Back a truck tows a fifth wheel on a highway | PowerStop

If you’re looking for the best brakes for towing a fifth wheel, you want to make the right decision. Selecting the right brakes for towing a fifth wheel is crucial to ensure control, stopping power, and peace of mind during your travels.

Below, we discuss factors to consider when choosing brakes for towing a fifth wheel and offer suggestions for which brakes may be best for you.

What Are the Best Brakes for Towing a Fifth Wheel?

Nothing is more important than safety when choosing brakes for towing a fifth wheel. Fifth wheels typically weigh between 12,000 to 20,000 pounds. If your vehicle isn’t up to the job of hauling–and stopping–such a heavy load, your safety, as well as the safety of those with whom you share the road, could be at risk.

With so many brake options available, it can be difficult to know which ones to trust. That’s why we’ve prepared this detailed guide: to help you understand what matters when choosing brakes for towing a fifth wheel. We’ll also explain why you can rely on PowerStop brakes for these big jobs.

Know Your Brake Pad Material

When picking brakes for pulling a fifth wheel, think about what your brake pads are made of. The material of your brake pads has a significant impact on how well they work. The main things to think about are how long they last and how well they grip. If you’re driving a vehicle that tows a fifth wheel, you may experience a variety of situations, like driving on muddy dirt roads or going on long trips on the highway. So, you need brake pads that can handle all these different conditions.

  • Ceramic Brake Pads: These are a good choice for towing fifth wheels because they are affordable and reliable. Ceramic brake pads last a long time and provide consistent braking power. They work well for regular towing and are a dependable option for most people.
  • Carbon Fiber Brake Pads: These brake pads are excellent for heavy-duty towing. They last a long time, provide strong braking power, and work particularly well when you’re towing something heavy like a fifth wheel.
  • NAO Brake Pads: These brake pads use organic materials like fibers, rubber, and resins, making them softer and quieter than pads with metal. They are gentle on your vehicle’s rotors.
  • Low Metallic Brake Pads: These pads have some metal, about 10 to 30 percent, along with organic materials. They offer a balance between metal and organic components.
  • Semi-Metallic Brake Pads: These brake pads contain more metal, about 30 to 65 percent, in the form of materials like wire, copper, or steel wool. They also have a substance that helps with friction.

Featuring an optimal carbon-ceramic blend, PowerStop’s Z36 Truck & Tow Carbon-Fiber Ceramic Brake Pads, are highly trusted for their performance and reliability. PowerStop brake pads come equipped with premium stainless steel hardware. They reduce noise and vibrations and can handle all weather conditions with precision. When you choose PowerStop, you get more than brake pads; you get peace of mind.

Consider Heat Dissipation

When you brake, it creates a lot of heat because of the rubbing between the brake pads and the rotors. Managing heat is important to avoid dangerous situations where brake fade can occur.

The PowerStop Z36 Truck & Tow Carbon-Fiber Ceramic Brake Pads are ideal for towing a fifth wheel. The carbon fiber ceramic brake pad formula produces severe-duty stopping power, allowing you to tow a fifth wheel or simply drive your daily commute with confidence.

How Much Do Fifth Wheels Weigh for Towing?

Fifth-wheel trailers come in a wide range of weights, from as light as 2,400 pounds to as heavy as 20,000 pounds. Most fifth wheels fall within the weight range of 7,000 to 20,000 pounds, with an average weight falling between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds. 

It’s crucial to understand that the weight of the fifth-wheel trailer is just one aspect to consider when planning for towing. You should also take into account the weight of any additional equipment or cargo you’re hauling, and the towing capacity of your vehicle. Going beyond your vehicle’s towing capacity can pose safety risks and lead to compromised handling and braking performance.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for both your vehicle and the fifth wheel. Consider having your towing setup inspected or installed by professionals to ensure safety during towing.

Let’s explore the various types of fifth wheels and examine specific weight examples.

Luxury Fifth Wheels

RV enthusiasts who value luxury and comfort will find these models ideal for a more upscale camping experience. They are perfect for those who live in their RVs full-time and desire high-quality construction and top-notch features.

These luxury models tend to be a bit heavier than mid-profiles, with weights ranging from 11,000 pounds at the lower end to nearly 20,000 pounds at the upper end. They also vary in length, spanning from 35 to 45 feet.

Luxury models offer a mobile home experience with the flexibility to customize the floor plan to your liking. You can expect a range of comforts, including advanced technology, meticulous craftsmanship, full-sized appliances, premium entertainment systems, spacious interiors with higher ceilings, laundry facilities, upgraded insulation, and generous master bedroom and bathroom spaces.

