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How Can I Make My Fifth Wheel Ride Smoother? (5 Tips)

| Updated Jun 21, 2023

Can’t get your 5th wheel to stop shaking, rocking, or chucking? Here are tips on how to make your fifth wheel ride smoother…

Jennifer and I recently bought our first fifth wheel after driving small campervans for a decade. Needless to say, it was a big adjustment!

We love our Arcadia Fifth Wheel and use for long stays at different destinations or one of our two RV properties and have taken it across five states so far. Since we bought it in April, we've pulled it enough to know smooth driving is important.

As I write this post, we are camped in it at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Getting up here in January was a challenge., weather-wide. We experienced rain, high winds, ice, near white-out blizzard conditions, and heavily snow-covered roads. It pulled perfectly.

But we know all about chucking and bouncing and shaking and how common that is in some fivers. It’s not fun or comfortable. But we're delighted to say that we haven't had any major problems with that in our unit.

There are some tricks and tips we can share that make our fifth wheel ride smoother. I’m going to share what we’ve learned so far with you today!

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Jennifer Goes to RV Driving School

To show you that we take good driving (and smooth driving) seriously, here’s a video of Jennifer going to RV driving school. Jennifer took the class as soon as we got our Arcadia 5th wheel, and I happily tagged along. I learned a lot, too!

Having confidence in your driving ability goes a long way in driving smoothly. If you’re not confident, you end up hanging on too tight and jerking the wheel around.

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What Is fifth wheel Chucking?

If you speak with fifth wheel owners, the term “chucking” will inevitably come up. Chucking refers to when a fifth wheel trailer bucks up and down and back and forth. This most often happens on an uneven road or when you hit potholes.

Chucking makes riding in the tow vehicle uncomfortable (and scary, at times). One pothole can set off a prolonged bucking fit, where the fifth wheel chucks around from its own weight, shifting back and forth and up and down.

The following tips will help stop your trailer from bucking as much as possible…

5 Tips to Make Your Fifth Wheel Ride Smoother

Jennifer and I learned a lot from our RV driving class, but we’ve also researched and asked others how to have a smoother ride when towing our fifth wheel. This is what we’ve learned!

**Note: I’m going to start with the more drastic measures you can take and then move into driving tips.

1. Replace Your 5th Wheel Connection

Most 5th wheels come from the factory with a rigid hitch connection that doesn’t provide any “wiggle room.” This rigid connection means the 5th wheel tugs back and forth on your truck with every movement.

If you have a standard goose ball, you may experience more of a rocking motion than chucking, but it’s just as annoying.

If your 5th wheel didn’t come with a quality air or spring system, you might want to replace it with a better pin box. We use a 5th wheel hitch on a slider and a cushioned pin box from Curt, which features something called ARV for Anti Road Vibration, an exclusive from Keystone RV, which greatly reduces road shock and vibration. Our hitch and slider model is the A20, rated to pull as much as 20,000 pounds.

You can see it on our RV in this video.

Granted, this is a top-of-the-line system ($2,000+), but when towing a fifth wheel, we think it’s worth the investment.

Fifth Wheel Ride Smoother

2. Put Airbag Suspension System on Your Truck

Another drastic yet effective measure you can take is putting airbags on your truck. In some cases, your tow vehicle’s suspension is the biggest reason your trailer chucks. 

If your suspension is too soft or too rigid, it’ll cause your 5th wheel to bounce up and down in response. 

Truck airbag suspension systems keep your truck level when towing a trailer or 5th wheel. These systems usually cost several hundred dollars and up. But again, they can make a big difference when trying to make your 5th wheel ride smoother.

If you want to really optimize your system, you can do Tips 1 & 2! Now for equally important but less costly tips…

3. Distribute Weight Properly

The distribution of weight in your tow trailer affects how smoothly it rides. Fifth wheels are designed with this in mind, but RV owners change the built-in balance when they load it up.

When loading your RV, be mindful of how you’re distributing weight. In general, you want a little bit more weight toward the front of the trailer than the back. And more weight above the wheelbase than at the back.

If too much weight is on the back, the “butt” of your trailer will bounce up and down like a kid on the very end of a seesaw. 

combating underinflated rv tires - 3 products to suggest

4. Reduce Tire Pressure (Within Reason)

I have to start this tip with a disclaimer about the danger of underinflated tires. If you reduce your tire pressure too much, you are at a much higher risk of a blowout. So, keep that in mind with this tip…

That said, reducing your tire pressure to its lower recommended limit can give you a smoother ride. Note that I said to remain within the recommended tire pressure for your tires

If your truck and trailer tires are at their top limit, they won’t give as much every time you hit a bump. By running them on the lower end, you can help minimize the bounce from minor bumps in the road. 

If considering this tip, I also highly recommend you read When to Replace RV Tires and Why You Should Check RV Tire Pressure EVERY Travel Day

5. Relax Behind the Wheel!

By relax, I do not mean let your guard down. Rather, I mean, don’t grip the wheel so tight you can’t help but jerk it every time you turn or hit a bump.

The smoother you handle the steering wheel, the smoother your fifth wheel will ride. When changing lanes or turning corners, concentrate on turning the wheel in a consistent, smooth motion.

The same is true for braking and accelerating! Concentrate on pressing the gas and brake pedals with smooth, constant pressure. Even when you have to brake quickly, it’s better to press your foot down… not jam it down!

How Can I Make My Fifth Wheel Ride Smoother? (5 Tips) 1

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-01-06

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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