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Draw-Tite Sportframe Trailer Hitch Installation - 2018 Volkswagen GTI

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How to Install the Draw-Tite Sportframe Trailer Hitch on a 2018 Volkswagen GTI


Ryan: Hey everybody, Ryan here at etrailer. Today on our 2018 Volkswagen GTI, we're going to be taking a look at and showing you how to install the Draw-Tite Sportframe Trailer Hitch Receiver.So right away, one of the first things that come to my mind, if I own a GTI is how the hitch is going to look once it's installed. Car's really sporty looking, looks really nice, so you don't want to do anything to take away from that. And in my opinion, the hitch can't look much better, really. For the most part, it's going to be completely hidden. The only thing you're going to be able to see is the receiver tube opening and your safety chain openings here.

And so it's going to blend in pretty good. We had a handful of people ask about trimming and a little bit of trimming is necessary, but it's way down here at the bottom. And as long as you take your time, you're not even going to be able to notice that you removed any material.And one thing you can do to kind of take the appearance a step further, like our customer chose to do today, is pick up a etrailer hitch cover. So what this is going to do is push right in whenever you're not using the hitch, kind of gives it a finished look. And as a bonus, it's really going to help keep out any moisture, dirt and debris, keeping your hitch and really good shape.Many of our GTI customers plan on using their hitch for accessories like bike racks, to be particular.

And this should work out really well for those. And that's because it's going to give us some good clearance. The end of the receiver tube is going to be just about flush with the bumper and that's going to allow those folding accessories to be stored in the upright position without contacting the back of your Volkswagen.A lot of people do ask us, which is a good bike rack which would pair up nicely with the GTI And my favorite and recommendation would probably be the Thule Helium Pro, that's for a few different reasons. It's really compact and small, really lightweight, and kind of has a sporty look to it that would match up nicely with the GTI.This is a class one hitch. So it's going, I got to have that inch and a quarter by inch and a quarter receiver tube opening.

And it's going to use the half inch size pinhole. Now keep in mind a pin and clip does not come included, but if you need one, you can find it here at etrailer. You're going to have those loop style safety chain openings, which do give us enough space and enough clearance to use just about any size hook that we might have.Now as far as hitch's weight capacities go, it's going to have a 200 pound maximum gross tongue weight rating. And so that's going to be the amount of weight that's pushing down on the hitch. So that's good for those one to three bike racks, for example.

