Curt Trailer Hitch Installation - 2020 Toyota Highlander

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How to Install the Curt Trailer Hitch on a 2020 Toyota Highlander

Ryan: Hey everybody, Ryan here at Etrailer.Today on our 2020 Toyota Highlander, we're going to be taking a look at and showing you how to install the Curt class three trailer hitch receiver.A lot of our Highlander customers said their favorite thing about this hitch is the way it's going to look on the back of your SUV, and I'd have to agree with them. I think it looks right at home. For the most part it's not going to be noticeable at all. You are going to see the receiver too and the safety chain plates. And these plates are kind of a different style. I kind of like them since they are a little bit more visible actually, in my opinion, it just kind of brings everything together.

When it's just the receiver tube opening, it can look a little out of place if you will. Once you step back and take a look at it, it's going to look like it's almost factory.So when it comes to these Highlanders, they're really versatile vehicles and you can use them to do a little bit of everything with. The hitch is going to be no different. It's going to be good for some towing if that's what you plan on using it for, but it's also going to be good for those hitch mounted accessories; things like bike racks, or even cargo carriers.In particular, those folding accessories should work out real good for you, and that's because the hitch is going to give us some really good clearance. The end of the receiver tube opening is actually going to come out past the bumper just a little bit.

So you shouldn't have any issues at all when you do go to store those accessories in that upright folded position.So this is going to be a class three hitch. So it's going to give us a two inch by two inch receiver tube opening, which is a very common size and there's a ton of different types of accessories that'll work well with it. It's also going to have a reinforced collar for extra strength. And in my opinion, I think it makes it look a little more complete too. It just has a nice finish to it.This is going to have the standard five eighths sized pin hole.

The pin and clip does not come included, but if you need one, you can find it here at Etrailer. We talked about this a little bit earlier; these plate style safety chain openings. So not only are they going to look good, but since they do sit behind our pin and clip and kind of in an upright position, they're going to give us more than enough room to use just about any size hook that we might have.The hitch is going to give us some pretty good weight capacities. As far as the maximum gross tongue weight rating goes, it's going to be 500 pounds and that's going to be the amount of weight pushing down on the hitch. That's a pretty high number, so you should be able to use just about any size cargo carrier or bike rack that you would want to.

