Trailer Hitch Installation Tips

Trailer Hitch Installation Tips

Installing a trailer hitch? Read our quick guide on how to install a trailer hitch.

Alright, so, you have done your research, asked your questions, made your decision, and purchased the hitch that you know is right for you. Now what'

This is a number of suggestions to get you prepared on what needs to be done before, during, and after installation of your new hitch.

Before Hitch Installation

  • Firstly, make sure you have the right hitch! Verify the manufacturer's part number with the part you ordered, and give it a brief visual inspection to make sure it was not damaged during shipping.
  • Another thing you may wish to do whilst checking your hitch is checking the weld points on the wings of the hitch, and around the receiver tube. All hitches that are delivered are inspected before they are sent out, but it never hurts to double check.
  • Review the instruction sheet provided with the hitch.
  • Check the area where the hitch is going to be attached to the vehicle. If you see excessive corrosion, rust or physical damage, consult a mechanic before you install the hitch.
  • Clean out the bolt holes on your vehicle. Soak or spray the holes in WD-40, then use a wire brush to give the bolt holes a quick scrub to clear out any grit, dirt, or grime that may have developed there. This should allow the bolts to fit more easily. The correct bolts should be included in the hardware kit.
  • Have something that can hold the hitch in place during the installation. Heavy duty C-clamps, a floor jack, or even a scissors jack can be very useful to help you keep the hitch in place while you install it
  • Take the appropriate safety precautions. elevating the vehicle on a hoist or ramps ensure that the vehicle is properly secured and blocked so that it will not fall or rolls off its supports.
  • Lastly, before you actually install the hitch receiver, it is a good practice to loosely assemble the hitch, install the drawbar, lock the pin and clip, and hold up the hitch into the position that it will be installed in. This will allow you to see any possible obstructions to the installation, and will also give you a good idea of how to best install the hitch.


  • Use the appropriate tools and wear safety glasses when drilling holes.
  • Drill holes that are either the same size as the bolt or at the most 1/16" larger.
  • Double-check before you drill! When drilling, be extremely careful to avoid drilling into vehicle components which are located behind where the hole is being drilled.


  • Every hitch is unique! In some cases, it may be necessary to temporarily loosen or re position the exhaust system in order for it to remain clear of the hitch during installation, particularly on exhaust systems that have been replaced prior to installing the hitch, as all hitches are designed using vehicle original equipment.
  • Also, it may be necessary to adjust the bumper on a vehicle, or the brackets which mount to the bumper, in order to install the hitch.
  • When installing the hitch, be sure to use the reinforcing plates provided with the hitch where appropriate in order to reinforce the frame and spread the load to the frame edges.
  • Hitches are designed to use existing holes, as long as it does not require drilling. Make sure the hitch is aligned properly before applying the bolts to the frame.
  • Tighten all bolts to the torque levels specified in the instructions. All hardware, with the exception of handle or tab nuts and U-bolts are grade 5 or 8.8 (metric).
  • Before torquing all of the bolts in place, make sure the trailer hitch is mounted symmetrical to the vehicle.


  • Do not drill extra holes into the frame. This could weaken the frame of the vehicle.
  • Do not drill into the hitch.
  • Use a drill bit that is the correct size for the hole. A drill bit that is too big will provide for a loose mounting point.
  • Make sure the drill bit is designed to drill into metal.
  • Lift the hitch into place before drilling to ensure that the holes will be drilled in the appropriate place. The hitch can often be used as a template.
  • When drilling always center punch the holes positions and drill a pilot hole. This can then be followed with the appropriate drill size for the hole required.
  • Holes can be drilled in the appropriate places using the holes in the hitch as a guide.

After Hitch Installation

  • Double check your bolts. Make sure all of the bolts have been torqued to the specified levels.
  • Be sure your hitch is aligned properly and that all parts are used. Make sure that all bolts, washers, and other parts are accounted for and you did not overlook any step in the installation process.
  • Lastly, review and file your warranty information. Most hitch warranties last anywhere from 5 years to the lifetime of the vehicle it is on.

Preventing Rust On a Trailer Hitch

Preventing a trailer hitch from rusting is very important for the use and safety of your trailer hitch. Here are some quick tips on trailer hitch rust prevention.

So, you have installed your new Trailer Hitch. It is brand new, light reflecting off of the weatherproof powder coat black paint, and you think to yourself, "that looks good." But, how long do you think it will stay like that? Over time, as you travel with your hitch bolted to the underside of your vehicle, scratches and dings will appear on the hitch, leaving the bare steel exposed to the elements. Now, we all know what happens after then. That's right, rust happens.

Luckily there are things you can do to prevent rust from forming on your Trailer Hitch, and we are going to elaborate on some of the best ways.

What is Rust?

Quick Science lesson:

Rust is formed by the iron in the steel of your hitch being exposed to oxygen and moisture over a period of time. If left unchecked, the oxygen will bond with the iron on an atomic level, creating a new compound, called iron oxide, which will in turn weaken the metal itself.

What can I do to prevent rust?

  • The first thing you want to do is always make sure you purchase products that are made of rust-resistant materials. Lucky for you, almost all hitches made today are comprised entirely of powder coated stainless steel. Although, over time, the powder coat will wear away over time, stainless steel itself is very resistant to rust.
  • Periodically inspect the Trailer Hitch. Check to see if there are any scratched in the powder coat, exposing the steel. If there is, purchase some powder coat spray paint and give the hitch a touch up. This step alone could easily double the life of your hitch.
  • Now there is one area that is very difficult to inspect and touch up, the receiver tube. Luckily, this is a very easy fix as well. When not actively using your Trailer Hitch, simply lock a hitch cover in place inside the receiver tube, and that should prevent almost all moisture from getting in the receiver tube.

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