Some people have converted a bumper pull to a 5th wheel pull and stayed on the right side of the law. The reverse may or may not be legal in many states. It may be easier to convert a bumper pull to a 5th wheel than the other way around.
Can you pull a fifth wheel with a bumper hitch? It’s possible, and it has been done in the past. The key issues will be the size of the trailer and the towing capacity of the tow vehicle. Not all trucks can pull the weight of a 5th wheel, even as a bumper pull. So another issue will be whether it will be legal or not.
In our guide, you can learn how to pull your trailer depending on your vehicle size. By the end, you could have a Gooseneck adapter 5th wheel to bumper pull adapter, or you find your steering is too light with so much weight on the pivot point, and your towing vehicle is nowhere near large enough to cope. (Read Where To Place Levels On Travel Trailer)
Can You Pull a Fifth Wheel With a Bumper Hitch?
Though it is technically possible, why would you want to? The weight of most fifth-wheel trailers exceeds an SUV’s or van’s towing capacity. Because of this, it is impossible unless you hire a true heavy-duty pickup truck to perform the towing.
If you buy a heavy-duty vehicle, you might as well forego the modification and stick with the fifth wheel. You can bumper-pull a fifth-wheel trailer with a device known as an automated safety hitch system, but you also need to consider whether this is feasible.
Using this hitch, you are roughly extending the length of the trailer by an additional 5 feet.
That could make handling and maneuvering it challenging. On the other hand, using a safety hitch for a fifth wheel may give you additional clearance.
As you won’t have to worry about the trailer rubbing up against your pickup vehicle, your turning circle may be better.
Is It Legal To Pull a 5th Wheel To Bumper Pull Conversion?
You could need to take up this issue with your neighborhood police force, the DMV, or even the state highway patrol.
Many states have declared that this type of setup is not legal, but folks are never given specifics.
This can be a controlled RV option that varies by state, such as an old pickup bed converted into a bumper pull or where owners have incorporated a 5th wheel hook. Despite odd appearances, everything was legal if the trailer is below the legal towing weight.
However, most states might not allow it. Safety hitches are manufactured for legal use to handle such a towing arrangement, but even those may not be allowed in every state.
You face double towing, where you break the law because many safety hitches are another kind of tow vehicle. It may not be legal in most states for double towing for non-commercial purposes. (Learn How To Keep RV Water Hose From Freezing)
Can You Convert 5th-Wheel To A Bumper-Pull?
Photos on RV forums show adapters used for such a conversion.
For one option, you can use a three-legged change to keep the trailer level. Here, you can see stabilizing legs on the back of the adapter, where the final leg hooks into the fifth wheel and is then connected to the bumper ball.
An easier change is on another adapter hooking into the 5th wheel hook. Alternately, you might use automated safety hitches where most fifth wheel connects to the hitch and then fasten to your bumper.
Unlike the other adapters, this safety hitch is a standalone item with wheels.
No one discusses such a modification, while most sources suggest converting the 5th wheel to a bumper pull may be illegal in many states.
Besides this, many people don’t want to convert for safety reasons where braking is an issue, so you would need to wire up a trailer, so the brakes activate as the towing vehicle’s brake pedal is pushed.
Beyond maneuverability, the sole incentive to convert is to gain cargo room since a 5th wheel reduces cargo space.
What Tows Better 5th Wheel Or Bumper Pull?
Some individuals favor 5th wheel trailers and others bumper pull trailers. Your preferences matter. 5th-wheel trailers are easier for maneuvering yet heavier.
- The 5th wheel means a larger truck than a bumper pull trailer.
- A bumper pull trailer requires special equipment. For example, you’ll need sway bars, safety chains, and weight distribution hitches.
- The 5th wheel trailer’s hitch is over the tow vehicle’s wheels, making drawing easier.
- Your truck’s 5th wheel hook eliminates the need for sway bars or safety chains. A 5th wheel has superior road stability than a bumper pull.
- 5th wheel backing is more accessible, but it shouldn’t be an issue if you’ve backed up both. Trailer backing requires practice. In the end, it comes down to the form of towing you want.
Safety Hitch FAQs
Does your system conform to Requirements?
Right now, the automated safety hitch system passes all USDOT safety regulations.
How is backing up with the Automated Safety Hitch System?
There isn’t much difference between backing up with the safety hitch and the typical 5th wheel setup. There is only one pivot point left, but the significant advantage is that you risk having no clearance.
How are the brakes controlled?
The brakes can be connected to a single braking controller and are wholly integrated with the towing vehicle’s braking system. In addition, it integrates with the trailer’s and tow system’s braking systems. Stopping power is increased by the hydraulic brakes.
