Dear Tom and Ray:
I have a 2007 Subaru Outback. It's the perfect vehicle for driving over hills and curves during winter storms, hauling garden supplies and toting around Theo, my 75-pound Goldendoodle. Here's my dilemma: I enjoy riding my bike with my friends. I am not tall enough to use a bike rack that mounts on top of the car, nor am I coordinated enough to stand on a ladder while hoisting my bike up that high. We have a bike rack that we used on our old Ford Explorer (now deceased) that I could manage well. It sat on the rear trailer hitch and was easy for me to use. I want to have a rear hitch installed on the Subaru for my bike rack, but my husband says it will decrease the value of the car. My fate lies with your decision. What should we do? — Anne
Ray: Go ahead and install the hitch, Anne.
Tom: Your husband is worried that when you try to sell the car, potential buyers will see the hitch and assume you were towing a trailer with the car, and they'll conclude that you put lots of extra wear and tear on the car that way and will shy away.
Ray: But that's a chance you'll have to take. After all, it's YOUR car now, right? So you should use it to make your life easier. And neither the hitch itself nor the bike rack will harm the car in any way.
Tom: You could remove the hitch when you're ready to sell the car, but when a buyer gets a good mechanic to inspect the car, he'll notice the bolt holes and know you had a hitch on there.
Ray: So I'd opt for absolute honesty. Just tell potential buyers that you never towed anything, you just used the hitch for a bike rack. These bike racks are common enough now that it won't surprise anybody.
Tom: Better yet, leave the bike rack on the car when you sell it, and offer it as an option.
Ray: And tell your husband he's worrying about nothing. Cheer him up by reminding him that the vicious dog smell is going to be a much greater impediment to selling this car than the hitch ever will be.