Perhaps you’ve just bought a new trailer, or you’re a long-time tower that’s just purchased a new vehicle without a trailer hitch. Either way, you’re probably interested in getting a trailer hitch installed, but are wary of the potential costs that are associated with doing so. Luckily, installing a trailer hitch is not a costly thing to do, at least as far as automotive maintenance and modifications go. However, the parts and labor together can add up to be more than mere pocket change, so you need to be aware of how much installing a trailer hitch should cost before you have it done to make sure that you’re not overpaying.
How much does it cost to install a trailer hitch? The cost of installing a trailer hitch varies depending on both the type of vehicle as well as the type of hitch. For general ball-style applications, though, parts will range from $150-$450, and labor will range from $100-$250.
The installation cost of a trailer hitch is highly variable, with the type of hitch, the type of vehicle, as well as the labor rate of the shop that you take it to all having a significant impact on the price of the installation. However, simply stating that something is variable is not terribly helpful, so let’s go into some detail regarding what all goes into installing a trailer hitch, as well as 12 examples.
What Are the Different Parts of a Trailer Hitch?
To understand the pricing structure of trailer hitch installations, it’s first essential to understand all the different parts that go into a traditional, rear-mounted, ball style trailer hitch. So, what are the different parts of a conventional ball style trailer hitch, and how much do they cost?
The receiver is the part of the trailer hitch that actually bolts to the frame of the vehicle. The receiver is one of the most critical parts of a trailer hitch, as it is the only structural connection between your vehicle and what you’re towing.
Receivers generally cost between $100 and $250, depending on the brand as well as the class of hitch. The class of hitch refers to how heavy-duty it is, with different types being rated to tow different amounts. The different categories of trailer hitches, according to Curt Manufacturing, are:
- Class 1: Class 1 hitches are the least robust of all the types, and are only designed for cars and crossovers, with a GTW capacity of 2,000lbs.
- Class 2: Class 2 hitches are designed cars, crossovers as well as minivans, and have a GTW capacity of 3,500lbs.
- Class 3: Class 3 hitches are suitable for cars, crossovers, minivans as well as SUVs and trucks, and have a GTW capacity of 8,000lbs.
- Class 4: Class 4 hitches are for trucks and SUVs only, and have a GTW capacity of 10,000lbs.
- Class 5: Class 5 hitches are considered to be a heavy-duty hitch and are only suitable for trucks and SUVs. Class 5 hitches have a GTW capacity between 16,000lbs and 17,000lbs.
- Class 6: Class 6 hitches are reserved mostly for commercial use, and can only be installed on dually trucks, or trucks with a chassis cab. Class 6 hitches have a GTW capacity of between 18,000lbs and 20,000lbs.
The next important piece of a trailer hitch is the ball mount. The ball mount is the piece that slides into the receiver, and thus connects the actual ball to the vehicle. There are many different styles of ball mounts for various applications, though most ball mounts simply consist of a piece that will slide into the receiver, as well as a small platform upon which the ball itself will be mounted.
Additionally, nearly all ball mounts will have a hole in the part that slides into the receiver to accommodate a hitch pin, and some may even be adjustable, which can help keep your trailer level. Ball mounts generally cost between $10 and $50, depending on the quality and style of the ball mount.
The next piece of the trailer hitch is known as the hitch pin. Hitch pins are very simple “L” shaped pieces of metal with a small clip hole on the end, and are inserted into a hole on the side of the receiver to pass through the ball mount and come out on the other side. This helps to lock the ball mount into the receiver and ensure that nothing will shift around when you don’t want it to. Hitch pins are quite cheap and typically cost below $20 as a result of their extreme simplicity.
The trailer ball is, as the name would suggest, a ball that serves as the sole point of physical connection between your vehicle and what you are towing. The ball is a simple part and consists of the actual metal ball itself, as well as a threaded metal rod that allows it to be attached to the ball mount.
Trailer balls usually cost between $5 and $40, depending on the size. The most common ball sizes are 1-7/8”, 2”, 2-5/16” and 3”. Larger balls are rated to tow more weight.
An essential part of a safe towing setup is the safety chains. These are just metal chains, but they play an important role in making sure that your towing setup is secure. The safety chains attach to the vehicle itself as well as the trailer, and serve as a backup should the ball connection fail.
