How to Hook Up a 5th Wheel Hitch

Written by Hitchweb Team
Friday, July 10, 2015 — No Comments Yet

This informative video by Curt Manufacturing demonstrates the proper process on how to hook up to a 5th wheel hitch or as others may say, how to couple and uncouple a 5th wheel hitch.

Whether you're towing cross country or hitting the family campground, 5th wheel trailers offer superior comfort, towing, and construction. Combine these amenities with a Curt, Reese, B&W, Pullrite and many more 5th wheel hitches and you have the most well designed, problem free rig on the road!

 

 

STEP 1: PREPARATION

Before backing your vehicle into position, make sure the vehicle, trailer and hitch are ready. It is important to make sure you are at a level and steady surface. Use wheel chocks so that your trailer doesn't move when you are trying to couple and uncouple.

If this is your first time towing your fifth wheel trailer, it is important that you set the ride height of your hitch so your trailer can tow as level as possible. To determine the required height, you will need to take some measurements:

Make sure your trailer is on a level surface and that your chocks are in place. Adjust the lifting jacks as needed to make sure the trailer is as level as possible.

Start by measuring the height of your trailers king pin box skid plate, we will call this measurement A. Next measure from the ground to the surface of your pick up bed, we will call this measurement B. By subtracting measurement B from measurement A you will get the correct height of your fifth wheel hitch. 

It is also important to note that the clearance between the pick up bed rails and the fifth wheel trailer is minimum of 5-1/2"
Adjust your height of your center section accordingly. Next, make sure the locking mechanism is free of debris and properly greased. Before backing the truck up to your trailer, place your hitch into the coupling position. If the jaws are open you are ready to couple. 

The final step of preparation is to lubricate the fifth wheel hitch, you can do this by using a high pressure wheel bearing grease or a 3/16" lube plate
 

STEP 2: COUPLING

Double check to make sure that the tailgate is down and no one is near the king pin box of the trailer. Slowly back up the truck towards the trailer, come to a complete stop when the king pin is roughly 4" away from the fifth wheel head. 
Adjust the trailer jack so that the he lube plate sits 1/2" below the top of the fifth wheel skid plate, this will allow the trailer to ramp up to the hitch. Now that the trailer is in the correct position, slowly back the truck up until the king pin fully seats into the opening of the fifth wheel head. Put the vehicle in park and engage the emergency brake. Then do a visual inspection to make sure that the jaws are fully locked and engaged. Once you have confirmed that the jaws are engaged, lock the fifth wheel by inserting the safety pin to make the the jaws will not come unlocked when in use. 

Now you are ready to do a pull test to make sure that you have properly locked the trailer. Remove the emergency brake and put your vehicle into drive. Press the manual activation on your brake control to activate the trailer brakes and slightly tug on the trailer. If resistance is felt this means that you are properly coupled. Release the forward pressure by putting the vehicle into neutral and then park. In the unlikely event that no resistance is felt, the trailer may not be coupled properly. If this is the case, follow the steps again. 

Before getting on the open road, you will need to follow these steps:

1) Confirm that the handle safety pin has been installed
2) Attach the trailers electrcal harness to the vehicle 
3) Attach the lanyard of the electric brake away switch
4) Close the trucks tailgate
5) Remove the tire chocks
6) Fully retract the lifting jacks on the front of the trailer 
7) Check the trailer lights to ensure that the running, turn, and stop signals are working correctly
8) Pull forward a few feet and apply the brakes to check that the trailer brakes are activating. Adjustment of the vehicle's brake control may be necessary. 

STEP 3: UNCOUPLING

Once you receive at your destination, find a level surface, put the vehicle in park and engage the emergency brake. Start by chocking the tires. Disconnect all harnesses, lanyard and safety devices. Drop the jacks and lower the tailgate. Begin extensing the trailer lifting jacks. The jacks should be extended just enough to remove the weight of the trailer from the fifth wheel skid plate. When using the lfiting jacks, it is important that you do not create larger then a 1/16 of an inch gap between the fifth wheel skid plate and the trailer skid plate. This can cause damage to the internal components of the fifth wheel hitch and some components of the trailer.

With the trailer jacks down and the wheels chocked reduce the remaining pressure of the king pin and the fifth wheel jaws by putting the vehicle into reverse and backing the king pin all the way into the opening of the fifth wheel head. Hold the vehicle into position by applying the emergency brake before putting the vehicle into park and releasing the standard brake. Remove the safety lynch pin from the fifth wheel hitch and use the handle to unlock the jaws. Finally, remove the emergency brake and put your vehicle into drive. Slowly drive the vehicle away from the trailer. 


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