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

Questions and Comments about this Article

Jennifer

We are on our first tip towing a 5th wheel with a ram 3500 diesel it’s telling us heavy eoh

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

From what I can find that looks like it's one of the settings that you can pick for your trailer towing application.

Shelby

I have a 2010 Ram 1500 crew cab with the 5' 7" bed, my 5th wheel has the pin box extension, and I have a auto sliding hitch the installs on industry standard rails, where would I fine measurements as to where to place the rails??

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

It would be in the instructions for the rails. If you don't already have rails then I recommend the Reese rails # RP50142-58 because these are a custom application so you won't need to drill into the frame of your vehicle. According to the instructions for this rail kit (found on the product page) the rearmost rail will be 28-15/16" and the n the front one will be another 22" in front of that.

Reply from Shelby

@JonG I have the Demco 8550034 Autoslide 18K Above-Bed Mount Fifth Wheel Hitch, do you know if the rails would still be the 22" apart? The hitch was delayed in shipping so we are unfortunately installing rails without it here?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Shelby As long as your Demco 5th wheel hitch is the one that mounts on the standard above-bed rails then those measurements will be the same. If it has the Demco specialized rails then You'll need to look at the instructions. It's honestly best to refer to the instructions no matter what because sometimes some measurements will vary.

Osbon

We hav a new 2021 Silverado crew cab with the short box, we are needing the measurement for the rear rail from end of bed to rail; thank you!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

What model is your Silverado and what is your bed length?

Bill

What is the aprox measurement from the ground to the bottom of my fifth wheel gooseneck?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

That can vary between trailer types and sizes so you'll need to take a measurement of that on your end.

Brian B.

I have a 2015 2500 4x4 Ram with the ram boxes. The top of the bed rails measure 59.5" from the ground. This is the same distance from the ground to the bottom of the trailer, as the trailer sits level. Is there a means to hook up to this trailer, keep it level, and get the 6" of clearance, all while not impacting the ram boxes?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

What you will need to do is raise the height of your trailer as well as lower your pin box. You should be able to raise the height of your trailer with an over-under kit like # K71-384-00 or # K71-385-00 . Since you have the RamBoxes you also need to be using a Sidewinder pin box. This changes the location of the pivot point so that it's at the turret of the pin box (where it connects to your trailer) instead of at the king pin. This will keep your pin box from hitting your RamBoxes.

Reply from Brian B.

@JonG Thank you for the quick and effective response. Very helpful and much appreciated.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@BrianB Anytime!

Shawn

I purchased a 2017 duramax. I had a 2008 hd gas . The newer truck sits a lot higher than the old one , now the 42’ fifth wheel hits the road going up the driveway. So I put a subframe under the fifth wheel , it’s now 4” lower on the nose , question is how much difference in front to rear is too much on a fifth wheel , and is nose heavy not a good thing on a fifth wheel . I know that level is ideal but with theses new trucks being so tall it’s next to impossible. My bed height clearance is 6.5 “ so that’s ideal and I can go one more hole on the pin box .

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

You'll want to make sure that the pin (nose) weight of your 5th wheel is at the 20% mark for total trailer weight and you might be okay with the 4" difference but I would avoid anymore than that. If you are able to level it out a little more then I would go that route just to help make sure any tire/brake/suspension wear is as even as possible. Long story short there isn't a set amount - it's more about trying to get everything as level as possible.

Reply from Shawn

@JonG thank you ! You guys are always great to deal with . That’s why I only use etrailer. I will do some math and some scale weighing .

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@Shawn Anytime!

Akshay

The drive vehicle what we have chosen is a pickup it's height after placing 5th wheel comes to be 50inches(from base of tyre to fifth wheel face) now, to design a semitrailer for this can we have a container box type or a cut is needed to match this height. Please suggest

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Great question, it can be a little difficult to figure this stuff out at times but what we have heard from Reese and Draw-Tite is that if you have an 8' wide trailer then you want at least 52" of distance from the truck cab to the center of the 5th wheel hitch. Trailers with a rounded front-end will have an easier time with the clearance than a boxed front-end will. We do have a clearance formula that we use for short bed trucks - hopefully this will help give you a better idea of what measurements to look for: Clearance Formula - (A + B) - C = Clearance A = Distance from center of fifth wheel hitch jaw to truck cab B = Length of offset (slider clearance or Sidewinder offset) C = Width of trailer divided by 2 (to get half) You need at least 4" of clearance to be able to make a 90 degree turn.

Charles M.

