How to Winterize Your Fifth Wheel

How to Winterize Your Fifth Wheel

Freezing temperatures can take their toll on your rig, but don’t fret – winterizing your semi truck’s fifth wheel will help prevent damage and save you time and money throughout the season. Read on to discover our tips for semi fifth wheel winterization so you can face the elements with peace of mind. 

Your Go-To Guide for Fifth Wheel Winterization

States in cold climates use aggressive road salts for snow removal. These salts contain magnesium and calcium chlorides that can quickly develop corrosion on tractor and trailer components. The corrosion will adversely affect a semi truck’s fifth wheel’s performance if left unchecked. 

Don’t let your fifth wheel get damaged during the winter season. Winterize your semi fifth wheel and follow the following recommended inspections and preventive maintenance guidelines:

  • Thoroughly degrease and clean the top plate surface and underside using a steam-cleaning device and other suitable degreasing products. Be sure to remove any grease buildup within and around the lockjaw, throat, and pivot points.
  • Use an aerosol cleaner to clean the retractable release handle where the plate extends along the pins.
  • Inspect all areas and parts of the fifth wheel for damaged or missing parts, and if necessary, replace them with genuine JOST parts. 
  • Spray a penetrating oil, such as PB Blaster or Kroil, and lubricate both pivot points underneath the top plate, both slide plungers inside the plunger housings, the slide track, and the center pivot post where the pivot arm rotates. 
  • Verify that the lock closes completely and is operating correctly.
  • Apply lithium-based grease with an EP (extreme pressure) additive to the trailer contact surface of the fifth wheel.
  • Thoroughly degrease and clean the slide track and engagement rack, as well as the plungers and plunger housings using a shop steam cleaning device and suitable degreasing products. Be sure to remove any grease buildup in the slide release mechanism that would inhibit the free rotation of the pivot arm.

How to Service Your Air Supply System

Before the winter season kicks in, it’s also vital that you inspect your air supply system and perform any necessary repairs and maintenance. Follow these steps below to set yourself up for success: 

  • Drain out all of the water from the air tanks.
  • Confirm that all air tank lanyards are attached. 
  • Confirm that the air drier cartridge is less than three years old. 
  • Confirm that the air drier heat element is working correctly. 
  • Remove all the water from the air lines supplying the top plate and slider air release cylinders. 

Other Ways to Winterize Your Semi-Truck

In addition to fifth-wheel winterization, you should prepare other parts of your truck for the harsh winter elements. These are our best tips for preparing for the season:

  • Check your battery and electrical systems and perform any maintenance if necessary.
  • Look over the fuel filter and water separator to ensure everything works properly. 
  • Start using fuel additives.
  • Inspect the cooling system for any necessary repairs.
  • Prepare your windshield and install new wipers or wiper fluid if necessary.
  • Check your tires’ condition and pressure level.
  • Pack an emergency tool kit. 

Invest in High-Quality Fifth Wheels From JOST International

Set yourself up for success this winter and invest in a JOST International fifth wheel. JOST has been manufacturing fifth wheel coupling devices globally since 1956, and we were the first to patent steel-cast fifth wheel coupling. We’ve continued our dedication to innovation ever since with new technologies and exceptional safety features that respond to the needs of our customers. From our unique locking mechanism to our new sensor fifth wheels, our fifth wheels are a standard option at every OEM.

Download our Fifth Wheel Product Line handout to learn more about each product, or give our team a call today!

Manual vs. Air Release Fifth Wheels: Discover the Best Option for You

Manual vs. Air Release Fifth Wheels: Discover the Best Option for You

For years, manual lever-style fifth wheels were the go-to product in the semi-trailer business. Today, air-release fifth wheels have been introduced, providing convenience. So, what’s the difference between manual and air-release fifth wheels, and which option is best for you based on your application? We’re here to tell you all about it. 

Comparing Manual vs. Air-Release Fifth Wheels

The world of semi-tractor equipment has significantly evolved in efforts to improve efficiency and driver safety. One of the new pieces of technology is the air-release fifth wheel. Let’s compare manual and air-release fifth wheels. 

What Are Manual Release Fifth Wheels?

The main difference between manual fifth wheels and air-release fifth wheels is the coupling technology. With manual-release fifth wheels, you may verify that it’s coupled properly by doing a tug test. You should also visually inspect the fifth wheel to be sure. You’ll ensure the locking bar fully crosses the throat, all visual lock indicators are engaged (JOST 5th Wheel Lock Security Link), and check that there’s no air gap between the bottom of the trailer and the top of the fifth wheel. 

To uncouple this fifth wheel, the lock is released manually by pulling a handle on the fifth wheel. 

The Cons of Manual Release Fifth Wheels:

  • There are so many different products on the market, each with its own unique locking operation. Knowing what to check for can be confusing for drivers, thus resulting in safety risks. 
  • The manual lever style is more difficult for the operator to use – it involves more physical work, and it’s challenging to couple and uncouple.

What Are Air-Release Fifth Wheels?

JOST International air-release fifth wheels are favored for their state-of-the-art sensor technology. The sensors are paired with a coupling system that helps the driver confirm that the fifth wheel is properly attached and safely from inside the cab. No more tug tests or visual inspections under the trailer are needed! 

The Sensorkuppling and Lok-Lite systems contain dual sensors. The first sensor indicates that the kingpin is securely in the lock position. The second sensor shows that the fifth wheel is locked and the release handle is secured (JOST 5th Wheel Lock Security Link). The status of the lock is indicated by a JOST-supplied dash display, communicated through the vehicle’s CAN bus or via lighting at the top plate. 

To uncouple the device, air pressure is applied through a valve inside the cab. The driver can safely uncouple without even having to exit the vehicle! 

The Pros of Air-Release Fifth Wheels:

  • A safety system interlock requires the truck to be stopped and the trailer brakes applied before cab controls can be activated.
  • An automatically engaging secondary lock ensures security.
  • A visual lock indicator will confirm proper locking, so you can always be sure you’re good to go.
  • The fifth wheel can be rebuilt in under an hour without taking it off the truck – this significantly improves productivity. 
  • The throat cushion ring reduces wear on the kingpin and absorbs impact.
  • The full-size release handle allows for quick, easy, and convenient manual release.
  • JOST air-release fifth wheels are available for specification at all major OEMs.
  • Insurance costs and claims are reduced.

Air-Release Fifth Wheels From JOST International

As you can see, there are many advantages when you use air-release fifth wheels. From large national fleets to owner-operators, more and more semi-trailers are opting for JOST International air-release fifth wheels. Are you interested in learning more about JOST International air-release fifth wheels? Take a look at our brochure or contact our team today!