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Stealth Hitches Concerns (Invisihitch issues on BMW)

thefrog1394

Member
Dec 15, 2019
56
42
Ohio
Just ordered a Stealth Hitches tow package for my Model 3 and am having some second thoughts after trying to research the company. According to Car and Driver, the Tesla Model 3 is their best selling hitch. They seem to have popped up out of thin air a few years ago. Turns out, they are based in the exact same suburb of Atlanta (Suwanee, Georgia) as Invisihitch which disappeared (and stopped honoring their lifetime warranty) a few years back after apparently having issues in the BMW community. Oh and the design appears to be nearly identical. Does anyone on here know anything about this company?

What started me down this research hole is my concern that their stated weight limits all seem suspiciously high. Is their design really able to handle 1,500 more lbs of towing capacity and 50 lbs more tongue weight than the EcoHitch? All through that round shank held in by a pin? (The tongue weight difference is particularly odd to me). Or are they just using smaller safety factors so that they can appear to be the superior product?

Second post in this thread mentions "an unfortunate design failure incident".

This thread seems to indicate that Invisihitch shut down and stopped honoring their lifetime warranty

Hope this doesn't come across as trying to bash Stealth Hitches. Maybe there is a reasonable backstory here. Just wanted to throw this out there and see if anyone knows more.

EDIT: Looks like Invisihitch did in fact go out of business but the current CEO of Stealth Hitches (Steve Nance) was also involved with Invisihitch. According to this thread the owner of Invisihitch passed away which is why the company was shut down. Sounds like someone heavily involved in the original product/company went out and started a new one with a similar (but slightly improved with a Stainless Steel block) design. Probably nothing to be concerned about here.

EDIT #2: The original owner of Invisihitch, Daryl Savell, seems to have been active over on the SwedeSpeed forums and claims that the Stealth Hitches design (at least for the Volvo XC90) is less safe as it fills the crumple zones with steel. No idea what to make of any of this other than wishing that Tesla would come out with an OEM hitch for the Model 3 here in North America so that we aren't stuck dealing with third party manufacturers and all of the unknowns that come with it.

EDIT #3: This Daryl Savell guy sounds interesting. On that note I'm out for the night. Maybe I'll just get a roof rack instead lol
 
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thefrog1394

Member
Dec 15, 2019
56
42
Ohio
Ok, one final comment. What brought to this absurd google-hole in the first place is a concern that I might overload my hitch rack with heavy bikes. This seems to be a common discussion on Tesla forums b/c of Tesla's fairly conservative recommendations when it comes to vertical bike loads on their OEM hitches. Daryl of Invisihitch seemed to think this was a non-issue.

In response to this photo, he stated:
1624338267776.png


I agree. I don't generally caution about bike carriers because today's bicycles are so lightweight. An adult mountain bike may weigh in at about 25 lbs; some are a couple of pounds under that. You've probably got less than 100 lbs of bikes on your 4-bike rack. Even with the moment introduced by the length of the rack, it's unlikely that you're in any real danger of causing damage due to tongue-weight overload. If you want to err on the side of caution, you could strap the carrier to the vehicle to impede bouncing.

What really concerns me are cargo platforms, and the tendency of some folks to load such platforms with hundreds of pounds of gear or supplies, such as multiple full ice chests for a weekend outing or stacks of concrete pavers for a home-improvement project. And they sometimes load the heaviest items at the rear of the platform to make those items easier to get on/off. Overloading is an easy mistake to make with a cargo carrier.

In todays world of electric bikes weighing 50+lbs I'm not really sure his conclusion still holds though. Oh and that Volvo's Invisihitch was rated at 500lbs of tongue weight.
 

jrweiss98020

Tessa's Tesla
Jan 9, 2020
468
335
Edmonds, WA
What do you think you're going to tow with the M3?!? I would NOT even THINK about going over Class I limits, regardless of the hitch! Looking at the photo above, why would you EVER want that much weight that far behind the car?!? Get a pickup truck!

Whether or not there was a historical problem with the BMW hitch, the installer here in Seattle believes the Stealth hitch is a good product.

FWIW, I have a Stealth hitch and currently use it for a bike rack with total weight of ~90 lb. I am thinking of getting a wiring harness to pull my boat trailer with a total weight of ~240 lb.
 

thefrog1394

Member
Dec 15, 2019
56
42
Ohio
What do you think you're going to tow with the M3?!? I would NOT even THINK about going over Class I limits, regardless of the hitch! Looking at the photo above, why would you EVER want that much weight that far behind the car?!? Get a pickup truck!

Whether or not there was a historical problem with the BMW hitch, the installer here in Seattle believes the Stealth hitch is a good product.

