Installing a 5th wheel hitch onto a short bed truck needs careful preparation. Measure the bed length and secure it to the frame. Make sure all factory mounting bolts are tight.
Let’s check these preps in more detail:
- Measure the bed length.
- Secure it to the frame.
- Make sure all factory mounting bolts are tight.
Measure the bed of the truck
Accurately measuring your truck bed is the key to a safe 5th wheel hitch installation. Measure the length of the inside of the truck bed at points A and B (closest and furthest to the cab). Subtract any wheel-well thickness if applicable. Also measure the width C from inside wall to inside wall and check wheel wells for clearance. Make sure there is enough space between wheel wells (D) for hitch components.
Compare your measurements with the kit or manufacturer’s instructions. If they differ significantly, consult a pro before attempting the installation.
Choose the right 5th wheel hitch
Choosing the perfect 5th wheel hitch for your short bed truck is essential for towing. Different trucks have different clearance needs and mounting locations, as well as various towing capacities. When selecting a 5th wheel hitch, make sure it is:
- Suitable for a short bed pickup (5-6 feet long).
- Has a steel head that can endure up to 24,000 lbs.
- The head should swivel for tight turns.
- Features shock absorbing spring bars, which will smooth out jerks and bumps.
- If necessary, choose the slider-ditch style hitch for greater maneuverability between turns or narrow lanes while in traffic or crowded parking areas.
Installing the Hitch
Installing a 5th wheel hitch to a short bed truck can be tricky. To ensure it’s secure and safe, it’s essential to take the right steps. This article will provide a guide. It’ll explain the different types of hitches and the requirements for installation. Ready? Let’s get started!
Remove the truck bed
To remove the hitch from your short bed truck, you must first remove the truck bed. Handle this task with care and protect any parts that could be affected.
Start by disconnecting and removing body parts such as emblems, tailgate latches, trim pieces and air deflector plates. Then, disconnect and remove rear lights. Secure all wiring connections needed for later. Record any factory torque settings of bolts/nuts.
Once everything is disconnected/removed, depending on suspension setup, you may have to:
- Remove shocks or lift blocks
- Lower the receiver from axle assembly
- Unbolt rear crossmember support
Finally, take off the truck bed with an extra set of hands.
Install the mounting brackets
Installing a 5th wheel hitch requires mounting rails and brackets. Each side needs two brackets; one to support the trailer, one for reference. Place the brackets on the rails, centred, with lag bolts and washers. Read the instructions for vehicle specs. Tighten all bolts, then move to opposite side.
Slide hitch boxes onto sides until locked in, or use an L-bracket. Make sure both are locked in tightly. Ignoring this could cause damage to your tow vehicle from wrong weight distribution when driving.
Secure the hitch to the mounting brackets
Position the hitch on the truck. Secure it with mounting brackets. Look at the instructions for the hitch and brackets. Some hitches need two people for installation.
- Use bolts to attach the mounts to the truck bed.
- Use only the bolts that come with the hitch.
- Avoid wiring and fuel lines near the hitch.
Once everything is secure, you can attach your trailer.
Yay! The fifth wheel hitch is now installed on your short-bed truck. Time to ensure it’s adjusted the right way. This’ll guarantee a secure connection and make sure the weight of your trailer is distributed evenly.
We’ll help you adjust your fifth wheel hitch, step-by-step. Let’s get started!
Reinstall the truck bed
Once the hitch is in place and the hardware is tightly fastened, it’s time to reinstall any truck bed components taken off. Carefully follow product instructions when replacing hardware and make sure everything is super tight!
Also, check the wires disconnected under the cab and double check they are connected correctly. After that, you can test your new hitch with a trailer by taking a short ride. Before hitting the road, double check all connections for safety!
Connect the hitch to the trailer
Installing the 5th wheel hitch can be tough. You may need help lifting and positioning it properly. Line up the hitch’s holes with your trailer’s, then put in each pin and tighten with a wrench. If you can’t reach the nuts and bolts due to tight space, use an extension bar.
Attach the included safety chain between your truck’s frame and the trailer’s. Make sure it’s long enough with some slack for turning. Finally, attach your trailer lights. There should be either a male plug connector under your vehicle, or a female socket on your trailer harness.
Test the connection
Attach the trailer to the truck safely and back up with care. Don’t forget to lighten or disconnect the trailer brakes when parking. Keep an eye out for tension in either direction between the truck and trailer. Also, look out for any obstructions that could interfere with hitching.
Once you have backed into a spot and connected the 5th wheel hitch with the trailer ball, gently pull forward and lightly tap both brakes at once. This stops any jerking motion that could damage your setup. After that, you can be sure that the hitch is secured on both ends.
Before any journey, always check the connection is tight – this ensures everyone is safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
What tools do I need to install a 5th wheel hitch on a short bed truck?
To install a 5th wheel hitch on a short bed truck you will need a 5/16-inch drill bit, a drill, a wrench, and a torque wrench.
What is the best way to mount the hitch?
To mount the hitch, you should refer to your manufacturer’s instructions and use the holes in the frame of your truck to anchor the hitch securely.
How long does it take to install a 5th wheel hitch?
Installing a 5th wheel hitch typically takes about two to three hours.