How to Install a Trailer Hitch
If you own a truck capable of towing, you can add a trailer hitch. While this piece of equipment comes standard on many trucks, in other cases you have to add the hitch yourself. If you need to tow another vehicle or a storage container or use your vehicle for rescue service, a trailer hitch is a must-have. This article will show you how to properly install a trailer hitch to your current truck.
Step 1: Before the Installation
Installing a trailer hitch can be a complicated project if you don't adhere to some basic safety and assembly precautions. The following should be taken into consideration as you ready yourself to install a trailer hitch:
- Consult your manual so you can select the correct trailer hitch
- Look at the instructions for the trailer hitch often
- Do not install a trailer hitch if there is excessive damage or rust to the area
- When lifting the vehicle to install the hitch; be sure it is secured
- Dry assemble the hitch so you can identify any problems prior to assembly
When you are sure you can continue safely, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Preparing the Truck
To properly install a trailer hitch you need easy access to the underside of the back of the truck. Use the jack to lift the truck. You may have to loosen the exhaust or bumper in order to get the trailer hitch installed to your truck. If either of these need to be done remember to tighten them in place when you are finished installing the trailer hitch.
Step 3: Put the Trailer Hitch Together
Consult the instructions that came with your trailer hitch and put the entire thing together according to those instructions. Do not tighten the bolts at this point. Hold the assembled trailer hitch up to the truck to make sure that there will be a proper fit. The other benefit here is to alert you to any parts that may be missing from the trailer hitch.
Step 4: Drilling the Holes
This may be the most important step to proper trailer-hitch installation. If the holes are too big, the trailer hitch will not be secured to your truck. Use the loosely assembled trailer hitch as a template. Hold it in place with the C-clamps and use the holes from the trailer hitch as the guides for the new holes. Remove the template and clean out the fresh holes with WD-40 using the screwdriver.
Step 5: Attach the Trailer Hitch
With the holes drilled you can now attach the trailer hitch but first you should install the reinforcing plates that came with the trailer hitch. Follow the instructions provided. Now, line the hitch assembly up with your holes again and insert the bolts. Tighten them just slightly. Next, make sure that the trailer hitch is properly lined up with the truck and that it is even. Then you can tighten the bolts.