What Is Pin Weight On A Fifth Wheel?

Looking to buy a tongue jack for your fifth wheeler? You need to know what is pin weight on a fifth wheel to get the best-suited one. But the term has many confusing meanings. We demystify pin weight and related terms in the article below

You cannot measure the pin weight on a fifth wheel just by looking at it or assuming the weight. For some trailers, it is about 20% of the total weight of your trailer, but it varies widely across various models of the trailers and trucks. 

Before measuring the pin weight on a fifth wheel, you need to get accustomed to a few terms such as PinWeight, dry weight, cargo weight, gross weight, etc. After that, we can jump into calculations and ways to increase towing capacity. 


What Is Pin Weight On A Fifth Wheel


Pin Weight vs Tongue Weight

Pin weight has other names such as tongue weight, kingpin weight, and hitch weight. Pin weight and tongue weight are often used as synonyms, but you need to understand the fundamental difference. 

Pin Weight is the measure of the amount of pressure exerted by the trailer’s body on the kingpin, which further applies this pressure on the hitch to press the ball down. 

Tongue weight is often used to refer to the weight of the trailer coupler or the pressure it applies on the backside of the body of the trailer. 

Tongue weight considers the weight of the coupler, which is also called the tongue of the fifth wheel (hence the name). On the other hand, pin weight considers the weight of the kingpin of the fifth wheel. 

How Much is The Pin Weight?

In most trailers, the Pin weight is 20% of the GTW (Gross trailer weight). The weight of the pinwheel should not exceed the range of 15%-25% of the total gross weight of the trailer.

To understand the concept of Gross weight and pin weight, you need to know a few more terms such as Dry weight, Cargo weight, Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, or GVWR, etc.   


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Understanding Trailer Weights and How They Relate To Pin Weight

You must relate to hundreds of trailer owners on the internet trying to find the meaning of the words and abbreviations they see in the trailer manual. 

You can easily get overwhelmed with so many terms that you need to know to find a simple thing about your trailer, such as “How much does your pin of the fifth wheel weigh?”, “How much weight can you tow?” etc. 

Here is a simple guide to answer your questions and give meaning to your trailer manual. 

Dry Weight

You cannot measure the dry weight of your trailer or any other automobile once it gets out of the factory. Dry weight is usually measured before adding any equipment other than the standard one, without which the car would not function. 

Standard equipment of an automobile mainly constitutes the engine, the outer covering. Any optional part such as speakers is not included in the standard equipment. Dry weight is measured without cargo, fuel, batteries, or additional equipment. 


What Is Pin Weight On A Fifth Wheel


Cargo Weight

Dry weight could be referred to as the complete opposite of dry weight. Cargo weight considers the weight of various components, including loaded cargo, standard equipment, additional equipment, etc. 

It also includes the weight of the kingpin or tongue of your trailer. You need to measure cargo weight to find out the safe range of weight as cargo that you can load in your RV.

Gross Vehicle Weight

The GVW is the total weight of your trailer, including cargo, all necessary and additional equipment, fluids such as fuel, steering fluid, batteries, etc. The GVW is needed to follow the instructions and road laws laid by the government. 

The value of GVW can be estimated by the manufacturers’ data given in the RV manual. If you own a second-hand trailer, you would need to rely on your dealer for sharing this information.


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Gross Trailer Weight

Gross Trailer Weight or GTW is similar to Gross Vehicle Weight or GVW in terms of parts of the trailer that are considered for calculating the weights. 

The GTW considers the weight of all axles, front and back which is called GAW or Gross Axle Weight. It also includes weights of your trailer’s coupler, all the jacks, and a kingpin.

In simple words, GTW is the measure of the pressure that the trailer puts on the hitch while towing the vehicle. 

Unloaded Vehicle Weight

Unloaded vehicle weight or the UVW is the factory weight of your trailer or any other vehicle. In simple words, it is the weight of your vehicle once the manufacturer completes it. It includes all the weight of the exterior and interior equipment. 

If you have any cargo, propane, water, or any additional equipment that you might need to upgrade the vehicle, the UVW will not include their weight. You should note that UVW also considers the weight of the fuel tank filled with fuel.

