If you have any questions that are not covered here, please contact Winjana RV direct – we are happy to answer specific questions.
5th Wheeler Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need a special driver’s licence in Australia?
A: No you don’t. The passenger Class ‘C’ vehicle licence permits you to drive a motor vehicle up to 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM), with or without a trailer weighing 9.0 tonnes GVM or less. These regulations are unified across all States of Australia. For more details check with your official State Motor Vehicle Licence Authority. For example, click here for Qld’s licence codes.
Q: How do I calculate the towing load?
A: It is important that the total weight of the tow vehicle, together with the load (passengers, luggage, tray load), the hitch, and the fully loaded RV (fifth wheeler) does not exceed the manufacturers recommended gross combined mass (GCM) of the vehicle. And, the combined weight of the occupants, tray load and hitch must not exceed the manufacturers recommended payload of the vehicle. Fifth wheelers do not have any ball weight restrictions.
Q: How do I position the hitch correctly?
A: The hitch is recommended to be positioned so that the centre of the pin is 50mm in front of the centre between the two rear wheels of the tow vehicle. This position will mean some of the weight of the 5th wheeler will be transferred to the front wheels/axle, which creates better load and towing conditions. The hitch can be positioned further back, but this is not the optimum position for handling conditions. Winjana RV recommend using a “slide hitch” which means you can keep the weight forward while driving, and slide the hitch back (to give more space between the vehicle and the RV) to make manoeuvring easier. Once again, check with your RV manufacturer if you have any questions.
Q: What are the advantages of a 5th wheeler over conventional caravans?
A: Extra safety through increased stability and towing ease – the number one advantage and benefit of a 5th wheel RV. Safety is increased because the weight is positioned correctly between the front and rear axles, and this means safer towing without swaying.No need for stabilisers and weight distribution bars because the 5th wheel coupling and weight distribution is already adequate due to the RV sitting closer to the rear of the tow vehicle, which helps with the weight ratio spread between the tow vehicle and the RV itself.Easier to set up on-site: just wind down the 2 front jacks; hitching and unhitching is easier and quicker, and can be done by one person with little effort.
Improved aerodynamics and reduced drag as the RV sits closer to the rear of the tow vehicle and therefore there is less ‘gap’ to cause drag – this also means increased fuel efficiency in comparison to conventional vans.A shorter towing length and overall combination length compared to conventional vans of the same size. This is because approx 1.5m of the RV sits up over the rear of the tow vehicle, so the total length is about 3m shorter than a comparable conventional van.The shorter length makes towing and manoeuvring easier. It also makes parking easier especially with smaller parking sites.
Less pitching and swaying, and therefore increased safety, because 20% (conventional vans are only about 10%) of the weight of the RV is distributed directly above or in front of the rear axle of the tow vehicle – increasing traction, handling and stability.Hitching is easier and quicker – due to a couple of reasons: a turntable hitch that is easy and quick to use (easier than a conventional ball and socket), hitching and unhitching can be done by one person (in approx 2mins) with little effort required, and can easily be seen through the rear window. To hitch: Just raise the RV to approx the correct height, and drive the tow vehicle under the pin.
The same in reverse to unhitch.Easier to manoeuvre – a 5th wheel hitch means you can do turns up to 90 degrees (a sharper turning circle than for conventional vans), and you can easily see what you’re doing through the rear window.The RV can easily be detached and left at the camping site, so you can explore without it – with the added benefit that thieves are less likely to steal a 5th wheeler as they would need a ute with a hitch installed to remove it.
Q: What hitch can be used?
A: To ensure the hitch you have is legal, it must comply with the Vehicle Standard ADR (Australian Design Rule) 62/01 (2006) and ADR 62/02 (2007) for Mechanical Connections Between Vehicles of the Motor Vehicles Standards Act 1989. These connections must be fitted by qualified persons or businesses to comply with the legal regulations. Check with your RV manufacturer about suitable hitches, they can usually give you guidance, or arrange to fit the correct hitch for you. Winjana RVs are fitted with a SAE standard 2inch pin; a hitch to suit this pin must be used. All Winjana RV hitches are fully ADR compliant.
