Everything You Need to Know About a 5th Wheel Hitch

A standard semi-trailer design is undoubtedly recognizable to the majority of truck drivers. They tower above practically every other vehicle on the road and are often the most extended vehicles transporting expansive cargo. In the absence of a ball hitch, how do semi-trucks manage?

5th Wheel Hitch

Image source: wikipedia.org

They use a fifth-wheel hitch, a heavy-duty trailer attachment system similar to the towing equipment you can add to your own heavy-duty pickup truck. Fifth-wheel hitches carry far larger weights than you could with the standard ball hitch.

This article will cover all you need to know about 5th-wheel hitches and will assist you in selecting the appropriate model for your truck bed.

What Kind Of Hitch Do You Need For A 5th Wheel?

The king pin on the trailer attaches to the fifth wheel hitch that rests in the truck or utility vehicle’s bed.

The arm that connects the trailer to the king pin is known as the king pin box. It adjusts the distance between the trailer and the king pin.

The king pin slips into the fifth-wheel hitch, which is the component that rests in the truck’s bed.

Types of 5th wheel hitches

There are two main kinds of fifth-wheel trailer hitches: fixed and sliding. A single- or a two-jaw mechanism is used in fixed hitches.

A fixed hitch is less expensive but has a smaller turning radius than an adjustable hitch. On the other hand, sliding fifth-wheel hitches are often equipped with either a manual or an automated locking mechanism. This hitch can turn more than 90 degrees, making it an excellent choice if you need a more maneuverable hitch.

Also, remember that multiple jaw systems are better suited for lesser weights, and a single-jaw system is an optimum choice for big weights of more than 25,000 pounds.

Sliding Hitch

Like the pivoting system, a sliding hitch may make transporting and driving much more convenient. If you don’t utilize a sliding hitch, your trailer will collide with your truck’s rear axle. It’s much more important if you’re transporting heavier cargo with a short-bed pickup vehicle.

Hitch Pivoting System

You need a pivoting system if you plan on making a lot of turns or driving on curving roads. This gives you a broad vantage point and more control over your vehicle when driving. A two-pivot system is the most common choice.

Does a 5th wheel hitch increase the towing capacity?

You would think that the towing capacity increases but are not affected by the fifth wheel or gooseneck hitches. Still, it can boost the towing capacity of your whole setup by increasing the towing capability of your hitch attachment to within a few hundred pounds of the towing capacity of your vehicle.

What size of 5th wheel hitch do you need?

It’s crucial to consider the following factors when deciding on the size of fifth-wheel hitch you will need:

  • The Tow vehicle: The first step would be, to begin with, the tow truck. Some models may not be compatible with particular hitches; it would be best to eliminate incompatible 5th wheel hitches before investing money on one that simply won’t work.
  • The Maximum Weight: It is essential to prevent a hitch that is excessively weighty. You do not want the weight of the hitch to restrict the number of goods you can carry. Ensure that the fifth wheel, passengers, baggage, and hitch all comply with these regulations.
  • Trailer Features: Some towing vehicles may have attributes that make them more compatible with particular hitch types. Perhaps it has metal rails or pucks. If so, you will require a hitch compatible with prefabricated anchors. Or, if the vehicle is lined with plastic, you must create a hole large enough to accept the adapter. 
  • Truck Bed Length: If your tow vehicle has a short truck bed, it confronts a challenging situation. The chance that the fifth wheel will hit the tow vehicle increases when you get close to a turn. This is when an enlarged pin box is helpful. It increases the turning radius, reducing the likelihood of a collision.

How Do 5th Wheel Hitches Work?

Fifth-wheel hitches hold far heavier loads than a conventional ball hitch can. The trailer’s front edge stretches beyond the truck’s rear bumper, and the connection point is not at the vehicle’s rear bumper but rather in the truck’s bed.

When fitted correctly, the trailer’s weight presses between the truck’s cab and the back axle. For this reason, a considerably bigger trailer may be attached to the vehicle; in other words, it can transport more weight.

The fifth wheel hitch is a broad, flat plate with a horseshoe form in the pickup truck’s bed. The pickup truck’s structure is attached to the metal rails below the hitch.

