Fifth Wheel Hitch Maintenance: Everything You Need To Know
Maintenance is key to trouble-free days. Your fifth wheel hitch is a simple setup that can easily be overlooked. Make sure you are properly maintaining that expensive hitch.
There are a few different types of fifth wheel hitches but much of the maintenance will be similar.
Here is everything you need to know about fifth wheel hitch maintenance.
The first thing you will want to do is a thorough visual inspection of the hitch. Look for any signs of wear or damage to the hitch.
Take note of any paint or powder coating that is damaged or starting to come off. Exposing bare metal can lead to rust. Touch up any spots where bare metal has been exposed.
The main components of your hitch will have parts that are welded together. Factory welds are unlikely to fail under normal operating conditions, however, it only takes a minute to inspect them for possible cracks.
Your fifth wheel hitch will consist of parts that are either bolted together or held in place by pins.
Check that there are no missing or loose components. Confirm all nuts, bolts, and pins are in place. Nuts and bolts will have a required torque rating from the manufacturer. Confirm that these torque settings are okay.
Check your pins and make sure that they are not damaged and that they are securely held in place. Always have spare pins with you just in case.
Greasing your hitch
Greasing your fifth wheel hitch is a crucial part of the maintenance. Using high-quality grease and buying yourself a dependable grease gun will both help in the long run. There are fifth wheel specific greases available, however, automotive chassis grease is also commonly used.
Depending on the manufacturer of your hitch, the grease locations may vary. For the most part, there will be grease fittings, also referred to as grease zerks in the locations requiring grease. Replace any damaged zerks or zerks that are not taking grease properly.
Be sure to clean the grease zerks before attaching your grease gun. When adding grease, it is only necessary to add until you start to see old grease beginning to seep from the location.
Many hitches will have bushings between the base and head. These are commonly polyurethane and require a different type of grease such as white lithium grease. Be sure to clean the area, removing any old grease and debris before applying the new grease.
If your hitch is metal to metal contact in these locations, the same grease used on the zerks can be applied.
Now the fifth wheel jaws can be greased, using the same grease used on the zerks. Make sure the jaws are clean and apply grease with your hand or a brush fully coating all surfaces. You can also apply grease to the kingpin on your trailer as well.
Finally, the fifth wheel hitch plate should be cleaned and free of old grease and debris. The entire surface should have a coating of grease applied.
Lube plates are a great option that eliminates the need for grease on the hitch plates. If you use a lube plate, check it for wear and cracks and replace it if needed.
The greasing frequency may vary from brand to brand and your mileage will ultimately determine the frequency. At a minimum, however, you should check your hitch prior to every use and regrease any greased areas that have collected dirt and make sure the hitch plate has a layer of grease covering the surface.
Some hitches have brand-specific features such as sliding hitches which require additional maintenance to the slides as per the manufacturer’s suggestions.
It is best to consult with your manufacturer or check your owner’s manual for specific information such as maintenance frequency, suggested grease and lubricants, torque specifications, and replacement parts.
Track your RV maintenance
Spending a little time to maintain your fifth wheel hitch will extend the life of your hitch and ensure trouble-free, safe traveling.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.