How To Tow A 5th Wheel RV: Tips And Tricks
Why do you need to know how to tow a 5<sup>th wheel RV? As an RV owner, you probably love going out in your RV on vacation and having a 5th wheel RV is the best way to bring the comforts of home with you. They are called 5th wheel RVs because of their unique protruding front section that allows the RV to be attached to your pickup truck.
The protruding front section of your 5th wheel RV is known as the heavy-duty hitch, and it connects to the rear axle located on your truck bed. This is why only pickup trucks can be used to tow a 5th wheel RV, as no other vehicle has a rear axle and the pulling power required to tow the RV safely.
In this article, we will give you tips on how to tow a 5th wheel RV properly so that you can have a safe and enjoyable vacation with your motorhome.
Does the Weight Limit Matter?
To tow your 5th wheel RV safely, the first thing that you need to know is the weight capacity of your pickup truck and the weight capacity of your hitch. Most pickup trucks can safely tow at least 12,000 pounds, but there are heavy-duty trucks that can tow oversized rigs weighing 20,000 or more. The most powerful pickup truck that you can have to pull an oversized rig is the RAM 3500, which can tow a staggering 30,000 pounds!
Once you know the weight capacity of your truck, you should consider the weight of the 5th wheel RV before and after you've loaded it on your truck. The weight of your empty RV should be easy to find: you refer to the RV's manual to get the empty weight of your RV. Once you've loaded all your gear, furniture, clothes, passengers, and other essential items into your RV, you need to weigh it again so that you can get the loaded weight. The most accurate way to do is by using a CAT scale.
How Altitude and Incline Affects your Towing
If you plan to drive up to high altitude areas such as mountains, you also need to consider how the incline of the topography and the altitude will affect your towing setup. As you go up higher altitudes, your engine will work harder to provide power to your rig. However, this only applies to gas engines.
For every 1,000 feet that your vehicle climbs up, the engine’s power output drops down by three or four percent. Thus, the higher up you drive, the harder it will be for your pickup’s engine to tow your RV. If you have plans to drive up high elevation areas, you might want to carry lighter loads or consider buying groceries once you have reached the areas.
Know How to Drive your Vehicle with a 5th Wheel RV Attached
There is a safe and proper way to drive your vehicle when you have a 5th wheel RV attached. Check the owner’s manual to know if there are speed and distance limits for your particular rig. Make sure that you always keep the size and length of your rig in mind when merging or making turns, especially on the freeway.
When driving a pickup with a 5th wheel RV attached, safety and security should be your top priorities. Let other drivers pass you if needed and keep to the outer line to allow the faster car to overtake you when possible.
Why Lug Bolts and Tire Health are Important
When it comes to driving with a 5th wheel RV, it's often the small details that escape your attention, particularly the lug bolts and your pickup's tires.
Lug bolts hold the 5th wheel RV hitch to your pickup truck, so you need to check them regularly. Every time you stop for gas, groceries, or take a stretch during a long drive, you can do a quick check to see whether the lug bolts are still properly tightened. Otherwise, you can do it on a distance basis, such as every 100 miles. Lug bolts loosen over time as your rig moves, so you want to make sure that they are tightened every chance you get.
Another thing that many people tend to overlook is their tires. While RV and pickup tires tend to be huge and durable, they are not built to last forever. What’s more, if you regularly drive over rough terrain or roads that may have nails or glass, these conditions can drastically shorten your tire’s lifespan.
Before going on long road trips, always check the tire’s thickness, integrity, and pressure. If the tires still have thick walls and deep treads, you just need to make sure that the pressure is correct. Otherwise, you should replace tires that are already worn down to prevent accidents on the road.
Learning How to use Your Mirrors with a 5th Wheel RV Attached
Have you ever noticed that pickups with 5th wheel RVs often have extended mirrors? This is because the stock mirrors on your pickup are not designed for towing RVs, even smaller ones. However, driving with extended mirrors does take some practice because you’ll need to relearn how to gauge distance.
If you regularly go on a long trip with your RV, you might even want to consider getting extended mirrors installed permanently over your truck's stock side mirrors.
Practice Makes Perfect
Maneuvering with a 5th wheel RV can be difficult even with all the new safety features such as additional cameras and driver’s assistance apps. In fact, driving with a 5th wheel RV can be difficult during the first few times for new drivers because of the added weight and increased length of the rig.
Before going on long road trips, you should practice driving with your 5th wheel RV to get a feel for driving large and long vehicles. Driving with a 5th wheel RV is different from regular driving, especially when it comes to braking, turns, and parking.
There go our tips on how to tow a 5th wheel RV safely and properly. These six tips will help ensure that you have a safe and comfortable journey with your 5th wheel RV. Even if you are an experienced driver, these tips will come in handy so that you will feel confident in driving your 5th wheel RV. We cannot stress the importance of the last tip enough: practice driving your 5th wheel RV before taking it on long drives! Always keep in mind that safety is your priority, and the only way to drive safely is to completely familiarize yourself with driving with a 5th wheel RV in tow. Once you’ve mastered driving your 5th wheel RV, you will be ready to hit the road and have fun!
Having a fifth wheel RV is literally having a home on the go: you can enjoy the comfort and luxuries of your home while still being able to have an outdoor adventure!