Having a fifth wheel can provide you and your family with great opportunities to take extended summer holidays and even sporadic weekend trips. But if you’re a newbie to hauling a fifth wheel trailer, there are a few things you should know first so you don’t wind up getting stuck and even damaging the trailer.
Obviously, practice is part of the equation on order to learn how to tow your fifth wheeler properly. These trailers are useful for traveling, but only if you know how to maneuver them. Make sure to read up on all the info you need to about your specific trailer, and drive it repeatedly in an open space to get the hang of it.
Discover how your rig reacts and how long it takes your fifth wheeler to turn and how much extra room it needs. Get a feel for the braking too – towing a fifth wheeler requires a greater stopping distance, and practicing the braking will provide you with a sense of how much distance is needed to stop.
Pay Attention to the Weight
You need to appreciate the fact that you can’t move around as quickly as you would in a typical vehicle. When the trailer is hooked up to your truck, your movements need to be slow and steady. Any jerky motions will put you in a position where you can’t correct yourself as easily.
When braking, keep in mind that your brakes won`t stop on a dime. Make sure to allow plenty of space in front just in case an urgent stop happens up ahead.
Hitching and Unhitching
Depending on the specific hitch you have, this could differ from one situation to the next. But here are a few basic common tips.
Ensure the tailgate is down. You’ll understand why you see a lot of dented tailgates – because the drivers don’t take a minute to make sure they’re down when hitching and unhitching. In addition, when you’re done, make sure that the tailgate is up or else you’ll make a hole in the front trailer cargo bay door.
Attach the emergency brake cable. This is done in case the trailer suddenly becomes unhitched – it’ll stop itself with the emergency brake activated.
Conduct a tug test. Prior to hoisting up the front jacks too far, be sure to perform a tug test with the truck and trailer to identify if the hitch jaws are totally engaged. This can save your truck bed rails from becoming squashed by a falling fifth wheel. This is also a great opportunity for you to check over the trailer brakes to make sure they’re working too.