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Gooseneck and fifth wheel hitches allow you to haul more weight with your pickup. If your truck is set up with a gooseneck, you can still tow a fifth-wheel trailer by using a variety of gooseneck adapters. What are the advantages and disadvantages of fifth wheel to gooseneck adapters? We've done the research, and here's what we've found.
The main advantage of adapters is that you will be able to tow a fifth wheel trailer with a gooseneck hitch without making heavy modifications to your truck. However, depending on the type of adapter, it may cause wear on the trailer, take up more space in the bed of your truck, or even void your frame warranty.
Different adapters have different advantages and disadvantages. We'll take a look at the most common types of adapters (including examples of each) and talk about them. We'll also cover other information on gooseneck hitches, federal and state CDL requirements, and more!
Types of Fifth Wheel to a Gooseneck Ball Adapters
If your truck is set up for gooseneck towing, but your fifth wheel isn't, there are a few options for how to connect them.
Replace the pin box
- Most secure option
- It doesn't require modifying your truck bed
- More cargo space in the truck bed
- It doesn't increase stress on the trailer or hitch
- Easier to get correct height alignment
- More expensive than other options
The first and most stable option is to remove the fifth-wheel pin box and replace it with a gooseneck pin box. This method essentially turns your fifth wheel into a gooseneck trailer. Because of this, it doesn't increase the stress on any of your truck or trailer components in the way that some adapters can.
Some companies specify approved adapters in their warranties. These adapters, and particularly the Reese adapter below, are less likely to void your frame warranty.
Adapters that Install in the Gooseneck Ball or Gooseneck Ball Hole
- Very secure
- Easy to switch between trailer types
- No need to modify the trailer
- Easy to remove when you need to load cargo in your truck bed
- Takes up bed space when towing the fifth wheel
These adapters are essentially fifth wheel hitches that you install in the bed of the truck. With these, you don't need to modify your trailer, but make sure you choose an option that is compatible with your fifth wheel's kingpin.
Some connect to the gooseneck ball hole in the bed of your truck, such as this one from B&W Hitches.
Others connect to the gooseneck ball itself, such as this one from Demco.
Raised Gooseneck Ball Adapters
- More affordable than some options
- Can be removed from truck bed when not in use
- Requires parts on both the trailer and truck
- Can put some stress on the trailer's kingpin
- Not approved by all manufacturers
Raised gooseneck ball adapters are composed of two parts. One is a small box with a gooseneck ball receiver that attaches to your trailer's kingpin. The other is a frame that goes in the bed of your truck with an elevated gooseneck ball that reaches up to the receiver.
Adapters that Connect to Trailer
- Most affordable option
- It doesn't require modifying truck
- More cargo space in a truck bed
- Can put stress on the trailer's kingpin
- Not approved by all manufacturers
These adapters connect a metal tube with a gooseneck ball receiver to the fifth wheel's kingpin. They only require installing a new part to the trailer so that it functions like a gooseneck trailer.
While this is functionally similar to replacing the fifth wheel pin box with one for a gooseneck, it is structurally different. This can increase the stress and wear on your trailer's kingpin, which can lead to troubles down the line.
These adapters are a good short-term solution, granted they don't void your frame warranty. Always be sure to check with your dealer or manufacturer before installing adapters.
Are Gooseneck Adapters Safe?
Gooseneck adapters are perfectly safe as long as they are correctly used. This starts with choosing your gooseneck adapter.
These adapters come in different weight ratings. For the adapter to be safe, you'll need to make sure your adapter is weight-rated for the weight of your fifth wheel and all the cargo in it. It is best to err on the side of caution and choose an adapter that has a higher weight rating than you will need.
Does a Gooseneck Adapter Void the Warranty?
Whenever modifying or using an adapter for your vehicle on your own, there is a possibility that it will void the warranty. Your safest bet is to use the adapters that connect a fifth-wheel hitch to your gooseneck ball or gooseneck ball hole, as they don't require any modifications to your trailer.
Your second safest option from a warranty standpoint is to replace the pinbox of your trailer. Some companies may have a specific selection of approved gooseneck adapters. Lippert components have endorsed the Reese gooseneck adapter.
To avoid violating the terms of your warranty, always contact the manufacturer or your dealer before making any changes to your rig.
