Do 5th wheels need safety chains? (21+ states where is mandatory)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Do 5th wheels need safety chains? We will discuss the importance of safety chains and guide you to safely hitch the 5th wheel. 

Do 5th wheels need safety chains?

No, 5th wheels do not need safety chains, with the exception of a few states which you can see in the table below.  A fifth wheel hitch uses a kingpin to lock the RV in place. It is the same type of hitch as that of a large truck and is quite safe without safety chains.

Fifth wheels have a fairly unique and useful hitch compared to other RV trailers. However, although fifth wheels do not need safety chains, there are vehicles that do.

States that require 5th wheels to have safety chains


State

Safety Chains Required
AlabamaNo
AlaskaNo
ArizonaYes
ArkansasNo
CaliforniaYes
ColoradoNo
ConnecticutNo
DelawareNo
FloridaNo
GeorgiaNo
HawaiiNo
IdahoNo
IllinoisNo
IndianaYes
IowaYes
KansasYes (over 14)
KentuckyNo
LouisianaNo
MaineNo
MarylandYes
MassachusettsNo
MichiganYes
MinnesotaYes
MississippiYes
MissouriYes
MontanaYes
NebraskaYes
NevadaNo
New HampshireNo
New JerseyYes
New MexicoNo
New YorkYes
North CarolinaYes
North DakotaYes
OhioNo
OklahomaNo
OregonYes
PennsylvaniaYes
Rhode IslandNo
South CarolinaYes
South DakotaYes
TennesseeYes
TexasNo
UtahNo
VermontNo
VirginiaNo
WashingtonNo
West VirginiaYes
WisconsinYes
WyomingNo

Other questions you may be interested in

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Can I tow a trailer behind my 5th wheel in California?

Do fifth wheels have a generator?

Do 5th wheels using a gooseneck coupling system need safety chains?

Yes, any 5th wheel that is using a Gooseneck Coupling Systemdoes require the use of safety chains. A gooseneck trailer is similar to a fifth-wheel trailer in that it connects to the centre of the truck bed through a special connection. This centres the mass of the trailer on the drive wheels of the truck to greatly increase the stability of the towing vehicle.

Any RV or towable hitch must come with its own set of safety chains. If you bought a used model that didn’t come with a chain, securing it should be one of your first jobs. Don’t even risk leaving the parking lot without chains secured.

Most security chains are simple. There should be two safety chains that come with S hooks or another type of accessory. Pass the chains from one end, such as the hitch, to the other end, such as the hitch.

Safety chains must always cross each other. Crossing the safety chains creates another fail-safe system and can act as a basket to catch or tow the trailer if your trailer somehow becomes detached from its hitch. There may be other tertiary ways that you can tie your chains more securely, but they should always cross each other.

What exactly are safety chains and why are they important?

Safety chains are, well, metal chains. They are usually quite thick and strong and are used to connect a trailer to a towing vehicle.

Safety chains have quite an important function. You probably guessed it from the name, considering it bears the word “safety,” but these chains really keep towed trailers safely. Hope we can highlight the importance of safety chains on gooseneck trailers below:

  • Safety chains are normally used with the ball hitch. Ball hitches are good in theory, but they can’t work alone.
  • A ball hitch attaches to the rear bumper of your truck, and just as the name suggests, it has a ball-shaped piece that sticks upward. These hitches can easily stay on a 247 vehicle, whether or not a caravan is being towed. But watch your knees when walking around the back of your truck.
  • The trailer has a section of the hitch that looks like a hood. This piece is lowered onto the hitch ball until it completely covers the ball and presses on the ball and the vehicle. It is normal for the truck to sag a bit when lowering the hood.
  • The reason the hood needs to press the ball and the truck down is that it creates pressure that keeps the ball on the hood during the ride, so what happens if the hood is not pressed? And if all there is a little ball that keeps the caravan in place, can’t it swing a lot?

That’s where security chains come in.

Safety is a big part of RVs and trailer tugs or other types of RVs and when you need to make sure the cargo is safe. When you hook up your trailer or RV, you need to create multiple safes to make sure your trailer stays where it’s supposed to and doesn’t bounce into opposite lanes of traffic. One of those safes that all RVers should be familiar with is the use of security chains.

How to safely hitch a 5th wheel trailer (without safety chains)

Fifth-wheel trailers have many advantages over standard motor homes. With the load balancing on the truck bed, they are more stable and not subject to the influence of regular trailers, and with practice, they are easier to manoeuvre. 

Fifth-wheel trailers require a special hitch installed in the bed of the truck. Attaching a fifth-wheel trailer to your towing vehicle is not a difficult task, but careful attention to detail is critical to being safe and secure on the track.

  1. Check out any slide-outs on the fifth-wheel trailer. Raise the rear stabilizer jacks and disconnect all water, sewer, and electrical connections.
  1. Lower the truck’s tailgate (unless it is equipped with a special fifth-wheel tailgate that has a cut-out section for the fifth-wheel hitch pin.) Open the hitch; Depending on the model, this will be necessary either by pulling or lifting a handle until it locks in the open position.
  1. Back the truck slowly and carefully until the trailer hitch pin is just behind, but not touching, the hitch in the truck bed. Put the truck in the park and set the brake. Stand between the trailer and the truck and check how the hitch plate lines up with the truck hitch. 

Use the trailer’s landing gear controls to raise or lower the trailer so that the trailer hitch is approximately ½ inch below the hitch carriage plate. This will cause the trailer hitch to slide into place with a little downward pressure on the truck, which will ensure a good coupling and allow the hitch latch to close freely.

  1. Back the truck slowly, making sure the trailer’s hitch pin is centred in the truck’s hitch notch. Continue backing until the two hitch plates slide completely together, with the hitch pin all the way into the hitch. At this point, the latch mechanism should release, closing the latch to the locked position.

 Put the truck in the park and set the brake. Take a good look at the hitch to make sure the locking bar has fully moved behind the trailer hitch pin. Depending on the hitch model, move the lever to the locked or down position.

  1. Connect the trailer’s electrical cable to the truck. Connect the emergency trailer brake break cable. Raise trailer landing gear fully. Walk around the trailer to make sure all hatches and accessories are secure. Test the trailer lights to ensure that the brake lights, turn signals, and running lights are working properly.

Conclusions

While you can hitch a 5th wheel safely without any additional equipment, make sure you check what the law states in your state. And remember, 5th wheels that connect with a gooseneck coupling system, must use safety chains.

Please feel free to get in contact, should you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on Do 5th wheels need safety chains?

Are safety chains required on gooseneck trailers?

Yes, safety chains are required on gooseneck trailers. Safety chains are, well, metal chains. They are usually quite thick and strong and are used to connect a trailer to a towing vehicle.

Do you need to duplicate safety chains on a trailer?

In some cases, you will need to duplicate safety chains on a trailer. Even if many chains appear secure, they can be pushed and loose while on the road. If your trailer or hitch only has room for one set of chains, don’t push it, stick with a normal single cross-chain setup.

Why do 5th wheels have no safety chains?

5th wheels have no safety chains because they are built differently. A fifth wheel hitch uses a kingpin to lock the RV in place. It is the same type of hitch as that of a large truck and is quite safe without safety chains.

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