How to Install a Fifth Wheel Hitch on a Short Bed Truck

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Short bed trucks often trade additional seating or better parking options for a smaller carrying capacity. This results in the need for a trailer to make up for the lost carrying capacity. By using a fifth wheel hitch, you can tow a trailer to carry the equipment you need. Just make sure you stay in line with your truck’s listed towing capacity to avoid equipment failure. 

Before we get into the installation process for a fifth wheel hitch, you need to know if you actually have a short bed truck.

What Qualifies as a Short Bed Truck?

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Pickup trucks come in three typical varieties: standard short bed, standard long bed, and extra short bed.

Standard Short Bed

Short bed trucks compose the majority of pickup trucks on the road and on the market. They feature a bed somewhere between five and six-and-a-half feet long. Trucks with a bed close to five feet might be referred to as compact pickup trucks. 

Standard Long Bed

Long bed trucks have a bed between seven and eight feet long. Their larger size makes them better suited to handling heavier projects, such as construction and farm work.

Also Read: How Are 5th Wheels Measured?

Extra Short Bed

Different car salesmen use the term “extra short bed” in different ways. Sometimes they will call a truck an extra short bed even though it falls in the range of the standard short bed. A true extra-short bed has a bed length of less than five feet.

This topic of installing a fifth wheel hitch applies to any truck with a bed less than eight feet long.

What is a Fifth Wheel Hitch

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A fifth wheel hitch is a mechanical mount that gets installed in the bed of a pickup truck. It helps the truck haul a trailer behind it. They work especially well for hauling an extra-large trailer such as a horse trailer or RV when a traditional hitch will not suffice. 

Also Read: Best Weight Distribution Hitch Travel Trailer in 2021

It sits in the bed in a manner that levels the weight of the trailer between the cabin and the rear axle. You will secure a fifth wheel hitch to your truck using a series of screws and rails.

How to Install a Fifth Wheel Hitch

  1. Mark the center location in the truck’s rear frame where the side rails will be fixed and where the centre of the kingpin will rest after coupling of the hitch plates.
  2. Slide the brackets from the rail kit in place onto the bottom of the base of the truck frame.
  3. Slide in the rails into the brackets and screw them up to the brackets.
  4. Repeat point number 2 & 3 for the top of the frame base.
  5. Make sure the position of the rails in top and bottom is perfectly aligned over each other and rails on both sides are well connected to each other with screws through the base of the frame connecting them.
  6. Drill the hole equal to the size of the kingpin in your hitch kit.
  7. Now, rest the 5th wheel hitch apparatus on the rails, and the hitch plate on the apparatus aligning the position of the kingpin opening in the hitch plate in the centre.
  8. Screw up the apparatus to the rails and hitch plate to the apparatus firmly.
  9. If the 5th wheel hitch is positioned correctly on the rear frame of the truck, it is just a matter of minutes to couple the trailer to the truck with the kingpin.
  10. Once coupled, fasten the kingpin with the side gear to the bottom of the truck frame and fix or weld it there with screws and washers.
  11. Make sure all the screw connections are perfectly fitted and firm.
  12. The whole process may take 4-5 hours depending on the proficiency and experience of the installer. Once all the above steps are covered, you are good to hit the road.

Things to Consider Before Installing an Fifth Wheel Hitch

1. Weight and Towing Limits

Before installing a fifth wheel hitch, consider what you want to haul with it and make sure you will not exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity and weight limits. 

2. Unladen Vehicle Weight

The unladen vehicle weight refers to the weight of your completely empty truck, i.e. no passengers, cargo, or fuel.

3. Gross Vehicle Weight Limit Rating (GVWLR)

Maximum weight a vehicle can carry while in operation. Includes all weight in the bed, gas tank and cabin. Many vehicle owners do not exceed a weight limit within 15 percent of the given GVWLR to be safe.

4. Tow Capacity

This refers to how much weight a truck can pull behind it.

Also Read: How To Increase Towing Capacity?

5. Payload

Not to be confused with carrying capacity, this refers to how much weight a truck can carry in its cab and bed.


Now you know how to install a fifth wheel hitch, increasing the potential of your short-bed pickup truck. Check out our blog for additional information!

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