How to Attach a Trailer Hitch on Toyota Tacoma

Last Updated on March 2, 2023 by Will Sabel

Toyota has been producing the Tacoma pickup vehicle since 1995. The model years 1995 to 2004 are first generation Tacoma known as a compact pickup. The second generation of Tacoma is from model years 2005 to 2015, and the third generation is from model years 2016 to 2022 which are known as mid-size pickups.

In this article, I will explain how to install a trailer hitch on a Toyota Tacoma. Toyota has produced the Tacoma at three generations. Below, Installation steps for all generations are described in further detail.

Toyota Tacoma Hitch Installation – 1st generation (1995- 2004)

2004 toyota tacoma trailer hitch

If you own one of the Toyota Tacoma from the first generation follow the steps below to install a trailer hitch to your Tacoma.

1. Unplug the license plate light

The license plate light must be unplugged from the bumper on each side. To do so, twist and pull the bulb on both sides.

2. Remove the bumper

Remove the two bolts on each side. These bolts are holding the bumper of your vehicle. Use an impact wrench and a torque wrench to remove the bolt. After removing the bolts remove the bumper by pulling it with your hand.

3. Remove bumper brackets 

Remove the bumper brackets from the frame of each side. To remove the brackets you will need to remove the nuts and bolts. After removing the bolts, take out the bracket from both sides.

4. Install carriage bolt

Take a spacer plate block and insert a bolt. Install the bolts on the mounting location of the vehicle frame on the driver’s side. Continue the process on the passenger side.

5. Put the hitch in position

Lift the hitch. Place the hitch by aligning the hitch hole with the carriage bolts. Mount the carriage bolts with the nuts.

6. Reinstall the bumper brackets

Reinstall the bumper brackets and ensure the tabs pass through the hitch. By aligning the holes, mount the bumper bracket to the frame with the hardware. Repeat the process on the other side. Tighten all of the hardware.

7. Reinstall the bumper and license plate light

Attach the bumper to your vehicle using the hardware that you had removed. Torque the hardware. Replace the license plate light after you’ve attached the bumper.

Let’s watch an installation video:

Toyota Tacoma Hitch Installation – 2nd generation (2005- 2015)

If you have a Toyota Tacoma from the second generation, follow the procedures below to install a trailer hitch.

1. Loosen bumper bracket bolts

The bumper brackets are secured with five bolts. With a 17 mm socket, remove the first two bolts from the interior. Loosen the other three remending bolts using a 17 mm socket.  Apply this concept on both the driver’s and the passenger’s sides.

2. Put the hitch into place

Position the hitch in place. Make sure the hitch is placed between the frame and the brackets. Align the hitch holes with the bracket holes.

3. Insert the bolts 

Reinstall the bolts that you just removed from the bumper bracket. Insert the two bolts on the driver’s side first, then the passenger side.

Attach the given hardware to your vehicle’s mounting frame. On both sides, there are two access holes.  Begin by adding hardware from the driver’s side, then the passenger side. 

4. Insert the spacer 

Take two spacers to put it between the hitch and bracket. Take out the last-second bolt of the bracket. Now insert the bolt into the washer and attach it to the bracket. Apply this technique on both the driver’s and the passenger’s sides. To tighten all the bolts use 17mm and 12 mm sockets.

2005 Tacoma Hitch installation

Toyota Tacoma Hitch Installation – 3rd generation (2016- 2022)

Follow the steps given below to install a trailer hitch on a third-generation Toyota Tacoma.

1. Placed carriage bolts and blocks 

The carriage bolts and blocks should be attached to the cross-member holes. You will need to attach two carriage bolts and blocks to the hole on both sides. These bolts need to be fastened using the fish wire method. Follow the steps below to put carriage bolts on both sides.

  • Take the coiled end of the fish wire and push it through the driver’s side hole. 
  • Then push it towards the outside to take it out.
  • Take a carriage bolt and block.
  •  Attach it to the coiled end.
  • Now push the carriage bolt through the hole.
  • Pull the fish wire so the bolt will come through the hole.

2. Put the hitch in place

Two attachment points are located on both the driver’s and passenger’s sides. These weld nuts will be used to install the hitch. By utilizing some blocks, raise your hitch and align it with the carriage bolts. Pass the fish wire through the two holes to line the hitch with the carriage bolts.

3. Attach the bolts 

Take the provided hardware. The bolts and conical tooth washers will be installed on weld nuts. Put the bolts on weld nuts on the driver’s side and then to the passenger side. Then remove the fish wire from the carriage bolts and install provided flange nuts on both sides. Now tighten and torque all the bolts using a 19 mm socket.

Let’s watch another hitch installation video:

Last Words

The installation of a hitch on all Toyota Tacoma is not the same. For example, for the first-generation Tacoma, you must remove the bumper; but, for the second-generation, you simply need to remove the bumper bracket. There is no need to remove the bumper or bracket on a third-generation Toyota Tacoma.

Let’s learn the method of hitch installation on Toyota Highlander

Author: Will Sabel

Will Sabel is an avid car enthusiast. When he's not writing for RidersWant, you'll find him cruising the country in a new car. People are always wondering how many cars he has!

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