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RV, Trailer, and Camper Towing Systems

RVs, trailers, and campers are all fun vacation and travel options, and each has unique requirements depending on their size and weight. Towing systems allow your vehicle to operate safely and reliably no matter how small or large the trailer or camper is. They may include a hitch, supports, additional lights, brake assistance systems, and other hardware.

Do you need a specialized braking system?

RVs and other towing vehicles need assistance to effectively and safely decelerate or bring themselves to a full stop. With such a braking system, when you press the brake pedal in the towing vehicle, it also activates the brakes on the towed vehicle. There are permanent braking systems and portable braking systems. Permanent systems require professional installation. Portable systems do not need to be professionally installed, but you will need to set them up in the vehicles between uses.

How does a fifth wheel system work?

Large tractor-trailer trucks use these kinds of towing systems, but they may also be installed in a pickup truck. This system is capable of precise maneuvering, great stability, and ability to handle heavy loads. The fifth wheel is typically installed where the most weight can be accommodated: in the middle of the truck bed over the rear axle. The lockjaw acts very much in the same way as a hitch receiver, and the kingpin, which is attached to the trailer, acts as a coupler. The assembly must be lubricated and maintained to function properly.

Do you need tow mirrors?

In short, yes. Towing mirrors are usually required by law, but be sure to check your own local regulations. A good rule is that you should be able to see a car that is 100 feet behind your camper trailer or about 6 car lengths. Towing mirrors will stick out and away from your vehicle, so be sure that they are sturdy and do not rattle. The vibration of the mirrors will make it more difficult for you to see what is behind you. Adding a convex mirror will also help you to see into your blind spot.

How do you choose a tongue jack?

Tongue jacks, also known as trailer jacks, lift a camper trailer so that a receiver may be maneuvered under the coupler.

  • Power or manual: Manual jacks are raised and lowered via the turning of a crank. Although the strength needed to turn this crank is minimal, it can take some time to raise or lower the jack. Power jacks remove the effort of positioning the jack.
  • Measure the height: The jack must be able to extend high enough to accommodate the receiver and coupler. Also, make sure that the foot of the jack clears the ground when it is retracted during towing.
  • Know your weight: The trailer tongue weight is the amount of weight the tongue exerts on the hitch when coupled. Your trailer jack should be rated for slightly more than your tongue weight.