There are two main things you need to consider for a towing truck: tow capacity and payload. The tow capacity is the maximum amount of weight your truck can tow when pulling an RV, and the payload is how much weight your truck can carry. It’s important to choose a fifth wheel and a fifth wheel hitch that works with both numbers to ensure safe travels.
To choose the right fifth wheel, you’ll need to know a few additional numbers. The first is the unloaded vehicle weight (UVW), also known as the shipping weight. This is how much your fifth wheel weighs without anything in it (no gas, fluids, gear, etc.). You can find this weight in your owner’s manual or on a sticker near your RV’s door.
Once you have the UVM, you can estimate how much your fifth wheel will weigh when full by adding an additional 250 pounds per foot. For example, if your fifth wheel has a UVW of 11,000 pounds and is 40 feet long, then you can assume that your fifth wheel will weigh an additional 10,000 pounds once it is full, for a total weight of 21,000 pounds. This total weight should not exceed the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), which is the maximum weight determined by the RV manufacturer for safe operation. Your truck’s tow capacity should be slightly higher than the fifth wheel’s GVWR to give yourself some wiggle room when towing.
The second number to know is your fifth wheel’s hitch weight, which should not exceed your tow truck’s payload. Since fifth wheels require a truck bed hitch configuration, it’s important that your tow truck can accommodate the size and weight of the hitch.
If you are planning to tow a large fifth wheel, consider buying a dually truck. These trucks have dual rear wheels on both sides, can carry more than 2,000 pounds in the bed and can tow upwards of 30,000 pounds or more.