The fifth wheel hitch is connected to the trailer through a king pin and a plate that lies on top of the fifth wheel hitch plate. The hitch is secure as soon as the king pin is in place, but it may still pivot to allow rotations.

There is continual friction between the trailer flat plate and the fifth wheel hitch flat plate. To keep them from rubbing against one another, lubrication between these two parts is essential while moving.

Parts of a 5th wheel hitch

When a trailer is being towed behind a truck, the fifth-wheel coupler connects the trailer to the tractor unit of the truck or towing vehicle. The following components make up the fifth wheel, which is often referred to as the horseshoe or trailer coupler located at the rear of the half truck:

  • A kingpin
  • A vertical steel pin at the trailer’s base
  • Fifth wheel

Components of your vehicle’s fifth wheel that are high in quality and up to date are essential if you want to get the most out of your truck in terms of its efficiency and capacity. Ensure your parts are robust, corrosion-resistant, and protected from harmful contaminants.

5th wheel puck system

Several late-model vehicles come equipped with a fifth wheel “prep” package, which is a pre-installed fifth wheel mounting option. This is better known as a puck system because of the shape of the feet of the hitches.

Using levers and hitch pins, these pucks are usually locked into place and hitch-secured in receptacles underneath the truck bed. Because the frame brackets are already built into a puck system installation, you won’t need a hitch system.

However, factory-installed puck systems are available on some trucks. In the middle of the setup, there’s a pre-existing hole for a detachable gooseneck hitch.

How to install a 5th wheel hitch

Installing a fifth-wheel trailer hitch in the bed or flatbed of a pickup truck or flatbed truck is possible by utilizing a variety of hitch mount arrangements, including:

  • Industry Standard Rails
  • A Gooseneck Mounting system
  • Puck System Installations
  • Using Only a Gooseneck Hitch

15 step 5th wheel installation process

  1. Remove the spare tire.
  2. Position the front rail of the base
  3. Mark the first area for drilling and creating a pilot hole.
  4. Check the pilot hole and drill the remaining holes under the vehicle bed.
  5. Increase the bolt hole size
  6. Attach the under-bed brackets using bolts.
  7. Attach the front fifth-wheel rail
  8. Measure the height of the 5th wheel hitch
  9. Connect the fifth-wheel legs.
  10. Place the rear fifth-wheel rail.
  11. Rear base rail holes are to be drilled.
  12. Mount the rear base rail using bolts
  13. Install any additional bolts
  14. Ensure that all hardware is torqued correctly.
  15. Secure the fifth-wheel hitch.

If you are fortunate enough to have a car with a towing package, installing a 5th wheel hitch is very simple and can be done without professional assistance if you have the proper equipment. You will need a few tools like a torque wrench, a ratchet, socket set, wrench, and a drill with the appropriate drill bits.

What you can expect to pay? 

The pricing range for installing the 5th Wheel in a shop, including the cost of the hitch, is between $800 and $1600. If you opt to install the hitch yourself, you should expect to pay between $200 and $500 plus $100 for an installation kit. If extra tools are required, the price will increase.

don’t forget to grease the 5th wheel hitch

Fifth-wheel ownership is perhaps one of the lowest-maintenance recreational vehicle options. Despite not needing a lot of care, one aspect of your fifth Wheel that you should never neglect: is lubrication.

It is advised to frequently lubricate the 5th wheel trailer’s hitch to prevent premature wear and the trailer hitch head. The grease may keep the ball from rusting if the hitch is little used. Utilize a heavy-duty lubricant formulated to offer superior protection and performance under the severe, high-load circumstances typical of fifth-wheel hitches used in hauling and towing operations.

How to convert a 5th wheel to a Gooseneck Hitch?

You can use a 5th wheel adaptor plate or a 5th wheel gooseneck hitch to convert a 5th wheel to a gooseneck. To begin modifying your current towing set-up, determine which kind of hitch is currently installed on your vehicle.

A 5th wheel gooseneck hitch is all needed to turn the fifth wheel into a gooseneck. 5th wheel base rails are required for this option on most trucks. To install the hitch, drop it into the rails and pin it. This kind of hitch provides the typical gooseneck ball.