The parameters of calculating UVW are unclear, so different manufacturers and dealers use different methods for it. When buying a trailer, be sure to ask how they define UVW and what part they consider for calculating it. 


What Is Pin Weight On A Fifth Wheel


Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or GVWR is also called Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight. Your trailer’s total weight at maximum loading must not cross the GVWR.

Gross Axle Weight Rating

Gross Axle weight rating is divided into RGAWR or FGAWR for rear and front axles. GAWR is the highest weight allowed for a trailer axle. 


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How Can You Calculate And Increase The Payload Capacity Of Your Truck?

What Is Payload Capacity?

A trailer or a truck’s payload capacity is defined as the maximum amount of cargo weight added to its curb weight that You could haul into the trailer safely. The maximum load should take considering all safety measures can be measured through payload capacity. 

The owner’s manual or the prospectus gave by your dealer must contain information about the payload capacity and towing capacity. 

How To Calculate Payload Capacity Of Your Trailer?

Here’s a guide to calculating the payload capacity of your trailer.

We already know dry weight and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). To find out the amount of cargo you can haul into the car or the maximum weight of the fifth wheel that you can attach to your trailer, subtract the dry weight from GVWR. 

Consider your trailer’s GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is 10,000lbs, and you find that the dry weight of your trailer is 4000lbs from your owner’s manual or the car dealer. Now you can calculate the maximum weight of the load that you can haul into your trailer by subtracting 400lbs from 10,000lbs, which gives you 6000lbs. 


What Is Pin Weight On A Fifth Wheel


Please note that with 6000lbs, you need to consider the weight of the passengers and their cargo. After subtracting the total weight of the passengers and their cargo, you can get the answer to how much weight you can safely load in your trailer. In the calculated weight, you can also include the weight of the fifth wheel.

How To Increase Payload Capacity Of Your Trailer?

The payload capacity of your trailer depends on the tires. The standard tires used for trucks and trailers are made to carry the maximum load of 3000lbs. If you change your tires to higher variants that could sustain the pressure of, say, 4000lbs, the payload capacity of your trailer will be increased by a thousand. 


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How To Determine The Best Trailer To Pull The Fifth Wheel?

For determining the best trailer to pull on the fifth wheel, you need to check various factors such as:

  • Both the payload capacity and the towing capacity must be high. Some trailers have high towing capacity but fail to sustain the pressure of standard fifth- wheels.
  • Your trailers’ tires and gear ratio play a significant role in determining their payload capacity. The more the ratio, the more is your trailer’s towing capacity. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you calculate pin weight on a fifth wheel?

The pin weight on a fifth wheel is the pressure the kingpin applies on the fifth wheel. You can calculate pin weight on a fifth wheel by calculating the Gross Trailer Weight or GTW. GTW includes the total weight of your trailer, including axle, cargo, jacks, all standard equipment, etc. Pin weight for most of the trailers lies between 15% to 25% of the Gross Trailer Weight.

Its hitch weight the same as pin weight?

Hitch Weight and Pin weight are often used as synonyms in the automobile industry. It is the weight that the trailer puts on the hitch while towing, and it is essential for calculating the towing capacity of your trailer. 


What Is Pin Weight On A Fifth Wheel


What is the pin weight capacity?

Pin weight capacity can be defined as the maximum load or pressure your hitch can handle while towing. If your trailer applies pressure that exceeds the maximum pin weight capacity on the hitch, hauling the fifth wheel on your trailer would not be possible.

How do I calculate my pin weight?

You can calculate your trailer’s pin weight by first calculating your trailer’s gross weight or GTW. You can also find the information in your trailer’s manual. For standard trailers, the trailer’s pin weight is 15%-25% of the gross trailer weight or GTW of your vehicle. 


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A Few Final Words

You can haul a fifth-wheel trailer for traveling and camping. But make sure that the total weight of the fifth wheel, fuel, cargo, and passengers do not cross the limit of Gross Combined Weight Rating or GCWR.

Thank you for reading the article, we hope we have been able to answer all your questions regarding trailer weights, pin weight and tongue weight. If you still have doubts, please do not hesitate to write a comment and we will revert back to you.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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