Preparing to Tow a Fifth Wheel
Buying a fifth wheel opens up an array of great opportunities. Camping is nowhere more luxurious or comfortable than in a fifth wheel, not to mention, having a portable home is extremely convenient for those who vacation frequently. But to actually tow your RV, you need to consider some basic preparation strategies to ensure your trip is safe, so this guide from Crabtree RV Center offers some valuable information for fifth wheel towing. Also, even if you do everything right, you’ll never be able to tow safely unless your RV is in good condition, so don’t hesitate to bring it in for parts and service if you need any repairs. We’re in Alma, AR, serving the areas of Fayetteville, Russellville, Fort Smith, and Van Buren, Arkansas, as well as Poteau, OK.
Getting the Right Tow Vehicle
Before even buying a fifth wheel, you need to make sure you have a vehicle that will keep your towing experience stable and safe. Generally, you’ll need a pickup truck to haul one of these monstrous RVs. Sometimes you can use a half ton, but many models require a three quarter or even full ton pickup. When you place the hitch, it goes between the cab and rear axle, so it’s much more convenient if you have a full-length bed (although there are ways to do it with short-beds).
After buying a tow vehicle that’s adequate (or if you already have one), get a hitch installed. Make sure you pick one that’s built for your specific make and model, or else it won’t work properly. We recommend getting the hitch professionally installed. That way, you can rest assured that there won’t be any problems caused by a botched installation.
If your truck’s set up with a hitch that’s appropriate, you’re ready to hitch up your fifth wheel on your next vacation. This process is pretty simple, and you can typically even hitch up the RV by yourself. Look over your shoulder and back your pickup up until the hitch gets close. Then get out and check that it’s at the right height. If not, raise or lower the fifth wheel with front jacks as needed. Then turn the hitch to the “receive” setting, which is the position where it’s open to latch onto the kingpin. Then, back up your truck until there’s a clicking sound. At this point, the hitch should be connected to your fifth wheel, so all you need to do is lock the receiver.
Pay Attention to the Weight
Although a fifth wheel can fit a lot of luggage and a full size pickup truck can tow a lot of weight, you’ll still need to limit yourself when loading your RV. Remember that all vehicles have a gross combined weight rating (GCWR), which dictates the total amount that you can support with your truck, accounting for both the weight of the trailer and cab combined. Not to mention, too much weight makes driving much more difficult. Learn to pack what you need first, then start adding additional items if there’s room for more weight. Always stop by the nearest weigh station before taking a long trip, and if you’re at weight, you can continue safely on your vacation!
Pay Attention to the Tires
Finally, no trip is safe if you don’t have good tires, and that’s especially true when towing a fifth wheel. If you have a blowout when hauling so much extra weight, you could easily lose control of your vehicle, which could be disastrous. Thankfully, all you have to do to avoid this is check the pressure in every tire before and throughout your trip. You should also take a look at the tread markers, and inspect the sidewall for any signs of punctures or bumps.
Towing a fifth wheel is obviously a big responsibility, so make sure to use this guide to get prepared before ever taking it out on the road. Also, if it’s been awhile since your last inspection, we recommend that you bring your RV into our service department for any parts and repairs it might need. We’re in Alma, Arkansas, and we’d be happy to help you stay safe on the road.