Last night, I installed my Draw-tite hitch.
I was going to post my experiences in a separate thread, but this thread IS the "end all, be all" trailer hitch thread.
As I said before, I bought the Draw-tite hitch
It cost me $160, shipped directly to my house. I forget where I bought it from, but they had a different SKU from Draw-tite, but a phone call confirmed I would be ordering 24833 for a Pontiac Solstice GXP.
In the box was everything as advertised: two bolt leaders, all the bolts, washers, nuts, and plates. The instructions just like the PDF above. Of course the hitch, plus the drawbar and pin w/ clip.
Total installation time, including cleanup: 2 hours + 5 small cuts on my hands (plastic fascia material is pretty sharp).
I used drive-on ramps to get under the rear of the car.
Some tips and my experience during the install:
You do have to clip the corners off your fascia if you have a GXP.
Do not think you might be able to do it without lowering the muffler (my car has stock muffler). I tried getting the rubber muffler attachments off without lube at first. This is a bad idea. Use plenty of lube, and I remembered a tip from doing exhaust changes in the shop: glass cleaner makes GREAT lube for rubber parts. Spray liberally, and be patient, they will come off, you just have to really push them a long ways before they pop over the end. Use lube liberally for re-installation, too.
Your muffler, if you have a GXP, will not drop down very far. The lower valence panel prevents it from dropping out of the car. I recalled that we have to disconnect the flex coupling at the front, then slide the assembly forward a few inches to get the cat-back out of a car, so don't expect it to come right out once you disconnect the rubber hangers.
After staring at the hitch for several minutes, I found that you just wrestle it around your exhaust pipes and lower valence panel. Since I had disconnected the muffler hangers, the muffler would move a couple inches each direction, so I concluded I could just work one side then the other in. Eventually, you will have your hitch hanging sort of in place.
Then comes the time to fish the bolts. I wrestled with the left side first. Found out that you have to set the plate first over the hole, then I spent 15 minutes trying like hell to fish the end of the leader through that small hole from the larger, rearward hole. Eventually, I got it. Then, carefully insert the plate in the oval hole, and work it back until the square hole lines up well enough. Turns out the left side has a hexagonal hole behind the oval mounting hole, so it was easier to fish the bolt through.
THEN, put the leader holes through the mounting holes in the hitch. The reason to do this is because you might push the bolts right up into the frame rail.
My next step was to raise the hitch, start the nuts for the left side. I used a jackstand to hold it in place. Do not mess with the washers just yet, this is just to get your left side started while you fish the right hand bolts.
When it came time to fish the right hand bolts, I learned something that should help. Maybe it is obvious to others, but my first job as an engineer is to make things more difficult by a factor of at least 10.
First, I spent several minutes, with the hitch in the way, trying to fish the end of the leader through the forward plate and hole, without accidentally pushing the plate way into the rail and without injuring myself or use too much foul language.
Then, a light went on.
Here is the big tip for fishing the bolts:
-First, stick the plate in through the rearward oval hole, and set your plate for the small forward hole.
-Second, take your leader WITHOUT the bolt, and stick it into the rail through your forward hole and plate, SPRING END FIRST.
-Third, simply fish the spring end backward into the rearward oval hole, it takes about 15 seconds, and screw your bolt onto the spring, and pull it through into the forward hole.
Much easier than blind fishing a wire from a large hole into a small hole with stuff in the way.
Then, the rearward oval hole is about 5 seconds:
-First, screw your bolt onto the leader.
-Second, insert the bolt into the rail through the oval hole. Put it in a few inches.
-Third, string your plate onto the wire end of the leader through the square hole in the plate.
-Fourth, insert the plate through the oval hole into the rail, while it is strung on the leader, and get it positioned over the hole with the wire end of the leader handing out..
-Fifth, simply pull the bolt back through your plate.
I wish I knew that before. It would have made the left side much easier.
The rest is getting the washers and the nuts on. It is a pain, but not impossible. Use a screwdriver to hold the washer while you work the nuts on. And for Heaven's sake, do not push the bolts up into the rail.
Remember to use plenty of lube to reinstall the rubber muffler hangers.
Once installed, it fits well, especially since the valence panel is dark grey.
I can see it will be difficult to work on the muffler or remove the muffler without first removing the hitch. I just hope that the bolts do not get pushed into the rail during any type of repair that requires the muffler to be removed, which is just about any type of work such as fuel tank removal, differential service, replacing the crossmember, etc.
Next up is wiring a 4-way connector for trailer lights. Anyone who has a good link to wiring diagrams or instructions for a Solstice, please post it here. I assume I get to the light wires at the outside/rear of the rail where the connectors are.