Truck Buying Guide: What Size Truck To Pull A 5th Wheel?

“What size truck to pull a 5th Wheel?” is one of the first important questions you might have when planning to go on a long trip yourself.

There are many different things that you should take into account. And this writing will help you with everything you need so that you can own the most suitable truck to meet your requirements. Shall we start?

What Size Truck To Pull A 5th Wheel

What Size Truck To Pull A 5th Wheel?

For some people, the most primary criteria to choose one track over another must be its brand name. However, with more options with the same function right now, the thing you should consider is the payload and towing capacity of a truck.

From data on trucks, the owner shows Ford as the biggest producer for trucks to pull the fifth wheel in 2022. More specifically, this brand is the most popular option for mid-range trucks with a high index for payload and towing capacities.

The best truck is the one that is good at both towing abilities and payload to handle mostly all fifth wheels you might have, including the cargo and passenger carrying. When searching for a truck, you will find that the increase in cab size shows the decrease in the towing capacity and payload.

Only when having a rig to haul a weight of about 20,000 lbs, should you have a dual rear truck. A note is that the 4×4 trucks often offer a lower payload and towing index. Unless your truck is unhitched, you will not need a 4×4 version to pull the 5th wheel.

payload weight for the truck
You should notice the recommend payload weight for the truck.

Another factor you should take note of when choosing a truck is the gear ratio. The reason is that some certain ratios of gear considerably boost the maximum of towing capacity, while some others reduce that capacity by about a thousand pounds. The bigger the gear ratio your truck has, the higher its towing capacity.

The Right Size For You 

To pick the right sized truck for pulling Fifth Wheel, you must clarify the four following numbers.

To Fifth Wheel:

  • The maximum fifth-wheel weight you target your vehicle to tow
  • The pin or hitch weight of your Fifth Wheel

To the truck side:

  • The maximum towing capacity of your truck to a fifth wheel
  • The truck’s maximum payload ability

If you exceed the recommended number for your truck capacity, you will unintentionally put stress on the transmissions, brakes, and engine.

When your truck fails to perform the work of pulling the Fifth Wheel well enough, this will lead to overheat for your engine. While it is not safe to drive an overloaded truck, your insurance must also be affected.

Even though many people pay most attention to the truck towing capacity, the payload number is even more important. The payload capacity shows the ability to handle the 5th shell and the cargo with passengers in your truck. On the other hand, the payload implies the highest weight you can carry so that your truck can run safely.

The overloaded truck might lead to the bad performance on inclines and slow in accelerating on traffic.

Package Of 5th Wheel

By checking the index of maximum payload for the truck, you can find out what weight your truck can handle. This number might appear in the specs of the dealers and on the inside of the side door for the driver. In case you are unable to find the payload spec, you can calculate it yourself using the following method:

First, you take the gross rate of the Vehicle Weight Rating minus the truck Curb Weight that is the truck’s net weight, without passengers or cargo. These two weights indexes always are the truck’s most important specifications. For instance, if your truck has a gross rate of 9800 lbs, while its curb weight is 6400 lbs, then the max payload of your truck will be 3400 lbs.

Next up, you must also consider the weight of cargo loading on the truck plus the passengers, the hitch of the fifth wheel, and the pin weight. This sum must never exceed the max payload number of the truck.

You will need the hitch rail on the truck bed when installing the hitch for the fifth-wheel. However, you can find many brands that now keep you away from hassle as they allow you to purchase and install the rails after the sale. This will be free, or you need to pay a small amount of money for installation.

There are two installing options for the rails, including above and below the bed of the truck.

When seeing the big size of Fifth Wheels, you might mistakenly predict the huge weight of the hitch and the front end. However, most hitches for Fifth Wheels weigh around 1,900 lbs on average or even less. More specifically, an impressive 16,000 lbs of Big Horn at 40 feet only has its hitch of 2,040 lbs in weight. Normally, the 5th wheel tongue only accounts for about 20 percent of its overall weight.

Another thing that affects the payload rate is the tire. In fact, the standard truck tire can handle 3,000 lbs. However, if you replace these tires with the one at the rate of 3,400 lbs, you can increase the capacity for 800 lbs.


That is all detailed answers to the question “What size truck to pull a 5th Wheel?”. You might now have all the information to pick the right truck for your needs. It will be best to notice all the criteria and index of the truck capacity to make sure it is safe and effective on any trip. We hope you have the best journey with your truck. Cheer!

Louis Gilliland

Louis Gilliland

He began his career as a mechanic, working on cars, trucks, and trailers in Michigan for over 20 years. He quickly developed a passion for towing and hitches and began specializing in that field. Louis started his own business installing hitches and providing towing services, quickly building a reputation as one of the best in the state. He also began teaching and training other mechanics on proper hitch installation and towing safety.