Thursday, September 28, 2023


How useful are fifth wheel king pin stabilizers?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
One fifth wheel owner we know refuses to set foot in her fiver unless the front end is “supported” with a king pin stabilizer. She knows it’s nuts, but she’s afraid the trailer will topple forward if she puts her weight up there without the support. Not everyone is quite so paranoid, but plenty of fifth wheel folks put a stabilizer under their king pin. Is it worth it?

The answer to that question is subjective: Some fiver owners wouldn’t do without, others simply scoff at them. Here are the facts and the fiction.

First, unless your DNA is related to Godzilla’s, there’s no way you’ll “tip over” a fifth wheel by crawling up above the king pin area. The laws of physics (and proper RV design) simply won’t allow it. So why a stabilizer? Most supporters point to less “rolling” motion when walking in the trailer. But keep in mind that motion in a parked trailer isn’t just affected by a king pin stabilizer.

When you pull into camp and set up any rig, its own running gear, including tires, springs and occasional shock absorbers, are still going to give some bounce. Unless you get the tires out of contact with the ground, the running gear will still “give,” regardless of the number of stabilizers and their location. Most who use a pin stabilizer report reduced “bounce” – we’ve never heard of one sitting still like a “sticks and bricks” home.

It comes down to how much bounce reduction is worth to you. King pin stabilizers have their drawbacks, among them:

Weight: To really get bounce reduction, stabilizers built of steel seem to work best. Users report lighter-weight aluminum stabilizers just aren’t as solid as steel.

Bulk: You have to store them when traveling. Mama isn’t going to put up with those big old clunkers in the fifth wheel – they’ll be in the back of your tow vehicle taking up space. And while most king pin stabilizers are like tripods, having three legs, many users report the “bipod” two-legged variety of stabilizer that takes less space is less supportive than its three-legged cousin.

Not useful everywhere: Parked in a site not close to level, you may find the stabilizers won’t work unless they have adjustable legs. If the ground under the front end of the fifth wheel slopes down, they may not reach the pin box. If the ground slopes the other way, the legs may be too long to work.

On the other hand, there is an unexpected benefit of a king pin stabilizer that many have commented on: They no longer bang their heads on the king pin. Of course, they may not be telling us about banging their shins on their stabilizer legs!

Editor: Here is a large selection of fifth wheel king pin stabilizers at


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


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Bob P
2 years ago

Most movement occurs fore and aft as you walk inside the coach. If your wheels are chocked properly movement will barely be noticeable. When we were in our camping club one of our members was working on a stabilizer that attached to the jack legs, it worked very well to stop any sideways movement and most fore and aft.

2 years ago

Another good write-up by Russ and Tiña. I found the tripod of little use and got rid of it. The 5er I have now has hydraulic legs, which made a huge difference and doesn’t sway at all.

2 years ago

We have a king pin stabilizer for our 5th wheel, the exact same as the one pictured. We find it helps a small amount in stabilizing the trailer, even though we have six point electric stabilizers. But also, I lock the tripod to the king pin, and then lock our ebikes to the tripod, so it ends up serving two purposes. Overall, we’re pleased with ours and believe it to be worth the cost, weight, and bulk.

Abe Loughin
2 years ago

I had a stabilizer for my first 5th wheel and there was a difference between when we used it and didn’t. When we got our current one with 6 point hydraulic leveling it no longer made any noticeable difference so I gave it to someone who had just gotten a unit without hydraulic leveling.

D Wagner
2 years ago

I had never considered a king pin stabilizer until we installed a washer/dryer in the front closet of our 5er. After feeling the trailer shaking through the first few loads, I order a stabilizer and it has made a big difference. I had also reduced some of the other movements we felt as we move around inside. I only bother to install it for extended stays.

Bob P
2 years ago
Reply to  D Wagner

We had a washer and dryer in our class A 38’ motorhome 4’ in front of the rear axel and even with the stabilizer jacks down every time the washer went into a spin cycle the unit would vibrate the floor.

Glen Cowgill
2 years ago

For all the many years I owned a 5th wheel, I never owned a stabilizer as I never thought they were necessary. The laws of Physics just don’t support their use.

2 years ago

Had a 5er owner tell me once stabilizers are more of a peace of mind then a needed accessory. Use or not use it’s a choice.

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