Base plate installation can be tough for people who don't know a ton about cars -- they might not even know what they're looking at. A professional can get the job done right.

Photo courtesy Blue Ox

Installing Towing Base Plates

It would be hard to describe any specific installation of towing base plates because the equipment varies greatly between vehicles. In all cases, the base plates are bolted on securely, but there are a variety of one-of-a-kind designs to match up correctly with the many designs of today's vehicles. It's just like how the look and shape of some vehicles may make one person turn up his nose and have another dying for a chance to get down to the dealer, so the frames of many kinds of vehicle have something a little unique about them. These distinctions, whether large or small, make customized base plate designs a necessity.

Some base plates are single, solid bars bolted onto vehicles' frames with receiving brackets at either end, while some are actually two individual components mounted separately. These receiving brackets accept the ends of each arm of the tow bar and can be either concealed or standard. If you go with the more expensive concealed base plates, it won't be obvious when you're driving around that you occasionally tow your vehicle (and you might enjoy its appearance more). With standard towing base plates, the base plates are clearly evident but the price tag can be a little easier on the eyes. Some newer base plates are a combination of the two -- the visible components can be temporarily removed when you have no need for towing.

Installing towing base plates is a job better left to professionals -- in fact, many base plate manufacturers insist on expert installation -- because it's a complicated process and needs to be accomplished perfectly. Some parts on the front of the vehicle might need to be removed and a few modifications made to the frame of the car. And while you might think all vehicles are created equal, subtle variances can even exist between vehicles of the same year, make and model. These might include different cosmetic appearances, small changes in the width of the frame or other tiny modifications. Expert installers know what to do if they come across a match that isn't made in heaven, and they have professional equipment to ensure everything gets bolted in tightly and accurately. If your car doesn't have its original factory parts or was involved in a few accidents, this can give rise to even more challenges.

On the next page, check out more awesome articles about trucks, towing and trailers.