Putting a lift kit in your truck is a bold move that lets you dominate the road.
Though there are a few functional concerns that come about when you want to use that same lifted truck to tow a travel trailer or a fifth wheel.
With a lot of questions towering over this topic, it seemed like high time to hitch up on the technical details of how to tow an RV trailer with a lifted truck.
Is It Possible to Tow an RV with a Lifted Truck?
Yes, you can tow an RV with a lifted truck If the lift to the truck’s suspension is minor the changes are largely cosmetic, and the truck still has all of the necessary equipment available to tow an RV like a large travel trailer or a fifth-wheel.
With most of these, you are simply lifting the body, while leaving the suspension and wheels at the original height. A scenario like this does not affect the lifted truck’s ability to tow.
In a more extreme lift of more than say 2 to 4 inches, or a lift that dramatically alters the truck’s rear suspension system, the relationship between the towing components and the trailer start to change. This is one of those times where the devil truly is in the details.
It’s important to note that anytime you modify the suspension, other systems such as steering, braking, aerodynamics, and stability will also be altered to some degree.
With an extreme lift of 6 to 8 inches or more, the safety of the vehicle and the passengers can be compromised when under load.
Any time you modify the geometry or profile of a factory-spec suspension system, you also end up changing many other factors associated with towing. Not the least of which is the location of the hitch.
If your trailer’s tongue no longer lines up properly with the hitch on the truck, you are going to have a stability problem.
You also need to account for the way the lifted truck’s suspension system will be softer. This will cause it to squat more when under load.
This can have the net effect of making the front end sit higher than normal. This can further cause the front tires to lose traction, which will affect the response of the steering.
Can You Tow A Fifth Wheel or Toy Hauler with A Lifted Truck?
You can tow a 5th wheel trailer with a lifted truck. Though you absolutely need to get the trailer as close to level as possible.
This might mean making some adjustments to your truck’s cargo box in order to accommodate a higher 6 to 8-inch lift clearance that a lot of fifth wheels need to be safely towed.
Sometimes this can be as simple as removing the tailgate of your pickup truck or perhaps using a different low-profile hitch installed in the box to compensate for variances in height.
Problems You May Run Into When Towing With a Lifted Truck
The biggest problems that come with using a lifted truck as your tow vehicle are related to safety and roadworthiness. some safety issues that may make it something you should avoid.
Instability When Towing with a Lifted Truck
Instability is a serious concern when towing with a lifted truck. Any time that your trailer isn’t stable, you will have control and handling issues.
These problems will only get worse at highway speeds and can lead to disastrous problems on loose surfaces with a steep grade or pitch.
Cargo Box Deformation
If the lift of other modifications affects the structure supporting your truck’s cargo box, it can cause the box to sag, shift, or otherwise deform.
This can affect handling with bumper pulling and can cause severe damage and instability if you need to tow a fifth-wheel trailer.
You will likely find changes in your braking system after lifting your truck, which is minor and not something you’ll notice too much when you aren’t under load.
Yet when you tow with a lifted truck the braking performance will be more noticeable.
You will need to allow for a greater minimum braking distance. Especially when you are pulling a heavy trailer.
How To Make Towing With a Lifted Truck Safer
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to can improve the safety and performance when towing with a lifted truck.
This starts with some relatively commonsense precautionary measures.
Improving Stability with a Drop Hitch
A simple drop hitch essentially lowers the ball joint to a more manageable height for towing.
Best of all a drop hitch is fairly easy to install and makes it easier for the hitch on your lifted truck to line up properly with the tongue on your trailer.
Just bear in mind that a drop hitch does absolutely nothing to address the “Squat” effect created by a lifted truck’s soft suspension system.
Tips for Preventing Sagging & Squatting Under Load
Preventing the rear end of your truck from squatting or sagging under the extra weight applied by your trailer, can often be addressed by adding a suspension helper spring.
There are several of these special springs on the market. You can usually find a leaf, air, or rubber version to match your truck’s modified suspension system best.
If you aren’t sure which one is best, the strongest and most reliable type tends to be rubber springs.
Most of these installs also require adding a pair of spacers along with the necessary hardware.