FWIW, I have a Stealth hitch and currently use it for a bike rack with total weight of ~90 lb. I am thinking of getting a wiring harness to pull my boat trailer with a total weight of ~240 lb.
I'm mainly concerned with loading 3-4 bikes onto a 1Up USA rack. I do tow a 4x8 utility trailer quite a bit with my 335i and I'd like to start doing that with my Model 3 but even loaded to its maximum 2k lbs, unless I have the weight seriously imbalanced, I'd worry about that far less than a 50lb ebike hanging 4 feet behind the car on a 1up bike rack.

I'm happy to hear that your installer likes the product though, that's a good data point.

As to the pickup truck comment... why guzzle gas in a truck when you can tow a trailer when you need it? Just got back from a few hundred mile drive with 3 bikes on the roof rack on my 3-series. I'm trying to come up with a similar setup for the Model 3 so I don't have to drink $100 of premium gas every time we want to bring the bikes along. Oh yea and I do have a Cybertruck reservation too haha
 
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agreif

Member
Mar 3, 2020
39
12
Chicago, IL
Ok, what am I supposed to take from this? Avoid and go to the EcoHitch design? Seems suspect one business closing down and the leadership starting a nearly identical company to replace it, but do like the design for a bike only 2 up rack.
 

Gasaraki

Active Member
Oct 21, 2019
2,010
1,255
Syracuse, NY
What do you think you're going to tow with the M3?!? I would NOT even THINK about going over Class I limits, regardless of the hitch! Looking at the photo above, why would you EVER want that much weight that far behind the car?!? Get a pickup truck!

Whether or not there was a historical problem with the BMW hitch, the installer here in Seattle believes the Stealth hitch is a good product.

FWIW, I have a Stealth hitch and currently use it for a bike rack with total weight of ~90 lb. I am thinking of getting a wiring harness to pull my boat trailer with a total weight of ~240 lb.
Please look at cars they sell in Norway. No one really needs a pickup truck when all the cars have a tow hitch. I wish they offered the Model 3 retractable tow ball like the Model 3s they sell in Europe.
 
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jrweiss98020

Tessa's Tesla
Jan 9, 2020
468
335
Edmonds, WA
thefrog1394 talks about a claimed 500# tongue weight limit on the Invisihitch. It is certainly possible that some doughheads decided they could actually put 500# on it, on a car rated for only 150 or 200#, then claimed the hitch was defective...

Class I hitches are limited to 2000# and 200# tongue weight. Many cars are rated for only 1000-1500#. While they may not have a stated tongue weight limit, 10% of the tow rating is reasonable. Just because you have a hitch with a higher rating doesn't mean you can use it with that load... A 4-up bike rack with 4 bikes will likely approach or exceed 200#. My 2-up rack is a lightweight at 32#; many are well over 50#.
 

thefrog1394

Member
Dec 15, 2019
56
42
Ohio
@jrweiss98020 the Model 3 has no tow rating in North America. The only numbers available to go by are the hitch manufacturer claims. Stealth Hitches claims a 3500/350lb rating for their hitch (compared to 2000/300lb for EcoHitch and 2000/200lb for Curt). In the UK, where the Model 3 used to be available with a hitch (although it seems to be being phased out as it is only available off-menu now), the hitch is rated for 910kg/100kg (2000/220lb). But also mentions a 55kg limit for accessories such as bike racks (121lbs). Note that the 2021 Model 3 has had the rear bumper/hitch connection point slightly redesigned (down to 6 total bolts from 8, missing the inner top bolt on each side). So I'm not even clear that the new design is rated to tow in Europe at all. Stealth Hitches has redesigned their hitch to support this new setup. I do not believe EcoHitch has done so yet.

I find the whole "never exceed manufacturer tow ratings" thing that third party hitch providers do to be serious weasel language. The manufacturer tow rating is 0. Why the hell are you making a 3,500lb hitch for a car that is not rated to tow and then telling me to abide by that manufacturer 0lb tow rating? If the Stealth Hitch is rated for 3,500/350lbs it should be able to handle that much.

Now the vertical bike loading thing is a different story. 350lbs is at the hitch. That should reasonably be derated for bike carriers carrying something 4 feet away from the car.

In response to your question @agreif I don't have a clear answer for what the takeaway is. I still think the Stealth Hitches design looks high quality. It looks like the current CEO Steve may have predated the Invisihitch CEO and actually been with Execuhitch (which Invisihitch bought out). My personal takeaway is that I do not plan to put much stock in the lifetime warranty as historically the company seems to only stick around a few years. Replacement parts could be an issue in the future too. On the other hand, it sounds like they are doing well this time around, so maybe they are here to stay.

