If you’re familiar with my earlier Volkswagens, then you know that I like to maximize their versatility. I drive nearly 30,000 miles per year, usually alone with some things in the trunk. A car that’s fun to drive and reasonably economical is a great asset to me. I don’t need a truck, but sometimes I need to move things that are either too large or too dirty to put in my Volkswagen. A small utility trailer is a great alternative for someone who doesn’t want the full-time mileage and maintenance penalties of owning a truck that’s actually used as a truck only a fraction of the time.
I discovered the EcoHitch, by Torklift Central, when I was shopping for my GTI. I chose their 1-1/4″ version for the Golf, model #X7310. It’s rated for 2000 lbs with a 200-lb tongue load and is attached to the car with nine bolts, seven of which are structural bumper mounting points. Its most appealing feature is that it sits higher in the bumper than the competition, which means it has absolutely no impact on ground clearance. That is particularly important on a lowered car when traversing steep driveways or uneven intersections. One drawback is that more of the bumper skin has to be trimmed. I’m not concerned about that since my EcoHitch is a permanent accessory. I finished it off with this receiver cap.
I installed the hitch myself after concluding that even a “certified installer” would likely be pulling apart a Mk7 for the first time. Small cars with hitches are still relatively rare in the grand scheme of things. Plus, I was turned-off by a quote from an installer about 165 miles away: $290 for the hitch (marked-up, of course), $240 for lighting module/harness (really marked-up), and $275 for labor, for a total of $833 after TAXES. Doing it myself cost me $275 for the hitch, $140 for the module/harness, and $25 to rent a lift bay for a few hours, for a total of $440. I think the installer would have done a quality job, but I wasn’t willing to pay so much extra, give up the car so far away ALL DAY, not be allowed to watch any of the work (not even to dip in for the occasional photograph), and never be certain if anything was broken and then concealed during reassembly. Having done the job myself, I know what was done and where.
The directions that come with the EcoHitch are excellent! There are a few things that I think will make your installation experience a little better. Here are some INSTALLATION TIPS: 1) Use a tool to release ALL of the bumper tabs. The directions say to use a screwdriver to release tabs near the tail light openings. I cracked a tab before the driver’s side tail light. I could have avoided that by using a tool for ALL of the tabs (I prefer a fine-tip plastic trim removal tool over a metal screwdriver); 2) Make sure you unplug the license plate light and release the cable from its retaining clips (not mentioned in the directions, but shown in a photo below); 3) The directions list bumper cutout dimensions for a 2-inch hitch. I made a narrower cut for a tighter fit to my 1-1/4″ hitch. I measured and cut as I went, so I do not have dimensions to share; 4) The kit includes only one fishing wire. Be careful to not “screw” it onto the first bolt too tightly because it will need to be removed without damaging it and reused on the second bolt; 5) An oscillating tool, such as a Dremel MM20, works great for making fine cuts to the bumper skin. My only wish was for a tool/attachment that could have made very-tightly-radiused turns instead of square cuts. It’s a small attention to detail item; no one notices the flaws in my cuts except for me. 🙂
For lighting, I chose a ZCI Circuit Protected Vehicle Wiring Harness, eTrailer.com item #119250KIT. Rather than “tapping” into each tail light wire, the ZCI module clips an inductive current sensor to each turn signal wire as well as the tail light wire ( the “STOP” wire is not used on the GTI). If current is sensed on a wire (indicating the car’s light is illuminated), then the module lights the applicable trailer light, all without loading the car’s lighting circuit. It’s pretty slick and compatible with just about any car or truck. I ran the module’s 12V lead to my electronics panel in the trunk, rather running it all the way to the battery or fuse panel. I passed the trailer connection through a grommet above the muffler’s heat shield. I didn’t find a mounting solution for the connector that I liked. It turns out that simply tucking it into the bumper skin when not in use works great! INSTALLATION TIP: No matter how well you hide the module, make sure that you put the module’s fuse someplace that’s easily accessible. Should the module need resetting (mine has), it’s best to have the fuse someplace that’s easy to remove.
I like small trailers and opted for Carry-On’s 3.5x5LSHS, a 3.5×5-foot trailer with 16-inch tall mesh sides. I decided to give it it’s own page. Read about mine HERE. I’ve shared more hitch photos and comments below.
Ready to Transport,