Posted: May 10, 2013
The Invisible Hitch
Bosal comes up with a new solution to conceal the common trailer hitchBy John Tiger
Today’s trailer hitch installation market is far different than it was ten years ago. A lot of that difference comes from the internet, where trailer hitches are sold with far more volume and frequency than they were just a few short years ago. The same goes for how consumers search for hitch installation shops. Almost everyone uses an on-line search function, and the paper phone directory is almost forgotten. For an example of that sophistication in e-marketing, just check out the websites of the major on-line hitch retailers. Many provide installation instructions and videos, giving consumers detailed step-by-step instructions on how to install their own hitch and wiring packages.
So does the availability of installation instructions to everyone make today’s professional hitch installer irrelevant? Not really. Actual hitch installation hasn’t changed much since the 1990s. Hitch manufacturers still strive for no-drill installations, and minimal fascia trimming and cutting. If anything, completing the wiring portion of the job has become more difficult, especially since battery isolation and LED lighting are now a normal part of the installer’s watchwords.
The detail offered by today’s internet resellers simply gives the consumer more information, which means today’s installer must be all the more on his game to ensure that his knowledge base still gives him the upper hand. It’s important to create a confidence level in today’s consumer so they’ll choose your services instead of trying to complete the installation themselves. Projecting the utmost in professionalism and knowledge is paramount in creating this confidence.
Neat And Tidy Installations
Cautious customers will sometimes try to inspect your work as you complete the install, especially if they’re waiting in the showroom with nothing to do. Having just spent $45k on a nice SUV, they’re understandably nervous about what the completed job will look like. Many shops do what they can to keep customers out of the shop and away from the work in progress, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. When that happens, prevent angst by keeping the shop and especially the vehicle neat and clean, with minimal “tool clutter” and parts/trash in their proper places. Ensure that any vehicle modifications (bumper or fascia cutting, etc.) are discussed beforehand with the customer. Neglect this and your shop may end up paying for a replacement bumper if the customer doesn’t like the look! This issue is common with today’s CUVs and SUVs—especially the more expensive models. Customers capable of buying and owning these higher-end vehicles typically don’t want to see the hitch unless it’s in use.
Enter The Disappearing Hitch
There’s a new design in aftermarket trailer hitches, offered by a new player in the North American market that can help alleviate the appearance issues SUV owners have with their vehicles. Bosal, a multinational company, with plants in Europe and North America, is a leading hitch manufacturer in the European, Russian and South African markets. After well over a year in design and testing specifically for US vehicles, they’re introducing their unique design here in the USA and Canada this summer. Bosal’s advantage lies in their unique vertical receiver housing, which allows them to hide the hitch completely behind the bumper. In addition, the design of this receiver and its attachment provides for a very solid and secure rattle-free attachment method, eliminating the “chucking” noise so often heard with traditional two-inch square horizontal receivers and ball mounts due to their loose fit.
The Lexus RX-series is the subject of this installation job to demonstrate the installation of this new style of hitch. By following the photos, it’s easy to see that this is a clean and well-engineered product, and it does indeed hide behind the bumper; a great feature for those with SUV owners that don’t want to see the hitch.
Tools Of The Trade
For any hitch installation, expensive and special tools are not needed. A drill and sharp drill bits, punches, files, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, sockets, and a torque wrench are pretty much all that’s needed. Some snips and a utility knife usually come in handy as well. Of course it’s very important to pay close attention to the installation instructions provided with each hitch. It will tell you what tools are required, the time expected to complete the job, what bolts and related hardware will be used, and torque values for each bolt. Typically the instructions also provide vital installation information such as where to cut the fascia (if required), a perspective and side view drawing of the hitch installed, and if drilling is required.
For this Lexus the lower access panel is removed and put aside; it will be trimmed and cut later in order to re-install it around the hitch. The factory tow hooks are removed from the frame, and the bolts retained for installation of the hitch. The hitch is then raised into position, and secured loosely with a couple of the mounting bolts.
In this installation there’s no drilling required, and the factory bolts for the tow hooks are re-used to mount the hitch. Pay special attention to the installation instructions and use the correct hardware in the specified locations. Tighten the bolts only after the hitch is in place and all bolts are loosely installed. Use a torque wrench to tighten them to the correct specifications, using a criss-cross pattern.
The photos show that this new Bosal hitch hides behind the bumper fascia when not in use. The two available attachments include a 2x2-inch receiver tube and a two-inch European-style “ball neck”. The receiver tube allows for the use of standard and readily-available ball mounts, bike racks and cargo carriers. The two-inch ball neck allows for towing trailers with a two-inch coupler, up to the hitch’s rated capacity. The Bosal hitch comes with standard dust covers to keep dirt out of the vertical receiver housing. The attachments come with a standard key lock to prevent theft, and even come with a storage bag and installation gloves to keep hands clean. The hitch itself comes to the installer wrapped and protected in thick-mil shrink-wrapped plastic, to keep shipping damage to a minimum. All the technology and presentation, however, doesn’t come cheap. These hitches sell for a premium price, but shows in the design, function, presentation and packaging of this new hitch. While there are other hitches available, the new Bosal hitch is a great alternative to give your SUV and CUV customers a new choice.
200 International Drive, Suite 2
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
(973) 448-8797 fax
This Lexus RX350 is dirty from Michigan’s snowy roads, but at least the hitch installation is a clean one.
The lower plastic protective panel is temporarily removed and will be trimmed to fit around the hitch.
Factory tow hooks are removed on both sides of the vehicle.
Small plastic plugs are pried out and discarded. These can prevent the hitch from sitting flat on the frame surface.
The Bosal hitch is removed from plastic shrink-wrap that protects the hitch from potential shipping scratches and paint damage; which can upset retail customers and cause the installer to perform extra work.
Lift the hitch into position behind bumper fascia.
All factory bolts are re-used in this installation, and a torque wrench is used to tighten bolts to the specifications listed in the instructions.
The hitch comes with this plastic cover to keep debris out of the receiver when it’s not in use.
The ball neck with an integral two-inch hitch ball, is one of two attachment options. A key lock has a round red plastic handle for easy operation.
The hitch knob is rotated a quarter turn to allow for removal of ball neck attachment.
A standard 2-inch receiver attachment can also be used on the Bosal hitch.
Chain loops are incorporated into the receiver housing, and allow for easy installation of safety chains.