Mid-Profile Fifth Wheels

Mid-profile fifth-wheel trailers typically weigh between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds and measure 33 to 41 feet in length. Mid-profile fifth wheels often come equipped with additional features such as extra slide-out sections, refrigerators, upgraded furniture, spacious rooms, king-sized beds, and larger water tanks. These amenities can contribute to a longer length and greater weight compared to their lighter-weight counterparts.

Lightweight Fifth Wheels

Lightweight fifth-wheel trailers have become increasingly popular for several reasons. One major factor is the cost of diesel or gasoline for the towing vehicle. Saving on fuel expenses allows for more extensive travel or longer stays at preferred campsites, making it a practical choice. Lightweight models also offer quality and a variety of floor plans, appealing to those with children or retirees embarking on journeys. Several RV manufacturers produce lightweight fifth wheel trailers, with weights ranging from 7,000 to 9,500 pounds, and lengths of 21’ – 34’.

Hauling Recreational Vehicles with a Fifth Wheel

Many campers enjoy bringing along their recreational equipment for added enjoyment. If you’re one of them, there’s a specific type of fifth-wheel trailer designed for this purpose, known as a “toy hauler”. These trailers are unique because they come with a dedicated garage space for transporting your recreational “toys.” Toy haulers typically weigh between 10,000 and 16,500 pounds and have lengths ranging from 33 to 45 feet, which includes space for your equipment.

To make your outdoor adventures more exciting, you can bring along items such as motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs, golf carts, kayaks, canoes, bicycles, or even toys for children. Toy haulers feature a rear door that can be lowered, making it convenient to load and unload your equipment.

What Does 60/40 Load Weight Mean When Towing a Fifth Wheel?

When people talk about “60/40 load weight” in the context of towing a fifth wheel, they’re usually discussing how the weight is divided between the tow vehicle and the trailer. Specifically:

  • The “60” means 60% of the total weight is on the front axle of the tow vehicle.
  • The “40” means 40% of the total weight is on the rear axle of the trailer.

This weight distribution is crucial for keeping the towing stable and under control. Ideally, you want the weight to be balanced to avoid problems like swaying, difficulty steering, and uneven tire wear. The exact weight distribution can vary based on the type of trailer, the tow vehicle, and what the trailer or vehicle manufacturer recommends.

Properly splitting the weight between the front and rear axles ensures that both the tow vehicle and the trailer carry their share of the load, which improves safety and handling while towing. To tow safely and steadily, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations for your specific towing setup.

Get Ultimate Stopping Power with the PowerStop Z36 Truck & Tow Brake Upgrade Kit

If you need high-quality brakes for towing a fifth wheel, PowerStop has you covered. The PowerStop Z36 Truck & Tow Brake Upgrade Kit is uniquely designed to enhance braking performance for trucks, SUVs, and 4x4s that undergo strenuous tasks like mountain driving, hauling heavy loads, towing, and off-road adventures.

The kit includes carbon-fiber ceramic Z36 Truck & Tow brake pads, Drilled & Slotted rotors, stainless-steel hardware, and high-temperature brake lubricant to improve stopping power and handle the additional stress of towing a fifth wheel.

  • Carbon Fiber Ceramic Material: The carbon fiber used in the construction of PowerStop brake pads ensures premium braking performance and durability.
  • Premium Stainless Steel Hardware Kit: The hardware components included in the kit are high quality, ensuring reliability and longevity.
  • Drilled & Slotted Rotors: The drilled, slotted, and zinc-plated rotors
    provide maximum cooling and help protect against rust and corrosion.
  • Stopping Power for Any Situation: PowerStop’s Z36 Truck & Tow Carbon-Fiber Ceramic Brake Pads are designed to excel in all weather conditions, making them a reliable choice for vehicles that tow travel trailers.

The kit is bolt-on ready, so no vehicle modifications are required. It also comes with a guarantee, including a 60-day hassle-free return policy and a 36-month/36,000-mile warranty. 

PowerStop brakes are engineered to perform under demanding conditions. Our passion for excellence ensures maximum braking performance to keep you and your cargo safe on the road.

Have a Question? PowerStop Can Help

PowerStop is dedicated to delivering top-quality performance brakes for every vehicle on the road. If you have a question about any of our products, contact us today online at [email protected] or toll-free at (888) 863-4415. Our customer service team is available to answer your questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CST). Se habla español.


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