Are you dreaming of going on an adventure trip with friends or family?
Well, adventure trips always bring fun and give us moments to remember. And taking an RV and car can add more excitement to your journey. However, it is only possible when you have a 5th-wheel hitch installed on your vehicle.
So, if you are new to the term, you must have questions like what is a fifth wheel hitch, and how does it work? Well, a good hitch not only enhances the towing process but also provides safety. Yes, we know the statement is too short to be answering all your questions, and thus, we will be addressing everything in detail. So, let’s find out everything about the fifth-wheel hitch.
What Is A Fifth Wheel Hitch?
A fifth wheel hitch is towing equipment for hauling trailers, RVs, and other vehicles. It can be seen at the back of the truck and looks half-moon shaped. This hitch is generally used as the towing mechanism to facilitate the hauling process. It has the pin that is attached to the trailer.
This pin, also known as “KingPin,” easily latches into the hitch and fits into the truck’s bed.
The connected arm that goes into the trailer’s pin box measures the distance between the trailer and the Kingpin. A fifth wheel hitch is designed for towing medium and heavy-duty vehicles. These hitches easily fit in the truck’s bed and are flexible during the towing process.
Components Of The Hitch For The Fifth Wheel
Every hitch has different components that make it suitable for different fifth wheels. You should have a good knowledge of each component to understand its working. Here are the different parts of the fifth wheel hitch:
Head Of The Hitch
The head of the hitch is at the front portion, which provides a rigid connection between the trailer and the hitch. It usually comes in contact with the Kingpin and operates with the help of jaws. During the towing process, the head moves and combines with the trailer. As a result, the fifth wheel moves smoothly.
The kingpin is used to couple the trailer with a truck. When you purchase a hitch, it includes a pin that can easily slide between the trailer and the hitch. This pin has an important role in providing safety during riding. You can easily attach or without this pin from the trailer manually.
A handle is available on the front side and below the hitch head. It allows you to start the coupling process with a single step. A 5th wheel hitch is secured through the double-layer jaws. The role of the hitch handle is to open and close the jaws. It is an essential component that allows the coupling mechanism during the towing process.
A jaw is the internal part of the hitch, which is half visible from the outside. The role of jaws is to hold the Kingpin in the position. However, it is only available in some of the hitches and can be seen in the head of the hitch. Other fifth wheel hitches use the locking bar technique to hold or release the pin.
Body And Legs Of The Hitch
The body is the overall structure of the hitch that provides balance. It creates a manageable gap between the head and towing connection. On the other hand, the legs position the 5th wheel hitch. Multiple legs attach the hitch body with the rails. It is attached to the bed of the truck during the installation process.
Types Of Hitch For The Fifth Wheel
A good hitch at the vehicle smooths the towing process. There are various fifth wheel hitches available in the market. You can select the hitch based on your needs. Here are the different types of hitch for the fifth wheel:
Sliding Hitch For The Fifth Wheel
A sliding hitch is widely used for a short-bed truck. When you drive such a type of vehicle, it only provides a small space during the turns. As a result, the chances of colliding with vehicles also increase. When you use the sliding hitch, it moves backward and slides toward the vehicle’s tail. Due to this, there is enough space between the trailer and the hitch during bumps and turns.
Single Jaw Hitch
As the name implies, a single jaw hitch uses the hitch to grab the Kingpin in position. It connects with the pivot head hitch and produces strength during the towing process. The cost of this hitch is also higher than the other hitches. It only uses one jaw that helps you make wide turns.
It is one of the most used hitches in the vehicle. A gooseneck hitch is attached to the socket and ball of the camper. The design of this hitch is different from the fifth wheel hitch. You will get the two options available in this hitch.
The first one has the raised ball at the truck bed, while the other has the ball directly sitting on the truck’s bed. This hitch takes less vehicle space and installs in a few steps. The gooseneck hitch is designed to be set under and above the truck’s bed.
Load Distribution Hitch
This hitch for the fifth wheel works on a shifting load mechanism. It is suitable for the RV trailer and installs easily. In this hitch, powerful spring arms are used to lift the back side of the vehicle. During the towing process, the load shifts on the other side of the hitch axles. As a result, the efficiency of the vehicle increases, which smoothens the towing process.
What Is The Difference Between A Fifth Wheel And A Gooseneck Hitch?
There is confusion among people regarding the fifth wheel and gooseneck hitch. Both are used in the towing process but have a major difference.
Heavy trailers weighing over 1000 pounds need a durable hitch for hauling. You can expect to move the heavy additional vehicle with regular rope. Here the gooseneck hitch can help you out. On the other hand, the fifth wheel hitch is easily installed in the truck’s bed. It is suitable for towing the RV to a longer distance.
Let’s see the major difference between these two fifth wheel hitches.
- A gooseneck hitch uses the ball to fit in the truck bed. This ball fits into the trailer hole that secured the pins. On the other hand, the 5th wheel hitch includes a plate and jaws to hold the trailer bar through KingpinKingpin.
- The loading capacity of the gooseneck hitch is between 3000-30,000 pounds. While a fifth wheel hitch can easily tow up to 20,000 pounds.
- Both of the hitches come compact and offer simple installation. You must also make a hole through a drill to fit the gooseneck or fifth wheel hitch in the truck’s bed.
How Does The Fifth Wheel Hitch Work?
The working of this hitch depends on the coupling process facilitated by the handle, jaws, and Kingpin. A truck’s rear bumper is covered by the edge of the trailer(which needs to be towed). The point attached to the trailer in the truck’s bed has a distance of (1-1/2″ to 2″). Once it is in the right position, the trailer’s weight moves downward. Due to this, the truck can easily tow the RV and trailer.
