Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby GaryZ [OP] » January 25th 2009, 4:09am

My story is sad and scary. Some years ago I took my 1991 Astro to that truck rental company and had a class 2 trailer hitch installed. I regularly towed my 10 x 5 enclosed trailer for a few months with no problems. Rolling down my street at 25mph after a 120 mile trip dragging a loaded trailer, the hitch failed and the trailer dropped to the road. The back bolts of the hitch had ripped completely out of the van leaving the front of the hitch still hanging on the frame. The next day my investigation found that the installers did not reinstall the factory bumper brackets per the installation instructions (found them online). The installer claimed he installed per instructions and, as with 1/2 ton Chevy pick-ups, the brackets were not to be reinstalled. At first the store manager was not going do a thing. Fortunately for me an executive of the company happened to be in the office and he stepped into the fray. I showed the failed hitch, the instructions, and the missing brackets. He accepted responsibility for the damage and paid to fix my van.

The moral of this story:
Bumper brackets are not reinstalled on 1988 - 1999 Chevy pick-ups
Bumper brackets MUST be reinstalled on Astro Vans!


GaryZ
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby Matrixx » January 25th 2009, 1:12pm

Hi GaryZ
Wow, I'm glad it happened where it did and not on the highway, that would have been good for a Pressure Biscuit for sure if it had (for me anyways). Amazing. Thanks for that very important bit of information. Well noted.:)
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby Big_kid » January 25th 2009, 4:37pm

Thanks for sharing this, it's a good thing to check. Mine came from a junkyard, and it replaces the bumper brackets.

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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby GaryZ [OP] » January 25th 2009, 7:21pm

Big_kid wrote:Thanks for sharing this, it's a good thing to check. Mine came from a junkyard, and it replaces the bumper brackets.

Welcome to the board!


If you installed it yourself and followed the installation instructions . . . Great!
However, I still would carefully inspect the rear mounting of the hitch. It must be supported by something attached to the frame. If only two bolts going into the the sheet metal of the body (under the rear doors) are mounting the rear of the hitch, additional brackets are needed. These two bolts under the doors do not have any connection to the frame and will rip loose.
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby astro355 » January 25th 2009, 9:21pm

:text-worthless:
I'm not trying to be harsh, just stating the obvious.
Diagnose 1st, never be a parts changer!

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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby Big_kid » January 25th 2009, 10:25pm

Ain't no instructions at the junkyard! :D
PLEASE don't get me wrong, I DO appreciate you posting! Mine has 3 bolts into the frame on either side, the two you mentioned, plus whatever bolts came out of the original bumper brackets- my hitch takes their place. There's bolts all over the place. It took me quite a while using an impact gun (hand checked afterward) to get it installed and to get the bumper mounted evenly.
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby warbird » January 30th 2009, 10:59pm

Not wishing in anyway to be rude but relying on a couple of bolts through the back panel must be the no brainer of the year (yes, I know its only the end of January!) & you say a proper fitting shop installed it? :confused:
I've just installed a towbar on my Astro which came off an American Import, :banana: It looks an impressive bit of kit, It also bolts forward to the original chassis instead of just bolting through the chassis extension as I've seen some towbars do, I'll post some pictures over the weekend if I can.
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby kidhauler » January 31st 2009, 6:16am

If you get a HIDDEN HITCH it will replace the factory bumper brackets and is a class 3 so it will give you a better tow rating. However before you install it you should buy a tap and run it through the holes in the frame to clean up the factory threads or you might break a bolt off like I did when istalling the hitch.
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby Big_kid » January 31st 2009, 3:15pm

kidhauler wrote:If you get a HIDDEN HITCH it will replace the factory bumper brackets and is a class 3 so it will give you a better tow rating. However before you install it you should buy a tap and run it through the holes in the frame to clean up the factory threads or you might break a bolt off like I did when istalling the hitch.


