DIY Trailer Hitch
There was a time when attaching a tow bar required the vehicle owner to call upon a mechanic. The times have changed with easy to install accessories that allow vehicle owners to hitch a trailer to their vehicle from the comfort of their own garage. If you are the eager DIY enthusiast, following a set of installation steps and tips will help you with attach the trailer without breaking a sweat.
- Prepare the work area: do not begin installing the trailer hitch on a sloped surface – ensure that the working area is completely flat, that the vehicle transmission is set to Park, the emergency brake is set, and the front tires are choked to ensure no movement is possible while you’re working.
- Position the hitch: if the vehicle frame is not predrilled, simply attach the hitch to it with a pair of c-clamps, then mark the centre of the holes with a punch. Remove the hitch, then drill both the pilot and final holes – use a bit that is just slightly larger than the bolt supplied.
- Attach the hitch: Once you’ve drilled the holes in the frame, re-attach the hitch with the clamps and install the nuts and bolts as indicated in the trailer hitch’s instructions. Hand-tighten until all nuts and bolts are positioned, then use a torque wrench for final settings.
- If the exhaust system tailpipe is interfering with the installation, loosen it enough to slide the hitch mount above the tailpipe, and then retighten it. Often it’s just a matter of sliding the rubber exhaust mounts off a bracket.
- You can use a scissor jack or a floor jack to hold the hitch up in place. In many cases, c-clamps can be used to clamp the hitch to the frame during installation.
- To install the trailer hitch, it must have solid metal-to-metal contact with the vehicle attachment points, so remove excessive undercoating or welt on the vehicle.
- Clean out bolt holes. The easiest way to do this is by soaking them in everyone’s best friend, WD-40. After a good soaking, take a wire brush and scrub out the holes to rid the opening of road debris and grime, allowing the bolts to fit in more easily.
- Drill holes that are either the same size as the bolt, or 1.5mm larger at most.
- While drilling, be very careful to avoid drilling into vehicle components that are located behind where the hole is being drilled.
Before hitching the trailer to the vehicle, you need to have the appropriate trailer hitch. There are many options available in the market today. Choose a hitch that will suit the weight and dimension of the trailer. And before you even think of attaching the trailer to the vehicle, consult the vehicle’s manual to check how much added weight it can tow.