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Gooseneck Hitches vs. 5th Wheel Hitches


5th-wheel-hitch gooseneck-hitch

There are many different types of trailer hitches out there on the market. Gooseneck hitches and 5th wheel hitches are terms that are misused by those towing trailers. Many drivers get away with interchanging these two types of trailer hitches, it’s not always for the best to use the wrong hitch in certain circumstances. We’ll compare the differences between the two so you always know which trailer hitch is right for your tow vehicle.

Gooseneck Hitches

Gooseneck hitches are Class V hitches allowing you to handle up to 30,000 pounds on the road. These types of hitches, similar to 5th wheel ones, are anchored in the bed of your truck. They utilize a hitch ball to lock a trailer into place as opposed to a pin-based connection like a fifth wheel trailer hitch. Gooseneck hitches are designed to make much tighter turns.

Many gooseneck hitch fans believe that the trailer always lets you know it’s behind you but with a 5th wheel trailer hitch, you get the illusion of one unit as you drive. Gooseneck hitches have lower overall pivot points which means less motion is transferred to the trailer as your truck is in motion. A gooseneck hitch may need to be secured with chains due to the ball being smaller than the coupling, but it’s always safer to ensure that your ball and coupling are made for one another.

5th Wheel Hitches

5th wheel hitches are designed to carry much heavier loads than goosenecks. Everything from larger fifth wheel trailers to semi trucks utilize this type of hitch to get the job done. 5th wheel hitches are designed to be hooked up in the bed of the towing truck. The fifth wheel trailer extends over the rear of the truck and the weight itself presses down between your cab and its rear axle. This gives truck drivers the ability to carry much more weight than they normally can.

The 5th wheel hitch, when placed in the back of your truck, consists of a flat plate that looks like a horseshoe. Metal rails run under the hitch and attach to the frame of the truck. When the trailer is ready to be connected to the hitch, it’s centered above the plate in the back of the truck and connected with a king pin. This allows for pivoting on the road but doesn’t send your trailer flying. Another plate rests above this pin as well. When you’re towing a 5th wheel trailer, these plates are constantly sliding against one another and proper lubrication is required to keep your fifth wheel hitch working properly.

Gooseneck Hitches vs. Fifth Wheel Hitches

It really comes down to personal preference on what type of trailer hitches you use based on the load you’re carrying. Many 5th wheel trailer owners opt to go with a gooseneck due to its ability to transfer motion while driving. There are many converters on the market to make one work as the other and vice versa. However, one of the concepts people tend to ignore when using a fifth wheel hitch is the pin weight.

The pin weight is the amount of weight pressing down on the 5th wheel hitch when you lock the pin into place in the back of your truck. This is a similar concept to tongue weight but is effected differently based on where you place weight in your trailer. Adding weight to the back of your trailer can make your pin weight lighter whereas adding weight over the wheels can make it heavier.

Since most owners don’t know how to measure pin weight, they often ignore it which can be a safety hazard on the road. Instead of dealing with pin weight, many owners opt to go with a gooseneck hitch or use a converter even if 5th wheel hitches are the better, safer option for their trailer.

When it comes to 5th wheel trailer hitches, they seem to be overall be more stable because weight is distributed where it actually belongs in a towing situation.  It’s over the truck’s rear axle, not on the hitch itself, which helps prevent dangerous trailer sway.  Many 5th wheel hitches have be adjusted for the pin to fit properly, depending on the type of trailer you’re pulling behind your vehicle.  For some users.


When it comes to a towing any type of trailer, you have to put safety first. Using the right type of hitch is necessary to safely tow your trailer. While you may have a personal preference between the gooseneck hitches and 5th wheel hitches, it all comes down to what works best with your trailer.

What type of trailer hitch do you prefer? The gooseneck hitch or the fifth wheel hitch? Comment to let us know!

Image Credit: Flickr