Article

Tech Tip: Seasonal Preventive Maintenance for Fifth Wheels

February 2014, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive

by SAF-Holland

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Seasonal preventive maintenance on your fifth wheel is important to get the most life out of your components and ensure it keeps working properly to keep tractor and trailer connected.

SAF-Holland recommends the following intervals for cleaning, inspecting and lubricating your fifth wheel. However, since every fifth wheel manufacturer uses different locking systems, it is important to refer to your fifth wheel manufacturer’s user manual for specifics.

Proper Fifth Wheel PM

Routine periodic maintenance and lubrication are a necessary part of your fifth wheel’s service life. To get the maximum service life, perform the steps below at the intervals shown:

  1. Lubricate the locking mechanism every 3 months or 30,000 miles.
  2. Thoroughly clean the locking mechanism every 6 months or 60,000 miles. Clean all moving components. A spray WD-40 or CRC is recommended.

IMPORTANT: If your fifth wheel operates in snowy or icy winter conditions, lubrication should be performed every spring in addition to routine lubrication (as noted above) to ensure optimum operation.

Proper Lubrication

  1. Remove old grease and debris from all fifth wheel-to-trailer contact surfaces.
  2. Apply new water-resistant lithium-based grease to all fifth wheel-to-trailer contact surfaces.
  3. There are differences in lubrication needs and intervals depending on whether you have a standard, greased fifth wheel or a NoLube version.

IMPORTANT: Lubricate fifth wheel locking mechanism according to instructions in your fifth wheel manufacturer’s User Manual.

Proper Inspection

  1. Inspect for bent, broken or missing parts every 6 months or 60,000 miles. Replace as necessary (use only your manufacturer’s parts).
  2. Check the operation by locking and unlocking using a lock tester. Verify that the fifth wheel is completely closed, per your fifth wheel manufacturer’s user manual instructions.

WARNING: Failure to properly install, operate, or maintain your fifth wheel could result in tractor and trailer separation causing death or serious injury to others.

As-Needed Lubrication

  1. Maintain lubrication on fifth wheel-to-trailer contact surfaces, using water-resistant lithium-based grease.
  2. Clean and lubricate locking mechanism if operational difficulties arise during the service life of your fifth wheel (i.e., problems with coupling, uncoupling or pulling the release handle).

NOTE: Low Lube and NoLube fifth wheels do not require lubrication between the trailer and top plate surface.

IMPORTANT: Clean grease grooves if a large amount of debris is present.

Air Release or Slide Based Equipped

If your fifth wheel is air release or slide base equipped, SAF-Holland recommend that you follow your fifth wheel manufacturer’s user manual for lubricating your air cylinder or your slide base.

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