bumper and it would be a REAL eyesore.

Overall, I am satisfied with my purchase and the install. I have no comment for performance because the bike rack I want is OOS until October. So until then, I'm still putting the bike inside the car, and leaving the hitch attachment in the garage.

Here is the hitch framework attached to my crumple assembly.
IMG_7562.JPG
 

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Pictures say 1000 words.


This is the hitch socket tucked totally under the bumper.
IMG_7566.JPG

So you can see some will have to be cut. You can see the textured panel and the painted panel. The textured panel is easily replaceable, so I chose to cut this one only. For me, it works.
IMG_7567.JPG

I roughly marked the minimum clearance for the hitch then gave it a good 1/4" extra.
IMG_7568.JPG

IMG_7569.JPG

All cut. The section was removed, leaving the painted portion completely intact.
IMG_7570.JPG

This is the 10-foot view. You can sorta see it if you're looking for it, but otherwise, nothing. You can see that if I had cut the painted panel, that fin would be off, and it would be really quite ugly. But now, it's truly stealth, in that it's essentially not affecting the aesthetics of my vehicle.
IMG_7572.JPG

If you get up close and get close to the ground, you can see the cutout. Most people don't look at cars from this position.
IMG_7571.JPG

Another view at human height. Nicely invisible.
IMG_7573.JPG

This is with the hitch installed. It severely impacts that painted panel, so I added weather stripping to cushion the panel. In the end, I will upholster the top of the hitch with black closed cell foam, 1/8" thick.
IMG_7574.JPG

The view from behind the car. You can see the bumper has a major impact. If this were a non-stealth hitch, it would be totally unacceptable. I would have to cut the painted panel to make it fit. But that also compromises the aesthetics of the car, which I can not accept. So, overall, the stealth hitch solves this problem because I can totally accept this poor aesthetic look since the hitch will only be on when I want to transport bikes. It doesn't live on the car like this.
IMG_7577.JPG

If you want a hitch that is always ready-to-go, I think the stealth hitch is not the right answer. There is no benefit over a 1-piece hitch, and it's twice the cost or more. For me, who is, uh, "aesthetically sensitive", and only going to use the hitch for bikes, this is the perfect option, and worth the price of admission.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Finally, here are some photos of the standard hitch I had installed. As mentioned, I am only using the hitch to transport bikes. I'm still a bit bummed at the cutting that was done, (though you cannot see it unless you crawl under the car), and the loss of the hands-free lift gate. But, we all know, we cannot have everything. Here is hoping Mercedes builds future GLAs with hitches in mind.

IMG_9539.JPG
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Looks good and it doesn't look like a lot of cutting. I wonder if the sensor for the tailgate open feature could be moved left or right.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
That would be fantastic. I have my first service coming up. I will ask! Thank you Wayne!
 

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Besides the Stealth one, what hitches did you guys end up getting? Is the leakage problem with any/all hitches or just the Curt ones? I'm looking for a hitch just for a bike rack.
 

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The leakage issue is likely due to neglecting to reinstall the gasket between the hitch and the body panel, as well as the seal between the bumper and the hitch, because the hitch is sandwiched between the bumper and the body panel. It's necessary to ensure the gasket covering the hollow chamber in the bumper remains intact. There has to be a reason Mercedes put that gasket there. The Curt hitch I installed hasn't leaked and is a perfect fit.
 

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by the way, I'm jealous of your bike rack. I put my order in for a oneup rack a few weeks ago and am waiting for them to fulfill. The coronavirus bike craze has them and everyone else completely sold out on everything biking, I got a 30 day lead time on the 4-bike rack and on a coil spring upgrade for my bike fork. Waiting, Waiting...
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Thank you!! I would have liked the "black" rack however I understand it's just a "black powder coating". I will tell you I have had many racks and I can assure you this is best. Hope you receive it soon!!
 
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