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Some Things You Need to Know Before Towing Your Fifth Wheel:

Before you go out and tow your rig, one thing I would like to talk about is weight. When towing a fifth wheel, weight is the deciding factor.

Also, I will like to emphasize the importance of the basics, making sure you have the right truck for the right rig and the right job. While I’m going to go over some of the basics, it’s critical to understand your own numbers and get the right information.

Now to answer the question: Do Fifth Wheels Sway when towing?

Fifth Wheels Do not Sway-

Because of the design of the Fifth Wheel, the majority of the weight is centered between the Fifth Wheel axles and the truck. Which is why  Fifth Wheels don’t sway.

If you’re driving on a highway and a wave from a passing truck hits the end of your fifth wheel, it wouldn’t sway as long as you have an adequate tow vehicle, towing an 11,000 lb fifth wheel, swaying wouldn’t be an issue.

It’s also important to check your tires for wear and that the weight is distributed evenly.

A travel trailer, on the other hand, would sway should this same situation happen, hence you need to keep your hands on the steer when this happens to prevent your travel trailer from being pushed over the lane.

fifth wheel

  1. Number One Rule when purchasing a tow vehicle is -Do Not Rely on the dealer’s knowledge:

Most dealers most likely won’t dig up to the facts as you will. A friend had an incident where he met a rim dealer who said for sure the dually will tow a 20,000lbs fifth wheel but once he dug into the numbers, it wasn’t true. And I will dig into that as to why it wouldn’t.

  1. The first Number You’re Going to Come Across is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. (GVWR)

Both the truck and the fifth wheel have their own GVWR. The GVWR of a truck is very important when you’re talking about towing a fifth wheel.

If you’ve noticed, the way that a fifth wheel is designed is not connected to the truck via the bumper but the hinge usually comes over the rare axle.

In a typical fifth wheel, you’re looking at about an 80/20 or 75/35 weight distribution. For an example, if your rig weighs about 20k lbs, which is the GVWR for your rig, So, 20 to 25% of the 20k weight is going to be sitting at the rare of your truck.

This means you’re going to have about 4000 lbs sitting at the rare of your truck. Most single rare-wheel trucks do not have this capacity.

So how do you know what the GVRW of your truck is? Well, when purchasing a truck, you can check out the specs online, however, you can check on your door sticker and you can find out how much your door is rated for cargo. For my truck, the GVWR is 14k lbs.

  1. Another Number to Know is the GCWR, Gross Combined Weight Rating

This is a number that comes from your truck, however, you won’t find it on the door sticker hence you will have to look online in your truck’s information.

The GCWR tell you the total weight your truck can handle. That is, the rating your truck is designed to tow completely.

  1. Another Number to Consider is the Tow Rating

Let’s say if your tow rating is 27.3k lbs, it means the maximum weight of a trailer you can pull is 27.3k lbs.

So a lot of times, you realize that these numbers don’t add up. A good example is if you look at the door sticker inside your truck, you’ll realize that if you add up the axle rating on the front and the axle rating for the rare, the sum is greater than the GVWR.

 

fifth wheel

Now let’s talk about what you can tow.

To tow, you have to stay within your GVWR. And this leads to another number called Cargo capacity, and sometimes cargo carrying capacity, and really all that is is your truck’s GVWR minus the truck itself which includes cargo, passengers, your hitch, your toolbox.

So let’s say when you go weigh your empty truck and say it weighs 9k, then for a truck of 14k, the cargo capacity will be 5k. This means the cargo capacity to take care of the weight of the fifth wheel sitting is 5klbs.

Checklist Before Towing:

  • The first thing is to get your pin box in your hitch and connecting them and making sure they are locked in together.
  • Also, make sure to connect your trailer connection, which is your seven-pin connector which supplies power to your running night, blinker, brake light, and that stuff.
  • The last and important thing to connect is the emergency cut-away brake system. It has a connector and the purpose of this system is that when the connector ever gets pulled away, it supplies a full 12v DC straight from your battery to the brakes of the fifth wheel should it get disconnected from your truck and breaks away.

How to Tow Your Fifth Wheel

  1. Several things you need to think about when you’re getting ready to tow for the first time is to get a tow haul package, what this does is to help the engine shift gears at different rates that are better for you when you’re towing. This also helps tremendously when in the mountains.
  2. Also, it is going to take you a lot longer to start and a lot longer to stop. If you’re used to jackrabbit driving, this isn’t the same. You’ll have to leave a distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, and the heavier the traffic, the more space you will need.
  3. When switching lanes, I highly advise not to look back, this is because in doing so, all you will see is the fifth wheel, hence you will have to depend a lot on your mirrors. In using the mirrors, you’ll have to learn how to use the concave mirrors, because they show you what is happening immediately next to you.
  4. You Have to take a lot wider turns

road

If you’re turning into one lane each direction road, sometimes, you’re going to have to sit and wait till the lane clears out so that you can go out wide enough to make that turn. and once again look into your mirrors as you’re making that turn to see where the wheels of your trailer are. This will help you learn how far you need to make those turns. I highly advise you use an empty parking lot to practice your turns.

