How Much Does Trailer Hitch Installation Cost?

Last Updated on May 19, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Whether for hauling work equipment, towing recreational toys, or simplifying family trips, installing a trailer hitch expands a vehicle’s capabilities substantially. But is taking the plunge to outfit your truck, SUV or car with towing hardware truly worthwhile given the investment required?

This detailed guide examines hitch types and capabilities, cost considerations for both DIY and professional installation, usage benefits for work and recreation, factors impacting longevity and durability, steps for finding the right hitch, and expert tips for maximizing the value from your towing enhancement investment.

How Much Does Trailer Hitch Installation Cost?

Overall, a proper hitch proves a smart long-term asset for most frequent towers, with costs averaging just $500 to $1,500 installed. When factoring the enhanced utility, cost savings from avoiding rentals, and added convenience it provides, hitches deliver an impressive return on investment through years of service.

Hitch Gear Parts and Hardware

  • $150 to $350 for a common Class 3 bolt-on hitch with 2” receiver.
  • $800+ for heavy-duty adjustable gooseneck or 5th wheel hitches.
  • Wiring kits extra if adding lights, brakes.

Professional Installation Labor

  • $150 to $300 for simple bolt-on receiver hitch requiring minimal modifications.
  • $500+ for extensive welding, custom brackets, changes to cooling systems.

Total Turnkey Installation Cost

  • $300 to $650 is common for a basic receiver hitch.
  • $1,000+ for heavy-duty 5th wheel or gooseneck hitch setups.

This Old House provides insights into the cost of trailer hitch installation, stating that most receiver hitches cost between $150 and $400. The service of installing a receiver hitch is considered fairly simple, as it typically does not involve extensive labor or complexity.

Moving Feedback discusses the average cost of hitch installation, with professionals typically charging around $225 to $625 or more for the service. The price can vary based on factors such as the type of vehicle, the type of hitch, and the specific services provided.

The article highlights the importance of professional installation for ensuring the proper setup and functionality of the hitch, especially for towing heavy loads or trailers.

Autohitch provides detailed information on the cost of trailer hitch installation, stating that the average total cost ranges from $300 to $650 for a receiver hitch. The breakdown includes material prices of $200 to $450 for a class 1 to 3 hitch, with installation labor costs ranging from $100 to $200.

The article emphasizes the significance of understanding the various parts and components involved in a trailer hitch setup to comprehend the overall cost and process.

HomeGuide offers insights into the cost of trailer hitch installation, with prices typically ranging from $300 to $650 for a receiver hitch. The article breaks down the average total cost, including material prices and installation labor costs.

It also provides a detailed guide on trailer hitch classes, vehicle compatibility, and typical uses, helping individuals understand the different types of hitches and their associated costs.

What is a Trailer Hitch?

Trailer hitches attach to the frame of trucks, SUVs, vans, and certain heavy-duty cars, providing a secure mounting point to enable towing various types of cargo:

  • Small to large enclosed trailers transporting ATVs, livestock, furniture, construction materials, and more.
  • Recreational vehicles and campers including pop-ups, travel trailers, 5th wheels, and Class A/B/Cs.
  • Boats, personal watercraft like jet skis, and other recreational marine equipment.
  • Bike racks, cargo carriers, animal restraints, and other useful accessories expanding functionality.

When properly selected and installed, a hitch safely transfers the tongue weight and load force to the tow vehicle’s body, suspension, and tires for controlled, stable transport. But what are the tangible benefits of upgrade your vehicle?

Benefits of Adding Towing Capability

Substantially Expanded Utility and Versatility

  • Tow small and large recreational trailers, toy haulers, campers, and boats with ease.
  • Transport bikes, cargo, and equipment securely without reliance on others.
  • Handle diverse medium-duty hauling needs for work and leisure as required.

Improved Functionality, Self-Reliance, and Convenience

  • Eliminates rental costs for full-size trucks or trailers when occasional heavy loads arise.
  • Reduces dependence and waiting on others’ vehicle availability when a hitch provides greater self-sufficiency.
  • Ability to haul your own gear customized precisely to requirements for ideal performance.

Ongoing Cost Savings and Financial Return

  • Saves substantially over continually renting vehicles for frequent medium-duty hauling needs.
  • Purchasing your own cargo trailer, camper, or boat saves significantly over many years of use and enjoyment.
  • Carry more payload per trip, reducing number of trips and time required for projects or trips.

Now that the benefits are clear, let’s take a realistic look at parts and installation costs.

Additional Trailer Hitch Costs

Vehicle and Hitch Type to Match Your Load

  • Light duty Class 1 or 2 hitches for small loads under 2,000 lbs gross weight.
  • Heavy duty Class 4 or 5 hitches for 20,000+ lb 5th wheel RVs or large equipment.

Professional Shop Installation vs DIY

  • DIY hitches cost much less in parts only but require time, tools, and mechanical skills.
  • Professional installation ensures proper safety, alignment, and torque, and includes a warranty.

