Original Poster: RangerBlue2011
This write up will explain how to add OEM tow hooks to your Ranger (1998-2011). My 2011 Sport 2WD didn’t have them and I felt it needed that little extra pizazz. The holes for the tow hooks were there from factory. No drilling was required. To answer “is this an easy mod?”. Yes… Sort of… It might be a little bit fiddly when you get to installing the passenger side tow hook. If you have a truck with the 4.0L, SOHC that has a transmission cooler like mine, you will have the same experience that I did. If your truck does not have a transmission cooler, less work for you! This install is definitely doable without removing the front bumper (as I have done) but if you feel that it is easier to remove the front bumper to complete the install, more power to you!
* It must be noted that in researching how to do this, apparently some trucks did not come with holes drilled in the front cross member for tow hooks. I don’t know what years, trims, etc. that got the holes or not. The simplest way to determine is to actually look at your cross member. In the junkyard retrieval section below, there are pictures of the holes on the member. If your truck has the same hole patterns, you most likely have the correct holes already.
Disclaimer: The Ranger Station.com, The Ranger Station.com Staff, nor the original poster are responsible for you doing this modification to your vehicle. By doing this modification and following this how-to you, the installer, take full responsibility if anything is damaged or messed up. If you have questions, feel free to PM the original poster or ask in the appropriate section of The Ranger Station.com forums.
Difficulty: 4 out of 10 (if no holes are needing to be drilled in cross member)
- 2 tow hooks (left and right)
- 6 bolts (3 per tow hook)
- Breaker bar (for removal from junkyard)
- 15mm socket (various types depending…)
- 8mm socket
- Corresponding wrenches for sockets
- Torque wrench
- Blue Thread locker / Locktite
- Really long extension or a bunch of extensions put together (1.5ft or longer)
* I had to play with different length 15mm sockets to allow me to fit the wrenches in to tighten the bolts. You may have to experiment to find a socket that works in the spot you are working on.
Salvaging A Pair of Tow Hooks:
Take a 15mm socket and remove 3 bolts per tow hook using the breaker bar for easier removal. The use of a penetrating lubricant here should help if the bolts are really stuck.
Here you can see the location of the tow hooks on the front cross member.
Note how the bolt coming out the front of the cross member bolts in from the engine bay side. If your tow hooks have rust on them I’d recommend cleaning them up now while they’re off. Be sure to give your threads a good clean with degreaser and lots of scrubbing.
1. Looking to either side of your license plate, there will be open sections. This is where your tow hooks will bolt in. Lay down under the front of your truck and hold one of the tow hooks in place (or have a helper hold it in position for you!). Start by threading on the bolt that sticks out of the cross member. Don’t crank it down or use any thread locker yet! Just enough thread to hold it in place. Now you don’t have to worry about holding the hook in place while you work on it.
2. To make this step easier, open your hood and install the bolt from above. Take a bolt, put some thread locker on it, feed it into one of the vertical bolts in the hook and start tightening it down using the 15mm socket. Keep in mind the orientation of the bolt as it must drop downwards into the tow hook and may be tightened from there. This bolt can be tightened further than the first one but leave a little shimmy room as you still need to install the last bolt.
Here you can see a picture from above looking down at the hook. I do things the hard way so you don’t have to!
I didn’t have the really long extension available to me at that moment…
3. Repeat as above but now you may snug up the bolt. Tighten the other bolt that has thread locker on it as well.
4. Remove the first bolt, add thread locker and reinstall it.
5. Using your torque wrench, tighten all the bolts down to around 75 ft-lbs.
6. Now, repeat for the passenger side. … See it yet? The transmission cooler is in the way! This is what makes the installation a little more difficult as you have to unbolt the transmission cooler and shift it out of the way. So first, we are going to move it out of the way.
7. Using the 8mm socket and wrench, unbolt the bolt that is located under your horn bracket. Be aware that the bracket that is secured by this bolt might come out. It is supposed to be secured to the tranny cooler by rivets but mine were broken, so heads up.
8. There are two bolts in the bottom of the cross member that hold up the tranny cooler. Remove these as well. Have a helper hold the tranny cooler for you or be ready for it to drop down on you.
9. You can now carefully maneuver the transmission cooler out of the way and proceed to install the other tow hook like the first.
Transmission cooler maneuvered out of the way.
10. Reinstall your transmission cooler once the passenger tow hook is finished being installed.