Q: What is a 5th wheeler? What does 5th wheel mean?
A: The name ‘fifth wheel’ comes from the fact that the hitch/turntable, where the RV attaches to the towing vehicle, looks like a wheel , and the RVs generally have 4 wheels, so the turntable is the “fifth wheel’ . The RV has an extension on the front of the van which extends over the back of the tow vehicle (commonly a Ute, pick-up truck, or light commercial in Australia), and sits on a horizontal wheel-looking plate on the tray back. The 5th wheel usually sits in the centre of the tray back directly over the rear axles – this provides the support for the RV. To attach the 5thwheel, the fifth wheelers are fitted with a hitch (also called a gooseneck hitch).
The 5th wheel attachment on the towing vehicle tray back is a removable component.5th wheeler RVs are growing in popularity in Australia, as their safety benefits and other advantages are recognised by a growing ‘safety conscious’ market. The 5th wheel has been around a long time, in fact, the principle of the “5th wheel” has actually been around for centuries. In modern times, the benefits and stability of the ‘5th wheel’ led manufacturers of RVs in the USA to start using the 5th wheel hitch principle on caravans in the 1960s, and now they are a very common and popular RV sold in North America today. Semi-trailers which have a similar 5th wheel principle have been using them for about 100 years – so the concept is not new – it is just new to the RV market in Australia, where it started about 10-15 years ago. Winjana RV (previously sold under the name of Venture Van caravans) have specialised in manufacturing 5th wheel RVs now for 10 years.
Q: What tow vehicles can be used with a 5th wheeler?
A: There are numerous tow vehicles readily available in Australia that suit 5th wheelers, and these generally all suit Winjana RVs. Following is a list of some of the common ones, however, for more information see our ‘Tow Vehicles’ page on this website, or contact the vehicle manufacturer direct. The key thing is to ensure that the tow vehicle you purchase is legally suitable to tow your 5th wheel RV – including allowing for all occupants and luggage. Generally, the weight of the 5th wheeler carried by the tow vehicle is between 310-400kg, which is easily carried by most tow vehicles in Australia.
List of common tow vehicles available in Australia:
Holden Colorado; Great Wall V240; Isuzu D Max; Toyota Hilux and Toyota Landcruiser; Nissan Navara D40, D22, and Nissan Patrol; Ford Falcon 1 tonne Auto, Ford Ranger and Ford Transit; Mazda BT50; Mitsubishi Triton.
For more detailed information about the tow vehicle and specifications please talk to Winjana RV or contact the vehicle manufacturer to ensure you have current specifications prior to purchasing your tow vehicle.For more detail see our Tow Vehicles page.
Q: Why is a 5th wheeler easier to tow?
A: Towing is made easier because the 5th wheel hitch arrangement places the RV caravan load in the centre of the tow vehicle instead of behind it. This means that there is much more stability towing the RV than a normal caravan, and because the RV sits up closer to the back of the towing vehicle there is a shorter towing length, and more ‘living space’ inside the RV. Winjana RV specialises in small 5th wheelers, so these are even easier to tow then longer ones, and more tow vehicles are available to suit small 5th wheelers.
Q: Are Winjana RV hitches ADR compliant?
A: Yes, all Winjana RV hitches used are ADR compliant. Recent local tests conducted in Australia confirm that the Hijacker (Demco RV) fifth wheel hitches are ADR compliant. Local testing for Australian Design Rule (ADR) compliance of Hijacker (Demco RV) fifth wheel hitches, confirms that these hitches are compliant. Testing was completed in 2014 and all three models submitted for testing are now compliant with ADR 62/02. Double-pivot and flat-bed models are compliant to a load of 3.5 tonnes and the single-pivot model to a load of 3.0 tonnes. Owners of these hitches purchased from Winjana RV can obtain new compliance plates for attachment to their hitches. If you require further information about fifth wheel hitches, please contact us direct..
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