Can a fifth wheel hitch be removed?

In this blog post, we will discuss: Can a fifth wheel hitch be removed? We will explain how to both remove and instal a fifth-wheel hitch. 

Can a fifth wheel hitch be removed?

Yes, a girth wheel hitch can be removed.  A fifth wheel, or gooseneck, hitch sits in the middle of the sturdy truck bed, where it can support more weight in that area. This also makes it easier to turn around tight corners. 

Hitch removal should take about 20 minutes if you have all the tools ready. Most hitches come on a “slide” rail that is bolted to the bed from below and at the top.

Here’s how to remove a fifth wheel hitch step-by-step:

  1. Whack the bolts a few times to loosen the tension on the hitch. This is necessary for a hitch that has been used for a long time and has never been removed.
  1. Place a leveller under the truck where the four screws correspond to the slide rails. The person at the bottom should have only the regular key system. The usual size is 3/4 inch. Your job is to anchor the nut so that the bolt doesn’t just slide through.
  1. Loosen the bolts from the inside, while the person at the bottom anchors the nuts. These bolts and nuts will be very tight, so use enough leverage to prevent sticking.
  1. Take out the loosened bolts and remove the metal slide rails from the truck bed.

What makes 5th wheel hitches different?

Those who regularly haul heavy equipment, machinery or transport and transport vehicles often opt for the fifth and most advanced category of trailers, the 5th wheel.

This type of hitch is specially designed for the beds of vans and flatbed trucks. With a towing capacity between 5500 and 9000 Kg and a weight capacity between 550 and 770 Kg, 5th wheel hitches are installed just above and above the rear axle of a truck. 

Each unit connects to its towed trailer via a central pivot which, when positioned, resembles the plate of a semi-tractor.

Easy to remove fifth wheels hitches

Fifth wheels are extremely popular with RV enthusiasts due to their large floor plans and ease of towing. One drawback is the large and heavy hitch they require, which can overpower your truck bed. Hitches that are easily removable are therefore ideal.

  • Rails: Bar systems allow you to remove the big, heavy pull and leave it at home or on a campsite. Most rails are installed in the truck bed and attached to the vehicle frame with nuts and bolts and/or welding. Although the rails are low profile, they do not stay on the bed.
  • Under bed systems: Some rail-type wheel tractor hitches are available with the rails that mount under the bed of the truck. Another popular type uses cross tubes that are attached to the frame. In both types, the hitch platform is attached to the underside of the bed with easily removable hardware, leaving the truck bed completely free.
  • The gooseneck option: By installing a gooseneck adapter on your fifth wheel, you can use a gooseneck hitch on your truck bed. This allows you the option of using a hitch that flips or folds into a pocket under the bed when not in use, leaving a flat surface. 

While this means that you won’t have to move a heavy hitch around, you will have the added expense of an adapter. There are also some concerns regarding the strength of fifth wheel gooseneck adapters.

How to install a fifth-wheel trailer hitch?

Let’s pretend that the situation is reversed and that you need to instal a fifth-wheel hitch.  Installing a fifth-wheel trailer hitch on your truck will allow you to tow your mobile condo with ease, as long as the hitch is installed correctly. 

Do not attempt to tow a trailer that equals or exceeds the load capacity of the towing vehicle; Allowing a 20 per cent fudge factor will ensure that you can safely tow your fifth wheel without overly wearing your truck’s suspension. Fifth wheel trailer hitches mount in the centre of your truck bed and provide strong trailer connections.

Here’s how to install a fifth wheel hitch step-by-step:

  1. Use a 3/8-inch ratchet with an extension and a Torx head socket to remove the exhaust heat shield from the bottom of the truck bed.
  1. Slide the fifth wheel hitch kit’s rear cross member between the top of the frame rail and the bottom of your truck’s bed. Use a 1/2-inch ratchet and socket to loosen the bed mounting bolts if the fit is too tight to slide on the rear cross member. 
  1. Repeat this step with the other crossbar under the bed. Disassemble your truck’s factory brake controller from the driver’s side frame with a 3/8-inch ratchet and socket if your truck is equipped with one.
  1. Slide the chassis brackets from the hitch kit onto the outside of the frame behind the wheel. Use the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket to loosely screw into place. Use the notch in the side bracket that lines up with the centre of the truck bed’s square tubing to help align the truck bed. 
  1. Align the brackets on the side of the frame with the holes in the Stage 2 cross members. Bolt them along with the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket.
  1. Pass the pointed bolt (provided with the hitch kit) through the holes in the bottom of the cross members so that the pointed end points toward the bottom of the truck bed. Tighten the screw all the way so that it hits the floor of the truck bed.
  1. Attach a hole saw to a drill and locate the bumps on the floor of the truck bed created in Step 4. Place the centre of the hole you saw into the bump. Drill four 2 1/2-inch holes in the truck bed floor. Remove the circular discs from the hitch kit, place them in the holes and install them with a ratchet, Torx head socket and the screws provided in the kit.
  1. Tighten all bolts. Have an assistant help you lift the hitch and place it on the circular discs attached to the truck bed.

What is the difference between a fifth-wheel hitch and a gooseneck hitch?

Fifth wheel trailer hitches use a centre pivot receiver and pin mounted on the bed of a heavy-duty pickup. These hitches are similar to diesel tractor-trailer drill rig combinations. 

A gooseneck hitch is similar to the fifth wheel but has a conventional ball and coupler mounted under, behind, or on the floor of the cargo bed. Goosenecks hitches are not to be confused with the gooseneck hitchhiker trailer brand, which generally employs a fifth-wheel hitch.

Fifth wheels and goosenecks offer better weight distribution. They are better than bumper hitches for heavy or large trailers because they offer a more level ride, improve braking control and minimize sway. 

The weight of the tongue is between the pickup axles rather than on the rear axle and springs only. This distributes the weight between the two axles and eliminates the leverage that lifts weight off the front wheels when there is a heavy bumper hitch load.

The bottom line

The use of a fifth-wheel hitch varies, depending on the vehicle and the type of trailer hitched. Fifth-wheel trailers have the front end that protrudes past the body, extending over the rear bumper of the truck. It looks a lot like a cabover camper riding in the cargo bed of a pickup truck. 

Choosing a removable fifth wheel hitch will save you a lot of time and money, as they are easy to detach and/or replace!

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on Can a fifth wheel hitch be removed?

How does the fifth wheel hitch work?

A fifth wheel hitch l works by locking a kingpin in the lockjaw. The kingpin is similar to a hitch coupler and is attached to the semi-trailer, while the locking jaw acts as the receiver for the hitch

Are gooseneck 5th Wheel Adapters safe?

Gooseneck 5th wheel adapters are safe, but not the best option for permanent use. A fifth wheel hitch is best for recreational towing (e.g for a trip), while a gooseneck hitch is recommended for commercial towing. 

What is a fifth wheel hitch?

A fifth wheel hitch is specially designed for the beds of vans and flatbed trucks. With a towing capacity between 5500 and 9000 Kg and a weight capacity between 550 and 770 Kg, 5th wheel hitches are installed just above and above the rear axle of a truck. 

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