bing tracking image Trailer Hitch Installation - 2013 Toyota Highlander

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How to Install the Trailer Hitch on a 2013 Toyota Highlander

Today on our 2013 Toyota Highlander, we're going to be taking a look at and showing you how to install the etrailer class three custom fit trailer hitch receiver.So here's what our hitch is going to look like once we have it installed. The cross tube is going to be visible, it's going to sit right below our bumper. But what I really like about this hitch is the fact that it does have that carbide flat black look, so it blends in nicely at the bottom.Our hitch is a class three hitch, which means it's going to give us that two inch by two inch receiver tube opening, so we'll have a really wide variety of options when it comes to accessories that we can mount up. The way we're going to mount any of those is through the hitch pin hole here on the side. Our hitch is going to accept a standard 5/8 pin and clip. Now while these are not included in the kit, you can pick them up here at along with some locking devices to keep your accessories secure.As far as the safety chain connection points go, it's going to be a plate style welded to the bottom, and as you can see, we'll have plenty of room to get most sized hooks on or off.As far as weight capacity goes, our hitch is going to have a 750 pound tongue weight, which is the maximum downward force to the receiver tube, along with a 5,000 gross trailer weight rating.

That's the amount our hitch can pull, including the trailer and everything we have loaded on it. Now with those numbers in mind, you always want to double check your Toyota's owner's manual, because you don't want to exceed the manufacturer's recommended weight.I'd like to give you a few measurements, and that's going to help you whenever you're looking at accessories for your new hitch. From the center of the hitch pin hole to the outer most end of the bumper, it's right about an inch and a half. From the ground to the inside top edge of the receiver tube opening, it's going to be right about 15 and 1/4 inches. That measurement's not only going to help you when you're looking for a ball mount, to make sure you find the appropriate riser drop to match your trailer, but also at that height I would recommend a bike rack or a car road carrier with a raised shank, that way we get a little bit more ground clearance out of it.So now that we've seen what our hitch looks like and gone over some of the features, let's show you how to get it installed.

To begin installation, we're going to come to the back of our Highlander and on each side we're going to have this plastic underbody panel. These are going to need to be removed, and if we come to the edge we'll see that there's going to be several fasteners that are holding it in place.I'm going to start with the push pin fastener. Take a flat blade screwdriver, we're going to pop the center of it out, and I'll come to the base and pull the rest of the push pin out. I'm going to go around pulling all the push pins out that are attaching this panel to the bottom.Now once we have those push pins removed, we're going to have a few bolts that we're going to have to remove as well. So, I'll take a 10 millimeter socket and we'll pull those screws out.

Now there's also going to be one that's holding it in place by the back side, right by our spare tire. So you want to make sure you get that one, and any other fastener that's holding it in place. There's going to be another one that's pretty high up on the inside by our spare tire as well. Then we can pull the panel out and we'll set it aside.Now we have the option of trimming it and reinstalling it, or leaving it off. We'll go ahead and repeat that for our passenger side panel as well.

Now with the panel out of the way, we're going to have our recovery hook right at the bottom of the frame. Now, these are going to be on both sides, and they're going to be held in by two bolts going into the bottom. We're going to grab a 14 millimeter socket and we're going to pull those two bolts out. We'll go ahead and pull the passenger side recovery hook out as well, and these are not going to get reinstalled.Now over here on the driver's side frame rail, we had our recovery hook, we have two threaded holes, then we're going to have two rubber plugs going towards the front. We're going to want to pull both of those plugs out, so just take a flat blade screwdriver and we can pry them out of the bottom of the frame.Now for the one back here, you can untwist it and it may come undone. If not, again, you can just pry it out and pop it out of the frame. Now, in the passenger side it's going to be a little bit different. We'll still have those two threaded holes and we'll remove the one on the bottom, then we're going to move up to the side of the frame and we're going to pull out the rubber plugs on the side as well. Again, you can untwist them, but if you push on them they are going to go back into the frame.Before we put our hitch up, I want to go over the mounting locations and the hardware that we're going to use. The three threaded holes on the driver's side are going to be our three mounting locations, and we're going to take one of the metric bolts in our kit and a conical tube washer. You'll notice there's going to be teeth on there. You want those to face up towards the hitch. We'll go through our hitch and into the mounting location.Now, it's not a bad idea to go ahead and run your bolt in by hand to make sure that it isn't rusted or corroded, but it should be okay because there we're plugs on all the holes.On the passenger side, we're still going to use the two holes at the bottom for our recovery hook, but if we move to the side of the frame we're going to use the one at the very back that's threaded, and the one towards the front that's threaded.Now with an extra set of hands we're going to lift our hitch up. You want to make sure that this section goes over the exhaust, and lift it up lining up the holes in the frame. You want to get one bolt started on each side, that way the hitch will support itself, and we can work on getting the rest of the hardware in place. I'm going to come back with a 17 millimeter socket and snug up all my hardware.I'm going to come back with a torque wrench, I'm going to torque all my hardware down to the specified amount in the instructions. You want to make sure you go back and repeat that for all of your hardware. So here we've got our passenger side panel, and you can see where I trimmed down. I just want to round and cut that inner edge off, so it'll clear the side plate on my hitch. So now we can go ahead and reinstall our under body panels if we did decide to trim them.Now on the driver's side, we did have to trim our panel, and we're going to go ahead and test fit it, make sure we trimmed enough, but if we found that this cut back here doesn't clear our side plate, we can always cut some more.With our panel lining up, we can go ahead and put the fasteners back in. With our hitch torqued down and both panels back in place, we're ready to hit the road.That'll finish up your look at the etrailer class three custom fit trailer hitch receiver on our 2013 Toyota Highlander.

Martin B.


Do you have the 98858 in gloss black?

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


For a gloss black finish you'll want to go with the Curt # 13534. All of the etrailer hitches have a matte black finish.

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