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Thread: +'12 Curt Class 1 hitch install on <’10

  1. #1
    Registered Member Silentnoise713's Avatar

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    +'12 Curt Class 1 hitch install on <’10

    NOTE: I am only sharing my experience. I do NOT advise the +'12 Curt on <'10 model since Curt does not advise it on their fitment guide.

    Took my first crack at trying to mount the hitch yesterday (fingers crossed it fits). Curt’s install guide for the ’12 says it is ‘moderate’ difficulty and estimates ~45min for a professional. Let me start by saying that unless the car is brand spanking new (or relatively new with no rust), you are working with a lift, and you have all of the tools necessary, and you take more effort than what the guide says, it WILL take way longer than 45mins even! I was initially going by the 45 min estimate and allotted myself 2hr get it done. Boy am I wrong… I can’t imagine a pro doing it in 45 min unless they know EXCTLYT what to do and have done this multiple times.

    The good news: It fits! At least from my test fit but still not mounted so ya never know. Clears everything and aligns where it needs and should. The ONLY different in the rear end between the older and newer model is that the +’12 has a small heat shield that only covers the top of the exhaust while the <’10 heat shield goes all the way up and past the rear axle. Even the mounting bolts for the heat shield are the same! In essence, you can follow the ’12 install guide to the “T” but know that there are some gotchas. The install guide is not clear and misleading. Here are some things to be aware of:


    -With the exhaust loose and hanging, it still gets in the way of accessing the exhaust heat shield bolts. It was a royal pain get at and required various length extenders and angle adapters. You also need a helping hand to push the exhaust canister out of the way (or use your foot to hold it and hands to drive it out, LOL) and it is a very tight space. I realize what Curt did but NOT advertise is that they REMOVED the exhaust completely. You can tell b/c that is the only way they can take a clean/complete pic of the heat shield in the install guide… I have no issue with removing it IF the car was new or if I intend on replacing it, which I am not.

    -If leaving the exhaust on, it is another royal pain to try and cut off the shield. There is NO space to work with to make a clean cut, again unless you remove your exhaust. While Curt advises marking and cutting out a template, they themselves removed the whole shield. I took a creative approach and try to retain what I can. The Curt hitch comes with sort of a heat shield (really part of the structure to go around the exhaust but can act as an shield b/c there is a gap between it and the underbody).

    -If the car is older, some of the heat shield nuts/bolts will be rusted on and break upon removing. Oddly, the bolts came out but the nuts with washer snapped off easily. I soaked them with Kroil. Not that this matters since you are cutting this part off anyway and throwing them away.

    -You need to widen the access hole that is right on top of the exhaust (as well as passenger side but that is free and open). The install guide simply says to widen the hole for the carriage bolts and washer. Sounds easy but with the exhaust canister it the way, I cannot get at it with a drill or roto zip. You can either remove the whole exhaust (which would make everything easier and as advertised and should be a required step) or you WILL need a dremel or some small cutting tool to enlarge the hole. Unfortunately I am in the middle of replacing the batteries on my cordless dremel so I didn’t have the right tools. Way past 2hrs now so I need to clean up. To be continued but I am stoked…
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  2. #2
    Booga Booga? phunky.buddha's Avatar

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    In for pics!

    It's also not too hard to remove the rear section of the exhaust- I did it when I installed my new upper control arms. Just lube up the rubber hangers and you'll be ok.

  3. #3
    Registered Member Silentnoise713's Avatar

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    Agree the exhaust hanger were very easy to remove after a little penetrating oil. However, I’m not so willing to remove the exhaust pipe bolts. I broke the bolts loose and started to take it off but decided not too remove it. The car has aged a bit NE weather and undercarriage bolts tend to strip/break and I would want to replace the gasket, which I don’t want to touch if I didn’t have too. Now, if there’s a nice direct fit exhaust that looks/sounds nice and offers some gains, I am all in but that’s probably never going to happen.