Potential Added Vehicle Wear and Fuel Consumption

  • Towing heavy cargo regularly accelerates drivetrain wear and requires premium fuel for power.
  • But minimal impact is seen with occasional suburban light-duty use.

Infrequent Hauling Needs

  • One-off or very occasional heavy towing may not justify the hassle and expense of a permanent hitch.
  • Renting a truck or trailer for a week or weekend may better fit truly minimal needs.

For frequent haulers, the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. Now let’s compare DIY versus professional installation.

DIY Vs Professional Trailer Hitch Installation

You might also like our articles about the cost of a scamp trailer, an office trailer, or a double wide trailer.

DIY Trailer Hitch Installation

  • Hitch parts kits cost $150 to $350 on average.
  • Requires proper tools, mechanical skills, patience, and diligence for a 2-4 hour install.
  • Watch online video tutorials closely for reference.
  • No professional warranty or convenient parts return if unsatisfied.

Professional Trailer Hitch Installation

  • Total installed cost averages $300 to $800 with labor.
  • Completed in 30-120 minutes by certified mechanics depending on the vehicle.
  • Reputable shops provide a lifetime hitch warranty and safety inspection.
  • Hitches are checked for tow capacity accuracy and test-driven.

For most users, professional installation provides valuable peace of mind and convenience well worth reasonable costs. But a DIY hitch can work if done meticulously.

Trailer Hitch Use Cases

Car Hitch InstallationFamily Camping Investment

  • $500 professionally installed Class 3 hitch for weekend camper towing.
  • Saved over $2,000 in rental fees the first year alone.
  • Kids loved helping set up their own camper versus cramped rentals.

Landscaping Business Upgrade

  • $800 heavy-duty Class 5 hitch purchased for work truck.
  • Saved over $4,000 per year on rental truck fees.
  • Hauls 30% more materials per trip, saving time and fuel.

When used frequently for vehicle-intensive activities, trailer hitches demonstrate clear tangible value by enhancing capabilities while saving significantly over the status quo. But is a hitch still worthwhile for occasional use? Let’s explore examples.

Family Road Trip Upgrade

  • $350 DIY hitch kit installed ahead of a 2-week trip.
  • Enabled bringing bikes securely for family adventures.
  • The hitch proved handy for periodic utility like Christmas tree transport in subsequent years.

Homeowner’s One-Day Project

  • $75 hitch rental for a pickup truck from U-Haul.
  • Transported bulky used furniture purchase across town.
  • Avoided buying unneeded gear for a one-time use.

For true one-off applications, rental hitch options can provide valuable utility at a fraction of purchase and installation costs if hauling needs are very minimal or temporary. But frequent towers receive exponentially growing value from owning gear long-term.

Hitch Selection and Purchase

When reviewing options, keep this guidance in mind:

  • Carefully determine your vehicle’s max tow rating – a hitch cannot safely exceed its engineered limits.
  • Choose the appropriate class hitch matching your heaviest intended cargo weight and type.
  • Braking systems are recommended for heavier towing to maintain control.
  • Shop user reviews and ask for referrals to find the most reputable professional local installers known for quality work.
  • Factor in all costs: parts, professional labor, wiring, modifications, tongue accessories. Avoid unpleasant surprises.

Take time to make an informed decision – your hitch serves as the critical mechanical linkage between your tow vehicle and precious cargo.

Final Words

Given the incredible versatility, convenience, and cost savings possible when a properly selected and installed trailer hitch matches planned towing needs and frequency, the proven value outweighs the moderate $500 to $1000+ expense for most truck, SUV and outdoor enthusiast owners who haul medium to heavy cargo a few times monthly to weekly.

Just be sure to choose an appropriate class hitch and accessories tailored for your specific vehicles and intended loads. Then enjoy smooth, safe hauling and expanded capabilities for everything from work projects to family adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install a trailer hitch myself?

While challenging, with diligence, torque wrenches, following hardware tightening sequences, full safety inspections, and closely referencing install manuals and online visual guides, some experienced DIYers can install certain basic bolt-on hitches successfully themselves. But the majority are wise to minimize risk by opting for professional installation and warranty support.

How long does it take to install a trailer hitch?

Expect professional installers to take between 45-120 minutes depending on the vehicle application and specific hitch hardware involved. Quick bolt-on receiver hitches on major vehicle models can be installed in under an hour. But extensive modifications involving welding or bracing add time. Ask the shop for an estimate beforehand based on your particular vehicle.

Is it worth it to install a hitch?

When not loaded down, modern hitches have a negligible impact on fuel efficiency and wear for most standard suburban driving. But when regularly towing near maximum capacity and making long trips with heavy cargo, monitoring MPG reduction and following a rigorous maintenance schedule is wise to maximize longevity and performance.

1 reply
  1. carl J Martin
    carl J Martin says:

    I am l.ooking for a class 3 hich for 2024 KIA Carnival. What is your location close to Lansing? Do you install? What is an installed cost? schedule? Saturdays?


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