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Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch Installation - 2021 Ford Escape

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How to Install the Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch on a 2021 Ford Escape


Hey everybody, Ryan here at etrailer. Today on our 2021 Ford Escape, we're going to 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 the right hitch for you. So the first thing that I personally noticed about this hitch is the way it's going to look, you know, it is going to be completely visible, for the most part, underneath the back of your Escape. But honestly, it doesn't look terrible by any means. You know, it sits a little bit further back and looks okay, you know.

If you're someone that is really concerned with the aesthetics and the appearance of the back of your Ford, there's some other options out there that are a little more hidden. Some that you can really just see the receiver tube opening and the one I'm partial to is the Curt. One of the big questions that we do get asked about these Escapes, whenever you put a hitch on, is if the hitch is going to interfere with the hands-free liftgate assist feature. And the answer is no, unfortunately today, the model that we have here does not come equipped with that feature. But I do know from past experience, I put this exact hitch on Escapes, if you have it, and it does still work, all you're going to have to do is take your foot to either side of the receiver tube opening, and it will open up.

Now don't get me wrong, it's a little more sensitive. So it will take you a little bit of practice to kind of find that sweet spot. But once you do go get it down pat, and open it up on your first try. With this being a class three hitch, and it's going to have the two-inch-by-two-inch receiver tube opening, super common size and a ton of different accessories will work with it. At the end, there's going to be a reinforced collar for some extra support.

And it's going to utilize the standard 5/8 pin and clip. Now keep in mind, pin and clip, these aren't included, but if you need one, not a big deal, you can grab it here at etrailer. We're going to have loop style safety chain openings, which are really thick. And I feel like I could rely on them in the event of an unlikely disconnect. And with that said, they're going to be large enough to accept pretty much any size hook that you might have.

As far as hitches weight capacities go, this one's going to have some pretty high numbers. And honestly, this is where this one's going to kind of shine over some of the other hitches. As far as the maximum gross tongue weight rating goes, that's going to be 675 pounds, and that's going to be the amount of weight that's pushing down on the hitch. So again, a high number and you should be able to use pretty much any size bike rack or cargo carrier that you would want to, for example. As far as the maximum gross trailer weight rating goes, that's going to be 4,500 pounds, and that's going to be the amount of weight that is pulling on the hitch. So there's the weight of the trailer plus anything that you might have on it. This hitch can be used with the weight distribution system. And when you use that, the maximum gross trailer weight rating is going to increase to 5,000 pounds. But the maximum gross tongue weight rating will remain the same at 675. If you're interested in a weight distribution system, what that's going to do, whenever you're pulling your trailer down the road with it, it's going to keep your Escape and your trailer nice and level. So you won't have that big squat back here. But with all that information, one thing I like to suggest is just to grab your owner's manual, that way you can make sure your Escape can handle that much weight safely. And if you do plan on pulling a trailer, you are going to want the lights to work, you know. That way, others around you will know what's going on and you'll be safe and legal. And to accomplish that, you can check out some trailer wiring, but other than that, you know, at the end of the day, a good hitch, and really, it just depends on what you plan on doing with your Escape. You know, if you're someone who plans on primarily pulling a trailer quite often, really can't go wrong with this setup. But that doesn't mean that this isn't going to work well for accessories and other things too. So that's just something to keep in mind. Now, I'm going to give you a couple of measurements and you can 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 towing, chances are pretty good, you're going to need to get a ball mount that has rods. From the center of the hitch pin hole to the edge of the rear bumper, that's going to be about four inches and you can use that measurement to help figure out exactly if any folding accessories you might have can be stored in an upright position without contacting the bumper. As far as the installation goes, really not too bad, actually, everything's pretty easy to get to and not too complicated. So really shouldn't give you a whole lot of issues. Speaking of which, let's go ahead and put the hitch on the together now. To begin our install, we're going to be underneath the back of our Escape and what we need to do is lower our exhaust. That way, it'll make it a lot easier to get our hitch up in place while we have all this extra room to work. So in order to do that, we want to take a strap and just run it from side to side. That way, when we do lower the exhaust, we can kind of control how fast and how far we want to come down. So to actually get the exhaust lowered on each side of our muffler, we're gonna have a hanger that we need to remove. In this case, over here on the passenger side, there'll be an extra nut, kind of holding up this wiring harness. So, we'll pull that off and use an 11-millimeter socket. Then we can work that out of the way. We're going to take a 10, remove that nut and do the same thing over here, with the exception of removing that wire. We don't have that over on this side. We should be able to loosen up our strap a little bit, And let that exhaust come down. Now we can get our hardware installed in the frame rail. And I want to mention, from this point on, anything we do to one side of our vehicle, we're also gonna do to the other side, So it'll be set up the exact same way. With that said, we're going to have two attachment points. We're gonna be using this hole and this one there, and the way we're going to get our hardware in is by using the fish wire. So you're going to take the coiled end of it, starting with this hole there, put it through, and you're going to try to get it to come out of this larger hole there on the side of our frame. Sometimes we'll get lucky and it'll kind of just come right out. Other times, you'll probably have to kind of reach in there and give it a little assistance. Once we get it out of there, what you're going to do is take a spacer block, put that over the coiled end, then you take a carriage bolt and thread it onto your fish wire. All right, keep the end under your coiled wire, feed that hardware up into the frame, until it drops down, like so. Once you have that one in, you're simply just going to repeat that same technique and use that same hardware for this attachment point. Now, at the next set of hands, we can take our hitch and get it into position. We're gonna make sure to feed the fish wires through the corresponding holes on the hitch. And once you have both of them through, you can lift it up into position. Once both the bolts drop through, you can remove the fish wire and you're going to take a conical tooth washer, make sure the teeth on the washer are going to face up towards the hitch, put it on like that. And you're just going to take a hex nut and you want to make sure to 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. If you're having a hard time getting the nut started, because the bolt wants to push up into the frame, what you can do is put the washer on and then apply some side pressure to it. That'll help hold it steady and make it a little bit easier to get the nut started on to the carriage bolt. But with that said, once you have all the hardware in place and hand tight, we'll come back with a 19-millimeter socket and snug it all down. Now we need to make sure and come back with a torque wrench and tighten down all of the hardware to the amount specified in the instructions. If you don't have a torque wrench, you can always pick one up here at etrailer. Or a lot of times, if you go to your local auto parts stores, they have one available to rent. Now that we have the hitch torqued down, we can simply re-secure our exhaust the opposite way that we lowered it. Now that the exhaust is supporting itself again, we can go ahead and remove our strap. And that'll finish up our look at and our installation of the Draw-Tite Max-Frame trailer hitch receiver on our 2021 Ford Escape..


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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 Ryan G
Test Fit:
Ryan G

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