What hitch is needed?
Typically, a class 5 hitch is all that is needed to hook this safety hitch. With that class of hitch, you can still pull a bumper trailer.
Can I pull my automated safety hitch system with my lifted truck?
This is indeed feasible. To accommodate the height of your elevated truck, the manufacturer would need to modify their hitch. For example, the axle can be blocked up, or a special truck frame extension can be added.
Can you pull a fifth-wheel trailer with a van or SUV?
Fifth wheels typically weigh more than a van or an SUV can always tow.
Trucks should only tow fifth-wheel RVs or truck camper if your tow vehicle matches or exceeds the towing ratings.
To get an emergency towing task done, however, you can purchase a specialized gear called an Automated Safety Hitch.
Technically, a van or SUV with a gooseneck trailer hitch can pull a fifth wheel trailer when using this hitch outside a truck bed to make tight turns with your tow vehicle much easier. (Read Wheel Chocks For RV Guide)
What is GTW?
Along with the trailer’s original weight, the gross trailer weight measures how much you can safely transport and carry in your trailer according to the weight on each axle. Every axle has a set amount of weight it can bare.
What Is The Tongue Weight?
The tongue weight measures the downward force that a load, such as a trailer or fifth-wheeler, may apply to the back of your towing vehicle.
The trailer or fifth wheel load will determine how you arrange the cargo for this measurement and how it impacts the tongue weight.
Other Fifth Wheel Camper Towing Options
Most people who question if a van or SUV can tow a fifth wheel have a large family and extra cargo. All this doesn’t fit in a truck, so you can find alternatives to buying an automated safety hitch.
- By a truck with bench seats. Many trucks can seat seven. You’ll be cramped as there isn’t much room for extra cargo like day bags or coolers.
- You can fit the whole family as these commercially available trucks have bench seats.
- Install a sleeper cab in the back of your truck. This reduces truck bed length yet adds seats. A sleeper cab adds three or four seats to the end of your truck cab length.
- Buy a 6-door truck as these can seat 8 people. Of course, six-door trucks cost more, but they’re commercially available, so no customization is needed.
- Two cars. Four-seater truck may tow fifth wheel. Another vehicle (perhaps a van or SUV) could follow with family and extra cargo.
Can you pull a fifth wheel with a bumper hitch?
Technically, you can pull a fifth wheel if your van or SUV has an automated safety hitch.
Is a fifth wheel easier to tow than a bumper pull?
The convenience of towing is the fifth wheel’s major advantage. Rarely do people switch back to a bumper pull after pulling both.
The ride is significantly smoother without the tugging motion of a bumper pull because the weight is distributed over the drive wheels in the back of the truck.
Can you put a gooseneck trailer with a bumper hitch?
It performs the same effect as a bumper pull. Now, it will typically exceed the bumper hitch’s vertical load rating.
A gooseneck trailer increases the truck’s capacity by adding more weight to the truck than a bumper pull with the same axles.
What’s better, gooseneck or 5th wheel?
Which is preferable, a gooseneck or a fifth wheel? A fifth-wheel hitch is preferable for recreational towing. In contrast, a gooseneck hitch is preferable for commercial and agricultural towing, where the gross trailer weight could be higher from heavy loads.
While gooseneck hitches are renowned for their minimally invasive form, fifth-wheel hitches offer a smoother and more stable ride.
Do 5th wheels sway?
A stable choice for towing vehicles you can live in is a fifth-wheel trailer. It is risky for anyone attempting to ride in a fifth-wheel trailer while it is being towed because they might swing and flip over. However, swaying and rolling are significantly less of a concern when safety precautions are taken.
Can you tow a trailer without a hitch?
For safety, using a vehicle with an appropriate hitch is advised; however, it is occasionally possible to pull a bumper-pull-style trailer a short distance without a hitch. Without a hitch explicitly made for their specific designs, gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailers cannot be pulled. (Read RV Water Pump Not Pumping Water)
How much is an automated safety hitch?
The Automated Safety Hitch System, which includes everything needed (such as a specially designed class five hitch rated for 30,000 pounds) for your vehicle to pull your trailer, could cost around $10,000, depending on options and modifications.
However, you can find an automated safety hitch option cheaper than changing your vehicle.
Why can gooseneck tow more than Fifth Wheel Hitch?
The gooseneck hitch has an advantage over a 5th wheel hitch when comparing their ability to tow bigger trailers.
Because of superior weight distribution, it is more stable under big loads. Compared to a 5th wheel, a gooseneck is less intrusive and occupies less room in the truck bed.