Advanced Techniques for Maneuvering and Parking With a Fifth Wheel Hitch

Advanced Techniques for Maneuvering and Parking With a Fifth Wheel Hitch

Many one-ton trucks have “puck systems,” which resemble inserts in the truck bed. These have openings that base rails and a hitch bolt into.

A fifth-wheel trailer has a kingpin that slots into this pin box to attach to the towing vehicle. The head of the hitch articulates and has jaws that fully enclose the kingpin.

Make a Left Turn

When driving with the fifth wheel hitches, it is essential to remember that you cannot maneuver as quickly as other drivers. Be patient and give yourself extra time to change lanes, turn, and stop.

When turning, it is also important to remember that your trailer has a blind side. This site disappears from your view when you ride, so practicing in empty parking lots is essential before you hit the road.

To practice, find a large, vacant parking lot and set up some cones. Try backing into a space and taking tight corners (both right and left). This is one of the best ways to learn the turning radius of your rig without worrying about hitting something or having other motorists jump into your lane.

Make a Right Turn

A fifth-wheel trailer takes tighter turns than the truck pulling it, so right turns are critical to remember. Ensure that the front of the trailer is well past anything you don’t want to hit before turning.

Ideally, you can practice in an empty parking lot before taking your fifth wheel out. Find a large area to turn left and right while going very slowly. This will give you a feel for the turning radius and the responsiveness of the trailer.

Also, practice with a spotter to understand how the trailer reacts to signals. Whether you use hand signals or a walkie-talkie, work as a team to help each other.

Make a Left Turn

A fifth-wheel trailer requires a much wider turning radius than a truck alone. This can be a problem when sharing the road with other vehicles and cause difficulty when backing into a parking space.

Practice your turning and backing skills with the trailer hooked up in an empty lot. This will give you a feel for how the trailer responds to your steering wheel input and where your blind spots are. Once you’ve mastered this, you can use a spotter to return to a parking space.

It is essential to have a solid communication system between you and your spotter, whether hand signals or walkie-talkies. This will help to communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings.

Make a Right Turn

A fifth wheel takes a much wider turning radius than the truck pulling it. This makes it essential to be able to see everything going on around you and to anticipate where you are going.

For example, when backing into a space, if your truck is angled too far to the left, you could run over a curb or something else and jack-knit the trailer. This requires you and your spotter to communicate clearly and decide where to put the truck.

Get some soccer cones and head to a large parking lot to practice this. This is a great way to get comfortable with the driving side of things before your trip. Just be sure to check out the height of the parking lot for any obstructions, such as awnings or service station roofs.

Make a Left Turn

Turns with a fifth-wheel hitch can be tricky because the trailer turns much tighter than your truck. Depending on the type of hitch, it will need to be removed or moved to turn the vehicle. If not correctly done, the rear of your truck can smash into the front of your trailer or even shatter the rear window of your truck bed.

The best way to master turning a fifth wheel is to practice in a large parking lot. Find a big empty parking lot (preferably dirt because tires won’t wear as quickly) and set up cones to mimic a corner. Spend a day or so turning left and right with your RV. Then, when you’re comfortable, try it in your driveway.


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