How to Install a Fifth Wheel Hitch?

Before you can take your new fifth wheel out of town for an adventure with your friends or family, you’ll need to install a fifth-wheel hitch on your truck. This task sounds intimidating, but you can get the job done in a few steps that you’ll find in the instructions with your kit. Getting the installation right is crucial to ensure top performance, so if you feel unsure or need help, you can always consult our experts here at Bretz RV & Marine. If you feel confident about going ahead with the installation yourself, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Installing Fifth Wheel Hitch

How Hard Is It to Install a Fifth-Wheel Hitch?

It’s difficult to answer this question directly since the installation process depends on several factors. These include things like the type of truck you have and what kind of fifth-wheel hitch you decide to install. For example, do you have a long-bed or short-bed truck? Have you chosen a custom installation or universal installation? Thankfully, these differences will be explained in your kit’s instructions, so it’s important that you read them thoroughly before getting started.

All that being said, the installation process is relatively straightforward provided you have the appropriate tools and follow the detailed instructions. One of the most difficult parts is getting accurate measurements so that you drill your holes in the correct place. With some patience and by double-checking your measurements, you should be able to accomplish this task.

Can You Install a Fifth-Wheel Hitch on Your Own?

A fifth-wheel hitch is certainly something that you can install on your own, but you’ll need the tools and confidence to do it. To determine whether you can perform the installation, it’s worth reading through our tips below to get a rough idea of what the installation entails. You may find the installation process easier if you get a friend to help, especially when it comes to lifting your truck so you can more easily access the underside of the bed.

Some people may decide to have a dealership install Puck System for a fifth wheel hitch for their convenience. This approach is likely to be the easiest option if you purchase your fifth-wheel hitch as an upgrade package with your truck. Doing things this way has the added advantage of allowing you to rely on a professional to carry out the job. Additionally, you’ll benefit from a factory-configured hitch rather than an aftermarket kit manufactured by a third party. The drawback is that the factory packages tend to be pricier than their aftermarket competitors.

The advantage of doing the job yourself and purchasing an aftermarket kit is that you have more freedom of choice to pick the hitch you’d like, including whether it features above-bed or below-bed rails.

Before you get started, make sure you have all the tools you’ll need. These include a tape measure, a drill, and a torque bench. You’ll also need jacks or a truck lift to raise your truck. Truck lifts are hard to come by for most people, so jacks or a ramp should do the job just fine. Once you’re ready to start the process, raising your truck will be your first task.

Three Steps to Installing a Fifth-Wheel Hitch

You should use these steps only as a rough guide to the process since every truck will have its specific requirements. If you’re going ahead with the fifth wheel hitch installation yourself, we strongly recommend that you carefully review the instructions after you’ve used these steps to get an overview of the tasks you’ll need to perform.

The first step is to carry out accurate measurements so you can drill holes in the appropriate places. You’ll need to ensure that the holes for the rails are centered, leaving the same amount of space on either side between the holes and the side of the bed. If you get these measurements wrong, you may end up having to drill extra holes in the cargo bed, which certainly won’t be a good look. It’s worth taking a little extra time to review your measurements several times over for accuracy.

The next stage is to drill your holes. We’d advise you to drill pilot holes first so you can check that they’re in the right place before you expand them to the necessary size for your 5th wheel brackets. If you have a custom-install hitch, you’ll only need to drill holes in your truck bed. However, some older trucks may require a universal installation. These installations require you to drill into the truck’s frame, which can lead to the voiding of your warranty.

Installing a universal fifth-wheel hitch could take upwards of five to seven hours because of the extra drilling. Many people like this option, however, because it’s cheaper than purchasing a custom setup. With a custom installation, you’ll have a kit that’s configured for your truck, allowing you to use the holes already drilled in the frame for the installation. Installing a custom kit typically reduces the completion time to two to five hours.

Now that the hard part is done, all you need to do is bolt down your rails and torque them. Depending on the kit you have, the rails will either be permanently in your truck bed or located underneath. The advantage of below-bed rails is that you maintain additional space in your cargo bed for storage.

Contact Our Service Experts if You Still Have Questions or Need Help

Perhaps you don’t have the tools or just feel unsure about carrying out the installation yourself. Alternatively, would you prefer to leave the job to a professional so that you know the installation is carried out to the highest standards? At Bretz RV & Marine, we’re here to help. Feel free to reach out to our service team experts for assistance with your fifth-wheel hitch installation problems. We can advise you on the best setup for your truck, install fifth-wheel hitch kits, and answer questions you may have about the process.

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