Can you Tow More with a Gooseneck?
Both gooseneck and fifth wheel configurations will allow you to tow more than bumper towing. This is because they place the weight of your trailer over the axle and frame of your truck bed. This is a more stable setup than bumper towing, so you can tow heavier and longer cargo.
When choosing between gooseneck and fifth wheel towing for your truck, gooseneck towing does have a higher upper limit. For example, Ford's fifth-wheel towing limit is 32,500 lbs. If you have a Ford truck with a higher towing capacity, such as an F-350 or F-450 with a Turbo-Diesel V8 engine, you will need a gooseneck to tow any more weight than that.
So, in essence, you can tow more with a gooseneck if you have a powerful enough truck. In practice, this only applies to a very small number of drivers. The towing capacity of your tow vehicle is more likely to be a limit than whether you use a fifth wheel or gooseneck connection.
What Size Truck Do I Need to Pull a Gooseneck Trailer?
Gooseneck trailers can exceed 20,000 or even 30,000 lbs when fully loaded. If you are planning on hauling anything near that weight, you will want to consider a 1-ton truck with a diesel engine, preferably a dually.
However, if you are using your gooseneck converter to tow a fifth-wheel camper, you won't need as much towing capacity. Many fifth wheels are light enough to be pulled by 3/4- or even 1/2-ton pickups.
You can learn more about this topic in our article, "Can You Pull a 5th Wheel with a Half-Ton Truck?"
Can I haul a Gooseneck Without a CDL?
The presence or absence of a gooseneck will not affect whether or not you need a CDL. However, people often use goosenecks to haul higher weights, which might put you in a position where you need a CDL or a special driver's license, depending on your state.
Let's take a look at the rules for CDLs.
Federal CDL Regulations
Federal CDL rules only regulate commercial drivers. They do not apply if your vehicle is only used for recreational purposes. If you are only using your gooseneck to tow an RV, you are not required to get a CDL or other special license by the federal government. However, your state may still require it (more on that below).
Federal rules for classifying commercial drivers follow below.
If the gross combined weight rating (GCWR) is over 26,000 lbs and the vehicle or vehicles being towed have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 10,000 lbs.
If the GCWR is over 26,000 lbs and the GVWR for the towed vehicle is under 10,000 lbs.
If the Class A and Class B regulations are not met, but the vehicle is designed to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or is placarded for hazardous materials.
You can see a helpful graphic for these rules from the FMCSA here.
State CDL and Special Driver's License Regulations
Some states require a CDL or a special driver's license if your RV meets certain criteria. Here are their rules:
Connecticut; Hawaii; Kansas; New Mexico; Washington, D.C.
You need a Class B CDL for a single vehicle over 26,000 lbs. You need a Class A CDL for multiple vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 lbs.
CDL is required for vehicles over 26,000 lbs.
CDL is required for vehicles over 45' in length.
State Non-commercial Special Driver's License Rules
Some states require special driver's license for non-commercial use depending on weight:
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas
You'll need a Class B license for a single vehicle over 26,000 lbs. Class A required for multiple vehicles with a GCWR over 26,000 lbs.
You'll need a Class B license for vehicles over 26,000 lbs or 40'. Class A required for towing more than 10,000 lbs.
You'll need a Class B license for vehicles over 26,000 lbs.
If you are towing a fifth-wheel and a trailer, you will need a Recreational Double "R" Endorsement.
You'll need a Class B license for a single vehicle over 26,000 lbs. Class A required for a GCWR over 26,000 lbs and towing more than 10,000 lbs. A "J" endorsement is required if you are towing more than 10,000 lbs, but the GCWR is less than 26,000 lbs.
You'll need a Recreation Vehicle ("R") endorsement for vehicles over 26,000 lbs.
You'll need a Class B license for vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 lbs towing under 10,000 lbs. Class A required for multiple vehicles with a GCWR over 26,000 lbs and towing over 10,000 lbs.
If you need a CDL, you can learn more about the cost and process in our article, "How Much Does a CDL Cost?"
We've seen a variety of fifth-wheel-to-gooseneck adapters that can help you get your fifth wheel on the road. Knowing more about the pros and cons of each will help you choose the right one for you. You can spend less time choosing and more time on the road.