What Is a 5th Wheel Dolly? Expert Explain
What makes fifth-wheel trailers unique is their ability to hook up to another tow vehicle. The hitch is pre-installed on the towing vehicle at the rear of a truck. But that’s not the only way how you can move the fifth wheel. Meet the 5th Wheel Dolly!
Today, you can find a lot of different types of these 5th wheel dollies, and each of them has a different purpose. This article will explain everything about these 5th wheels and how you can use them. So, let’s start!
What Is a 5th Wheel Dolly?
So What Is a 5th Wheel Dolly? A 5th wheel dolly is used to attach to the unique hitch of a 5th wheel trailer. There are a few different types of dolly wheels, and some of them are designed only for towing. Equipment that is used to connect your 5th wheel trailer and your tow vehicle is a single or dual-axle piece that is used.
Also, there are dollies that are made to manage the 5th wheel in smaller, enclosed spaces such as a dealership, storage lot, or other closed quarters. These are mechanical devices that have their own drive, and can independently move the 5th wheel at low speed over short distances. In the next sections we’ll talk more about this, so stay with us.
Also, be sure to read our article about American Car Dolly Review 2023.
How to Move a 5th Wheel Trailer Without a Truck
When it comes to short distances, there is a low-speed 5th wheel dolly to help you navigate your travel trailer. These dollies usually have a gas-powered or electric motor installed. However, before you use these dollies be sure to understand these two things:
- 1st: In order for dolly to connect to your trailer you need to have special trailer hitch and drawback hardware.
- 2th: When you want to attach or detach the trailer, you must first ensure that the vehicle is parked on a completely flat surface. If the vehicle is unleveled, it is much harder to do the job, and there is a possibility that you will damage your vehicle or the dolly.
Note! Keep in mind that this type of 5th wheel dolly is designed to align your vehicle or to move it on a very short distance. By no means you should use it to drive on the open road.
Can You Use SUV to Tow a 5th Wheel?
From a technical point of view, the answer is YES, you can! But in this case, a different question needs to be asked: Should an SUV tow a 5th wheel? Cars and SUVs are not designed to tow a camper or travel trailer.
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The 5th wheel campers are heavy vehicles that are not designed to be towed by an SUV (Sport utility vehicle). If you decide, even in an emergency case, to tow your 5th wheel with an SUV, you have to think about the fact that the camper is heavier than your towing vehicle, and can very easily damage your SUV. Also, such an attempt is very dangerous for you and for all other drivers on the road.
When considering which vehicle you can use to tow your camper, instead of calculating whether a particular vehicle can withstand the weight of towing while driving, you should consider whether in such a situation you can safely stop the vehicle when driving at high speeds, such as those allowed on highways. Additionally, most SUVs and other larger cars do not have a suitable design for setting up a hitch.
However, there is currently an automated safety hitch option that allows you to safely tow your 5th wheel with multiple vehicles, including some models of lighter-duty trucks and SUVs. But in any case, to be sure, the towing vehicle must weigh at least 3/4 of a ton. Below we will bring you more about this option.
Towing a 5th Wheel with a Truck
When not using a safety hitch and pulling the 5th wheel with the help of a standard bed-mounted hitch attached to the rear of the vehicle, you should know a few things. Your towing truck should have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) 10% higher than the truck’s total weight and the trailer tongue. The higher the GVWR of the vehicle, the more convenient and safer it is to tow.
Additionally, the trailer’s tongue weight should not exceed the maximum truck bed payload. The big plus when towing is the rear dual tires and the length of the truck (the bigger, the better). In short, the more robust your vehicle is, the easier it will be to tow a trailer.
Can 5th Wheel Dolly Be Used For Long Distances?
It should be noted that we are not talking about low-speed 5th wheel dollies which, as we have already pointed out earlier, serve only to move the 5th wheel trailer around a small place. There are several ways you can go on a longer trip with your trailer with the help of a 5th wheel dolly. All the options we’ll talk about include tow dollies that represent a completely different concept than low-speed dollies that are designed for moving only.
Types of 5th Wheel Tow Dollies
When we talk about 5th wheel tow dollies, it is possible to divide them into two categories. One type is designed for towing semi-trucks, while the other is designed as an automated safety hitch designed for lighter-duty trucks, larger SUVs, and heavy-duty trucks. In both cases, the dollies enable safe towing of the 5th wheel trailer based on a separate axle and come bundled with breaks and tires, in some cases with a steering wheel.
Automated Safety Hitch
The unique automated safety hitch system is coming from Safety Towing Systems. These 5th wheel tow dollies have many more features than simply connecting your camper to a towing vehicle. With its help, towing camper on the road will not only be safer but also much more agile. This is accomplished with the help of stand-alone hydraulic brakes and steering axles.