I just bought a Silverado 2500HD 4x4 Duramax. My previous truck was a Silverado 1500 4x4 gas. My fifth wheel trailer was set level to the previous truck. Next week I plan to have the hitch installed in my new truck. I know the height will be different. Where do I begin to understand what needs to change. My trailer tongue attachment has some adjustment holes that would raise the tongue. I don't want to make trailer axle changes. My new truck is not raised and is very standard.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

The easiest thing to do is start off by measuring from the ground to the truck bed (where your 5th wheel hitch will sit) and then from the ground to the bottom of your trailer pin box (where the skid plate is) and note the difference. Then what you'll want to start off doing is see if your 5th wheel hitch is able to fit the height difference. If you can be within 1" difference then you'll be in good shape. If not, let me know what measurements you take and I can help you out from there. It's also worth noting that you'll want to have that 5"-6" clearance from the top of your 5th wheel hitch to the top of your bed rails to make sure your trailer doesn't hit your bed sides.

Reply from Charles M.

@JonG Thanks for the guidance. I'll have my hitch installed Friday so some time after that I can report back. I found out that my trailer axle has already been flipped and I may have to install a block to get the numbers I want. Towing stability comes to mine. Cheers...

Robert P.

I am want to install a 5th wheel Hitch to a Ford F450 Custom Flat Bed with a Teflon type deck. I understand some fabrication will be required, what is a generic kit for this type of install? mid to heavy towing.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

For a flatbed truck I recommend going with the B&W Turnoverball Underbed Gooseneck Trailer Hitch # BWGNRK1500 so that you can then use the Companion # BWRVK3050 which is designed for flatbeds as well. The gooseneck is a universal fit so you will need to do some fabricating on your end.

Don M.

I just purchased a low mileage, 2015 Chevy Crewcab, 2500HD, SRW with a Duramax Diesel engine with an installed B & W Turnover hitch for gooseneck trailers. I am looking for the right fifth wheel package to purchase for it. We are considering for purchase a fifth wheel trailer around 30-35 feet long which will suit our needs/wants perfectly. Any suggestions? Thank you.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

If you have the B&W gooseneck hitch then I recommend going with the B&W Companion because it installs right in the gooseneck receiver so that you still have a nice, clean bed when you aren't towing. Use the slider # BWRVK3400-5W if you have a short bed or the stationary # BWRVK3500-5W if you have a long bed. These hitches are rated for 20K each so that will be your limiting factor with your towing gear as opposed to your gooseneck which should be rated for 30K.

Frank C.

I am purchasing a 2021 F250 to pull a 12,000 pound 5th wheel looking for hitch suggestions

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Does your F-250 come with the OEM puck system and what size bed does it have?

G. B.

I need help. I have a 2011 3400RL Montana, and a 2020 GMC DENALI HD with the electric Roll-N-Lock truck bed cover that I purchased last year. The dealer sold me the CURT A30 5th wheel hitch wich is designed for the long bed bed not the short bed that I have. The dimensions of the bed are: 82.25 inches in length, 21 inches in height and 50.55 inches in width. This hitch is not high enough to clear the bed rails and I have hit the bed cover rails with the king pin box. I had to raise the trailer by moving the king pin box by repositioning the bolt pattern on row of holes up, this is not enough clearance and I don't feel comfortable trailering with it. I have only pulled the 5th wheel only once since November 2019 when I purchased this rig. Curt tells me that they don't have a 5th wheel hitch for my 2020 GMC truck, and Anderson is now making them for my truck but there are only three available in Texas (I live in Georgia) and the cost is $1400.00 + for it. Im not sold on the Anderson hitch. What hitch do you recommend for my rig. Thanks.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Do you know about how much extra height you're needing? It looks like the A30 has a max height of 17" so if you're only needing a few extra inches then I highly recommend the B&W Companion # BWRVK3775 which is a sliding 5th wheel hitch that fits directly into your puck system. This is made in the USA and considered one of the best on the market. If you need more than that I think your only other option would be to use the Curt A20 # C16541 along with the adapter # C88KR . This combination gives you a max height of 21-1/2".

Reply from G. B.

@JonG, Thanks for you recommendation.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@GB Happy to help!

Chris H.

So I bought a 2019 Chevy 2500. Someone put a gooseneck ball in the bed, but instead of putting it slightly in front of the axle it’s. Over the axle. Looks like that use long bed measurement instead of short bed. 6” difference. Can this be safely used with a 5th wheel companion hitch.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

If they installed the B&W Gooseneck Hitch # BWGNRK1016 then it's a little difficult to install it in the wrong place simply because the mounting brackets match up with existing holes in the frame. For someone to put this in the wrong position they would have to drill new holes into the frame. Sometimes the holes for the gooseneck hitch will be about right over the axle depending on the application. As long as it was installed correctly you can definitely use a Companion with that gooseneck hitch.

Reply from Chris H.

