Russ' Do It Yourself Home Workshop

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Archive for December, 2018

Installing a Trailer Hitch on a 2018 Honda Clarity

Posted by Russell Wright on December 25, 2018

I’ve owned a 2002 Prius, a 2005 Prius, a 2010 Prius and my wife now has a 2017 Prius Prime.  They have all had trailer hitches installed for carrying bikes and towing my little 5’ x 8’ trailer for those Home Depot runs.  But now since we’ve joined the PHEV ranks, I recently expanded our PHEV fleet with the addition of a Honda Clarity.  Unlike the Prius Prime, there is only one manufacturer of a trailer hitch for this car (at least at this point in time).  Torklift has an Ecohitch (Part numbers: x7377 (2”), x7378 (1¼”)) that is on the pricey end of what I would normally pay for a hitch, but it seems to be well made and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, so I bought one.  It took a couple of weeks to get it since it was around the Christmas holidays and their site said they were experiencing a “high order volume.”  Good for them!

The hitch comes with a set of printed color instructions that are pretty good, but no one ever seems to get enough pictures for me.  I like pictures, so here’s my contribution to this project, should you choose to accept it.

As an overview, you need to remove the two tailights so you can remove the bumper facsia (bumper cover) to gain access to the bumper crash bar.  The hitch mounts underneath the bumper crash bar with new longer bolts that are supplied.

From tool standpoint, you’ll need:

  • Phillips screwdriver (misc screws)
  • Torx screwdriver (bumper cover screws)
  • 8mm socket (for taillights)
  • Flat screwdriver (for loosening pop rivets and trim panel fasteners)
  • Needlenosed pliers (for squeezing wire stay to remove it)

Begin by opening the trunk and removing six fasteners (three on each side) that hold the fabric trunk panels.  This should take about five minutes.

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After these fasteners are removed you need to remove the wear molding that extends across the trunk.  Begin by removing the trunk latch cover.  It unsnaps pretty easily, so don’t overdo it.

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Here’s a blurry closeup of the trunk latch cover.

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Here’s a view of the fasteners that hold the wear molding in place so you can get an idea of where to pull up.  If you aren’t familiar with these, sometimes it can feel like you’re going to break something when you pull up.  That shouldn’t happen on new plastic parts.  When you reinstall, you just rap them with your hand to pop them back in place.

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Just another pic of the wear molding.

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After peeling back the fabric panels, you should be able to get to the back of the taillights.  Here you will need to remove four 8mm nuts, disconnect the connector and then simultaneously press both clips to remove the taillight.  The taillight should slide out directly towards the back.  You’ll notice in the pictures there is a fastener on the forward part of the taillight that fits over a clip.  It should slide off from this connector.

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Here’s a back view of the forward part of the taillight showing the sliding connector.  I actually popped the connector out because I didn’t know it should slide on and off.

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Here’s a removed taillight.

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Here’s a pic of the empty taillight socket.

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Here are a couple of pics of the back of the taillight locations.  You can see the connector and the holes where the taillight studs and clips go.  This is on the driver’s side.

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This is on the passenger’s side.

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The next couple of steps are pretty straightforward.  There are two big black torx screws that need to be removed from bumper fascia.  So, that means you’ll need a torx screwdriver to remove them!

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Now its time to remove the phillips screws from each wheel well.  If you don’t have splash guards (mud flaps) you’ll probably have two on each side.  If you have splash guards there will be an extra three screws holding the splash guards in place and a panel fastener on the bottom of the splash guard.  Remove all these screws.  I don’t have a picture of this.

Next, under the bottom of the bumper cover are six (or eight) panel fasteners.  If you removed spash guards you already removed two.  You’ll have to lay down on your back and use your screwdriver to pry the heads up so the “pop rivet” panel fasteners will come out.  This picture shows them after they’ve been removed (along with the crash bar).

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Now comes the scary part.  From the wheel well area grasp the bumper fascia at one corner and pull firmly up and away from the vehicle.  The fasteners should pop loose as shown in the following pictures.

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You have to put your hand in the crevise and pull!  Pop, pop, pop it goes!

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Keep going…you’ll get to the fasteners you can see that were beneath the taillights.

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Once you get all this loose, the bumper cover should come off and reveal the crash bar, which is held in place with six bolts.

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Disconnect the wire stay from its mount point by squeezing the backside of it with a pair of needlenose pliers.  This has to be moved aside as there is not enough clearance behind the trailer hitch for it to remain in its original location.  I wrapped a little extra tape around it just to prevent any future chafing.

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Here’s another pic of the wire stay removed from its original mount point.

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Now you can mount the hitch behind the crash bar and install the six bolts.  Torque to 85 ft-lbs.

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To allow room for the bumper cover to be reinstalled, you need to trim a section out of it that is located around the receiver.  The section to be removed is approximately 4-1/2” wide and 4” deep.

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Here are the recommended dimensions for material removal.

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Another view of the bumper cover after the material has been removed.

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Some pictures showing the fit after the trim job.

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I also pulled a power wire through the grommet and tied it off under the car for any future power requirements for the trunk area (e.g. for a trailer wiring harness).

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Now with the assistance of your helper, you can place the bumper cover back over everything a button it up.  As they say, put everything back in the reverse order of how you took it apart!

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It should look something like this when you are done.

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