Did you just get back from a vacation with your camper trailer, and now you want to know how to lift the fifth-wheel hitch out of your truck? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.
Here is a summary of the simple steps to unhitch the fifth-wheel trailer from the truck and lift the hitch from the bed.
- Park on level ground.
- Check the level of the trailer.
- Place chocks on the wheels of the trailer.
- Position wood blocks under the landing gear legs.
- Lower and lock the fifth-wheel landing gear into place.
- Open the truck’s tailgate.
- Disconnect the power cable.
- Disconnect the breakaway cable.
- Extend the trailer jacks.
- Activate the parking brake on the truck.
- Open the safety latch on the fifth-wheel hitch.
- Disengage the locking bar.
- Deactivate the parking brake and move the truck forward.
- Once the trailer is clear, close the truck’s tailgate.
- If you plan to uninstall the fifth-wheel hitch from your truck, follow the manufacturer’s steps for disconnecting the hitch from the bed of your truck.
- Use an engine hoist if the fifth-wheel assembly is too heavy to be lifted off the bed of your truck.
Let’s talk more about unhitching a fifth-wheel trailer in the succeeding sections. Learn more about how to properly hitch a fifth-wheel trailer in the sections below.
What are the advantages of a fifth-wheel hitch?
A fifth-wheel hitch allows you to tow trailers that are bigger and heavier than what you can tow using a gooseneck hitch. However, it is not without its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the advantages of using a fifth-wheel hitch.
A fifth-wheel hitch is more stable than other types of hitches, even when towing heavy and large trailers. The secret behind this stability lies where you connect a fifth-wheel hitch.
You place a fifth-wheel hitch directly above the rear wheels of your pickup truck. This makes this type more stable because the rear axle directly supports the front weight of the trailer. The stability makes it safer than a gooseneck or a ball hitch.
The stability also makes fifth-wheel hitches more maneuverable than other types of trailers.
Fifth-wheel travel trailers are normally taller than other camper trailers. This offers more headroom and more storage space above the living area. This makes them great for families, while smaller trailers are more suitable for individual campers only.
Additionally, the large available space in a fifth-wheel camper trailer allows for more floor plan options than a travel trailer.
Disadvantages Of A Fifth-Wheel Hitch
Travel trailers come in different sizes and weights so that they can be towed by SUVs, vans, or cars that have the right towing capacity. The disadvantage of a fifth-wheel hitch is that you can only install it on a pickup truck. Thus, you can only tow your camper trailer using a pickup truck, which limits your choices for a towing vehicle.
Most fifth-wheel camper trailers offer multiple levels, with the sleeping area commonly located at the overhang that connects to your truck. This can be challenging to access for people with mobility issues.
The taller and larger fifth-wheel camping trailers can be a challenge when navigating over low bridges and branches of trees. Thus, if you’re not familiar with the maximum vertical clearance of bridges along your way, you could snag your trailer on a really low bridge and damage your trailer.
Another disadvantage of a fifth-wheel trailer is that the driving area and the living area are separate. You can be left driving the truck alone while everyone else is relaxing inside the trailer.
Finally, fifth-wheel camper trailers are huge. Thus, you will also need a huge space to store them when you’re not using them.
How to lift a fifth-wheel hitch out of a truck?
Here are the complete steps to lift your fifth-wheel trailer out of your truck.
Preparing The Trailer And Truck
- Park the truck and trailer on level ground.
- Check the level of the trailer. Most camper trailers have a level on the outer walls to make it easy for owners to monitor the level of the trailer.
- If your trailer doesn’t have a level, use a separate level to make sure that the trailer is on level ground.
- You need to make sure that all sides are level before you proceed.
- Place wheel chocks on the front and back of the wheels. You will need chocks to prevent the trailer from rolling in either direction while you’re unhitching it.
- Position wooden blocks under the landing gear of the trailer. Make sure that the wooden blocks are sturdy enough to carry the weight of the trailer.
