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5th Wheel Hitch Installation Kit for 2003 Ford F-250

Question:

I am installing a new 5th wheel hitch in my 2003 F250. I need some help choosing a hitch and all the hardware, and how to locate properly in the bed. I have an F250, 4wd, CC, 6-3/4inch bed, no lift but air bags.

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Expert Reply:

Thank you for providing those important details about your 2003 F-250 that will soon be home to a new 5th wheel hitch. Since you have a short bed pickup you will need a slider type hitch to ensure enough turning clearance for your low-speed maneuvers.

For a base rail/installation kit I suggest using a custom-fit option that reduces your overall install time and the amount of drilling needed. Since these industry-standard rails kits are not hitch-specific, you can use any brand of rail kit with any brand of hitch. So, I suggest the Reese kit # RP50082-58. Position the rear edge of the rear rail 32-1/4-inchs from the edge of the bed (the bed, not the tailgate) as shown on page 4. Once this is mounted you can use the hitch legs to help you position the front rail. An install video is linked too.

You will want to compare the linked instructions to your air bag installation to ensure the two products do not require the same mounting point.

Now you can select a slider hitch rated with enough capacity safety margin to exceed your loaded trailer's GVWR. Using a higher-rated hitch than you actually need is not a bad idea since such higher-rated models tend to include some nicer features like fully-pivoting heads (for easier hitching) as well as cushioning for a smoother ride. They also typically last longer than a hitch used near its maximum capacity. Some sliders offer more travel than others; these sliding ranges vary from 8- up to 14-inches. The nature of the trailer's overhang can affect this need. Tapered-nose trailer can get by with less slider travel.

The Demco Hijacker hitch # DM8550034 provides 14-inches of slider travel and it is an automatic type that means you do not have to get out of the truck to manually release the slider every time you need to make a tight turn. The Hijacker does this automatically, and also automatically returns to the locked position after you straighten out.

You will also need a wiring harness in the truck bed for the 5th wheel, such as # DM8555002. This simply plugs in at the bumper-mounted 7-way; no cutting or splicing.

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