Unlike a traditional towing hitch that is located below the rear bumper, a 5th wheel hitch is located directly in the center of the truck bed. This means 5th wheel hitches can only be installed in pick-up trucks, and can not be used for sedans, SUVs, or commercial vans.
A 5th wheel hitch consists of a large, flat horseshoe-shaped plate. Using metal jaws or a locking bar, the hitch is able to securely affix to the kingpin of a 5th wheel trailer. The hitch itself is connected to the frame of the truck bed by metal rails.
Since they are mainly used for RV trailers and campers, 5th wheel hitches are designed to carry much larger loads than a standard towing hitch. This is because the front edge of the trailer extends over the rear end of the truck bed. Normally, the vehicle would simply be pulling the full weight of the trailer behind it. But with the 5th wheel hitch, the weight of the trailer is instead resting in the area between the cab and the rear axle.
In addition to more towing capacity, the location of the 5th wheel hitch also allows for better weight distribution. This is important because proper weight distribution equals a better driving experience.
Despite the large and heavy load, 5th wheel hitches are able to limit trailer sway while working to increase stability and mobility. The trailer’s lockpin is securely connected to the hitch, but it is also able to swivel to accommodate for turns.
One of the biggest disadvantages of 5th wheel hitches is the sheer size and location. Since the hitch is installed directly into the middle of the truck bed, it can be extremely inconvenient when you are not actively pulling a trailer.
Rather than having your entire truck bed to store cargo, the hitch essentially takes up at least one-third of the available floor space. While you are able to strategically load items around the hitch, you can not transport large items that would span the length of the entire truck bed.
However, the installation and removal process for 5th wheel hitches is relatively easy. When you are not towing, you may simply need to unscrew the metal rails connecting the hitch to the truck bed. Then, when you are finished transporting cargo and ready for your next RV adventure, you can simply re-install the hitch and you are ready to go.
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