Choosing Between A Fifth Wheel And Gooseneck Car Hauler

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Choosing Between A Fifth Wheel And Gooseneck Car Hauler

15 December 2016
Automotive, Articles

Whether it's trailering your favorite show queen of a car to the next car show or transporting multiple cars to an auction, a heavy-duty car hauler can get the job done. If you decide to purchase or rent one, chances are you'll have to choose between one type over the another (unless you choose a standard bumper pull trailer, but that's another story). The following offers numerous pros and cons for each type of trailer.

Gooseneck Pros and Cons

Gooseneck trailers get their name from the unique goose-like shape of the trailer tongue. This shape allows the trailer to clear the rear half of the tow vehicle. It also allows the trailer to maneuver with a greater range of rotation than you'd normally see with a trailer mounted to an ordinary bumper hitch. This broad range of maneuverability can come in handy for getting in and out of relatively tight spaces.

There are plenty of other advantages to choosing a gooseneck trailer over its filth wheel counterpart:

  • Gooseneck trailers also offer a greater range of motion in the hitch mount, allowing the trailer to tilt from side to side. This can be an advantage when towing on uneven terrain.
  • If you don't have one installed already, a gooseneck trailer hitch system is cheaper and less complicated to install than a similar fifth wheel hitch.
  • Most gooseneck hitches can be used with an adapter to accommodate a fifth wheel trailer.
  • Most gooseneck trailers don't extend all the way over the tongue, leaving you with enough bed space for additional storage.

There are a couple of downsides to using a gooseneck trailer, however. The overall design of a gooseneck trailer leaves it more vulnerable to stresses transmitted to the trailer during transit. As a result, the average gooseneck trailer has a heavier build than a comparable fifth wheel trailer. This adds cost and weight to the trailer, with the latter negatively impacting your tow vehicle's fuel economy. Most states also require gooseneck trailers to utilize safety chains, a requirement that's not necessary with fifth wheel trailers.

Fifth Wheel Pros and Cons

Fifth wheel trailers rely on the same coupler apparatus as semi-truck trailers to keep its kingpin in place during transport. Fifth wheel trailers are less expensive than their gooseneck counterparts while offering a greater variety of designs. There are several other advantages that fifth wheel trailers have of their gooseneck counterparts:

  • Most fifth wheel trailers tend to have a lighter gross trailer weight than similar gooseneck trailers, mainly due to heavier construction needed of gooseneck trailers to combat frame stresses.
  • It's often faster and easier to hook up a fifth wheel trailer due to the convenient coupler and kingpin design.
  • Most state laws don't require fifth wheel trailers to use safety chains, as the coupler is sufficient enough to hold the trailer to the tow vehicle.

As with their gooseneck counterparts, fifth wheel trailers do have a couple of disadvantages. The fifth wheel coupler and kingpin combo lacks the range of tilting motion that can be tolerated, making its use less than ideal on uneven roads. Some fifth wheel trailers also extend over the bed area of the tow vehicle, robbing it of potential storage space.

A typical fifth wheel trailer might not be as maneuverable as a gooseneck trailer, due in large part to its overall design. This disadvantage may be overcome by installing an automatic slider to the fifth wheel mount. The slider adjusts the spacing between the tow vehicle cab and trailer during turns, making the trailer more maneuverable without causing any damage to the cab.

It's important to keep all of the above considerations in mind when it comes to choosing between a gooseneck and fifth wheel trailer.