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Dodge Dakota Hitch

Dodge Dakota Hitch Care and Maintenance Tips

Dodge Dakota owners know that it is a standard practice to inspect their truck, their trailer, and the trailer hitch before starting a journey with them. And of the three, the hitch is arguably the most critical. Hitches are often the point of failure when hauling a trailer, as it undergoes a lot of stress particularly when pulling a full load. And when it fails, it will lead to potentially dangerous consequences for both you and others on the road.

Maintaining the Dodge Dakota Hitch in good condition is essential in ensuring your truck and your trailer will arrive safely at your destination. Here's a list of tips on how you can do just that:

  • Do not use the hitch to pull trailers above its weight class.

Hitches are classified according to weight class. For the Dodge Dakota, this is usually between Class 2 and Class 3, which specifies the amount of weight the hitch can safely support. Pulling a trailer that is beyond the specified weight class will put too much strain on the coupler and the hitch, therefore damaging them. So before coupling that trailer, make sure that it complies with the hitch's weight class first.

  • Check for strange noises.

If you hear rattling or clanking noises coming from the truck's behind when hauling a trailer, it likely means the hitch's components—the drawbar and receiver in particular—are too loose and are probably hitting each other. This could potentially lead to damage, so it is recommended to readjust the hitch's mounting hardware and tighten them accordingly. We also suggest investing in an anti-rattle device, a hitch accessory that locks the drawbar and receiver to prevent them from hitting against each other.

  • Clean up any rust spots as soon as you can.

Hitches can get quite rusty due to constant exposure to mud and rain, and if not cleaned for too long, it can promote corrosion that will eventually eat away the metal and render it unsafe for use. For chrome hitches, you can remove rust spots by scrubbing it with aluminum foil dipped in vinegar: the aluminum/vinegar combo can help break up the rust particles for easier removal. For hitches that have a painted or machined finish, you can apply rust dissolver gel on the affected areas to dissolve rust.

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  • Tips on Mounting a Dodge Dakota Hitch

    Installing a new Dodge Dakota hitch might prove daunting for first-timers, but it is not as difficult as it appears to be. Most hitch kits come with a detailed instruction manual, so mounting a hitch can be as easy as following the steps. Here are some additional tips for mounting a hitch in your Dakota:

    Tip #1: Make sure to clean the bolt holes.

    The pre-drilled holes for the hitch underneath the Dakota tend to become caked with mud and rust over time, so make sure the holes are cleaned out properly before mounting the draw bar. Use a wire brush to remove dirt and rust flakes; for more stubborn rust spots, you can use rust dissolver gel. It should also be noted that some Dakota models may also have caps or grommets covering the holes, and these must also be removed prior to installation of the hitch.

    Tip #2: Do not weld the drawbar onto the frame.

    Although it might look like a more secure way of installing the hitch, welding it to the frame would actually weaken it and make both the hitch and chassis susceptible to damage. What's more, modern hitches are designed to distribute strain evenly when pulling a trailer, so there is really no need to make any modifications beyond bolting the drawbar on the pre-drilled holes.

    Tip #3: Use a C-clamp to hold the hitch in place.

    The size and weight of the hitch can make it unwieldy to hold in place while you tighten the bolts, so use a C-clamp to secure the bar in place while setting up the bolts. You can also have someone to hold the bar for you while you tighten the bolts.

    Tip #4: Having trouble mounting the hitch? Try loosening the exhaust pipe and muffler first.

    If you find the exhaust pipe or muffler getting in your way when aligning the hitch properly, don't hesitate to loosen it a bit. Some manufacturers even suggest removing the rear bumper as well for easier access to the mounting post. Just make sure not to completely remove the exhaust parts and tighten them to their recommended torque once installation is finished.