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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I have a 2004 Sienna and am looking to get a trailer hitch installed. Unfortunately, I am not able to mount the hitch via the 6 weldnuts that are in the frame. For sake of this discussion, let's just pretend those weldnuts don't exist.

Here is my idea. Please let me know if this would work.

- Buy something like this.


48544

  • Buy a steel plate.
  • Place steel plate in the well where the 3rd row seats fold into (after removing the carpet, liner, etc).
  • Drill some holes through the plate and through the body of the car.
  • Drop some bolts through these holes
  • Line up the hitch and attach with some nuts

Of course there'd be some additional work to make sure the holes are sealed properly and such, but would this be a viable workaround or am I looking at a complete disaster? Also, the sole purpose of wanting a hitch is for a bike rack.

thanks!
 

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No. The only thing in that area to bolt to would be the third row seat well and it’s pretty thin sheet metal.

Is this a mobility van? If not, I would tap holes in the frame and/or add nuts to the inside of the frame in the exact place Toyota puts them and use the correct hitch for the vehicle.

We can’t help you unless you say how the threaded nuts magically disappeared.

For a bike rack, you can use the roof rack or get one that straps to the rear hatch (I recommend against the latter).

-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the response.

I originally brought the vehicle to u-haul for a hitch install, but they were not able to complete the job because the weldnuts were too corroded and the installer was not able to successfully tap them. He recommended removing the weldnuts and replacing them with a carriage block and bolt. Something like the 2:20 point of this video:

I was able to remove and replace the forward most weldnuts on each side, but not the other 4. Apparently, there is a gusset between my entry hole and the holes where the weldnuts used to be which makes it impossible for the carriage bolt to pass.

So, I could potentially find someone to cut a window into the frame and replace the weldnuts and then patch things back up.

I could settle for a couple roof racks, which is probably what will end up happening.

But this idea popped into my head and I'm just hoping to get some opinions from folks who know more about this stuff than I do. The way I envision it, I wouldn't bolt directly into the seat well. Instead the seat well would be sandwiched between a steel plate that would sit in the seat well and the bumper hitch. It'd kinda be a larger scale version of whats being done in the video above.
 

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I agree with floridanative. Unless the 'sandwich' you describe is bolted or welded to the van's frame, you would be relying on the thin sheet metal of the van's underbody to take the load and the torsional flexing of the hitch, bike carrier and the bike(s), and I don't think that would last very long. Perhaps consider welding an angle iron across the two beams (where a hitch normally bolts to) and then bolt the hitch to that.
 

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So, that's actually an EASY solution. Bring it to someone better! The easiest solution is just drill out the existing nuts, tap them over-sized and use bigger bolts. If you really want to stick with the factory original threads, get some helicoils. If you have already moved beyond this potential repair, I would grind off the old nuts and have new ones welded on. You want someone who is a decent welder here, if you ever intend to actually tow something. It wouldn't do nicely to have a weld fail when you're towing a 1500 lb trailer. After that, the next option I would consider is making new hitch mounting plates with nuts welded to each one and then weld that plate to the existing hitch mount location. If you're really, really determined to mount something to a different location, you could actually have tube or box steel welded directly to the existing hitch mounting location to give yourself someplace solid to mount your proposed receiver. But, if you were going to do that, just take it back to u-haul (or where ever you can get welding done) and have them just weld the hitch directly to the hitch mounting location. No reason it has to be removable. There are millions of trucks with welded-in receivers and bumper hitches, so it's not abnormal.

And, my final proposed solution which works exceptionally well for a maximum of 2 bikes, just get one of the inexpensive bike racks which mount with straps to the trunk. The one I have was something like $50 and it works well. The only problem I had with this solution is that I have 3 kids, so 2 bikes is one too few. But your needs may be different.
 

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Absolutely do not go back to UHell.

@BilllG has the obvious solution which I am embarrassed to say I didn’t immediately think of... buy the correct hitch and get a competent and well-respected local welder to weld it on.

