Class 3 Hitch

I got this hitch from the junkyard for $20. If you want to talk about recycling, this is the ultimate form of it. Their jeep dies so I pick up the parts for a song and they live on vicariously through my own jeep. It helps that they’re cheap because they require little processing other than you getting under the car and unbolting them yourself.

On ebay, the hitches go for about $100 + $20. They usually don’t include the installation kit. The reason for this is because the installation kits, unlike the hitches, are vehicle specific since each rail is different. Jeeps themselves have either “tube rails” (round) or “square rails” (standard box-frame). And no-drill is a misnomer, I guarantee you will find the holes need to be bored.

I pull this thing out of the yard and the first thing I notice is that the exhaust system for the jeep I pulled it off of is different from my own jeep. This isn’t a huge issue since I have the tools to drill holes in steel. Nevermind that the exhaust system on my jeep is held on with a brass coathanger – one too many offroading accidents. It’s going to need two holes drilled through the plate to ensure that the exhaust system still bolts up. Then there’s the problem that I didn’t realize I needed to grab the nuts out of the other rail also. I needed an installation kit.

The hidden hitch website doesn’t have a phone number, but they do have a contact form. I submitted it asking for a phone number to call and discuss buying an installation kit and they got back to me promptly. They indicated they didn’t sell directly, but they did give me the number to call a distributor/installer. I called them and spoke to a rep. $56 for the bolts to install this thing. I asked them if I could just buy the missing bolts, they said no. They also said they needed to inspect it if I installed it myself for the safety sticker – the inspection is another $20. This is bullshit, there’s no “hitch inspection” law in PA. But, once they start bullshitting, it’s pretty much time to make up your own plan.

I checked the bolts, they were crusted in crap which is typical of junkyard bolts. Once I took a wire brush and got some of the crap off it revealed a number and a symbol. The number is the bolt strength rating. This is a goldmine right here since we instantly know which bolt we need (in my case: #6). The symbol is the bolt manufacturer and happens to be Delta. Now that I know this, I also know that the bolts require 75ft/lbs of torque and I know which bolts and nuts I need to assemble the hitch safely. Instead of paying $50 + $20 “inspection”, I can go to MR2 Home Depot and find something that matches. Actually, two somethings, six washers and a bucket of lock-tight. Some jeeps have captive nuts welded into the frame to accept a hitch or skid plate, mine have to be fished into the holes.

How are we going to do that? Bolts are steel. Steel is magnetic. Magnet-on-a-stick to the rescue. MoaS is a simple device consisting of a magnet mounted on a telescoping stick. You drop the bolts into the assembly hole of the frame rail (there’s one hole much wider than the others, sometimes it’s a push in from the bottom) and then you drag the bolts to whereever you need them to poke out of the rail. What if you don’t have a MoaS? Either buy one (they’re cheap), make one, or use fishing wire (the most frustrating method). The fishing wire thing sucks because if there’s any obstruction in the rail, the bolt will get caught up on it. The magnet works so well because you can put it on the sides of the rail and that’s where the bolt goes to pull it around dirt.

So why all the trouble? Bike racks, cargo carriers and grills! No, seriously, towing the MR2 requires a class 3 hitch, u-haul trailers require a full hitch and you don’t have to pay the per-miles fee nor the gasoline, and it’s generally a good thing to have if you need to attach things to your car.

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