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What Percent of a 5th Wheel Trailer King Pin Should be the Tongue Weight

Question:

I am purchasing a new 5th wheel trailer and concerned about the king pin weight. For every pound I put in the cargo bay located between the trailers axles and the king pin, what percent should of that pound would be added to the king pin? The owners manual for my 2007 Chevy C2500 HD Duramax 6.6 L Crew Cab regular bed truck lists towing capacity GCWR at 22,000 pounds, Maximum Trailer weight at 15,200 pounds, and max king pin weight at 3,000 pounds. I want to purchase a 5th wheel with a dry weight of 13,400 pounds and a dry hitch weight of 2,535 pounds. My truck weights 7,300 pounds with full tank, two people, and hitch. Thanks

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Expert Reply:

A basic rule to go by is that the tongue weight of a 5th wheel trailer is about 20 percent of the gross trailer weight. Based on the 5th wheel trailer dry weight of 13,400 pounds the dry hitch weight is correct at 2,535 pounds. Just under the 20 percent of the 5th wheel dry weight or precisely 18.9 percent.

The tongue weight of the 5th wheel trailer at 20 percent is 2,680 pounds based on a dry weight of 13,400 pounds.

So as long as you keep your tongue weight at 3,000 pounds or below after you load gear, you will be just fine.

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We have a Ford F 250 crew cab 4x4 short bed diesel XLT that weights 7650lbs, king pin weight limit 2000lbs. We are looking to tow a fifth wheel Refection 150 series 295RL with GVWR 9995 and Hitch weight 1391. How do we find the real tounge weight for the 295rl and not average? We want to make sure we are legal when towing. Can you let me know if it is?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

The reason that the 1391 is an average is because it can vary slightly, but you can guesstimate that to be your tongue weight. Really the only way to find the tongue weight of a 5th wheel trailer is to hook it up to your truck, drive to the nearest weigh station, and then weigh your truck with and without the 5th wheel attached (you're only going to keep the truck on the scale). You want to load your trailer so that the tongue weight is around 20% of the loaded trailer. Attached is an FAQ that you can check out.

Reply from Matt Z.

@JonG If the commercial scale is the type with multiple plates so that each truck axle is on different plates and the trailer axles on yet another, can you determine your pin weight using the results from two weighings: an unhooked truck only and the full rig hooked up and on the scales weighings?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@MattZ You could probably figure it out as long as you were able to weigh only the truck both times. If the scale will be measuring the trailer too then it would be tricky trying to figure out the pin weight.

Reply from Ron B.

@JonG I weighted my trailer for the first time and found that I have a pin weight percentage of 16.3%. Is this unsafe?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@RonB Are you talking about for a travel trailer or for a 5th wheel/gooseneck trailer? For a travel trailer you want it to be 10-15% but for 5th wheel/gooseneck shoot for 20%. Anything outside of that tends to cause more trailer movement.

Reply from Ron B.

@JonG it is a fifth wheel. Does that percentage change depending on the type of hitch you have? I am using a pullrite superglue 16k hitch

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@RonB No. The target pin weight for a gooseneck/5th wheel won't change based off of the 5th wheel hitch. Every 5th wheel hitch that I know of should be rated above the 20% so that you won't be maxing out the capabilities of the hitch when loaded properly.

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