Before you consider installing a fifth-wheel hitch on your truck, it’s important to make sure you have all the right tools and the right hitch for your truck.
If your truck has a plastic bed liner, you should be aware that installing the rails will destroy it, so it’s best to remove it before installing the hitch.
If you have a Dual Liner bed liner, it will have a rubber floor, which will allow you to cut it without destroying the bed liner.
List of Tools For DIY Fifth-Wheel Hitch Installation
- Heavy-duty drill for drilling holes in your truck bed
- Standard wrench set with both open-end and box-end wrenches. Torque wrenches will make things easier.
- Socket wrench with 1/2 to 3/4 inch drives
- Electrical wiring kit that includes electrical tape and a tool for stripping and crimping
- Jack and jack stands to raise your truck
15 Steps To DIY Fifth-Wheel Installation
Step 1 – Remove the spare tire in order to get full access to the underside of your truck. You may also have to remove the heat shield or other parts to get access. Follow any specific instructions that come with your hitch.
Step 2 – Place the front base rail into the correct position as indicated by your instructions. The distance will likely vary between a long-bed and short-bed truck. Center the base rail between the wheel wells.
Step 3 – Mark all your initial drill locations with a paint pen. These will be the bolt holes for the rail. Use a center punch to mark one drill location, and then drill a pilot hole through that location.
Step 4 – Check the pilot hole beneath the bed. Place the correct fifth-wheel bracket under the bed where the pilot hole location is. If it lines up correctly, then you can proceed to drill the remaining holes. Mark each hole with a paint pen, and move the base rail out of the way. Center punch the drill locations again, then drill down from the truck bed.
Step 5 – Enlarge the bolt holes with a step bit. This involves drilling out the pilot holes until they’re big enough to hold the bolts for the fifth-wheel rails. Drill carefully and slowly. After you create the holes, it’s a good idea to deburr the holes and then apply touch-up paint to protect any exposed metal from corrosion.
Step 6 – Place the under-bed brackets on each side of the truck bed and then bolt them in with the included nuts and bolts.
Step 7 – Place the base rail over the correct bolt hole locations in the truck bed. Once the rails are in position, insert the bolts into the bolt holes and secure them with nuts beneath the truck bed.
Step 8 – Measure the height of your fifth-wheel hitch. There needs to be a minimum of five and a half inches between your truck bed walls and the trailer. In order to find the hitch height, you’ll need to park your trailer on a level surface and measure from the ground to the underside of the kingpin plate. Take the next measurement from the ground to the top of your truck’s open tailgate. Subtract the second measurement from the first measurement to find the required height.
Step 9 – Attach the fifth-wheel legs by positioning them into the head of the hitch and bolting them into place.
Step 10 – Place the rear fifth-wheel rail into the correct position by using the leg anchors as a guide.
Step 11 – Center the rail in your truck bed between the wheel wells, then mark the drill locations for the second base rail. Follow the previously mentioned procedure for center punch, enlarging the holes, and touching up the paint.
Step 12 – Bolt down the rear base rail with the included bolts into the holes you just drilled.
Step 13 – Follow your fifth-wheel instructions to install any remaining bolts.
Step 14 – Use a torque wrench to torque all the hardware into place.
Step 15 – Place the fifth-wheel assembly into the installed base rails. Torque any other hardware that hasn’t been torqued yet.
Fifth-Wheel Hitch FAQ
Does installing a fifth-wheel hitch cancel my DualLiner warranty?
There are no warranty issues with the mat and no need to worry about rust or water. Our truck bed liners are not water-tight from the start and therefore allow for airflow and drainage. Adding a cut to the mat and trimming the sidewall for the wiring harness will not change the performance or warranty.
What is a fifth-wheel hitch?
Fifth-wheel hitches install in the bed of a truck and are primarily used to haul trailers and campers with larger payload ratings. The hitch makes it easier to turn and distribute the weight of these heavier items.
How much is a fifth-wheel hitch?
The cost varies widely. They can be between $50 and $200 for a basic hitch. A more sophisticated model might run close to or over $1,000. Installation by a mechanic can cost at least $600.
How does a fifth-wheel hitch work?
The hitch is a horseshoe-shaped device with an inserted kingpin. When the truck turns, the kingpin rotates against the stationary hitch.
How long does it take to install a fifth-wheel hitch?
The job should take between two and four hours depending on your level of expertise.
Protect your pickup bed with truck bed liners from DualLiner. DualLiner bed liners are constructed to fit your entire truck bed with custom interlocking parts and Zero Skid rubber mats. This means full protection from rust-causing moisture as well as scratches and scuffs. You won’t have to remove or destroy your truck bed liner in order to install a fifth-wheel hitch either.