Dolly has the function of connecting your towing vehicle to the 5th wheel camper. When this happens, the automated safety hitch helps with steering so that when turning it avoids moving the camper in a large arc. It is also very helpful when driving backward.
The best feature of this option is the improved way of breaking the vehicle. Dolly takes on the weight of the 5th wheel tongue, which means safer braking. It should be said that the brakes of the dolly are combined with the towing vehicle’s brakes. This means that towing vehicle brakes operate all braking systems uniquely, which is of great help for safely stopping the vehicle.
In addition to these benefits, the great advantage of this dolly for the 5th wheel is that it opens the possibility that the camper can tow lighter vehicles such as SUVs, short bed trucks, or any truck that weighs at least 3/4 of the weight of the camper. Keep in mind that the mentioned vehicles are not otherwise recommended for towing 5th wheel campers.
If you intend to tow your 5th wheel camper with a semi-truck and want to take extra care of safety, you can use an automated safety hitch in this case instead of the 5th wheel standard dolly converter. If you do this the ride will be much safer due to the extra set of brakes without thereby increasing the GCWR which should always be well looked after.
5th Wheel Converter Dolly
The 5th wheel converter dolly is a single-axle or dual-axle dolly that is used to connect to the tow vehicle, just like the automated safety hitch. The dolly converter is designed so that semi-tucks can be attached to one another in a row on a large vehicle. Its primary function is to provide the truck with the ability to tow multiple trailers simultaneously.
In theory, a 5th wheel converter dolly can be used to tow 5th wheel campers by connecting them to a semi-truck and then to a trailer. However, here we are talking about a doable option, but with which comes the question: Should we do such a thing?
When you want to pull the 5th wheel with a semi-truck you need to know that the configuration of the brake lights connection is not in line with the configuration of your camper/dolly. So the first thing you will need to do is set up this connection.
When connecting vehicles, you must be very careful to establish a sufficient distance between the towing vehicle and the camper so that you do not have problems when turning later. Be sure to watch the camper’s truck frame, campers’ cab, overhand clearance, and also the wheels’ clearance.
Is It Allowed to Tow With a 5th Wheel Dolly?
There is no simple answer to this question since the regulations are not very explicit, so legitimacy depends on several factors. In cases when you are towing your 5th wheel trailer with the help of an automated safety hitch, you should not have any problems. The 5th wheel dolly is considered an auxiliary axle, not an additional vehicle in most states.
According to Safety Towing System Inc., explain that the automated safety hitch meets all the requirements set by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), and the requirements set in the territory of Canada. When it comes to Quebec, in this area automated safety hitch is considered an integral part of the trailer, and in all other areas, an integral part of the truck.
In short, if you only use an Automated Safety Hitch to tow the 5th wheel with towing vehicle when it comes to regulations, you should be just fine. But you have to keep in mind that in some states, it is not allowed to tow two trailers at the same time. However, in some states, it is only possible to tow trailers under certain circumstances, and in others, it is allowed to tow more than one trailer, but only if their total length does not exceed a certain limit.
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To tow two trailers in some states, such as Michigan and California, you must have a special driver’s license. Note, in California, you must also have a license endorsement if you plan to drive a camper that is longer than 40 feet or weighs more than 26,000 pounds. When planning to tow a camper with the help of a dolly, be sure to check the regulations of the country you will be driving in before traveling.
Note! In this text, we are only explaining what we know and understand. We are just simply providing you with the information that we have checked online, so be sure to do your own research.
For those who want to learn more, be sure to read Find Rental Trucks for Towing Trailer or Fifth Wheel.
FAQ: People Also Ask
Why is it Called a Dolly Trailer?
The name “Dolly” comes from the 18th century when the same name was used for wooden tools that served for washing clothes in tubs. The tool worked so that it was intertwined when squeezed, just like two legs of a doll in a tilt position. The basic mechanism of this tool relies on the principle by which today’s dolly for towing vehicles works.
Why is it Called Fifth Wheel?
The name “fifth wheel” comes from the time when work carts on farms were pulled by horses. The car was on four wheels but the fifth was always attached to the back of the carriage.
After reading this text you can conclude that when it comes to 5th wheel dollies there are several interesting options. We are convinced that you can quickly find a dolly that meets your needs, whether it is a model that attaches to a towing vehicle or a self-contained model and serves only for parking.
When looking for a tow dolly, an Automated Safety Hitch is always a good option, even for your heavy-duty truck. This option enhances driving safety and agility. As connoisseurs, we welcome automated safety hitch as a great innovation that all RVs lovers warmly welcome.
An additional plus is that the regulations approve this option in most USA states and provinces in Canada, but as we pointed out earlier – be sure to check the regulations before you go on a trip. If the regulations approve the automated safety hitch of the country you plan to travel to, it will be an extremely pleasant trip for you!