Building and Installing Tow Hitches

A tow hitch gives you the capability to hook up quickly to a trailer or other piece of equipment designed for you to pull behind your vehicle and get on the road.

You can build your own tow hitch with a few simple materials and brackets that can be found at your local hardware store. Tow hitches are useful for hauling large loads with your vehicle, including trailers and mobile homes. Purchasing a tow hitch from a commercial source can be expensive, often costing hundreds of dollars depending on the size of hitch, so building your own can save you some money and get you and your recreational vehicle out on the road.

Building Tow Hitch Guidelines:

1.) Purchase a hitch bar, cross bar and mounting brackets from a hardware store. The tow hitch parts will depend on the size, weight and haul type, whether an RV or a trailer. Be sure that your vehicle is capable of towing another vehicle or weighted haul by referring to the owner’s manual for your vehicle.

2.) Follow the hitch bar manufacturer’s instructions to drill holes into the frame and fender of your vehicle. The distance and size of these holes will differ according to the size of the screws and bolts you purchased to install the hitch bar and mounting brackets.

3.) Attach the two mounting brackets onto your vehicle by aligning the holes in the brackets to those just made on the vehicle. Use a power drill bit to secure the screws and bolts into the brackets. Use nuts or washers with the screws to provide a secure fit for the mounting brackets.

4.) Install the cross bar and hitch bar into the mounting brackets by following the manufacturers’ instructions and specifications. Most trailer hitch assembly kits come with an instruction manual and examples of different vehicle installations. These kits will also include the appropriate screws, bolts or other installation items needed to complete the job.

Installing Tow Hitch Guidelines:

1.) Lift the back of the vehicle with a jack, and place jack stands securely beneath the frame to hold it in place. Move the jack out from under the car, but keep it close; you will use it again to steady the hitch when installing it.

2.) Locate the metal plate with pre-drilled holes at the back of the vehicle frame where you plan to install the hitch. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the hitch assembly for the proper mounting position. Most tow hitch assemblies now come with no drill mounting, but the hardware will vary depending on the type of tow hitch you purchased.

3.) Loosen and remove any bolts already in place in the holes you plan to use. You will replace these bolts with the bolts included in your kit. Spray lubricant onto the bolts to loosen them if necessary. Use spray lubricant and a wire brush to clean the holes once you have removed the bolts to ensure no debris gets in the way of the new hardware.

4.) Lift the tow hitch into position beneath the vehicle. Place the jack beneath the new hitch assembly, and raise it until the jack supports the hitch in place so you can have both hands for installing the bolts.

5.) Line up the bolt holes, and check the diagram in your manufacturer’s instructions for placement. Screw the bolts into place by hand; do not tighten them yet. Align all the holes properly and put the bolts into place, then tighten all the bolts with the correct ratchet size.

6.) Lift the vehicle again with the jack, remove the jack stands and lower it to the ground. Test the hitch: Attach the object you plan to tow, and pull it a short distance in a safe location such as your driveway or parking lot before taking it on the road.