You’ve just purchased a brand new fifth-wheel trailer and you are excited to hit the road to go on new adventures. However, your current truck doesn’t have a fifth-wheel hitch to accommodate your trailer. How Much Does 5th Wheel Hitch Installation Cost?
As a general rule, the fifth wheel installation cost is between $850 to $1,700. Labor costs approximately $500 and the hitch ranges from $350 to $1,200.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about buying and installing a fifth-wheel hitch. This includes:
- What a fifth wheel hitch is
- Things to consider when purchasing a hitch
- Different types of hitches and which type you should choose
- The best hitches on the market now
- If installing a hitch to save money is worth it
What is a Fifth Wheel Hitch?
Before purchasing a fifth wheel hitch it is crucial to understand the difference between a fifth-wheel hitch and a ball hitch.
A ball hitch attaches towards the bumper of a car. A fifth wheel hitch attaches to the bed of a truck and puts the weight between the truck’s cab and rear axle. This allows for a more stable attachment and for the truck to pull a heavier load.
It is essential to understand that you do not own or intend on purchasing a truck, then you are unable to get a fifth wheel hitch installation.
What Should I Consider When Purchasing a Hitch?
Although it may seem like a straightforward process, there are a lot of things to consider when purchasing a fifth-wheel hitch.
The Size and Towing Capacity of Your Truck:
When choosing the type of fifth wheel hitch you would like to install, the first consideration is the vehicle that you intend to use to tow your trailer. You should think about:
- The Towing Capacity of Your Vehicle – You cannot tow a trailer that is heavier than your vehicle’s towing capacity. The best hitch in the world won’t help you avoid this dilemma.
- The Length of your Tow Bed – Do you have a short or long box
- Other Uses of Your Vehicle – Will you need your vehicle for any other jobs? If so, you need to look into a removable towing hitch and removable rails.
The Trailers Weight and Attachment Capabilities:
Once that you’ve determined that type of hitch suits the needs and limits of your vehicle, it’s time to consider these key factors about your trailer:
- Gross Trailer Weight – You need to know the weight of your trailer to ensure that the hitch and your vehicle can accommodate its gross weight.
- Trailer Size – This is also important as a longer trailer size will impact if you should purchase a more expensive hitch for extra stability.
- Trailer Attachment Capabilities – This may seem obvious, but make sure your trailer is compatible with a fifth-wheel hitch.
The Hitch Type and Cost:
Finally, you must consider certain features of the hitch. These include:
- The Type of Hitch – certain hitch types work is better for different needs
- The Cost of the Hitch – Is the overall cost of your hitch or the performance of the hitch more important?
- The Hitch’s Towing Capacity – You can’t buy a hitch that has a towing capacity that is less than the weight of the trailer you want to pull.
The Cost of Different Types of Hitches:
The cost of a fifth wheel hitch installation won’t vary much. However, the cost of the hitch can vary significantly based on the quality and type of hitch that you are purchasing. Let’s take a look at the different types of hitches.
Slide Bar Hitch:
The main benefit of a slide bar hitch is that it automatically locks around the kingpin when it is in the towing position. This means that it is quick and easy to attach. The main disadvantage is that it does not lock as tightly as other hitch types. This means that you will hear a lot of rattling around and see more movement.
Slide bar hitches are great if you only plan on traveling a short distance. They are economical and affordable. However, if you plan on traveling outside of your local area with your trailer, it’s better to opt for a tighter lock.
Dual Jaw Hitch:
The dual jaw hitch is in the middle of the road in terms of pricing and holds on to your kingpin. You will still hear some rattling and see some movement, but it will be significantly less than with the slide bar hitch.
A dual hitch is a great option for those looking to go on longer trips, but who can’t afford or don’t need the stability of a single jaw hitch.
Single Jaw Hitch:
The single jaw hitches it the most expensive type of fifth wheel hitch and in return offers the best hold on your kingpin. In terms of movement and noise, you will barely notice that you are pulling a trailer.
It should be noted that all three hitch types are safe and will keep your trailer attached to your vehicle. The difference is in the noise and movement from the trailer.
