How to Install a Trailer Hitch

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Last Updated on July 19, 2022

Towing a trailer to carry stuff from one place to another becomes necessary in so many situations in one’s life. And to be able to safely tow you want to make sure the trailer hitch is properly attached to the vehicle.

What we are going to talk about is how to install a trailer hitch and keep things safe.

How to install trailer hitch

Trailer Hitch Installation – Is it Easy Enough?

If you are having thoughts like who can install a hitch on my car or trailer then this is the segment that shall answer. 

You see, the installation proceeds are not difficult. And with a little knowledge on how automobile altering takes place or repairing relevant ideas, you can easily get it done. There’s no need to spend on professionals in that case.

But if you don’t have such knowledge or simply can’t give the time necessary for the installation, hiring an expert is recommended. There’s a reason why U-Haul hitch installs service and more like so are in demand all the time.

However, if you are ready to get the installation done yourself, here’re a few things to think about first:

  • Find out whether there’s a need to remove any certain hardware that can be an obstacle in your installation process.
  • Make sure you know about the torque recommendation for each hardware as that would be an important last step you’ll need to sort out.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Trailer Hitch?

The trailer hitch installation cost will vary depending on several factors playing significant roles. And one of the most important ones is the type of both the vehicle and the hitch.

With a usual ball-style application, you need to put aside 150 to 450 dollars for the parts purchase and then the labor cost will be ranging between 100 to 250 dollars. There are several other criteria to decide specific tow package installation costs individually.

Before You Install a Trailer Hitch

  • You must get only the suitable hitch for the vehicle and trailer combination.
  • Take your time to read the provided instruction manual before doing anything at all.
  • The spot of the vehicle where the hitch needs to attach, make sure to inspect it toughly. Any wear or tear available there means you should first sort it out and then think about attaching the hitch.
  • The vehicle falling or rolling off is the worst thing to happen during the installation. So, you want to avoid that by using methods to block and secure the vehicle proper way.
  • The process includes drilling holes and so, you must wear proper safety glasses and use all necessary safety gear.
  • A loose assembly of the hitch will help in the installation. So do that before installation. You want to have the drawbar, pin, and clip installed. This also helps in identifying underlying issues that would have popped during the installation later.

Here’s How to Install a Trailer Hitch

Once you are done with the preparation, it’s time to jump right into the installation phase. For the trailer hitch installation, follow the given steps:

  • Have wheel chocks in the front tire of your vehicle and make sure to rear the rear side for proper access. Arrange for an ample amount of lighting in the area you’ll be working in.
  • Remove the spare tire, if there’s any underneath the vehicle. In some cases, you’ll find instructions given in the manual for lowering the exhaust.
  • You should also look for instructions on what specific hardware needs removing. This is for allowing the installation of the support bar.
  • If the vehicle you are willing to install the trailer hitch does not have drilling done, you need to do it at this point.
  • Raise the support bar to the right place. You need to hand tighten it for attaching the hardware. Don’t forget to ask for help from a friend if the bar seems too heavy to handle alone.
  • Once you get all the hardware in the spot according to your specific manual, torque each bolt. And of course, you want to follow the recommended settings to do so. Usually to safely connect a trailer hitch. 100 to 150 ft-lb torque is necessary.

Follow These Tips for a Professional Trailer Hitch Installation Result

You can make the installation end up just like how the professionals would do it by following a few easy tips. And so, before you use trailer hitch make sure these were also included in the installation phase.

1. Clean the Pre-Existing Weld Nuts for Better Connection of Hitch

The underneath of your vehicle is most of the time exposed to several outdoor elements. And these invite corrosion, rust, and whatnot issues to that area. 

If you don’t note down the wear and tear on the weld nut, and take care of it earlier, to simply quicken the installation process of the hitch, later it’ll just end up being more work by finding the hitch to not work as smoothly as it should.

And so, take some time getting rid of all the minor build-up as well as rust. You can use a good-quality lubricant with penetration traits. Use a regular wire brush and clean the threads. If the rust is too stubborn, use a thread tap. 

Make sure to follow a perpendicular tap motion to not strip the threads. And this shall help in the easy threading of trailer hitch bolts during the installation.

2. The Proper Fish Wiring of Bolts

Certain hitch, such as the curt one, will require you to fish wire. And in that case, you might need dishware-provided hardware through vehicle frame’s holes. The coil end will go through the mounting hole. 

And then it must come out of the access hole. In the coiled end, don’t forget to use a spacer. Make sure the bolt is threaded well onto the coil.

Now the other end of the fish wire needs to pass through the mounting hole. You want to have the bolt stud go through the spacer and it should access out of the mounting hole then. 

Bring the trailer hitch assembly to its accurate position and feed the fish wire through the right hole on the hitch for mounting. Get the fish wire out from the bolt and use the right nut afterward.

If you need to reverse fish wiring of bolts on the frame of the vehicle, then start by the coiled end of the wire for threading the bolt. Next, the bolt should go side the mounting hole while having the head enter first. If the hole is not big enough, use a die grinder.

Use a spacer for feeding wire and then let it get inside the mounting hole. Bring the wire down and let the bolt stud enter through the spacer to come out of the mounting hole. The bold head should stay inside the frame, make sure the spacer is in such a way.

Next, you want to have the hitch in the right position while passing the wire through the proper hole on the hitch. Get the fish wire out from the bolt carefully to end things with a nut.

3. Lower The Exhaust for A While

During the installation, a tight fit is a key against the vehicle. And so, you might need to temporarily lower the exhaust system of your vehicle. Just separate the rubber isolators from the hanger rod. 

And then use wire ties or a rope at the hanger point to adequately support the tailpipe as well as an exhaust system. A few inches of slack is recommended.

Use a soapy water mixture for squirting the connection. You can also use a lubricant. Then with the help of a pry bar, carefully deal with the hanger stops as well as rubber isolators.

4. While Drilling into Frame

If there are no pre-existing mounting holes for the hitch attachment, you need to drill those yourself. 

Use the hitch as a guide to decide the drill locations and mark those with a paint pen. Create a tiny pilot hole. Use the proper size drill bit and don’t forget to use some cutting lubricant as well.

You can move to bigger size bits for increasing the hole size gradually. Once the hole size seems correct for the bolts, the holes are ready. If there’s a spacer, then you may also need to enlarge the hole accordingly to accommodate the spacer. Die grinder helps a lot for such a purpose.

Wrapping Up

And that was all about how to install a trailer hitch. However, the whole thing could feel a little intimidating to a few folks. 

In that case, you could look for a tow package installation near you. Some professionals can handle the installation entirely for you and not to mention, they’ll get it attached in the safest way possible with their expertise on the matter.

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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