@JonG it looks like they mounted the brackets in the Correct location ( no new holes drilled), but turned the base around backwards on the brackets.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@ChrisH Oh, that's interesting. Technically the best thing to do would be to uninstall it all and put it back together the correct way if it was indeed installed incorrectly. I do realize that's quite a pain though so if you plan on leaving it that way instead I'd try to be cautious about how much weight you put in the truck bed. It might be a good idea to go with a smaller 5th wheel instead of pushing your Chevy to the max like a lot of people try to do.

Darrel H.

Do you sell a puck system rail for a b&w Patriot slider for 2020 ram 2500. I bought a camper a hitch came with it but it was mounted in a f-250 an that rail won't work

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

I believe you are looking for something like the Demco 5th Wheel Rail Adapter # DM6099 .

Cary J.

I bought the Curt E16 for my 2018 Dodge Ram 3500 with the factory puck system. I then sold my truck and give the hitch to a friend of mine who has a 2019 Dodge 3500. Last weekend my buddy was in the process of unhooking his camper from the hitch and a weld broke from underneath it. Lucky for him it didn't break while going down the road. Now my buddy went and purchased a B&W hitch for $1000.00 Which I have the same hitch for my 2019 Ford 350 and I am worried to death to even pull it now because of this issue. What can be done because I have purchased 2 Curt hitches and my wife is afraid for us to even hook up and try to pull the camper. I have pictures of the hitch where the spot weld broke. Thanks

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

While the E16 is more of an entry-level 5th wheel hitch, the only thing I can think of is that the 5th wheel hitch was overloaded somehow whether it was for the total capacity of 16,000 lbs or the tongue weight which is 4,000 lbs. If you can send me those pictures I'd be more than happy to look at them but when I reached out to Curt my contact was surprised to hear that a weld broke because he said the welds on those 5th wheel hitches are really heavy-duty.

Paul D.

What king pin box would provide more rail clearance to use on a 2020 GMC 3500HD Denali standard bed (6 3/4). My hitch is a Pull Rite Superlite 2600 single point in the highest position, mated with a Lippert 1621HD pin box with Pull Rite ball adapter. With tonneau cover rails there is only one inch clearance with the pin box. I like the hitch but the pin box needs to be shorter with more vertical. What do you recommend?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

I'm not sure there's a replacement pin box available that will really increase that bed rail clearance. Honestly your best option (assuming you've already tried adjusting the pin box itself too) is to actually raise the trailer.

Bob

Hi, i have a Ford F150 from 2014 with a 6.5 bed, which hitch would you recommend? TIA

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

For your F-150 I highly recommend the Curt A16 # C16521 along with the Custom Base Rail Kit # C16441-204 . The A16 is an EXCELLENT hitch that features an interlocking jaw system and fully articulating head to provide a really smooth ride during travel.

Lawrence S.

i have a 2013 2500 6 1/2 bed the truck has under bed gooseneck mount. which 5th wheel hitch would be recommended

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

Do you know what brand/model gooseneck hitch is installed on your 2500? If it happens to be a B&W Turnoverball, I HIGHLY recommend the B&W Companion Slider # BWRVK3400 , which will drop right into the square gooseneck ball hole already in the truck bed. If you have something different just let me know.

Keith M.

I just purchased a 2019 GMC 2500HD Denali with the puck system. Which hitch would you recommend?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

For your 2019 Sierra 2500HD I highly recommend the Curt A20; either the slider # C16669 if you have the 6-1/2 foot bed or the fixed # C16064 if you have the 8 foot bed. Either option will drop right into those factory pucks.

Andy

I have a 2012 ram 2500 6 1/2 ft bed

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

For your 2012 Ram 2500 with the short bed I highly recommend the Curt A20 Slider # C16541 with the Custom Rail Kit # C16420-204 .

James E.

I have a 2018 dodge 2500 with a 6.5’ bed. It has factory installed fifth wheel attachment holes in the bed, what type of hitch would you recommend.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

With a 6-1/2 foot bed you'll want to go with a sliding hitch to ensure cab clearance during sharp turns. For your 2018 Ram 2500 I specifically recommend the Curt A20 # C16541 with the Rail Adapter # C16022 .

Adolfo C.

Hi Which real pin box and fifth wheel hitch do you recommend for a 2006 ford f350 super duty, 8 'bed, for good trailer turn, little sound and heavy weight thank you

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

For your 2006 Ford F-350 I highly recommend the Curt A25 Hitch # C16180 and Rail Kit # C16448-204 (if you don't already have base rails). The A25 features a great interlocking 2-jaw system that will completely wrap around the trailer king pin. This, along with its fully articulating head will combine to create an extremely smooth, quiet ride during travel. With an 8 foot bed you don't need to worry about cab clearance when making sharper turns.



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