How to Install a Trailer Hitch
2004-2009 Toyota Prius

By PriusDIY.com

Before doing anything read my disclaimer & safety info.

 

Notes

Yes, your Prius can have a trailer hitch for moving bikes, extra gear or small trailers! It's simple to install - an easy DIY job. The Prius is designed for an add-on hitch like this, it just bolts on! Keep in mind this is a class I hitch so it has a maximum tongue weight of 200 pounds (direct downward force) and 2000 pounds of pull weight. I would not exceed these limits so know what your downward and total tow weights are or don't do it or you risk frame damage. 2 normal weight bikes along with the bike carrier is a good example of about maxing out the tongue weight. A small utility trailer with 1000-1500 pounds of load is an example of maxing out trailer tow weight. Please note that this will void your warranty so don't do this if you care about that. However, if you don't care or are out of warranty like me (100k+ miles) by all means install a hitch.

Tools Needed:

Parts/Supplies Needed:

The 2 blue arrows point to the 2 rear tow eyes. These will be removed and replaced with the hitch.

1) You don't even need to jack up the rear of the vehicle, just remove these 2 14mm bolts from the passenger side along with the tow eye piece. Torque = 35 ft-lbs.

2) Remove the 2 plastic clips circled in red, the 10mm bolt/screw circled in blue and the 10mm bolt circled in green (location shown next). Details to come, several steps to remove this plastic sheild.

2b) Once you shimmy yourself underneath the car you'll see that this 10mm bolt is what you need to remove.

These 2 plastic clips are a pain, as you can see I mangled mine trying to get this released and out. I want to say this is something they just want to charge you extra for so you have to buy new ones because you can easily break these on removal but the design implies reuse. Shown by the blue arrow is as far as you want to pull these guys out, the top popper is about 1/2 inch. Also show are the 10mm bolt and bolt/screw.

2c) You may or may not need to take this plastic piece off completely depending on your layout. Opposite the blue arrow is a screw stud that this piece seems to just be held in place by tension (maybe a screw fell off mine). Either way it needs to be removed so I just pulled it off, you may need to remove a screw and then pull off, I'm not sure. Just pull straight down and it will come off.

3) Remove the 2 14mm bolts circled in red on the driver's side along with the tow eye. The blue arrow points to the screw stud referenced in step 2c.

Here's what you get. The studed washer side touches the vehicle. As you can see the new bolts are larger (18mm vs 14mm) and longer as well.

4) Either grab a small box or a helper to hold one side of the hitch and position it.

5) Thread the 2 passenger bolts and washers (studed side touching the hitch) into the holes you took the tow bolts out of by hand. Just do enough so it holds, it will be torqued down later.

6) Here's the passenger side loosely held up. Now hand thread the 2 driver's side bolts and washers. There is enough play with the hitch to line these up without much fuss. Once you have those in just tighten all 4 bolts until they make contact with the vehicle. I pulled back on the hitch so it's sitting all the way back. Torque the 4 bolts to 35 ft-lbs.

7) Use a tin snips or utility knife to cut out the marked area and then test fit it.

7b) Cut more as needed. As you can see I did several test fits and it was still tight, I shaved off some of the highlighted area with the utility knife while it was on the car. Reattatch this to the car using the 2 plastic clips and 2 10mm bolts.

That's it, as you can see it only sticks out a bit. The hitch plug was an add-on I bought.

Plenty of ground clearance.

Here's the main reason I installed the hitch. A bike rack that's easy to load and secure bikes. My wife and I put our bikes here and we put our son's Weehoo iGo Pro in the trunk. See next photo.

If you're going to be towing a trailer that requires lighting, you'll need hitch wiring; here's how to install trailer hitch wiring.

Resources:

 

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Last revised: Saturday, 11-Oct-2014 11:09:35 CDT