How To Install A Fifth Wheel Hitch In A Truck

Are you thinking about installing a fifth wheel hitch on your truck? This article will give you the essential information you need to know. We will discuss the uses of a fifth wheel hitch, short bed versus long bed, and some general thoughts on installation. First, we will take a general overview of fifth wheel hitches.

A fifth wheel is a type of vehicle and trailer coupling that is especially useful when dealing with heavy payloads. The fifth wheel concept originated with horse-drawn carriages and wagons. The Martin Rocking Fifth Wheel Company first promoted the fifth wheel coupling system for motorized vehicles. Named after its inventor Charles Martin, the fifth wheel was sold as a time and money-saving device, and its basic function is to facilitate ease of turning and even load distribution.

What Are Fifth Wheel Hitches Good For?

A fifth wheel hitch is used to haul large trailers and campers and is the primary coupling device used with semi-trucks or tractor-trailer rigs. You will find them in a variety of logistical and transportation roles. They are also often used for pulling large campers.

A fifth wheel eases turning and weight distribution for larger payloads. The primary mechanism consists of a kingpin, a 2 – 3.5-inch diameter steel pin that extends from the trailer’s connecting hitch. The fifth wheel hitch is a horseshoe-shaped device on the rear of the towing vehicle. The kingpin is inserted into the fifth wheel, and when the truck turns, the kingpin portion of the trailer hitch rotates against the stationary fifth wheel. The stability created by this assembly is one of the main reasons people use fifth-wheel trailer coupling.

Can You Put A Fifth Wheel Hitch In A Short Bed Truck?

Yes, it is possible to put a fifth wheel hitch on a short bed truck. It will be a little different than a full-size truck. Most short bed trucks are smaller than full-size trucks, which means they won’t be able to pull as much weight, so you will have to consider the shape and size of the trailer or camper you are towing.

Some fifth-wheel trailers and hitches are specifically made for short bed trucks. There will be a few driving changes and adaptations to how the hitching takes place, but other than that, it should not be a big deal. As with any towing situation, you want to make sure you completely understand all the weight regulations and the towing capacity of the vehicle you are using.

How To Install A Fifth Wheel Hitch

Before installing a fifth wheel hitch to your truck (and as we mentioned in the previous paragraph), you must make sure your vehicle is rated to pull the trailer or camper you want to attach to the truck. I know it seems like common sense, but many people ignore this step. You are putting your safety and the safety of other drivers and passengers at risk if you do. In most cases, you can find the information in your owner’s manual. If not, you can contact the manufacturer or local dealer.

Now, you cannot just bolt the hitch anywhere you want in the bed of your truck. For each vehicle, there are specifications. The hitch is essentially attached to the bed between the cab of the truck and the rear axle. The exact placement will be available in the installation instructions. When in doubt, consult a professional.

Make sure the hitch is firmly and correctly anchored to the frame. You will be pulling a heavy payload, so you need to make sure everything is secure and held firmly. You will also be attaching a rail kit. The rail kit is the foundation of your hitch and facilitates anchoring to the frame. The best advice here is to purchase a complete fifth wheel hitch kit for your specific model and make.

Your fifth wheel hitch installation kit will come with all the required hardware and an instruction manual. Follow the instructions completely and always follow safety protocols. You will have to remove any plastic bed liner you have in the bed of your truck. That is because, in the long run, the plastic will deteriorate, and your anchors will start to rest differently. They may become loose and cause damage or dangerous driving conditions.

A custom installation kit will be the best way to go. If you can find one for your truck, your job will be a lot easier. It will amount to measuring correctly and attaching the components. A custom installation kit takes what could be a complicated task and simplifies it, allowing most folks to attach a fifth wheel hitch to their truck in their garage.

However, there is no custom hitch kit available for a particular model from time to time. Also, some people are hesitant to install it on their own. If that is the case, you can easily seek a professional who will do the job for you. Barring any significant complications, you can easily have a certified mechanic install the hitch for you.

If you are hiring a mechanic to do the job, you should be prepared to pay around $600. This accounts for the average hourly rate of $100 an hour. The job should only take about four to six hours of labor. Sometimes there are other associated costs and, of course, the costs of the parts. Now, if you have a mechanic who has all the tools ready to go and knows your vehicle already, you may get lucky and have the job done in two to four hours. But keep in mind, the average is going to fall between four to six hours.

If you are doing it yourself, make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Make sure you have the correct hitch kit for your vehicle. Verify that you have the proper tools, equipment, and hardware. If you must make any major modifications to your vehicles, make sure you are prepared for such. But above all else, make sure you are following proper safety protocols.