Towing With Confidence – 5th Wheel Hitches Improve Safety on the Road
To some, hitching up a trailer may seem intimidating. It’s essential to keep calm and know you have the tools and knowledge to tow your RV safely.
A safety system is one of these tools. Most systems are designed to fit over your fifth-wheel setup and don’t require any additional steps or drilling.
Unlike travel trailers that attach to the receiver under the truck’s bumper, fifth-wheel trailers connect to a specialized hitch mounted within the bed of your pickup. It provides improved stability and maneuverability on the road.
It is made possible by the fact that the hitch point on a 5th-wheel trailer sits directly above your pickup’s rear axle. Depending on the length of your pickup truck’s bed, a sliding or fixed hitch can be used.
Regardless of your choice, you’ll want to perform the hitching process on a level surface to establish a strong connection and avoid unnecessary bouncing and sway. Additionally, a truck airbag suspension system can help keep your tow vehicle level and reduce the amount of up-and-down movement between the truck and trailer. It enhances your ride quality and prevents trailer and vehicle damage.
Less Weight on the Axles
When a truck is hauling a heavy trailer, it places a lot of stress on the axles. A 5th wheel hitch can help alleviate some of this stress by spreading the trailer tongue weight to all axles through spring bars, which increases braking capacity and makes for a smoother ride for the driver.
Installing a gooseneck is a straightforward process. It drops directly into a truck’s industry-standard base rails and is usually installed in the center of the bed. A sliding hitch is more complex and adds to the overall cost, but it allows trucks with shorter bed lengths to “slide” the hitch head toward the truck’s rear during turns to prevent contact between the cab and trailer.
Adding a weight distribution hitch is one of the best ways to ensure your truck and trailer are appropriately matched for towing. The spring bars in these hitches use leverage to distribute the trailer’s weight evenly across all the truck’s axles, making for safer and more enjoyable driving.
Increased Braking Capacity
Generally, 5th-wheel hitches are more accessible and more secure than gooseneck trailers. You will also be able to better maintain control of your truck and trailer while on the road. You will not have to ride the brake pedal as much on long downhills. However, shifting to a lower gear and periodically applying the brakes as needed is still recommended. It will help prevent overheating of your brakes. Additionally, be sure to have a spotter when backing up and towing down hills.
You will need a heavy-duty pickup with a high towing capacity and payload to handle most 5th-wheel hitches. Check the hitch weight rating and your truck’s maximum towing capacity before purchasing.
Most factory hitches mount on the rear of your truck’s bumper, which limits the maximum load they can tow. With a fifth-wheel hitch, you can get a more significant haul because the unit sits on top of your truck bed over the rear axle.
A traditional fifth-wheel hitch can be installed on standard or long-bed trucks and short-bed models that need additional space between the cab and trailer overhang. To help you select the right one, check your truck’s towing capacity and the type of trailer you want to haul.
If you’re towing a travel trailer, consider adding an air ride system to reduce the stress on your truck and trailer from bumpy roads. This system has two airbags that cushion the connection between your trailer and tow vehicle. The talon jaws on this system also help eliminate lateral chucking, another source of trailer sway.