Ford F-150: How to Install a Trailer Hitch

Installing a trailer hitch is a lot easier than it may seem. Here's how to do it yourself and save money on labor costs.

By Scott Deuty - December 5, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014).

A trailer hitch is easy to install. Most models are bolt-in applications that fit into pre-drilled holes on the tow vehicle. In some instances, more modification such as welding and drilling is required. If you will be using your hitch to tow your vehicle or carry loads that cover the license plate and rear lights, you will also need to know how to wire your vehicle. When it comes to lights, it’s easier to use the larger 7-pole type plug and adapt down to 4, 5, and 6 pole plugs than to try to adapt a smaller plug count up. Many aftermarket products are available for simply inserting inline with the existing wiring harness. These products not only save time but also maintain the original factory seals, thus reducing the chances for shorts or failure due to corrosion from road salt and debris.

Materials Needed

  • Basic socket and combination wrenches
  • ½ drill (optional if you don't have pre-drilled holes)
  • Wiring tools
  • Solder
  • Heat shrink
  • Electrical tape

Step 1 - Raise the truck

Use your jack and jack stands or ramps. If your hitch is unassembled, now would be an easier time to lift individual brackets to see if they align with the vehicle’s frame holes.

Figure 1. Check to see if brackets align with frame holes.

(Related Article: How to Jack Up Your Truck -

Step 2 - Assemble the entire hitch per the manufacturer’s instructions

Don’t tighten any bolts yet. Some hitches can be inverted in their brackets. Determine the arrangement that best accommodates trailer and/or accessory height, ground clearance, and access to the spare tire.

Figure 2. Curt hitches can be flipped to provide additional clearance.

Step 3 - Use the pre-drilled holes or drill holes

Using the pre-drilled holes on the frame, line up and position the hitch. If you don’t have pre-drilled holes, you will have to drill holes in your frame:

  1. Attach hitch using c-clamps to hold it where you want it to be.
  2. Mark the holes.
  3. Measure and align for symmetry on each side.
  4. Drill a hole and place a bolt starting with the same hole on each side and progressing side to side.
Figure 3. Drill holes if the frame does not have them already.

Step 4 - Tighten all of the bolts to the frame and on the hitch

Tighten and torque the bolts to the manufacturer's specified level. Re-torque after 100 miles of use.

  • Figure 4. Tighten bolts on hitch.
  • Figure 5. Torque bolts to specified level.

Featured Video: Installation of a Trailer Hitch on a 2013 F-150

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