Fifth Wheel magazine

Choosing the Truck

The truck is an important part of your fifth wheel purchase. It has to be large enough to tow the fifth wheel that you choose. Fifth wheels are available in different lengths and can have multiple slides (the portion of the fifth wheel that can extend outwards giving you more room inside). Length and number of slides add to the overall weight of the RV. Each size of truck has the total towing capacity that it can safely handle, plus the total weight that the rear axle can handle.

2014 Tow Guide
Ratings start on page 18
The weight of the fifth wheel is always located on a plate attached to the fifth wheel as well as in the information packet. One of the most important weights that you need is the Dry Hitch Weight or the pin weight. This is the weight that will be carried in the bed of the truck on the fifth wheel hitch receiver. Not all Fifth Wheels have this weight located on the plate attached to the fifth wheel. If this is the case then you can try and estimate the weight by finding a comparative Fifth Wheel (length wise) and check to see if there is a slideout toward the front of the unit and factor that in with the comparative unit. The only other way to get a pin weight is to have it weighed.

Every truck has the maximum towing capacity in the specs for the vehicle. Keep in mind that shortbed trucks are fitted differently to long beds as the turning radius over the bed for the fifth wheel is limited in a short bed. There are also certain lengths of shortbed trucks that cannot pull a fifth wheel due to the bed being to short. Once you have a pin weight you can find out if the rear axle will carry the weight. The next weight is the actual weight of the whole fifth wheel. This weight is really governed by the ability of the trucks engine and transmission to pull that weight safely. An underpowered truck is going to behave very badly on hills and on being able to get up to speed when merging onto interstates or passing other vehicles. This can make driving an underpowered truck and fifth wheel stressful especially in mountainous areas. If you have or are going to purchase a diesel truck you can visit Banks Power who offers upgrades that greatly improve the performance of the fitted truck.

Unless you already own a truck it is better to choose the fifth wheel and then the truck to pull it. Since you will be living in the fifth wheel, you need to ensure that it meets your needs space wise. One of the benefits of a fifth wheel over a travel trailer (a trailer pulled by the ball on the bumper of the vehicle) is that the fifth wheel is located over the rear axle of the truck, which makes for a much more stable towing experience. There is almost no sway when towing a fifth wheel and no need for any type of sway controls. Because the hitch is located over the axle, the vehicle has the ability to tow a much larger trailer, which means more space in the fifth wheel, more storage and more capacity for multiple slides.

Below is a link to a tow guide that lists 2014 trucks and their fifth wheel and conventional trailer towing capacities.

2014 Tow Guide - The tow ratings start on page 18.

The video below shows the SuperGlide shortbed solution, which eliminates the need to reposition the hitch for sharp turns.

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