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Are 5th Wheel Hitches Universal?

Many accessories for your vehicle are interchangeable. But not everything is "one size fits all." If you are needing to swap out your 5th wheel hitch for another and are wondering if they are universal, we can help you. We researched 5th wheel hitches so you'll know for sure if your new one will work.

There are a variety of 5th wheel hitches, most of which will connect to your 5th wheel. These include:

  • Slide bar hitches
  • Double jaw hitches
  • Single jaw hitches
  • Gooseneck hitches
  • Sliding hitches

Now that we know that there are a variety of 5th wheel hitches, we'll take a look at each one. You might also be wondering if 5th wheels are all the same size, or how much it will cost to prepare a truck to tow a 5th wheel. For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what our research has uncovered.

Truck going through a tight corner while towing a fifth wheel, Are 5th Wheel Hitches Universal?

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What Are The Different Types Of 5th Wheel Hitches?

When looking at different 5th wheels, you should be able to connect most of them to the hitch you have installed in the bed of your pickup truck. But not all will be able to match unless you have additional accessories installed. 

A pickup truck towing a fifth wheel camper

Let's take a look at the different types of hitches available. 

Slide Bar Hitches

The slide bar hitch is usually the least expensive. It also produces the most noise of all the 5th wheel hitch options out there. These hitches will not secure the kingpin from the 5th wheel as tightly as other 5th wheel hitches.

It's recommended to avoid this style of hitch unless you are on a tight budget. They are reliable, of course, but they just make a lot of noise.

Double Jaw Hitches

This 5th wheel hitch type will secure the kingpin in two spots. This produces a tighter fit for the kingpin. The tighter the fit, the less noise.

This type of 5th wheel hitch is still affordable but is generally considered one of the best options for towing.

Single Jaw Hitches

For those who don't mind spending a bit more money on a 5th wheel hitch, there's the single jaw style. This 5th wheel hitch will completely obscure the kingpin from the 5th wheel. 

As the kingpin is enveloped, it will make the least amount of noise. It is the quietest of all 5th wheel hitches but tends to be the most expensive.

Gooseneck Hitches

You won't find all 5th wheels with a kingpin exposed. Some will have a gooseneck adapter installed, so you will need a gooseneck hitch installed in your truck.

The reason some haulers prefer a gooseneck hitch is due to better weight distribution. The gooseneck hitch also takes up a lot less room in the bed of the truck. This leaves a lot more room for other objects whenever the truck is not pulling the 5th wheel.

Sliding Hitches

These hitches are made specifically for pickup trucks that have shorter bed lengths. A 5th wheel hitch would need to be installed behind the rear axle of these trucks. If you don't, the 5th wheel will collide with the rear of the truck cab whenever it makes a sharp turn.

You install a sliding hitch in front of the rear axle. Whenever the truck goes into a sharper turn, the 5th wheel king pin will slide along with the hitch into a position that is behind the rear axle.

You can get a manual sliding hitch or one that is automatic.

Are 5th Wheels All The Same Size?

Just like pickup trucks, 5th wheels will come in a variety of sizes. The smallest 5th wheels are less than 20 feet. The largest pull-behinds can be nearly 60 feet long.

Though the length of your prospective 5th wheel is an important consideration, haulers should be more concerned about the weight. Selecting a model of 5th wheel that will not exceed the truck's towing capacity is critical.

You will do permanent damage if you tow more than the maximum towing capacity. It also greatly increases the likelihood of an accident.

What Does A Puck System Look Like?

Installing a 5th wheel hitch would normally require careful measuring and drilling holes in the bed of the truck. It's best to have a professional do this, as there is no room for error.

Some auto manufacturers, like Ford, GMC, and Chevy, have puck systems available. The bed of the truck will already have this predrilled system installed.

You will recognize it by the holes that will match up to your 5th wheel hitch. You align the hitch with the holes and lock it into place. You'll then be ready to attach the trailer.

How Much Does It Cost To Prepare A Truck For A 5th Wheel?

A old F-150 parked on the side of the road

The cost of preparing the truck for a 5th wheel varies. Labor costs and the brand/style of the 5th wheel hitch are the two variables that will have quite a price range.

Count on the labor being between $100 and $275 for the installation. The 5th wheel hitch itself could be as low as $500. But some will cost as much as $1,000 or more. 

Know what type of hitch you need before shopping. Use customer reviews and professional guidance from a reputable RV dealer to help you determine which one is right for you. Doing so will keep you from making the wrong decision. 

Can You Pull A 5th Wheel With A 6.5-Foot Truck Box?

Opened pickup truck bed ready for hauling

If you have a truck with a shorter bed length, you might be concerned about hauling a 5th wheel behind it. We mentioned earlier in this post the dangers of doing so. If the 5th wheel hitch is not positioned far enough from the cab, the end of the 5th wheel can collide with the cab on tight turns.

A slider hitch will be needed if you pull the 5th wheel. This 5th wheel hitch style is mounted in the same place as any other, but the kingpin from the hitch will slide with it backward on tight turns.

By doing so, the end of the 5th wheel is far enough back to avoid collision with the cab of the truck.

Can I Tow A 5th Wheel With A 3/4-Ton Truck?

A trailer hitch attached to a car

You might be wondering if the type of pickup truck will impede your towing dreams. Certainly, what you are towing with can have different sets of limitations. But that won't keep you from using a 3/4-ton truck to haul a 5th wheel.

Depending on the model 3/4-ton truck you own, you could tow up to 20,000 pounds behind it. This is more than enough towing capacity for the majority of 5th wheels.

Check your towing capacity carefully to ensure that you do not exceed it. You should equip your truck for towing, including any towing packages. This will increase your towing capacity and make towing a safer experience.

Final Thoughts

Truck going through a tight corner while towing a fifth wheel

While the 5th wheel hitches you find will fit the kingpins on any 5th wheel, the hitches themselves come in a wide variety. Selecting the one that is best for your situation is critical, as well as getting the hitch that is capable of handling the weight you need to pull.

Never exceed the towing capacity of any vehicle, as it can lead to permanent damage and roadway accidents. Drive safe!

We hope this post on 5th wheel hitches answered all of your questions. For more helpful information, we recommend reading the following posts:

Do You Need A Diesel Truck To Pull A 5th Wheel [Including 5th Wheel & Pick-up Models]

What Is a 5th Wheel Lube Plate (And Does Your RV Need One?)

How To Remove Gooseneck Ball And Hitch From Truck?