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

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