A 5th wheel adaptor plate can be the solution if your vehicle has a gooseneck hitch. Gooseneck hitches with a 5th wheel adaptor plate are compatible with industry-standard 5th wheel rails that can insert into the gooseneck hole.

Are 5th wheel hitch rails universal?

The majority of fifth-wheel rails adhere to industry-standard dimensions. However, not all of them are. All fifth-wheel hitches from the same manufacturer like Curt, Reese, and e-Trailer should fit the same king pin on the trailer. A 16-kilowatt hitch, for example, may be used to attach a fifth wheel trailer just as effectively as a 20-kilowatt hitch.

5th Wheel Hitch

Image source: wikipedia.org

How To Select The Best 5th Wheel Hitch For You?

With so many different 5th wheel hitches on the market, it’s hard to know which one is best. Design, brand recognition, and price all play a role. Here are some of the critical differences between 5th wheel hitches to help you make an informed decision.


Capacity, in and of itself, is critical. You need to know the weight of your 5th wheel trailer to choose the best hitch for your vehicle.

Mounting Type

All 5th wheel hitches employ a rail system; however, some are mounted beneath the truck box bed. The most common method of installing a hitch is the universal type, which you can tailor for specific applications.

Single or Dual Pivot Head

When you’re not towing your fifth-wheel trailer along the road, the 5th wheel head absorbs most of the impact of bumps and road limitations. All fifth-wheel hitches feature some degree of front-to-back pivot movement, and some have side-to-side movement to absorb the impact of this movement. Choosing which pivot head you need depends on the pivot movement of your pickup trucks.

A Slider or Cross bed

Rails for small box trucks (beds 6.5 feet or less) that enable the hitch to be moved back from its mounting point are known as sliders. The rear glass of the pickup truck cab is not blocked by the trailer while it is turning.

Best 5th wheel hitches you can buy in 2022

B&W Companion 5th wheel hitch

It’s no secret that B&W Companion 5th wheel hitches are well-liked by RVers towing fifth wheels (and the fifth wheel hitch we use). Hitching and unhitching have never been simpler, thanks to the fully articulating head.

The B&W Companion can tow small and large rigs with a maximum weight capacity of 20,000 lbs. Because no mounting rails are required for this hitch, it’s simple to install and remove. The jaws and kingpins of this dual jaw hitch may be connected in any direction. The coupler is under 75 pounds in total weight.

In addition, you will have three distinct height options to provide sufficient bed clearance while towing. In addition, the broad stance of the hitch gives stability and support.

Reese Pro Series Sliding Hitch

Buying a trailer hitch from Reese means you’re supporting a well-established brand. This Pro Series Hitch is one of several heavy-duty towing devices manufactured by the company. 

You may haul trailers up to 15,000 pounds with this hitch. The hitch may be transformed into a sliding hitch with an additional accessory. There is a basic unit that is 30 pounds in weight.

How Much Do 5th Wheel Hitches Cost?

Product Price List

B&W Companion 5th wheel hitch

  • Price: $1,661.67
  • Product Weight: Base 50 lbs, Coupler 75 lbs
  • Footprint 17.25″ Wide x 18″ Deep
  • 22,000 lbs GTW
  • 5,500 lbs VTW

Andersen Gooseneck Hitch

  • Price: $1,687.95
  • Base weight: 32lbs
  • Tongue Weight: 4,500 lbs
  • 4,000 lbs GTWR 

How much are the standard installation services?

The cost of a professional 5th wheel hitch installation may range from $70 to $225, based on the hourly labor rate and the components placed on the vehicle. Custom brackets and a simple 5th wheel hitch may reduce installation expenses.

The cost of renting a fifth-wheel vehicle depends on several variables, including where you get it from, how long you want to rent it for, and whether or not you purchase supplementary insurance. If renting a fifth-wheel truck, you’ll need to set up $100-$200 daily, not including fuel.

Where can you buy the best hitches?

Top brands that manufacture 5th wheel hitches

Where can you buy used 5th wheel hitches? (e.g. eBay, craigslist)

Are Fifth Wheel Hitches Permanent?

