Three Tips For Choosing The Right 5Th Wheel Hitch

A 5th wheel hitch is one that's designed to carry much more weight than a traditional ball hitch. It mounts in the bed of your pickup truck, just in front of the rear axle, instead of on the rear of the truck. Because of its positioning, a 5th wheel hitch uses the support of the pickup truck to help carry the load.

If you're someone who enjoys camping or boating, adding a 5th wheel hitch to your truck takes these adventures to the next level. With the addition of a 5th wheel hitch, you can tow your own trailer or boat behind you on vacation and save costly rental fees. If you're not familiar with trailers and hitches, however, you'll need a little basic information to help guide you when shopping. If you purchase a hitch that's the wrong size, you risk loosing your load or causing an accident. But if you buy more hitch than you need, you'll waste money unnecessarily. Use the following tips to help you purchase the perfect 5th wheel hitch. 

1. Consult Your Owner's Manual

Your first step is to consult your truck owner's manual to find out just how many pounds your vehicle is capable of towing safely. This is called the towing capacity, and you can't exceed it if you want to arrive at your destination safely with your trailer in tow.  You should ascertain your towing capacity first -- before purchasing either the boat, the camper, or the hitch. 

2. Purchase the Vehicle You Plan to Tow

Only after you understand how much weight your vehicle is capable of hauling should you go out and buy the trailer or boat of your dreams. A 5th wheel hitch offers distinct advantages for these types of vehicles, including better weight distribution that helps prevent jack-knifing. You must take into account the weight of the trailer or boat when it's fully loaded so you'll know how much hitch you'll need. 

3. Choose Your 5th Wheel Hitch

You'll choose your hitch based upon trailer weight and towing capacity. If you're purchasing a hitch for a short-bed truck, you may need to spend the extra money to purchase a sliding hitch that lets you stop and extend the length of the hitch for towing around sharp corners. 

These types of hitches are measured in GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating. If the hitch is rated 16K, for example, this means it's recommended to tow trailers up to 16,000 pounds. You'll also want to take into account the tongue weight of the trailer. The tongue weight is the amount of force that the trailer exerts on the hitch. If the tongue weight is too high for the hitch, your load may sway in an unsafe manner. Typically, the tongue weight is equal to about 10 percent of the GVWR. 

Once you understand the terminology involved in selecting a 5th wheel hitch, you'll be better able to make an informed decision regarding which one is right for you. Additionally, you may want to invest in towing mirrors and lubrication as well. Contact a local company, like Major Tire & Hitch Inc, if you still have questions.