What is a fifth wheel? | All you need to know

What is a fifth wheel? | The Full Guide

fifth wheel

What is a fifth wheel?

A fifth wheel camper is a type of travel trailer that's mounted to the bed of a truck with special brackets and kingpin hitch in the rear. When not in use, the trailer folds up out of the way below the cab of the truck. The name "fifth wheel" comes from its original use in railroad cars to allow side-to-side motion while rolling down the tracks at high speeds.

When not in use, a fifth wheel is put into position and sits on top of four small pegs attached to an electric actuator controlled by a switch inside your vehicle's cab. With this installed, you can tow long distances without any trouble or risk for damage occurring due to straining your receiver hitch or truck suspension system.

A fifth wheel is a specialized trailer designed to be towed by a pickup truck. It has two axles and allows a motorhome or travel trailer to ride much more smoothly behind a pickup truck than it would if being towed with only a hitch. However, towing requires different driving techniques than regular trailers so it's important to learn how to tow safely with this type of setup. Without proper training, you can easily cause accidents while towing a fifth wheel.

What is an electric actuator?

rv electric actuator

An electric actuator is a device that makes it possible to control hydraulic cylinders without physically reaching for and turning the cylinder's valve. It essentially transforms your vehicle's electrical system into an operating room, making it possible to maneuver cab-mounted fifth wheel trailers with ease as long as you're willing to do some research beforehand.

A standard way to tow a fifth wheel trailer is by directly attaching it to the truck--which means you cannot detach the trailer from your vehicle until you reach its destination. This method adds extra maintenance costs and shortens your fuel economy. Some states require this type of connection in order for a driver to get his license or registration renewed each year.

How much money does a fifth wheel cost?

Fifth wheels usually cost anywhere from $34,999 to $93,000 new. Used ones can be found at a much cheaper price of anywhere around $5,000 to $30,000.

While there are many things to consider when purchasing a fifth wheel, the cost varies on so many different factors that it can be difficult to identify an accurate price range. The biggest factor is most likely going to be the size of fifth wheel you choose which will determine how much space you'll have and what amenities they come with. Other factors include whether or not it's used or new, if it has been refurbished, and what materials were used in building it. Some of these travel trailers are built using wood, while some are built using aluminum.

What about the different types of 5th wheels?

When speaking with your dealer about what fifth wheel is right for you, make sure they refer to their trailers by brand and style rather than just size because even though two different brands may have an 8 foot wide trailer, they can weigh entirely different due to lug spacing, axle lengths and other factors. The most common fifth wheels usually found in travel trailer applications (because no one has a big enough truck anymore) are 6'0″ "B" and 7'6″ "C". Either one will offer ample room width wise but have their differences.


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What are some tips for buying a fifth wheel?

Buying a fifth wheel is a big decision just like buying a house or a car. It's not something you can take lightly.

Here is a list of things you should check before buying a fifth wheel:

  • Are the tires all in good condition?
  • How about the spare tire – do you have one?
  • Do the brakes work well or are they worn out?
  • Are there any cracks on the walls of your fifth wheel? Also, is it structurally sound?

Here is a list of items to check if you have a good tire:

  • If you are traveling at certain speed, you shouldn't hear any type of sound coming from your tires
  • Does the vehicle hydroplane?
  • Is your TPMS light on? If so, check to ensure that the tires are not at fault.
  • Check to see if there are any cracks on the walls of the tires

Here is a list of items to check if you have good brakes:

  • The steering wheel shakes during normal driving conditions.
  • You lose control of your vehicle because the wheels slip from side-to-side while going around corners.
  • Your vehicle pulls off to one side when driving straight, or shimmies during braking or acceleration.
  • In case your power steering warning light stays on even after topping it off

What benefits do 5th wheels offer?

You can take your fifth wheel several places like on holiday or on a week long trip, and you don't have to worry about finding where to sleep at night since you already have a bed that folds down into a couch. You also get all the other benefits of having a house with you when setting out on your travels which means less time looking for accommodation, so more time doing what you want during your vacation.

  1. A lot more storage space is available with them too
  2. A fifth wheel will offer you the convenience of having so much room for your belongings, since you have a living space and bedroom all in one. A fifth wheel camper will also allow you to store more items than an RV or trailer would because it has a large amount of storage underneath the floor. You'll be able to pack everything you need for whatever type of trip you plan on going on whether it's a long vacation, fishing weekend, or hunting trip.

    Because there is so much space provided in a fifth wheel, this means that less trips are needed when transporting things from place to place which saves time and money by eliminating the fuel costs that are required for each extra journey.

  3. They are easy To Maneuver
  4. The great thing about fifth wheels is that they are easy to maneuver. If you have never towed one before, it only takes a little practice to get good at it. If you're new to the world of camping, or just dislike driving your fifth wheel in general, this is a great benefit!

  5. A 5th wheel is Like A Home Away From Home
  6. Camping can be something that is quite enjoyable but sometimes it's nice to get off the ground and feel like you're at home. A fifth wheel provides all of these aspects with its large amount of living space. It will feel as though you're inside once all the doors and windows are closed up for maximum heating efficiency which makes them ideal for cold weather conditions as well as hot ones when used with air conditioning. Additionally, fifth wheels are equipped with plenty of security features for those who want them such as locking devices and alarms that alert you when someone is nearby trying to access it in an attempt to break in.

  7. Fifth wheels are very good on gas
  8. Fifth wheel are known to be good on gas. This is why they are commonly used for camping and travel. fifth wheel campers will have great gas mileage because they don't need a lot of power to get up the small incline needed to turn them. There aren't any special skills involved either as all you need is a bit of forward momentum and then give it some time to level out. Because of the low amount of maneuvering needed, less strain is placed on your vehicle's motor which means better fuel efficiency overall and longer lasting parts.

  9. More people are able to fit in a them
  10. These types of rvs are about as big as your average apartment, so if you need extra living space or have a whole family to house, then it's the perfect choice. Even after people have bought one fifth wheel there are still plenty of reasons why they like their purchase. You'll be able to relax and enjoy each others company outside while also keeping an eye on your home at the same time.

    Since the fifth wheel sits off of the ground it doesn't take up any usable flooring space compared to a travel trailer that will always sit directly on the ground. Anything can be put inside of them from clothing to tools and everything in between, making this camper style ideal for those who love organization and tons of space.

  11. Fifth wheels are safe and secure
  12. They're built sturdy to carry everything you need including all of your family's belongings. You shouldn't have to worry about your fifth wheel camper coming unhinged or breaking down on the way home from a vacation trip due to bad parts and poor craftsmanship either, as they're made with care by skilled workers who take pride in their jobs.

    They are also great for people who don't want the hassles of a motor home but still want to be able to travel with an RV style unit . They don't have any complicated systems that require constant servicing which is ideal for those who like doing things themselves instead of paying someone else when there isn't anything wrong.

Now that you know some reasons why a fifth wheel can be beneficial, keep this article bookmarked so you can refer back later on if you're about to purchase one.

If you want to find out how a fifth wheel looks, read our article titled "what does a fifth wheel look like".


5th wheel trailers are a type of trailer that is towed behind an RV. They can be used for long-term living, as they provide more space and storage than most other types of trailers. A fifth wheel costs between $5,000 to $93,000 depending on the size you need and where you purchase it from or if it is new or used. If you're in the market for a new or used trailer but aren't sure if this style is right for your needs. Consider taking on out for a test drive.

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About Author:

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Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of CamperRules.com, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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