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How Fifth Wheel Safety Systems Work


Installing and Using Fifth Wheel Safety Systems
Fifth wheel systems can haul heavier loads than traditional hitch setups.
Fifth wheel systems can haul heavier loads than traditional hitch setups.
Sebastian Iovannitti/istockphoto

Installing a fifth wheel safety system is a fairly straightforward process. Most fit over the existing fifth wheel setup. Though specifics vary, most fifth wheel safety systems consist of a mounting bracket that fits over the fifth wheel on the tow vehicle, crossbars that go over the fifth wheel but allow the trailer coupling to mount the wheel, and some sort of mechanism to prevent the king pin from coming loose. In some cases, that mechanism is a door that opens only one way (to allow installation) and stays shut, holding the pin in place. In others, the mechanism catches the king pin before it comes loose.

To install a fifth wheel safety system, you first need to find one that fits over your setup. Luckily, most safety systems are adjustable. Since the safety systems fit over the existing fifth wheel hitch setup, you don't have to drill into the truck bed. You simply have to mount the safety system and bolt it into place. Installation shouldn't take very long or require tools beyond a basic set of wrenches.

The nice thing about most fifth wheel safety systems, in contrast to other towing accessories, is that once they're installed, they don't require any extra steps to use. Once the safety system is mounted, you can hitch up your trailer and use it normally. That's the beauty of these systems: they're so foolproof that they don't even change how you attach your trailer to your truck.

Still, as with all towing safety systems, you can't rely on fifth wheel safety systems to do all the work for you. Once the safety system is installed, you'll still need to inspect all of your trailer's and fifth wheel's components -- including the safety system. Also, just because the safety system will catch the king pin doesn't mean that you can forget about latching it securely into place. You still need to latch the king pin normally. You should also inspect your fifth wheel safety system every time you tow something, and observe all towing safety rules every time you're hauling something.

Go to the next page for more information about towing and fifth wheel safety systems.

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