Two chains should be used at all times, and are to be run in an “X” shape below the ball connection. Safety chains are also very cheap and typically cost less than $20, making them a no-brainer for an extra bit of security.
The final piece of the puzzle is the trailer wiring harness. This is a collection of wires that connects to both the vehicle as well as the trailer. A trailer wiring harness is used to connect the brake lights and turn signals of the tow vehicle to the brake lights and turn signals of the trailer so that when the vehicle’s lights are activated, the trailer’s are too. Wiring harnesses typically cost between $10 and $50.
The above-listed parts are all that will be needed to fully install a rear-mounted ball style trailer hitch on most vehicles. As you can see, most parts are fairly inexpensive, with the only piece that will routinely cost more than $100 is the actual receiver itself. If we use the exact midpoint of all the above ranges, the total cost of a full kit will be about $290.
Not terrible; however, the actual parts themselves are only one part of the equation. Next, we need to factor in the labor costs associated with having a professional install the trailer hitch on your vehicle.
What Goes into a Trailer Hitch Installation?
The installation of a trailer hitch is actually not a complicated process and is something that most weekend mechanics would be able to DIY with ease. However, it does involve a fair bit of wrench turning, and that’s something that most vehicle owners are not too comfortable with doing themselves.
So, if you’re not going to be installing your trailer hitch yourself, you’re going to have to take it to a professional to do it for you, which means paying their labor rate. This will, of course, vary from mechanic to mechanic, with AAA citing an incredibly wide range. They report some labor rates being as low as $47 per hour, while others charge as much as $215 per hour.
The first step in getting your trailer hitch installed is giving your mechanic a call. In doing this, you’ll want to get a quote that you can compare to the general process as well as specific examples listed below. When you get your quote, make sure that you’re told the rate per hour, as well as the total number of hours that they’ll be charging you for.
The important thing here is to know how many hours they’re quoting for the job, as we’re about to tell you how many hours they should be quoting you, so you can compare this to what they estimate.
How many hours should it take to install a trailer hitch?
The number of hours that your mechanic quotes you for your trailer hitch installation should be a direct reflection of how difficult the installation is. To be able to assess this, you need to know what all goes into the installation of a trailer hitch, so, here is the general process, according to Curt Manufacturing:
- Remove the spare tire: The first step in installing a trailer hitch (after getting the vehicle in the air, of course) is to remove the spare tire, which should take most mechanics no more than 5 minutes. Some cars won’t have a spare tire in the way, but many trucks and SUVs do. If the vehicle does have a spare tire mounted underneath the rear, it will most likely need to be removed to access certain nuts and bolts and to continue with the installation of the trailer hitch.
- Prepare the vehicle for installation: The next step after removing the spare tire is to clear out the rest of the area to make room for the trailer hitch to be installed. Many vehicles will have various bolts and other pieces that may need to be removed before the installation of the trailer hitch, and this, of course, needs to be done before mounting the trailer hitch. The time that this process takes will vary widely based on the type of vehicle, but plan for this to take your mechanic no more than 30 minutes to do.
- Attach the hitch: After the vehicle is ready for the hitch to be installed following the removal of the spare tire and other pieces, your mechanic should be ready to mount the hitch. Getting the hitch positioned correctly can take a little bit of time depending on how good the fitting of the hitch is, but it should still not take a good mechanic a long time to do. Generally, the mounting of the hitch should take 30 minutes or less. After the hitch is mounted and secured, the car is ready to be lowered down, and the installation is complete.
As is evidenced by the relative brevity of the above list, mounting a trailer hitch is not a very difficult or time-consuming process, especially for a professional mechanic. In fact, even if we use the absolute maximum time that we’ve set out for each step of the installation,the installation will still only take your mechanic about one hour in total.
This is critical information for you to know: if your mechanic quotes you more than one hour’s worth of labor for the installation of a trailer hitch, they’re probably asking too much, unless you have a vehicle with special installation considerations like bumper cutting.
However, don’t expect them to quote much less than one hour either because, at least in our experience, you’re unlikely to find mechanics that will give quotes outside of 30-minute intervals, so they’ll probably just round their way up to one hour total.
If it’s a mechanic that you trust, and their labor rate isn’t too high, then you’re probably getting a fair deal on the installation of your trailer hitch at one hour of labor.
