So you need to upgrade your old bumper haul trailer and you’re thinking of perhaps changing over to a gooseneck or fifth-wheel style. Although your buddies have offered a variety of opinions, you’re still not certain which style of the three best suits your needs.
The editors of Diesel Tech Magazine recently posed 10 questions to Sarah Barone, marketing and communications specialist at Curt MFG. She utilized the years of experience within the company to provide insight to our questions.
DT: What are the advantages of a gooseneck trailer vs. a bumper haul?
Curt MFG: Gooseneck hitches are rated for much higher weight capacities, typically up to 30,000 lbs. gross trailer weight. This is necessary if you’re towing a large livestock trailer or flatbed trailer with heavy-duty equipment and materials.
Rear-mount receiver hitches or bumper hitches, on the other hand, are much more versatile. The receiver can accept multiple towing accessories such as a traditional ball mount and trailer ball, a pintle hook, a tow hook, an adjustable ball mount, a cargo carrier and much more.
DT: Which one is easier to pull? To turn? To back up? To attach?
Curt MFG: Attaching and pulling with a receiver hitch is easier than with a gooseneck hitch. The receiver style requires less precision when coupling the trailer to the vehicle, and because they are designed for lighter loads, compared to gooseneck hitches, bumper hitches are easier to tow with.
However, for turning and backing up, gooseneck hitches have the advantage. The pivot point for a gooseneck hitch is much closer to the center of the vehicle. This means it has a smaller turn radius for tighter turns, and it allows for better control over the trailer when backing up.
DT: What are the differences among a gooseneck hitching system, a fifth-wheel hitching system and a bumper pull hitching system?
Curt MFG: It all depends on what you’re towing and what you’re towing it with. Like a fifth wheel hitch, a gooseneck hitch mounts into the bed of a pickup truck and usually places the trailer's tongue weight slightly forward of a vehicle's rear axle.
Gooseneck hitches are designed to be less intrusive than fifth wheels, allowing full access to the truck bed when the trailer is not hooked up. Typical applications for a gooseneck hitch include horse or livestock trailers, car haulers, large flatbeds and other commercial or industrial trailers. Gooseneck hitches are commonly rated to tow up to 30,000 lbs. gross trailer weight.
A fifth wheel hitch is a heavy-duty hitch that mounts into the bed of a pickup truck, usually over or just forward of the rear axle. Fifth wheel hitches are similar in design to those used by commercial tractor-trailer rigs. They typically range in capacity from 16,000 up to 25,000 lbs., depending on the design of the hitch, and they are commonly used for towing large campers, travel trailers and car haulers.
The most common type of trailer hitch is the receiver hitch or bumper hitch. A receiver hitch is designed to mount onto the tow vehicle's frame and provide a receptacle or tube opening to accept the shank of a ball mount or other insert.
Most receiver hitches are made to be vehicle-specific, meaning each one is uniquely designed to fit a different vehicle make and model. Receiver hitches are generally divided into five classes, based on their receiver tube size and weight capacity range.
DT: Does installing a gooseneck pull hitch alter the usefulness of a truck bed? What is the advantage of a turnover ball?
Curt MFG: In most cases, a gooseneck hitch is actually designed to make the truck bed more functional. Goosenecks with a fixed ball may impede use. However, there are many options out there, such as the Curt Double Lock EZr, that provides the functionality of gooseneck towing while still maintaining the usefulness of the truck bed.
Folding and flipping are two popular methods to hide the ball when not towing. With the ball flipped over, it eliminates any obstructions in the truck bed, opening it up for hauling other cargo.
DT: How do you level your trailer with your tow vehicle?
Curt MFG: For gooseneck trailers, the coupler on the trailer is adjustable to match the height of your vehicle. For 5th wheel trailers, the 5th wheel hitch in the truck is adjustable. For rear-mount receiver hitches, the trailer is leveled by choosing a ball mount with the correct rise or drop.
DT: How intensive is the work to install a gooseneck hitching system? Is there drilling/cutting involved in the frame of the truck?
Curt MFG: Installing a gooseneck hitch is typically more intensive. It generally requires cutting of the truck bed and undercarriage. There are some gooseneck hitches, however, such as the Curt Double Lock EZr and OEM-style goosenecks, that are uniquely designed for easy installation, removing steps such as welding, bed removal and sheet metal cutting, even making the install so easy as to only require one person to complete.
DT: What is the difference in cost between the two systems?
Curt MFG: Rear-mount hitches are more cost effective.
DT: How do you route the wiring for a gooseneck hitching system?
Curt MFG: The primary method is to route a seven-way plug in the bed of the truck for hassle-free hookup. Curt offers multiple solutions that simply plug between the OEM wiring harness and factory-installed seven-way connector.
DT: Does gooseneck wiring affect your truck’s bumper haul wiring?
Curt MFG: No. If a solution above is used this will retain the use of the rear bumper plug.
DT: Should a “do-it-yourselfer” install his own gooseneck hitch?
Curt MFG: It’s not impossible for a skilled DIYer to install a gooseneck hitch. However, these hitches haul tremendously heavy loads and proper installation is critical for the safety of you, your cargo and those around you.
Curt MFG always recommends getting your hitch installed by a professional to ensure a proper installation.