You might need to use different spacers of 1 or .5-inches to mix and match the components until you get the ideal ride height.
Can You Pull a Fifth Wheel With a 4-Inch Lift?
You can tow a fifth-wheel trailer with a truck that has a modest four-inch lift.
Though there are a few things you need to do to make sure the tongue and the hitch connect properly, without affecting stability, handling, and towing performance.
This starts with lowering the hitch to the lowest setting possible. The underlying goal is to get the trailer to ride as close to level as possible.
Though this still might only get you around 3 inches of clearance, which is not enough considering that most fifth-wheel trailers need at least.4 inches of clearance to be properly stable.
You might not notice the effects of this clearance variance when you are driving at speed down a smooth highway.
However, it will really be noticeable when reversing or driving down rough, uneven roads with a 4-inch lifted truck.
Another adjustment you have to make is to accept the damage that will be done to your truck’s bed walls and tailgate.
If you want a perfect paint job, then using a lift truck to tow a 5th wheel is not a very good idea.
Can You Pull a Fifth Wheel With a 6-Inch Lift?
When you really dig into the details, it’s not advisable to try to tow a fifth-wheel trailer with a truck that has a six-inch lift.
The problem with towing a 5th wheel trailer with a 6-inch lift installed is that the additional height essentially robs you of the clearance required to tow a 5th wheel properly.
This will affect the handling and maneuverability of the trailer, even if you can manage to pull it straight forward at speed.
To be able to safely tow a fifth-wheel in a truck with a six-inch lift, your only feasible option is to lift your trailer 6 inches.
Unfortunately, this solution isn’t safe and can easily lead to a dangerous level of sway. Especially in a heavy trailer or one that is fully loaded to near the payload capacity.
At the same time, the soft springs used in most six-inch lifts are often too soft to handle the heavy load of a fifth-wheel trailer’s tongue.
The lift springs used for a six-inch lift are designed to provide a soft, smooth ride, and typically aren’t rated for the trailer weight load.
Towing a Camper With a 6-Inch Lift
A lot of modern pickup trucks can tow between 5,000 to 20,000 pounds, which means you likely won’t have to worry about how the lift affects the maximum towing capacity when you want to pull a modest-sized travel trailer.
Though a standard hitch isn’t going to work for a truck with a 6-inch lift.
Here again, compensating for this variance starts with using a drop hitch to help keep the trailer level.
Most are rated for at least 36,000 pounds, which is more than enough to handle most of the travel trailers and campers you find on the road today.
There are even drop hitches that are designed to go six or more inches down.
This gives you the ability to properly level the relationship between the trailer’s tongue and your truck’s hitch.
Can You Pull a Gooseneck Trailer with a Lifted Truck?
Here again, you run into the same problems you would trying to tow a 5th wheel trailer with a lifted truck.
You will have stability and handling issues as well as challenges with clearance.
You also need to note that the springs might not be fully rated to handle the weight of the trailer which can stress and damage multiple structural and suspension system components.
So, even if you can manage to adjust for the clearance issues, the stability and handling can exceed what is roadworthy in the real world.
Can You Put A Truck Camper on Your Lifted Truck?
The biggest challenge faced by trying to put a truck camper on a lifted truck comes from the soft suspension system that comes with most lifts. Especially lift kits of 6-inches or more.
When you put the weight of a large truck camper into the cargo box, it can cause a severe amount of sag in the back of the truck.
At the same time, it starts to lift the front tires, which can affect steering, handling, and traction, which worsen with loose surfaces or when driving up inclines.
Then when you get to your location, the jack stands for the truck camper likely won’t extend all the way down to find purchase on the ground.
This makes it exceedingly dangerous to occupy, as the entire soft suspension system will become increasingly top-heavy with the weight of you and your family members.
The only way to risk it with this sort of setup is to build footing stands that are at least six inches high.
Then you can position these footings directly under the hydraulic jacks of the truck camper.
This will give them the purchase they need to support you. However, you are still looking at a top-heavy rig that can still be prone to tipping over.
Especially if your improvised footings can’t 100% take the weight and even one of them kicks out on you in the middle of the night.
Ultimately, the safety risks are too high to put a truck camper in a truck that has been lifted by 4 or more inches.