How to move a fifth-wheel trailer without a truck?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following questions: How to move a fifth-wheel trailer without a truck? And how to move a fifth-wheel trailer without a hitch? We will review different options of pulling a 5th wheel trailer and explain some safety features regarding the move of such a large trailer. 

How to move a fifth-wheel trailer without a truck?

To move a fifth-wheel trailer without a truck you will need a portable fifth-wheel mover (a dolly) – it can be used only for short distances, however.

The portable 5th wheel dolly can be electric or hybrid and it is generally used for transporting heavy loads in confined spaces. They are also:

  • Easy to manipulate
  • Require very low maintenance 
  • Do not pollute the environment
  • Have different steering modes
  • Ensure a sturdy construction
  • Have great safety systems to avoid possible accidents. 

Let’s now review the types of 5th wheel dollies.

The electric fifth-wheel dolly

Electric fifth-wheel dollies have a load capacity from one ton to 600 tons operating in individual or coupled mode (two or more vehicles electrically synchronized). They can also move with different rotation systems (steering on the axle, two axes, 360º, 90º, crab, etc.).

These vehicles are operated by remote control (wireless or wire connected according to the customer’s needs) or through the cabins. They all include AC traction electric motors.

Electric carriers can adapt to different types of wheels depending on the soil condition at the customer’s site, for which suggests DTA advises and the type of materials to be used (polyurethane, solids, super elastic or pneumatic) .

The vehicles have a security system with LED flashing lights and hearing aids in accordance with the 2006/42 / EC machinery directive and amendments, as well as the 2004/18 / EC electromagnetic compatibility/interference directive and 1999 / 5 / EC Directive.

As an option, an electric 5th wheel dolly can include different lifting systems (through cylindrical bars, cylinders or is the own vehicle that lifts the load) to be taken on pallets or steel structures

The hybrid fifth-wheel dolly

The hybrid fifth-wheel dolly envisioned an internal electric traction system and a combustion engine for long distances, also including a cabin for operator comfort. These cabins are equipped with seats for two operators, a display with information on working hours, battery level and also any possible failure of the vehicle.

One of the advantages of this hybrid system (besides not contaminating when in use) is that the electric battery can be charged while the transporter is in thermal operation.

The ideal way to move a fifth-wheel trailer

Of course, even though there is an alternative, the ideal way to move a fifth-wheel trailer is with a truck. 

Fifth-wheel trailers cannot be pulled by the average car. These trailers require a heavy-duty vehicle to be towed, otherwise, it could affect the vehicle’s transmission and behaviour on the road, causing unwanted accidents. 

If you do not have a truck or any other heavy-duty vehicle available, here are some suggestions:

  • Hire a professional transportation company;
  • Borrow or rent a truck;
  • Use trailer valet services. 

Here’s how to tow a fifth-wheel trailer 

Fifth wheels attach to a specially designed flat hitch located above the axle in the bed of your truck. The towing and hitch take up a significant amount of space within the truck bed, so the type and size of items that can be carried in bed are limited while a fifth-wheel trailer is attached to its truck. However, that does not mean that you cannot continue to use your van to carry some items.

Here’s how you tow a 5th wheel:

  • Attach your trailer to the truck. Make sure the trailer is properly and firmly attached to the hitch.
  • Decide what items to place on the truck bed, keeping in mind that these items should be small enough and not interfere with the trailer or compact hitch. Items must be shorter than the top of the trailer when it comes to the tailgate of the truck so that they will not interfere with the ability to turn or manoeuvre the trailer.
  • Place the items on the bed of the truck. Place as close to the sides and as far away from the hitch as possible. Secure to the sides of the bed with string or using bungee cord ties. Trucks have an assortment of different loop-holes and bed locations for cargo securing, so you just have to select one and loop through the closest one. This will prevent items from falling into the hitch.

Note: There are specially designed truck bed toolboxes that are made for use while pulling a fifth-wheel trailer.

