If you’re looking for trailer hitch installation costs, there are a few calculations to make. From the hitch itself to the wiring, hitch ball and other accessories, it can add up from what you’d first expect. You also need to consider the service fee, which can vary from shop to shop.
Depending on the type of hitch you want to install, the cost can be variable. Bumper-towing designs come with a hole in the bumper for the trailer ball which costs between $8 and $35. You may also need to install the wiring for the trailer lights, if not already installed. The wiring costs between $15 and $50. This type of trailer hitch does not bolt to the chassis of your vehicle.
If you want to mount a receiver hitch to the chassis, prices start at $50 to $250. The installation would cost at least $50 as well. Fifth wheel hitches cost between $300 and $2,000. Professional installation for such a hitch also costs between $200 and $500. A new gooseneck trailer hitch costs between $200 and $600. Together with the installation costs, it can reach $400-$800.
These are a few examples of popular trailer hitch and how much they are:
- RAM Laramie 2500 – Class V Rear Receiver Hitch: $360
- Hyundai Santa Fe – Class III Rear Receiver Hitch: $265-$395
- Mazda CX-9 – Class II Rear Receiver Hitch: $239
- Toyota Sienna – Class III Rear Receiver Hitch: $245-$275
- Honda Odyssey – Class III Rear Receiver Hitch: $240-$290
- Toyota RAV4 – Rear Receiver Hitch: $225-$275
Note: installing a receiver trailer hitch takes .5 to 1.0 hours. Typical shop hourly rate will be $85–125 per hour.
What are the Parts of a Trailer Hitch?
A receiver hitch, the most common type of trailer hitch, comes with parts such as a ball mount, a hitch ball, a hitch pin & clip, a wiring system and a receiver that mounts to the truck frame.
- Receiver: mounts to the frame of the vehicle and provides a receiver tube to accept a ball mount.
- Ball mount: A ball mount is a removable metal tube that slides into the receiver opening and provides the support for a trailer ball.
- Hitch ball: Attached to the ball mount, the hitch ball comes in sizes which include 1-7/8″, 2″, 2-5/16″ and 3″.
- Pin & clip: A steel pin which locks the ball mount to the hitch tube.
- Wiring: The wiring connects your trailer’s lights to the tow vehicle. They mainly serve brake light functions.
What are the Different Types of Trailer Hitches?
You can use a rear receiver hitch, a front mount hitch or a 5th wheel hitch receiver for various purposes. A rear receiver hitch is a popular choice. It is used for various purposes which include trailers. It is durable and easy to install. Such a hitch is mounted directly on the chassis of the vehicle which makes it durable. If you want to know more about rear hitch receivers, you should also learn about how they are separated into various classes. A class 1 rear receiver hitch is the most light-duty solution while a class 5 receiver hitch is the most heavy-duty option. As a general rule, as this number is higher, you will also find bigger size receiver tubes which go with them.
A front mount receiver hitch is similar, but as its name suggests, it actually gets mounted in the front of the vehicle. There are plenty of applications for such receivers. For example, they can be the base for a vehicle equipped with a snow plow. It can also work as an additional tire mount. Some people use these hitches when it comes to parking a trailer in tight spaces. The front mount receiver hitch is also directly connected to the vehicle’s chassis.
The 5th wheel hitch is a heavy-duty alternative for pickup trucks. Using a jaw mechanism, it receives and locks the kingpin from the trailer. Interestingly, the hitch comes with a pivoting ability which works well to absorb the shocks from the road.
A gooseneck hitch is similar to the 5th wheel when it comes to installation. It goes over the rear axle of the vehicle. Since they are made to be less intrusive, they are often used on pickup trucks which transport livestock trailers or large flatbeds.
With a towing capacity of up to 60,000lbs, the pintle hitch is a practical solution. It can be mounted directly to the frame of a vehicle. At the same time, it can be mounted on slides which go into the receiver hitch. Since they are lighter, they also tend to be noisier, especially when compared to ball mount alternatives.
Some lightweight alternatives are available as well. For example, the bumper hitch is mounted directly to the bumper of the vehicle, as its name suggests. It is designed to carry less weight when compared to the receivers attached to the vehicle’s chassis.
What are the Different Hitch Classes?
There are 5 classes of hitches to consider. Class I hitches are made to handle up to 2,000 lbs trailer weight plus the 200 lbs of the tongue. They can be attached to the vehicle’s chassis but since they handle lighter weights, they are often used for with hitches attached to the bumper of the vehicle.
Class II hitches have a higher towing capacity. They can handle weights of up to 3,500 lbs which represents the total weight of the trailer. To this total capacity, you can also add the weight of the trailer’s tongue which can be a maximum of 300 lbs.
Class III hitches have a carrying capacity of up to 6,000lbs. The maximum trailer tongue weight accepted by Class III hitches is 600 lbs.
Class IV hitches can be made for carrying or weight distributing. The carrying capacity of 10,000lbs is coupled with the 14,000lbs weight distributing capacity. The maximum trailer tongue weight in this class is 1,400lbs.
Class V hitches are the most robust. They can handle weights of up to 12,000lbs which makes them the top choice for heavy loads. The same hitches which are used for weight distributing purposes can handle up to 17,000lbs. Such a hitch comes with a large 2-1/2” receiver opening. Of course, the can only be attached to the chassis of the vehicle.
What Size Hitch Receiver Do I Need?
Choosing a hitch receiver is not complicated. You can go for the 1-1/4” or the 2” options. For the best towing capacity, the 2” version is recommended. But the weight which is handled by the receiver is not the only advantage. It is why you also need to know that most accessories such as bike racks and cargo carriers use this type of receiver. It comes handy with many other types of hitches such as those used for winter sports equipment. It is why these hitch receivers are recommended for power and versatility. Most utility vehicles come with 2” hitch receivers. Some vehicles have no hitch receivers and they need to be mounted at a specialized shop.
What Size Ball Mount Do I Need for My Travel Trailer?
Choosing the correct ball mount for your travel trailer is easy. You need a tape measure, to begin with. You will need to measure the height of your hitch receiver from the ground up. You will then measure the trailer’s tongue height. Make sure the trailer is level when you make the measurement. You then need to subtract the height of the trailer from the height of the receiver. This gives you the amount of drop you need in your ball mount. Many designs come with a standard drop of 18 inches. The measurement can be used on various ball mount receivers and you can purchase them in specialized stored.
When it comes figuring the cost of installing a trailer hitch, you need to take into account all of these characteristics. With different hitch designs, the overall cost of the product and the installation can differ.
Even with the same type of hitch receiver, such as the rear-mounted design, there are different classes to choose from. Depending on the load they are designed to tow, the price will vary accordingly. It is why the more load they are able to carry and the higher their class, the more you will need to spend on the extra strength of the materials.
Some affordable options include the bumper-mounted hitch. While they are easy to install and cheaper to purchase, they are not made to carry significant loads and this limits their overall versatility.
The size of the hitch receiver also impacts its price. The standard 1-1/4” hitch receiver is more affordable but it can’t tow too much weight and it is why you will see it mainly on smaller vehicles. But the 2” receiver is more durable and it can handle the extra weight. It is why it comes as standard on many commercial vehicles. If it doesn’t come as standard on your vehicle, you will need to purchase one and have it installed in a specialized shop. The good news is that many vehicles allow for a simple installation process which should not take too long.
A money-saving tip is to directly mount the 2” receiver if your vehicle doesn’t come with it from the factory. This allows for the maximum versatility when it comes to both trailers and other cargo or bike hitch carriers.