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Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch Installation - 2016 Toyota Highlander

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How to Install the Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch on a 2016 Toyota Highlander


Hey everybody, Ryan here at etrailer. Today on our 2016 Toyota Highlander, we're gonna be showing you how to install the Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch Receiver. But before we do that, why don't we check it out and make sure that this is something that's gonna work for you So I know I see these Highlanders being used to do a little bit of everything. Makes a lot of sense. They're really capable SUVs. You know, from people just using a hitch to put on a bike rack.

You know, on the other end, you've got people using their Highlander to pull some pretty big trailers, like a big tamper and things like that. So if it we're me, I would want a hitch, you know, that would be really versatile, and you could use for pretty much anything. And this setup here is gonna do just that and allow you to get the job done. Probably the first thing I noticed about this one is it is going to be you know, for the most part, completely visible. Honestly, I don't think it looks terrible by any means, but you know, you can see the hitch there.

With that said, there are some other hitches available for the Highlander that are a little more hidden if that's kind of what you're looking for. But because of the visibility, everything's gonna be really easy to get to and use, because it's out in the open. Which will be really nice for those of you using those folding type accessories. We have a ton of clearance here. So the receiver tube is actually gonna come out past our bumper a little ways.

So pretty much anything that you plan on putting in an upright position when you store it, you're gonna have more than enough room. You're not gonna have to worry about it, you know, hitting the back of your Highlander or anything like that. But honestly, I think where this hitch is really gonna shine is when it comes to towing. A really heavy duty setup. As I mentioned, everything's visible, easy to get to, and it even has a bracket that's pre-attached to the hitch.

