5th Wheel Hitch Installation: DIY or Bring in a Professional?

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An RV attached to a truck in the mountains using a 5th wheel hitch installation.

Before you take that fancy, new fifth wheel home, you’re going to need a fifth-wheel hitch. Installation on these things can be a beast of a project. So, should you DIY or bring in a professional for your 5th wheel hitch installation? Let’s see!

What Is A 5th Wheel Hitch?

A fifth-wheel hitch mounts in the bed of a truck to connect a fifth-wheel RV to the truck. The hitch itself looks similar to what you’d expect to find on the back of a semi. It’s the same style of hitching system, but only on a much smaller scale.

The hitch will typically use a single or dual jaw to wrap around the trailer’s kingpin. It sits over the tow vehicle’s rear axle and creates a very smooth and quiet towing experience.

Hitching and unhitching a fifth-wheel trailer is a relatively easy process. With enough practice, just about anybody can hitch and unhitch their RV by themselves. However, many prefer having an extra set of eyes and hands to make the process easier.

A man preparing to install his 5th wheel to a home to a 5th wheel hitch.

Can You Install a Hitch by Yourself?

Yes, many fifth-wheel owners do their 5th wheel hitch installation themselves. Many trucks built with towing in mind will come with a fifth-wheel prep package.

This will typically be a puck-like system that allows you to drop in a fifth-wheel hitch quickly. However, if your truck did not come capable of installing a fifth-wheel hitch, you can still install a hitch onto your truck.

Installing a hitch on a truck not prepared from the factory is a bit more complex. You’ll need a ratchet, socket set, crescent wrench, drill, drill bits, and a torque wrench. Make sure you read through the instructions to know exactly what you’re doing and that your hitch gets installed correctly.

Pro Tip: Do you know which hitch to get? These are the 5 Best 5th Wheel Hitches On The Market!

Is It Better to Install a 5th Wheel Hitch Yourself or Bring in a Professional?

You want to ensure your 5th wheel hitch installation is correct. Towing your trailer with a hitch not properly installed is very dangerous. It could cause damage to your truck, trailer, and others on the road.

If you’re not confident in your abilities or have the correct tools, bringing in a professional might be a good idea. They’ll likely have much more experience and knowledge when it comes to setting up your hitch.

An 5th wheel home attached to a truck installed to a a 5th wheel hitch.

How Do You Install a 5th Wheel Hitch?

If you’re lucky enough to have a vehicle that has a towing package, the 5th wheel hitch installation is incredibly easy. Follow the instructions for assembling the hitch itself. You can then remove the covers from the holes in the bed of your truck and set the hitch down inside them.

Turn the levers to lock the hitch in and place the cotter pins to prevent the levers from unlocking. The longest part of this process will depend on the assembly of your hitch.

Not every truck comes ready to handle a fifth-wheel hitch, so you’ll need to install it yourself. Start by removing the spare tire and positioning the front base rail of the hitch with the front of your truck bed.

This distance differs between long-bed and short-bed trucks, so make sure you measure correctly. Mark the drill locations for the front rail and then drill a pilot hole. Check and make sure the pilot hole is in the correct location, that the under-bed bracket matches up with the hole you just drilled, and that there are no issues for any future holes.

You can now drill the remaining pilot holes for the rest of the front mount. Use a step bit to slowly enlarge the hole to accept the bolts that come with your fifth-wheel hitch rails. You can then bolt in the under-bed bracket and bolt down the fifth-wheel rail.

Setting the Hitch

Next, it’s important to set your hitch at the proper height for your trailer. Park your trailer on a level surface and measure from the ground to the underside of the kingpin. Maintain at least 5.5 inches between your truck bed rails and the trailer. This will help avoid any contact when going over uneven terrain while towing.

You can then attach the legs of your hitch to the hitch itself and start positioning the rear fifth-wheel rail. Like the front rail, mark the drill locations and take your time enlarging the holes. Once the hole is large enough, you can bolt down the rear base rail and install any remaining bolts. 

You’ll want to torque all of the hardware according to the specifications in the 5th wheel hitch installation instructions. You can now install the fifth-wheel hitch assembly into the rails. If all goes as planned, you’ll be hitching up in no time!

Keep in Mind: Interested in a B&W Fifth Wheel Hitch? Before purchasing, check out this review!

A 5th wheel home outside in the mountains, before being installed to a 5th wheel hitch.

How Much Does It Cost to Have a 5th Wheel Hitch Installed?

Depending on your setup, you can expect to pay $75 to $225 to have your hitch installed. It will largely depend on any drilling necessary during your installation and the shop’s hourly labor rate. You’ll likely get a better deal and results at an independent shop than a dealership.

Where Do I Go to Get a 5th Wheel Hitch Installed?

Many RV dealerships are capable of installing hitches for you. They’re typically very experienced in 5th wheel hitch installation on various vehicles and do it often. However, just because they do it all the time doesn’t mean they’re the best option. Manufacturers like Curt and B&W make it easy to find dealers and places to get your installation done.

Does Uhaul Install 5th Wheel Hitches?

Yes, Uhaul sells and installs a variety of hitches, including fifth-wheel hitches. However, not every location can install them. You’ll need to reach out to a local U-Haul Hitch Center to see if they do install them. They’ll also give you an idea of the parts and pricing needed for your specific situation. 

Which 5th Wheel Hitch Is Best?

The best fifth-wheel hitch makes it easy to hitch and unhitch your RV. For many RVers, it’s hard to argue with the B&W Companion. It’s incredibly strong and capable for just about any RV and uses a single locking jaw. 

A single locking jaw makes it very easy to know without a doubt that your RV is secure when towing. If you’ve ever seen a fifth-wheel trailer unhitch while towing, it will not only ruin your truck and trailer but your day as well. You want to make sure it’s hitched correctly every single time.

Whatever You Do, Ensure Your Hitch Is Properly Installed 

Your hitch is an essential piece of equipment for your RV. Ensuring proper 5th wheel hitch installation is vital to keep everyone safe. You don’t want to damage your vehicle or cause an accident. The minimum cost to have our hitch installed professionally is worth it to ensure it’s right. If you choose to go the DIY route, take your time to follow the instructions. 

Would you install a fifth-wheel hitch yourself or leave it to a professional?

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