During summertime spin, you will need a tow hitch, popularly known as a trailer hitch to move your new boat to the lake or get your camper into the mountains. U-Haul, Pep Boys, and Amazon Home Services are the best at installing tow hitch on trucks or cars because their services cut across the nation. Professional hitch installation would cost you over a hundred bucks, but doing the installation by yourself is very popular and not too difficult.
However, hitch installation could get complicated with certain types of a hitch, as well as some cars. You can get installation services from local vehicles and repair shops; you only need to find the one nearest to you. Hitch installation is also available with the majority of vehicle dealerships but at costly prices.
What is a Trailer Hitch?
A tow/trailer hitch is a device that provides a connection between a trailer and the tow vehicle, attaching to the tow vehicle directly. Its installations are mostly seen as permanent. The component of a fixed tongue is a flat fixed (non-removable) drawbar. A receiver-style hitch, on the other hand, contains a receptacle (majorly 1-1/4” or 2”), which is used for introducing bike racks or special ball mounts.
Trailer installation is a very simple automotive task.
The following steps may be followed in installing a typical trailer hitch: spare tire removal, moving the exhaust downward, old vehicle hardware removal, positioning the hitch by lifting, and torquing the trailer hitch hardware to the accurate values.
This article will discuss places you can find trailer hitch installation companies, a guide on hitch installation, as well as answers to questions about warranty, cost, time, and professional tips.
We won’t dive deeper into each trailer hitch type, but understand that you might go through stress before you can locate a hitch installer or auto mechanic who knows their way around installation equipment such as wheel hinges to help with your complicated hitch installation.
Best Trailer Hitch Installers
Companies like Amazon, U-Haul, or Pep Boys will work the majority of hitch installation jobs because many trailer hitch installation works are very straightforward. The only factors that complicate hitch installation are the brand and model of your car, the total weight you want to tow, and the compatibility of your car with standard hitches.
Here are the tow hitch installers you can hire:
U-Haul is available nationwide. The company has above 1,500 locations across the nation, and the majority of them perform tow installation. Hitch installation by U-Haul costs with the range of $100 and $150 excluding the cost of the trailer hitch and other installation equipment.
The company’s online pricing tool also doesn’t provide a quote for trailer hitch installation, so you can only get a quote when you call. To know more about U-Haul’s services, pricing, and customer experience, kindly read our U-Haul review.
2. Amazon Home Services
Amazon Home Services’ online marketplace allows you to find the nearest third-party tow hitch professional installers. We applaud the way Amazon makes sure each auto mechanic in its network submits trade license and evidence of insurance before they can be published in any listing on the marketplace. Amazon also performs a background check, so you don’t get scammed by car experts’ impostors.
Mechanic on Amazon will provide you an estimate when you request help, so you can make a comparison. You can easily determine the best deal for your budget in this marketplace. The only limitation here is that those living in rural towns as mechanics are not always available. Those in the city will enjoy this marketplace a lot.
3. Pep Boys
This company is very popular in auto-repair, and it provides a user-friendly appointment scheduler and various types of trailer hitches to pick from. It is a reliable installer of trailer hitch as well. We pick Pep Boys as one of the best bets because of its nationwide presence and reasonable rates starting from $50 to $250 regardless of its thriving customer service.
The company knows exactly what they are doing when handling a car, so it’s a deal-breaker for us regardless of who people chose to side. Slide your car dealership’s trailer hitch installation package aside. They often offer higher rates compared to what local auto repairer and U-Haul will charge.
How much does it cost to install a Trailer Hitch?
There are little calculations to do before you can determine the cost for the tow hitch installation. The cost can quickly increase when you calculate the costs for hitch ball, wiring, the hitch itself, and other important accessories. The service fee is also another cost to consider, and it varies from one shop to another. The cost is determined by the type of trailer hitch, your car’s make and model, and the amount of elbow grease needed by the installation.
