When heading out on the road, whether to go on your next trip, or to come back home from the trip you are on. You may find yourself just going through the motions. Sure, you may have done this many, many times before, but a simple lapse in judgment can have disastrous results. Becoming complacent at anything is dangerous. Whether making sure all your provisions are packed, to cleaning out your rig, sometimes your mind just may be somewhere else. This goes for hitching and unhitching you fifth wheel as well.
The best way to get around the malaise that may occur when hitching and unhitching your fifth wheel is to make a check list for every trip. This will help you stay focused on what you need to do, without you having to wonder if you forgot anything. I found a great checklist that you can use from rvbasics.com that will help you get your fifth wheel hitched and unhitched safely and quickly.
Fifth Wheel Hitching
- Raise or lower the 5th wheel trailer to set the 5th wheel kingpin to proper hitch height .
- Drop truck tailgate … if you don’t have a special tailgate.*
- Open locking bar on hitch.
- Back under trailer until hitch engages the fifth wheel kingpin.
- Secure hitch locking bar on the fifth wheel hitch.
- Put truck in forward gear (don’t give it any fuel/acceleration)
and ‘bump’ the hitch to make sure it is locked.
- Connect umbilical cord/power cord and breakaway switch cable.
- Check fifth wheel trailer lights and brakes.
- Raise pickup truck tailgate. *
- Raise 5th wheel trailer Landing gear.
- Remove wheel chocks from trailer wheels.
Fifth Wheel Unhitching
- Pull into the site/storage, and situate the trailer where you want it.
- Chock the wheels tightly so the trailer will not move.
- Drop the fifth wheel landing gear. (important!) Do this first so you won’t forget!
- Disconnect the umbilical cord and breakaway switch cable.
- Drop the truck tailgate… if you don’t have a special tailgate, a V-gate at they are called. *
- Gently put your truck into reverse… don’t give it any fuel/acceleration. This effectively moves the 5th wheel kingpin off the locking bar which will allow you to easily disengage it.
- Shift in to neutral, step on brake and apply parking brake.
- Disengage the kingpin locking bar on fifth wheel hitch.
- Slowly drive away. Making sure the kingpin is clear of anything in the truck bed and the umbilical cord and breakaway cable are not snagged.
- Raise truck tailgate. *
- Adjust 5th wheel height to proper front to back level.
*Disregard this step if you have a notched fifth wheel tailgate or you do not have a tailgate.
(A great trick to keep in mind of making sure your fifth wheel is hitched properly, is to paint the locking jaw/mechanism of you hitch bright white. This will allow you to visually see that the jaws are locked around your pin properly. Even in low light levels.)
Make sure that you go over each step in the above list and make sure that everything is where it needs to be. While you may be thinking about everything you are going to do when you get to your camp site, you may forget to take care of the business at hand. Once you have everything checked off, then its on to the open road! If you have any questions about how to hitch or unhitch your fifth wheel, be sure to contact Pennsylvania’s Largest Keystone and Open Range RV Dealership and we will gladly answer any questions that you might have.
- Towing terminology and guidelines. (rvingiseasyatlerchrv.com)