As far as the maximum gross trailer weight rating goes, it's going to be 2000 pounds and that's going to be the amount of weight that's pulling on the hitch. So that's a weight of your trailer plus anything you might have on it. Now I do always recommend, it's never a bad to check with your GTI's owner's manual to make sure your Volkswagen can pull that much weight.Even though the GTI is kind of a sporty and smaller vehicle, it is capable of doing some light duty towing. Some of our customers pull around a small motorcycle or utility trailer, even some kayak carriers. And if you think you're going to be doing some towing, I would recommend picking up some trailer wiring. That way the lights on the trailer will match up with the lights on the back of your Volkswagen, and you'll be safe and legal.Now I'm going to give you a couple of measurements and you're going to use these to help figure out which hitch mounted accessories to get. From the ground to the top inside edge of the receiver tube opening. That's going to be about 13 inches, so if you do plan on doing some light duty towing you're going to need to get a ball mount with a rise. From the center of the hitch pin hole, to the edge of the rear bumper, that's going to be about three inches, and so you're going to use that measurement to help figure out that if any folding accessories you might have, could be stored in that upright position without contacting the bumper.So at the end of the day, if I had a GTI and needed a hitch, I think I would be pretty happy with this one. It's going to look really good and be able to get the job done. Now, as far as the installation goes, it is a little involved, but it's really not too bad. Since the hitch is hidden, we do have to take the fascia off, but all the fasteners are pretty easy to get to and relatively straight forward. Speaking of which let's go ahead and do that together now.To begin our installation, we're going to be here at the back of our Volkswagen and we're going to need to remove the bumper cover, that way we can put our hitch behind it. So the first thing that we need to do is take our tail lights out.So I went ahead and opened up our hatch and here on the side of our vehicle, there's going to be a little carpet cover here and if you just peel that back, we're going to see a plastic knob and you can just grab that with your fingers and completely remove it. And this is what's actually holding the taillight in. So once we have this out, we can set it to the side, come on the outside of our vehicle and pull the tail light out.So if we grab our tail light, carefully pull it back towards us, it will pop out. And then to make it a little easier, we're just going to disconnect it. So if you move up here, we're going to have a small red tab and it may be easier to get a small screwdriver or something because we don't have a ton of room to work with. We can push that red tab back and then push this head down. I'll set my tail light to the side and then repeat this same process for the other one.Now, if we move over to our wheel wells, if you look along the edge of our bumper cover, we're going to have three screws that we need to take out. So up in here, here, and one here towards the bottom. So I'm going to use a T25 torx bit to get those removed.With those screws removed, we can kind of grab our wheel well liner and just kind of push it back a little bit. And up here at the corner where our bumper cover meets the fender, there's going to be a T25 torx bit screw that runs up through there. So the head of the screw is on this side and it's a little tricky to see, but relatively easy to get to. So we're going to go ahead and pull that out. I did find using a swivel makes life a little bit easier.Now underneath our car, we're going to have one more torx bit screw holding on this bottom part of our wheel well liner. So again, we'll just use a T25 torx bit to pull it out. And once we have this out, we're going to repeat the same process over on the other side.So along the bottom edge of our fascia here, we're going to have four plastic fasteners that we're going to need to take out. Starting on this corner. These are actually replacement style fasteners that the customer had put in. If you have a style like this, what you'd simply do is pry the head of the fastener down using a trim tool or a flat head screwdriver. Since these are a little bit tighter, they're not going to come out as easily as the factory ones would, but that's all right. But there's actually, on this side, a factory style one. So chances are pretty good this is going to be the style that you have. To get those out grab, we'll grab a smaller T15 torx bit. We'll just loosen up that screw in the middle there. These are plastics, so be careful, make sure you have the right size torx bit. Pull that screw all the way out. And if we grab our trim panel tool or that flathead screwdriver we can get underneath it and pop it out of the way.At this point, we can actually remove our bumper cover. So just to be on the safe side, what I've done is just put some painter's tape here. That way, when we pull this off, you don't have to worry about accidentally scratching it. But it's a good idea to get a friend and do the same thing on the other side. And what you're going to do is kind of grab the edge of the liner and pull it back. And that'll release these little clips. Sometimes they do need some help. You can take a plastic tool to kind of push down on them while you're pulling the fascia out. Just work your way towards the center.Now, once you have it popped off, you want to pull it back carefully, make sure you don't have any electrical connectors in our case, we do. So we want to disconnect them. Ours is located right here and what you're going to want to do is, looks like we're going to pull out on this tab and separate the two connectors. Now we can grab our fascia and set it off to the side, somewhere safe.With the fascia now out of the way, we can remove our bumper beam. On the passenger side, we're going to have four, 13 millimeter bolts, so we'll remove those. It looks like these two outer ones are holding on the sensor here, so we'll be careful as we remove those. Do is kind of just wiggle it, give us a little more room to work here. And what I like to do is loosen one of them off and just leave it in about hand tight, that way the bumper will support itself, you don't have to worry about it falling whenever we remove the ones over here on the driver's side.Now just to be on the safe side and give us all the room that we need, the sensor here, we're going to completely remove it. On this end, there's going to be a 10 millimeter nut, so we'll just pull that off. And once we have this off, then we can kind of set this down and out of the way. A little bit of extra movement should allow us to get our hitch in there very easily.On the driver's side, we're going to do the same thing with one exception, we're only going to have three, 13 millimeter bolts. On the driver's side here there's also the same sensor as the passenger side. So what I'm doing now is just taking off that 10 millimeter nut to get it out of the way.You're going to want to kind of support your bumper and remove those two bolts that we left in hand tight. Should be able to wiggle it loose, going to have to kind of push up on it actually, it looks like there's a little keeper in there and we'll set it to the side for now.Since the hitch is going to sit flat right here against the body of our vehicle, sometimes the sealer can kind of get in the way a little bit. So what I'm going to do just to avoid that situation is scrape a little bit of it off. You don't have to get too crazy, maybe a quarter inch or so. I found that if you kind of score first, we'll take a little bit down the side too. It's a little bit easier to get off. Just take your scraper, kind of work that out of the way. We're going to do this on each side.Now the way the hitch is going to work, if you lay down flat on the ground, you take your bumper beam and lay it over the hitch and these holes will line up and then we can grab that as a full assembly and get it on the back of our car. Get all the holes lined up and get the included hardware started. Now, I'm going to get the bolts started that weren't holding on our sensor that we removed, that way at least the hitch and bumper beam will support itself. And then we can come back and line that sensor up and get them bolts going as well.With the hitch and bumper beam supporting itself now, we can take our sensors and get the remaining hardware started. Once we have everything hand tight, go ahead and snug all of our hardware down. When I'm tightening these down, I like to kind of go at an X pattern, that way it'll kind of draw everything together evenly. And don't forget to resecure that 10 millimeter nut here on the side of our sensor.At this point we can grab our torque wrench and tighten all the hardware down to the amount specified in our instructions.We move over here to our fascia. We're going to have a little area of plastic that we need to trim out. There's a diagram and instructions, it'll tell you where to cut. I've just marked out here with some of this painter's tape. It is somewhat thick plastic, so I'm going to use a Dremel tool to cut it, but if you took your time, you could probably use a utility knife or something along them lines as well. And if you want to, you can always come back with a hand file or some sand paper and kind of clean up these edges.Now we can put our fascia back on. If you had any electrical connectors, don't forget to plug those back in first. So we're just going to do this in the opposite manner. We're going to have to kind of sneak the opening in our bumper here, or our fascia rather, around our hitch. Kind of lift it up and over the hitch. And then we should be pretty close. I'll get everything lined up and kind of work the fascia back over them clips.Now we can go ahead and reinstall all of our fasteners, the opposite way that we removed them.And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the Draw-Tite Sportframe Trailer Hitch Receiver on our 2018 Volkswagen GTI.


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