I just purchased a 2014 JGC Limited without a trailer hitch, so I decided to install one myself. I realize that others have created similar "How-To's" but I figured different versions will only help all of us.
about 3 hours from start to cleanup (including documentation)
Hitch Kit -$220, 4/7 wire connector - $43, dealer activation $50-$100 depending on your dealer.
T30 Torx, 7mm socket, 8 mm socket, 10mm socket, 21mm socket and open ended wrench, torque wrench, utility knife, 100 grit sandpaper, trim tool, nylon rivet gun, drill and 1/8" bit, hot knife, drop cloth, rags, 2 patio chairs, 1 helper, and of course the MOPAR instruction sheet that came with the hitch.
Mopar OEM class IV trailer hitch kit 82212180AC, and Mopar OEM 4/7 wire connector 56055632AC.
1/2 hour for dealer to activate trailer wiring.
Local Jeep Dealer or OEM Mopar Parts & Accessories Online | Mopar Parts Webstore for hitch kit and wire connector, Harbor Freight for hot knife, trim tool, and rivet gun, other tools out of your tool box or local auto parts store.
I looked at adding a non-OEM trailer hitch but didn't like them hanging below the bumper cover and prefer the OEM appearance. Most of my towing is a small utility trailer or occasionally a travel trailer from a friend and of course a bike hitch rack. I learned a few helpful tips and tricks in doing this fairly simple job so don't fear pulling off your rear bumper cover and cutting into it, just commit and follow the instructions.
The first thing I did was wash the Jeep so to minimize any potential for sand or dirt to scratch the paint as I removed and reinstalled parts then get all your tools ready and lay a drop cloth under the rear wheels out past both sides and the rear of the vehicle to create a protective apron for the bumper cover when you remove it.
Using a trim removal tool I pulled out the nylon rivets under each wheel well trim. They pop out fairly easy. There are two on each side. Slide the tool under the head of the rivet and leverage the tool to pull it out. I used a twisting motion as well as placed a rag underneath to avoid any scratches on the black wheel well trim.
Next using your 8mm and 10mm socket wrench remove the two screws on the wheel well.
This next part was probably the most nerve racking because you are pulling on the trim and not sure how much force to use or where the "push clips" are located.
Watch the video to see how simple it really is.
After the trim is pulled away from the 3 horizontal "push clips" you will have three "wedge tabs" on the vertical portion of the wheel well trim that hold it to the body. One side came out without any issues but the other was a bit more difficult. I found that the tabs are very robust and not fragile and was able to manipulate the trim in order to release the tabs. If you use your fingers to insert between the felt liner and black trim piece then feel for each tab and push with your fingers while also lifting the trim piece back and forth each tab will release.
Now that the black wheel well trim has been removed you need to your 7mm socket to take out one more bolt that was under the trim.
Slide under the Jeep headfirst on your back and you will see two supports with 10mm bolts holding the bumper cover to the metal bumper. The instructions for the trailer hitch show those as being removable push rivets. On the driver side the bolt is just above the wire harness connector, so use your trim tool to release the connector from the support. Its held in place with a "pine-tree" or "christmas tree" clip. Once its removed you can also release the connector plug by releasing the tab in the back and it will pull out by grabbing the "handle". The last part is removing the "christmas tree" clip from the connector. Take a look at the video on how to remove it.
You are almost ready to remove the bumper cover so call your helper out. Using at T30 Torx tool remove the two bolts below the liftgate bumper. Don't worry the bumper cover won't suddenly fall down as you still need to release it.
Go back over to the wheel well area and if you look carefully you can see a black stud that the leading edge of the bumper cover is held by. Simply bend the plastic cover out and over to release it. Then continue to pull on the bumper cover so that it unclips from the body. The video is great at showing this one.
Now move to the back of the Jeep and pull the bumper cover off. Your helper can either take one side or hold the middle as you work it clear of the Jeep, my helper was videoing. This is where the drop cloth can save you a scratch or two as once its pulled clear you need to rest it on the ground to unclip the electrical connector on the driver side for the PARKING SENSORS. Place the bumper cover on sawhorses or patio chairs to hold it steady for cutting out the hitch area. I used rags as well to protect the paint from the arms of the chair.
At this point you should have some relief that you actually did all this without too many issues but still secretly fear the cutting of the bumper cover. My advice is to not think about it and just go to step 12.
Crawl back underneath and make sure you bring your 21MM wrench and or socket to remove the 6 bolts holding the metal bumper to the frame. There are three bolts per side and the one pointing to the ground I found was better removed and later installed using an wrench because of the clearance with the muffler. You can use a torque wrench with a socket once its fully screwed into the frame.
After all 6 bolts are removed, crawl back out and simply slide the metal bumper straight out. Grab your new OEM hitch and slide it straight in until it stops into the hitch slots.
