I like to maximize the versatility of my Volkswagens. I drive over 25,000 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 GTI. A small 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. Towing with small cars is very popular in Europe. The Mk7 Golf platform is a favorite, according to this article. Feel free to read this article if you’re astounded by European towing standards. There is a method to their madness. 😉
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 300-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. 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 was turned-off by an $833 quote from a “certified installer.” I chose to install the hitch myself after concluding that even a certified installer likely would be pulling apart a Mk7 for the first time since small cars with hitches are still relatively rare in the grand scheme of things. 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. Having done the job myself, I know whether any shortcuts were taken or if parts were damaged.
The directions that come with the EcoHitch are excellent, as is this video! Here are a few INSTALLATION TIPS that I think will make your installation experience a little better : 1) Use a plastic trim tool to release ALL of the bumper tabs. The directions say to use a screwdriver to release tabs near the tail light openings; 2) Unplug the license plate light and release the cable from its retaining clips (not mentioned in the directions); 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.
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 subwoofer 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: 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.
Feel free to ask questions. I’ve shared more hitch photos below. What do I tow? I like small trailers and opted for a 3.5×5-foot utility trailer. I also have a 4×6-foot cargo trailer. Also, here is a handy guide on how to properly load or balance your trailer.
Ready to Transport,