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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.
The Problem: Your Trailer Hitch Doesn't FitBecause 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."The Cause: Mounting Brackets May Have FlexedBecause 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.Note: Cracks or chipped paint are signs that the hitch may have flexed enough to be considered unsafe and should be replaced.The Solution: The Trailer Hitch Can Be Flexed Back Into PositionThe 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.
Hitch Mounting Bracket
The mounting bracket on this hitch has been flexed inward, but can be straightened for installation.
Hitch Mounting Bracket
This mounting bracket has also been flexed inward so that the bolt holes are slightly off and would not install without being straightened out.

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.
Straighten Mounting Bracket with 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.
Straighten Mounting Bracket with Stair 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.
Use Floor to Straighten Mounting Bracket

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.
Use Wall to Straighten Mounting Bracket

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.
Use Vehicle Frame to Straighten Mounting Bracket

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.
Use Jack to Straighten Mounting Bracket
Written by: Victoria BUpdated on: 12/13/2019

David R.


Similar story to others on here, I spent a day prepping the vehicle, getting the bolts in place and wrestling the hitch into position only to find out it would not fit because the outer tangs were too close together and will not fit over the vehicle mounting beams. Now I have to wrestle it out and try to figure out a way to bend it into hopefully a size that will fit. The correct clearance dimensions of the relevant pieces should be included in the instructions so the hitch can be measured BEFORE going through this ordeal. This is apparently a common problem and it is inexcusable that the installation instructions do not address this. DO BETTER!

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


@DavidR Unfortunately, we have zero control over how the hitch is handled after it leaves our facility. The metal used for the side plates and mounting flanges of the hitch is less rigid than the cross tube or receiver, so the hitch can flex a bit with the vehicle. Unfortunately, this can cause the hitch to get flexed to a degree during shipping. We're sorry to hear that happened and that it made your install more difficult than it should have been.

William K.


I spent three hours lying on the ground under my RAV4 trying to install this receiver, supporting it with my knees and belly. It just would not fit. I pulled it out, took a closer look and realized that one end had been bent inward over an inch from UPS mishandling. Apparently it was dropped from a height in the thin box it was loosely shipped in. I called and was told that this is normal and I can fix it with vice grips . . . "Whoah! Vice grips?! No. He helpfully sent me this page to help fix the problem. (Nothing about vice grips here) I was able to wedge it into a utility trailer frame and brute force it into shape. Now I'll go back out and try again. Meanwhile, I'll recommend that you pack things better. A plank of wood bolted across the wings might hep. Also some warning that this is a regular thing to expect so your customers don't waste time and sweat. You could post the measurement of wingtip to wingtip and state that if this measurement is not right, it needs to be fixed. I went with Etrailer because in the past you've been very informative and helpful. (I could have gotten it at Amazon 3 days earlier). You just lost a couple stars on my rating list because of this. I'll update this afternoon after trying again. (96 degrees in Florida)

William K.


@WilliamK Update. I rebent the wing to about an 1/8" past flat. It went right in perfectly, and the bolts pulled it right in. I suggest that you supply bolts with tapered threads on the end like Toyota uses. It's pretty hard to start bolts when they're up in a blind cave. When I got the hitch up into place, I popped in smaller 3/8 bolts just to hold it in place until I got the 19s in. I also used an old milk crate to support the other end(instead of my knees like I did the first day!).
Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


@WilliamK Sorry that happened, I know it's a pain in the butt!
Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


@WilliamK So glad to hear that you've managed to get the hitch installed without too much further difficulty! Once again, sorry about the inconvenience.

Nick C.


well my hitch was bent when I got it and when I sent pictures they said forget trying to bend it. They gave me an RMA to return it and shipped a new one the next day. Good customer service.

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


@NickC Thanks! Unfortunately, we have zero control over what happens to our product once it leaves our facility. We're glad to hear that our Customer Service folks took good care of you!

Elaine W.


Will a Quality S #099 hitch fit my 2009 Ford Edge SEL?

John S.


So, spend hundred of dollars, endure a crap install AND still have to reshape the thing so it will fit? Sounds like a hard no. Sell something of better quality.



@JohnS I agree. So now, because etrailer sent me a defective product I am going to have to pay extra for my mechanic to straighten it out. I would never have purchased from if I knew they sold CRAP that they expect you to repair yourself and absorb the cost yourself.
Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


@Vollie The side plates/mounting flanges are made of a different steel than the crossbar and receiver tube. The steel that the side plates are manufactured of is softer than the rest of the hitch. This allows the hitch to flex a bit with the vehicle. This is necessary so that the hitch doesn't damage the vehicle. Because of this, sometimes the hitch can get slightly bent during shipping. Unfortunately once the hitch leaves our facility, we don't have any control over how it's handled. The procedure shown in the help article for flexing the hitch back into place is really pretty simple, certainly not difficult to the point where your installer would charge more, unless the hitch was totally mangled. If that's the case, call our Customer Service folks at 800-298-8924.



@MikeL I agree that you don't have control over how it's handles in shipping, but you DO have control over how you package it. It's your responsibility as the seller to package the product sufficiently that it arrives to the customer at least most of the time. The fact that you have an entire webpage dedicated to telling customers how to fix your cheapness means that it's not arriving intact most of the time. I'd gladly pay an extra $5 in shipping to not have to deal with a defective product out of the box. I have a full cart right now and I was about to make the purchase until I saw this page. Now I'm seriously rethinking it.
See All (8) Replies to John S. ∨



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