Using the new bolts go back under and start screwing each one in. This time of course you have a fourth bolt on each side. I did not need to wrestle very much with the hitch to get the bolts lined up but if you do simply get one of them started and use that as a handle to slide the hitch around to align the others. Use your torque wrench to 122 ft/lbs each bolt per instructions.
Now its time to start on the cutout on the bumper cover. The instructions that came with the hitch do not show several of the required tab slots for the bezel. Not to worry, I redrew them so you could get a better understanding plus the actual inside of the bumper cover has the correct locations molded in the bumper cover. I also used the dirt and dust to my advantage using my finger to clean the lines and slots to cut and drill instead of chalk like the instructions show.
The important thing to remember is that there are two types of connectors on the bezel. 6 of them are "wedge" type tabs so the slot you cut should be tight enough to create pressure on the wedge so it can't slide out easily, this is created using the 1/8" drill bit. The 4 "clip" tabs are held in place with a metal insert to hold it tight. This allows you to make a more forgiving slot as its the mechanical metal clip that holds them in place.
I decided to use a hot knife from Harbor Freight instead of a saw blade. I wanted more control and forgiveness should I slip. The hot knife was set at 5 on the dial and about a minute later I had a “hot knife” ready to slice through the plastic. The control was perfect and I simply followed the template lines to remove the cutout. It shows rounded corners but I just squared them off. It was also very easy to make slots for each tab. Following the directions I started by drilling starting points for each slot so I knew the expected width. Then using the hot knife I could easily slice a line from one hole to the other. The whole process was easy and went quickly. Make sure you do this in a ventilated area as the melting plastic creates some fumes. I cleaned up the edges with a sharp utility knife and some 100 grit sand paper just to make sure that the edges didn't create an irregular surface with the trim bezel.
This part was exciting as I finally get to see the finished look of the trim bezel on the bumper cover. I took my time to make sure that the trim was in the correct orientation and that each tab was inserted into their respective slot. Think of a cat getting a bath, as each tab that goes in another wants to resist. With the trim finally installed I used the metal clips to secure the clip tabs.
Again using your helper pick up the bumper cover and bring it over to the rear of the Jeep. I would strongly recommend that you look at the edges of the bumper cover and various slots on the body to see how and where it fits prior to putting it back on. Then reconnect the electrical plug for the PARK SENSORS. As you start to place the bumper cover back on the body do not force any of the clips or various slots but be patient and investigate any resistance. My bumper cover had a tab on the driver side that was bent and refused to go back in place until I bent it back to its correct orientation. The passenger side had a tight fit as well under the rear taillight and so I had give more effort to get it to slide in. You can see that in the removal video. Eventually it all returned to its proper position. The tabs along each side are simply pressed back into the body for attachment and finally the leading edge near the wheel well bends back over the black stud to complete this step.
Screw back in the 2 Torx fasteners in the rear below the liftgate bumpers.
Move back to the side of the bumper cover and put back in the 7mm screws, then verify that the lower portion of the wheel well liner is tucked in under the trim of the fascia before you reattach the black wheel well trim.
Attach the black wheel wheel trim by pressing the trim so each tab/clip goes into its appropriate slot/hole. Then screw the 10mm and 8mm screws back in place. The last item is the nylon pop rivet which we will deal with in a later step.
Take your new 4/7 connector and place it into the hitch until you hear both the top and bottom click. Test it by pulling up and down to see if its tight.
Back under the Jeep you need to attach the two supports to the frame with the 10mm bolts.
Take your wire harness connector and connect it to the 4/7 connector. That's a lot of connecting.
The following step was a bit of a silly issue in that I choose to use a rivet gun from Harbor Freight designed for nylon rivets, instead of the methods others use with a pair of dikes. I own several metal rivet guns but the shaft on the nylon rivets are thicker than the gun allows. So as I went to use the gun I discovered that the clearance between the trim and the tire is to narrow. I found that if you jack up the rear tire until it just clears the ground the suspension drops enough to use the gun. Seconds later the rivets were in place.
There has been much discussion as to the activation of the wire harness on various forums and reviews. My understanding is that IF you are simply splicing into electrical wires and NOT using the existing wire harness for the flat 4 connector ONLY you do NOT need to go to the dealer to activate the trailer wires. This is how many of the aftermarket hitches connect to the electrical system. I am using the existing wire harness and therefore will need to activate it through the dealer. Even if I used the flat 4 only it still needs to be activated. If you did not have a wire harness already in place (not sure what years this applies) and added the OEM wire harness you would again need to activate it via the dealer. On a side note I'm not sure why Jeep/FCA can't simply have it activated at the factory regardless of your option of purchasing the tow package. I have learned over the years that sometimes the illlogic of things actually have a purpose, time usually clarifies the reason. So I called Jeep Customer Care (877-426-5337) and asked them the question. She was not able to answer but sent it to the technical team as well marked it as a product suggestion. Who knows maybe my future jeep will come already activated.
I managed to get the activation cost down to $50 from $100 plus they are going to update all software upgrades available.