    Here are some pics. Hopefully I have time this weekend to finish. The hardest part is done (cutting off heat shield) and the remaining stuff is pretty easy: enlarge the diver side mounting hold then bolt-on it up.

    Curt hitch panels are 1/4 ” thick! I need to measure the thickness of the steel used on the horizontal support beam of the car but from what I can guestimate, I would say it is probably 1/8”. Hopefully I can find my dial caliper and confirm. Needless to say these compact unibody chassis are not “built tough” like body on frame trucks. However, I feel it should be plenty capable of holding up to Class 2 as long as the car parts can also support it. Transmission and brakes are my two biggest worries.


    Passenger side. Exposed and easy access. Need to clean up the cuts and prep/rust proof.


    Diver side. Hidden under the exhaust and heat shield, you will find the same mounting holes as the pass. side!  I need to finish widening an access hole. I don’t have air tools or die grinder, which would probably make it much easier.


    Had helper hold the hitch while I mark the cut out with a sharpie. Difficult to reach but can be cut off with metal shears. Need to round out the rough edges.


    Cut out the rear section since some mounting bolts broke anyway. Also sprayed undercoating on the side panels and mounting brackets to add further rust prevention. Left the cross section untreated but might just spray the whole thing…




    Of topic:
    I though this is pretty cool in 13’ and 16’. There are VW Beetle and Honda Element owners who tow a 13’ with no problem.
    http://www.scamptrailers.com/
    Last edited by Silentnoise713; 09-19-2013 at 11:56 AM.
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  4. #4
    Registered Member hibern8r's Avatar

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    This is right on time!!! I just picked one up off Amazon for $105!

  5. #5
    Registered Member hibern8r's Avatar

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    Oh, and excellent write up and pics Silentnoise!!!

  6. #6
    Registered Member Silentnoise713's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by hibern8r View Post
    This is right on time!!! I just picked one up off Amazon for $105!
    Cool. Let us know how it goes.

    Finish putting it on today and learned a few more gotchas. Fits like a glove .
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  7. #7
    Registered Member Silentnoise713's Avatar

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    Last bit of install tip

    CORRECTION: I think the rear ends of the <’10 and +’12 are EXACTLY the same! My comment about the heat shield being different may be wrong as I’m only judging it based on Curt’s “limited” pic (does not show the full thing) in their install manual. There’s a very good chance the rears ends are actually identical, heat shield and all. If someone with a +’12 can post a pic that would be great.



    Some additional gotchas for fellow DIYers as you follow along the install manual.

    -Removing the rear driver side wheel (along with and loosen muffler and heat shield) will give you MUCH better access to enlarge the driver side mounting holes! Enough that you don’t need to remove the exhaust ! Yes folks, you don't need to remove the exhaust after all! Use rope/bungee cored to pull the muffler away.

    -However, when on jack stands, there’s no tension on the axel (full droop) and it actually makes it hard to insert the inner most (toward front of the car) exhaust hanger. I couldn’t get it back on, there’s just too little space to work with. I had to put the wheels back on and put the rear end on ramps. It suddenly open up and you have super easy access.


    -Die grinder would be the ideal tool for the job but my poor mans Dremel (reinforced cutting disc) to do the rough cutting + grinding stone ($4-5?) did the job to get the oblong shape I wanted. The oblong hole offer more metal to catch the washing/bolt. One grinding stone rounding out the Dremel precut was sufficient. I think you can also just use two grinding stones, one for each side, to get the job done. I suggest sanding down the edges then vacuuming and wiping the area clean.


    -I did not bother to smooth out the cuts on the left over heat shield. Figure, I don’t see it and it is only superficial, why bother?


    -OK, I over did the prep. I applied a light coasting of rust converter + bare metal primer + undercoating spray. I hope it doesn’t develop rust –ever! I also sprayed undercoating to cover the hitch other than the cross section and the receiver tube –the exposed part.


