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How to Determine Fifth Wheel Hitch Height Setting Needed

How to Determine Fifth Wheel Hitch Height Setting Needed

You have installed your fifth wheel on your vehicle, stuffed it with your belongings, and are now heading towards your plans. But one important issue is waiting at this point. Where to set your fifth wheel? Note that your fifth wheel hitch height is a determining factor in the place you are going to travel or park your vehicle. If it is not at the appropriate height, you may face several problems and even legal sentences. In fact, there is no absolutely ideal height because the average height of a 5th wheel hitch varies from state to state. Therefore, you should first know your fifth wheel’s height and then the legally accepted vehicle sizes in your state.  

As TULGA family, we listed a few important topics that you should consider before loading your fifth wheel least you face unexpected problems on the road. 

The Ideal Height of a Fifth Wheel

As you are out on the road with your fifth wheel, you could experience some anxiety when you are getting close to an overpass or a low-clearance tunnel. It is essential to be aware of the height of the fifth wheel, regardless of whether you are looking into purchasing one or are only curious about the one you already own. 

From the highest point of the roof to the ground, the typical fifth-wheel trailer has a height of between 8 and 10 feet. This measurement is subject to change depending on a number of factors, including the height of the attached truck, the profile of the fifth wheel, and the hitch height. However, it is against the law for a fifth wheel to be more than 13.5 feet in height in the majority of states.

You should attach your fifth wheel plate according to the ideal height given by the district you are going to run your vehicle. Therefore, before installation, it is necessary to know the standards. You can also have your 5th wheel hitch plate installed by a professional, but if you are interested in doing the process by yourself, you can visit our blog about how to install a fifth wheel hitch. 

If you get too close to the ground, you run the risk of damaging the undercarriage as well as the towing apparatus. On the other hand, if it is excessively tall, there is a possibility that it may scrape along the top of anything or that it will violate a size restriction regulation. You will need to be familiar with the correct method for measuring your car, the variations in height that exist across models, and the various size restrictions that apply to different states.

At the point where the top of the bed and the underside of the trailer are the closest to one another. This part almost looks like the tailgate. There, you should have a clearance of at least six inches. If you go off the paved road, into the rough pasture, for example, you need a clearance of eight inches. If you are unable to meet this criterion, you will need to either decrease the height of the vehicle or increase the height of the fifth wheel.

There are a lot of people who own recreational vehicles who don't care as much about the correct fifth wheel hitch height from the ground. Simply because they would be more concerned with the actual overhang that was there on the front of the fifth wheel. It is essential that there be a gap of at least six inches between the bottom of the overhang and the bed rails on the truck in this particular area.

Because it is required to have a clearance of 6 inches or more from the bed rails of the towing vehicle, the correct fifth wheel hitch height from the ground is not the crucial variable to know. Only once you have determined the latter will you manually change the height of the hitch or the pin box, moving it up or down until you have the needed minimum clearance of 6 inches.

Measuring the Height of Your Fifth Wheel

It is a good idea to take the height of the fifth wheel into consideration whenever you are shopping for one to buy or evaluating the one that you already own. You should give it a shot both when it's linked up and when it's not, and compare the results. There are situations in which the height can be increased by attaching a truck and a hitch.

When you inspect your fifth wheel, you need to make sure that it is level and that it is not moving. Your measurements could be thrown off if they are taken on uneven ground, especially if one end is tilted higher than the other!

The good news is that you don't need anything special to do this test; all you need is a regular tape measure. There is no need for any costly equipment or specialist tools! You only need your fifth wheel, a measuring tape, and possibly a friend to help you hold the other end of the tape measure.

When measuring the height of a fifth wheel, start at the highest point of the roof and work your way down to where the tires meet the ground. Do not measure the height of the vehicle from inside the cab, as this will only provide you with an estimate of the standing room and not the overall height. It is essential that any roof extensions be factored into your dimensions as well, as these can frequently cause your vehicle to exceed the permissible weight limit.

When all is said and done, the height of the fifth wheel is typically not a major concern. The measurement of length or width is the kind of thing that normally gives people the most trouble. When traveling through regions that include a significant number of tunnels, covered bridges, low clearance overpasses, overhanging wires, or dense vegetation, your height will become an important factor.

