How to: - Install a Class III Hitch | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How to: Install a Class III Hitch

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muzzymaniac

Well-Known Member
Joined
September 10, 2007
Messages
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City, State
Kent, NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
04 Explorer XLT 4.0L
Ok. I was at the local bone yard and spotted an 02 Mounty with a class III hitch. Hell ya! $30 and an hour later I left with the hitch.
I'm installing this on an 04 Ex XLT. All sizes listed are what I used on my truck - you may have different sizes on your truck.

Here's the class II to class III swap:

First - here's the class II and III side by side.
100_3627.jpg


Open the hatch.

Remove tail lights. There are 2 screws on the inside frame that secure the lights. Once you remove the screws just wiggle and pull the lights straight back. Disconnect the lights and put some where safe.
100_3636.jpg


Look down in the tail light opening and you'll see 2 screws. You want to remove the one toward the inside of the truck - it's kinda tilted back. Pic is of the left tail light and the bolt you want is circled. The screw is a 10mm.

100_3632-1.jpg


Next is to remove all of the push things. Don't know what to call them. Basically use a flat screw driver to pry up the center post then pop out the whole thing.
I used this - a nylon trim remover.
100_3637.jpg


Here are the pop things. They line the bottom of the hatch opening.

100_3631.jpg


Crawl under the bumper. On each side where the cover meets the quarter panel you'll see a 7mm screw. Remove and put aside.
100_3634.jpg


The cover should be pretty loose now. Gently pull up on the cover where it meets the quarter panel. It slides up only a 1/2" or so. There's a couple of hooks there that you don't want to break. Once the edges are free the rest of the cover should come right off.

I went around and cleaned all the areas that never see the light of day and sanded out a couple of real small rust spots and hit em with some rustoleum.

Now for the hitch...

Disconnect the upper electrical plug on the right side. Hopefully you were able to get the wire harness with your class III.
100_3629.jpg


There are 3 18mm bolts on each side of the hitch. Remove. PB Blaster and a breaker bar or impact wrench come in real handy here.
100_3625.jpg


Once the bolts are out just slide the hitch off. Yours may have a little rust/dirt hanging it up. Just grab a hammer tap away.

Installation of the class III is simply the reverse.

Before...
100_3624.jpg


After...
100_3638.jpg



A couple of notes....

>Bolt/screw sizes vary. The hitch bolts on mine were 18mm and the ones from the donor Mounty were 15mm and much smaller. You need to use the ones that are original to your truck unless you get lucky and both are the same size.
size difference
100_3628.jpg


>Use PB Blaster on your hardware and go slow. You don't need to go breaking any of it.
>Do your best to get the wiring harness from the class III donor. It makes life much easier and you'll have full use of the round trailer plug.
>I put never seize on all the threads during reassembly in case I ever want to take this apart again.
>Now go out and get yourself some 2" fun!!
 



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30 bucks?! thats awesome, i had my dad look up prices for me, and he said they were around $300... :wtf:
 












nice pics, did the same thing but few years back paid $75 for mine junkyard; funny thing they didn't know they had it even after looking it up on the computer.

notes: this does not apply for '06 or later its welded on in case someone is wondering; make sure you get the harness.
 






nice pics, did the same thing but few years back paid $75 for mine junkyard; funny thing they didn't know they had it even after looking it up on the computer.

notes: this does not apply for '06 or later its welded on in case someone is wondering; make sure you get the harness.


same here mine cost me $50... but easy swap and its great now.. !!!


Great pics
 






Thanks guys. I know this won't be used a bunch but I had the time and thought it'd be helpful for those on the fence about doing it.

I don't tow much but I've always wanted those cool things like the basket that hitch mounted, bike rack and even the cool light up hitch plug.
 






Thanks guys. I know this won't be used a bunch but I had the time and thought it'd be helpful for those on the fence about doing it.

I don't tow much but I've always wanted those cool things like the basket that hitch mounted, bike rack and even the cool light up hitch plug.

No worries man... its always good to have a how-to...

:thumbsup:
 






looks good man! deff wanna do this to my X, them small hitches aint good for nothin
 






Make sure you upgrade your differential gears to 3.73's or your truck will explode or something! lol I got into it with a guy in the stock section about gearing and hitches, because he suggested that a guy look at his hitch to verify his gearing rather than look at the axle code on the sticker in the door.
 






There's only need to upgrade if you're going to use this hitch to it's fullest on a pretty regular basis. Personally I won't be towing anything even close to 5k lbs and don't tow often at all. It is good advise though - thanks for your input!
 






My post was kinda a joke. I upgraded to the Class III/IV hitch on my Ex, and advised the OP that since a hitch is one of the easiest things to change on an Ex, and with the amount of vehicles that could have potentially been in rear collisions that needed a new hitch (mine, for example) that using the size of the hitch is not a definitive way to determine the gearing of an Explorer. I towed 4500-5000 lbs with my Ex with a 4.0 and stock 3.55 gears, and it actually pulled better than my father's F150 4wd FX4 with a 4.6 2 valve V-8. I do plan to switch to 4.10's whenever I get a chance, and figure out what exactly it'll take to make a gear swap up front feasible.
 






muzzymaniac, nicely done!!! Great job, and nice write up. :biggthump
 






Great Write-up. I never thought of going to the JY to get a trailer hitch. Great Idea!
 






good point, even though you have a ClassIII hitch it doesn't change the tow rating (w/5spd's ~3200lbs, with 3.55's). But imo if you tow a couple of times a year you can get by with more weight, i'd just keep the O/D off, take it easy. . .etc. In other words i wouldn't be a good idea to drag 7,000lbs around DAILY with 3.55's . . .or 3.73's for that matter lol . ..Really though with the 3.73's it 7,100lbs.

Whats interesting the current model '06 above with the V8 the 3.55's come as standard but they still have 7k lbs tow rating, something about first gear being really low. . .V6's get 3.73's.

Last i heard heard there are NO 4.10's for the Front Diff's. . .bummer.
 






Wow!!! Awesome post!! I will be useing this when I can find a class III/IV. One question... the sticker one the door... the one with the weight rating and such, where is the code for the gear ratio and how does one decode it? Thanks for the help
 






Filler for bumper

How are you guys adjusting with the snug fit of the class II then and the below the bumper class III. Is there a "plug" for the bumper or do you just have to deal with the "hole"?

:us:Geoff
 






Did the 7 pin plug right back into where the old 4 pin came out of? I'm interested in doing this but I just want to make sure I don't have to screw around with any wiring. Thanks
 






I just got my 2" hitch and will be installing it pretty soon. :D Thanks muzzymaniac for this great write up. I will have to make a word write up from this so I can take this info "to go."
I got my hitch for $80, that included tax and labor for the guy who took of the hitch.
 






I just got my 2" hitch and will be installing it pretty soon. :D Thanks muzzymaniac for this great write up. I will have to make a word write up from this so I can take this info "to go."
I got my hitch for $80, that included tax and labor for the guy who took of the hitch.

Damn nate, nice find
I been lookin in junk yards around here but there realy arent any 3rd gen's.
I have been debating going up to the mall and findin a fellow explorer driver with a 2" and offerin to trade lol.
 



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I am picking mine up today, it was 140 for everything.
 






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