Unhitching Angle

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Nov 14, 2005
Cordova, TN
I have been practicing backing up our new 5th wheel in a big parking lot by placing leveling blocks on the ground in the configuration of a campground road and campsites. As I have gotten a little better I have tried to make the "campsites" harder and harder to access in preparation for that day when I will need any maneuvering skills that I can muster to get the rig parked. One thing I have noticed as I have to make sharp turns to park is that sometimes the truck ends up at a pretty sharp angle to the trailer when I have gotten situated into the "campsite". My question is...what is the largest angle that I could be at to safely unhitch the 5th wheel from the truck and drive away?

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2005
Davison Michigan
I'm not sure but baring something "in the way" I would say any angle at which the truck and the trailer do not intersect. I see no reason you could not pull out at a right angle so long as you use the leveling jacks on the trailer to totaly unload the hitch first (by unload I mean take all weight off it) and make very sure the latch is open and well lubricated.

In practice I'd not wish to try a 90 degree unhook, but  as I said, I think it is possible

I know with other types of trailers I've unhooked at whatever the maximum turn angle was for the rig, no problem... Hooking back up may be however

In practice you should never have to unhook at even as much as a 45 degree angle though

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Feb 2, 2005
West Palm Beach, FL
I agree with John - any angle will work as long as the truck can detach smoothly, i.e. not pull the trailer sideways due to friction on the "fifth wheel".  If you can raise the kingpin enough to let the truck slip free easily (as you always should), the angle is irrelevent.

However, there is no need. Once you have the trailer more or less in the right place, you should be able to pull forward a bit to straighten out, then back again into the specific spot you want. Then the truck and trailer should be pretty much straight.

I'm guessing you haven't yet mastered the art of "following the trailer". It is particularly important with fifth wheels becasue of the exaggerated turn you must use to get the trailer going in the desired direction.  Initially you crank the steering wheel far around in one direction to start the trailer turning in the opposite direction, but as soon as the trailer begins to move that way, start bringing the steering wheel back toward dead center. Shortly after that, if the trailer is still heading where you want it, turn the wheel further so that the truck is turning at the same angle/direction as the trailer.  This shift from turning the opposite way to the same way is called "following" and the timing of this shift is fairly critical to your success, or at least to the ease with which you park.  Keep practicing and you will get the hang of the timing.
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