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Old 05-13-2019, 09:30 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 78
stevekat is on a distinguished road
Hitch Receiver e53 OEM vs aftermarket

I have seen this topic somewhat beat to death, but I have not seen any associated hard evidence on the topic, just rhetoric.

I want to carry a dual sport bike to the dirt roads using a carrier. About 300 lbs. I know about the multiplier effect and the moment forces, the specs for tongue weight, and that their are dynamic loads.

In the past there are ad nauseam posts that say, 'use the factory hitch', 'use the factory hitch', 'use the factory hitch.' The claim is the earliest design of the aftermarket hitches damaged the rear pan due to it twisting downward. This makes sense. However the manufacturers added a strut to the rear subframe to correct this deficiency.

Some past posters claim they have seen this same failure after this design change, but I have not found a single one of these posters describe the failure mode or show a picture, with various excuses for not doing so.

I can get a factory hitch. And if I was pulling a heavy load of 5000 - 6000 lbs I would do so. I understand the argument. The factory hitch is well designed and appears very strong in this tension mode. However, in terms of the potential for a high tongue weight only, with no trailer towing, to me, the aftermarket hitch with the strut bar (Reese 51093, Draw-Tite 75492) seems like a more robust design than the OEM solution in terms of tongue load.

There was one member who had an aftermarket hitch with the strut reinforcement and claimed no problems in carrying a dirt bike, after much use.

I'd like to know if any members have experience with a failure of the system using the new type aftermarket hitch with the strut bar, carrying a high tongue weight, and who can describe the failure (did the strut collapse?) or has photos. Or success stories of using the aftermarket hitch carrying a motorcycle or other heavy tongue load.

As an aside, is there any OEM hitch (receiver) failure (twisting downward) recorded due to high tongue weight? For the aftermarket hitch, not as interested as much for failures due to tension load, though feel free to add your experience.)

I'd like to avoid anything that cannot have the failure mode particularly described. A bonus would be a photo. ie: that the hitch twisted down is not sufficient. How it did do so, in light of the present design with a strut bar, is what is necessary to support an example of an observed deficiency.

Again, it is acknowledged that the early design of these hitches without a strut bar were insufficient and need not be rehashed.

Perhaps we can clarify this prolific topic.

(Not interested in arguments that we should only use OEM parts or designs, about aesthetics, or about the competence of BMW engineers.)

Thanks. Perhaps we can reduce the lack of clarity to this ongoing discussion.
2003 X5 Sport w/Premium Package

Last edited by stevekat; 05-13-2019 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:53 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 78
stevekat is on a distinguished road
In my view, but obviously without calculation, the OEM hitch may or may not seem to be superior torsionally. The OEM hitch is robust, but seems to have four long bolts configured in a horizontal plane and one above and below on each side attaching into the reinforced box frame to hold the receiver bar to the system, and to resist twisting. The aftermarket receiver has a strut that to me would seem to provide significant torsional strength. Unless the strut bends or breaks, or the subframe component bends, the aftermarket receiver design may be near that of the OEM in terms of torsional resistance.

The way the OEM system replaces the rear bumper shock absorbers and anchors the solid inserts into the boxed rails certainly seems to provide much more significant system strength in tension.

The discussion should focus on observed failures of the revised design of the aftermarket hitch, if they exist, and the long term success of using the aftermarket hitch in the modes described, as well as comparing the OEM and aftermarket torsional design.
2003 X5 Sport w/Premium Package

Last edited by stevekat; 05-14-2019 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 05-14-2019, 12:01 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: SA, TX
Posts: 3,499
crystalworks is on a distinguished road
I don't think you are going to get a definitive answer to your dilemma. Would it be possible to try an aftermarket hitch and monitor it for your use case? Or would it be an immediate catastrophic failure? Are they expensive? OE hitches run anywhere from a few hundred to a grand. I have no experience with anything but the OE, and even that ends at removing/installing it. But I am interested in any info of OE vs AM as a matter of curiosity. Sorry for not having your requested data points hopefully someone else does.
2005 X5 4.4i Build 04/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, Pano, Sport (Purchased 06/14 w/ 109,000 miles) (Sold 8/15 w/121,000 miles)

2006 X5 4.8is Build 11/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, DSP, Pano, Running Boards, OEM Tow Hitch, Cold Weather Pckg (Purchased 08/15 w/ 90,500 miles)

2010 X5 35d Build 02/10
Nav, HiFi, 6 DVD, Sports Pckg, Cold Weather Pckg, HUD, CAS, Running Boards, Leather Dash, PDC, Pano (Purchased 03/17 w/ 136,120 miles)
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:21 AM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: NYC
Posts: 4,592
SlickGT1 is on a distinguished road
OE hitch is way more robust than anything aftermarket. There is just no discussion there. It’s all about tongue weight. And the way the OE goes into factory frame rails and bolts through, means the its tongue is that much more secure.

It’s all about the weakest link. And the weakest link on aftermarket would be the way it attaches to the car. Anyway, I don’t think you will have instant failure with an aftermarket hitch, but if you can get an OE for reasonable money, do it. There is no question that it’s better no matter what you throw at it. It’s just solid with no reported failures as far as i remember.
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