There are vehicles that already come with a built-in trailer hitch. This allows them to tow a trailer and haul different large and heavy objects at a time. You don’t have to feel sorry if your vehicle doesn’t have a trailer hitch. You can follow these 8 very simple steps to trailer hitch installation.
Read the Trailer Hitch Manufacturer’s Instructions
Automotive products always come with an instruction manual. The trailer hitch that you bought also comes with this manual. It is best to start the process of how to install a trailer hitch by reading the instructions.
Manufacturers will have their own guidelines on how to install their products on your vehicle. It’s recommended to familiarize yourself with the instructions. Try to determine if this is a task that you can do on your own or will it be more appropriate if you also have an assistant.
Prepare Your Tools
The instruction manual should also give you information on the different tools you need to prepare for trailer hitch installation. Make a list of all the tools that the instruction manual recommends. Check your toolbox or cabinet to see if you have these tools. If not, then you may want to improvise. You can also purchase the additional tools that you need.
The most common tools that people use in the installation of a trailer hitch include a socket set and ratchet, including a ratchet extension. A torque wrench and a swivel socket are also common. It is also important that you have a shop light, safety glasses, and work gloves.
Sometimes, you will also use a hydraulic jack, wheel chocks, and jack stands. A pry bar can also come in handy in some situations. A tape measure, paint pen, screwdriver, and trim tool may also be necessary. You might also have a need for Torx bits, die grinder, box wrench set, carbide drill bits, power drill, and cutting lubricant.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Park your car on a firm and flat surface. Engage the parking or emergency brake and shift the lever to Park. This will help stabilize the vehicle while you’re working underneath its rear end.
Most car owners will raise the rear end of their vehicle. This gives them plenty of room to work on. It allows greater freedom of movement while installing the tow hitch. If you have to raise your vehicle, make sure to rest the lifting points on a pair of jack stands.
Some types of tow hitches do not require lifting the vehicle. That’s why you have to read the instruction manual first. In such a case, put wheel chocks on the vehicle’s front wheels. This will help prevent the vehicle from rolling or moving.
Illuminate the Underside of Your Vehicle
The underside of your car is darker than the outside. You may not be able to see the bolts, nuts, and other things that you have to remove. You may also not be able to follow the instructions in the manual to the letter.
That is why you need a good shop light that will illuminate the area that you are working on. Tow hitch installation requires the removal of certain items under your car. This will help you install the hitch itself. Illuminating the underside of your vehicle will help you remove those things that you should remove.
Remove the Vehicle’s Spare Tire
Check the instruction manual again if it is necessary for you to remove the spare tire of your vehicle. This is because some automobiles have their spare tires mounted underneath the car. Also check if there is a need to lower the tailpipe. There are also those that require the lowering of a section of the exhaust assembly.
Removing these automotive parts will ensure that you are going to install the hitch in the correct way. You may want to have someone to assist you in the removal or the lowering of these auto parts.
Remove Everything that May Get in the Way of Installing the Trailer Hitch
The process of how to install a trailer hitch requires the removal of bolts and nuts. You may also have to remove the rubber plugs to make way for the installation of the hitch frame mount. Check your vehicle if it has a heat shield or small panels that may be in the way. Remove these, too. There are also hitches that require some drilling into the vehicle’s frame.
Most hitch installations do not require new hardware for mounting the tow hitch. However, you should double check the instructions. Make sure that you have all the necessary hardware before you start installing the trailer hitch.
Install the Trailer Hitch
Trailer hitches are very heavy. Some can weigh more than 50 pounds. It is best to have someone else to assist you in positioning the tow hitch under your car. Position the hitch according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not place it anywhere else under your vehicle.
Secure the trailer hitch by hand-tightening the bolts and nuts. Do not worry about the loose bolts for now. What is important is that you secure the tow hitch in its position. This will give you an idea if everything is where they should be.
Tighten the Bolts and Replace Everything
The last step in the process of trailer hitch installation is tightening the bolts using a torque wrench. Check the instruction for the correct amount of torque that you have to apply. Keep in mind that applying the wrong torque rating can have disastrous consequences. If too loose, the tow hitch might fall off. If too tight, the trailer hitch might bend or get damaged.
Once you have secured the tow hitch, you can replace the different auto parts that you removed. If there will be parts that you can no longer replace, then leave them.
Tow hitch installation is an easy process. It requires the removal of certain automotive parts and the installation of the trailer hitch onto your vehicle.
- How to Install a Trailer Hitch – Do It Yourself