  1. Pulling into Gas Stations Require a lot of Planning.

To avoid problems whiles pulling into a gas station, make sure to find gas stations that have a lot of room to navigate.

  1. Do Not Believe the MapQuest

Arrival times given on MapQuest are true when you’re not towing. When towing, it takes a considerably longer period of time for you to arrive at your destination.

  1. Check Your Road

When you’re traveling in areas where there are bridges, tunnels or excessively whitey roads, you need to check and make sure that your vehicle will be able to navigate those roads. There are GPS that allows you to put in the dimension of your rig and it will ground you on roads that you can access.

  1. Practice Practice Practice

Practice the parts that you can and can’t in a nice big open parking lot to build up your confidence

Things to Check for When Hitching for the first time:

  1. Bed Clearance

You want to make sure that the bottom of your pin box clears the bed by 6 inches. You want to also make sure that if you have a toolbox, it clears that as well.

  1. Set the Rig and Truck Level

You want to make sure that your rig and your truck is set at the same level. Two places you can do that is at the hitch. Most hitches can be adjusted up and down. Also, you can adjust the pin box up and down.

fifth wheel

Best Brand of Hitches for Fifth Wheels:

  1. Pro-series 300056 Fifth Wheel Hitch 15k- Cost $360 on Amazon.com
  2. Curt 16130 Q20 5th Wheel Hitch.- Cost $835.15 on curtmfg.com
  3. 3.B&W Trailer Hitches 3200 Patriot Fifth Wheel Hitch- $598.00 on Amazon.com
  4. REESE ELITE 30142 Fifth Wheel Hitch 18000lb- $1,192.65 on Amazon.com
  5. B&W Companion 5th Wheel Hitch RVK3500.- $373.00 on Amazon.com

Can You Tow a Fifth Wheel With a Short Bed Truck?

Absolutely, you can tow a fifth wheel with a short bed truck and I will share with you 4 tips to do so.

  1. Make Sure Your Fifth Wheel Towing Gear is Designed for Short Bed Trucks.

Back in the days, a truck was a truck and you could fit a whole sheet of plywood in the back. Now, bigger cabs have pushed into that space, Some truck beds are short as 5 and a half feet. On the other hand, trailers are bigger now too and these changed has led to clearance issues. this is because the back window is closer to the rare axle.

If you have the wrong gear, take a sharp turn and you’ll torque the front of your trailer right through the glass. To avoid this, make sure you get the right gear.

2. Get a Slider

Sliders help you slide your trailer backward whiles it’s still connected to your hitch. Sliders are the most popular way to make up for the loss in bed length so you can make safer and tighter turns. Or, get the clearance you need to twist back into a tight camping spot.

3. Consider an Upgraded Slider

Upgraded sliders such as the Reese round tube slider offers more travel, precision, and stability. The contoured rollers float from side to side, allowing easy sliding even with the trailer for up to a 45-degree angle to the tow vehicle.

4. Get a Pin Box

Pin boxes have universal wedges that allow them to be hooked up to your hitch. A pin box keeps the load of the fifth wheel centered over the axle. This is important for control, and for tight turns. Some pin boxes allow turns up to 90 degrees.

5th Wheel vs Travel Trailer. Which Should You Go For?

One of the big questions most people ask is what’s better; a fifth wheel or a travel trailer?

But the answer to this question depends on you. Depending on what you are looking to accomplish and tow, you may have to go in for one. Here we will look at some of the pros and cons of the 5th wheel vs a travel trailer.

  1. Travel Trailers Saves You Money

It is physically smaller. Comparing the price of s 20-foot trailer and a 27-foot fifth wheel, the trailer cost less and weighs less. This is because there is less physical construction.

  1. Travel trailers are Easier to tow

Due to the less physical construction, and less material, a travel trailer is easier to tow than a 5th wheel. This factor makes a fifth wheel easier to resell because there are more people who can tow travel trailers than fifth wheels.

  1. Fifth Wheels have a higher Amenity Level

There are brands that build both fifth wheels and trailers, but their fifth wheels are built bigger and better. Also, fifth wheels have a bigger outside storage compartment.

  1. Easier to move Propane Bottles for a Refill

With fifth wheels you do not have to drive your rig all the way to the gas station to refill your propane tanks, you can just take out the tanks and go refill them.

  1. Fifth Wheels Do not Sway

If you’re driving on a high way and a bow wave from a truck hits the end of your fifth wheel, it wouldn’t sway if you have a truck that is suitable, let’s say a 3 and quarter truck, towing an 11,000 lbs fifth wheel, swaying wouldn’t be an issue because there is so much weight distributed on top of the truck hence no swaying from a bow wave.

A travel trailer, on the other hand, would sway should this same situation happen, hence you need to keep your hands on the steer when this happens to prevent your travel trailer from being pushed over the lane.

fifth wheel

2008 Mobile Select Suite Fifth Wheel

Top Fifth Wheel Brands Out There

  1. Redwood Fifth Wheel
  2. Coachmen RV
  3. Forest River
  4. Cougar Fifth Wheels
  5. Golf Stream
  6. DRV Luxury Suites
  7. Fleetwood RV
  8. Jayco
  9. Dutchmen

Related Posts – What are the Different Types of RVs?

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