How To Install A Gooseneck Hitch

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If you have ever wondered how to install a gooseneck hitch into the back of your pickup, we have good news! Let’s learn the process.

Installing a gooseneck hitch will require some mechanical knowledge and special tools. The installation takes 2 - 3 hours with adequate workspace and a hydraulic lift. You must thoroughly read the instruction manual that comes with the hitch to ensure proper installation.

The joy of having a gooseneck hitch in the back of your truck is, in a word, - priceless. Whether pulling a horse trailer, a small camper, or equipment for your new landscape business, having the right hitch can mean all the difference for heavy-duty towing. Since installing a gooseneck hitch provides so many more options in terms of towing, (fifth-wheel trailer), it is also essential to know how to install one. Is the gooseneck hitch installation process complicated? What are the steps to follow to ensure your gooseneck ball is mounted in the right place? How can you make sure that the holes in your truck bed are right? This article will examine the trailer hitch process for gooseneck hitch installation.

Table of Contents


Are There Factors To Consider?

Several factors should be considered before installing a gooseneck hitch in your truck bed.

Know the Trailer Weight And Towing Capacity

Every tow vehicle is rated to pull only so much. Towing capacity varies based on manufacturer testing. You should know the gross trailer weight to determine if your truck is capable of towing by a gooseneck coupler. .

Your Cargo Bed Will Never Be The Same

Installing a gooseneck or fifth-wheel hitch into the back of a pickup truck means drilling holes through the bed. You will have a gooseneck ball to fight with whenever you want to haul cargo. Be sure you will use your gooseneck trailer enough to warrant the truck modification because once you drill the hole, you can undo it.

How To Install A Gooseneck Hitch

The following steps will explain the procedure for installing a gooseneck hitch. Read the manufacturer’s instructions that came with the installation kit for specific details.

Remove the Spare Tire and Heat Shield

You will need to remove the spare tire and any heat shield before doing anything. Installing a gooseneck hitch requires access to both the underside and topside of your truck bed. Many modern trucks have cardboard or plastic heat shields/scrape plates that may need removal. Set the factory trim pieces aside since you will not be reinstalling them.

Identify and Predrill the Crossarm Brackets

The cross-arm brackets will help support the load of the trailer. Run the bolts through the predrilled holes of the cross-arms to remove any excess powder coat or finish. Repeat this on all of the mounting holes.

Determine if the Driver’s Sidewall Cover Needs Trimming

Position the driver’s side bracket into place and use the provided hardware to hold it in place temporarily. Examine if any wheel well lining is interfering with the location of the handle assembly (it may need to be trimmed). The area to be cut will be over the gooseneck handle, as shown in your installation instructions. Measure and mark the small area with a paint pen to ensure your cut is correct.

At this point, it is a good idea to check if the metal flange below the bed needs to be trimmed or moved slightly forward. Make the necessary cuts to allow the handle to move without interference. Be sure to use touchup paint should any exposed metal be apparent.

Remove the side plate and place it aside for the moment.

Insert the Crossarms

Insert one cross arm through the rear wheel access point over the rear axle and twist it into position. Again, it is essential to follow the instructions, as each manufacturer has slightly different configurations for the placement. Be careful not to disturb any wiring for the brakes as you insert the brackets.

Repeat the process for the front cross-arm bracket and use a wrench or other tool to rotate it into position. The section with the holes on the front cross arm should face the vehicle’s rear.

Lift The Center Gooseneck Section And Secure It

Prepare the center gooseneck section by placing two install bolts into the connection points on the side facing the front of the truck. Use bolt retainers, if provided, to keep the bolts from shifting or falling out when mounting. Before hoisting the unit into position, ensure the center locator is placed into position. (Since most gooseneck sections are fairly heavy, this is a good time for a friend to help you lift the unit in place).

Secure the center section between the two cross-arms ensuring the holes are aligned. Begin with the front cross-arm by loosely tightening the nuts, and repeat with the rear cross-arm.

Install The Side Plate Brackets

Mount the driver’s side plate brackets to the frame between the cross arms. Attach the side plate to the frame using the appropriate fasteners. Repeat the installation on the opposite side.

Slide the side plates rearward if needed to adjust the center section to make sure that it is square and centered on the vehicle. (Older model trucks will require fish wiring these bolts). Attach the side plate to the cross-arm brackets, ensuring that the center section remains in the proper position. Use a spacer if needed for the front bolt assembly. Repeat this process on both sides of the truck bed.

Use A Torque Wrench

You will want to torque all the hardware installed to ensure proper connections. Be sure to follow the instruction sheet for the order and specifics for proper torque weight.

Use the Center Locator As A Guide

From underneath the truck, find the center locator to use as a guide for drilling the appropriate hole. Double-check that the gooseneck ball hole is still centered evenly between the side plates mounted to the truck frame.

Drill a pilot hole through the underside of the bed toward the top.

Drill the Ball Hole From The Top Of The Truck

Using the pilot hole as a guide, drill the ball hole from above the bed downward toward the truck's underside. Use a 4-inch drill saw (per the instructions) to drill the ball hole until you can see the template and remove the cut-out section. (A cutting fluid sprayed onto the saw while drilling can help immensely).

Deburr the center hole and spray any exposed metal with a rust inhibitor.

Insert The Upper Moldings

Insert the rubber molding around the ball hole for a clean look. Attach the chrome trim ring to the center base with the appropriate hardware.

Drill The Safety Chain Anchor Holes

From underneath the truck, drill the holes for the safety chain anchors (this can be done when drilling the center pilot hole). The holes drilled will be for the safety chain anchor bolts.

Insert the U-bolts for the safety chain anchors and secure them with the washers, springs, and nuts from underneath. Use the included hardware to secure the unit. Tighten the nuts until they are flush with the bottom of the U-bolt. Ensure to check from above that each of the safety chain anchors moves freely from the truck bed.

Insert the Side Operating Handle

Insert the locking pin into the appropriate holes of the center ball hole from underneath. Insert the locking handle through the side plate toward the locking pin, but be sure to attach the spring and the hardware needed before connecting to the lock pin.

Insert the Gooseneck Ball

From the truck bed, place the hitch ball shank into the hole and rotate the ball until it drops into place. Move the handle counterclockwise until it snaps back into position with the locking pin mechanism.

Reinstall the Spare Tire

Remount the spare tire and apply any appropriate safety stickers that are required.