Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gooseneck towing

Lets talk about gooseneck towing...  Something I do a couple times a week, every week, and have for years.  Thats my rig pictured above.  There are definite advantages to gooseneck trailers but also drawbacks and equipment requirements that need to be considered.  And while I don't claim to be the worlds foremost expert on this topic, I do have lots of first hand experience as a gooseneck user and I have sold hitches for years my truck accessory store.  I'll be glad to share some of what I know with you.

Here are a few of the key advantages of using a gooseneck trailer as opposed to a bumper pull or receiver hitch pull:  1) gooseneck trailers pivot closer to the center of the vehicle so the turning radius is tighter giving you more maneuverability.  In fact depending on the truck being used, many rigs can turn the trailer beyond 90 degrees... something you definitely can not do with a bumper pull  2) gooseneck trailers distribute the weight of the load more evenly for greater stability, especially for heavy loads.  Thus they don't tend to sway or fishtail like a bumper pull trailer can do  3) goosenecks can be designed to carry much heavier loads, with many gooseneck hitches having up to a 30,000 lb. towing capacity.  That why you often see them used for towing heavy equipment, multiple cars, and livestock.  And the extra space over the tailgate area and hitch can be used for other purposes such as living quarters.

With all that being said, there are also disadvantages as well.  These include:  1) you have to climb in the truck bed to hook up the hitch and safety chains  2) this is not a versatile trailer that can be pulled by pretty much any vehicle with a bumper or receiver hitch.  You have to have a truck equipped with a gooseneck hitch that has the capacity to pull the rated weight  3) because gooseneck trailers are generally bigger and heavier, they are also generally more expensive and the towing truck has to be outfitted with a generally more expensive hitch.  3) some types of truck bed covers cannot be used with a gooseneck hitch  4) if the truck and loaded trailer exceed 10,000 lbs, it may be classified as a commercial vehicle.

One of the biggest considerations in thinking about towing a gooseneck hitch is "Can my truck pull that trailer".  Towing capacity and safety are two important considerations.  An easy way to get a quick idea of how much your truck can pull is to look up the truck models specs in the owners manual or online.  Find the Gross Combined Weight Rating GCWR which is the maximum allowable weight of the combined truck and trailer.  Then find the Gross Vehicle Weight GVW which is the weight of the truck.  Now subtract the trucks weight from the combined weight and you will have a good idea of how heavy a loaded trailer you can tow.  Note I said "loaded trailer".  My trailer in the picture weighs 5500 lbs. empty... but put in 75 gallons of water, 3 horses, and all my gear, and it gets up close to 10,000 lbs. pretty quickly.  Again using my truck for an example the GCWR combined weight rating is 23,000 lb. and my truck weight is 6750 lbs. giving me approximately 16250 lbs. loaded trailer capacity.  So my loaded 10,000 lb trailer is safely within the capacity of my truck.  Briefly, other safety considerations are the towing capacity of the hitch you are installing, correct wiring installed to operate the trailer lights and braking system, and familiarizing yourself with the operating capabilities and feel of the combined rig before you hit the open road. 

Gooseneck hitches come in a variety of styles.  The most basic is a flat plate with the hitch ball with bracing under the bed welded to the frame.  Fold down balls are also common with a flat plate and the ball folds down under a door when not in use.  There are gooseneck hitches that fit into 5th wheel rails if you need to tow both 5th wheel and gooseneck trailers.  Probably the most popular type of gooseneck hitches on the market today, are removable ball or turnover ball goosenecks.  This type of hitch allows you to remove the hitch ball when you need your truck bed for other things , usually by pulling a handle in the rear wheel well of the truck and lifting the ball out.  All you see on top of your bed is the trailer ball and safety chain hooks, everything else is on the underside of the bed.  With any of these hitches, the important consideration again is the rated towing capacity in relation to what your are planning to tow.

Lastly, lets talk about hooking up the trailer to the truck.  The gooseneck coupler has a latching mechanism, usually a handle, that needs to be put in the latched position to avoid the coupler opening while driving.  Hook up the safety chains!  They are an integral part of gooseneck hitch design and need to be used every time you tow.  Plug in the wiring plug.  You can plug it into the plug on the bumper but because of the inherent risk of the wire being caught on something or hanging up on extreme turns, many people have an additional plug installed in the bed of the truck so the wiring stays contained within the truck bed.  Alignment while backing takes some practice.  Aids to do this are cameras which nowadays aren't really expensive or magnetic rods that stick on the bed as indicators among others.  I have a friend who has a string stretched across his be so he knows where to stop.  I personally always pickup a small rock or something and put it dead center at the back of my bed to help me line the hitch up on the center of the bed.  There are lots of tricks but with a little practice you,ll pick it up quickly.  Hope some of this helps... Now get out there and have some fun or get some work done!


  1. You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.
    Drop Deck Trailers for sale

  2. Good points you stated there. Gooseneck towing is a lot more comfortable than fifth wheel and frame mount , especially if it's private. If it's your own, why would you prefer something that is more difficult to drive and harder to maneuver when you can do it easier?

    Odessa Coldiron

  3. Good post about gooseneck towing. Actually, I also love towing with a gooseneck trailer because it has a great potential to haul items both big and small and to last for a very long time.

    Heavy Hauling

  4. My husband used fifth wheel towing for many years. It was really great and we had a lot of nice trips until a friend advised us to try a gooseneck hitch. We were so amused of how easy driving became. We thought he had the best hitch for years then suddenly, this simpler one did a lot better for us.

    Delena Millener