For example, some cars require drilling to allow space for the trailer hitch hole; others do not require drilling installation. The cost can vary based on the type of hitch you are installing. The cost of the bumper-towing models containing a hole located in the bumper for trailer ball is between $8 and $35. If not done before, wiring installation will also be required for the trailer lights, and it costs between $15 and $50. This type of tow hitch does not fit to your vehicle’s chassis.
The price for mounting a receiver hitch to your car’s chassis starts from $50 to $250. The installation cost starts at $50 as well. The cost of fifth wheel hitches is between $200 and $500. You will be paying between $200 and $500 for a new gooseneck tow hitch. The total cost with the installation costs can amount to $400 to $800.
Below is the auto parts needed for installation of a tow hitch as well as our best picks:
- Receiver: Placed to the vehicle’s frame and accepts a ball mount by providing a receiver tube.
- Ball Mount: This provides support for a trailer ball by sliding into the opening. It is a metal tube that can be removed.
- Hitch Ball: The hitch ball is of different sizes such as 1-7/8”, 2”, 2-5/16”, and 3, and it is joined to the ball mount.
- Pin & Clip: This is a steel pin which seals the ball mount to the hitch tube.
- Wiring: This joins your trailer’s lights to the tow car. They majorly function as a brake light.
Here are little examples of common tow hitch and their prices:
- RAM Laramie 2500: Class V Rear Receiver Hitch costs $360
- Hyundai Santa Fe: Class III Rear Receiver Hitch costs $265-$395
- Mazda CX-9: Class II Rear Receiver Hitch costs $239
- Toyota Sienna: Class III Rear Receiver Hitch costs $245-$275
- Honda Odyssey: Class III Rear Receiver Hitch costs $240-$290
- Toyota RAV4: Rear Receiver Hitch costs $225-$275
The tow hitch installation cost and the tow hitch and accessories’ costs are different and separate. Your installation may cost $100, while the essential equipment could cost $200. Receiver trailer hitch installation increases working hours with 30mins while the shop’s rate per hour is between $85 and $125.
What is included in Professional Hitch Installation?
With professional tow hitch installers, you will get everything you need, including parts and installation service.
Below are the services available with professional hitch installers:
- Compatibility test between hitch-to-car
- Mounting of hitch onto your vehicle and tightening of bolts
- Drilling of holes if needed during installation
- Testing and reviewing of the safety of tow hitch after installation.
You are paying for the correct and safe installation of your tow hitch when you hire a professional installer. This is better than having an amateur do it, and your expensive ATVs or boat unhitched while in transit.
The connection of your vehicle to the brake light of your tow hitch through wiring for signal purpose costs you additional money, and it may not be included in your service quote.
Can I perform a DIY Tow Hitch Installation?
Yes, if you know what you are doing. The installation tips in this article will help you greatly in saving some cash and also develop a new skill. However, you have to consider the wiring and connection of your car to your tow trailer’s brake light to serve as a signal, as it may get you confused. This is one of the reasons you need a professional.
You can contact a professional when it all seems out of your knowledge. You have to prioritize your safety and not your DIY project. Call your car dealer, and staff from an auto shop, or your mechanic.
Steps Involved in DIY Installation of Tow Hitch
Although the installation of tow hitch is said to be simple, when it comes to practice, the type of tow hitch involved and your car could make the whole process tiring.
Below are the six simple steps to install a standard tow hitch:
1. Know your Numbers
You have to figure out how much weight your car can tow before you decide on the right trailer hitch to buy. You don’t want to drill a tow hitch specially made for heavy-duty trucks onto the back of your vehicle. Your towing capacity is always stated in your car manual. You can also call your car dealership or do a little search on Google.
You will be able to pick the right trailer hitch when you know your towing capacity, as it also helps you know how much weight you can use the hitch to tow.
2. Prepare your Workspace
Make sure the necessary equipment is on the ground before you start the tow hitch installation work. This will be determined by your car and the type of hitch you want to use. You can consult your manual to know the hitch installation equipment you need.