What is the Best 5th Wheel Hitch?
There are thousands of fifth-wheel hitch options on the market. It’s important to do your research on the benefits of each type of hitch. We’ve listed three of the best fifth wheel hitches that you can currently purchase on Amazon.
The RVK3700 is one of the best fifth-wheel hitches on the market. It only weighs 88 pounds and tow up to 25,000 pounds of gross trailer weight. It has cam action release for when parking on unlevel sites ad has 1” wrap-around jaws that help counteract sloppy starts and stops when towing. It also does not require any mounting rails, making it fully removable.
The downside is that the hitch is only compatible 2016-2019 GMC/Chevy puck system. Therefore, it is extremely limited in terms of who can use the hitch. It costs between $1,000 and $1,200 dollars.
The Curt Q25 is an excellent option for those looking for a hitch that is compatible with any truck. The only downside to this versatility is that you install brackets. The hitch itself is between $800 and $900, but this does not include the price of the brackets.
The Curt Q25 uses a dual jaw system and provides an incredibly smooth ride. It can tow up to 25,000 pounds of gross trailer weight.
The Curt A16 is a great budget option for those looking for a cheaper hitch. The hitch only has a grand towing capacity of 16,000 pounds and uses a slide bar hitch. While it has significantly less towing capacity than the other two options mentioned in this article and won’t keep your trailer from making noise it does offer an affordable option.
This would be a great hitch for someone looking to occasionally tow their trailer to local camping sites. With the hitch and base rails included for only about $600, the deal for a quality hitch cannot be beaten.
Should I Self-Install a Fifth Wheel Hitch?
If you are on a tight budget and want to save about $500 in installation fees you can opt to self-install your fifth wheel hitch. The real question is the time and effort put towards installing the hitch worth the savings? The answer depends on your truck and the type of hitch that you’ve purchased.
If you have a newer truck and are purchasing a hitch that is designed for that truck, then self-installation is fairly easy. The truck bed should have pre-drilled holes for the hitch and as long as you have some basic handyman skills installation should only take an hour or two.
If you are buying a non-custom hitch or a hitch for an older truck, then it’s probably better to leave it to the professionals. Installation of non-custom hitches involves drilling into the frame of your truck to get the right fit. This requires special tools and the knowledge of knowing where the truck will best support the additional weight. These types of installations can take 5 to 7 hours so the expensive price tag for installation is typically justified.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Much Does a Fifth Wheel Hitch Installation Cost?
It can cost between $850 to $1,700 for a fifth wheel installation. Price will vary on the quality of the hitch you are buying and if you are planning to self-install the hitch.
How Much Does Having a Fifth Wheel Hitch Installed Professionally Cost?
The cost of a professional fifth wheel hitch installation costs about $500 and takes 5 to 7 hours of the installer’s time. If you are buying a hitch that is built for your specific model of truck, then you should be able to avoid this cost and self-install the hitch.
What is the Best Fifth Wheel Hitch?
The best fifth wheel hitch depends on several different factors including the type of truck you own, how often you plan on towing your trailer and if you need your truck bed for other things. In general, a single jaw hitch offers the most stability.
Will Cheap Hitches Come Unreleased?
As a general rule, cheap hitches will not malfunction and release your trailer. When paying for a quality hitch, you are paying for reduced movement and noise.
How Much Weight Can My Hitch Tow?
You should not tow more than the gross towing capacity of your hitch or your vehicle. It’s good to leave a little bit of wiggle room to ensure that your vehicle isn’t under too much stress.
Which Fifth Wheel Hitch Should I Choose?
Unfortunately, there is no one right answer to which hitch works best for you. It depends on several factors discussed throughout this article. If you need to use your truck bed for things other than towing your trailer, you should buy a removable hitch. If you’re only going to tow your trailer occasionally over short distances, then you probably don’t need to purchase a top-of-the-line hitch. This article gives you the tools to understand the qualities that impact the overall cost of a fifth wheel hitch, but you must decide which of the above options is best for you.
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