You’ve got your truck and you’ve bought a fifth wheel trailer. Now you need to know how much it will cost to get a fifth wheel hitch installed so you can head out on the road.
Fifth wheel travel is fun and exciting. You will want to have a hitch installed in your truck as quickly as possible so that you can start using your new trailer.
How much does it cost to install a fifth wheel hitch?
Costs will vary, but generally a fifth wheel hitch installation from a qualified shop or installer will cost between $750 to $1700. This includes the labor and cost of the hitch itself. If you’re installing it yourself it will likely cost you between $350 to $1200 for the hitch and the installation/rail kit you will need to put it in. If you don’t have all the tools you need, you may also have to purchase some.
A good hitch will make your hooking and unhooking and travel much smoother and your camping adventures much more fun so it is an important purchase.
Keep reading to learn more about how much will it cost to have your new fifth wheel hitch installed? What type of hitch should you choose? Where should you get it installed? Should you install it yourself? How long will it take?
5th Wheel Hitch Installation Cost
The cost varies greatly for fifth wheel hitches. They range from $50 to $200 for a basic hitch to well over a thousand dollars for a more sophisticated model. With some you will also need to purchase an installation or rail kit.
What you buy will depend on your preferences, your truck and your budget.
Some things to consider when choosing your hitch are;
- The size and weight of your trailer
- The length of your truck bed (long or short box)
- Do you want the hitch to be fully removable? (if you need to use the truck for other jobs)
- What is most important to you – price or performance?
What Will The Hitch Itself Cost And What Type Should You Choose?
Any hitch will get the job done to move your trailer.
A budget priced hitch will get your from A to B and may be all that you need if you don’t plan to move the trailer a lot or if price is your biggest consideration.
A higher priced hitch will often be of better quality, easier to use and offer a smoother towing experience, but you will pay handsomely for it.
As with all purchases, the happy medium of buying something in the mid price range is usually a safe bet. You will get decent quality and towing experience, without spending more than you need to.
What are the different types of fifth wheel hitches?
There are three basic types of fifth wheel hitches:
- Slide bar
- Dual jaw
- Single jaw
These are generally the most economical kind of hitch and they have the advantage of locking automatically around your king pin when you are in position.
The disadvantage is that they don’t lock as tightly as the other styles of hitch, so there will be more movement and noise when you are hauling.
A slide bar hitch is very secure and will be good for shorter trips, but you may prefer a Dual or Single Jaw hitch for longer travel.
The dual jaw type hitches are middle of the road in terms of pricing and offer less noise and movement than the slide bar style.
You will feel some movement and hear some noise at the king pin, but it will be less than with a slide bar.
Unlike the slide bar, you will need to close the dual jaw hitch around the king pin once you are in place.
The single jaw hitch offers the most secure connection and the least noise when you are towing. It makes the strongest connection with your king pin, which translates to a smoother ride.
Like the dual jaw, you will need to close the hitch around the king pin once you are position.
All three types of hitch offer very safe and solid towing options. As with anything you are towing, you should always double-check your connection before heading out on the road.
The only times I have read about a hitch coming undone and causing damage were related to human error.
What is the best 5th wheel hitch?
Following are some well rated 5th hitches you can buy.
1: B&W Companion 5th Wheel Hitch RVK350020,000lbs (dual jaw)
The Curt A16 model has a fully articulating head, cam action latching handle and polyurethane bushings – all of which add up to excellent range of motion, easy release and a quiet ride. It can handle up to 20,000 lbs gross trailer weight and has Limited Lifetime coverage.
2: CURT 16120 Black A16 5th Wheel Hitch, 16,000 lbs(dual jaw)
The range from $50 to $200 has a capacity of up to 16,000 lbs gross trailer weight. It has the ability to convert CURT Double Lock gooseneck hitches to industry standard fifth wheel rails. It also has a three position coupling indicator to show coupling status.
3: Reese 30081 20K Fifth Wheel Hitch (single jaw)
The Reese 30081 self-latching single jaw hitch has a 20,000 lb gross trailer weight and has a four way head pivot front and back and side to side. It has a king pin indicator and is designed to have increased king pin contact to give a more solid connection and smoother ride.
4: Reese Pro Series 30128 Fifth Wheel Hitch 15,000 lbs(slider)
The Reese Pro 30128 slide bar hitch has a 15,000 lb gross trailer weight and a rounded slide bar mechanism. It is designed to latch automatically and has a cushioned handle. It also has a four way pivoting head which makes it easier to hook up your RV on uneven ground.
Where Should You Get Your New 5th Wheel Installed?
Most RV and trailer dealers with shops will install hitches for you. You may get a good deal if you purchase your hitch and installation with them at the time of your trailer purchase.
If you are paying extra for the install it would be wise to shop around as RV dealership shops tend to have higher hourly shop rates than other automotive service centers.
There are many shops that specialize in hitch installation. They won’t just be focused on RV’s but will be more general automotive installers.
Often they will have better pricing than specialty RV shops because hitch installation is what they do every day. U-haul locations often offer hitch installations and can be an excellent choice if it is an option in your area.
Should You Install It Yourself?
You can also choose to install your hitch yourself. If you are handy, and have the basic tools you will need, this can save you a lot of money.
Most modern hitches don’t require drilling through the frame of your truck anymore and are designed to utilize the pre-drilled holes that already exist.
You will want to review the installation instructions for your chosen hitch to make sure you are comfortable performing the install.
How Long Does It Take To Install A Fifth Wheel Hitch?
A straightforward installation can usually be done is 3-6 hours to install a 5th wheel trailer hitch. If you purchase a hitch model specifically for your vehicle that will also help and make things easier.
Some hitches may require working from the underside of your truck and could involve removing things like heat shields, or worst case tanks, to get your hitch fully installed.
It will all depend on the hitch you choose and the model of your truck. (here how to select the proper truck for fifth towing)
If you’re not sure you’re comfortable with the job it may be something best left to the professionals.
Getting your new fifth wheel hitch should be a straightforward process once you’ve decided what type and price of hitch best meets your travel needs.
Whether you have it professionally installed or do it yourself, you should have enough information to make a selection and move forward with the next step toward your RV adventures.
Remember – there is no wrong choice, just the choice that is best for you!
Cristy Howitt is a long time RV owner. She and her husband began their RV adventures after graduating University at a time when all their friends were opting to backpack overseas. They chose to hit the road and travel through the US, Mexico and Canada instead in a classic 1974 Class A Centurion. Today, many years later, they continue to use RV’s to escape the Canadian winters and enjoy summer time trips in Canada. Next on the bucket list is touring the northern States and seeing Mount Rushmore in their restored Country Coach.