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Fifth Wheel: Getting to Know This Truck Part

When you hear the term fifth wheel, it is but natural for you to assume that this term refers to the spare tire that you often see on vehicles. However, a fifth wheel, when it comes to trucks, is actually a different thing altogether. This part of your truck called the fifth wheel is actually the coupling that is found at the back of your truck, and this is used to connect a trailer to your truck for towing. These are shaped like a horseshoe, and the trailer that is hitched to this fifth wheel coupling device are hooked onto it by means of what is called a king pin. The fifth wheel is also called a turntable hitch.

Fifth Wheel
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How These Fifth Wheel Hitches Work

While smaller trucks may require you to install a fifth wheel on it for towing purposes should you need these trucks to tow trailers with, semis often come equipped with these things when they are sold to you. How do these hitches manage to keep these huge trailers behind your trucks without their breaking off and causing accidents? These hitches are essentially made for carrying heavy loads, and they do this with the help of where they are located.

While your typical truck may have ball hitches found at the very rear of your truck, these fifth wheel hitches are found in the middle of the semi's truck bed, which helps give it the kind of strength it needs to hold on to the trailer. This horseshoe-shaped gadget is attached to the truck's frame, which gives it the added strength required to pull huge loads. With the use of a downward-facing pin called the king pin, a trailer is then securely locked into this horseshoe-shaped hitch with the help of a plate that rests on this fifth wheel's top. This can secure the trailer to your truck but still gives it the ability to pivot when needed.

Maintaining Your Fifth Wheel Hitches

When it comes to maintaining these fifth wheel hitches, one of the things you need to remember is to lubricate the two plates that rub against each other, namely the plate that is under the king pin and the horseshoe-shaped fifth wheel plate. When lubricating your fifth wheel hitches, always remember to remove the old grease that is found on it before relubricating it. Here are the steps you need to take for lubricating your fifth wheel hitches:

  • Use automotive-type chassis grease or a plastic lube plate on the skid plate surface.
  • Choose plastic lube plates that are at least 10 inches in diameter and no more than 3/16 inch thick.
  • For moving parts and the joints in the hitch head, use white lithium spray or engine oil.
  • A high-pressure lube can be used to lubricate the other moving parts on this hitch.
  • Try to check and engage the jaws of the hitch to see if they operate easily every time you use them.
  • Ensure that the pull pins on the hitch are also in the right position and this includes the spring retaining pins.

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