Fifth Wheel Trailer Checklist. RV-1 Author Lester Evans offers:

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April 21, 2009

Storage site Departure & Hitching Trailer to Truck:

1.            Position truck a few feet in front of trailer.

2.            Move truck mirrors to the OUT position for trailer towing.

3.            Lower truck tailgate.

4.            Remove & stow trailer wheel covers.

5.            Verify all trailer interior lights are OFF.

6.            Verify all trailer windows are closed.

7.            Verify everything inside trailer is secured for travel.

8.            Close refrigerator doors for travel.

9.            Close & lock trailer access door.

10.             Put access door handrail in travel position.

11.             Put doorsteps up into travel position.

12.             Tilt truck hitch plate towards rear of truck.

13.             Verify truck hitch security latch is unlocked & open.

14.             Slowly back truck to the trailer so that the rear of the truck hitch is close to the trailer hitch connection, then stop the truck.

15.             Check the height of the trailer as compared to the truck hitch.

16.             Unlock & open the front jack control panel door.

17.             If necessary, using the front jack electric control switches, adjust the trailer height until the trailer kingpin plate is even with the truck hitch plate.

NOTE:  EXTEND jacks to Raise trailer.

RETRACT jacks to Lower trailer.

18.             Continue backing the truck until trailer kingpin locks into truck hitch; then stop truck.

19.             Verify truck hitch jaws lock around trailer kingpin.

20.             Verify hitch latch bar is in the fully locked position.

21.             Close hitch latch bar security latch.

22.             Attach a padlock to hitch latch bar security latch and the trailer breakaway switch pin cable.

23.             Connect trailer electric cable to the truck.

24.             Close truck tailgate.

25.             Using front jack electric control switches, RETRACT front trailer jacks to the full up position.

26.             Close & Lock front jack control panel door.

27.             Pull out lock pins from trailer jack and raise jack feet to the full up position so there is plenty of clearance for travel.

28.             Ensure lock pins fully engage into front trailer jacks.

29.             Remove and stow front jack wood support pads.

30.             Remove and stow trailer wheel locks.

31.             Verify all outside storage compartments doors are closed & locked.

32.             Perform an operations check of truck & trailer lights.

WARNING:  Do not move trailer if trailer brakes fail to operate.

33.             Test trailer brakes with Electric Brake Controller as follows:

·        Start truck engine

·        Disengage truck emergency brake

·        Apply trailer brakes with switch on brake controller

·        Attempt to drive truck forward

·        Trailer brakes should keep trailer & truck from moving

·        If trailer brakes fail to operate, have the trailer brakes repaired by a qualified mechanic

·        Release trailer brake controller switch

·        Trailer brakes should allow truck & trailer to move

34.             Test Trailer Breakaway System as follows:

·        Pull out the Breakaway switch pin that is attached to a cable lanyard

·        This activates trailer electric brakes

·        Attempt to drive forward

·        If Breakaway systems is operating properly, the trailer wheels should not rotate

·        If trailer wheels rotate, have the trailer brakes repaired by a qualified mechanic

·        Insert the pin back into the Breakaway switch

·        Attempt to drive forward

·        The trailer wheels should rotate

Happy Camping:

Fred b.



Leave a Reply


  1. David Read

    pop up tent trailer for 5 years, 30 ft class A motor home for 20 years, slide in truck camper for 6 years, taking delivery of 5th wheel in May, I think that I am quite capable of handling the 5th wheel and I sure appreciate all the advice above Thanks to all especially to you Joe. I have always used a check list and still had a few mishaps. as I get older these check lists become more important Cheers, Dave

  2. Joe

    Okay, to some of you the extent of this checklist may seem a bit arduous but… Would you want to be in an airliner in which the pilot did not use checklists? Or how about this, how comfortable would you be driving down the interstate beside a 100 ft plus long tanker that I’m driving and just assume that I had covered all the bases in my head on my pre-trip before I went out on the public roads. I thought not.

    The bottom line is this: EVERYBODY should take hooking up, brake checks and the entire pre-trip VERY seriously!! This is a life and death inspection, not necessarily yours as the driver of the rig, but certainly mine as the hapless sap who happens to be driving down the same road as you.

    For those of you who think you’re so good that you will not and can not forget something, ask yourself when the last time was that you forgot to release your parking brake, screw on a fuel cap, raise your steps, lower your antenna or remember to make sure your spouse was really in the truck with you.

    There are two types of 5th Wheel owners: Those that HAVE dropped their camper on their truck and those that will!!