How to unhitch a 5th wheel trailer

In terms of simplicity, unhitching a 5th wheel trailer is straightforward. Mechanics or engineering degrees are not required for this procedure, and step-by-step work like this might get tiresome.

The hitch itself weighs between 130 and 200 pounds or more. Weight will vary depending on the design, size, and materials used to build the hitch. You will need a powerful engine or another crane to remove the 5th wheel hitch from your vehicle.

  • Purchasing or renting a durable and powerful engine hoist is one of the simplest ways to do this. To support the hoist, you’ll need garage joists or a portable hoisting system, and these objects must support the weight of the hitch.
  • Then, to keep the hitch in place while it’s being raised and lowered, you’ll need some sturdy steel braided wires. Start the hoist as soon as the wires are linked to the fifth wheel hitch.
  • Pull the truck out from beneath the hitch by raising the hitch high enough to clear the rear of the truck bed. The hitch is then lowered onto the platform upon which it will rest.
  • Hitch weights may exceed 200 pounds, so check the hoist and cables to be sure they are rated for greater weight than the hitch itself.
  • Simply reverse the steps to get the hitch back on your truck bed. It’s best to raise the hitch, back your vehicle beneath, and then lower it carefully.

Do 5TH wheel hitches wear out?

A lifetime guarantee is standard on the majority of 5th wheel hitches. A 5th wheel hitch may last longer if you take excellent care of it, don’t overload it, maintain it clean and greased, and replace worn-out components.

The hitch should be replaced when it has greater play in the moving components, increased noise when towing, excessive wear in metal sections, or if it becomes difficult to couple and uncouples.


Can you tow a 5th wheel with a regular hitch?

It is possible to tow a fifth-wheel trailer with a gooseneck hitch if the weight capacity is appropriate and a suitable adaptor is used.

Can you put a 5th wheel hitch on a flatbed?

A flatbed truck may be equipped with a fifth-wheel hitch. If you’re going to do this yourself, we strongly advise that you hire an expert to assist you.

Can you put a 5th wheel hitch on a short bed truck?

Short-bed trucks can use specific fifth wheels explicitly designed for them, but the hitching and driving processes will differ. If the 5th wheel hitch is installed correctly, it will prevent the trailer from moving or rolling while it is connected.

Can you put a 5th wheel hitch on a Ram 1500?

It is possible to tow a fifth wheel with a Ram 1500, but there is no compelling reason to do so. It is possible to tow up to 10,680 pounds with the Ram 1500 Classic and 12,750 pounds with the ordinary Ram 1500 when properly equipped.

Can you lock a 5th wheel hitch?

The upper plate of the fifth wheel has a slidable jaw that serves as a locking mechanism. The release arm makes it possible to release the fifth-wheel locking jaws and detach the trailer.

Does Uhaul have trucks with a 5th wheel hitch?

It’s unfortunate, but U-Haul doesn’t rent fifth-wheel-towing vehicles.

Do 5th wheel hitches need a slider?

A sliding 5th wheel hitch is required if the space between your truck bed and the 5th wheel jaws is less than half the width of your trailer. When making a turn, the truck cab will be obstructed by the trailer’s nose if it doesn’t have a slider.

Does Ford make a 5th wheel hitch?

You’ll need a Ford 5th wheel hitch kit to pull a large-capacity trailer. To provide a comfortable ride and safe towing, engineers created this device.

Which is better — Gooseneck or 5th wheel hitch?

Fifth wheel hitches are more suited for recreational towing, whereas gooseneck hitches are better suited for agricultural and commercial towing applications. Fifth-wheel hitches give a more steady and smooth ride, whereas gooseneck hitches are recommended because of their less intrusive form.

What is the lightest 5th wheel hitch?

The lightest and simplest hitch to use is the Anderson Ultimate 5th Wheel Connection. When not in use, the hitch may be easily removed from its base, weighing only 35 pounds.


While other hitches are limited in their capabilities, adding a fifth-wheel hitch is capable of doing more. They’ve been engineered to carry your extra-heavy weight near your truck’s rear axle and can be a true show stopper while maneuvering in tight spaces.

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