2000 Bonneville SLE Hitch Install
Stock 2000 Bonneville SLE - dual exhaust (do they come any other way?)
Hidden Hitch Part #36309/06976/90140
CLASS II RECEIVER
300# /3500# (Tongue/Trailer)
Manufacturer Recommended Trailer Weight Limit 1000#
Purchased from JC Whitney:
$174.99 + 12.99 *&H = 187.98 (March 2010)
Approximate install time: 80 minutes
The General proceedure involves lifting the car to get more access for working, which is optional, unless you are thicker than a slice of bread. Dropping the exhaust (not totally), mounting the hitch, marking for two holes, removing the hitch, drilling, re-mounting the hitch, tightening everything back up and lifting the exhaust back into place. The whole process took me just over 3 hours, which included some “rest” breaks, rotating the tires while the car was elevated, checking tires and brakes and undercarriage.
From the time the car was in the air to the time I tightened the last bolt on the hitch was an hour and 20 minutes.
The hitch, 2 screws, 4 bolts, 2 washers, 4 nuts – that'* all there is!
A couple of nuts missing in this picture... oh the places we could go with that one!
The next thing you will need are the tools. Here is what I found to make this process go smoothly. Wratchet with 15mm and deep 15mm sockets and a couple of extensions, close quarter drill with a 3T step drill (needs to have a ½” step), a spanner (crescent) wrench, electrical tape, picture hanging wire (or whatever you have handy), pencil, safety glasses, a center punch, a little extra light, some blocks, and jacks and lifts. (The parts on the blocks are the rear exhaust support mounts and hardware that are removed and replaced with new ones during the install)
Anyhow, depending on the make and model of your ride you will first have to clean the garage to make room for the car!
So 2 hours and 16 minutes later we are ready to begin!
The first step was to lift the car and put it on some jacks, to get some room under there to work.
The next steps: Blocking the exhaust so it does not drop any further than necessary, and releasing the suppports for it located about the middle of the car. The supports use a 15 mm wrench. Loosen the bolt side (the outter part), as the nut is welded to the mount.
With the blocks in place, it is time to remove the rear muffler mounts. Again these use a15mm wrench. With plenty of extensions they are really easy to get to. (Of course, I figured this out when I re-installed the the hitch, not when I removed these!)
Removing the mount from the hangar is easy to do once the exhaust is lowered. Again this is a 15mm wrench.. sweet!
Now use the hitch as a template to locate where to drill the ½” holes. Install the hitch with the M10x1.5 bolt assembly, using the hangar bracket saves a little wratcheting time. Before you tighten the hitch down, make sure it is even on both sides of the frame for left and right and front and back. It does help to have someone assist you in lifting the hitch in place, but I did it solo, a little belly and hip lift made a nice support to free up a hand to put the bolt in place.
With the hitch firmly in place, punch the center of the hole to be drilled. (It is hard to see in the picture but the punch is in a pre-drilled hole in the hitch assembly). Then, use a pencil to mark the outline of the hole on the frame rail. This mark will come in really handy when the drill erases the punch hole and starts to drift!
Remove the hitch, again if you have some help it will go easier, otherwise, improvise! Blocks or a jack might work, if you are not careful you will end up with a hitch embedded in your body and a few choice words coming from the undercarriage!
With the hitch removed, move the mufflers a bit to one side or the other to give yourself room to maneuver. They move quite a bit (possibly enough to use a regluar drill, but remember this is still connected directly to your engine and you are using a long lever arm, so I wouldn't chance it any more than you have to.) Now you can see exactly where you made your marks. Get your close quarter drill out and make some holes. I found that either my punch didn't do a good job or there was some user error involved (probably the latter!) but my drill bit drifted a bit. Using the pencil marks with the step drill, I was able to put lateral pressure on the drill to get the hole in the correct position so as not to affect the alignment of the hitch. Make sure you are wearing safety goggles AT A MINIMUM, preferred would be a long sleeve shirt, and a face shield. I have a few small burns on my lip and cheeks from the hot metal flakes that came off during this process! (Don't worry, they go away pretty quickly
For this next part it helps if you have smaller fingers, but they can't be short, so child labor is pretty much out of the question. You will be installing the carriage bolt and washer INTO the frame rail, through one of the many small holes in the frame rail itself. This washer is the large flat piece of metal that is designed to not rotate when it is inside the rail. The first step is to insert a wire into the hole you just drilled and out of the hole you plan on putting the washer and bolt into (it'* a good idea to check and make sure the washer and bolt head will fit through your chosen hole before you start). Once you have the wire through, thread the washer on to the wire, then using some tape, attach the thread end of the bollt to the wire. I used electrical tape and had just barely enough room to get the bolt through the ½”hole. If you have thinner tape, that will work, but if you have duct tape, for example, you'll be hard pressed to get it through the hole.
With the tape in place, push the washer through the hole and then follow with the bolt. You can pretty much pull on the wire and the bolt will show up heading down the hole. You will have to do some jiggling of both the bolt and washer to get them to all line up. Once you see the taped up bolt you can put your (or someone else'*) skinny finger through a hole and push the head of the bolt down while you pull on the wire and tape. With any luck you will now have a bolt coming through the hole! Congratulations! (You may now return the teenager to it'* proper place (usually in front of a TV or video game or on the phone.))
Now, after all your hard work, we get to the final few moments of your car without a hitch! Put that hitch up in place, again using the friend or the belly lift techniques. If you use the hitch to put a little torque on the carriage bolt you can finger tighten one then do the same for the other. You do not want to snug them up just yet as you still have to put the bolt assembly and exhaust hangers back up and you might need a little wiggle room.
Now take some time and put the exhaust assembly together. Attach the hangar bracket to it while the exhaust is lowered, this makes it easier to tighten as it is a carriage bolt and it is a bit difficult to get your finger behind it when it is in position.
Once you are happy with the exhaust hangars, do a test fit with the bolt assembly BEFORE you try and lift the exhaust mount and exhaust into place. It just sets you up for not having to find the hole while you are struggling to hold the exhaust up with da belly. Now you can lift the exhaust on one side (or both at the same time if you have a friend), again, I used the belly lift, and hand started the bolt on one side, then the other.
Tighten up some nuts and bolts, make sure your hitch is alligned properly and double check your exhaust pipes are at the same level (they may not have been to begin with, though) To tighten the large carriage bolt (that is now hiding behind the muffler) you will need a spanner (or crescent wrench). Tighten them all up good and tight!
Congratulations! You have a hitch! Except that you really can't see it, how cool is that! If you want electrical, you can connect to the wires that feed the left tail light assembly inside the trunk. If you decide to drill a hole for the wires make sure you seal it well. Otherwise you can just run the wires and close the trunk lid on them when you need them.