Toyota Tacoma: How to Install Tow Hook

You never know when you might need a tow. You might slide into a ditch or back into a culvert. It's then you'll discover how great it is to have a strong, reliable tow hook.

By Richard Bowen - February 9, 2016

This article applies to the Toyota Tacoma (1996-2015).

Tow hooks come in a variety of designs. Choose one that is strong and that fits great on your Tacoma. You'll need a tow hook that allows easy access on the vehicle and one that enables you to attach a tow rope or strap conveniently.

Although some vehicles have two tow hooks each in the front and the back, it is not necessary to have more than one tow hook in the front and one in the rear. One tow hook is sufficient enough to pull you out of trouble.

According to the manual, the stock tow hook that came new on your Tacoma will be adequate for most situations. The stock tow hook is located on the front, passenger side of the Tacoma. It is meant for towing use. Note: the factory installed closed loop on the front, driver's side of your Tacoma is for use as a hold-down when it shipped the vehicle originally. Do not use the closed loop as a tow hook.

Toyota Tacoma How to Install Tow Hook

Materials Needed

  • Ratchet
  • Socket (size depends on bolt size)
  • Electric drill (optional)
  • Drill bits (optional)

Shop online or in-person for a tow hook that will meet your needs. You may prefer a tow hook that holds the strap or rope on with a flange. The flange holds the rope or strap on the tow hook securely. D-ring shackle tow hooks are also popular. Other types include closed-loop style tow hooks.

Pro Tip

Prices vary widely for tow hooks. Dealers can charge up to $100 for a hook, while it is possible to buy the same quality hook from other retailers for as little as $9.

Step 1 – Jack up your truck

  • Park your truck on level ground and place chocks behind the tires.
  • Jack up the truck and slowly lower onto jack stands.
Jacking up Tacoma
Figure 1. Raise Tacoma and place jack stands underneath.

Step 2 – Install front tow hook/hitch

The hitch is going to mount to the bottom of the frame on the front of the truck. Remove the two bolts behind the front bumper that are connected by a strap on the other side. Support the bumper and then put the hitch on the lower bolt. Use a spacer plate if the truck has a tow hook already in place. Put the bolt in and nut back into place, making them snug.

tow point option
Figure 2. Tow point option.

Step 3 – Locate drill holes

Tacoma owners report that in order to upgrade a tow hook, it is simply a matter of removing any existing hook and bolting the new tow hook onto the existing holes in the front. Use your ratchet and correct-sized socket to remove the stock tow hook and bolt the new tow hook onto the front frame on the passenger side. You can similarly replace the hold-down on the front, driver side of the vehicle with a tow hook. Then raise up the truck and slide the jack stands out from underneath the vehicle. Slowly lower the truck back down to the ground.

However, if you need to drill holes to install your tow hitch, then follow these directions.

Now, go ahead and position the hitch/hook up flat against the frame and tighten the lower bolt. Drill out 1/4 inch pilot holes and then run the bolt leader in. Slide the block onto the wire, then thread the bolt into place and back through. Then pull everything out.

Repeat this process on the other side.

bolting upgraded tow hook
Figure 3. Just bolt on an upgraded tow hook.

Step 4 – Install rear tow hook/hitch

On the driver side, remove the hex bolts that hold the bumper bracket to the frame. Loosen the remaining three hex bolts. Do this step again on the passenger rear side.

Raise the hitch or tow hook into place in between the bumper bracket and the frame rails. Install the supplied hex bolts through the hitch and into the frame rails.

Next, reinstall the factory bolts through the bumper bracket and into the bumper. Starting on the passenger side, insert the two spacer blocks between the bumper bracket and the bumper structure. Repeat this process on the other side.

Then, toque all the hardware to the appropriate amount. Check your supplied instruction sheet for torque specs. Generally, if you have 12mm hardware, it will be to 86 ft-lbs and 10mm will be to 48 ft-lbs.

You can also install a rear tow hook. If you have a tow bar, the easiest and fastest installation is mounting right on to it. Other installations may require drilling holes into the frame in order to mount the tow hook.

combination tow hook and tow ball setup
Figure 4. Combination tow hook and tow ball setup.

You will find the types and variations of tow hooks for your Tacoma trucks are almost endless. Enjoy safer driving with a sturdy new tow hook installed.

Pro Tip

One owner keeps plastic tie downs in his glove compartment in case he needs to make sure the tow strap stays on the tow hook in the event he needs someone to pull him out of a ditch.

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