The following table shows the average installation costs for some popular trailer hitch (these costs are the latest we can investigate and may vary depending on the type of hitch)
|Models||Receiver Hitch||Average cost [USD]|
|Toyota RAV4||Rear Receiver Hitch||$225-$390|
|RAM Laramie 2500||Class V Rear Receiver Hitch||$315-$430|
|Mazda CX-9||Class II Rear Receiver Hitch||$239-$354|
|Hyundai Santa Fe||Class III Rear Receiver Hitch||$265-$345|
|Honda Odyssey||Class III Rear Receiver Hitch||$240-$325|
|Toyota Sienna||Class III Rear Receiver Hitch||$245-$390|
Examples of Trailer Hitch Installation Costs
Talking in hypotheticals in general terms is helpful, but nothing is as useful as specific examples detailing exactly how much you can expect to pay to have a trailer hitch installed on your vehicle.
In this section, we’ll go over some examples of what it costs to have a trailer hitch installed on a car, an SUV as well as a truck, and we’ll also go into examples of what real people have paid to have trailer hitches installed on specific makes and models.
Installing a Trailer Hitch on a Car vs. an SUV vs. a Truck
To start, we’ll go over examples of what it will cost to install a trailer hitch on the three main types of vehicles that will be used for towing: cars, SUVs, and trucks. The installation process is similar for every kind of vehicle, though there are some unique differences that can affect the final price of installation.
Installing a trailer hitch on a car is going to be a slightly more involved and thus more expensive endeavor than doing the same thing on an SUV or truck. This is because cars are packaged more tightly and with less space to work, meaning that more work will need to be done to fit the trailer hitch under the car.
In some instances, installing a trailer hitch on a car will even require the exhaust system to be dropped to make room for the receiver. Additionally, most cars are not designed to accommodate a trailer hitch, so custom fabrication work may be required on some vehicles. If processes like these are necessary, expect to pay a little bit more for installation, though you should still be in the ballpark of the one-hour guideline that we discussed above.
Installing a trailer hitch on an SUV is something that can vary quite a bit in cost. This is largely a result of how widely used the term SUV is: in some instances, it can be used to describe a small crossover, and in some other cases, it can be used to describe a body-on-frame, true SUV.
In either situation, the installation will be simpler and easier to do than on a car, only because SUVs both have more space, and are usually designed with the accommodation of a trailer hitch in mind. You should rarely be paying for more than one hour of labor to install a trailer hitch on an SUV.
Installing a trailer hitch on a pickup truck is significantly easier, and thus cheaper, than installing a trailer hitch on a car or SUV. For one, most pickup trucks come from the factory with a trailer hitch installation being a foremost design consideration. OEMs know that many pickup truck owners will use their vehicle to tow, and make it easy to install trailer hitches because of this.
Secondly, trucks are easier because they have much more space to work with in the rear. There is less clutter from exhaust and drivetrain components, and the crash structures are generally less of a problem on trucks, too. For these reasons, installing a trailer hitch on a truck is just as cheap as it is easy for any mechanic to do. Installing a trailer hitch on a truck should never take more than one hour’s worth of labor, and in some instances, may even only elicit a half-hour charge.
Installing a Trailer Hitch on Popular Makes and Models (9 Examples)
Now that we’ve gone over what you can expect when installing a trailer hitch on the three main types of vehicles, we can look at some specific examples of trailer hitch installation costs on some popular makes and models. To get real owner accounts and experiences, we spent some time searching online forums for actual owners who have had trailer hitches installed on their vehicles. Below are some of their experiences:
|2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee||$365|
|Honda CR-V||$300 for parts and $600 for Labor rate|
|Subaru Accent||$444 (from the dealership)|
|Chevrolet Colorado||$450 ($200 for parts and $250 for labor rate|
Jeep Grand Cherokee
One owner on Jeep Forum had their trailer hitch installed for $365 on their 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. This was the price that they paid for an OEM trailer hitch to be installed by the dealer, which is one of the higher cost routes to take when it comes to trailer hitch installations.
Additionally, this installation required some bumper work to be done as well, which is only going to add to the price. For this reason, we would not be willing to spend too much more than this for a trailer hitch installation on a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Installing an aftermarket trailer hitch on a Ford Explorer that didn’t come with the factory tow package proved to be a tiresome thing to sort out for the folks on Explorer Forum. However, one user got a quote from his local dealership to install a trailer hitch for $350.
