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etrailer Invisible Base Plate Kit Installation - 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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How to Install the etrailer Invisible Base Plate Kit on a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee


Ryan: Hey everybody. My name's Ryan and here at etrailer, we install, test fit and review a lot of different parts. That way we could try to answer any questions those of you might have. And that's exactly what we're doing here today on our 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee. We're going to be taking a look at and showing you how to install the etrailer.com Tabless Base Plate Kit. So you're going to have a total of five main components needed to flat tow your Jeep down the road.First one is going to be your base plate.

The base plate is going to provide us with the solid and reliable connection point. That way we can hook our tow bar up to it. The tow bar is going to be the second main component. It's going to be the physical link that connects the front of your Jeep to the back of your motor home. Third main component is going to be safety cables.

Now, these are there in the event of an unlikely disconnect. They're going to keep everything attached together. The fourth main component is going to be tow bar wiring. It's get a transfer the lighting functions from the back of your motor home to the back of your Jeep, keeping you safe and legal.And last but not least the fifth main component is going to be your braking system. So the braking system is going to apply the brakes in your Jeep.

Whenever you hit the brakes in your motor home, bringing you to more of a safe and predictable stop. So this is what the base plate is going to look like on the front of your Jeep whenever you're not using it. And honestly, I think it looks really good. It does a great job of kind of blending in. The ends of the base plates don't come out super far, so they sit back kind of nice and flush and that really does a good job of keeping it nice and hidden.But with that being said, it's still going to be easy to use.

