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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My son and I screwed up while installing a Hidden Hitch on my 2008 Ridgeline.

We managed to get the hitch in place, although the clearance was off just enough that it was very difficult getting the bolts in, which I've encountered before putting hitches in (this was my third so I thought I knew what I was doing). But this time it nearly impossible to get them even close to tight and we tried too hard -- two of the bolts (on the same side) "popped" as we were trying to tighten them -- I am assuming the weld nuts broke free because the bolts are now hanging loose. (I know -- I screwed up. Should have run a tap first to make sure the bolts would go in smoothly, but I didn't. My bad.)

So we stopped there. Time to regroup and start over. I'm going to take the hitch back off and drill bigger clearance holes in the hitch for the bolts, and probably use an M12 tap to make sure the threads are good, but my problem at the moment is -- How do I get the "broken" bolts out?

I am thinking the best option is to figure out how to access them from the top so I can grab the broken weld nut tight enough to unscrew the bolt. Or, if necessary, I can saw off top of the bolt from below so that I can push it out to the top and remove it. (I could obviously do the latter without accessing the top but then I would have two broken bolts rattling around in there.

Anyway, my question is this: how to I access the bolts from the top? Can I get in there if I take the bumper off? Is there a different way to do it?

(I know even when the bolts are removed the issue will remain if and how to replace the weld nuts and safely reattach the hitch, or find another way to do it, but that's a different story.)

Any advice welcome. Thanks.
 

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Responding just so you don't think you are being ignored. But I've got zilch for you on this. Don't have a clue how you can get in there. But you might have a look at a service manual to see what it takes to disassemble that area. (or just start taking things apart)
 

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You are going to need to grind the heads of the bolts off. Until you can remove hitch. If the bolt shanks and weldnuts wont wiggle out of the holes that are already there you will need to get a holesaw a little bit bigger then the weld nut holes..probably 5/8 or 3/4. Drill a hole near the bolt holes and fish the shanks and weld nuts out...or just push them into the frame and maybe deal with them rattling around. Then proceed to have new nuts welded into the body by someone. Get some weld thru primer and under coating and dress up the holes you just drilled to prevent rust and get some body plugs to plug the hole.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You are going to need to grind the heads of the bolts off. Until you can remove hitch. If the bolt shanks and weldnuts wont wiggle out of the holes that are already there you will need to get a holesaw a little bit bigger then the weld nut holes..probably 5/8 or 3/4. Drill a hole near the bolt holes and fish the shanks and weld nuts out...or just push them into the frame and maybe deal with them rattling around. Then proceed to have new nuts welded into the body by someone. Get some weld thru primer and under coating and dress up the holes you just drilled to prevent rust and get some body plugs to plug the hole.
Good stuff, STUV, thanks.

A followup, though. You said "until you can remove hitch." Not sure what you mean. Was that was meant to read "until you can, remove hitch"? Or I need to grind the heads off before I can remove the hitch? Because the hitch can't be removed until those bolts are out the way.

Also, to have new nuts welded onto the body, I would need to access the frame from above, right? I can't think of any other way. As I asked in my original post, do you know if I could access that area by removing the bumper? (But it would seem that if I could access that area, I could reach the broken weld nuts that way, no need to fish?) Or is there another method?

Thanks again.
 

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Grind the head of the bolts off until the hitch comes off. Cause the heads are what is keeping the hitch on. Then all you are left with is the shanks(threaded part) of the bolts hanging down.

As far as I have seen the frame is fully boxed in. I don't think the ends of the frame are open from pictures I have seen and from what I have seen being under there etc. Which would be accessible once you remove the rear bumper.

There is a way to weld in new nuts to the frame without access to the top. It is tricky and takes a bit of skill.
 

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Well also not much help, but here is what it looks like with the bumper cover off (not painted black though) I was removing some rust from this area. You *might be able to get into the frame channels if you took the rear metal bumper off, but don't hold me to it :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well also not much help, but here is what it looks like with the bumper cover off (not painted black though) I was removing some rust from this area. You *might be able to get into the frame channels if you took the rear metal bumper off, but don't hold me to it :wink:
Thanks for that pic, it is helpful. I was thinking maybe access from the side, which is not shown in the pic but I'm sure you would have noted if there was any opening there. There's no way I am taking the bumper itself off, especially if I only *might be able to get in there!

I appreciate the help.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Much easier solution to my mess than I could have expected, and I'm glad none of it involved removing the bumper cover (which wouldn't have given me access I needed anyway).

As suggested, I cut the bolt heads off (using a rotary tool). But there was no need to drill any holes or anything like that to fish out the old bolts. The existing hole between the hitch bolt holes (marked with the x in the photo) is large enough to push through the bolt shaft with weld nut attached to it. So I just pushed them up through the hitch bolt holes into the frame and used a small screwdriver to push them over to the big hole. I thought I might have to attach a piece of wire to the shaft so as not to lose them in the frame, but the holes are so close it wasn't necessary.

So after I cut the bolt heads off, I removed the hitch, and then pushed the broken bolts out. Back to square one, more or less. A friend who is a pro welder is going to put the weld nuts back on and we should be good to go after we use a tap to make sure the threads are all clean.

Thanks for all the help.
 

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Please take lots of photos of the solution, this may be invaluable to future G1 owners who buy without the hitch
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Just to close this out... will let you know we successfully got the hitch installed.

We removed the bolt shafts from the broken weld nuts, and used a tap to clean them up along with the six other bolt holes. Then we welded the broken nuts back on. With everything cleaned up, the hitch went on pretty smoothly. It took a little maneuvering to get everything all lined up, but it worked. Torqued the bolts properly and good to go.
 

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WHOOP WHOOP!!! I completely forgot about that hole that was already there, I have a hitch so I cannot see it anymore. Maybe honda predicted this would happen haha.
 

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It would be a huge PITA job but you can disassemble the bed enough to lift up the trunk. That should give you enough access. I think the bumper and bumper cover would need to come off too.
 
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