That's what I've got. I got lucky- it was during a half off sale weekend- $12! I'm also fortunate not to live in the rust belt. The bolt holes were fine, no trouble installing it. I did have to borrow a sawzall to get it off the donor though, one of those nuts broke loose inside the frame rail. THAT was a real 81TC4 to get out!
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby ScottS » February 1st 2009, 12:50pm

I would like to see the instructins you found, if you can post a link

I am pretty sure the guy who put mine on reoved the brakets, I wanted totake them bt He said the hitch incoprorated the brackets so they were not needed- I have to check this out
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby Big_kid » February 1st 2009, 11:44pm

To clarify:
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The brackets are in a box in my shed now. Can't wait to try it out!
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby GaryZ [OP] » February 2nd 2009, 2:12am

ScottS wrote:I would like to see the instructins you found, if you can post a link

I am pretty sure the guy who put mine on reoved the brakets, I wanted totake them bt He said the hitch incoprorated the brackets so they were not needed- I have to check this out


I found the instructions again. Go to this link and download the pdf for the $124 hitch;
http://store.uhaul.com/hitch_detail.aspx?id=532
Item 5 clearly states the bumper brackets are reinstalled for this class 2 hitch.

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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby cosway » February 16th 2009, 1:44am

OH Man I hope my RV guy installed my properly.
Hidden hitch and yes they left a "part" in my van when they were done.
I never was sure what it was.

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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby Matrixx » February 16th 2009, 2:49pm

Hi cosway
Wow, with a nice trailer like that, I would want to make sure what it was they left off. Great picture by the way, Thanks.:)
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby ckhismine » June 26th 2009, 3:58pm

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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby GaryZ [OP] » June 26th 2009, 4:55pm



These instructions clearly say the original bumper brackets are to be used . . .
Ask to see the instructions when you have someone else install your hitch.
The installers mount a lot of pick-up truck hitches and the bumper brackets are discarded.
They automatically think the same of the Astro/Safari hitch.
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby ckhismine » June 26th 2009, 11:34pm

GaryZ wrote:
ScottS wrote:I would like to see the instructins you found, if you can post a link

I am pretty sure the guy who put mine on reoved the brakets, I wanted totake them bt He said the hitch incoprorated the brackets so they were not needed- I have to check this out


I found the instructions again. Go to this link and download the pdf for the $124 hitch;
http://store.uhaul.com/hitch_detail.aspx?id=532
Item 5 clearly states the bumper brackets are reinstalled for this class 2 hitch.

GaryZ

Ok I see the problem you had. A cheap hitch @ $124.00. What the guys are saying is if you had a Reese,Vally or Hidden Hitch you would not need to reuse the bumper brakets at all. Thats why the Hidden Hitch sheet say to return factory bumper brakets to the customer. I look at one of the Uhaul (JUNK) hitches and it only has a few mounting points. My Hidden hitch has 8 bolts that go into the main frame and 2 that go behind the rear doors and 6 bolts that go to the rear bumper. Sorry you had a problem.
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby ghostrider1061 » June 27th 2009, 4:37am

a little welding where the hitch and frme connect wouldnt hurt as a safty back-up. :rockon:
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby ckhismine » June 27th 2009, 1:30pm

ghostrider1061 wrote:a little welding where the hitch and frme connect wouldnt hurt as a safty back-up. :rockon:

Yes that would be a good pice of mind thing but I do not think it is needed if the hitch you get is well made like a Hidden or a Reese. Most of the time a hitch fails because of overloading,poor install or using the wrong drop or lift which puts undo force on the hitch and the van. You should have no missing bolts or parts and the install sheet should be used to the letter. Also I would never use a so called fits most or adjustable hitch like the one you can get at Walmart ect. Also a torque wrench is a must not just a impact gun to pervent a over torque of the bolts and pulling of the threads.
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Re: Be Careful with Astro trailer hitches!