How to move a fifth-wheel trailer without a hitch?

Moving a fifth-wheel trailer without a hitch is quite unsafe and not recommended. A fifth-wheel trailer’s configuration is different from other trailer models on the market, and towing one without a hitch (even for a short distance) could pose serious risks. 

Besides the risk of “losing” the trailer on the road, you could also damage your towing vehicle. 

How to install a fifth-wheel trailer hitch?

Let’s pretend that the situation is reversed and that you need to instal a fifth-wheel hitch.  Installing a fifth-wheel trailer hitch on your truck will allow you to tow your mobile condo with ease, as long as the hitch is installed correctly. 

Do not attempt to tow a trailer that equals or exceeds the load capacity of the towing vehicle; Allowing a 20 per cent fudge factor will ensure that you can safely tow your fifth wheel without overly wearing your truck’s suspension. Fifth wheel trailer hitches mount in the centre of your truck bed and provide strong trailer connections.

Here’s how to install a fifth wheel hitch step-by-step:

  1. Use a 3/8-inch ratchet with an extension and a Torx head socket to remove the exhaust heat shield from the bottom of the truck bed.
  1. Slide the fifth wheel hitch kit’s rear cross member between the top of the frame rail and the bottom of your truck’s bed. Use a 1/2-inch ratchet and socket to loosen the bed mounting bolts if the fit is too tight to slide on the rear cross member. 
  1. Repeat this step with the other crossbar under the bed. Disassemble your truck’s factory brake controller from the driver’s side frame with a 3/8-inch ratchet and socket if your truck is equipped with one.
  1. Slide the chassis brackets from the hitch kit onto the outside of the frame behind the wheel. Use the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket to loosely screw into place. Use the notch in the side bracket that lines up with the centre of the truck bed’s square tubing to help align the truck bed. 
  1. Align the brackets on the side of the frame with the holes in the Stage 2 cross members. Bolt them along with the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket.
  1. Pass the pointed bolt (provided with the hitch kit) through the holes in the bottom of the cross members so that the pointed end points toward the bottom of the truck bed. Tighten the screw all the way so that it hits the floor of the truck bed.
  1. Attach a hole saw to a drill and locate the bumps on the floor of the truck bed created in Step 4. Place the centre of the hole you saw into the bump. Drill four 2 1/2-inch holes in the truck bed floor. Remove the circular discs from the hitch kit, place them in the holes and install them with a ratchet, Torx head socket and the screws provided in the kit.
  1. Tighten all bolts. Have an assistant help you lift the hitch and place it on the circular discs attached to the truck bed.

Final thoughts

We hope that after reading this article you know more about the safety concerns regarding the move of a fifth-wheel trailer. If you need more information on the subject, check out our other articles about pulling a 5th wheel trailer, or let us know how we can be of any further help!

FAQ on How to move a fifth-wheel trailer without a truck?

How much of a fifth wheel is over the truck?

As a general rule, you must have at least 6 inches of clearance from the bottom of your fifth-wheel trailer to the top of the truck. Fifth-wheel trailers connect to trucks with a device called a gooseneck hitch, which mounts inside the truck bed. 

Can you tow a 5th wheel with a short bed?

Yes, you can tow a 5th wheel with a short bed, but you will have to use either a slider hitch or a sidewinder hitch. You must be careful though, if you do not secure the camper properly, it may turn over. 

What is the minimum bed length for a fifth wheel?

The minimum bed length for a fifth wheel should be 8 feet. 

Can a 1/2 ton truck pull a 5th wheel camper?

Yes, a ½ ton truck could pull a 5th wheel camper, but for this type of motorhome, we would suggest going higher. 

How does the fifth wheel hitch work?

A fifth wheel hitch l works by locking a kingpin in the lockjaw. The kingpin is similar to a hitch coupler and is attached to the semi-trailer, while the locking jaw acts as the receiver for the hitch.


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