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Finding And Installing Tow Hooks - Towhook Truths

Posted in Product Reviews on August 1, 2002
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Photographers: Manufacturers

How many times have you recovered a stuck truck by attaching a winch cable or towstrap onto a suspension component or frame crossmember that's clearly not designed for towing? C'mon, be honest. We're guilty of it too. Why have we done that? Because the vehicle wasn't equipped with towhooks, that's why. Frankly, we're puzzled as to why many manufacturers don't equip the front and rear of new 4x4s with these inexpensive little items, but nonetheless, we cannot use the fact that towhooks aren't standard equipment as an excuse for not having them, because there are scores of towhooks available from aftermarket and OEM sources in a variety of mounting configurations. Some are expensive and require a fair amount of labor to install, some mount by drilling into the frame, and some simply fit into a receiver hitch.

Receiver Towhooks
If you have a 2-inch receiver hitch on your truck you have no excuse for not having a towhook, because a receiver towhook is the simplest and fastest way to create an effective tow point. Warn Industries (503/722-1200), Steel Horse Automotive (800/533-7704), Tomken Machine (719/395-2526), Currie Enterprises (714/528-6957) and others offer these slick towhooks that simply slide into your receiver and are held in place with a standard hitch pin and locking clip. And if you have receiver hitches front and rear (which is a good idea anyway), you can instantly have front and rear tow points with an absolute minimum amount of hassle.

PhotosView Slideshow

Bolt-On Towhooks
These towhooks can be purchased from a variety of sources, including Quadratec (800/745-5337) as well as all of the sources listed above, and most are rated at 10,000 pounds. There are many exceptions to this, however, and we saw some that were rated for just 5,000 pounds. One exception in particular was the factory-style type for Wrangler TJs that is designed to not interfere with the optional front bumper-mounted lights and the '98-and-up rubber bumper guards. In this case, many TJ owners are relocating the lights and trimming the edge of the rubber bumper guards to allow use of 10,000-pound-capacity towhooks. Always check the rating of any towhook to make sure it is strong enough for your application.

What about chrome towhooks? Are they as strong as non-chromed? The pros say yes. This chrome towhook kit is one of seven types available from Steel Horse Automotive.

Here's something else to keep in mind. The pros recommend forged steel towhooks, not cast. Most towhooks are available in chrome or black finish, and manufacturers will tell you that the chroming process does not alter the hook's rating. We're not sure we believe that. If rust is prevalent in your area, you may want to consider Reunel's stainless-steel towhook kit, which includes the hooks and stainless-steel bolts and nuts manufactured from T-304 stainless.

When mounting any towhook, it's important to keep the hook easily accessible and in line with the direction of the pull. Don't mount the towhook at an angle to the front or rear end of the vehicle because most likely you'll be recovering the truck from either the front or rear-not from a diagonal. Make sure the mounting location is thick frame material; otherwise the towhook can simply pull out of the metal, and obviously this situation is dangerous and can create a significant amount of damage to your truck. Finding a suitable mounting location that is strong enough can be a challenge on some vehicles, and several manufacturers have addressed this issue. Tomken, for instance, offers a special mounting kit for vehicles like the XJ Cherokee. It includes brackets and a plate to strengthen the subframe at the towhook mounting point. Finally, it's important to use graded bolts and nuts when mounting towhooks to your truck. Most manufacturers will tell you to use grade 5 bolts and nuts on a 10,000-pound-capacity towhook-these bolts are rated at an 8,000-pound capacity each.

OEM Towhook Kits
Most new truck manufacturers offer some type of towhook or towhook kit specifically designed for certain models of trucks. An example of this is Mopar's front towhook kit for Dodge Dakota pickups. While the kit is a bit expensive and can be a challenge to install, it is designed specifically for the Dakota and offers an integrated look, easy accessibility and is rated for the weight of the truck. The kit includes a custom crossmember, dual towhooks and the required hardware. Isuzu offers towhooks for some models that install onto existing but unused cage nuts in the frame, so installation is quite simple. The best thing to do is inquire at the parts department of your local dealer to determine what's available for your specific application.

Bottom Line
Whether you're doing the towing or receiving the tow, towhooks are a basic, mandatory mod for your rig that will ensure quick and safe vehicle recoveries. Just because you have a winch on the front of your rig doesn't negate the need for front towhooks, either. You'll need 'em so you can attach your winch hook to your rig for double-line/snatch-block winching or as a tow point, should your winch fail.


Currie Enterprises
Corona, CA 92880
Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
Steel Horse Automotive
Compton, CA 90220
Quadratec Inc.
West Chester, PA 19380
Tomken Inc.
Buena Vista, CO 81211

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