One of the most important aspects of how to maintain a fifth wheel hitch is proper lubrication. Before applying lubricant, first clean off the old lubricant to create a clean surface.
Let’s jump right into what you need to do to maintain a fifth wheel hitch. Lubricate your hitch regularly. That’s all it takes!
There are four areas to lubricate:
- The hitch head
Fifth wheel hitch heads have a grease zerk hole specifically added for you to pump the grease directly into. Remove the head from the base and you will see the zerk hole in the middle on the bottom of the 5th wheel hitch head. Use a grease gun to apply. You don’t need much just a couple squirts of standard automotive type chassis grease.
If you use your hitch occasionally, four or five times a year, grease it at least every six months. If you are a daily user grease it at least once a month.
- The polyurethane bushings
Now that you have the hitch head removed you will clearly see the two black polyurethane bushings on top of the legs of your 5th wheel hitch base.
It is important that they be clean before you apply grease. Clean them with a polyurethane friendly cleaner! Some acetone or solvents could break them down. Any old grease could damage the polyurethane so make sure to put polyurethane friendly grease.
We recommend that you use white lithium grease. Automotive chassis lubricant will work as well, but again, make sure it is safe for polyurethane. If your hitch doesn’t have a polyurethane cushion but a metal to metal contact point, then you are free to use any type of chassis grease.
- The jaws
Lubricate the jaws of the 5th wheel hitch head. If there is old grease left on the jaws be sure to wipe it all away before you spread on the new grease. Use the same grease that you used in the grease gun for your hitch head in step one.
Just use a rag or your hands to spread a thin layer around the inside surface of the jaws where they grasp around the king pin and also on the top and bottom. Make sure to open the jaws. You can also lubricate the king pin on your trailer.
Make sure that you do not pinch your fingers. If you have cam operated jaws, like all of the 5th Wheel Hitches, you will not need to worry about them snapping shut on your hand. However, any spring operated jaws will be able to snap shut on your fingers if you are not careful.
- The 5th wheel plate
Now finish by lubricating the 5th wheel hitch head plate. You have a choice between greasing the head plate with automotive chassis grease or purchasing a lube plate to place over your trailer’s king pin. The grease needs to go over the entire plate and can be rather messy. A nylon lube plate works in place of the grease and is a much simpler and cleaner solution.
If you decide to use a lube plate, there cannot be any grease on the plate or on the king pin.
Fifth Wheel Hitch General Maintenance
Besides lubrication, general maintenance just involves periodically checking to ensure that the hitch and rails are secured tightly, that the pins are properly positioned, and that the jaw-like structure of the hitch head is working properly.
These are the how to maintain a fifth wheel hitch tips you need to follow so that your fifth-wheel hitch will last longer than expected and you can use it for as long as you like without hassle.