WHAT IS A 5TH WHEEL HITCH?

What are Fifth Wheel Hitches?

The fifth wheel hitch is actually one of the best hitches and towing equipment for the purposes of pulling large, wide, long, and tall vehicles across long distances and a variety of terrains.

The hitch is, in appearance, a flat plate that is seemingly shaped like horseshoe. With the use of a king pin, your trailer is attached to the hitch, while also allowing it to pivot whenever the vehicle makes a turn. It is also very important that the hitch allows the trailer to move side to side during uneven terrain thus eliminating stress on the kingpin of the trailer.

Trucks: Short-Bed or Long-Bed

If you are looking to invest in a fifth wheel hitch for your vehicle, there is some merit in taking into consideration whether it is a short-bed or a long-bed truck. For a long-bed truck, a fixed position fifth wheel hitch will suffice.

If your truck is a short-bed, with the cargo cab being less than eight feet, it used to be that you would need a sliding fifth wheel hitch. However, in the past few years the 5th wheel RV manufacturers have started using extended pin boxes. This kind of pin box extends the kingpin out in front of the trailer allowing use of short bed trucks without the use of a slider hitch.  But, there is always exceptions to the rule and you must verify with the hitch manufacture that their hitch will work with a short bed truck.

Vehicle Capacity

The capacity of your fifth wheel trailer is essential in the process of helping you make a decision on your fifth wheel hitch purchase. Every trailer will have a capacity label on it that will show the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and the curb or empty weight.  You will want to use the GVW rating in purchasing a hitch. It is a good idea to purchase a hitch that has a rating somewhat higher than the GVW rating on your trailer. Some hitch companies have hitches where a single hitch can have multiple ratings by just changing some small item on the hitch allowing for a higher capacity. This is important because you may purchase a hitch for the trailer you currently own, but your next trailer may have a heavier GVW and if the hitch you purchased is a multiple capacity hitch you may not have to purchase a new hitch.

Mounting Style

When it comes to mounting of the hitch, the use of a slotted rail system has been the most prevalent type of mounting system for many years.  However, in the past few years all of the big 3 truck manufactures off an underbody mounting system also known as the puck system. This kind of mounting system was started by Ford and Reese made the hitch to fit the mounting system, Dodge soon followed and then GM was the last to adopt this kind of mounting system.  This also opened up a new market for adapters to fit hitches that were manufactured with the rail mounting system. Some hitch manufactures have now manufactured their hitches to fit the underbody mount system as well. Of course all three truck companies have different style of the puck system making it more expensive for the hitch manufacturers because they have to have hitches that will fit all of the different kinds of puck systems.  Badger Hitch, LLC offers a different style of an adapter for some hitches where the adapter utilizes the center mount of the puck system.  This style of adapter is less expensive and does not take up any room in the bed of the truck.

Single or Double Pivot

Your fifth wheel hitch can either provide you with a certain level of front to back pivot motion. Some hitches also offer up a degree of side to side movement. This can help alleviate the impact of the road bumps and other irregularities on the fifth wheel head.

Coupler Locking Method

The most important component of your hitch is the coupler and how it locks to the kingpin of the trailer.  There are many different methods of locking the coupler to the king pin and also many styles of the locking mechanisms.  It is important that the jaws of the coupler are secured around the kingpin of the trailer in such a manner that it is impossible for the jaws to open during towing.  Take your time to investigate this because if the jaws open it is a sure catastrophe.

If you’re looking to purchase a hitch, turn to Badger Hitch, LLC for some of the best towing fifth wheel hitches. They offer a fine selection of products, available at conveniently affordable prices!