Categorised | Health & Lifestyle, Travel

Towing A Camper or Trailer? Are You Looking After Your Fifth Wheel?

Most vehicles come with 4 wheels as standard, but if you’re towing a camper, RV or trailer then you may have a fifth wheel that you also need to take care of. Fifth wheels are often one of the most neglected pieces of equipment used with towing and without proper care and maintenance that could come back to bite you. So here are some tips to help you better care for your fifth wheel to keep you safe on the road for longer. 

What is the fifth wheel?

You’re not going to be able to care for your fifth wheel if you don’t know what it is. A fifth wheel is a type of U shaped, sometimes referred to as horseshoe-shaped, coupling device providing a link between a semi-trailer, RV or campervan and your vehicle. If you have a fifth wheel on your vehicle then you will likely know about it, but you can check out this comparison if you aren’t sure. 

How should you care for your fifth wheel?

Fifth wheels are pretty sturdy pieces of equipment, designed to take heavy loads and perform consistently under a lot of stress. That being said, they still require maintenance and servicing to keep them running smoothly and prolong their longevity. To keep your fifth wheel in top working order here are a few things you may want to consider.  

Clean it

Clean of any accumulated dirt or grease by scraping it off with a putty knife or brush, then for a regular deeper clean, many manufacturers recommend steam cleaning the top plate, jaw and legs. 

Check the locking mechanism

A tug test is not a sufficient way to check your locking mechanism and with a precious cargo at stake is it something you can afford to miss?  Carefully inspect the jaw area for damage or missing parts and then using a test pin (available from the manufacturer) engage the mechanism and check to ensure it is operating smoothly to form a tight fit around the pin. 

Inspect the top plate, bracket pins and legs

Check the top plate, bracket pins and legs of the fifth wheel for any damage, excessive wear and tear or missing parts. Check for cracks and any other damage and free up any blockages you may find. If anything looks out of place then get your fifth wheel serviced.

Lubricate it

Lubrication is an important part of keeping your fifth wheel working smoothly. Lubricate the jaw and locking mechanism with a silicone-based lubricant or light oil, then apply grease to the bracket pins and to the rear portion of the top plate. 

Use it with care

Over its lifetime your fifth wheel will have to take a beating from many couplings and uncouplings. To keep it in good working order try to ensure that these are performed as carefully as possible, don’t drop a load down onto the plate, instead, use the vehicle’s suspension to lift it up to the trailer nose. When uncoupling, remember to drop your vehicle suspension to reduce the weight on the fifth wheel before pulling away.

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