So the functionality still remains the same. You're easily able to plug your tow bar in and still even get your safety chain openings. So it'll be nice and easy. You don't have to fight it whenever you are ready to hook up. One thing I do like is the fact that they provided some plugs here whenever we're not using the base plate, and that's going to do a good job of keeping dirt and debris out. That way it's easy to use whenever you put your tow bar in. And I think it just cleans up the look as well. Whenever you are ready to use them, you can just pop them out. They are a little bit tight, but that's a good thing. That way stuff can get inside. And they're pretty thick plastic. So I see these lasting for quite some time.The base plate itself also has a really nice finish. It's a little bit different. It's actually kind of a hammer tone powder coat finish. And so I don't really see this getting too beat up and should stay looking good for years to come. One thing I did notice too, is that the base plate is going to be spaced apart relatively wide. And that's important, especially for a little bit wider of a vehicle like the Grand Cherokee. Having that width is going to help the jeep track or pull well behind your motor home. And that's really important and something that a lot of people ask about.So because I had extra width, we should have a little bit easier of a time whenever we're going around tight turns and things like that. And one thing that's nice about this base plate too, is the fact that it's tabless. So you're not going to have to worry about any removable arms that come out of the base plate so you can hook your tow bar up. So what's nice about that is it's just one less component you're going to have to not worry about keeping track of since it'll stay with your tow bar. With that being said, when you're ready to hook up, it's going to be really straightforward.Just going to slide into the base plate, rotate it about a quarter of a turn, take your pin, push it through and clip it. Same deal with these safety cables. It'll be easy to get to and we can just pop them right around our hooks there. This base plate is going to be compatible with all the etrailer tow bars and most of the Demco tow bars. The good news is though if you have a different brand of tow bar, there's adapters available, which will allow you to pair the two together. And today we have a perfect example of that. We actually have a Blue Ox tow bar. We use the etrailer adapters. So we put those on the tow bar and that'll allow the Blue Ox to pair up with the etrailer base plate. So really convenient regardless on what type of tow bar you have, chances are really good you're going to be able to make it work.Now, one thing I do want to mention is the use of a high/low adapter, which is this right here. Some of you may need it. Some of you may not. And that's really just going to depend on the ride height of your motor home, as well as the ride height of your Jeep. So in our case today from the center of the base plate tab to the ground is 17 and a half inches. Chances are pretty good that's going to be really close for most Jeeps, but it's not a bad idea to measure yourself as well. What you're going to do to figure out if you need that high/low adapter is then measure from the center of your hitch pin hole on your motor home and compare them to numbers. The rule of thumb is you want to be within three inches. That way your tow bar will be nice and level and it'll pull your Jeep down the road like it should.If you do end up needing a high-low adapter, there's many different sizes available right here at etrailer. So at the end of the day, this is going to be my favorite base plate for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Not only does it work and function very well, it's going to look good and you can use pretty much whatever tow bar you want with it to pull it down the road. Now, as far as the installation goes, it is a little involved. You do have to remove the front fascia and that does take some time. However, once that's out of the way, the base plate more or less just bolts right up into place. So that part isn't too bad. Speaking of which, let's go ahead and do that together now.To begin our installation, we're going to be here at the front of our Jeep, and we're going to need to remove the front fascia, that way we can get the base plate on. So we're going to start by coming to our front wheel wells and removing some fasteners. So if you look in our wheel well along the front edge, you can see up here in the corner, we're going to have a 10 millimeter bolt. So we're going to grab our socket and pull that out. Then if we kind of start to move down, you can see we're going to have two plastic rivets and we need to drill those out.So I'll take a drill bit and run through the center and that'll pull that rivet out. Now, when you're doing this, sometimes it helps to turn your wheels one way or another. It kind of gives you a little more room to work. Just do the same thing for this one here. And then I'll repeat the same process over on the other side. Now, if you open up the hood along the front edge here, we're going to have this plastic radiator cover and we need to loosen it. So on each side, we're going to have a plastic push pin style fastener, just like this. So you can get the tool under there. You can use this trim tool or a flathead screwdriver and kind of work the fastener out.If the head comes out without the base, no big deal. Just get underneath the base of it and then you can just put those two back together. That way when we re-install them, we'll have both pieces. So go ahead and do the same thing for this one here. Now, if you moved to the bottom of her Jeep along the front edge here, we're going to have four more plastic push pin style fasteners that need to come out. So I'll grab my trim tool, pry underneath the head and pop them out. And then on each side of our Jeep just in front of our front tire, we're going to have a quarter turn fastener we need to take off. Looks just like that.So you just rotate it about a quarter turn and you're able to pop it out. I'm just going to repeat this over on the other side. Now with an extra set of hands, you can actually remove our fascia. Now this can be a little bit tricky. So take your time with it. And what I did is put some painter's tape on each side right here in this area. That way we don't have to worry about scratching up our paint or anything. So with these style, it's almost easier to start right there in the corner, right here at the corner of our headlight. And what you can do is take a trim tool and kind of just start to pry out and away from you. You just kind of have to work it little by little.And kind of start to loosen everything up a little bit. And these do fit very tight, so keep that in mind. Sometimes what you can do too is kind of grab the corner and move it around. Just kind of help loosen everything up. Once you kind of get everything loose, in the very back corner here there's actually a fastener that goes up. And this is a tricky one. So you're going to kind of have to wiggle it around and kind of push down to release this fastener.So once we get this corner free, we can work our way towards the center and pulling it out as we go. You have to kind of lift up on your radiator cover, but once you pull it back, you want to be careful. You don't want to pull out too far. We need to look behind here and make sure we don't have any electrical connectors or anything like that. In our case, we have these windshield washer squirters for the headlights and we're going to have to get these disconnected. So it looks like we can kind of flip that tab off of the squirter itself. And then they'll release from the fascia.Then on each