Yesterday I snagged a factory hitch and wiring controller for my 04 Saturn Vue. Only cost me about $20 after tax and other fees.
How?.. The junkyard. Ones in my area charge only $25-30 for a hitch. Which beats the heck out of $120+ for a new one. And luckily yesterday My local you pull n pay had a 50% off all parts black Friday deal going on. Others like LKQ have similar deals going on all weekend so there is still time!
Some caveats however:
- Research: The junkyard may not have your specific model/year on the lot, and even if so, the chances are low of that one vehicle having a hitch. Do some research to find what years and even other makes\models used the same platform. Mine came from a Chevy Equinox, which shared the same platform design as the Vue and a few others. This will increase your chances of finding a hitch that fits your TV. Often times you can verify your findings be matching up part numbers on the hitch manufacturer web sites. Search both vehicles, Same part number? Great! it is the same hitch!
- Get dirty: Junkyards are near the bottom of the list of cleanliest places. The vehicles on the lot are exactly as they came off the road, they are not washed. Often times they have been wrecked so assume there is broken glass before laying down on the gravel to get to a bolt. Dress appropriately and wear some gloves as body panels can be extremely sharp down there (ask me how I know).
- Burn calories: It may take some extra effort to get to the hitch. They put the cars up on stands usually, which is nice, but in my case they put one under the hitch. I had to track down and bring over one of the engine gantries to lift the whole back end of the vehicle and reposition the stand. However it was nice to have it as a failsafe holding the vehicle while I'm partially under it tugging on bolts.
- Tools: They won't have power available for a compressor or electric impact driver. Either battery power, or (in my case) man power is all you've got. I use an inexpensive breaker bar to get the bolts loose. Believe me.. a little ratchet wrench probably won't be able to break loose a bolt under 100ft lbs of torque that has had a decade to rust in place. And it is likely you will injure yourself if you try (there is a reason they call em "knuckle busters")
- Re-engineer: The Chevy Equinox had captured nuts in a couple places where the Vue only has bare holes.. So I will need to source some different hardware to mimic how the same hitch is mounted on the Vue. Also the controller wiring access holes look to be in different locations so I will need to adapt\extend the wiring. All things, however, that diy trailer builder should have little difficulty figuring out. Fortunalely bolts and trailer wiring is cheap at the local hardware store.
For some reason I consider the all the above as "fun".. I realize many may not. But being cheap isn't usually clean and easy .