- Lower the wheel landing gear over the wooden blocks.
- Lock the wheel landing gear in position.
- Repeat the same process for the wheel landing gear on the other side.
- Open the tailgate of the pickup truck. This is important because the kingpin can hook itself on the tailgate.
- Carefully disconnect the power connectors from the truck bed connector.
- Unhook the breakaway cable from the fifth wheel.
- Stow the power connector and the breakaway cable to get them out of the way.
Lifting The Trailer Out Of The Fifth-Wheel Hitch
- Use the outside controls to extend the trailer jacks. This will slowly raise the trailer and lift it off the fifth-wheel hitch’s surface. Monitor your trailer closely. The rear of the truck will rise with the trailer at first as the suspension adjusts to the loss of load. If the trailer jacks go out too much, the trailer could end up too high and lift the back of your truck. Moreover, if the kingpin gets too high, the weight of the truck will pull on the kingpin and make it difficult to unlock the fifth wheel from the kingpin of the trailer. Just wait until the trailer separates from the hitch plate.
- Activate the parking brake of the truck.
- Unlock the safety latch on the fifth wheel.
- Disengage the locking bar to open the hitch.
- If the locking bar seems stuck and you can’t get it open, get into the truck and shift the transmission into first gear (for manual transmissions) or into drive (for automatic transmissions).
- This will loosen the tension on the locking bar.
Separating The Truck From The Trailer
- Check the locking mechanism of the fifth wheel. It should no longer be locking the kingpin in place.
- Slowly drive your truck forward, separating the fifth wheel from the kingpin.
- Someone should monitor the kingpin and the hitch plate. If the trailer starts to rub against the hitch plate, extend the trailer jack some more.
- Once the truck is clear of the trailer, park it on level ground.
Uninstalling The Fifth Wheel
You can uninstall the fifth-wheel hitch from your truck so you can use it for hauling cargo. Simply follow the instructions in the manufacturer’s manual to unhook the fifth-wheel assembly from the mounting rails.
You can leave the mounting rails on your truck since they are flat on the bed of the truck anyway.
Once you’ve unhooked the fifth-wheel assembly from the mounting rail, you can lift it off the truck bed and off to storage.
Some fifth-wheel assemblies are heavy and can easily become too much for anyone to carry. If this is the case, you can use an engine hoist. If you don’t have an engine hoist, you can rent one to get the fifth-wheel assembly off the back of your truck.
Always secure the fifth-wheel assembly to the engine hoist using chains that you secure to the four corners of the assembly. Once you have the assembly safely on the engine hoist, you can bring it to where you plan to store it, then slowly lower it to the ground.
Alternatively, if you only use your fifth-wheel hitch with your trailer, you can leave it connected to the trailer’s kingpin.
Instead of disconnecting the kingpin and the fifth-wheel hitch, disconnect the fifth-wheel assembly from the mounting rails on your truck.
Lift the trailer, and the hitch will stay with it. This method will make it easy to store the trailer and the fifth-wheel hitch.
How to hitch a trailer to a fifth wheel?
If the steps above did not go smoothly, you might want to review if you hitched your fifth-wheel trailer correctly by going through the steps below.
- Place wheel chocks on both sides of the trailer’s wheels.
- Open the tailgate.
- Have someone back the truck into position as you guide them. Stop when the kingpin gets close to the hitch.
- Unlock the coupler.
- Apply some grease on the hitch plate or insert a lube plate on the kingpin.
- Back the truck until the kingpin is inside the coupler jaws.
- Activate the parking brake.
- Secure the locking bar.
- Connect the power connector to the truck to power the trailer’s lights.
- Hook the breakaway cable to the fifth-wheel hitch.
- Close the tailgate.
Unhitching a fifth-wheel trailer from your truck is the opposite of hitching it. However, it is important to do both processes on level ground.
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