side, you're going to have to disconnect your fog light, which is this connector here. You just pull out on these two tabs. And in our case, on the passenger side only we're going to have this larger connector. We'll pull that red piece out, push down on the center of it and separate the two. Now that we have this completely disconnected and free, we can set it off to the side somewhere safe. Now with the fascia out of the way, we can remove this air deflector here. It's held in place with three quarter turn style fasteners. So we'll just give them a quarter turn there, same in the center. This one here, we can lower this down and set it off to the side for now.Then if you look right here, you can see there's a bolt kind of helping secure part of our wheel well liner to the skid plate. We need to pull that bolt out, we'll take a 10 millimeter socket, get it removed and do the same thing on the other side. At this point, we can do a little trimming on each side of our Jeep. You can see that we have this air deflector and we just need to cut this bottom portion off that way it's not in the way of the base plate. So put a line there where I need to cut. It's going to take a pair of snips, get this removed, and then we'll do the same thing on the other side.And while we're at it, we can also trim off some of our air deflector here that we removed earlier. And just to kind of give you an idea why, you can see if we kind of hold it back up in the position it originally goes, these ends here are going to be in the way of our base plate. So as opposed to fighting it later, we'll go ahead and trim this now, that way it's done. So we're simply just going to cut those off flush. I'll do it to the other side of our deflector as well. And once we have it cut, we can just set it back off to the side for now.If your Jeep is equipped with this adaptive cruise control sensor, we need to remove it that way we can I have room for the base plate. And on each side of it, there's going to be one eight millimeter screw. So we'll go ahead and pull both of those out. Then we can kind of just let it hang for the time being. Now what we're going to do to give us a lot more room and make getting the base plate installed much easier is just loosen up the front edge of our skid plate here. So just along this edge. We're going to have a 10 millimeter bolt.And in our case, we have a single push pin style fastener and then just two more 10 millimeter bolts. You can see from taking them out, we're able to kind of bend this down and give us a little more room. Now let's go over the attachment points that we're going to use to secure the base plate. So on the bottom side of the frame rail, we're going to have one here and here. And these are just factory weld nuts. I do suggest taking a tube brush or something like that and kind of cleaning out any potential dirt or debris that may be inside. And once we are holding the base plate up, the hardware that we're going to use to secure it, we're going to take a hex bolt, a split lock washer and a flat fender washer.It'll be the same on each side and use this same exact hardware combination. I want to mention as well, all the hardware that we use to actually secure the base plate, you're going to want to put on some blue Loctite on the threads. Now with an extra set of hands, we'll take our base plate, raise it into position. You want to make sure to put your cruise control over it if you have it. And then this is just going to line up with our attachment points. So we'll take our hardware combination. It's a little tight in there. So take your time. Once you get one started on each side hand-tight, the base plate should support itself while we work on the other ones.Now that we have our hardware in place and hand-tight, we can come back with a socket and snug it all down. And don't forget to come back with a torque wrench and tighten everything down to the amount specified in the instructions. With the base plate fully secure, we can come back to our skid plate and re-secure it the opposite way that we loosened it up. And now we can simply re-secure our sensor here the opposite way that we removed it.Let me come back to our wheel well liner where it attached to our skid plate and re-secure that as well. And then I went ahead and re-installed our air deflector here that we trimmed earlier the same way that we removed it by just putting in the three quarter turn fasteners to keep it in place. So I went ahead and installed our safety cables on each side of our base plate. These are pretty straightforward. You just want to make sure you wrap it around the base plate itself and a part of your frame.Now, what I like to do is just take some zip ties and kind of pull everything tight together. And what that's going to do is kind of prevent this from rattling around and making any noise. So this is how it turned out. And again, I did that on each side. And at this point, it would be a great opportunity to install any other flat tow components you might have like wiring or a braking system for example. And that's because we have all this extra room to work and it makes life a little bit easier. That's exactly what I'm going to do.However, if you already have those components installed or you're not going to be putting them on, then you would simply trim your fascia out and re-install it the opposite way that you removed it. Now, what we need to do is trim out our fascia. So I just held this in place and roughly got an idea. And it looks like we're going to have to make a couple of different cuts. The first one being this area here and it's going to be the same on the other side as well. And once we get this area cut out, we can hold their fascial up, push it flat, and then we can find the area we actually need to cut on the grill itself.So this is relatively thin plastic. You can use a pair of snips, maybe a sharp utility knife or a Dremel tool like this. Over here on this side, I am going to have to move a little more material up here to clear our diode wiring as well as our breakaway switch. So keep in mind when you get to this top area here if you mounted everything like I did, you want to be mindful that the grill underneath isn't far from this portion. So just keep that in mind when you're making your cut.So after we trimmed that plastic behind our grill, I held it up to the front of our Jeep and marked where we actually need to cut the honeycomb style grill here. So I made a couple of marks and I'm just going to use a pair of snips until you get that opening cut out. So I went ahead and popped the fascia on the front of our Jeep. And you can kind of see how everything turned out. I did have to cut a little bit more here and there just a few small pieces where it was kind of wanting to get hung up in this area here around my electrical connector and my breakaway switch, but I think it turned out pretty good. And now that we verified everything's going to pass through and be accessible, we can start to re-secure the fascia the opposite way that we removed it.Really, the only difference when we're re-securing our front fascia is here in the wheel wells. If you remember, we actually drove out two plastic rivets and so we're going to need to re-install them. It actually comes with plastic rivets. So you don't need to pick any of these up, but you will need to use a rivet gun. A lot of times you can rent these at your local auto parts store or even buy one there. With that being said, the way these work if you just push it through the wheel liner, squeeze it and that rivet will hook and stay in place.And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the etrailer.com Tabless Base Plate Kit on our 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee.


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