As far as the maximum gross trailer weight rating goes, it's going to be 5,000 pounds. That's going to be the amount of weight that's pulling on the hitch. So that's the weight of your trailer plus anything that you might have on it. Now I do always suggest it's never a bad idea to check in your Toyota owner's manual to make sure your Highlander can pull that much weight safely.Now let's go ahead and take a couple of measurements to see which accessories will work best with our Highlander. If you go from the ground to the top inside edge of the receiver tube opening, it's going to be right at 17 inches. So chances are pretty good if you do plan on doing some towing, you'll probably need to get a ball mount with a very slight rise.If you go from the center of the hitch pin hole to the very edge of our bumper, it's going to be right at about two inches. You can use that measurement to figure out if any folding accessories you might have can be stored in this upright position without contacting the bumper.Now a big question we get asked is if those Highlander models that have the automatic lift gate assist is still going to work whenever the hitch is in place. Now our particular model that we have here today does not have that option, so I'm not able to test it, but I can tell you from my experience in the past with really all different types of makes and models of vehicles that have that feature, once you put the hitch on it usually does still work. Sometimes though you may have to find that sweet spot and figure out where you need to put your foot to get it to work properly every single time.So at the end of the day, a hitch you really can't go wrong with. It's going to check all the boxes for me, at least in my opinion. It's going to look good, have pretty good weight capacities, and give us good clearance. That versatility is really important, especially with these Highlanders.Now as far as the installation goes, it's really not too bad believe it or not, especially since it is hidden. Most of the time, those installs are a little more tricky. That's really not the case at all with this one. Everything's easy to get to and pretty straightforward.So to get our install we're going to be working underneath the back of our Highlander. The first thing we're going to need to do is remove this plastic driver's side under body panel. So this is going to be held in place with a few different types of fasteners. First ones we're going to take off will be these plastic push pins. The way to get those off is with a trim panel tool like this, or a flathead screwdriver. What you do is pry underneath the head and you can pop the whole fastener out. So you can work along this edge here. It looks like we're going to have one more of those plastic fasteners, so let's get this one out.Then we can move along back to this edge and we're going to have a bolt. You can either use a Phillips screwdriver or a 10 millimeter socket. We'll get that one removed, keep working our way over. Looks like we're going to have two more right here where our mudflap attaches to that under body panel, so we'll pull those out as well. It feels relatively free. I do know if we move up and over to the side, there's going to be some plastic nuts; two of them. I use a 12 millimeter to loosen those up. Usually you can just get these by hand.They're not going to come completely off. They kind of just stay attached to the panel, but they will unthread from the studs. So if that panel doesn't want to drop down or these come completely off, sometimes what you have to do is put a little bit of downward pressure on it while you're unthreading it. I'm trying to get the same thing for this one here. See if I can't get that popped off. And with those loose, we should be able to sneak our panel out and set it off to the side.Now if you move towards the center of our bumper, we're going to have a couple of bumper support tabs, and we're going to remove the fasteners that are holding them in. So pretty much the same deal as the under body panel, just a pushpin fastener. We'll pry that out, and push that tab down out of the way. Do that same thing for this one here. On our frame rail on the bottom, we're going to have some plastic and rubber plugs. What you're going to want to do is get these removed on each side of our Highlander. So pretty straight forward; you can just take a flathead screwdriver and pry underneath the head of the plugs and just pop them out.So now over here on the passenger side, we're going to have this little bracket here that's just helping support our under body panel a little bit. We need to get that out of the way. So we're going to remove both the bolts. This one will use a 10 millimeter socket, and the larger one we're going to use a 17 millimeter. So once we take that bolt out, we're going to grab the bracket and set it off to the side.Now what we can do is clean out our attachment points. From this point on anything we do to this side of our Highlander, we're also going to do to the other side because it will be set up the exact same way. But on each one of her frame rails, we're going to have a total of three attachment points, and they will be the factory weld nuts inside of the frame. So we'll have this one here, here, and here.What I like to do, even though they we're covered is just clean those out just in case any moisture, dirt, debris, anything like that we're to get inside. I've just got a tube brush. Working in the threads. The hardware that we're going to use for all those attachment points will be a bolt and a conical toothed washer. So you're going to want the teeth on the washer to face up towards the hitch. So once we have the hitch up there, we're going to take these and just simply thread them in to those factory wellnuts.Now something I want to point out; this isn't always the case, but sometimes it does happen, is at the end here, there could be a little bit of sealer and sometimes just depending on how your car came from the factory it could be caked up a little bit more and can kind of interfere with the hitch a little bit. So as opposed to holding the hitch up above your head, trying to get in place and finding out that a little bit of that sealer is in the way, what I'm going to do is just take a scraper and just remove a little bit of it that way we don't have to deal with it if it is indeed the case.The sealer does come off relatively easy, you can just use a little scraper, putty knife, even a flathead screwdriver. You don't have to get too carried away. We're just going to knock down that sealer right there on the end. That way, if it is in the way, it won't be a big deal now that we have it removed.Now with an extra set of hands, we can raise our hitch into position. So you're going to push it up flat against the frame rail, and you want to make sure to pull these tabs back. Once we have it all lined up we're going to take our hardware, and we want to be sure to get at least one started on each side, hand tight. That way the hitch will support itself. It'll be a little bit easier to work on the rest of the bolt.Once we have all of our hardware in place and hand tight, we can come back and snug it all down. We can come back with a torque wrench and tighten all of our hardware down to the amount specified in the instructions. Now what we can do is come back to our bumper tabs, push them flat, take our push pin fasteners, and re-secure.So we can move over to our underbody panel that we removed earlier. So we have two choices of what we can do. We can either leave this removed and it's going to be fine that way, or you can trim it out and reinstall it. So we're going to trim it out today, and there is a diagram in the instructions. It gives you a reference point, and the areas that we need to cut out here are marked with this white paint. This is relatively thin plastic. You could probably use a pair of snips or something like that to get it cut. I'm just going to use a Dremel tool though.Now we can take our panel and put it back in place. I did have to cut a little bit more out than I originally had marked on the side, but no big deal to test fit it and make sure it fits and trim out a little more if you need to, like I did. We'll just install this the opposite way that we removed it.And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the Curt class three trailer hitch receiver on our 2020 Toyota Highlander.

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Video by:
Joshua S
Video Edited:
Chris R
Test Fit:
Ryan G

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