Is a fifth wheel hitch removable? (5 Key steps)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Is a fifth wheel hitch removable? We will tell you how to remove a fifth-wheel hitch and a ball hitch. We will also tell you how to attach it back and how to choose the best fifth-wheel trailer hitch. 

Is a fifth wheel hitch removable?

Yes, all fifth wheel hitches are removable. 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.

If you are not sure how to do it, here’s a step-by-step guide:

  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 helper 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.

Do you want to remove the ball hitch as well?

A hitch ball on a truck or car is mounted on a hitch receiver that is mounted on the rear of the vehicle. This is because there are different size ball hitches for different types of trailers, and this allows you to be flexible. If you ever have to pull a trailer that you don’t have the correct size ball for, just flip it out. 

Doing so can be done in less than five minutes, with just a few tools, but you have to remove the hitch ball first. 

  1. Park the vehicle on a level surface. Find the hitch ball on the rear of the vehicle, connected to the vehicle’s receiver. Locate the nut on the bottom of the hitch ball.
  1. Remove the nut at the bottom of the hitch ball with an open-end wrench. Throw the ball off the hook with your hands.
  1. Pull out the attachment locking pin from the hitch to the receiver, use your hands. Pull the catch on the receiver.

How to (re)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.

How to fit a fifth wheel hitch to a gooseneck tow ball?

Sometimes, you will have a different tow ball than the one you need. There is no big deal in that. The advantage of mounting a gooseneck tow ball to the trailer hitch the fifth wheel in the bed of a truck is that the weight of the trailer is distributed more evenly over the truck axles, unlike a bumper trailer coupling. 

Due to the elevated positions of both the tow ball and the fifth wheel plate, it is also easier to align them during hitch. The trailer has to be hijacked to the proper height before mounting is correct.

  1. Return the truck to the trailer by lining up the slot in the fifth wheel plate with the gooseneck ball. Stop the vehicle so that the stop is 4 feet away from the gooseneck ball.
  1. Drop the tailgate off the truck by lifting the tail door handle then lowering the tailgate.
  1. Return to the truck so that the trailer ball is inside the slot of the fifth wheel plate, but not touching anything.
  1. Extend the crank from the landing legs on the trailer.
  1. Look at the height of the tow ball and then look at the height of the fifth wheel hitch. The ball should be an inch or two lower than the hitch. Rotate the handle of the crank to raise or lower the gooseneck ball to the proper engagement height.
  1. Pull the fifth wheel plate locking jaw handle outward to ensure the jaw is open from the hitch.
  1. Return the truck under the gooseneck of the trailer until the ball slides into the jaw and the jaw springs closed.
  1. Check to see if the jaw lock handle has closed all the way. Walk-behind the truck and teammates into the fifth wheel plate slot to see if the jaw is fully closed or locked behind the ball. Slide the safety lock pin into place if the hitch is so equipped.
  1. Close and close the rear door closed. Connect the electrical cord to turn on the trailer lights.
  1. Put the truck in low gear and allow it to pull forward about an inch to test the gooseneck ball mount and hitch. This should always be done before the landing legs are brought up to avoid the event that the trailer collapsed due to improper mounting.
  1. Rotate the landing leg crank handle to reduce the weight of the trailer down on the truck’s fifth hitch wheel and raise the support legs all the way up.
  1. Drive the truck forward one foot and hit the jumps.

Note: Improper coupling of the ball and hitch can cause damage to the truck and/or trailer.

How to choose the best fifth wheel hitch

Fixed or removable hitch? With or without tools?  It all depends on what you are looking for, in terms of aesthetics or frequency of use.

Are you looking for the cheapest price? Choose a classic, fixed and visible ball, suitable for frequent use.

Are you looking for an inexpensive and aesthetic hitch? The removable ball with a tool is a good alternative. It is almost invisible when disassembled.

Are you looking for good aesthetics and easy use? Choose a removable head without tools. It preserves the aesthetics of your car and is removed in a matter of seconds.

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 Is a fifth wheel hitch removable?

Is it necessary to remove the tow ball?

No, the law does not require removing the ball when not towing. However, it is advisable to do so to avoid any risk of personal injury or damage to the bumpers of other vehicles.

 Should I grease the fifth wheel hitch ball?

Yes, you should grease the fifth wheel hitch ball as it prevents premature wear of the ball joint or hitch head. Apply grease directly to the bottom of your kneecap.

Is a 7-pin or 13-pin connection required to remove the fifth wheel hitch?

For a standard fifth-wheel trailer a 7-pin socket will be sufficient to provide power to the basic functions (turn signals, brake lights and fog lights) of the vehicle to the trailer.

How does the fifth wheel hitch work?

A fifth wheel hitch 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.

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