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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

Mike

12/3/2023

So with the new 2024 2500hd zr2 sitting on 35s and a factory lift will there be issues hooking up a fifth wheel and it being level, it looks like a beast!

Etrailer Expert

Andrew N.

12/11/2023

@Mike I agree that it will be quite a truck! Yes, I would anticipate that you might have an issue with hooking up the fifth wheel and keeping it level. While trucks have gotten taller and beefier, trailers have not, which makes it more difficult to make it level. You will want to follow the measuring instructions on this FAQ and you might need to get a new fifth wheel hitch. The hitch height can differ depending. For example for a 2024 Chevy 2500 HD 6.5 bed with OEM package can use part # C16566 and part # C88KR. This is a sliding Curt 24K hitch with a height setting that ranges from 17.5 to 21.5 inches high. The installation rails are an adapter that will cause the fifth wheel to sit approximately 2 inches high. So you would want to pick out a hitch that will give you the height that you need.

Kevin

7/18/2023

I have a 2015 chevy 2500 short box. RV dealer installed 5th wheel slider hitch with adjustment 17"-19" height. ( idk what height dealer put it at ) When in maneuvering.position the back of the pin box rubs my tailgate. RV dealership is swapping hitch out for 17"-21" adjustment hitch. What height is recommended so this does not happen again?

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.

8/2/2023

@Kevin That's going to depend on the pinbox height vs the height of the truck bed. When hitched up, ideally you'll want to see 4-6 inches between the top of the bed side and the underside of the trailer loft. In your situation, a 5th wheel tailgate like the Stromberg Carlson # VGM-14-100 or # VGM-14-4000 would prevent your pinbox from striking the tailgate.

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 ""?""

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?

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

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?

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.


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