    -I’ve never reversed fished bolts using the nifty fishing wire that has threading to catch the threads of the bolt. I quickly learned you only need to thread the bolt down 2-3 turns or it will pretty much NOT come off without destroying it when the top of the bolts is inside of the beam. Luckily Curt provides two but it would have been nicer if they just provided 4, one for each bolt to idiot proof it . The fishing wire would also help to fish through the hitch mounting plate ensuing it won’t get lost inside of the support beam! Can also tie a string on the bolt for that pupose.


    -You will 99.9% likely need a helping hand to juggle the hitch. Be careful and SLOWLY align the bolts to ensure they pass through the mounting plate and that you do NOT accidently push the bolts into the frame rails –that would be bad. It greatly helps to have two people, one doing each side at the same time. It would be a royal PITA to get it out. Not sure you can get it out without have to make an unnecessarily large hole.






    Final impression: Not an easy install but not difficult either. Be mindful and I’d guestimate ~2-3 hrs if you have everything ready to go. I wish the directions were a bite more clear for the share tree DIYer, not a shop. Nonetheless, it is worth the effort (or pay someone for 45 mins labor since the install manula days 45min!! See what Curt did there) b/c this thing is stout and becomes a part of the car. You can rock the car with it and it does not budge. For those wanting a solid hitch, I highly recommend it. But officially, I can only say this is recommended for +’12 model years and limited to Class 1. Very happy "camper"

    My only dislike is that it is recessed like a hidden hitch. I know some (most?) prefer the hidden hitch look but I preferred the receiver to come near flush to the bumper. I have to find something to complain about
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  8. #8
    Booga Booga? phunky.buddha's Avatar

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    Awesome writeup! And get a hitch extender- they're about $10 at Harbor Freight.

  9. #9
    Registered Member Silentnoise713's Avatar

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    Thanks. I hope others can make good use of this.

    Thanks for the idea on the extender. Now that I feel more assured on the hitch, I am liking this:
    http://www.harborfreight.com/1-1-4-q...ter-65023.html
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  10. #10
    Booga Booga? phunky.buddha's Avatar

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    Welcome. Those things are HEAVY steel, which is good. I bought one to cut up and turn into a tow rig for my CRX....

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    Thank you, Silent, for the write up. Removing the driver's side wheel was VERY helpful. If I could, I would like to add two things.

    On the driver side, enlarging one of the holes is not necessary. If you remove the rear-most muffler hanger(with a simple quarter turn) you can now fish-wire the two bolts through the frame member.

    Also, removing only two of the muffler hangers and leaving the muffler in place actually aided in installing the hitch. I rested one side on the muffler while I fastened the passenger side bolts, then lifted the other side of the hitch up to finish the driver side.

  12. #12
    Registered Member Silentnoise713's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbskiphabs View Post
    Thank you, Silent, for the write up. Removing the driver's side wheel was VERY helpful. If I could, I would like to add two things.

    On the driver side, enlarging one of the holes is not necessary. If you remove the rear-most muffler hanger(with a simple quarter turn) you can now fish-wire the two bolts through the frame member.

    Also, removing only two of the muffler hangers and leaving the muffler in place actually aided in installing the hitch. I rested one side on the muffler while I fastened the passenger side bolts, then lifted the other side of the hitch up to finish the driver side.
    Feel free to any insight!

    Just to clarify, you only need to enlarge one hole on each side and use the same hole to fish the bracket for both holes.

    Good to hear about the muffler trick. I would still suggest a 2nd pair of hands if avail only bc it you accidentally push a bolt into the frame, that would suck.
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  13. #13
    2012 CR Mazda5 Touring 90210's Avatar

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    Good thread

    After trying to figure out to put a class 2, since I am selling my truck

    This may be my best bet to carry 4 bikes

  14. #14
    Registered Member Wishmaster's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by 90210 View Post
    Good thread

    After trying to figure out to put a class 2, since I am selling my truck

    This may be my best bet to carry 4 bikes
    That hitch is still a class one.

  15. #15
    2012 CR Mazda5 Touring 90210's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wishmaster View Post
    That hitch is still a class one.
    yeah looks like the best bet

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