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Fifth Wheel Trailer Hitch Information and Installation Tips

The installation instructions provide the exact location for installing the fifth wheel trailer hitch for optimum towing.With an 8-foot-wide fifth wheel trailer, Reese and Draw-Tite recommend a distance of 52" from the cab of the truck to the center of the fifth wheel hitch.Because the hitch must remain in front of the rear axle, long-bed full-size trucks are recommended. Any truck with a bed less than 8 feet long is considered a short bed.If a short-bed truck will be used, it is recommended that a slider fifth-wheel hitch and an extended pin box be used to help compensate for the reduced turning clearance. Without the slider or pin box extension, the trailer can strike the cab on sharp turns. The Slider allows the vehicle to make normal turns during low-speed maneuvering. The extended pin box (minimum 13") creates even more space between the truck cab and the trailer.
extended pin box fifth wheel
conventional pin box fifth wheel
Custom Fit Fifth Wheel HitchSelect your vehicle to confirm the fit of your 5th-wheel hitch:

Slider Fifth Wheel Hitch

When you are towing a fifth wheel trailer on the highway, the trailer king pin must be between the cab of the truck and the rear axle. This makes maneuvering a trailer around a narrow campsite with a short-bed truck very difficult.The slider locks in place between the cab and the rear axle for highway towing. However, when you are maneuvering around narrow spaces, the slider can be released, moving the hitch - and therefore the king pin - 10" closer to the tailgate. The greater space between the cab and the trailer allows for greater turning clearance.
sliding hitch increases turning clearance
This diagram shows how sliding the hitch closer to the tailgate of the truck provides a greater distance between the cab and the trailer, optimizing turning clearance.
slider in highway position
This diagram shows how turning is restricted when the hitch is located in its proper position for highway use.

Fifth Wheel Hitch Installation

Fifth Wheel Clearance and Height Adjustment

The fifth-wheel hitch's height setting is taken by measuring from the ground to the king pin, then from the ground to your truck bed. Then subtract the second measurement from the first for the proper height setting. There should be 5-6" of clearance between the back of your truck and your fifth wheel.
Height Setting Fifth Wheel Hitch Measurement
Fifth Wheel Clearance Diagram

Installing a Fifth Wheel Hitch without a Bed Liner

When bracket installation is performed properly, there is no benefit to welding the installation brackets to the frame compared with bolting the brackets. If welding is preferred, make sure it is performed by a certified welder. Universal rail kits that can mount to any full-size pickup are available. They often require drilling to install.If the vehicle is a late model Ford (1997 +), Chevrolet (1999 +), Dodge (2002 +) or GMC (1999 +), drilling can be avoided with custom installation kits. Custom rail kits mount to existing holes in the frame, reducing installation time by up to 50%. Custom rail kits work with both long-bed and short-bed trucks.

Installing a Fifth Wheel Hitch with a Bed Liner

Installation rails can be installed over a spray-in liner. However, rails cannot be installed over a plastic bed liner. The liner will eventually disintegrate, resulting in a loose hitch. You can remove the portion of the bed liner where the rails contact the truck bed to create a solid mounting surface for the hitch.

Fifth Wheel Hitch Maintenance

Lubrication is extremely important. Before lubricating, remove the old, dirty lubricant.Use either a plastic lube plate or automotive-type chassis grease to lubricate the skid plate surface. The plastic lube plates must have a diameter of at least 10 inches and be no thicker than 3/16 of an inch.To keep moving parts in good working order, use engine oil or white lithium spray lube. For the joints inside the hitch head, use a white lithium spray. For the other moving points, use a high-pressure lube (80/90 gear lube). Also, lubricating the interior handle and the spring coils eases hitch operation.Before each use, engage the jaws to make sure they operate easily. Make sure the pull pins are in the proper position, including the spring retaining pins. Periodically make sure all the hardware is securely fastened.
Fifth Wheel Hitch in Truck
Updated on: 7/3/19

Floyd C.

9/1/2022

i have a 2015 Dodge ram 2500 with a short - 6'4" - rambox Bed - and i have a 5 th Wheel trailer with a Reese Side Winder pin Box --( SO )-- Exactly what 20 - K 5 th Wheel - Hitch that are out there for ( MY TRUCK ) __?__ I DO NEED YOUR HELP ""?""

Etrailer Expert

David B.

9/2/2022

For what you have your basically down to one option. The demco linked below. Let me know what you think. I can answer any specific questions you have about it. # DM6076SL-21K , # DM8553016-12 . We need to worry about the height of the rambox too. You may run out of room/clearance.

Ivan.c

7/9/2022

So I have a question I have a 2018 2500 Duramax an im getting told I can not pull a fifth wheel cause my truck is to high. Is it possible to make it work with the lift I have on it or what would you recommend for me to do?

Etrailer Expert

David B.

7/12/2022

How high is your truck? What lift do you have on it?

Ivan.c

7/12/2022

@DavidB it’s a rough country lift an it’s 6inch lift with 35s n the bed is 6 1/2 I believe from the ground the my bed rails it’s 62inches
Etrailer Expert

David B.

7/12/2022

OK, I think you are going to be ok, most hitches are adjustable anyway. You'll need to get some measurements of the trailer you are wanting to pull. You want at least 6 inches of clearance from the top of the bed rails to the bottom of the 5th wheel. Check out the expert answer page I have linked, it will go into detail about all this. I'll also link a page to some B&W hitches that adjust up to 19" tall. Let me know what you think, also let me know what type of 5th wheel trailer you are wanting to tow.
See All (8) Replies to Ivan.c ∨

Rod N.

6/27/2022

I have a 2022 F-150 5.5 bed with the pro trailer package. I'm looking at a 2020 Winnebago Mico Minnie 5th wheel. The truck can more than handle the trailer weight with a 10900 capacity, but I'm concerned about turning radius. Is a slider necessary?

Etrailer Expert

David B.

6/27/2022

If you have a 5.5 foot bed your only viable option is a rotating pin-box like the Reese sidewinder. Sliding hitches will not give you enough space to turn.

Jarod S.

6/23/2022

We are looking at information regarding towing a 5th wheel camper behind a semi cab. This is mostly because we just happened to have one. I've known a few people that have done this, but I'm not sure if they had to go to any extravagant links to do so. I know the 5th wheel height is the same. The 5th will king pin is the same size. I have wiring adapters to handle that. The big thing that I wonder about is clearance between the frame of the truck and the front of the camper. I don't know how far it is from the 5th wheel kingpin to where The front of the camper begins and it concerns me that it could hit the frame on a turn. Is this a standard dimension or will it be different on a given camper? Thanks

Etrailer Expert

David B.

6/27/2022

By semi cab are you meaning an actual semi truck, or a cab and chassis?

Brenda

5/29/2022

We are looking at purchasing a 2021 Flagstaff 524ews. However we are concerned that we may not have the 5 - 6" clearance needed. We have a 2017 F350 that measures 59.5" to the top of the box. Any thoughts if and how this would work?

Etrailer Expert

David B.

5/31/2022

Buy a shorter truck, or get a taller 5th wheel hitch. How long is your truck bed?


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