Fifth Wheel Towing Tips
Fifth wheel trailers are a popular style of travel trailer thanks to their generous accommodations and easy towing. And while it’s true that fifth wheels offer easier towing than most comparable travel trailers, there are still a few things you should keep in mind if you want to be safe and get to your destination without any problems. The added weight, extra length, and unusual aerodynamics of a fifth wheel trailer can be quite a bit to handle for first-time drivers. Here at Modern Trailers, we want our customers to have the best experience possible with our RVs, and that means staying safe. That’s why we created this short guide to explain how to drive with a fifth wheel. If you’re looking for your first fifth wheel, stop by our location in in Anderson, Indiana. We proudly serve the communities of Noblesville, Fishers, Muncie, and Carmel, Indiana.
Finding the Right Tow Vehicle
The main benefit of a fifth wheel over a travel trailer is that fifth wheels are generally more stable and easier to tow. But for this to be true, you need to have the right towing vehicle. The two most important are your vehicle’s gross combined weight rating (GCWR) and its fifth wheel hitch. The GCWR is the amount of people, cargo, and tow weight your vehicle can safely tow. This metric isn’t just about your vehicle’s engine power, and even if you modify your truck’s engine, it won’t affect the GCWR. Instead, it’s a measure that takes into consideration chassis design, brake strength, suspension, engine capacity, and other elements to determine how much weight the vehicle can safely control.
The other major consideration in regards to the tow vehicle is its fifth wheel hitch. While you can attach a bumper pull hitch to most vehicles, trucks are the only vehicles that can take a fifth wheel hitch. These hitches are generally installed by the eventual owner, meaning they aren’t necessarily factory approved. If you install your own hitch, make sure it’s approved for the amount of weight you are going to be pulling.
Hitching and Unhitching
Hitching and unhitching a fifth wheel can actually be easier to accomplish than it is with a bumper pull trailer. This is because the hitch in a travel trailer is located low and out of view from the driver. A fifth wheel hitch, on the other hand, is located in the bed of the truck right behind the driver where it’s easy to see and use. To connect your fifth wheel, open the fifth wheel locking mechanism and then back up toward the hitch on your trailer. As you get closer, raise or lower your trailer until the hitch corresponds with the fifth wheel connection. Once they are lined up, back up until the hitch goes into the fifth wheel, making sure you hear it click into place. After it clicks, lock it in place with the locking mechanism and double check the connection to make sure it’s secure.
To return the topic of GCWR, make sure you keep in mind how much weight you’re loading into your trailer. The more you load in, the more important it becomes to stop by a nearby weigh station to make sure you haven’t exceeded your vehicle’s weight limits.
Practicing Your Skills
One unavoidable fact is that you can read as much as you want about driving with a trailer, but until you put some time behind the wheel, you won’t figure out how to do it correctly. One way to start getting used to driving with a trailer is to drive it to an empty parking lot and practice your skills. A parking lot will provide similar conditions to city and campground driving, from taking corners to parking to reversing with your trailer. If it’s convenient, you can also take your trailer on the highway for a few exits to get used to how the aerodynamics of highway driving feel.
Safe driving with a fifth wheel doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you take some time to familiarize yourself with the basics. Make sure to keep weight considerations in mind, and practice your skills. Take some time to make sure your trailer is correctly hitched, and if you follow all of these rules, you’ll be on your way to safe towing. Stop by Modern Trailers in Anderson, Indiana if you’re in the market for a new fifth wheel. We have an excellent selection of the latest models and a knowledgeable staff to help you find the model suited for your needs. We proudly serve the communities of Indianapolis, Noblesville, Fishers, Muncie, and Carmel, Indiana.