Postby GaryZ [OP] » June 27th 2009, 3:29pm

ckhismine wrote:
GaryZ wrote:
ScottS wrote:I would like to see the instructins you found, if you can post a link

I am pretty sure the guy who put mine on reoved the brakets, I wanted totake them bt He said the hitch incoprorated the brackets so they were not needed- I have to check this out


I found the instructions again. Go to this link and download the pdf for the $124 hitch;
http://store.uhaul.com/hitch_detail.aspx?id=532
Item 5 clearly states the bumper brackets are reinstalled for this class 2 hitch.

GaryZ

Ok I see the problem you had. A cheap hitch @ $124.00. What the guys are saying is if you had a Reese,Vally or Hidden Hitch you would not need to reuse the bumper brakets at all. Thats why the Hidden Hitch sheet say to return factory bumper brakets to the customer. I look at one of the Uhaul (JUNK) hitches and it only has a few mounting points. My Hidden hitch has 8 bolts that go into the main frame and 2 that go behind the rear doors and 6 bolts that go to the rear bumper. Sorry you had a problem.


Your hitch might be a Class 3 and I have been discussing a Class 2 (3500lbs trailer weight, 350lbs tongue weight). Please read your Hidden Hitch installation instructions before making claims that are potentially dangerous to others. The Class 2 Hidden Hitch instructions below clearly say that all bumper brackets "remain in place" (item 2, first sentence). One is temporarily removed to aid installation.

Although the cost of a product can indicate a level of quality, a lower price does not always mean "junk". I have now used three U-Haul Class 2 hitches from two different companies (Bronco II, Safari, Astro). Four, if you count the one that failed due to improper installation. The three hitches are still on these vehicles and still going strong.


http://www.hiddenhitch.com/fitguides/pdf/N87516.pdf

INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS
MODEL NO. 36197
APPLICATION: 1985-03 Chevrolet Astro Van (all models)
1985-03 GMC Safari Van (all models)

2. The bumper is attached to the vehicle by two main bumper brackets and two outer bumper brackets, which
remain in place. Only one of the main bumper brackets must be removed completely for hitch installation.
These brackets are attached to the bumper and vehicle frame with five 10mm bolts. Remove all five bolts and
one main bumper bracket from its frame location. Save two of the bolts and bumper bracket, for use in Step 5
and discard the remaining three bolts.
3. Go over to the remaining main bumper bracket and remove only three of the five 10mm bolts as shown on
Illustration 2 below. Remove only the bolts indicated Hitch Attachment Points. Discard these bolts.
4. Position one end of the hitch assembly #1 up inside the bumper bracket left on the vehicle and align with
holes where the three 10mm bolts were previously removed. Loosely attach hitch frame bracket at this location
with the longer 10mm bolts and washers supplied with the hitch.
5. Position the previously removed bumper bracket over the other end of the hitch assembly and bolt both the
bumper bracket and hitch frame bracket to the vehicle frame at hitch attachment points shown on Illustration
2, using the longer 10mm bolts supplied with hitch. Finish attaching the bumper bracket to the vehicle at the
remaining attachment points using the original 10mm bolts removed in Step 2.
'98 Astro AWD, white with gray interior,
3.42:1 diffs, 235/70 x 15 tires,
195,000 miles on original engine and trans
'99 Kawasaki ZX11D
'85 Yamaha Venture Royale with 1300 engine & Vmax cams
Original Poster [OP]
GaryZ
Firing on 2 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 2 Cylinders (L1)
Years of Membership: GaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full yearsGaryZ has been a member for 11 full years
Posts: 251
Topics: 6
Joined: January 2009
Location: Oklahoma
Gender: Male
Alias (AKA):
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: AWD

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Towing/TrailersDiscuss towing and trailers and plows, or overdrive and hitch towing capacity (GVW) and tongue weight for heavy loads. This is the place for tow hitches, receivers, and trailer wiring as well as snow plowing.
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