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Trailer Hitch Installation Tips

Custom Fit Trailer Hitch

Before Installation:

Installation Steps:

Installation Tips:

Helpful Videos

Watch how to clean out weld nuts

Watch weld nut removal and replacement

Safety Tip:

Never modify the hitch in any way. Do not drill holes into the hitch to mount accessories, etc. Never cut holes or modify the assembly using a torch. This weakens the metal, produces a ragged hole, and presents an unnecessary fire hazard. Never weld a hitch to the vehicle frame. Welding on the frame of the vehicle can weaken the frame.

Helpful Hints

Lowering the Exhaust:

Lowering the Exhaust

Watch a typical exhaust being lowered

Drilling into the Frame:

Drill Frame

Watch the typical way to drill into a vehicle frame

Using Fish Wire as Bolt Leaders:

Fishing wire using bolt leaders

You can also use a drill to enlarge the access hole. This will allow for easier access for the bolt leader, spacer block, and bolt.

Watch the typical way to fish a bolt leader through a vehicle frame

Finished Product After Cut Before Cut

Cutting the Fascia:

Trailer Hitch Maintenance

Trailer hitches are powder coated; the way the manufacturer ships the products on pallets, the hitches can get scratched because they are stacked on top of each other. Also, due to the nature of a trailer hitch, being exposed to the elements and constant road travel, the hitch will have a tendency to rust. It is a good idea to periodically check a trailer hitch after it has been installed for any signs of rust. If the paint seems discolored or looks like it has begun to rust, it is a good idea to repaint the rust spots on the hitch to help protect it. Any black spray paint will help to protect your hitch.

Hitch Hardware

Carriage Bolt Wrench Washer

Carriage Bolts and Wrench Washers (Reinforcing Plates):

Many hitches use carriage bolts and special washer blocks or plates, which act as a wrench inside a boxed-in section of the frame to hold the bolt during tightening. The plates also help reinforce the frame by spreading the load to the frame edges.


U-Bolts for Boxed in Sections:

Another method used for boxed-in or enclosed sections of the frame is to use U-bolts. Make sure that the two nuts are drawn up evenly on the U-bolt during installation. If one nut is installed at a time, the U-bolt may bend and break.

Handle Nuts Handle Nut Diagram

Handle Nuts:

Some attachments to boxed-in areas are made with "handle nuts." Inserted through an access hole, the handle locates the nut over the hitch attachment hole and prevents the nut from turning when the bolt is tightened. Do not forget to trim off the excess handle or to bend it away from other wiring or other components.

Watch the typical way to use a handle nut

Lock Nut Conical Toothed Washer Toothed Washer Diagram

Lock Nuts and Toothed Washers:

Prevailing-torque locknuts are used for certain critical attachments. These will not spin on freely, but will resist turning all the way on. Do not substitute a free-spinning nut where a locknut has been provided. Hardened washers with peripheral teeth are used on certain slotted attachments. The toothed side should go against the slotted member as shown below.

Galvanic Isolators

Galvanic Isolators:

Prevent corrosive action between steel hitch components and aluminum attachment areas. Remove the paper backing and adhere the isolator to the hitch where indicated in the instructions. Pierce the isolator with a screwdriver to allow a bolt to slide through.

Dan C.


I watched all the hitch videos. I have a 2023 equinox. In some pictures of the hitch (online not etrailer), it is mounted in the bumper space with a bezel. I do not see any videos installing it in the bumper space. Must it be installed under the bumper as all the videos show?

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


Unfortunately, at this time none of our hitch vendors offer a hitch fit that would place the receiver behind the bumper (like earlier Equinox models). Beginning with the 2022 model year, Chevy changed the rear bumper. The Curt # C98CR class III hitch is a fit, but the receiver would sit up against the underside of the bumper.

Dwayne H.


I got the etrailer trailer hitch Class 3 with 2" reciever. Item #e98849. If I get the bolts lined up under the bumper, the ones on the chassis is just off. If I get the ones on the chassis lined up, the others are off. I don't know how to adjust the bumper, tried but couldn't get it to move. The only thing I can see is to notch the holes on the hitch itself to make it fit. Any guidance would be appreciated.

Les D.


@DwayneH, What is the year, brand, and model number of the vehicle you want to install on. Is this the stock bumber from the factory? Is any part of the hitch touching the spare tire?

Dwayne H.


@LesD I finally got it Les, but thanks for responding. The hitch had a flex in it, once I was able to get one side tightened up, I used a crowbar to get the other side close enough to start the bolts. Its all good now. Thanks for taking time to respond.

Les D.


@DwayneH, Great. I am glad that it all worked out!

Suzette G.


What are GM or Chevrolet torque specs for a tow hitch on a 2003 Silverado LS, 4.3 L, 6 cyl, 6 ' bed, extended cab? Thanks

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


You'll need to check the instructions that came with the hitch. There are some general torque specs when it comes to bolts sizes and grades but the torque specs that came in the instructions for your hitch will be your best bet to make sure you're using it exactly how it was tested.

Eric O.


I have the Curt class 3 hitch (13591) and a 2011 chevy equinox. In one installation video they use the carriage bolts, square hole spacers & the fishwire technique when installing the center part. In the other video, they don't use these at all, just the same M12 bolts that are used on the sides.

Etrailer Expert

Chris R.


Can you tell me the particular videos you're seeing. I linked the only install video we have below that we have for the Curt # 13591 on your 2011 Chevy Equinox, in which they simply use the M12 bolts on the frame rails.



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