By Russ and Tiña De Maris
One of the most neglected areas for fifth wheels, the hitch, can be one of the most cantankerous. Having a “stuck” hitch release can really take the joy out of the lifestyle, yet it’s easy to care for problems before they come up.
Fifth wheel hitches have moving parts, and the locking assembly that prevents your king pin from sliding out of the saddle usually has plenty of steel parts that mesh together. They need lubrication. If you’ve misplaced or, like most of us who bought used, never had a manual, here’s a quick routine.
Where it’s possible, rotate your hitch up and around so you can see the “underside” of the assembly where the gear works and other moving parts are hiding. Things don’t hide from the rain too well, and rust is a stalking enemy. How to lube ‘em? Unless you’re directed otherwise, use white lithium grease, available from auto parts stores and Amazon.com. It doesn’t take much, a small tube should do you up right. Catch any meshing parts, and be sure to lube where your jaws or locking bar slides through.
Once you’ve put the lube in, open and close the fifth wheel mechanism several times to thoroughly move the lube through the system. After our last lube job, we found it oh, so much easier to hitch up and unhitch with that mechanism freely moving.