Picking the Right Hitch Accessory for Your Vehicle
Trailers are a must for long road trips and getaways. Whether you are carrying a bed for a bike, a boat, or a trailer RV, there is a hitch for your car that can pull the load. When picking a hitch accessory to fit on your car, you need to be sure that it will be able to handle the trailer you will bring along. Read this guide to help you on your purchase.
Read the car manual
Know the towing limit of the vehicle you will use for towing. There are two numbers to look for: the gross trailer weight (GTW) and the tongue weight (TW). GTW is the total weight of the trailer you will pull. On the other hand, tongue weight is the load directly put on the hitch attached to your car. This information can be found in your car's user's manual. Exceed any of these numbers and you may find you and your car not moving an inch, or ? if you do move ? see your car's bumper cover and trailer left behind on your rearview mirror.
Know hitch classifications
Hitch accessories are labeled in four classes from one to five. Each class is assigned to a certain vehicle type and a towing limit.
- Class 1: This class has a GTW of 2,000 pounds and a TW of 200 pounds. Usual applications include light towing, bike racks, and other easy loads. All types of cars can be fitted with this. If you have a compact car, or subcompact, your options are limited to this.
- Class 2: This class has a GTW of 3,500 pounds and a TW of 300 pounds. Campers, small boats, snowmobile and motorcycle racks, and small campers need a class 2 hitch. This can be used by mid-size cars, SUVs, pickups, and other cars of that size.
- Class 3: This class has a GTW of up to 6,000 pounds and a TW of up to 600 pounds. This has a similar use to class 2 hitches, only tougher. Use this, with a weight distribution attachment, for mid-size campers.
- Class 4 and 5: The strongest of them all, this class has a GTW of up to 18,000 pounds and a TW of 1,800 pounds. Only full-size cars, pickups, and other large vehicles should use this, preferably with a weight distributor attachment. Use this for full-size campers, large boats, and other big loads.
As a final reminder, practice driving when pulling a trailer. You need to learn new acceleration, braking, and turning techniques with a loaded hitch.
Hitch Accessory Assembly
Easily hook a trailer or safely tow a broken-down car with a hitch accessory assembly. Putting this add-on for your ride definitely turns it into a useful pulling machine. Follow this simple guide to help you properly with the installation for your ride.
Difficulty level: Moderate
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Hammer and chisel
- Socket set
- Marker pen
- Corrosion inhibitor
- De-burring tool
- Hitch accessory kit
Step 1: Park your car on a flat surface. Turn off the engine. Raise your car using a floor jack and properly secure it after with jack stands.
Step 2: Go to the rear of your car. Inspect the area underneath it where the hitch will be placed. Use your hammer and chisel to remove any build up of dirt, or grime.
Step 3: Get the hitch assembly to line it to the rear mounting frame of your car. Check if there are enough holes on the frame to secure the hitch. If it lacks, mark the areas on the frame where you need to put extra holes. Use a drill to make those holes. Be careful not to damage any sensitive parts in the area. Finish the drilling with a de-burring tool and corrosion inhibitor.
Step 4: Attach the hitch to the frame using all the braces, nuts, and bolts supplied with your hitch kit. The specific locations of these differ for every car model. Install these by following the instructions that came with your hitch accessory kit. Do not fully tighten yet.
Step 5: At a distance, check the alignment of the hitch to the back of your car. Make sure it looks nice and straight, and there is enough space between the hitch and the bumper cover. Once you are satisfied with the alignment, you can now fully tighten all braces, nuts, and bolts. Tighten only up to the allowable torque specified on your hitch's owner's manual.
Step 6: Lower your car to finish the installation.
- Some assemblies would require you to cut the fascia before installation. Use a pen and accurately trace the area you will cut.
- If you must lower the exhaust before installation, make sure the engine cools to avoid burning yourself.
- Never drill extra holes on the hitch accessory. This will greatly weaken the assembly for your towing needs.
- Drill the right size on the car's frame to ensure a snug fit for security.
- Never weld the hitch to the car.