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Old 08-13-2014, 02:41 PM   #1
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Seattle , Washington
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2012 GL350 Hitch Reinforcement

Hello, I'm new to the forum and hopefully will soon be a new airstream owner. We just traded in our Toyota Highlander for a 2012 GL350 as part of our plan to move from a Coleman Pop-up to a hard-sided travel trailer. All was going as planned until we started looking at Airstreams and fell in love.

So... we are seriously considering a 25FB Eddie Bauer. The trailer is well within our TV's towing weight, but tongue weight is a bit of a concern. That said, I've spent the last week and a half researching the forums, and see lots of people towing 25 foot and larger AS'es with the GL. As I understand the GL's factory hitch was significantly beefed up from 2011-on and crawling underneath the vehicle confirms that.

My question is about additional hitch reinforcement. I understand Andy at Can-am is the man to ask and I've sent him an email but he is apparently on vacation. I'm in Seattle and a trek to Ontario is not going to possible for me (plus I'd really like to be camping in the new AS by Labor Day). Does anyone know of a good hitch place in the Seattle area that has done/is familiar with hitch reinforcement on the GL?

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Old 08-13-2014, 03:19 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Forums!

I think you will find that there is no standard recipe (no diagrams, directions, etc.) for this hitch reinforcement that Can-Am is known to recommend. The description I have heard of it is that they add additional welding to the original hitch, and add an additional axial beam that is welded to the back side of the hitch and goes up to and bolts to the frame "cross-member" that the rear axle of the GL mounts to on the unibody.

It is hard to find factory information about towing with a GL, but rumor has it that they do not recommend using a weight distribution system with this truck (yes, I know that lots of people do), and that a big reason for the modification to the hitch is to handle the torsional force created by the weight distribution set up.

Is your GL350 a Blu-tec? If so, I have heard that there are the additional issues of implementing the above-described beefing-up of the hitch because the blue-juice delivery system gets in the way of the axial beam.

So far, I haven't beefed up my hitch, which is a factory hitch installed in 2013. I have towed a few times without weight distribution, and have neither missed the weight bars, nor have I observed any failing of the un-beefed hitch (but my tongue weight is around 500, so I shouldn't be taxing it).

You might also check the MBworld and Benzworld Mercedes forums--there is a fair bit of discussion regarding towing on there.

Good luck.

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Old 08-13-2014, 03:55 PM   #3
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You may have already seen this thread in your searching, but just in case:

This is referring to the ML, but post #39 has good pictures of reinforcements done by CanAm, and later in the thread, a reference to a shop in Los Angeles that is also doing similar reinforcements. May be worth checking with them.

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Old 08-13-2014, 04:06 PM   #4
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The axial support beams are what I had in mind. As near as I can tell the additional welding on existing joints may no longer be necessary after MB beefed up the hitch in 2011. I've seen pictures of pre-2011 hitches compared to mine, and there is definitely more steel and welding underneath there.

I'm hoping that a hitch/welding shop in Seattle is already familiar with the reinforcement as it will save me from having to explain/convince them on how to perform the reinforcement. The reinforcement itself makes good sense to me given basic physics and I'm somewhat of the mind that it wouldn't be a bad mod regardless of what I tow.

Mine is the bluetec. As near as I can tell, I think there is room on either side of the urea tank to run the bars forward. I think I saw a picture in the forum where they needed to put some spacers on the heat shield mount bolts to provide a bit extra room.
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Old 08-13-2014, 04:16 PM   #5
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Keep in mind that the WD bars will "distribute" a significant share of the tongue weight to your GL's front axle, and a good part of the rest of the tongue weight to the Airstream's axles.

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Old 08-13-2014, 04:20 PM   #6
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As you pointed out pre 2011 GLs had a faulty hitch. there was a recall for it and the dealers would send the car to a welding shop to do some reinforcement. You can ask your dealer which welder did the recall job and maybe those guys can do a similar reinforcement on your hitch (MB provided the weld shops with instructions). As far as I know, They will not be adding a third leg to the hitch though.

As With any reinforcement, You need to make sure your warranty is not voided.

I personally am not a fan of adding the third leg to the hitch. Modern cars are designed to crumble upon impact to keep the occupants safe. I'm worried adding the extra leg may interfere with that.

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Old 12-20-2014, 01:04 AM   #7
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dmcgaugh...... Hope you see this. I live in Seattle and have a ML350 Blutec towing a 19FC. Did you end up getting your hitch reinforced? I would love to pick your brain. My email is Thanks d

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