Sunday, November 01, 2015

Trailer Hitch Install

Today  I did an install of a Curt Manufacturing 13364 hitch on my 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan. I was going to try to find a different one because the instructions on this one mention that you have to trim the bumper on some models. It appears that is only for the Town and Country and I didn't need to trim on my Caravan. I did the install by myself in my driveway with the van on oil change ramps. Maybe not ideal but it worked pretty well. There are a couple good videos on YouTube that were very helpful. I felt pretty familiar by the time I got under there.

Curt manufacturing has a video.

And has one. This one is for a hidden hitch brand but they appear virtually identical.

They've disabled embedding the YouTube video but here is the link.

It's pretty straight forward. You need only basic hand tools. I didn't feel like getting out my big impact for the 18mm bolts so I just used a breaker bar.

Here are the tools I used:

  • 1/2in drive breaker bar and 10 inch extension
  • 1/2in drive torque wrench. If I had a 3/8 drive I would have used that also but more on that later.
  • 3/8in drive ratchet and 10 inch extension. I don't own a 1/2 drive ratchet right now.
  • 13mm socket to remove the exhaust hangers
  • 15mm socket for the rear most bolts
  • 18mm socket for the other bolts Two on the drivers side and one on the passenger side. **Note** this isn't a regular size as far as I know. None of my sets had one so I went out and bought one in each 3/8 and 1/2 drives.
  • Universal joint to get to the 18mm bolt above the muffler.
  • Jackstands to hold the hitch while you get a bolt or two in. You wouldn't need these if you have a helper.
  • I did grab my cordless impact but it didn't have enough torque to do much other than take the exhaust down.

All the tools laid out with the instructions. The instructions were pretty good but the videos make it easier.

The three drivers side bolts. 1 x 15mm and 2 x 18mm. Remove all three. When I reinstalled them the forward most 18mm wouldn't go in so I had to use a screw driver to align the hole. I think whatever the nut is on moved, the bumper maybe? It was easy enough to line back up and get the bolt in.

The passenger side is a bit harder to deal with. This is the 15mm that needs to come out and there is a 18mm right above the muffler. Even with the exhaust lowered I had to use an universal joint to get to the bolt. My 1/2 drive socket was 12 point so it wouldn't get a good grip on it with the universal. I had to use my 3/8 since it was six sided. Unfortunately I didn't have a 3/8 torque wrench so this bolt didn't get torqued. It's 86ft-lbs so I just got it as tight as I could with the short handle on my ratchet. A case of good enough I guess. There always has to be one of those bolts.

The 15mm is only supposed to get torqued to 48ft-lbs but my torque wrench doesn't go lower than 50. I kind of wish I had a 3/8 but an extra 2 ft-lbs won't make any difference.

The passenger side is pretty tight.

All installed.

A couple overview shots. This project is very doable for anyone that changes their own oil since there are no holes to drill and all the bolts used are already on the van.

It'll likely be a while before the hitch actually gets used. We plan to get a small tent trailer in the next few years but I thought it would be much easier to install this before our Canadian winters made everything under the van rusty and crusty. I haven't looked into the wiring much but as far as I know I'll require a brake controller. I'm sure that'll be a pile of fun.

So all in this took me about 45 minutes to an hour. It probably would have been faster if I didn't have to stop and run out to get some 18mm sockets. The hitch cost $215 shipped from They were slightly more expensive than but since the shipping was free that saved me a bunch. All in I spent about $275 because I needed two 10 inch extensions, two 18mm sockets, and two universal joints. I also picked up a 5/8 hitch pin and a plug for the receiver opening. I probably could have bought just 1/2 drive sockets and extensions but I'm glad I grabbed the 3/8 because of that bolt behind the muffler.

I like doing this stuff so it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Now if only it was sunny and warm instead of cold and drizzle.

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