Below is the necessary equipment to have with you for most tow hitch installations:
- Wire tube brush
- Torque wrench
- Wheel chocks
- Pin and clip
- Power drill (if no hole on your car)
If you bought a new tow hitch, then you may find bolts, washers, and manuals inside it.
3. Prepare your Car
Make sure your car is clean, secured, and free of any obstacles before you move your hitch into position. Follow the following steps:
- Switch to your parking brake: This will first prevent rolling.
- Inspect your wheels: Place two wed in between both rear tires to prevent your vehicle from rolling. You can also place chock wheels on the other side of the vehicle for peace of mind.
- Bring out the spare tire: This depends on your vehicle’s spare lives.
- Jack your vehicle: This is not necessary, but it gives you more space to work.
- Take away any plugs or bolts from your vehicle: You will be required to remove some parts or pieces from your vehicle to give space for the tow hitch. Check its necessity on your instructions.
- Clean thoroughly: Clean the holes in your car you plan to look into using a wire tube brush plus a lubricant. Don’t use a toothbrush as it won’t get the job done as the recommended wire tube brush.
- Drill holes: You may need to drill holes on your car or truck if there is none on it for mounting and installation of the hitch. Drill installation does not come with some tow hitches, such as the “Curt.”
Allow for a firm grip of your bolts by cutting up to 1/16 of its inch in width or thickness.
4. Attach the Hitch
Now, you can attach your hitch to your car. Below is the procedure:
- Lift the hitch into its place: You may need the assistance of a friend with the lifting. Fix the hitch to the frame of your car C-clamps to hold it in position
- Tighten the bolts: Tighten the bolt just enough to hold the hitch in place. Do not worry about torqueing at this stage; first, tighten the other side of the hitch.
5. Tighten the Bolts
Use your fingers to tighten the bolts as much as you can once you have attached your hitch and make sure they are all in position. You can then use your torque wrench to tighten the bolts to the figure you will find in the manual of your tow hitch. Lastly, it’s time to connect your wiring to your trailer’s brake light and switch on signals.
6. Double-check what you did
To test how secure your tow hitch is, shake, wiggle and tug on it. Also, inspect your brake and switch on the signals to be sure of the soundness of your wiring. Make sure your tow hitch is correctly installed before you attempt to tow anything. You can also invite a professional hitch installer to inspect your work for reassurance.
What is the cost of installing a hitch?
The labor rates of the installer and how difficult the installation is will determine the actual cost of a professional hitch installation but can cost between $50 and $250. The comprehensiveness of hitch installations is from one level to another, which increases the cost as working hours.
How much time does it take to install a hitch?
Hitch installation can be done within 30 minutes or a few hours or more, depending on the condition of your car, professionalism of the installer, and the equipment being used. Consult your installation manual for your type of hitch for guidance.
Will my warranty turn void when I install a trailer hitch?
No. Trailer hitch installation doesn’t render the vehicle’s warranty void. In 1975, Congress passed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which makes sure consumers can install parts from aftermarkets without being scared of nullifying their warranty. However, the installation must be correctly done. Coverage will not be provided for improper installation, such as usage of different hardware, too much closeness between drilled holes for the bolt, and so on.
How is a trailer hitch attached?
Enlist the help of a friend for the lifting of the hitch into position to attach it to your vehicle. You can use a wire or rope of appropriate length to hang the hitch from the frame of your car if there is no one available to help. As the tow hitch suspends above ground level, start threading the mounting bolts till the hitch gets to its right position without help. Proceed by torquing the bolts to the appropriate values.
We believe that, with the steps discussed in this article, you can choose whether to go for the DIY tow hitch installation or hire a professional tow hitch installer from any of U-Haul, Pep Boys, or Amazon to handle it for you. Just be sure the hitch is correctly and firmly attached to the vehicle to avoid troubles while on the road.