Towing trash container with car - hitch needed? What does minimal hitch entail?

My driveway is long and steep, and difficult to walk in snow and ice. The rolling trash and recycling containers are getting too difficult to manage in winter. But my Subaru Forester goes up and down just fine. What would be the most practical way to use it to move them? They are too big to fit inside.

If I had a trailer hitch, it would be easy to adapt that. But even a Class 1 hitch, with a 2000 lb trailer rating and a 200 lb tongue rating, seems expensive and disruptive. I think that has something like ten times the capability I need.

Does a trailer hitch have to have electrical connections installed? I don’t want to tow anything on the road, just my driveway.

Do people get real, full blown hitches installed if they only want to use them for, say, a bike rack, or one of those platforms to carry a cooler?


Yes. Evidence: I got one installed on my station wagon for a bike rack, and I’m a person. :wink:

You don’t have to get any electrical connections installed. My hitch cost about $200, including installation.

I assume you’d need to buy some sort of rack too. Not sure how much a basic one is. I’d also imagine you’d want some sort of ramp so you aren’t lifting a heavy bin.

Seems like overkill to me, but my driveway is only six car lengths and relatively flat.

What about just tying a short rope to the top back of the containers, and tying the other end to the back top of the car – maybe even running it inside the back door. Then drive (slowly) down the driveway & leave them there?

Well, you can get bicycle racks that clip to the rear door. But I never liked them compared to using a trailer hitch.

This is kind of like plugging a 7 watt nightlight into a standard receptacle designed for 1850 watts. Yes it’s massively overkill but that’s the way it’s done. If you tried something else, you’d have trouble figuring out an alternate way of attaching it to your car, and then you’d find all the accessories are designed for standard trailer hitches.

You don’t need to have the wiring installed, but it could be a turn-off for a potential future buyer if they say wanted to haul a small trailer with it and the wiring wasn’t there.

Probably what you want is a “hitch-haul”, which is a kind of like a flatbed that mounts to the hitch. Not having wheels this puts a lot of torque on the hitch, but you’re good for a couple of hundred pounds so unless you’re throwing away loads of bricks you should be fine.

Not being blessed with a Subaru Forester, just a lowly Subaru Outback, I simply opened the drivers side window via the control for the windows. Stuck out my arm and held the trash bin handle while I drove up or down my steep driveway (up or down depending on if I am going from the house to street or street to house). My neighbor seeing this is now also doing this - though his land is flat, he has not given me any royalties, though I feel he should. Many times I have also just left the bins down at the street, sometimes this is easier then transporting them.

All this depends on trash bins with wheels, if they are w/o them either replace them or get other advice.

I would recommend just picking up something like these trunk mounted bike racks. You can put it on your car even if a wagon - the attachment is the same, and remove it when not in use. If your trash cans are the bin type with wheels, you can probably bungee them, one at a time, to the rack, and then slowly drive down the driveway.

You can probably find one on craigslist for a song.

I just saw this, if you decide to get an actual hitch: Tow A Bin.

Anyway, both ideas are the same principle.

Edit: looks like you can use the Tow A Bin without a hitch - see the web page.

I used to reach out the driver’s window and grab the handle and tow them alongside the car. You need to be careful they don’t rub the paint. Gets a bit dicey if the container is heavy, a bump can yank your arm, so go slow.

They sell exactly what you want, although a bit pricey and you still need the hitch:
But - I graduated to a golf cart. I got a cheap used electric cart for general use around the yard and the containers fit perfectly in the golf bag area. Just tip them back and put the front edge on the cart and stand up the container. A motorcycle strap holds it in place. I’m working on a better restraint.

Darn, it’s hard to find photos of the rear of a cart, here is one that shows the bag area:


Huh. Interesting.

OP, could you just leave the trash cans out of the way at the end of the drive, and just put your trash in big trash bags at your house (in the garage?). Then, just throw the trash bags in your car and drive them down to the bins left where it is picked up.

I don’t get trash pickup. I put our trash in our shed as we accumulate it, then just put the bags in the back of my Pathfinder (or truck) and drive it to the trash transfer station every 2-3 weeks.

That’s pretty slick.

I’m slightly amazed that this is enough of an issue for people that there are multiple solutions to the problem.