I will say that anytime EcoHitch is brought up on these forums, folks will often mention their rust issues with the original Model S with Stealth Hitch mentioned as a premium alternative. Given the catastrophic failures with some of their BMW hitches, the corporate entities seeming to only last a few years at a time, and various members of management apparently (allegedly) cycling in and out of jail on everything from felony IP theft charges to underwear theft, I think Stealth Hitches should be approached with as much or more skepticism as Torklift Central. Given the usability of the product seems superior to EcoHitch with the quick release mechanism and rapid response to the updated Model 3 design, I'm planning to keep and install my Stealth Hitch and evaluate the product on its own merits. But I don't feel as great about dropping nearly $1k on it as I did before looking into the company history.
 
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Two-rocks

Member
Jan 18, 2021
158
189
gone
I own a stealth hitch. Top notch stuff. Tow a dinghy with a small outboard. Full of beer and ice for a week away on the big boat it’s maybe 1k lbs. total.

we see idiots in our area with cantilever bike racks way, way overloaded. Every day.

moment arm. simple stuff taught in 6th grade.

Should you need warranty work, you could have earned enough money during the google hole search and just bought another one.
 
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thefrog1394

Member
Dec 15, 2019
56
42
Ohio
Ok, let's do some moment arm math.

Hidden Hitch Specs (eTrailer):
10" from Ball to Peg, rated at 350lbs of tongue weight = 291.7 ft-lb at the hitch pivot point

1up 2" Super Duty + 2 bike addons has a center of mass approx 25" from the pivot pt (specs)
1up 2" Super Duty weighs 47lbs + 18.5lb * 2 for addons = 84lb
291.7 / 2.08 = 140 lbs at center of mass allowable or about 14 lbs per bike.
So even with the most aggressive numbers, 4 bikes is a no-go.

3 bikes = 21in from pivot, 65.5lbs
This comes out to 33lbs per bike for 3 bikes. Which is fairly usable.

Now let's compare to EcoHitch
10" from Ball to Pivot pt approx, 300lb tonque weight = 250ft-lb
for 3 bikes this comes out to 25lb/bike which is still somewhat usable although cutting things close

For the OEM hitch, things are a little tricker (it looks something like this)
1624383994952.png

I'm going to assume 220lb = 220ft-lb allowed although the curved arm might mean that this is off.
This would come out to 20lb per bike using the factory rating which is getting into danger territory for 3 bikes.

Bottom line is that, regardless of which hitch specs are used, 3 bikes is fairly safe, 4 not so much. Maybe stick to 2 if you want to stay closest to Tesla recommendations.
 
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thefrog1394

Member
Dec 15, 2019
56
42
Ohio
Update on the Stealth Hitch. I ordered from e-trailer and installed the Stealth Hitch without a hitch! Stealth hitches has apparently been bought out by B&W Hitches, so my doubts about warranty, longevity, etc were for naught. Looks like a quality piece of product and I'm glad I went this route over the alternatives. Only downside is the price.


IMG_6866.jpeg


Some notes from my install:
  • Cutting the plastic dust shield under the car cleanly is easier said than done. And this hitch doesn't come with any kind of cover. I ended up driving out to my local Tesla service center and buying the newer version with the tow hitch cutout which was super easy to install with the bumper off.
  • The kit was missing one of the nylon washers used to keep the aluminum and steel parts separate. I ran up to home depot and bought some similar ones for a few bucks rather than delay my install.
  • Even with the nylon washers, one side had a small area touching. The actual aluminum on the car seemed a little bent. Assuming this is just the usual Tesla fit and finish issues from early production (I have a 2018 model). I'm counting on the hitch powder coating holding up to prevent galvanic corrosion here, but I may peek in and check after a winter or two and see how it's holding up. The hitch design wouldn't have mattered here, although I could have used thicker nylon standoffs I suppose.
  • I haven't installed the wiring harness yet, but the instructions tell you to run the power wire all the way to the battery. I don't think this is necessary nor advisable (although with such low power draw, it likely doesn't really matter). I plan to tap into the rear amplifier power wire instead.
 

dww12

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Nov 10, 2018
895
5,940
San Antonio
What do you think you're going to tow with the M3?!? I would NOT even THINK about going over Class I limits, regardless of the hitch! Looking at the photo above, why would you EVER want that much weight that far behind the car?!? Get a pickup truck!

Whether or not there was a historical problem with the BMW hitch, the installer here in Seattle believes the Stealth hitch is a good product.

FWIW, I have a Stealth hitch and currently use it for a bike rack with total weight of ~90 lb. I am thinking of getting a wiring harness to pull my boat trailer with a total weight of ~240 lb.
I see someone has not watched this. It’s a one off custom hitch, but wow!
 

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