How long do 5th wheels last?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: How long do 5th wheels last? We will review the factors that influence the lifespan of a 5th wheel and give you a few useful tips for maintaining your 5th wheel trailer. 

How long do 5th wheels last?

How long your 5th wheel trailer will last will depend on several factors:

  • On how often you drive it;
  • If you live full-time in the trailer or not;
  • If you do regular annual maintenance;
  • If you take precautions when parking it long-term or not. 

On average, a good quality 5th wheel trailer will last 10 to 15 years. It is possible to prolong its life by good maintenance, regular checks and proper winter storage!

How to make your 5th wheel last longer?

To make your 5th wheel last longer, you must regularly have it checked inside and out.

  1. The shock absorbers, the condition of the axle including the braking system, the tires, the lighting, the pole with a tow hitch (usually a ball hitch), the handbrake and the connector must be checked the connection between the electrical socket and the towing vehicle, which generally has a 13-pin plug. 
  1. Then check the clutch and braking distance with a test drive on a low-traffic road. When checking your tires, keep in mind that measuring the tread depth is not a safe method in this case. What needs to be checked is their elasticity. UV rays and antifreeze salt accelerate the deterioration of the tires, making them porous and brittle.
  1. The technical overhaul is mandatory for trailers with an unladen weight greater than 2250 lbs, powered by a braking system. A new trailer must be equipped with a stabilization system, shock absorbers and ABS. In addition, the gas system must be checked during the overhaul. This typically includes a refrigerator (which runs mostly on electricity or gas), heater, gas oven and onboard lamps.
  1. Check the floor, the gas system and the water system.  The floor is often made of wooden panels, mounted on the metal support. It is necessary to check if the wood is not rotten and if there is no rust.
  1. Also check for the presence of moisture on the roof, on the mats, and particularly in the corners and edges of the access parts, as well as in the cracks in the roof hatch, doors and windows.
  1. The water system must also be checked. All gas-related certificates must be recent and valid. (If a new inspection is needed, this could lower the purchase price.)
  1. Also check the installation status of the gas and electrical systems, including the battery. Corrosions are often found on the piping connections.
  1. The 12 V electrical system is installed so that the 12V power supply comes from the towing vehicle and its battery. It is also possible to modify the 230 V system. The refrigerator can operate with gas or electricity. Do not forget to also examine the other accessories of the trailer: the folding table, the support for the bed, the hatches, etc.

Maintenance (during long term stops) and vacation preparation of a 5th wheel trailer

There are a few moments to observe during long stops. Enthusiasts lift their trailers to save tires and shock absorbers. Use the handbrake with caution. The wedges under the wheels are sufficient to keep the vehicle stationary and at the same level. If you use the handbrake, you must remember to release it every two weeks to prevent it from locking.

Maintenance of the water system of a 5th wheel

The water system is also a current problem for campers. Someone prefers to unload the entire system before a long parking period, which means that the system must be completely dry. Others rely on chemistry and fill their tanks with a mixture of water and chemicals. There are special water connections with a float and a pump to ensure that the tanks are always full.

Some trailer owners choose chlorine dioxide as a solution, which should only be used following the instructions in the manual provided by the manufacturer.

Before winter (with the risk of ice) the tanks must be emptied and cleaned with a mixture of water and suitable disinfectants. The silver salt, which is often used in this case, only works with water that has already been purified. During the winter months, make sure that the water has been eliminated from the pipes, the boiler and the taps to prevent it from freezing. Don’t forget the wastewater tank. Depending on the composition, the wastewater (the chemical bath) must be removed separately.

The 5th wheel gas system – inspection and rules to be respected

The gas system must meet the requirements of the DIN EN standard. The gas cylinder must be placed in a special place, separate from the inside, where it can be fixed. Cylinder hoses must not be older than 10 years. The gas pipes must be connected inside with copper pipes or other materials.

Make sure you respect the system inspection intervals. When you are not using your trailer, the cylinders must be removed and stored safely. There are cylinders of different colours (red or grey) and of different sizes, find out about this before purchasing. Before the holidays, carry out all the checks and installation of the system: breakdowns or unforeseen events can always happen.

Electrical system, refrigerator, storage space etc. of a 5th wheel

The trailers are equipped with a battery, which must be disconnected and stored in a warm and dry place if the trailer remains outside even in winter. The fridge must be empty and with the door ajar to prevent mould from forming. The same goes for the storage compartments. The mattresses, pillows etc. must be removed and put in a dry place.

General inspection of the 5th wheel trailer before the holidays

Before travelling, check the towing vehicle: tire pressure, the functionality of the brakes and lights and, if necessary, lubricate the clutch. As for the trailer, check the functionality of all components after cleaning the water system and the gas cylinder connection. Do not wait for the last moment to have time to make repairs in case of breakdowns.

Even if the driver already has the appropriate license, it is advisable that he always do some practice before leaving for the holidays to get used to driving and manoeuvring with a large trailer. In addition, these driving exercises will also be useful in verifying that all components of the trailer are functioning correctly.

Second-hand 5th wheel trailer maintenance 

Before concluding a purchase, it is good that you make sure that the trailer has been regularly serviced to travel safely. We are talking about the braking system consisting of the repulsor, drum brakes, tire wear, the gas system and the electrical system. In our opinion, these checks are mandatory to start travelling safely and it is important that they are carried out by people who understand them.

We are not telling you to completely avoid “do it yourself” but to do it only in a conscious way.

All these three aspects (overhaul, storage and maintenance) affect the final price of used trailers, don’t you also think that without all these points in order the value of the trailer may be lower than that requested by the seller?

We always start from the assumption that estimating the value of a used trailer is difficult. The older models are not always taken into consideration and in this case, the three elements mentioned above are a fundamental factor in determining the real price of the trailer.

If you are at the first experience and you are looking for used trailers, document and ask those who have more experience!

The bottom line

Maintaining the 5th wheel trailer is not easy and time-consuming, of course. But, this vehicle allows you to live pleasant moments in the company of those who are dear to you, whether in your hometown or abroad. It is reasonable for you to take care of it!

If you have any questions or comments about the content, please let us know.

FAQ on How long do 5th wheels last?

How long does a travel trailer last?

A travel trailer can last up to 10 years, on average. However, the lifespan of a vehicle can vary considerably taking into account some essential aspects such as: how often you drive it if you live full-time in the trailer or not, if you do regular annual maintenance, if you take precautions when parking it long-term and in time what are you on the road.

What is the most reliable travel trailer brand?

The most reliable travel trailer brands are:

  • Airstream.
  • Winnebago.
  • Forest River.
  • Jayco.
  • Keystone.
  • Oliver.
  • Happier Camper.

Do travel trailers hold their value?

Travel trailers do hold their value longer than RVs or caravans. A travel trailer can hold its value between five and 15 years, more or less regularly. 

How many miles is too many for a used RV?

Any RV that has close to 200,000 miles is deemed an old RV and has too many miles to be considered a good investment. Besides the number of miles, obviously, you need to ask the dealership all kinds of questions regarding the condition of the recreational vehicle. 

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