-Mike
 

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Great input from the guys here. Consider another alternative if all you want to do is carry bike(s).
Here's something similar to what I did and worked pretty well. I carried up to four bikes with it. I also added ratcheting straps tied to the roof rack to help with the weight.
Screenshot_20210122-072039_Amazon Shopping.jpg
 

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OK, I will share my story and you can judge for yourself.

I once installed a trailer hitch on a 2004 Acura TL, The hitch that I bought was from etrailer and it gave me like 1500lb towing capability according to the hitch description. That hitch was mounted by making 2 holes in the spare tire wheel well and the mounting points made like a triangle. That's what the instructions were. I completed the install and used the hitch to tow a BMW r1200 GS motorcycle utilizing the Uhaul motorcycle trailer from Baltimore to NJ (~175miles), No Problem; it held really well and absolutely strong.

Here is a video of the install on a 2007 TL

My advice will be to talk to an expert on etrailer.com and they will be able to guide you and also sell you the correct stuff for your install.

One thing you should do after the install is mark clearly on the hitch the load-carrying capacity on that hitch for future buyer of your vehicle as it would not have the rated 3500lb towing capacity.

Javvy
 

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Def great solutions posted. Only really bad one I think is the hatch strapped bike rack. I know they are all different, but some, especially the cheap ones, have little clips that are very likely to scratch paint. I had one cheap one long ago, and there was no way to avoid scratches on my old Civic and current 2015 Prius. Ended up getting a hitch and hitch mounted rack.

Regarding the hatch/trunk mounted racks, I've seen a few nicer ones that have pretty solid feeling rubber on those hooks/clips and believe those wouldn't scratch the paint if the paint surface is clean.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the feedback!

I think @jaavy's video for his Acura best fits what I was originally aiming to do. Unfortunately, the Sienna doesn't have a similar tow hook and it sounds like the sheet metal of the trunk alone won't be strong enough to support the hitch and bike rack.

I was hoping for a DIY solution, but it's becoming apparent that any safe and reliable fix will require some sort of welding.

It would have been nice to use the hitch rack that I had for my other vehicle, but if I am not able to find a welder, I can live with a combination of roof racks and just putting the bike inside. Not ideal for me, but I've gotta play the cards I've been dealt.

Thanks again!
 

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Re-tap or drill and tap the existing weld nuts with cutting oil. Anything else will be an experiment in which you bear the risk. I just replaced the engine in our '08 AWD and had plenty of tap and die work (including one bolt that broke off in the transmission case, LH drill bits are your friend). Just keep backing the tap out as you go and clearing the bore with cutting oil, it's like a 5 minute job.

Edit: U-Heck may not have had the right tap - Toyota uses JIS fasteners.
 

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Thanks for all the feedback!

I think @jaavy's video for his Acura best fits what I was originally aiming to do. Unfortunately, the Sienna doesn't have a similar tow hook and it sounds like the sheet metal of the trunk alone won't be strong enough to support the hitch and bike rack.

I was hoping for a DIY solution, but it's becoming apparent that any safe and reliable fix will require some sort of welding.

It would have been nice to use the hitch rack that I had for my other vehicle, but if I am not able to find a welder, I can live with a combination of roof racks and just putting the bike inside. Not ideal for me, but I've gotta play the cards I've been dealt.

Thanks again!
I'm actually surprised U-Haul wouldn't offer the option of welding it on. The one near me does welding if they need to beef something up to handle a Class 3. If you can't find a welder (check craigslist or facebook), just find a truck service place or one of the custom spring/suspension places. Even an independent mechanic or body shop should be able to weld the hitch on or just weld in replacement nuts. A squirt of primer and a squirt of spray paint from a rattle can and you're done!
 

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I went through several weeks of hell re-tapping the corroded captive nuts and getting it bolted in. After trying thread cutters borrowed from a friend, no luck, I bought a set of Lang ones..... got two out of 6. Then I bought this and it poked all of them through with almost no effort at all.

Highly recommended if you live in new england or anywhere else your nuts have gotten salted.
 
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