Owning a truck and getting a lift kit installed is fun. When younger, it can provide extra visual punch when riding around the neighborhood or through the superstore parking lot. However, when already owning one, it’s fair to ask whether towing fifth wheel with lifted truck is possible?
In this article, we’ll provide an answer to this question. Then we dig deeper into what’s possible at different lift levels, actions to make towing more level, and where to draw the line?
Towing Fifth Wheel with Lifted Truck
A lifted truck presents some obstacles for RVers who have a 5’er, travel trailer, camper, or another type of RV.
The issue mainly relates to how a lifted truck is typically higher than the RV it’s towing. Because of this and without some modifications, the trailer hitch will cause the fifth wheel to ride too high. This adds strain to the hitch, but also adds weight and stress to the fifth wheel’s rear axle and tires too.
As a result, there are practical limits on trucks and their lifts when wanting to join the RV lifestyle. Fortunately, there are some possible tweaks to make it possible, or more significant changes depending on what you own.
Do bear in mind that it’s not just a 4 inch lift or 6 inch lift, but for example, 35” tires may also be taller than factory standard if they were beefed up too. Therefore, it’s the overall increase in height with the lift and any larger tires that should be factored in.
Lifted Truck Pulling a Fifth Wheel: Considerations When Doing It
Different concerns are apparent when set on using a lifted truck for towing. Here are a few to be aware of:
Truck Could Sag at the Rear
A truck carrying considerable towing weight will likely sit lower at the back.
The full weight of the fifth wheel or other RV towable will be bearing down on the rear hitch. The rear axle will respond to support the weight, however, when the truck is sitting too low, that’s a cause for concern.
Riding too low at the back will often cause damage to the truck’s suspension over time. Furthermore, the leaf springs will be crushed down and become less responsive, especially the more frequently the truck is used for towing excessive weights.
Less Traction Making Driving Harder
With the rear axle taking much of the extra strain, the front axle has its own difficulties too.
The reduced weight on the front axle leads to poor traction for the tires. With less traction, the truck and what you’re towing will be harder to steer. Also, course corrections will be even more sluggish than they would normally be with towing.
Stability Issues for Lifted Trucks
With a 4 inch lift or a 6 inch lift, any driver towing an RV will tell you that it’s troublesome. Driving any distance requires greater concentration to avoid difficulties on the highway, let alone going over uneven ground at a campground.
Typically, a lifted truck translates into a higher nose angle for your RV. Just the process of lifting the truck has resulted in the fifth wheel hitch being automatically higher; the same is true for the bumper height on a travel trailer, etc.
As a result, at higher speeds, the steeper angle from the tow hitch to the towable RV creates considerable sway and reduced control when undertow. At slower speeds, it’s far less noticeable but higher speeds make it more acute. This is primarily why lifted trucks and towing fifth wheels or other RVs are somewhat problematic.
Read Also: Single Axle vs Double Axle Travel Trailer?
Towing Fifth Wheel with 4 inch Lift?
Are you intent on towing with 4 inch lift because your truck already has the lift kit installed or you’re eying one? Well, okay then…
Firstly, know that a 4-inch lift is less troublesome than a 6 inch one. So, that’s something, at least.
The key consideration with a fifth wheel is the height difference between the truck’s bed rails and the overhang of the fifth wheel nose. This needs to be 6 inches or more to ensure that on the bumpier ground, the nose won’t ever make contact with the truck. That might seem like an excessive distance, but off-road driving or even getting to the RTR event in Quartzite, Arizona every January usually involves driving over uneven terrain. So, it pays to be prepared.
Optional Steps to Tow a Fifth Wheel with 4 inch Lifted Truck?
- Get a fifth wheel trailer drop hitch. It helps because it allows the truck to tow from a lower position despite still being raised.
- Raise the pin height; this usually goes hand-in-hand with a drop hitch. Check with an RV garage before attempting this step.
- Change the tires to a smaller size. It indirectly lowers the lift too.
- Remove the lift kit from the truck. Maybe seen as excessive by some RVers, but a few even consider replacing the truck to get one that’ll tow well. However, removing the lift kit usually solves the problem when the above suggestions did not.
Read Also: Can a Toyota Tacoma Pull a Camper?
Can a Truck with a 6” Lift Pull a Fifth Wheel?
A 6” lift pull is on the far end of the extreme for pulling a fifth wheel. We make no bones about that. It’s a big ask!
The tailgate will be over 60” off the ground with the fifth wheel’s nose riding way too high. The lift springs won’t often be built to support the strain of towing when the truck and the fifth wheel aren’t level with each other. Also, aftermarket lift kits may not have as durable springs compared to the factory-fitted ones on the truck making them even less suitable for towing.
In most situations, we’d strongly advise against towing with a 6-inch lift for safety reasons.
The issue will be that the rear axles both of the truck and the fifth wheel will be truly tested, with the steeper angle of the tow causing unwarranted strain. It risks towing system failure while driving on the highway, which would be extremely dangerous for the driver, passengers, and other road users too.
Here are the Options for 6” Lift Pull a Fifth Wheel:
- Remove the lift kit from the truck. Tragic, perhaps, but far, far safer.
- Upgrade the lift spring system to withstand the extra weight.
- Replace the tires with smaller ones. These must still have sufficient weight-bearing capacity but indirectly reduce the height disparity between the truck and the fifth wheel.
- Lift the fifth wheel. There are lift kits for fifth wheels to get them riding higher. It’s unconventional, but it’s possible.
Using some combination of the above options may solve the issue with a 6-inch lift. However, most likely, towing without the lift is the best answer. The sway when under tow, at any reasonable speeds, is going to make the driving experience difficult to manage.
Read Also: What Size Camper Can a Chevy 1500 Pull?
Towing a Travel Trailer with a Lifted Truck
A travel trailer will share many of the same considerations as a fifth wheel or a toy hauler, for that matter.
It’s still a large, bulky, and difficult tow. While it likely weighs less than a fifth wheel, any travel trailer will still ride significantly lower than a lifted truck.
Therefore, adjustments will need to be made to the truck or the travel trailer to either reduce or eliminate the possibility of towing at an uneven level.
Towing a Fifth Wheel Camper with a Lifted Truck
Another option is towing a fifth wheel camper with a lifted truck.
With a camper, they’re much smaller, lighter, and easier to tow. Given that modern trucks can tow between 4,900 pounds and up to 19,000 pounds, there is usually little trouble towing a camper.
However, towing a camper with a 6-inch lift on the truck is another matter. The lightness of the camper, along with less durability compared to more expensive fifth wheels or travel trailers, means even more care should be taken. Not less.
As such, a drop hitch is again needed to get the towing height to match more closely. Reducing the truck’s lift height is also worthwhile. Don’t expect a camper to manage height disparities better; it will sway even more due to being lightweight.
The driving experience with a lifted truck isn’t going to be enjoyable when towing an RV, including a fifth wheel, toy hauler, travel trailer, or camper. The greater the distance and the faster you wish to travel, the bumpier and variable the ride.
Keeping the fifth wheel on the road when the sway increases as the rate of speed do too, is something that RVers complain about a lot. Towing is hard enough, without using a lifted truck to do it.