Both are clever solutions. Who’d have known but for the Dope.


As your neighbor demonstrates, this technique is good for moving a lot of different things. Except not for dog walking.

Lotta nice possibilities, thanks everybody! I didn’t think to use the term “bin” while searching. I would have found more.

I used to reach out the car window and pull the things back up the hill, too, with my 10 year old car, but the cans had scratched the paint pretty badly. There’s no way to control their motion well enough, as they go over all the bumps. When they are full, though, there’d be no way to handle the weight like this while going down the hill.

My driveway is very rough. It’s bank gravel, randomly sized smooth round stones with clay soil between them, the natural soil in this area. It’s steep and rutted, even though I work it over with a tractor and dozer blade yearly. Winter before last, a four wheel drive backhoe got stuck on it, trying to dig me out, and particularly bad drivers have been known to get stuck partway up in dry summer weather. And it’s two hundred and fifty feet long. I’m 60 with a bad back, and a big trash bin with 50 lbs of dirty cat litter in it is surprisingly challenging. So I can definitely say there’s a need. The big trash bins with plastic wheels were clearly designed with smooth paving and fairly flat terrain in mind.

But one thing surprises me – many (not all) of the solutions companies have come up with require getting the thing elevated, rather than making use of its wheels.


Update: I got a hitch installed on the car ($621). I thought the Cansporter looked nicest but at almost $200 it gave me pause, so I looked into the Tow A Bin. Their web site said they had none available and no plan for when they would have some available, so that seemed a dead end.

I went ahead with the Cansporter. With the ball mount that came with the hitch (the piece you stick into the hitch and screw a ball to), the bin touched the back gate of the car and was quite low to the ground, so I ordered a ball mount that sticks way out and also rises up five inches. I mounted the Cansporter to it.

My recycling bin easily pivoted up and latched into place. I drove it down the hill and easily took it off. Nice.

Then I did the same with my trash. As I backed down the driveway I saw my trash bin slowly bend down out of view and heard it start grinding on the driveway. The Cansporter base failed and was bent beyond repair.

They sent me a new base and I ordered a 5" by 5" by 5" piece of steel angle from so that I could mount the Cansporter base by two of its surfaces, rather than by the one surface they instruct. We will see if it works.

Find an old pallet and rig up a kind of a skid, and just drag the thing up and down the driveway with your trash balanced on it.

A pallet drug behind a vehicle on a deeply rutted driveway will tip over sooner than later. Unless it is really wide.

OP, you have deep ruts in a natural driveway and you are throwing away 50# of gravel in the trash? Dump the cat litter into your ruts and rake out the doodies to be tossed. Also for your $600 you could have bought a cheap collapsible trailer and tied it to your bumper without a hitch. We do that with the lawn mower to drag our flatbed around the lawn to pick up winter debris. In your case about 6’ of nylon rope tied to a 2X4 inside the closed hatch with a loop hanging out the closed back door. Run the trailer chains through the loop to cinch the tongue up tight under the bumper.

Some ingenious solutions here! Here’s another solution, similar to tow-a-bin:

Your driveway sounds a bit more challenging than mine, but I’ve just use a twist of baling twine tied to the center of the handle and a double end snap clip, and I clip it to the hatch attachment hoop. I have a Mazda though, not a Subaru so I don’t know if it’s the same set up. I’ve also used the twine and clip on my husband’s old car, but his didn’t have a place to hold the snap so I used a length of cord around the bumper. Actually it was an old dog leash, so I put a decent sized knot in it at the appropriate length and just used its own clip as a fastener. Then just clip the bin on and away you (slowly) go!

The caveat to this is that the twine and clip arrangement need to be long enough to maneuver the thing into position a bit, but not long enough for it to swing and sway.

Do you strap the lid closed? Does the bin just tumble along? Is your driveway smooth enough that it can’t catch on anything?

I don’t strap it unless it’s over full. My driveway now is flat but just dirt and gravel with a ridge in the middle. My last driveway was paved, but very steep and twisty. I don’t have large rocks though, that might indeed kill the wheels after a bit.

If you can manage to have the litter bags down low the balance seems to be much better and it tracks reasonably well. (I have a houseful of cats, I know how exhausting it can be wrangling that heavy bin down to the road!)