Installing a Baseplate


By Chris Hemer and Bob Livingston
October 26, 2015
Filed under Dinghy Towing, Gear


With the right tools and some DIY expertise, follow these steps to install a dinghy baseplate


[1, 2] Most baseplate installations require that at least part of the front fascia be removed, especially on vehicles built within the last 20 years. The Suzuki XL-7 and its cousin, the Vitara, were wildly popular dinghy vehicles in their day and are still good choices because they’re inexpensive to buy and easy to tow. This 2003 model requires that the entire front fascia be removed, starting with the grille assembly. The technician uses a special plastic tool to gently coax the cover away from the clips that secure it.


[3] Next, the headlights are removed. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds because there are often hidden clips behind the bumper mask that make removal a challenge. This is where patience is truly a virtue.


[4] Once the headlights are free, there are the wire connections to contend with. There are several different designs depending on the vehicle, so again, use patience when attempting to disconnect them to avoid damage.

[5] After removing a few small screws that secure the bumper mask, it’s ready to be carefully removed. If the parking lights are incorporated into the bumper mask, be ready to disconnect those wiring harnesses once the mask is free.

[6] The Suzuki is barely recognizable without the distinguishing characteristics of the front fascia.


[7] It was also necessary to remove the front bumper assembly to gain access to the mounting points for the new baseplate.

[8] Next, the bumper brackets are drilled so the baseplate can be mounted.

[9] Since it is difficult to get a nut on the back side of the fastener inside the frame section, kits may include these nuts with a rod spot-welded to it for easy positioning. Once the nut is secure, the rod is simply broken off.


[10] The baseplate can now be bolted into place. Make sure to use a thread locker on the bolts so they can’t work themselves loose later.

[11] The new baseplate has been installed; now it’s time to reassemble the front fascia.

[12] The baseplate assembly is barely visible behind the grille once reassembly is complete. With the power receptacle installed, it’s just a simple matter of attaching the tow bar and plugging in whenever you’re ready to tow.

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