How can I make my fifth wheel more stable?

In this article, we will answer the following question: How can I make my fifth wheel more stable? We will explore the causes of fifth wheel sway movements, discuss how you can prevent them. We will also explain how to level a fifth-wheel trailer and give you advice on how to manoeuvre one with success. 

How can I make my fifth wheel more stable?

The first step in making your fifth wheel more stable when towing is finding why it sways, rocks or wobbles in the first place. Most of the time, excessive speed or sudden movements on the steering wheel are the primary culprits. But the following factors can also be at the origin:

  • Insufficient tire pressure (on the towing vehicle and on the fifth wheel trailer);
  • Suspension or shocks are too loose or damaged;
  • There is too much play in the direction of the towing vehicle;
  • Fifth wheel trailer parallelism fault;
  • Old tires with cracks in the rubber.

How to prevent the rolling and pitching movements of the fifth wheel trailer?

To prevent your fifth-wheel trailer from rolling and to make it more stable there are a few things you can do before leaving:

  • Distribute the load correctly so that the centre of gravity is as low as possible.
  • Stow luggage evenly as close to the axle as possible.
  • Use the entire trailer load. The fifth-wheel trailer should be loaded making full use of the maximum permissible load, but not exceeding it.  With an authorized support load of 170 lbs, the recommended load is between 150 and 165 lbs. Because the greater the weight exerted on the towing vehicle’s coupling device, the more stable the trailer will be at the rear. 

And the measures you can take on the way:

  • Observe the authorized speed. Even when the conditions on the road are optimal. When conditions are bad, for example, due to rain, wind or snow, but also when passing or passing another vehicle, it is necessary to reduce speed.
  • Avoid sudden movements while driving.

What if the fifth wheel trailer starts to sway?

If the trailer suddenly begins to pitch or roll that you can see in the mirror, do the following:

  • Reduce speed
  • Do not counter-steer! Hold the steering wheel firmly.
  • If pitching or rolling movements continue, brake until the hitch stabilizes. Then accelerate again depending on the circumstances (downshift if necessary).

Leveling a fifth-wheel trailer: the basics 

Your fifth-wheel trailer should be level when towing to improve your driving stability, braking performance, ground clearance,  and ultimately to prevent unwanted movement

Swaying is one of the main causes of accidents when towing a trailer. Using a sway control system can help tremendously with towing any trailer. Accidents occur when trailers begin to sway due to a change in load or suspension problems. 

Here we explain how to connect your travel trailer to a sway bar, step-by-step:

  1. First, you must attach the L-shaped panels and link plates to the trailer tongue with the included heavy-duty bolts to hold it firmly in place. The L-shaped panels allow the stabilizer bars to be attached to the trailer.
  1. Secure the trailer tongue to the ball receiver on your towing vehicle.
  1. Fit the curved end of the spring lever up into the hole in the bottom of the L-shaped panel with the dip facing the ground and the stabilizer bar resting on that dip.
  1. Pull up on the spring lever up to raise the stabilizer bar and place it on the flat part of the L-shaped panel. Lift the spring lever up until the stabilizer bar rests fully on the corner of the shaped panel. of L. Remove the spring lever when the stabilizer bar is in position.
  1. Place the L-shaped bracket into the hole where the spring lever is positioned up so the stabilizer bar bracket holds it in place.
  1. Secure the L-shaped bracket below the hole with a locking pin.
  1. Repeat this process for the other side of the trailer tongue.

Tips for towing a fifth-wheel trailer in complete safety

Before leaving for a long trip, make sure you have taken control of the driving of the whole because the reactions may surprise you. Check the condition of the vehicle and the assembly, particularly the suspension, mirrors and tire inflation. The fifth-wheel trailers are fitted with a specific “inertia” braking device. It prevents the towed fifth-wheel trailer from keeping too high a speed because of its own mass.

In addition to this device, other equipment is compulsory: At the rear of the fifth-wheel trailer, 2 lights and reflective red triangles must be installed as well as lighting directed towards the license plate.

Instead, follow “heavy goods” routes to avoid being in difficult maneuvering situations, especially in town Remember that the assembly is longer and heavier, especially at crossroads and overtaking

If you start to yaw, gradually slow down without braking. To avoid this situation, do not ride at an excessive speed and beware of descents (there are special limitations on motorways for fifth-wheel trailers indicated by signs). 

The art of manoeuvring with a fifth-wheel trailer

When you master the art of manoeuvring with a trailer, you are able to turn around where others, resigned, unhook their trailers to turn by hand. The best is yet to experience for yourself what happens with the hitched trailer when you turn the steering wheel and move forwards or backwards. 

Be careful, when manoeuvring, that the angle between the towing vehicle and the fifth wheel trailer is not too closed! Otherwise, you will have, in the worst case, a sunken drawbar and, in the best case, a dent in the bumper and shattered tail lights. When the situation becomes critical, we have to reopen the angle.

Here’s how to open the angle: back up a little bit with the steering wheel fully turned. Then turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction as far as it will go and go a little further. Repeat this manoeuvre until the angle between the towing vehicle and the fifth wheel trailer is sufficiently open and it is possible to continue manoeuvring smoothly.

A word of advice: never back up with a fifth-wheel trailer without the help of someone outside. This can be placed behind the fifth wheel trailer so that you can see your face in the exterior mirror of the towing vehicle so that you can see it too. It can warn you if there is an obstacle that you cannot see in the mirrors.

Conclusions

Knowing the reasons why your fifth-wheel trailer is unstable, preventing and knowing how to fix them is essential as a camper owner. No matter how good of a driver you are, by levelling a trailer you are ensuring both your safety and that of your passengers and other drivers on the road. 

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

FAQ on How can I make my fifth wheel more stable?

Should my 5th wheel trailer be level when towing?

Yes, your trailer should be level when towing to improve your driving stability, braking performance, ground clearance,  and ultimately to prevent unwanted movement. 

What happens if your trailer is not level?

If your trailer is not level when towing, it will affect your braking performance, handling and it will cause your trailer to wear out more quickly. Another danger when your trailer is not level is that it can sway, causing unnecessary accidents. 

How do I stop my trailer from swaying when towing?

To stop your trailer from swaying when towing you’ll have to use anti-sway bars and shock absorbers. The transfer of load between wheels on the same axle can affect the balance of the vehicle. !

What do sway bars do?

An anti-sway bar is a U-shaped steel tube that interconnects the wheels of an axle. The stabilizer bar compensates for sway because as the suspension on one side compresses, it forces the suspension on the opposite side to compress as well.

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