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Do Fifth Wheels Have Odometers?

Published on February 1st, 2019 by Camper Report
This post was updated on January 27th, 2020

If you are thinking of buying a fifth wheel, congratulations! They are awesome. But, if you are wondering about how to track their mileage, you will need to know that it is a little more involved than with a normal car.

So, do fifth wheels have odometers? Fifth wheel trailers do not have odometers built in. So unlike with your normal used car, truck, or RV, trailers do not mechanically track the miles they have traveled on the road, and the mileage of a fifth wheel cannot be precisely determined unless you keep track of the miles yourself.

Just because your fifth wheel does not have an odometer built-in does not mean that you cannot track your miles. So without further ado, here are three methods for tracking your fifth-wheel milage!

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Method One: Install an Odometer App

Yes, there’s an app for that! Smartphones today have many sensors built in, including a GPS location chip. Using the changes in your location over time, your phone can accurately determine your speed and the total distance you have traveled. There are many good apps out there for logging your miles, I use one called GPS Speedometer.

There are apps out there for Android, iOS, and even Microsoft devices (if it has a GPS built in). There are some really good ones out there, and they can make tracking the mileage on your trailer much easier.

When using the phone as an odometer, keep in mind that it can take more batter power than normal. I recommend plugging it in to a charger and keeping it close to the dashboard while driving. As long as it has a clear view of the sky, it should work fine.

The amazing thing is that the phone doesn’t need internet or even any cellular service to function as an odometer. So on your trips, when you will inevitable run into cellular dead zones, you don’t have to worry.

If you decide to use a phone to track your mileage, I would take a moment every once in a while and record the mileage somewhere safe, with pen and paper. This is just to be safe. Phones can die, be stolen, have their data wiped, be dropped, or just otherwise fail you. So it is a good idea to not let the phone be the only record of your mileage and to write your mileages down in a notebook occasionally.

I love using the phone as an odometer. It is straightforward and it will keep the logs for as long as you have the phone (if nothing goes wrong, of course. Like if your kid uninstalls the odometer app to make room for candy crush…).

Method Two: Log Miles Using Your Car’s Odometer

This method is very straightforward. In the vehicle you use to transport the trailer, keep a little steno notebook and keep a log of all your trips. You will use the truck’s odometer to keep track of the miles driven.

If you have a Trip A or Trip B odometer, use one of them as a record of how far you have gone with the trailer hooked up. Reset the mileage of one of them to zero whenever you hook up the trailer. Then make an entry in the logbook of the miles driven whenever you unhook the trailer.

If you don’t have an odometer that can be reset, then just make a note of the starting mileage, and write down the difference between the mileage when you started driving and the mileage when you ended.

This is the most popular and time tested way to log your miles. Yeah, it can be a bit hard to remember to write down the miles you have traveled when so many other things are demanding your attention, but this way is the most classic and hard-to-beat.

Tracking mileage can be easily done! If you want to track the miles on your fifth wheel trailer, you can do so by manually logging the miles, or by installing an odometer made for trailers.

This can be very useful when tracking and planning for maintenance on your trailer. Sometimes, it is easy for trailer owners to miss major maintenance intervals because there is no odometer on a fifth wheel trailer. So it is a good idea to track them somehow.

Method Three: Install A Hub Odometer

If you NEED an exact measurement of your mileage, then you might want to look into installing an actual odometer. A device that is commonly used in industry is called a hub odometer, or hubodometer. A hubodometer is an odometer that is installed into one of the wheels of a trailer.

This device is used by many trucking companies to measure the distance that semi truck trailers have traveled. Many RV or trailer rental companies also use them to accurately track the mileage of their rental fleets. And some trailer owners have adopted their use because they don’t want the hassle of keeping logs of the mileages they have driven.

If you are serious about accurately logging your miles, either for yourself or for your business, you can install a hubodometer. These devices are usually guaranteed to be accurate to within +/- 2% of the actual exact miles driven. This device is installed on the hub and counts the miles driven from that point on.

There are actually even hubodometers you can order that are programmed with the number of miles the trailer has already driven. If you know what the mileage is, then you can provide to the company the milage of the fifth wheel when you order, and it will be programmed in when it comes. Using this type of odometer, you could start tracking what your actual mileage is.

If you don’t know how many miles are on your trailer, then you will have to start tracking from zero miles and just mentally add on what your best guess is for miles already traveled. As already mentioned though, this will still be very helpful for remembering when it is time to do maintenance.

These hubodometers are installed in the hub of the wheel. The installation will be different for each one. Some odometers are digital and some are mechanical. It will come with its own installation instructions, so be sure to follow them exactly. Also, know that these don’t come cheap. You can expect to spend probably around $100 by the time it is all said and done.

So as you can see, it is easy to log your miles. And technology has made it even easier than it used to be. So go ahead and start logging your miles, if you feel so inclined. You will be able to keep an easier tab on maintenance and on your tires.

And down the road, if the sad day ever comes when you need to sell your fifth wheel, your potential buyers will feel confident that you have taken really good care of your trailer. Trust me when I say that it is a huge plus for any potential buyer’s peace of mind to know that you were thoughtful enough to track the miles the trailer has traveled and that you did maintenance at the right mileage intervals.

When they see your maintenance and mileage records, they will think you are sent from above. So start logging today!

Related Questions:

Can GPS be used to track you? GPS’s can be used to track you. However, don’t rely on it. Always tell people where you are going and when you plan on being back. Even though GPS can determine your location, your location is usually not sent anywhere without your permission, and it will definitely not be sent if you are going somewhere that doesn’t have cell service.

How hard is it to install a hubometer? It is quite difficult to install a hubometer. Most of those devices were designed for industrial use, and are usually installed by real mechanics working for a trucking company or other professional endeavor.

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