Installing a hitch to haul an RV can be a little tricky, so in many cases it can be better to have a professional with lots of experience get the job done for you. Basically, installation requires firmly attaching the hitch system onto the towing vehicle. This might be by bolting it to the back of the frame of a truck, van or SUV or, in the case of fifth wheel receivers, directly onto the bed of a pickup truck.
To install a trailer hitch, you usually have to prepare the vehicle a bit, possibly moving a few parts out of the way. Sometimes installing a hitch can be a two-person job while it's being fastened in place. Then the hitch is bolted onto the frame of the vehicle underneath the back bumper. There are several names for this component, such as bumper hitch or bolt on receiver, and once in place, they can usually be used in a number of ways, like with different sized receivers and ball mounts.
Fifth wheels hitches are installed with a metal framework bolted in place on the underside of the truck bed. Care needs to be given to not damage any other components of the truck, such as the brake lines and fuel lines, and some portions of the vehicle may need to be temporarily removed to facilitate the installation. Then holes are drilled through the truck bed to connect the framework to the upper portion of the hitch. Once the holes are drilled, you can attach the main body of the hitch and lock it into place.
Along with the installation of the hitch, chances are good you'll also be installing a connector through which a number of wires run between the two vehicles. If you have electric brakes and lights on your towed vehicle -- which is often required by law if you tow more than the lightest loads -- this will be an essential step in the process. The wires run along the underneath of the truck bed and through a hole in the side of the truck bed where they can be connected to wires attached along the hitch.
The most important thing to remember when installing an RV hitch is to follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter. They know the best way to attach their hitch, so take their advice. On the next page, you'll find more links to RVs, trucks and towing.
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More Great Links
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- Family Motor Coach Association Web site. (10/1/2008) http://www.fmca.com/
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- Longhurst, Chris. "The Car Maintenance Bibles." CarBibles.com (9/15/2008) http://www.carbibles.com/
- Martin, Joe. "Trailer Loading and Towing Guide." Sherline Products. (9/15/2008) http://www.sherline.com/lmbook.htm#refrn4
- Recreational Vehicle Industry Association Web site. (9/29/2008) http://www.rvia.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=HomeRVIA
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- "RV Towing Tips." RVTowingTips.com. (10/1/2008) http://www.rvtowingtips.com/index.html
- "Tips." CrossRoads RV Web site. (10/2/2008) http://www.crossroadsrv.com/owners/tips.asp
- "Towing Glossary." U-Haul. (9/15/2008) http://www.uhaul.com/hitches/glossary/
- "Trailer Hitches." PickupSpecialties.com Corporate Web site. (9/29/2008) http://www.pickupspecialties.com/Hitches/class_iii_receiver_hitches.htm