HOW TO INSTALL TRAILER HITCHES

   
BEFORE YOU START


Make sure you have the correct hitch for your vehicle and the trailer being towed.
Review the instruction sheet provided with the
hitch.
Check the hitch attachment area of the vehicle.
Do not attach a hitch to a vehicle which shows excessive corrosion or damage in the hitch attachment areas.
Take the appropriate safety precautions. When
elevating the vehicle on a hoist or ramps ensure that the vehicle is properly secured and blocked such that it will not fall or roll off its supports.
Use the appropriate tools and wear safety
glasses when drilling holes.

    

INSTALLATION TIPS
    

1. Prior to installation, it is good practice to loosely Assemble the hitch, install the drawbar, pin and clip and hold the hitch up into position. This will allow identification of any obstructions to the installation, verification of drawbar position on the vehicle and will give an idea of how the hitch is to be installed.

2. A scissors jack or floor jack can be very useful
in holding the hitch up in place. In many cases clamps can be used to clamp the hitch to the frame during the installation procedure.

3. It may be necessary to temporarily loosen the exhaust system and/or slightly reposition it to clear the hitch during installation. This is particularly true where an exhaust system has been replaced prior to installing the hitch, as all hitches are designed using vehicle original equipment . Do not forget to reattach any exhaust clamps, hangers etc. after hitch installation.

4. In some cases, it may be necessary to adjust the bumper on a vehicle, or the brackets which mount to the bumper, in order to properly install the hitch. Most bumpers are mounted to the bumper brackets using bolts in slots. Find the appropriate bolts and adjust the bumper accordingly.

5. Wherever possible, hitches are designed to use existing holes. In cases where appropriate holes are not available, holes must be drilled in the frame. Once the hitch is accurately positioned and clamped in place on the vehicle, holes can be drilled in the appropriate places using the holes in the hitch as a guide.

6. In cases where the holes must be drilled without using the hitch as a guide, hole locations can be permanently identified by spraying black paint through the hole locations. Remove the hitch, center punch the hole positions and drill a pilot hole. This can then be followed with the appropriate drill size for the hole required.

7. Drill holes that are either the same size as the
bolt or at the most 1/32" larger. Clearance holes or slots are provided in the hitch for adjustment.

8. When drilling, be extremely careful to avoid
drilling into vehicle components which are located behind where the hole is being drilled. Slacken off pressure on the drill just prior to breaking through.

9. When installing the hitch, be sure to use the reinforcing plates supplied with the hitch where appropriate. These plates reinforce the frame and spread the load to the frame edges.

10. The hitch must have solid metal to metal contact with the vehicle attachment points. Excessive undercoating or weld on the vehicle should be removed.

11. All hardware, with the exception of tab nuts ( thin nuts welded to a wire used on some hitch applications) and U-bolts are grade 5 (Imperial sizes) or 8.8 (metric sizes). Tighten all bolts to the torque levels in chart below.

BOLT SIZE

GRADE 5 TORQUE

METRIC

GRADE 8.8 TORQUE

3/8

30 Ft. Lb.

8 mm

18 Ft. Lb.

7/16

54 Ft. Lb.

10 mm

36 Ft. Lb.

1/2

72 Ft. Lb.

12 mm

64 Ft. Lb.

5/8

150 Ft. Lb.

14 mm

103 Ft. Lb.

3/4

245 Ft. Lb.

   
     
Tab Nuts- Torque to 38 ft-lb
U-Bolts - Torque 3/8" U-Bolts to 18 ft-lb
Torque 7/16" U-Bolts to 28 ft-lb

12. Never modify the hitch in any way. Do not drill holes into the hitch to mount accessories etc.

13. Never cut holes or modify the assembly using a
torch. Never weld a hitch to the vehicle frame.
    

ACCESS TO ENCLOSED FRAMES

BOLT LEADERS

In many applications it is necessary to get a bolt with a reinforcing plate into an enclosed or difficult to get to area of the frame of the vehicle. Bolt leaders are provided to pull the fastener assembly into place. An access hole is usually present in the frame through which the assembly is pulled. Usually, a carriage bolt is supplied with a reinforcing plate that is larger than the enclosed area. In this way, the assembly will lock in place and not spin when the nut is installed on the carriage bolt.

     

1. Check to see if the reinforcing plate and bolt head will fit through the access hole. If not modify the hole to accept the hardware supplied. A common way to accomplish this is to use a large wrench or pry bar to enlarge the opening as shown. A file can be used to open up the hole just enough to allow the fastener assembly to pass through the hole.

2. Thread the reinforcing plate and hardware onto the
bolt leader. Hold the assembly up in place putting a bend in the bolt leader at the correct distance between the access hole and the attachment hole. Fish the bolt leader through the access hole. The bend will help to fish the leader through the attachment hole.

3. Pull the hardware into position. It is much easier to
pull the bolt and reinforcing plate through independently without the two engaged.

4. When installing the hitch, be careful not to push the fastener assembly into the frame. The best way to avoid this is to leave the bolt leader on the bolt, threading it through the holes in the hitch as it is raised into place. Once the hitch is clamped or bolted in place the bolt leaders can be removed and the nuts installed.


U-BOLTS

Another common method used to access an enclosed frame utilizes a square cornered U-bolt. Usually , the hitch assembly can be used as a template to drill the two holes required for the U-bolt. Ensure that the two nuts are drawn up evenly on the U-bolt during installation. If one nut is installed at a time, the U-bolt may bend and break.