I’ve been wanting a hitch on my vehicle for a while, and with my wife recently getting a bike I thought that a hitch based bike rack would be ideal. So, I set out to undertake the first half of my brilliant plan: acquiring a hitch. I found a great deal on a Class III hitch for my vehicle at a site called etrailer.com. They offered free shipping, and they had a great video online about how to actually do the installation. The process for my car looked simple enough, just four bolts into pre-threaded holes in the frame, and a u-bolt tie down to the tow bar.
I went ahead and ordered the hitch, and set up a time to bring it over to a friend’s house to utilize his torque wrench and ramps. We got the car up on the ramps and started checking out where it fit, only to discover a major problem. A hundred thousand miles of driving had rendered the bolt holes full of gunk and rust. It was going to be impossible to thread the bolts into these holes in their current shape.
I packed everything up, and did a bit more research (again at etrailer.com) and found a video of how to clean the bolt holes with a battery brush. I grabbed one from the local parts store and set to work trying to see if I could salvage this adventure. I got under the car and started scrubbing, and sure enough, after a minute I was able to see some definition to the threads. I grabbed a bolt and, hooray, it started to turn. My excitement was short-lived, as I couldn’t get it to thread more than a few millimeters into the hole.
I spent the next twenty to thirty minutes continuing to try and clean the hole, as well as trying to clean a second hole to see if it had any better luck. By the end of the night I had made only the slightest of progress. Only two of the bolt holes showed any signs of threads, and even those couldn’t accept the bolt very far.
I’m not at an impasse. I’m sure a mechanic with all types of tools could get this to work, but I’m probably looking at at least an hour to 90 minutes of labor costs. Or, I can return the hitch, figuring out how to actually package the solid chunk of steel back ups, and just go to some place like U-Haul and have them do the whole job (I did ask, and they won’t install a hitch that I didn’t buy there, despite being the identical brand).
Either way, my simple project has turned into a pain in the butt. If anyone out there in the Twin Cities thinks they can get this to work I’d love to hear from you. Otherwise it’s probably a visit to the UPS store to figure out if they have a box big enough to deal with returning the hitch.