How Much Does It Cost To Install A Trailer Hitch?

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things - Henry Miller

America has been in love with recreational vehicles for more than half a century. The last few generations of Americans have grown-up, and reached adulthood, in the shadow of that love affair, and for them, the RV is as familiar as Mickey Mouse and a good burger on a Friday night. 

They spent their formative years in RV’s traveling around the country, seeing and visiting the sites and wonders that litter the highways, and they carried those moments with them until they had families, and RV’s, of their own and could set out on the road to forge a new set of memories.

The recreational vehicle is more than just four wheels and a steering wheel, it’s a home away from home that brought the highways and byways of America to life. 

The more complicated life gets, the more we need to take with us when we hit the road and head toward the horizon.

And as big as they are, even RV’s can run out out of room and at times, need a helping hand to carry everything that you’ll want them to on the camping trips and vacations that fill your weekends, weeks off, and long, lazy Summers. 

Even RV’s need a little assistance to keep up with the frantic demands of modern life, which is why the RV trailer market has experienced a boom and seen sales skyrocket.

Trailers make it easy to take it all with you when you can’t fit what you need to in the back or on the roof, of your RV. 

But if you’re looking to buy a trailer for your RV, you’re going to need to have a trailer hitch fitted, and while that may sound like it’s an expensive and labor-intensive process, it isn’t anywhere near as arduous as it may sound.

So don’t worry, don’t panic, sit back and relax and let us take you by the hand and guide you through every step of the job so that you’ll know everything that you need to about having a trailer hitch fitted to your RV and how much it’s going to, realistically, cost you to get it done.

What Is A Trailer Hitch?

The first thing that you’re going to need, and want, to know is what a trailer hitch is.  In a nutshell, a trailer hitch is the component part that attaches to your RV so that it, and you, can tow a trailer.

While there are different types of hitches, they’re all designed to safely tow different weights and can affect the driving experience of your RV depending on which hitch you decide to have fitted.

Most RV drivers who are familiar with, and have experience of, towing trailers and weight behind their vehicles opt to have a receiver hitch fixed to their RV’s, but that doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself to solely looking at receiver hitches.

While we’d recommend receiver hitches, there are other widely available options, which we’ll quickly run through, that you can use as a brief guide to help you decide which trailer hitch to fit to your RV

Front Hitch

As its name suggests, this hitch is fitted to the front of a vehicle and uses a standard receiver (which most racks can easily fit to) to mount a rack to.

They’re mainly used to carry bicycles or motorcycles, and while they’re not exactly common on RV’s, they have found favor with the extreme sports crowd who don’t go anywhere without their trusted, two-wheel steeds. 

They shouldn’t set you back more a couple of hundred of dollars, and while relatively easy to install, if you want a professional to do it for you, it will probably take around an hour of their time, and dependent on labor costs, and which garage you chose to have it fitted at, should add another fifty to one hundred dollars to your bill. 

While a lot of RV drivers aren’t fans of the front hitch, one of its biggest advantages is the maneuverability that it offers the boat loving crowd. You just unhitch it from the back, fasten to the front and steer your boat straight into the lake.

It may seem like an unnecessary and extra expense if you already have a hitch on the back, but the freedom and ease that it’ll offer you if you like to get out on the open water, or want to take a couple of bicycles with you, means that it’ll be worth every single cent.

Bumper Hitch

A cheaper way to tow trailers, bumper hitches attach directly to the rear bumper of your RV. 

While they’re cheap to buy and easy to install (even the electrical fittings you’ll need to hook your trailer up shouldn’t set you back more than fifty dollars), and you’ll probably be able to walk away from a having it done at your local garage with a bill no larger than two hundred and fifty dollars, there’s an incredibly large drawback to having this type of hitch fitted to your RV. 

And that’s the weight that they’re able to successfully, and safely, tow.

Bumper hitches are limited to the weight that the bumper of your RV can tow without endangering you or other road users.

Optimistically, that isn’t going to be more than around four hundred pounds, which in the grand scheme of towing all of the things that you’ll need too, isn’t a lot.   And it’s the primary reason why most RV drivers use a receiver hitch that’s directly fastened to the chassis of their RV. 

Receiver Hitches

The most common, trusted, and reliable form of RV trailer hitch is the receiver hitch, which is fitted to the rear chassis of an RV. You might be tempted to try and fit it yourself, but trust us unlike Bumper and Front hitches, this is a slightly more complicated job and the peace of mind that’ll come with having it fitted by a professional will be worth every single one of the extra dollars that the job will cost you. 

So you know what you’re getting when you have a receiver hitch fitted, we thought it would be a good idea (and it really is, as a little knowledge goes a long way) to run through the component parts of a receiver hitch so that you can familiarize yourself with them.

The Receiver - This is the part of the hitch that is fitted to the chassis of your RV. It contains the receiver tube that the ball mount you’ll need to tow a trailer slides into.

Ball Mount - The ball mount is the metal tube that slides into the receiver and provides the loop that you’ll attach the ball on the end of your trailer to. Essentially, it’s the part of the receiver that attaches a trailer to your vehicle.

Pin & Clip - Right about now you’re probably asking yourself how the ball mount is fastened to the receiver, and we’re glad you asked. The ball mount is fastened to the receiver with a pin and clip that slides into the former and locks it in place on the latter.  

Wiring - This is the primary reason why we said that you’re going to want to have the job done by professionals. The writing set up, and additional harness connects your RV’s electrical system to your trailer so that the blinkers and brake lights will work.

They usually use plug and play adaptors that let you plug your trailer, once it’s attached to your RV, straight into your RV’s electrical system.

It isn’t as complicated as it sounds, but when it’s coupled with everything else that the installation involves, it really is a job that’s best left to a professional.

What Are The Benefits Of A Reciever Hitch?

Well, the most obvious one is the amount of weight that a standard receiver hitch will allow you to comfortably tow.

Almost all receiver hitches are rated to tow up to around twenty thousand pounds, dependent on their rating classification, which runs from Class I through to V, which a good mechanic will run you through prior to installation and let you know which rating your RV is built to handle and accommodate. 

The other big advantage is the stability that a chassis-mounted hitch will give your RV and trailer.

As it’s fitted directly to your vehicle, it adds an incomparable amount of security and safety to your trailer and makes towing a lot easier, which in turn lessens the impact it has on the driving experience. 

So What Will It Cost Me To Have A Receiver Hitch Fitted To My RV?

Remember what we told you at the beginning? That it wouldn’t cost you as much as you thought it would? Well, here’s the good news, and the part that you’re going to really like. 

Depending on which receiver hitch you choose, the hitch itself will cost anywhere between two hundred and four hundred dollars, and the labor charges, as the job will run anywhere between thirty and ninety minutes, should cost anywhere between eighty and two hundred and fifty dollars.

This means that having the best of the best receiver hitch fitted to your RV will cost you a maximum of around six hundred and fifty dollars. And given the amount of additional freedom that a trailer will give you, that’s the kind of bargain that’ll make any camping trip or vacation better.

And Finally…

There are a number of different hitch sizes, which are sized according to the ball size your trailer uses so it’s always better to go with a standard size if you don’t already own a trailer, but if you do own one, make sure that the hitch size of your receiver is the right one for your trailer.

Vacations have been ruined by less, so before you have your receiver fitted, always make sure you know how big your ball is. It’ll make your life a lot easier.  

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