Is Parking a Fifth-Wheel Trailer Difficult?

By: South Thompson RV   |   18 Jun 2018
Image of a fifth-wheel trailer driving on the Trans Canada from Kamloops

The short answer is: it doesn’t have to be! When we have customers considering fifth-wheels as their next RV choice, we’re often asked if parking them is difficult. While we will say that it takes a little bit of practice, it’s not as hard as most people think!

Driving Your Fifth-Wheel

The driving part is probably the easiest part of the fifth-wheel experience. While a little different than driving a car, or your truck without it attached, driving a fifth-wheel should come easily to most. As a precaution, we suggest getting long side mirror attachments to make visibility easier.

Before taking off with your fifth-wheel, ensure that your unit is attached securely to a hitch in the bed of your truck and that the hitch itself is properly attached. Many units also have a secondary tie to a basic trailer hitch as a precaution. Once you’re connected, test your in-cab braking unit to ensure that everything is working properly. While each unit is different, the instructions will outline how to test that the unit is working properly. Now that your braking unit is ready to roll, so are you!

After you take off, you’ll notice that your truck accelerates slower than usual. This is perfectly normal, as you’re towing a heavy trailer behind you. Expect your pedal foot to get used to this and to compensate accordingly. Watch your speed and be conscious of how the vehicle’s momentum changes differently than usual. You’ll need to brake more consciously, so keep your eyes on the road and avoid sudden stops.

Backing up a Fifth-Wheel

This is where most people start to feel the heat. Because the trailer is attached to your vehicle at a single point-of-contact, when you turn and reverse, you’ll find that the trailer angles itself. When backing up, it all comes down to simple math: it’s time to know your angles.

Be realistic when choosing somewhere to back into, such as your driveway or a campground lot. Choose somewhere that the vehicle will definitely fit, and somewhere that gives you some maneuverability when backing up.

The most important thing to remember is that your trailer will go in the opposite direction of your steering wheel. Visit an open space and practice backing up, watching the trailer as you turn the wheel. This will allow you to understand and visualize where your trailer is headed while you check your mirrors and adjust the wheel in real time as you reverse. If you can, use a spotter to help guide you into place. Here’s a quick video with some visuals to help:

Parking your Fifth-Wheel RV

The hard part is over and the impatient part begins. Once you have your RV backed up into your desired parking spot, it’s time to attend to the finer details. Here are some things that you’ll need to complete before whipping out the burgers and brews:

  • Level your RV: each unit comes with manual or automatic levels to keep you from sleeping at an odd angle
  • Connect the electricity, if available
  • Connect the water and sewage, if available
  • Slowly disconnect the truck and hitch from the trailer
  • Check your belongings and compartments to make sure that nothing shifted during your travels
  • Extend canopies and ensure all exterior features are operational​

Once you’re situated, you can finally kick back, relax, and throw some burgers over the fire. We promise it’s worth the extra precaution! You’ll look just like this pro in no time:

Now that you’re equipped for easy breezy parking, check out our full fifth-wheel inventory and get camping! We’re located in Kamloops, just off of the Trans Canada, so don’t be shy. We’re happy to answer any questions that you may have about parking your fifth-wheel, or any of our other new and used RVs.

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2449 Trans Canada Hwy E, Kamloops, BC V2C 4A9