A tow hitch or you can say trailer hitch is a device attached to the vehicle for towing purposes. It can take the form of a tow ball to allow the turning of the axle and articulation of the trailer.
If you want to install a trailer hitch on your car, you need to know how to install it at home as it has certain pros for this job.
If you are DIY-inclined, then you are in luck, continue reading to learn how to install a trailer hitch simply on your own!
Advantages of installing a trailer hitch at home
At home, you will get to have these pros to install a trailer hitch:
Less time taking.
You will save a lot of dollars while doing it at home, as it can cost you from 400-800$ to get a trailer hitch installed from a car professional.
You will learn a new technique. Good for you if you would like to operate and fix your vehicle on your own sometimes.
Here a few tips that can help you walk through your installation process:
Pick out a hitch that will fit into the criteria of your vehicle’s type. Also, confirm that the hitch will fit your needs. Whether it will take you to tow a bike rack or mobile home.
Make sure you get all the tools in the first place and read all the instructions carefully before starting any step, as you wouldn’t want to realize that you missed a small bolt in the middle of the process.
Carefully inspect the area where you are going to attach the hitch. Do not definitely attach the hitch to a frame that is showing signs of the excess of damage or corrosion.
Do remember this always that your own safety is the number one priority. While elevating your vehicle, make sure that it is properly secured and doesn’t fall off while you’re working underneath it.
You should be following the steps properly and not missing out on anything. Usage of tools should also be properly rehearsed and focused on. Even mismatched sockets can lead to the impossibility of the process to be done successfully. While drilling holes, it is also important to use safety goggles. A metal shard can go in your eye and totally ruin everything for you. You obviously don’t want an accident to happen, so be careful.
Tools that you will need
Here are the tools you will need to complete installing a trailer hitch on your car successfully:
- Shop light
- Socket set
- Extension of the ratchet
- Swivel socket
- Working gloves
- Safety goggles
- Torque wrench
- Jack stand
- Clamps to hold the hitch
- Pry bar
- Tape measure
- Torx bits
- Trim tool
- Die grinder
- Carbide drill bits
- Paint pen
- Cutting lubricant
- Box wrench set
- Power drill
Steps to install a trailer hitch
Here are the long-awaited steps to install a trailer hitch at home by yourself:
Before the installation
It is a complicated project, and if you don’t adhere to the basic rules of using the equipment and steps, then you can mess it up. Keep all precautions in mind and prepare yourself for the process and consider the following:
Read the instruction manual and carefully select the correct trailer hitch according to the type of your car and the model of the brand.
Look often at the instructions, so you don’t forget to miss out on anything.
If there is excessive damage to that area where the trailer hitch will be installed, then do not install it. Rusty areas can make it vulnerable and more damaging.
Be sure to use the jack stand to secure the car into place while you go down to start working on it.
Prior to assembling the hitch, make sure that you dry assemble it.
Prep up the vehicle
Set aside all the tools necessary for the installation of the trailer hitch. Depending on your hitch, the tools can be different. As the hitch will need some extra tools rather than simple DIY ones.
The average DIY box contains the only day to day basis of repair work. But installing a new part to the car is not a day to day basis thing.
You need to get those tools and prep up.
Also, access the underside of the car by loosening the exhaust or bumper and remember to tighten them up in place when you finish installing.
Put the trailer hitch together
Start off by placing the wheel chocks on the front wheels. Jack up your vehicle by carefully examining the specific hitch and the work area.
For most installations of the trailer hitch, jacking was never necessary, but while you are doing it at home, you need to be careful with everything.
Make sure the emergency brake is on and that there is a safe height to applicate the jack stands to make the vehicle stable.
Do not tighten the bolts; first, hold the assembled hitch where you need to install it, so do further examining.
Set up a work light
When you are underneath the vehicle and working, you need a good work light to keep your focus in place. As you will also need to read the instructions now and then too.
Put the light where you can see most of the parts of the installation.
You will then be able to memorize the areas of bolts and holes completely and access everything properly.
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Remove the spare tire if necessary
The spare tire placed underneath the vehicle can be a problem while you are working on the rear space. It is better to remove it with a proper set of instructions. This is also the time when you need to lower the exhaust as it needs to be lowered during the installation.
Drilling the holes and removing some bolts:
This is the most important step to properly install the trailer hitch on your car. You need to make sure the holes you drill are not too big; otherwise, your trailer hitch will not be secure to your vehicle.
Use the trailer hitch as a template and then lock it into place with the clamps. Then use the holes from the trailer hitch as guides to the new ones. Now remove the template then clean out all fresh holes with screwdriver and lubricant.
Some trailer hitch installations require removing bolts and plugs to mount way for the hitch frame. Other vehicles require removing and trimming of heat shields and panels only.
Still, you need to drill them into the frame most of the time. The existing hardware can also be used for this process.
Put everything in position
With all the hardware prepared now, it is time to attach and install the trailer hitch. You may need assistance while working on it to pass you the tools or hold the light etc. First of all, attach the reinforcement plates that came with your hitch.
As they reinforce the frame and distribute the weight to the frame edges. Attach the hitch metal to metal, on to the frame now and remove the excessive weld.
Install any wiring and make sure you align and mount the hitch in a symmetrical manner. Then tighten all nuts and bolts into place.
If you seem like you are running into any problems, then do mistakenly make modifications to the hitch’s frame. As your hitch is designed to take and handle thousands of pounds at one time.
Adding more holes or any sorts of modifications can weaken the design of the hitch causing it to wear out and make an accident. Make sure that the trailer hitch is properly lined up with the vehicle and is even.
Use a proper torque wrench for fixing the hitch into place.
You can test the security of your trailer hitch by shaking, wiggling and tugging on it. Then check your brakes and signals to make sure the wiring is perfectly in place.
Your safety comes first, so don’t tow anything unless you are certain about the correction of the hitch installation.
If you think you still need some insurance, then consult a car professional and also get the hitch tested out.
So here is the ultimate step by step guide on how to install a trailer hitch on your vehicle specifically on your own! Hopefully, now you are ready to enjoy the benefits of your trailer hitch completely.
There is a variety of trailer hitches out there to befit your vehicle and your requirements. You can schedule a complete day and dedicate it to find the perfect trailer hitch for your vehicle, get all the tools in your bucket and get home.
Start working on your hitch through the steps mentioned above. At the end of the day, you will save some cash and accomplish a powerful task of installing a trailer hitch on your own.