Trailer Hitch Installation Cost (2024 Guide) (2024)

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Trailer Hitch Installation Cost (2024 Guide) (1)Written byShane SentelleUpdated 03/08/2024

Shane Sentelle

Shane Sentelle is a content writer with more than six years of experience producing content about home services. A main area of focus is the moving industry, but Shane has also written for home inspectors and published articles to inform readers about pest control, lawn care, and gutter services…

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If you’re looking for ways to save money on your move, you might consider attaching a trailer hitch to your vehicle and towing a trailer yourself. Some professional moving companies offer this service, but doing it yourself can be more cost-effective. We’ve detailed trailer hitch installation costs, steps, and mistakes to avoid.

How Much Does It Cost To Install a Trailer Hitch?

Trailer hitch installation costs depend on the type of hitch you choose, your vehicle model, and whether you install the hitch yourself or hire a professional.

According to U-Haul, which bills itself as America’s No. 1 hitch installer, the average cost to install a trailer hitch is $100–$600, depending on the parts’ price and availability. AutoZone cites a price range of $250–$1,300 or more.

If you hire a professional, your bill will include two components:

  • Parts: The price you pay for the trailer hitch depends on the vehicle type you own and the hitch model you need. According to AutoZone, most receiver hitches cost $150–$400.
  • Service: Installing a receiver hitch is fairly simple, as it doesn’t typically require serious vehicle modifications. According to AutoZone, most shops charge $75–$150 total for labor.

If you install the trailer hitch yourself, you’ll only need to pay for parts. You can buy a trailer hitch kit from an auto parts retailer, such as NAPA or AutoZone. Other retailers that sell trailer hitch kits include Walmart, Amazon, The Home Depot, and U-Haul.

Factors Affecting Trailer Hitch Installation Cost

Several factors can affect the total cost of your trailer hitch installation. We cover the main ones below.

  • Vehicle model: Some vehicles require specialized hitches or wiring harnesses that can be more expensive or difficult to install than standard options. For example, a heavy-duty pickup may require a different type of hitch than a sedan or midsize SUV.
  • Trailer hitch type: Several types of hitches are available, ranging from light-duty options for small utility trailers to heavy-duty, fifth-wheel hitches for large campers. The more heavy-duty the hitch, the higher the cost of parts and installation.
  • Installation complexity: Some hitches require more complicated installations, such as removing parts of the vehicle’s bumper or drilling into the frame. These installations can take longer and require more labor, increasing costs.
  • Labor costs: You’ll have to pay for labor to get a hitch professionally installed, but this ensures the job is done correctly and safely. If installing the hitch yourself, you’ll need to budget time rather than money.

How To Save Money on Trailer Hitch Installation

Here are a few ways to save money on trailer hitch installation.

  • Bargain for lower prices: If you have the hitch installed professionally, negotiate the price. Some mechanics or dealerships may be willing to offer a lower price to secure your business—especially if you’ve done your research and know the standard rates in your area.
  • Look for discounts: Many companies offer discounts or promotions for trailer hitch installation. You can also apply coupon codes when purchasing parts for a do-it-yourself (DIY) job. Check company websites, social media pages, or email newsletters for current deals.
  • Opt for DIY installation: If you’re comfortable with basic mechanical work and have the necessary tools, installing the trailer hitch yourself can save a significant amount of money. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and take your time to avoid costly mistakes.

Regardless of the approach, it’s essential to balance cost savings with safety and quality. A poorly installed trailer hitch can lead to expensive damage, accidents, or even injuries—which could actually increase your overall moving costs.

Types of Trailer Hitches

There are three basic types of trailer hitches:

  • Receiver hitches: Almost any vehicle towing a trailer can use these versatile hitches. They’re installed under the rear bumper and attached to the chassis or frame.
  • Fifth-wheel hitches: These hitches are designed for heavy-duty towing and are commonly used for large RVs or campers. They’re installed in the pickup truck bed for better stability and weight distribution.
  • Gooseneck hitches: These heavy-duty hitches are also installed in the bed of a pickup truck. They’re most often used for large horse or flatbed trailers.

Receiver hitches are further divided into five classes, each with its own gross trailer weight capacity and use. We detail each class in the table below.

