The search is over. You’ve found the perfect RV to meet all your needs, but this dream travel trailer is a Fifth Wheel and you have no idea what you might be getting yourself in to. Have no fear; we’ve created a crash course to help you with everything you need to know about towing Fifth Wheel RV’s. It may seem a little overwhelming at first, as there is quite a bit of information when it comes to Fifth Wheels and how they hook up to your truck. Let us break it down for you so you can be a Fifth Wheel RV expert and on the road to your first adventure in no time.
The very first decision that needs to be made is whether or not you will need a “fixed” or “slider” hitch. A fixed hitch can be detached from your vehicle when not in use but will stay locked into place while towing. The slider hitch was introduced when trucks with shorter boxes and longer cabs found that the front of the RV was coming into contact with the rear window of the vehicle while making turns or tight manoeuvres. The slider allows you to shift the trailer back from the cab of the truck, either manually or automatically.
Now that you know what hitch you’ll need, it’s time to talk about installation.
When it comes to mounting the hitch to your pick-up truck, there are 3 variations that are available. You will either need a vehicle specific bracket kit that will attach to the frame of your truck or a gooseneck hitch that the fifth wheel hitch will attach to. The advantage of a gooseneck hitch mount is that you will also be able to tow gooseneck trailers that are used for car haulers, horses or livestock, in addition to your Fifth Wheel Camper. The choice will depend on what type of hitch style you want to use with your RV. Once you have determined which you will need, it is time to move on to the next step of the installation and that is a rail kit that attaches to the brackets. Some are specific to the hitch manufacturer, but many are what is called Industry Standard Rails (ISR), meaning that one manufacturer’s hitch can be used with another’s brackets. The final component that will connect your vehicle and travel trailer together is the hitch leg and head assembly. The leg portion gets secured to your rails and the head connects to the trailer pin box. Some automatic sliders also need a “capture plate” attached to the pin box so that you can keep the hitch head straight when connecting the trailer to your vehicle.
If you have a newer truck that has a “factory hitch prep” option installed (also known as a “puck” system), there are fifth wheel hitches/rails designed to be used with these trucks. The advantage of a gooseneck hitch or puck system setup is that you can have a completely flat truck bed when you are not towing your trailer.
Just a few more things to keep in mind before hitting the road:
Depending on the age of your vehicle, you may want to consider adding extra springs to the back that will allow you to attach a heavy RV. Also, you will need to install a braking system. The braking system communicates with your vehicle and trailer ensuring that the right pressure is applied to the trailer brakes to prevent it from jackknifing. It may take a little tweaking to find the ideal number setting.