The fifth wheel RV is the gooseneck trailer of the RV world – it provides better weight distribution of your hauled load, which leads to a tighter turning radius and smooth haul. The issue is that you can't just throw it on a standard hitch and call it a day. You need to make sure that your tow vehicle, hitch, and other towing accessories are up to the job of towing a fifth wheel. The following are the items you need for a safe tow.
#1: The truck
The most obvious item is the truck. The problem is making sure the truck and the fifth wheel are properly sized for each other. Many smaller to medium-sized fifth wheels are suitable for the standard half-ton trucks, although some of the larger RVs are better hauled by a ¾-ton truck due to their weight and distribution. The only way to know for sure is to check out the specifications of the specific fifth wheel you are thinking of buying.
Compare the payload specifications for your truck against the weight specifications of the RV's tongue. The gross vehicle weight rating also needs to exceed the tongue weight of the RV. It's also a good idea to opt for a truck with a long bed as opposed to a short bed, since there has to be room for the RV to overhang the bed appropriately.
#2: The liner
Truck bed liners are becoming standard features on many modern trucks, but you will need to remove drop-in liners before you can install a hitch. This is because the liner will actually get in the way of the hitch rails. You can cut around these rails for installation, but the result looks bad and can lead to a loosening hitch installation if any plastic liner caught beneath the hitch assembly wears away.
Instead, opt for a spray-in liner. These permanently adhere to the bed so it remains looking nice and is protected from rust, but they don't inhibit the installation of the hitch. Make sure you have the spray-in liner installed before the hitch, since you won't have an option to do so after hitch installation.
#3: The hitch
The final and most important component to prepare is the hitch. Opt for a custom hitch kit made to fit your truck and RV as opposed to a one-size-fits-all option. One-size hitches require more modifications to the truck bed and the hitch kit, usually in the way of drilling and welding, to actually fit correctly.
Opting for a custom hitch means it will install easily to your specific truck. The hitch rails, which are the anchor point for the hitch, will be sized appropriately to attach to your truck frame. Their necessary spacing will also be appropriate after installation to properly anchor the hitch assembly to the rails. Overall, a custom kit is a much easier and more dependable install.
Contact an automotive retailer such as Brad's Trailer Supply for more help in choosing the right fifth wheel system for you.
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