Getting a trailer hitch is a valuable investment for your trailer. They serve as an essential tool for everyday towers and on trips. However, there isn’t one particular type of hitch for all.
When buying a new hitch for your trailer, you will have a lot of options to choose from. Which type is right for you heavily depends on your plans to use it and the frequency.
If you’re new to towing big trailers, gooseneck and fifth wheel are frequently used among big trailer owners. But what are they? They are both heavy-duty hitches that large trailers can directly connect to without using a receiver hitch.
The fifth wheel and gooseneck hitch are popular among owners when it comes to large campers. Let us look at how they both differ from each other and which one is the right pick for you.
What is a Hitch?
In simple terms, a hitch is a primary connector for a tow vehicle and a trailer. They are an essential structural part of trailers that bolt onto the vehicle and provide a hard coupling point to hook the trailer. They are of two types; a receiver hitch and a tow hitch.
A receiver hitch is a type of trailer hitch that bolts onto the underside of a vehicle. It provides a tube at the vehicle’s rear to attach a ball mount or any other hitch accessory. They generally have a vehicle-specific design and are the most common type of hitch.
On the other hand, a tow hitch is another name for a trailer hitch. In simple words, it is the hitch for towing a trailer. Therefore, a tow hitch is specific to a trailer hitch. However, certain types of hitch like gooseneck or fifth wheel are exclusively classified as tow hitch.
All tow hitch has a weight-specific design and has specific uses, including gooseneck and fifth wheel hitch.
Why Do I Need Them?
Do you need to tow big and heavy trailers? You most certainly need a hitch capable of pulling that weight. For example, a Ford F-150 can only tow around 14,000 pounds on a conventional hitch. This is where a fifth-wheel or gooseneck hitch comes in.
These hitches relocate the hitch from below the bumper, their conventional position, to directly over the axle. This new hitch placement from below the bumper changes where the weight falls. After installing a gooseneck or fifth wheel hitch, your truck can carry more weight on its axle.
The Ford F-150 can now tow up to 22,800 pounds with a gooseneck or fifth wheel hitch. Similarly, a Ford-f350 can tow up to 34,000 pounds, and a Ford-450 can tow up to 37,000 pounds.
Both hitches are often used interchangeably with adapters, and here is how they are both different from each other.
A gooseneck hitch is very similar to a conventional hitch. It utilizes a ball in the truck bed and around the receiver device on the trailer’s tongue. However, it is larger than a traditional hitch and fits into a hole in the truck bed.
The trailer tongue resembles the vertical section of a hanging pipe. Make the lower end secure by backing the trailer under the tongue. Furthermore, the safety chains and wiring must be connected.
Gooseneck hitch has several advantages, including a greater towing capacity, compact size, and simple design. They can pull up to 3,000 pounds more than the fifth wheel hitch.
The ball hitch and safety-chain anchors in the gooseneck hitch take up very little space in the trailer’s bed and are very easy to install. Additionally, they are incredibly lightweight. However, they require you to cut up a hole in your truck’s bed if your vehicle does not have one for installation.
On the contrary, they are very noisy and may create problems for people who like to travel through cities. They are also less stable with tall trailers. Therefore, they are installed in commercial and agricultural trailers to avoid these issues.
Fifth Wheel Hitch
A fifth wheel hitch looks very similar to the hitch you see on the backs of trucks. These hitches are seen on truck-bed floors and have a plate tongue for resting and jaws for grasping the tongue kingpin. The tongue resembles a diagonal metal beam with a pin at the bottom.
The trailer is attached by setting an adequate height and backing up the truck and hitch until the pin slots finally fill in the hitch. Safety chains and wiring must be connected for the hitch to attach.
The fifth wheel hitch has several advantages over the gooseneck hitch. They are quieter, smoother, and have more control over tall trailers. However, they are more susceptible to crosswinds and are seen on large RVs campers, tall commercial trailers, etc.
Furthermore, they can also mount on sliding mounts to adjust their position on truck beds. They require a few small holes drilled into your truck bed. This also saved you from getting a big hole in your truck bed. . Some hitches also come with their suspension components, smoothing the ride for the trailer and truck.
However, it has some disadvantages too. It has a slightly lower towing capacity and the amount of space it may take upon the trailer bed. They take up substantial space, and their rails are permanently mounted to the truck.
You can also choose from permanent or removable hitches to avoid this problem.
Which One Should I Get?
As gooseneck hitches are used on specific types of trailers, it is straightforward to decide the right choice for you. The only factor contributing to your decision should be your trailer. You can also use adapters for either type of hitch and tow your trailer.
If you plan to tow commercial or agricultural trailers, gooseneck hitch is the right pick for you. However, that might not be the case for most people. Fifth wheel hitch is more popular due to their pros over goosenecks and hence, the hitch of choice for you.
To choose a fifth wheel hitch, you must first consider the weight and towing capacity. Secondly, measure the length of your truck bed, deciding whether it is a short-bed or long-bed.
Thirdly, determine if your truck has a puck system, especially if your truck has a factory towing prep. Next, you must choose between permanent and removable fifth-wheel rails. If your vehicle does not have a puck system, you can choose between them.
Lastly, choose a fifth-wheel style for your truck based on pivoting mechanism, operations, jaw type, head removal, weight capacity, warranty, coupling indicator, etc.
To sum it up, the fifth wheel hitch is the best pick. Gooseneck hitches have a higher towing capacity and are a budget-friendly option for customers. However, their loud functioning makes them an uncommon choice.
People prefer fifth wheel hitches due to their smoother functioning and high durability. Therefore, even with their lower towing capacity, many people prefer the over gooseneck hitch.
So, if you’re looking for a hitch for towing a large trailer, look no further as fifth wheel hitches are the obvious pick for anyone with a heavy trailer.