If you’re planning on towing something soon, you’re going to need to get a hitch on your vehicle (if you don’t have one already). If you don’t happen to be a towing expert, no worries! Here’s everything you need to know about installing a hitch.
What Is a Hitch?
A hitch is an automotive accessory that is commonly installed on the back of your vehicle, providing the connection between the vehicle and the trailer. In other words, it connects your car, van or truck to what you’re towing in a safe and secure manner. Once installed, hitches increase your vehicle’s utility value and are usually considered permanent.
Types of Hitches
There are several types and sizes of hitches. A receiver hitch (also known as a trailer hitch) is the type you’ll use to tow a trailer. The right one for you will depend on your vehicle and what you’re towing. Because there are so many different vehicles to install hitches onto, the design and installation process of your hitch will
- Weight ratings (maximum tow capacity)
- Bumper styles
- Accessibility to the right attachment points on your vehicle
Receiver hitches come in three sizes:
- 1-1/4″ (for lighter loads like a bike rack)
- 2″ (most common hitch size)
- 2-1/2″ (for very heavy duty loads)
Receiver or trailer hitches can tow a range of different weights. The two weights to be concerned with are gross trailer weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW). The gross trailer weight is the weight of the trailer fully loaded in its actual towing condition. The tongue weight is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer. The TW is typically about 10 to 15 percent of the GTW. Find out how to determine your tongue weight and gross trailer weight capacities here. U-Haul installs hitches with trailer weight capacities from 2,000 lbs to 17,000 lbs based on your needs and the towing capacity of your vehicle.
For an in-depth look at all hitch types and other towing terms, check out our towing glossary.
Installing a Hitch
What to Expect
If you’re picturing yourself at a U-Haul store trying to select a hitch alone, don’t. You won’t have to pick out a hitch by yourself, and you certainly won’t have to install it. From the time you walk into one of the U-Haul offices, you can be sure you’re purchasing the right hitch with the help of a technician. There are a couple of variables in the hitch installation process:
1. U-Haul hitches are custom made for your vehicle. Most hitches attach using existing bolt holes with the nuts and bolts to attach the hitch. When installing, a U-Haul Hitch Professional will evaluate your vehicle where the hitch is installed and if your existing vehicle doesn’t have existing attachment points they have training on patented tools to create them. Vehicle components may be in the way of a hitch attachment point if so they are just temporarily disconnected and reinstalled after the hitch is installed.
Possible parts to be removed and re-installed are:
- Underbody covers
- Bumper beam
- Impact bar
- Tail lights
- Exhaust or muffler
- Spare tire
Any temporary changes being made to your vehicle will be communicated to yo
u along the way, so sit back and relax!
2. U-Haul has the right hitch – at the right price, right now. U-Haul stocks more than 85 hitches for popular vehicle applications at most locations. No worries if your vehicles hitch isn’t in stock though, we have over 1400 stores in North America and 30+ warehouses to get your hitch to you right away! You may even be able to have your hitch installed immediately upon walk-in.
If you prefer, you can reserve an installation from your mobile device or desktop. In fact, you’ll receive a $10 discount for scheduling a hitch installation online. Simply answer a few questions about your vehicle, and you can purchase the right hitch for you. From there, you can also decide whether you’d like your hitch shipped to you or installed at a nearby U-Haul location. You can also purchase U-Haul’s industry exclusive lifetime unlimited warranty on your hitch for just $5. For $10 more our trailer wiring warranty covers all installed wiring for 2 years – even if the dog chews it off!
How was your experience installing a hitch? Tell us in the comments below!