There was discussion about the quality of the hitch that would be used, as well as some qualms with the potential wiring that may be implemented, but overall, we would be comfortable with most any work that the dealer is comfortable with.
It wasn’t specified whether this was an OEM part to be installed or not, but most dealerships don’t make use of second-rate parts. So, if you have a late model Ford Explorer, expect to pay around $350 for your trailer hitch installation.
The cost to install a trailer hitch at the dealer seems to be much more expensive for Honda CR-V owners. Whether or not this is a result of Honda dealers being more costly or the process itself being more time-consuming for the CR-V is impossible to know, but one user on CR-V Owner’s Club was quoted a whopping $393 for parts and $600 for labor to install a trailer hitch.
Other users were able to get a more reasonable sub-$300 quote for parts, but the best example of dealer labor rates that we could find remains at $600. In this instance, we would recommend that CR-V owners seek the guidance of 3rd-party installers, like independent mechanics.
Owners on the Rav4 World Forum discussed the installation of a trailer hitch on their cars, and the result of the discussion will likely be a pleasant surprise for Rav4 owners. One user was able to have a trailer hitch installed for $254 Canadian, or just $186. This price was through U-Haul, rather than a dealership, but we would let just about anyone take a try at installing it for that price!
The Subaru Ascent is a popular outdoorsman’s SUV (or at least Subaru’s marketing team would like you to think so), and owner’s on the Ascent Forums have discussed the installation of a trailer hitch to compliment this SUV’s outdoorsy nature.
One user was able to have a trailer hitch installed on their Ascent for $444 from the dealership. That is a bit high relative to the other cars on our list, but it’s not so high that we would forgo doing it if it were your only option, especially considering that other users were being quoted almost $200 more than that.
The installation of an OEM trailer hitch for a Chevrolet Colorado, done by the dealership, falls on the high end of the other examples that we have discussed so far. One owner on the Colorado Fans forum paid just under $700 for their trailer hitch installation, but other users were quick to point out that, as the owner expected, that price was a bit too high.
Other users were able to find the same parts for around $250, though they agreed that the $200 labor rate was reasonable, so expect to pay in the ballpark of $450 to have a trailer hitch installed on your Colorado.
Installing a trailer hitch on a Mazda CX-5 is a rather involved process, with some removal of trim pieces as well as the rear exhaust section being necessary to get the hitch properly in place. As a result, one owner on the Mazda 24/7 Forum paid $600 Canadian, or about $440 for the installation of an OEM trailer hitch at the dealer. This falls in line with some of the other OEM, dealer-installed hitches, but is still on the high end of acceptable prices.
The users on the Subaru Forester Forum seemed to prefer the use of the OEM trailer hitch over other aftermarket options, despite the OEM hitch being quite expensive at about $400. However, one owner was able to find a used OEM hitch for just $200 and then paid another $250 for installation from a non-dealer 3rd party.
As far as getting an OEM hitch installed, that is a reasonable price, though aftermarket options can be much cheaper.
Installing a trailer hitch on a Honda Odyssey is one of the most involved processes that we’ve encountered in our research, as it requires both the entire rear bumper and exhaust to be dropped, as well as parts of the bumper to be trimmed. As a result, the dealer was quoting users of the Odyclub Forum $1,000 for an OEM hitch install.
Regardless of the level of involvement of the installation, we would never pay that much, and in this case, would opt for an aftermarket unit and 3rd party installation. However, other users were quoted about $600 by their dealers. This is still a bit too expensive but is at least approaching an acceptable range.
Trailer Hitch Installation Near Me
Are there companies that install car or trailer hitch near me? Yes, there are many companies that offer car and trailer hitch installation services near you, just look below:
Trailer Hitch Installation Boston
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Trailer Hitch Installation Denver
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As you are now aware, the cost to install a trailer hitch varies quite a bit depending on the type of vehicle as well as where you are getting the hitch mounted. For this reason, it’s essential to assess all your options, as well as get quotes from multiple different installers to make sure that you’re not paying any more than you should be for your trailer hitch installation.
2019 Honda CR-V Trailer Hitch Installation >> Check out the video below
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