    Be fair and try to help those who may be newer at this than you instead of bitching at those who try to help make our roads and lives a little safer.

    I shall now find my ladder and climb back down off my rather tall soap box.


  3. Ray

    If you see a name in red print such as mine it means a web site so click on my name and enjoy

  4. Ray

    Every one should make their own list as to have order in which they do things Don’t forget the antenna

  5. Stevie Duvaldadrian

    I think that people shouldn’t be so quick to judge what advice someone has to give. All the people out there who think they’re so smart are usually the ones who have the accidents because they are so used to doing something over and over again. That one little slip-up can bring the whole thing tumbling down ( in this case the 5th wheel ). And for those of us out here that are perfectly capable of driving a rig once it’s hocked up but don’t do the hooking on a regular basis, in an emergency situation for instance, this list could make a real difference. I myself am going to print and laminate it and keep it handy for just such an emergency. Thanks for all you trouble Fred. I appreciate it!

  6. Tommy

    Oh, I love the banter on this one. Yes, thank you for this post. I’ve owned a 5th wheel for 6 months now but do not own a tow vehicle yet. Since I had it delivered and am using it for weekly work commute living quarters at same location, I have not towed it yet.
    I’m printing and saving this for future reference, and can’t wait to join the experienced ranks such as Art!

  7. Drew


    Nice post, I’ll bet there are many who appreciate the time and thought that went into your checklist. Thanks again,


  8. GlenO

    Some good added points especially about the KP. I always look and ensure the jaws are closed then place the lock in place. Had not thought of the extra thought of leaving the legs down and pull up a few inches. Good idea.

  9. George

    Prior to slipping the kingpin into the 5th wheel, you should hook up your electric brakes, and apply the trailer brakes as you back into your kingpin. Then, if you don’t hit the kingpin correctly you won’t have your trailer roll away or your legs slip off any blocks they might be on causing the trailer to come down on the truck box. And for you folks that think this is drivel, remember there is no such thing as stupid questions only stupid mistakes. No one forced you to read the listed information.

  10. Larry

    If the writer of that drivel actually uses his checklist, then they likely shouldn’t even be driving. Sounds like a list made for a “mentally challenged” person. Some one not capable of making a decision on their own. Some one that needs directions for even the most simple of tasks.

    Get in line, get tray, get knife, fork and spoon. Allow attendant to place servings on tray, go sit down at table, ops you forgot your tray. Use a fork to eat…


  11. Timber Tom

    Right around #5 someone should verify that the batwing antenna has been lowered. saves a lot of money and embarassment.

  12. Maggie

    Sorry, folks, have to agree with Art. Whether your trailer is in storage, in your backyard, or leaving a campground, if you don’t know how to hook up a 5er, you’ve got no bloomin’ business owning one.

  13. Judy

    Art, this may seem useless and redundant to you ‘experts’ out there, but to some of us beginners it is good to have these reminders every now and then. When you have the distraction of a visiting neighbor, ringing phone, screaming child or spouse it can be easy to skip that one simple little step that we should know by heart. I am a senior, single lady and appreciate all the tech tips and advice that I can receive from these blogs. I do not want to forego the enjoyment of the RV way of life just because my memory isn’t a great as yours or because I may become distracted.
    Fred, thank you for your time and patience with all of us, no matter what the responses may be.
    Keep smiling.

  14. John Shelton

    This test that William speaks of should have already been done around step 20. This step is part of verifying that the “hitch latch bar is in the fully locked position” . It is not really necessary to raise the dolly legs (aka front legs) completely off the ground to test the connection. It is only necessary to have a few hundred pounds of the trailer weight on the fifth wheel. This step should, by all means, be performed before closing the tailgate. (The trailer kingpin makes a super ugly,expensive, and embarrassing mess when it unexpectedly hooks a closed tailgate.)

  15. Mike

    I agree with William but I leave the legs down so if the latch pin opens I merrely drive out from under it without bounce testing the rig

  16. William

    Actually step 25 is incorrect. You should retract the front jacks about 2-3 off the ground, Then pull truck forward about 2-3 inches to verify that the hitch is properly secured. The reason for doing it this way is that if for some reason the hitch lock jaws come undone and the trailer slides out of the hitch the trailer will fall upon th efront legs without falling onto the bed of the truck and causing damage.
    Just my .02 worth of advise.

  17. Art

    OK I will speak my mind……………….this is the most useless item that I have read on
    If anyone doesn’t know or doesn’t check all the items listed, they have NO right operating a 5th wheel or for that matter any RV and shouldn’t be allowed on the roads.