My Trailer Hitch Doesn't Fit

Did you know that a trailer hitch is designed to be able to flex a bit? The mounting brackets are made from a mild steel that allows the hitch to flex with the vehicle after installation.





Problem


Because of their size and shape, sometimes trailer hitches get flexed during shipping or transport. Some common comments are:


"My trailer hitch doesn't line up with the weld nuts or bolt holes in my vehicle's frame."

"It looks like my trailer hitch is bent."

"I think my trailer hitch was welded wrong."


Flexed Mounting Bracket on Hitch
The mounting bracket on this
hitch has been flexed inward,
but can be straightened
for installation.
Installation Showing Flexed Hitch
This mounting bracket has
also been flexed inward so that
the bolt holes are slightly off
and would not install without
being straightened out.





Cause


Because a hitch's mounting brackets are made from mild steel, the mounting brackets may flex during shipping. This causes the on-center bolt hole spacing to change, meaning it may appear that the hitch's bolt holes will not line up with the weld nuts on your vehicle frame. If the entire hitch was rigid steel, there would be a greater chance of the hitch being damaged and experiencing stress cracks. Such cracks could cause the hitch to malfunction. The mounting brackets need to be able to flex with the vehicle frame as the vehicle travels over the road and hits bumps or potholes. The hitch also needs to be able to withstand changes in temperature without being damaged.





Solution


The trailer hitch can be flexed back into the correct position so the bolt holes will line up with those on your vehicle frame for installation. There are a number of ways to help flex your hitch back into positon.


Use a Table Vise

A table vise can be used to hold the mounting bracket while the cross tube is used as a lever. This works well whether the hitch's mounting bracket is flexed in or out. The cross tube can be used to flex the mounting arm inward or outward back into the correct position.

Table Vise

Find an Open Step

If the mounting bracket is flexed inward, a sturdy, open step is a useful tool to help flex the hitch back into position.

Under a Step

On the Floor

If you don't have a table vise or an open step to use, an inward flexed hitch can be corrected by using two boards while the hitch is on the floor.

On the Floor

Against a Wall

If the hitch's mounting brackets are flexed outward, and no table vise is available, the hitch can be flexed back into place using a board and a solid wall. Keep the straight mounting bracket on the wall and apply pressure to the flexed bracket using a board.

Against a Wall

On the Vehicle Frame

If the hitch is only off by a small margin, the vehicle frame can be used to align the hitch. The bolts on the non-flexed side can be installed and a pry bar or board used to push the other mounting bracket into place. Once the mounting holes are lined up, insert a bolt to keep the bracket in place.

On the Vehicle Frame

With a Jack

Sometimes, both arms may be flexed toward each other. In this case, a board and jack can be used to spread the mounting arms back apart.

With a Jack
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Related Articles

Trailer Hitch Installation Tips
How to Clean Weld Nuts for the Installation of a Trailer Hitch
How to Correct Noise from Exhaust Rattling Against a Trailer Hitch




Written by: Victoria B

Updated on: 9/11/2017








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