Important Note!

It is essential to make sure that your fifth wheel has a height that is manageable so that you do not end up getting too banged up in these congested regions. Because of the higher location of their center of gravity, towering vehicles present an additional risk of losing balance and rolling over while driving. Therefore, one must take into account their height as a significant concern.

The height, length, and width restrictions on vehicles in the United States are each governed by a different set of rules and regulations in each individual state. It is imperative that you comply with these since they have been established to protect the well-being of everyone who uses the road. This is especially important to keep in mind if you plan on traveling through several different states by car. It is imperative that you are familiar with the local legal system wherever you go.

Types of the Roads

Even if you have the proper height fifth wheel hitch on your truck for standard uses, you won’t be using your RV in a single place. The type of the road when you leave the place you usually use your RV still is a concern. So, it is necessary to know also about the road types and their required clearances as we listed below. 


Freeways are a type of divided highway that typically have two or more lanes and only allow vehicles to travel in one direction. Clearances of at least 14 feet are often available along the routes that are considered to be the safest. But most importantly, they are highways that are frequently traveled by semi-trucks that are 13.5 feet in length, which implies that each of these bridges has been examined and evaluated by rigs before to your arrival.


Highways are another name for arterial roads, and both names refer to the fact that these roadways connect major metropolitan centers. You can think of these as being comparable to motorways in the sense that, the most of the time, there will be regular traffic on them.

Highways are typically connected to collector collectors, which are major and local roads that link to highways (aka arterial roads). On these highways, the posted speed limit is typically between 35 and 55 miles per hour. Although they are meant to be 14 feet in height, drivers should always use extreme caution when traveling on roads of this type because there is much room for fluctuation.


The majority of roads in the United States are considered to be local roads, and their speed limits typically range from 20 to 45 miles per hour. If you were cautious on the collector roads, you need to be even more careful when driving on the local roads. Not only can the clearance be very different from one spot to the next, but if you're in an area that doesn't get a lot of traffic, there's a much lower chance that other trucks have driven by there recently.

Where should I set my fifth wheel?

During the connecting process, your fifth wheel should give the trailer a very tiny lift. The approach ramps of the fifth wheel should be contacted by the trailer first, then the trailer should ride up onto the top surface. Measure the distance from the ground (or another level surface) to the trailer plate while your trailer is at the standard "hauling height" (the height of the trailer after it has been coupled to the tractor). This represents the height of your trailer plate. Take the height of the trailer plate and subtract the height of the tractor frame with the air bags full and unloaded. This is the height of the fifth wheel that you have available. The height of the fifth wheel is determined by measuring from the frame of the tractor to the top of the top plate of the fifth wheel (with the top plate level).

  • The maximum height of the trailer shall not be more than 13 feet and 6 inches.
  • When choosing the height of the fifth wheel, be sure to take into account the height of the tires as well. This is important because you do not want the trailer to strike the tires when it is completely loaded.

Give Adequate Space Between the Fifth Wheel Hitch and the Truck Bed

After identifying the correct height of the fifth wheel hitch in relation to the ground, the next step is to address the issue of whether or not there is sufficient clearance between the truck bed and the fifth wheel. This clearance is at least 6 inches up to 9 inches.

When measured from the underside of the overhang of the fifth wheel to the truck bed, the amount of clearance that exists between the truck bed and the fifth wheel can range anywhere from 6 inches to 9 inches.

The bed rails, which are commonly secured to the roof of the truck, make up the portion of the truck bed that is the highest in elevation. The overhang on the trailer should give us a good number if we measure the height of the sidewalls of the truck bed at this point, and then compare it to the underside of the overhang on the trailer. This is the measurement that we need to do.


Make Sure You Eliminate the Clearance Problems 

In spite of the fact that bridges are expected to be able to handle clearance of 14 feet, you are ultimately responsible for your rig and the locations in which you drive it. This indicates that you need to be aware of the height of your RV and that you should always interpret the clearance signals with some level of caution. Not only does the act of repaving roads have the potential to raise the height of the road (which in turn reduces the amount of clearance you have), but there are also instances in which bridges have heights that are unique or uncommon.

Once you considered every angle that might cause you a problem during you trip, now you are ready to explore every type of road!

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