Installation of a Tow Bar Hitch

Written by kevin mclain
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A tow bar hitch is used to pull a vehicle behind another vehicle. The tow bar hitch makes it possible to tow the vehicle in a safe manner. The tow bar mounts to the front underframe of the vehicle that is being towed, and the other end mounts to the ball hitch connector on the back of the tow vehicle. The tow bar hitch is designed in a manner that allows it to pull the rear vehicle in a straight direction without having to use someone to operate the rear vehicle.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet
  • 1/2-inch drive socket set
  • Rubber mallet
  • Chalk
  • Drill
  • Drill bit kit
  • Tow bar hitch kit
  • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar
  • Bungee cord

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Park the vehicle to be towed on a level surface. Set the parking brake.

  2. 2

    Remove the front bumper of the vehicle to be towed by removing the bolts and nuts from the back side of the bumper with a 1/2-inch drive ratchet and socket set. Once the bolts and nuts are removed, use the rubber mallet if necessary to tap the bumper free of the bumper braces. Pull the bumper off with your hands and place it in a safe area.

  3. 3

    Crank the engine on the tow vehicle and back it up until the ball hitch connector on the back bumper is about 6 to 8 feet away from the front of the vehicle to be towed. Turn the engine off and set the parking brake.

  4. 4

    Place the ball hitch of the tow bar onto the ball hitch connector on the back bumper of the tow vehicle. Make sure that the ball locks inside of the tow bar ball hitch connector. Hang the safety hooks on the tow bar underneath the rear bumper of the tow vehicle in the designated safety chain holes.

  5. 5

    Have a helper back the tow vehicle up until both holes on the top of the tow bar are underneath the front driver side and passenger side frame rails. Stop the tow vehicle and turn the engine off. Reapply the parking brake.

  6. 6

    Slide under the vehicle that is to be towed and insert the chalk inside of both top holes on the tow bar. Mark the driver side and passenger side frame rail inside of both tow bar holes with the chalk.

  7. 7

    Locate a drill bit that is exactly the same size or near the same size as the holes on the tow bar. Add the drill bit to the drill. Drill each hole out completely through the frame rails. Ream the holes out by moving the drill bit up and down in and out of the hole while the drill bit is turning. Pull the drill bit out of the holes and place the drill to the side of the vehicle.

  8. 8

    Remove the plates and the bolts from the tow bar kit. Place the plates on each side of each frame rail and use the chalk to mark each hole. Drill out each hole for the side plates with the drill and a drill bit. Insert the side plate bolts through each side plate and screw the nuts on. Tighten each bolt and nut down very tight with the ratchet and a socket. Finish tightening the side plate bolts with a breaker bar and a socket.

  9. 9

    Insert the two driver side bolts into the tow bar and the frame rail. Screw the nuts onto the ends of the bolts. Tighten the nuts down completely with the ratchet and a socket. Use the breaker bar and a socket to tighten the bolts down even tighter. Move to the passenger side frame rail and repeat the same process as the driver side frame rail.

  10. 10

    Gather up all of the tools underneath the vehicle to be towed. Inspect the tow bar underneath the frame rails to ensure that all of the tow bar frame rail bolts and the frame rail side plate bolts have been used and tightened. Inspect the ball hitch connector and the safety chains connected to the ball on the back of the tow vehicle to ensure that the ball is locked inside of the ball hitch connector of the tow bar.

  11. 11

    Wrap the bungee strap around the steering wheel in a method that will not allow the steering wheel to turn at all. Test the tow bar by pulling the rear vehicle around in a safe location. Park the tow vehicle and recheck the tightness on all four tow bar frame rail bolts and nuts.

Tips and warnings

  • There are many types of tow bar assemblies. After the frame bolts have been drilled and the bolts have been installed, you may need to refer to the tow bar instructions for the type of tow bar you have to finish the installation.
  • One of the front wheels may have to be removed to get the bolts through the frame rail.
  • Make sure that the vehicle that is being towed is in the neutral position before towing.
  • You can also use a impact wrench to tighten the tow bar frame rail bolts.
  • You can also install the tow bar to the vehicle that has to be towed without having to install the tow bar to the tow vehicle first.
  • Be sure to use the flashers of the vehicle that is being towed as a extra safety precaution.
  • Make sure that the tow bar frame rail bolts are as tight as you can get them.

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