Class of HitchTow CapacityUsesVehicle Types

Class 1 hitch (light-duty)

2,000 pounds

Bike racks, cargo carriers, and small utility trailers

Compact or midsize cars

Class 2 hitch (regular-duty)

3,500 pounds

ATVs, small fishing boats, motorcycles, and cargo trailers up to 12 feet long

Minivans, small pickup trucks, and midsize cars and SUVs

Class 3 hitch (heavy-duty)

7,500 pounds

Vehicles (pickup trucks, full-size cars, and SUVs)

Full-size pickup trucks and SUVs

Class 4 hitch (super-duty)

10,000 pounds

Heavy machinery, travel trailers, and large boats

Full-size pickup trucks and SUVs

Class 5 hitch (commercial)

20,000 pounds

RVs, campers, and heavy commercial equipment

SUVs and dually or chassis cab trucks

Other options include weight distribution hitches and pintle hitches. The former is designed to distribute the trailer’s weight more evenly across a vehicle’s frame and axles, reducing the strain on the suspension and improving handling. The latter is designed for extreme durability and is used almost exclusively for commercial or military applications.

Trailer Hitch Installation Process

Most people with basic mechanical skills can install a receiver hitch. Start by gathering the parts and tools you need:

  • Floor jack and stands
  • Ratchet
  • Ratchet extension
  • Safety glasses
  • Shop light
  • Socket set
  • Swivel socket
  • Torque wrench
  • Trailer hitch kit
  • Trailer wiring harness (if necessary)
  • Wheel chocks
  • Work gloves

The exact tools, parts, and steps required depend on your vehicle and the product, so read the installation instructions carefully before you begin. Here are the general steps involved:

  • Prepare your workspace: Set up a work light. Then, check the vehicle’s front wheels. If needed or desired, use a floor jack to lift the rear end and place it on jack stands. Make sure the vehicle is secure.
  • Remove or trim any specified parts: Remove the spare tire, if necessary. Remove or trim any hardware or parts specified in the installation instructions. For instance, you may need to remove a few bolts and rubber plugs or trim a panel.
  • Align and attach the hitch: Position the hitch to align with the existing bolt holes. Use the provided hardware to secure the hitch in place. Hand-tighten the bolts.
  • Install wiring harness, if necessary: If the hitch requires a wiring harness, install it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This typically involves connecting the harness to the vehicle’s tail lights and running it along the frame to the hitch.
  • Double-check bolts and connections: Use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications. Ensure that any connections are secure.

If you’re unsure about any step in the process, don’t hesitate to consult an experienced local mechanic. U-Haul and CURT, a trailer hitch manufacturer, have helpful information on their respective websites. U-Haul even offers tutorials for specific models, including popular models from Subaru, Toyota, and Honda.

Trailer Hitch Mistakes To Avoid

Here are a few of the most common mistakes to avoid when installing your trailer hitch.

  • Choosing the wrong type of hitch: Selecting the wrong type of hitch for your vehicle or towing needs can lead to instability, poor handling, and accidents. Research the different options and choose the right trailer hitch for your vehicle’s towing capacity and the weight of the trailer you’ll be towing.
  • Using incorrect tools or techniques: Using the wrong tools or installation techniques can result in stripped bolts, damaged threads, or other complications. Ensure you have the right tools and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
  • Skipping important steps: Every step in the installation process is crucial. Skipping steps, such as properly torquing bolts, can lead to dangerous situations on the road.

Another mistake many movers make is using the wrong trailer for their hitch or attempting to transport items that are too heavy or dangerous to move in their trailer.

Our Conclusion

Installing a trailer hitch can free up space in your moving budget, but consider the cost and installation process before jumping in. Factors such as the type of trailer hitch and whether you choose DIY or professional installation can impact the project’s overall cost. According to U-Haul and AutoZone, installing a trailer hitch can cost anywhere from $100 to more than $1,300.

Follow the steps outlined in this article to avoid common mistakes, save money, and ensure a safe and successful installation. Remember that safety should always be your top priority. If you’re unsure about any aspect of the installation, ask for professional advice or assistance. Mechanics, auto part retailers, and even some truck rental or interstate moving companies offer trailer hitch installation services.

FAQ About Trailer Hitch Installation

What is the difference between a tow hitch and a trailer hitch?

There’s no difference between a tow hitch and a trailer hitch, as people tend to use these terms interchangeably.

Can you attach a trailer to a car without a hitch?

You cannot attach a trailer to a car without a hitch. Attempting to tow a trailer without a proper hitch can be dangerous and result in serious accidents or injuries.

How long does it take to install a trailer hitch?

It generally takes one to three hours to install a trailer hitch. However, the exact amount of time will vary depending on the kind of hitch, the complexity of the installation, and your skill level.

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