The power of the hitch during the hauling process depends on the metal rails that run underneath and are attached to the rear frame of the pickup truck. Kingpin plays a major role in providing enough space during turns and bumps. The pin used to connect the hitch is the pivot that allows the safety of the trailer and truck during the ride.
How To Install Fifth Wheel Hitch?
Now, you already know what is a fifth wheel hitch and how does it work? The next step is to know its installation process. You can install the 5th wheel hitch or hire a professional installer. In this step-wise guide, we share the Do It Yourself(DIY) with you. The process involves measuring the distance for bolts, drilling, and assembling. Follow the steps to install a fifth wheel hitch successfully:
Remove The Heat Shield Of Truck
The installation process’s primary step is to make space for base rails and brackets. Start removing the spare tire(if any) and heat shield of the truck. Read the instruction for removing the shield in the hitch manual guide.
Set The Base Rail
Now, place the front base rail close to the truck cab. For this step, measure the distance between the two sides of the truck bed. Also, keep the center of the rail fixed to know the exact distance.
Set The Drill Position For Holes
Once you measure the distance, the next step is to mark the location for the drill. Use the paint pen specifically designed for the vehicles. Mark the different positions of the holes to keep the drilling process precise.
Drill The Holes
Next, start drilling the holes in the truck bed. Make sure to enlarge the holes enough so the rails’ bolts are easily fixed. After drilling the holes, cover any exposed metal parts. It will protect the hitch or truck bed from corrosion.
Place The Bolt Under The Bracket
Go underneath the truck’s bed to place the bolt. Now, place the brackets into the position with the truck’s frame. Once it is in position, tighten the nuts and bolts.
Measure The Height Of The Hitch
It is a crucial step to install a fifth wheel hitch correctly. Measure the height between the truck bed wall and the trailer. During the process, ensure both vehicles park at the level surface. Find the height between a plate of the Kingpin and a truck tailgate from the ground, next, minus both heights from each other to get the height of the fifth wheel hitch.
Position The Rail
Assemble your fifth wheel hitch properly by following the instructions in the manual. After that, position the hitch’s rail by lifting the hitch. Here, you will need the help of your friend. Install the legs of the fifth wheel hitch into the rails. Once you position the rail correctly, tighten the bolts.
Install The Rear Rail
Centered the rail in the truck bed and drilled the holes for the rear side. Now, position the hitch and tighten the bolts. Apply the paint to the bolts and railing to prevent them from rusting.
Tighten Bolts And Hardware
Once you have installed the base rails and the hitch’s hardware, tighten all the bolts. Use the torque wrench to tighten each bolt and hardware during this step.
Place The Fifth Wheel Hitch
Place the assembled 5th wheel hitch on the installed base rails. Take the assistance of another person to position it carefully. Drop it on the rail slowly until it fits with the base rails. Tighten the hardware and bolts once again. That’s it; you have successfully installed the fifth wheel hitch on your truck. Now, you can test the hitch by towing your trailer. If you face any trouble, take a hitch installer’s help.
Is It Possible To Remove The 5th Wheel Hitch From The Truck?
Yes, technically, it is possible to remove the fifth wheel hitch from the truck. There are various removable hitches available in the market. Some are portable and easily detached to enhance the space at the truck’s back. However, you need to be aware of the working of these hitches. According to the experts, select the hitch based on your towing needs.
How Much Does A Fifth Wheel Hitch Cost?
The cost of the fifth wheel hitch depends on the type and its weighing capacity. The average cost of the hitch is $900-$1500. However, the additional cost includes the model and brand. Moreover, the hitch’s installation cost is approximately $80-$300.
You can save the installation cost by installing the hitch yourself. However, some trucks have pre-drilled holes for the hitch; in such cases, you can save labor costs. There is premade space for a hitch if you have the latest model truck. Additionally cost also depends on the type of shop you choose to buy the hitch. Usually, dealers charge more than ordinary shops. So, choose an independent store like ours if you want to save money on the fifth wheel hitch.
A fifth wheel becomes an essential vehicle for adventure trips. You can only take the RV or trailer along with the truck with the help of a hitch. So, what is a fifth wheel hitch, and how does it work?
This hitch is widely used in the truck to tow the heavy trailer. However, it is also vital to know the installation process of the 5th wheel hitch. This post includes the working and step-wise installation guide. You can request our service if you face any difficulty during the process.
Bills Mobile Hitch and Tow Bar Installation provide installation service at an affordable price. We have certified installers with hands-on experience installing all hitches and tow bars. Once you request service, our expert will visit your place and analyze your vehicle. You will get same-day assistance and an option to choose a high-quality hitch for the fifth wheel. To explore our equipment or services, visit our store. You can also contact us at (623) 210-5427 for any queries.
How Long Do Fifth Wheel Hitches Last?
Every 5th-wheel hitch comes with a limited warranty. The average life of the hitch depends on how you take care of it. It won’t last long if you tow the weight larger than recommended.
Can I Install The 5th Wheel Hitch By Myself?
Anyone can install the fifth wheel hitch by following the installation guide. It involves the steps which you need to follow in order. If you know automobile mechanics, the installation will be easy for you.
What Is The Installation Cost Of The Fifth Wheel Hitch?
The fifth wheel hitch’s installation cost is an average of $80-$300. The total cost also depends on the type and model of the hitch you used.