That way you can easily mount up any trailer wiring, and, you know, be able to get to it. But that said, you know, if you do plan on pulling a trailer, you are gonna want those lights to work. That way you're safe and legal. And if that's what you plan on doing, I would recommend checking out some trailer wiring. That way, you can get that done. So this is gonna be a class three hitch, which means it has the two inch by two inch receiver tube opening. A really common size, and a ton of different accessories will work with it. At the end, we're gonna have a reinforced collar for some extra strength, and it's going to utilize that standard five eighths pin and clip. Keep in mind, a pin and clip do not come included, but if you need one, you can grab it here at etrailer. I am a fan of the safety chain openings. They are really large, and, you know, you can use pretty much any size hook that you might have. This hitch is gonna give us some really good weight capacity. As far as the maximum gross tongue weight rating goes, that's gonna be 900 pounds, and that's gonna be the amount of weight that's pushing down on the hitch. That is a super high number, and you should be able to use any size bike rack or cargo carrier that you'd want to for example. As far as the maximum gross trailer weight rating goes, that's gonna be 6,000 pounds, and that's gonna be the amount of weight that is pulling on the hitch. That is the weight of your trailer plus anything that you might have on it. This hitch can be used with a weight distribution system, which is a separate component. And whenever you use that, what it's gonna do is help keep your trailer and your Highlander nice and level whenever you're towing down the road. With that said, when you're using that weight distribution system, the tongue weight rating is gonna remain the same at 900. However, the maximum gross trailer weight rating is going to increase to 8,000 pounds. However, I do always like to suggest though, never a bad idea just to grab your Toyota's owner's manual. That way you can make sure your SUV can pull that much weight safely. Let's go ahead and grab a couple of measurements, that way we can figure out which accessories are gonna work out best. We go from the ground to the top inside edge of the receiver tube opening, that's gonna be about 15 and a half inches. So if you plan on doing some towing, chances are pretty good you can get away with a ball mount that has a straight shank, or potentially one that has a very small rise. In this case, the pin hole here in the receiver tube is actually gonna come out past our back bumper, and it's gonna be just about one inch. And we talked about this earlier, but you can use this measurement to figure out exactly if any of those folding accessories you might have can be stored in that upright position without hitting the back of your Highlander. I do wanna address one of the questions that we get asked a lot of times with the Highlanders, and that's if you happen to have the hands-free lift gate assist. Now, our model here today does not have that feature. So I can't test it, you know, to know for sure, because we don't have that feature on here, but it does sit in a similar position as compared to some of the other hitches that I do know work with the hands-free lift gate assist. So I really don't see a cause and an issue. However, unfortunately today, I can't say for sure. We do get a few people asking about the spare tire as well. You know, is the hitch gonna interfere with it Or do you have to remove the tire to put hitch on And things like that. And the answer is no. The hitch is not gonna interfere with the spare tire at all. It's still gonna be fully operational. One of our customers said he even has a full sized spare. So not just your standard donut, and it even cleared the hitch with no issues. So I think we're all safe there. So when it comes down to it, you know, a hitch that is gonna get the job done and it will allow you to go on your adventures. Now, as far as the installation goes, really not too bad actually. Not the easiest hitch I've done, but definitely not the hardest. So, really shouldn't give you a whole lot of issues as long as you stay patient. With that said, let's go ahead and put it all together now. To begin our install, we're gonna be here underneath the back of our Highlander. And first thing we need to do is remove this panel over here on the driver's side. So it's gonna be held in place with a few different types of fasteners. There's gonna be two push pin type fasteners just like this. So one here in the corner, you can grab a trim tool or a flat head screwdriver to pry underneath the head of it. The other push pin type fastener is gonna be located right there. So we'll get this one popped out as well. And then we're gonna have a couple of screws. So two here, this corner. It'll be a 10 millimeter. That's pulled out, and if we kind of follow our way back, looks like we're gonna have another one right there. And if we look along this edge, we're gonna have two more fasteners. So these are just gonna be plastic nuts. And what you wanna do is take a 12 millimeter socket, and you can usually just do these by hand and then just lightly unscrew them. Sometimes you may have to kind of apply some downward pressure on the panel while you're unscrewing it to release it. One more right there. It should be the last thing holding the panel up. Feels like it is so you can grab it, and work it out from under our vehicle. Over here on the passenger side, along the bottom of the frame rail, we're gonna need to remove this tow hook. And to do that, you can grab a 17 millimeter socket. And remove both of the bolts. Go ahead and work this down and out of the way. At this point, we can lower our exhaust a little bit, and give us the room that we need to work. Before you do that, I do suggest taking a strap and just kind of running it from side to side. That way the exhaust will have a little support, and we can kind of control how fast and how far you want let it come down. Once that strap is in place, you look up here, we're gonna have the metal hanger. And what we can do is come in with a 12 millimeter socket, and remove both of these bolts. With those removed, we should be able to loosen up our strap some, and let the exhaust come down a little ways. Now if you look on the bottom of our frame rail, we're gonna have some plugs in it and we need to remove those because this is where our hitch is gonna sit. We don't wanna interfere with it. So what you can do is take a flat head screwdriver, and I'm just gonna pry underneath of them to pop them out. Once I have these done, I'm gonna repeat the same process on the other side. If you look at the frame rail, we're gonna have some caulk on each end of it here. And sometimes that can interfere with our hitch a little bit. And so what I'm gonna do is on each end here, just remove some of it. You can just take a screwdriver or a scraper. You don't need to get too crazy here. Just remove a little bit enough to ensure that it won't interfere with our hitch. That looks about pretty good over there. And on this end, usually you have a little bit more, but not really a huge deal. Once I get this side cleared up, we're gonna do this on the other side of our vehicle as well. Over here on the passenger side, we're gonna have this tab that's on the bottom of our frame rail, and we need to just remove this bolt that we're gonna use as an attachment point for our hitch. So we'll grab a 17 millimeter and pull it out. Now I like to go over the attachment points and the hardware that we're gonna use to secure the hitch. We're gonna be the same on each side. So we're gonna have a total of three on there, one there, and one there. Over here on the passenger side, this tab here, this is gonna stay in position, and when we put the hitch up, the hitch is actually gonna kind of sandwich it in between the hitch and the frame rail. With that said, it's a good idea to clean out the weld nuts. So you can spray them down. Some lubricant, take a tube brush. Just kinda work any dirt or anything like that. Maybe inside. And the hardware that we're gonna use will be a bolt and a conical tooth washer. Make sure the teeth on the washer is gonna face up towards the hitch. And so when we're holding the hitch up there, these are simply just gonna thread right into those weld nuts. Now with an extra set of hands, you can grab the hitch and work it into position. And once we have it lined up, we're gonna take our hardware and we wanna get at least one started on each side. Hand tight. That way the hitch will support itself, while we work on the rest of the bolts. Once all the hardware is in place and hand tight, you can come back with a 19 millimeter socket and snug it all down. With everything tightened up, we can come back with a torque wrench and torque it all down to the amount specified in the instructions. If you don't have a torque wrench at home, you can pick one up here at etrailer. Or a lot of times, many of the local auto parts stores will actually rent one out to you. All right, so now we can secure our exhaust bracket. So we're gonna have this square plate. And the way this is gonna work, you're gonna take one end of it, line it up with those holes there. Grab one of these bolts and push that through. I'm just gonna kind of spin this, make it a little easier to see what's going on here. The backside of it, you're gonna take small conical tooth washer. Again, teeth facing this way. Head over, and then you're just gonna take a nut. Get that started. Same deal for that one there. Then the conical teeth washer and the nut. You can rotate that back up, and those top holes are gonna line up with the factory holes there. We're just gonna take the original hardware that we pulled out to begin with. Turn that back in. And the reason for this, it's gonna lower the exhaust down a little bit, and give us clearance. That way when you're driving on the road, you know, we're not gonna have to worry about the exhaust, you know, maybe rattling into the hitch and making some noise. So this will reposition it just enough to keep everything nice and quiet. With all this hardware loosely installed, we'll come back and tighten it all down. And this hardware also needs to get torqued. So don't forget to come back and do that. With the exhaust now supported, we'll go ahead and get our strap out of the way. And then we can move over to the driver's side again, and we have the panel that we removed. So you have a couple of choices what you could do here. You can either just leave this off. That's perfectly fine. That's actually what we're gonna do today. However, it looks like you could potentially maybe hold it up close and maybe cut some of the material out, and get this back in place. So if that's something that you wanna try out, it looks like it can be done. And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch Receiver on our 2016 Toyota Highlander..


Info for this part was:

Employee Joshua S
Video by:
Joshua S
Employee Jacob T
Video Edited:
Jacob T
Employee Chris R
Video Edited:
Chris R
Employee Shane H
Test Fit:
Shane H
Employee Ryan G
Test Fit:
Ryan G
Employee Bradley B
Test Fit:
Bradley B

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